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  1. Arsenal v Liverpool part 2 They would never have dreamt of the heartbreak they would have that season Scouse made us sick If you were to look only at the early part of our life with the Scousers, it would make you despair. League division 2 was unkind to us. 4 defeats including 5-0 in the first match. They showed us who is boss straightaway. All other league matches were in Division one. As Woolwich Arsenal we had 4 wins to their 11 and 6 draws. We did pay them back for their 5-0 in 1909 with one in return but overall we didn’t seem to like eating Scouse. But if you take away the Woolwich Arsenal days it becomes 82 to 77 wins in their favour. Not so much better. It seems we developed a taste for Scouse. The emperors of Scouse I am going to kickoff with the FA cup. We beat them in this one without any arguments, we have 8 wins to their 5 and 4 draws including one tie which took 3 replays. We also have more trophies. 14 to their 7. We have 2 final wins to their 1. They will probably never pass us out in my lifetime so that is one area we are the kings of eating Scouse. Ah, I like it. But it looked bad at the start. 1-4 at home both times. Then we had 3 in a row which we did twice. They never managed that. The matches, though, were extremely tight after their first 2 wins. Truly we would have needed a sharp blade to separate the 2. We won by 2 goals 4 times, the rest either draws or one goal difference. Magic games But what about the famous games? The first final meeting was in 1950, well before my time, and we had the final score 2-0 by 63 minutes. Bob Paisley, Liverpool’s greatest ever manager, then a player, was dropped for the final. But my greatest memory was the double year. I was a kid and Liverpool in all honesty were ranked higher than us. We had just beaten the Spuds at whatever cabbage patch they play at to claim the title and that seemed a miracle by itself. To win the double was considered almost impossible. And so when Steve Heighway scored on 2 minutes of extra time with nothing being scored in normal time, it seemed like it truly was impossible. My head dropped. But Arsenal are Arsenal, we came back with Eddie Kelly and the iconic Charlie George goal still shown everywhere. It was the greatest moment of my young footballing life. The Spurs match wasn’t shown on TV. One of my favourite Arsenal pics: Charlie George wins the 1971 final The next great tie was in 1980 and the semi-final. 3 draws led us to the final match. Bob Paisley, Liverpool’s manager was famous for mixing up player’s names. Before every match he said, “watch out for Osborne coming through from midfield”. The players were puzzled as we didn’t have an Osborne. He clarified that it was the player from Ipswich. And hey, it was the player from Ipswich who sent maybe the greatest team ever in English football home crying – Brian Talbot scored the vital goal to send us through to the final after a very tight fought series. Scouse made us ill The next time was the Wengerball era. 2001 and most of you remember this one. Freddie Llungberg won it for us on 72 as we were outplaying them and they couldn’t come back. Except Michael Owen didn’t read that script, he scored on 82 and 88 to snatch it away from us and I ended up very upset. Always disappointing to lose a big match when playing better. Michael Owen: Broke my heart The next 3 times we played them we won in 2002, 2007 and 2014 in the earlier rounds. So no matter what metric you look at for the FA Cup, we are their daddies. The best league games And so to the league. Now I covered in depth the greatest match ever here, 2-0 to the Arsenal and I won’t talk too much about it here except to say that when Michael Thomas scored very late on, I was sent to an area I never experienced before, I was up high, watching down as magic unfolded before me, the Liverpool players slumped, devastated, their eyes glazed, and Arsenal celebrated like crazy. Oh, what a night for Michael Thomas Other fantastic league matches? Well, I have to mention Andrei Arshavin to give a good mention to a Russian at this time. In 2009, Liverpool looked like winning the league but we drew 4-4 to give the impetus to Man Utd to win the league. They only conceded 7 goals in their final 10 games and four of them to Arshavin. Some Russians are good guys: Andrei Arshavin Also notable was the 3-3 draw at the Emirates in 2017. They went 2-0 up with Coutinho and Salah, then Sanchez, Xhaka and Ozil put us ahead only for Firmino to get them the draw. Score again tomorrow, Granit Liverpool push on ahead There have been many tight games but also many good wins for the Scousers and our latest results in the league have not been good. Since 2014 they have won 9 times to our 2 and 5 draws. They have 19 League titles to our 13. I have to concede the metrics on the league to them. But we have 3 doubles to their one so we are well ahead on that one. The thing is, we have played them almost 250 times over 3 centuries. They won 93 to our 81 and 62 were drawn. I can’t begin to cover all these matches and I am left with a sprinkling of games to mention and the broad statistics which show a long and tight rivalry. Lots of difficult games and the numbers close enough that Arsenal could potentially overhaul Liverpool with a good spell. They have pulled away in the past years but I hope that a win this week will see us move a little closer. Our young team need to attack and defend like demons against them but that we can do. A little luck could see us do it. Are they our biggest rivals? Only Man Utd are the other claimants to that title and I will get to them in due course, but as you can see, sometimes we could eat Scouse and sometimes it made us sick. If London Colney could serve it up for lunch every day up to this match I think we have a chance. Where can we finish 2022 update: 87 if we win all. Second place probably. Realistically we have 4th place for us with a reasonably good run. Beating Liverpool makes all the difference. We can’t afford many losses. They will be desperate to win to give them a chance of the title. Arteta seems to have form with Klopp and will want a win for Pep. He has double the incentive. However I am not sure he would stand much chance in a boxing match with Klopp. Concentrate on winning on the pitch, Mikel.
  2. I still feel selling Petit and Overmars was a mistake 2000-2001 Why are we selling? Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars were two of our very best players and would have been on a lot of fans choices for a world squad. They went to Barcelona for 30m. To say I was shocked was an understatement. Top teams don’t sell their best players, but we did. We got Pires, Wiltord, Edu (yes, him) and Lauren as a direct replacement for Nigel Winterburn (37), who was one of the most stalwart players we ever had. We didn’t get a direct replacement for Petit at all. It was baffling. Vieira was still a bit raw, rash, and could get sent off. But he was on his way to being maybe the best in his position in the world. Could he be next? All the early promise of Wenger was disappearing in me. I said last time that maybe we had a better squad of players, if you compared them man to man, than Man Utd but they were achieving more. With those two gone, I could not say that anymore. Pires and Wiltord were not well known to me and I was hoping that Wenger’s knowledge of the French scene would come up trumps. But that was what we were back to, hoping that Henry was better than Anelka, and there was little indication of that in his first season. And now this season, we were hoping that these new players could match up to Petit and Overmars. It was all looking bad and disheartening. We were a long way second to Man Utd for 2 seasons in a row and it seemed that Wenger was settling for second best. Wenger's spies had given us Pires and Wiltord and we were hoping I was annoyed It was annoying as, if our players were better, then we should be in Utd’s position. It seemed that Ferguson’s drive was better than Wenger. I am not sure how many people would have agreed with me that our players were fractionally better at the time but for sure that belief could not hold with Petit and Overmars gone. Arsenal’s, and now Wenger’s dislike of spending money had been the one constant in all the time I had been supporting them. So how did we get on, on the pitch? We started badly with a 1-0 to Sunderland, Niall Quinn heading in a goal. Then we beat Liverpool 2-0 and Charlton 5-3 before going on an average run. Then things picked up, we beat Man Utd and others to finish October level on points with them. Maybe we could do it this time. Henry was starting to score spectacular goals and there was an excitement in the team. We always bounced back But, under Wenger, November always seemed bad and we lost 2 more against Leeds and Everton. It was a real up and down season with big wins and big losses. Man Utd thumped us 6-1 and it was a bit of a pattern under Wenger, we could get destroyed as if we were relegation fodder. The one sure good thing about Wenger was his ability to bounce back from defeat though, and that is a great tribute to his man management skills. Every time we went down he bounced us back up again. This guy always helped us to bounce back Beaten 4-0 by Liverpool on 23rd December? Beat Leicester 6-1 26th December. After that 6-1 v Utd? 3-0 win over the Hammers. Beaten 3-0 by Middlesbrough? Next match, 4-1 v Everton. That is in stark contrast to Emery and Arteta where a slump seems to last. And so we finished second again, 3 seasons in a row. We had seemed to cement our place as second best. Head to head winners And the Champions league? We had struggled in this under Wenger but this season saw a turnaround. We topped the first group on head to head with Lazio with 13 points each. Shaktar Donetsk, and Sparta Prague were the other 2. Then on to another group stage with Bayern Munich, Lyon, Spartak Moscow against us. This time we got through on head to head against Lyon in second place after Bayern topped the group. And so a quarter final against Valencia but they beat us on away goals after 2-1 at Highbury and 1-0 there. Still better than previous years, maybe Wenger was learning how to compete in Europe. He had a fixed belief that players could only play x amounts of matches a season and was always looking to rest players, playing an astounding total of 34 players in all matches. Often once he qualified, he would play reserves and not care about first or second and that often rebounded on him, getting a top team in the knockouts. Not such glory years As you can see, Wenger also came under criticism in his top years, which might surprise some of my younger readers, particularly during this period when we weren’t winning trophies. I loved his style of football, his honesty when answering questions, his devotion to his players, not criticizing them in public and not having the spectacular fallouts that Alex Ferguson regularly conjured up. Wenger didn’t really shout at players, preferring for them to figure out where they had gone wrong themselves. He believed very strongly in giving them belief, and maintaining that belief so that even a bad defeat didn’t overly dent their confidence so we bounced back quickly as I have said earlier. All of this made me believe in him and a consistent second place was better than we had got before, even under George Graham. But I never got used to playing a weakened team and often my heart would sink when I saw the lineout. Irishman Graham Barrett got one game against Ipswich The were 2 trophies still left for us but Ipswich knocked us out 2-1 in the League cup in our first round despite us dominating the match. We played a total second string despite Ipswich being premier league with Graham Barrett getting a very rare game. He was the son of a friend of mine, Gary Barrett, who was also a professional footballer. We never won the league cup under Wenger and he really just used it to try out players. Nearly men? And the Fa Cup? Our trophy? We beat Carlisle 1-0 in the 3rd round and then QPR 6-0. Then Chelsea 3-1 and Blackburn 3-0. That set us up for the Spuds in the semis but despite dominating, Gary Doherty scored in the 14th minute and somehow they hung on until finally Vieira and Pires knocked in goals to set up a final vs Liverpool. We dominated again but somehow they won 2-1 with Michael Owen scoring twice, the second nearing the end to escape with a robbery And so, not a bad season, and we came close to bagging a trophy but I kept hoping for more, particularly as Liverpool, Leeds and Chelsea were starting to push us. We needed to be Arsenal, and we needed to kick the Arse off Man Utd, so could next season be the one? I was always hopeful. Michael Owen broke our hearts
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