The way I see it - Juventus v Arsenal

Last updated : 05 April 2006 By Jason Hogan
I knew that Angus and his son Tom were long standing season ticket holders in the West Stand Lower Tier but having met up with Tom at the West Stand turnstiles and been directed to where his old man normally sits, I never realised what a great seat Angus actually had. It was pretty much on the halfway line, about halfway up and you could see virtually everything in any direction.

I couldn't have found myself in a better position to watch a game that was played out against a rather poignant backdrop. Not only was the memory of the late, great David "Rocky" Rocastle warmly acknowledged by all in the ground with a rapturous, minute long round of applause with the chanting of his name reverberating around the ground, I was personally confronted with the sudden realisation that the game against Villa was probably going to be the last one I would see in the flesh at Highbury.

Still, there was one small compensation on the day in that I was sat next to a charming, fairly petite young brunette who happened to be there both with her partner and her little boy who were sitting in the seat directly behind. I had a bit of a giggle with this young lady throughout the game it has to be said. We literally chatted and laughed our way through the game almost non-stop. It was great fun and her partner didn't mind one bit.

Funnily enough, at the end of the game, the young lady actually told me that the game against Villa was also going to be her last at Highbury as well. I said, "Same here, unless some of my friends can help me out again". It was only then that it REALLY hit home to me that I will probably never step foot in the old place again and as I was leaving I couldn't help but have one last long, wistful gaze around the old place before turning on my heel and grinning to myself. After all, considering that I was watching my last game at the Home Of Football, it was one hell of a way for me to go out.

The lads were excellent once again on the day. Villa did actually have a half decent opening 20 minutes or so to the game but as soon as young Adebayor got the first goal, it was downhill all the way for Villa from there. I must say that Adebayor is quite a sight when he is in full flow. He does look a little ungainly at times and tends to have a running action almost akin to a demented pelican. But I tell you what, there were signs on Saturday that both he and Henry are starting to develop into a bit of a partnership up front.

The way that they both linked up for the third goal was a perfect case in point. Both made the same run in pursuit of Eboue's long ball from the back. Henry showed the presence of mind to leave it for Adebayor who in turn had the presence of mind to lay the ball cleverly back to Henry and our number 14 did the rest, sublimely curling the ball past a stranded Thomas Sorensen in the Villa goal. Quality - sheer quality.

It was also great to see young Diaby (having come off the bench to replace Fabregas) get his first goal for the club. And it was great to see young Van Persie back as well. On an afternoon of cracking goals, he probably scored the best of the lot. Having been forced a little wide by Pires' through ball, to then show the nimble footwork he did and then convert from very acute angle was really something.

Fitness permitting, I can't help feeling that this boy could play a very serious part in our fortunes between now and May. Van Persie impresses me more and more as a player every time I see him. He's made for the big stage this boy, mark my words. Speaking of big stages, let's look at Arsenal's trip to Turin and the return game with Juventus.

How did I feel about the result we got last Tuesday? Well let's put it this way; I don't often make a habit of buying a copy of every tabloid and every broadsheet newspaper worth its salt on the way into work every day of the week but I certainly did just that last Wednesday!

People outside of Highbury can try and devalue or trivialise what we did against the current Serie A champions last Tuesday all they bloody well want. There are just some things that fill you with such a personal pride or a sense of personal satisfaction that NOTHING on this earth can be said or done to take it away from you. That's exactly how I felt when I was lugging all those newly acquired papers into the office the day after we beat Juve, that's how I feel now and guess what? Regardless of what happens in Turin or even beyond, that's the way it will stay for as long as I live.

Because make no mistake, as far as European nights go, I haven't seen an English side put on a much better performance than we did last week. I mean, there we were up against the mighty Juve, reigning Serie A champions and champions elect once again. There we were faced with a team that were supposedly far more streetwise, far stronger and far more capable of winning the Champions League than Real were.

And there we were facing up to the man (in the shape of Vieira) who was a talisman for years and years at Arsenal, the man whose ghost had haunted us all season long and now stood in the way of Arsenal's progress in the one major tournament where success has eluded us for so long.

But guess what? Not only did we beat them, we broke their spirit and destroyed their confidence and belief to such an extent, the likes of Camoranesi and Zebina decided they wanted out and they deliberately, in my opinion, went and got themselves both sent off before the game was over.

Indeed Camoranesi, not content with the ignominy of being sent off, went and made things worse by stalking off the pitch waving and blowing kisses to the crowd! What the hell was he playing at? It would have been embarrassing enough to see a Sunday League player act like that never mind an Italian international playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world. It won't surprise any of you to know that Camoranesi was fined for his stupidity and there is a very strong chance that he will not be a Juve player this time next year.

On the face of things, it would be easy to think that morale at Juve is pretty low going into the second leg. With Del Piero failing to get himself fit in time and therefore sidelined along with the likes of Vieira, Zebina and the hapless Camoranesi it would be easy to think that the Arsenal have got Juve exactly where they want them before a ball has been kicked over in Turin in anger.

However, Juve are past masters of somehow getting out of tight corners and dodgy situations. And call it a cliché if you like but they will still have plenty of players (not least Nedved for a start) that are proven winners who have not achieved what they have in the game by throwing in the towel just like that.

Before the first leg I said that I was quietly confident about seeing us get past Juve and that has not changed. Pride alone should guarantee that Juve will provide us with a sterner test in Turin than they did in London. Pride does come before a fall though. I just hope that old saying rings true for Juve by the time Wednesday night is over.