Arsenal 5 Crystal Palace 1: St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Last updated : 15 February 2005 By Brian Dawes

Dennis scores....
Palace came to Highbury to give it a go, and give it a go they did, but that just wasn’t good enough tonight. Arsenal started the proceedings well by following the meaningless pre-match handshakes routine so loved by the sad creeps at Premiership HQ with a more meaningful and altogether more traditional Arsenal team applauding the crowd routine. It’s about bloody time they got back to doing this!

Palace kicked off towards the North Stand and had a lively start requiring Lehmann to save well and smother the follow up. But we were soon on the attack and a corner following a Reyes solo almost saw Toure open the scoring. Jens then got his cock-up in early when some over casual control almost resulted in an own goal that he just managed to retrieve off the line, brown trousers required or what?

Dennis had a weak shot before Freedman went close from a cross on the right by Routledge who tonight was up against Gael Clichy, what with Cole having either a temperature or another meeting to attend to. Palace taunts of ‘You’re gonna win feck all’ were countered by ‘You’ll never play here again’ – something we can sing all next season to everyone who comes to Highbury. Rob Styles was the man in charge…well I say in charge. He couldn’t spot a shove in the back if it was under his nose…as it was when Rilhilahti shoved Pat. Reyes was axed soon after but Thierry’s early free kick was saved easily by the man in the silly grey tracksuit.

We took charge fairly early and we soon had attacks coming in from all directions. Henry to Bergkamp to Henry for a killer shot on the turn that whistled past the post with the grey geezer beaten all ends up. Pat won good ball and broke away but Styles pulled it back for a Palace free kick, a joke right Styles? Reyes was then fouled twice and play was pulled back for the first one as the second two-footed tackle was ignored. It’s crap like that from the man in black that gives referees a bad name – like useless bar steward. Rilhilahti then took out Edu and was given an overdue yellow card. Edu to Henry for a battling solo. Pat was then hacked away at on a run and a free kick was awarded to Palace at the end of it. Pat had a storming match and played a lot of it up the pitch winning early ball from Palace’s midfield.

... and celebrates!
Rilhilahti injured himself trying another foul on Pat and was substituted by Leigertwood. No sooner was he on than Edu found Reyes on the left who played a ball into Dennis who got in front of the last man to slide home our opener. 1-0 with thirty-two minutes gone and another one-sided match in prospect. Freedman sliced a very good chance, possibly a sitter before a half clearance from Palace fell to Jose who hit a low scorching shot on the turn. An appreciative roar of approval and 2-0 to The Arsenal – we were playing some storming stuff. A Bergkamp cross from the right, aimed at Lauren on a charge down the middle was headed by a defender into the top corner of his own net but a great save by Kiraly, despite his silly grey tracksuit, saved the day. Well for a short while at least.

Henry took the corner, played a short one to Reyes, followed in from the left to take the Spaniard’s return ball and struck a bullet of a shot at an angle, which zinged past Kiraly at the far post. It was as if the crowd reaction to Reyes’ goal had stung Thierry into producing something even better. Great! More of that please - both of you. Our superiority was absolute and our commitment good as well. This was amply illustrated by both Dennis and Thierry, on separate occasions, working back to eradicate the possibility of a Palace counter. Half time, 3-0 and I felt much warmer – but that might just have been another brandy helping things along a tad.

Arsenal plugged the London for the 2012 Olympic campaign at half time. Which is fine, but I doubt if they’ll be the ones paying for it should London get to be chosen, assuming that the campaigners can get in enough bribes to the Olympic committee doing the choosing that is.

Now just in case there are any assistant referees reading this I’d like to point out that the whole of the ball (that’s every single bit of it) has to be over the whole of the line (that’s absolutely and completely over every last bit of the white stuff) – then it is out of play. So that should be when you put your flag up and not when a bit of the ball is on some of the line, which is what happens every game. This has to be the most abused rule in football and one which halts any number of great attacks from the likes of Pires, Henry, Cole, Reyes, Clichy et al – just to mention one side of the pitch. Rant over.

Henry celebrates one of his brace
Palace had the first decent attack of the second half when Freedman broke down the left channel and got an early shot in that went just wide. Lehmann seemed to have it covered - but who knows. After that we pretty well controlled the second half. Cygan and Toure were in just about total control at the back, just as we were everywhere else on the pitch. Another goal seemed pretty inevitable and it came with a brilliant pass from Henry and a timed run from Vieira that saw him take control and walk it into the net, almost in piss-take mode. 4-0 and we did ease up a bit. We didn’t quite press them back when they won the ball deep, we didn’t quite close them down as quickly when they came forward and we didn’t quite reduce their options as we had before the break. But we were still in total control and playing great football.

Reyes to Henry to Bergkamp who shot just wide to end a beautiful move. Flamini replaced Edu and shortly after Johnson went down for a penalty. He seemed to turn into Toure and fall over but mine was not the best view. In any event he slammed home from the spot via the underside of the bar. 4-1. Pat picked up a yellow seemingly because Styles prefers to collect the big names, certainly not because he’d been dirty, aggressive or nasty. Sorondo was booked for kicking a ball away. Petty stuff in a clean decent match played as it should be.

Henry to Reyes – almost. Dennis to Jose to Robert who managed to hit the inside of the post. By now cheers were ringing around for every pass to a red shirt and there was a hell of a lot of cheering going on. Palace were being played off the park but gamely plugged away, winning their first and I believe only corner of the game with a quarter of an hour left to play. Our fifth goal when it came was another classic that included more great play from Dennis out on the right wing. The nonchalant Henry just stood still on the edge of the box until the inevitable perfect pass from Dennis arrived. Thierry moved his feet enough to make sufficient space before unleashing a shot with minimal back-lift that rocketed in for number five. 5-1. Dennis ended his masterclass to be replaced by the young Dutch pretender for the last eleven minutes

Fabregas, on for Pires could have made it six when a ball hit him that he and I thought would have been headed clear by a defender. Leigertwood shot onto the roof of our net in an attempt to wake Lehmann but other than that this was one way traffic with Henry showing the world why he is the best. As for Dennis, who gets younger by the week, he should be driven off to Munich in the morning.

What a wonderful performance that was – thank you Arsenal I really enjoyed that!