The sprinklers were in evidence again today, even at half time, and when you consider the second half downpour that has to be seriously funny. But at kick off time, an all together too rare 3 o’clock on a Saturday, it was just plain blustery as we kicked off towards the Clock End. If you reckon Curbishley encourages good honest old-fashioned football then think again. Murphy cynically hacked Fabregas in the opening seconds for no strategic reason and they all gave it plenty of lip. Early danger amounted to Reyes working back for a covering tackle that flew past our post to give Charlton a corner, other than a high catch for Jens that was a about it from the boys in yellow.
We looked up for it from the off but the killer passing wasn’t quite there, although a number of useful and promising moves were none too far away. One such was when a short pass from Henry to Bergkamp was drilled low, just a shade the wrong side of the post. Another Henry pass, this one a cross from our right was half saved and fell to Clichy who fired over with his right foot with the goal gaping. Henry skinned his man, again on the right, and fired a cross for a Freddie header. Had Ljungberg connected it may well have taken his head off. A rare lobbed ball from a Henry free kick ended with a Reyes shot wide of the mark.
Lauren versus Stuart was a fair old battle, Hreidarsson and Ljungberg was an unfair battle, most of which was missed by referee Mike Dean. There was a queue to foul Freddie and it included El-Karkouri who took time out to chop him down. We were working hard, none more so than Reyes. Thierry had that scowling where’s the killer ball look about him, Dennis was on song and Vieira was allowing Charlton nothing in midfield. Bergkamp had another well-hit strike that produced a decent save from Kiely. Hreidarsson chopped away at Freddie to his hearts content and you just knew that the narky nature of the match was gonna set something off.
What it set off was a cross-field chase by Dennis for a diagonal ball that Kiely felt the need to chase beyond his near post. Dennis won the race and with Kiely in no-mans land he cut back a cross for Freddie to knock home. 1-0 to Arsenal with about 33 minutes played. ‘Sing when we’re winning, we only sing when we’re winning’.
Young joined the lets whack Freddie brigade with a shove in the back that was as bad as the one Freddie got carded for. About three minutes into the half Henry got the ball with his back to goal, in the area, slightly to the right and with Fortune hanging onto him like an octopus. It was a certain penalty that you just knew Dean wouldn’t give. Presumably Thierry knew that as well because he back-heeled one of the most outrageous goals I can recall seeing. It was a sublime gob-smacking moment that deserved the total awe with which it was received. An absolute blinder to make it 2-0. Freddie was immediately substituted and replaced by Jermaine, as Mr. Wenger continued to encourage our next generation of champions. ‘Thierry Henry he’s taking the piss, Thierry Henry he’s taking the piss’ to his usual tune.
Dennis showed his skills as Henry appeared to be winded for a short while. Stuart then missed an open goal, which was by a country mile their best, if not only, chance of the game. Henry and Reyes worked a new series of short corners with a run at the defenders rather than a cross, once teams cotton on to this one they’ll need even more men out of the area to deal with it. I like it. This one saw some Reyes magic win another corner. Our one-touch play was now rife, it was time to sit back and enjoy the show. Henry cut inside and blasted a shot into row Z of the North bank. A Pennant solo and pass on to Henry set up Lauren who won another corner. This one ended with Campbell nutmegging Hreidarsson.
More speedy moves both slick and sweeping followed thick and fast. Reyes winning another corner from one such stunner. Lisbie suckered Dean with an appallingly obvious slow-motion tumble, which gave them an undeserved free kick in a very good position. Thankfully their kick by Murphy (?) was rubbish. Hreidarsson heaved down Lauren but still Dean didn’t card the noxious pr*t. Euell and Kishishev were replaced by Johansson and Rommedahl to absolutely no effect. Clichy was then booked because the hapless Young fell over.
The fifth looked a certainty when a 24,000 pass move ended at the feet of Reyes who sent a couple of defenders and the keeper completely the wrong way and then missed the sitter he’s set up for himself. It would have been a blinding goal. It was all Arsenal now and we were only dealing in class moves. ‘Boring, boring Arsenal’ ‘There’s only one Arsene Wenger’. Henry and Fabregas were replaced by Van Persie and Flamini. The fabulous football continued as Arsenal kept on pressing for their fifth. We got the ball in the net but I’ve no idea why it was disallowed, but Kiely was giving the verbals to young Van Persie for some reason. Another chance went begging when a great cross by Jermaine had Pat stretching his leg out to knock it home, Kiely had other ideas however and stopped a certain fifth with a fantastic reflex save. We finished with four goals but it could have been seven or eight easily.
We were once neighbours many years ago. As it’s not that far from Woolwich Arsenal to Charlton but in the Premiership today the distance between the two Clubs was light years.