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Friday Night Football Kicks Season Off In Fine Style

A very warm welcome to our newest recruit here at TEB, Mark Harrison, who will be sharing his thoughts on his club Arsenal, the Premier League and football in general throughout the season. In his debut for TEB, Mark gives us his view on the opening Friday night game of the new Premier League season.

Same old Arsenal.

If I had a pound for every time I have heard those words at Highbury or the Emirates, I would be a wealthy man.

After taking the lead inside a minute, with a well taken header by our new £50million pound plus centre forward, we did the current ‘Arsenal thing’ and within five minutes, Leicester City were level. This then went a step further by falling 2-1 behind after a Granit Xhaka mistake led to a goal for Jamie Vardy after half an hour.

The usual moans and groans ensued and the ‘same old Arsenal’ negativity began to infect the ground like a bout of quick spreading measles. Had Danny Welbeck not equalised bang on half time, I cannot help but think the boos would have ensued just forty-five minutes into the new season.

You cannot really legislate for the current Arsenal fan. Spoiled, over expectant and unreasonably quick to destroy anyone. Is it just me or do the ‘new wave’ supporters who base his or her view of the world on the last minute that has just taken place live on the edge consistently waiting to explode?

Every game is your last isn’t it? Forget someone who has had a marvelous last month, scoring goals, assisting chances. If his last game was poor then he is fit for the heap, sell him! I cannot handle it personally. Call me old fashioned but I tend to base my view of managers and players over far longer than the last twenty minutes. It bores me with the current game how everything is scrutinised to a point of ridiculous quite frankly.

Back to the game, and I along with the rest of the East Lower, a group of generally reasonable people were pretty convinced Arsenal would come out in the second half and finish the job.

“I fancy 4-2 …. Think Lacazette will get another … Xhaka to score from long range” were the comments as the players came out of the tunnel.

Of course, none of that quite happened but when Vardy scored to make it 3-2 to Leicester we all feared the worse. Vardy with a header from a corner? Has he ever scored from a corner? Not that I know of, which makes it an even worse goal to concede after letting the smallest player on the pitch get one with his head earlier on in the game. To top it off the Steptoe lookalike centre forward then ran along the Clock End where home fans sit giving it to them gleefully.

Ten minutes more of huffing and puffing, there was the welcome sight of Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey stripping off to come on, I remember thinking, “this needs to happen in my mind” and the changes were met with some positivity. We then proceed to play some nice stuff, surely it will come, surely we can’t lose the opening game again at home and the “world is ending” fans will be demonstrating on Highbury corner within a day of the new season starting. Please Lord, no.

And then it happens. Less than ten minutes left to play, Xhaka clips a dream pass with the outside of his foot and it lands at Ramsey’s feet. The Welsh international pushes it towards goal and lets rip across the ever annoying time wasting Kasper Schmiechel. It’s 3-3!

The ground now sensed victory and so did the players. It’s all out attack, wave after wave of intricate passing, sometimes too intricate.

Five minutes to go. A corner out on the right. I can feel the North Bank sucking the ball towards the net. It comes in. High toward the penalty spot. Giroud is grappling with two Leicester defenders. Bang! The Frenchman makes contact with his head and the ball rockets towards the bar and down into the net. The stadium erupts. It’s 4-3!

I just love those moments in football. Moments of unbridled joy where whoever the nearest person is to you gets a hug. You might not know them, they may not know you, but none of that matters. You both have a common desire, a common want, and it has just happened in front of your eyes.

Arsenal nicked the points, and all is well with the world. The walk back to the car is a happy one. The chat about the game is suddenly upbeat, it is what makes going to football all worth it, and the drug that keeps us coming back.

I have been on that drug for best part of forty years and it still gives me goose bumps when we win, especially in games that are on the edge. Only another fifty odd games to play this season.

Bring it on!



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Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

Passionate Arsenal fan for 41 years. Seen them come and go on and off the pitch in that time. Out of it all I am still not over the 2006 Champions League Final! Lover of all football, irrespective of who plays it.

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