Arsenal 7 Everton 0: An absolute honour to be there

Last updated : 12 May 2005 By Brian Dawes

Senderos - The real deal
Arsene was rather cleverly dipping players into the line-up who had a fighting chance of securing a Cup Final berth. Gilberto out Edu in, Toure out Campbell in, Henry on the bench, Pires and Reyes as the wide men. Was he keeping Ferguson or our squad guessing? Either way there were players out there with something to prove for our last competitive match at Highbury in red and white shirts. By the way the game we were about to see, although we didn’t yet know it was special, very special and our very latest new song was a million miles from anything I might have imagined at kick off. Having already put seven past Everton in our two previous matches, a third thrashing seemed rather a lot to hope for, they just never happen in end of season games do they?

A minutes silence preceded the match in honour of those who perished at Valley Parade on 11th. May 1985. That was the only quiet patch I recall. With Arsenal kicking towards the Clock End Arteta was through with a one on one against Jens but spurned the chance with a limp shot at our keeper. Dennis put Van Persie through but a great tackle from Hibbert showed that Everton meant business. An early mistake from Senderos, a thoughtless pass, almost gifted Everton the lead. We could have been two down. Instead Dennis slipped a perfect ball through into the path of a brilliantly timed run by Van Persie who slid it past old boy Wright with ease. 1-0 Arsenal from a double Dutch move after eight minutes. What a class act Bergkamp is, was he playing for a Final place or a contract? Either way he way on top of his form tonight.

‘Champions League you’re having a laugh’ Senderos versus Beattie and Swiss Tony won hands down with a great header. A cut back from the left as Rob powered a shot that was well saved, Pires however followed up and looped his header into the net for a 2-0 lead after twelve minutes. Arsenal were in charge and so they played keep ball. ‘Are you Tottenham in disguise’ ‘You might as well go home’. Now there is passing and passing but what Arsenal were doing right now was different planet passing. Twenty passes without an opponent touching the ball now seems to be the norm. Vieira was majestic and one run down our left that involved skill, power, pace, passing and some bloody good football only ended when he was caught offside.

Alan Wiley played advantage on a dive by Arteta who is a dirty little runt and went unpunished despite his impressive foul count on the night. Our pass and move game was at it’s very best, it was like the first half of the Liverpool game all over again. Edu to Van Persie who cut in from the right and shot wide. The kid with the bendy elbows certainly doesn’t lack for confidence. Jens caught well under pressure from Watson. Senderos on Kilbane with a fine tackle. A great break where Edu found Reyes who won a corner, which saw Dennis hit a shot from the deep that was well blocked. Dennis to Robin, almost. This was fun stuff to watch. The possession statistics for the first half must have been astronomically one sided.

Van the Man - On target yet again
Lauren to Vieira, to Van Persie who shot low. Reyes to Cole with a peachy reverse pass. ‘Have you ever seen football played like this’ Reyes to Edu who dummied for Vieira to strike one with the outside of his boot that just fizzing past the post, it would have been a classic goal. Stupendous passing, real gob-smacking stuff. A stunning pass from Pat to Ashley. ‘Boring, boring Arsenal’ We were watching class on a stick. Edu to Reyes almost. I think the sequence was Edu into Van Persie who laid it off for Dennis to set Pat away who coolly swanned into their box and chipped the keeper. Training ground stuff. 3-0 and another dogs bollocks goal. This was no two-bob outfit we were playing tonight but Everton were being shredded. Carsley retaliated with two nasty fouls and a lot of lip but there was no card from Wiley.

‘One more year, one more year’ referring of course to our Dutch master craftsman who was playing different Galaxy football. McFadden chasing shadows. Edu upended by Yobo and Van Persie’s strike was a good one from the free kick, as was Reye’s follow up shot which was well saved. Beattie finally had a shot on the turn that went about 25 yards over the bar. Everton had defended in depth throughout the half but Arsenal’s scalpel was sharp enough to carve through two coaches parked on the goal line tonight. What an absolutely beautiful half of football. You know how it is at Highbury, a first half slaughter followed by a laid-back second half, the opposition get on top score one or two then we start playing again and add another just to pretend we’d been awake all the time. Well that was what I anticipated.

Vieira and Van Persie were replaced by Flamini and Henry at half time. I didn’t think Titi would get 45 minutes but he did and he was in magician mode. Everton were pressing harder and closing quicker after their half time rollicking, but Arsenal just passed faster, even without Pat pulling the strings. Henry’s first act was to break away and win a penalty, but the clown in black didn’t give it. So we scored a mad goal instead. Henry passed backwards and the ball came off some blue legs and rebounded to the advancing Pires who helped himself to a simple goal. 4-0 Arsenal and Rob overtook Defoe in the Premiership goal-scoring league. Only three players have made it to 14 goals so far and two of them play at Highbury.

Reyes tiptoed through to win a corner. Dennis from wide with a killer ball that Thierry couldn’t quite reach with his big toe. ‘Bergkamp, Bergkamp one more year’ Henry set up Dennis who fired over. Dennis to Thierry again, almost. Flamini late on Pistone for a yellow card, deserved but ultimately harsh considering the numerous fouls and lack of bookings for the away team. Alan Wiley remains a jerk. Everton were caught offside twice in movements which purported to be attacks. ‘Shall we score a goal for you’ Everton couldn’t counter even when we had five players up, which was quite often as it happened. We were strolling, we were sharp, we were lording it and we in the stands were loving it, because we were going to score again, you just knew it.

A rare Everton attack, it amounted to a long ball, that Jens took with ease. More Bergkamp class preceded an almost excellent cross from Lauren. Cesc replaced Rob. Campbell recovered well to tackle Beattie. Sol looked heavy and off the pace but played a decent enough match for his first one back in ages. Reyes had a cross palmed-away and Edu shot from range. Edu to Henry with a fine ball but the shot was parried and there was no Rob to follow up for his hat trick. Personally I think Tel has been on his hols and looks better for the rest.

Vieira salues the Clock End
Henry won a handball penalty, possibly harsh but if the arm is up I can see no argument, besides we should have had a penalty earlier. The North Bank called for Edu to take it. He did and hit it low to Wright’s left; Wright got a hand to it but couldn’t stop it. 5-0 to the Arsenal, lovely jubbly. A cross-come-shot from Bent went wide of our far post. Kilbane assaulted Flamini but there was no card. Senderos stormed across to make another biting tackle. ‘Five-nil to the Arsenal’ and when was the last time we sung that? ‘By far the greatest team the world has ever seen’ sung with total and absolute conviction. Everton’s much loved top thug, Ferguson, replaced Arteta. Kilbane took out Flamini again who just gave him that ‘do I look bothered?’ look and carried on carving Everton up.

More class from Dennis, a slip by Senderos but Bent couldn’t capitalise. Dennis then took down a high ball he chased into their box; he was clear, he controlled it, he scored. It was the goal we all wanted to see, not because it was our 6th. but because it was nothing less than the great man deserved. 6-0 to the Arsenal. Campbell then axed Ferguson for a yellow card. I had a mental picture of every centre back in the Premiership viewing this tackle in homes throughout the country and leaping out of their seats in unison screaming ‘Get in there Sol!’ This tackle might even have been dedicated to Stevie Bould.

Meanwhile back at the match, did I mention that it was a huge privilege and an honour to be there? ‘One more year, one more year’ It kept getting better with football to die for as when Henry just waltzed around some killer tackles, I have no idea how he did it, but it was jaw dropping stuff of the highest order. After this particular tasty bit of skill Reyes shot just wide. ‘Who the feck are Man United’ If Fergie was watching I bet you a tenner he wears brown trousers at Cardiff. Henry then sat Kilbane on his arse. Henry wide left to the far post, for I think, Reyes, maybe Cesc to cut back into the onrushing Flamini. 7-0 and cue the brand new chant I hadn’t quite anticipated earlier in the evening ‘Seven-nil to the Arsenal’

Watson hoofed one over in the general direction of the Executive Boxes. Henry was given offside – no way! Everton retained their clean sheet with a limp chip that went wide. Henry went into total piss-take mode and a Thierry solo saw Reyes have his shot saved. Eight would have been just plain greedy. What a night, what a master class and what a great man Arsene Wenger is. He was grinning from ear to ear… and so were we. A truly classic performance in a game that will be remembered forever and a day by all in attendance.