It had either rained, poured or drizzled all day long in North London and Tottenham is crabby enough without having to circumnavigate puddles the size of small lakes. We away fans were greeted inside the ground by sniffer-dogs searching for drugs. This was considered by many to be a really cheap shot by the local constabulary and I watched two Gooners marched away only to return a while later having been searched and found to be carrying nothing illegal at whatsoever. It seems that dogs can get it wrong as well. No alcoholic drinks were available inside the ground and no one in their right mind would want to drink anywhere in N17. So we settled for coffee which was far better value than their over priced programme which featured a Totts 4-2 win over Arsenal way back in 1961 plus a full page advert featuring Jimmy Greaves. The sad bar stewards certainly live in the past! Not just the past but a black and white past, get over it you losers!
Keown replaced Cygan, Parlour was in for Vieira while Wiltord, Toure, van Bronckhorst, Taylor and Matthew Upson comprised our bench. No place for Kanu, Edu, Cygan or Luzhny unless they are carrying injuries. The Scum played with three at the back and wingbacks. The opening exchanges were frenetic and accompanied with a multitude of shoves, nudges, marginal challenges, late tackles, off the ball blocks and anything else that could be got away with.
Seaman saved a good corner from Ziege and it was at set plays that they looked more dangerous. The long-throw and set pieces being Glenda's principle weapons this season. Freund did enough in the opening encounters to earn a yellow card on a cumulative foul count; hacking Cole, shoving Bob over and clipping Thierry among other fouls but he didn't get one. But referee Neil Barry was playing this one as a good old fashioned derby game, kick 'em and get on with it because you know that sooner or later you'll cop one back. I often slag off refs so all credit to Neil Barry for allowing the game to be a real derby match. Parlour tried hard to act as the midfield engine room but his passing, superb as it was the other night, was wayward today.
Judging by the cameraman's end of match Sky awarded a Scummer man of the match but for my money Ashley Cole was by far the best player on the pitch. He wanted it like only an Arsenal Youth player coming through the ranks can want to win a derby game. He Ray and Martin gave it 100% from start to finish, not always effectively but you can't ask more than someone's best shot.
The Totts then went on a bit of a blitz and pressured us well for a spell, at one point, with Seaman chasing shadows and the defence all ends up, Ashley headed off the line. Henry had a cross come shot while Sicknote shot wide at the other end. Ray was battling but still off the mark with his passes despite being involved in a couple of good moves.
Shove on Henry but he stayed cool, which was a shame really because we could have done with him Dennis and Freddie getting a bit heated and certainly doing more closing down in the first half. Fine play set Lauren away for a decent cross from which Dennis won a corner. Pires to Parlour but his shot was saved for a corner. Seaman screwed around trying to play football and almost paid the price. Then made up for it with a brave save at the arch-tosser's feet. Cole cleared off the line yet again and the Totts were bossing the first half without capitalising. The noxious half-wit Sheringham shoved Cole in the back, moaned about us being given the free-kick and kicked the ball away. What a tosser.
A great Lauren cross was fired wide by Henry with a first time shot. Keane had a shot saved by Dave. Good build up to Freddie who's cross was headed well by Henry but saved equally well by Keller. Thierry's heading has improved of late but he's still a mile behind Kennedy, Radford, MacDonald, Stapleton, Smith and Wright - so take that as a challenge please Mr Henry.
Just as halftime approached and the Scum fans were in full throttle Henry chased a ball on a run which took him from left to right across their box and heading for the corner flag. Keller rushed out, lost his head and brought him down. Cast iron penalty. It was given by Barry and Keller got a yellow card, which was fair enough as Thierry didn't have an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Surprise, surprise Rob picked up the ball and placed it on the spot. Forty-five minutes played and he hits to Keller's left. 1-1 thanks to some crazy keeping and a convincing penalty by Pires. The noise is now all at our end.
They opened with Sicknote blasting over. A brilliant mazey run by Henry with three in his wake saw Bergkamp win a corner. Big tackle by Ray on half way. A Keane shot but Dave is up to it. Henry played silly buggers by standing still and was robbed of the ball. Lauren cross just too far for Henry. Pires had a brilliant run down the right, pulled it back for Freddie but he tried to pass when he should have shot. We could have scored, should have!
Fabulous long cross-field pass by Henry almost put Gilberto through but he couldn't quite control it. Wiltord down the left cut inside well but his shot went for another corner, which Gio bent into their keeper. Toure came on for Freddie. Sheringham dives, then moans, no change there. Parlour took out Keane and was awarded with a booking. Martin shoved in the back as they throw in the kitchen sink but blast over anyway. We closed up shop instead of going for their jugular. Final score 1-1. They'll feel hard done by and we can play much better, time was when a draw at the Lane was a good result but it isn't these days. The Scum should be taken for six points a season!
Laugh of the day. I saw a newspaper article this morning headed 'Anderton: I'd never wear an Arsenal shirt' what an over-rated pile of crepe 'Sicknote' is. Does he imagine 'A' that we'd ever want him or 'B' that he could even make our third team?