Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth
Mere seconds divide desolation from ecstasy in this most glorious of sports. There is nothing that compares to it – nothing at all.
This is why we go through itEast Lower (@eastlower) March 4, 2023
It really is why we go, why we go again, and why we keep doing it to ourselves.
It’s a sport where scoring happens less than in many other sports. How many goals do you get in a game of football? Sometimes none at all, other times maybe a maximum of five. Often somewhere in between. Goals are like gold dust. They are each and every one of them moments of real meaning, much more so than many other sports.
Combine that with the tribal, quasi-religious nature of football, and you have all the ingredients for the moment that engulfed us all in the 97th minute of yesterday’s game.
And, oh boy – ay caramba, hell’s bells – were we engulfed by it. Come about the 85th minute I had resigned myself to suffer the kind of mixed emotions that I can only describe as a ‘spirited disaster’. A nod of approval at the sheer courageousness of our response and a dogged will to win, combined with a sense of frustration at the foot-shooting that had got us into the mess in the first place.
Then Odegaard fires over the final corner in the final moment of this most breathtaking of games. I see it spin out to Nelson – whose presence on the pitch is a whole other story in itself – and the next thing I see is the ball arrowing like an Exocet towards my actual head. This clip was pretty much our view. Had there been no net, the blog would currently be being written by a headless man.
As it was, the net saved me from being a headless man only momentarily. Let’s just say there were limbs aplenty, limbs akimbo – it was unremittingly limbtabulous. There have been moments of ecstasy like this at the Emirates Stadium, even this season. But in these circumstances, at that time, having been two down and with a goal that would grace a World Cup final? I don’t remember anything like it short of going back to Platt and Henry v United. I will never forget this moment.
“The best game I’ve ever been to”, said my 14-year-old son. And who can argue otherwise?
Want to see it again? Who am I kidding – you’ve all watched it a trillion and twelve times but if you want more and haven’t seen it, this thread from Dan Critchlow covers all the bases. Arsenal fans the world over hurling themselves everywhere, going utterly mental, jumping into pools, gyrating. Imagine Reiss Nelson watching a thread like that? This is what your left foot did. You reduced – or is elevated? – us to this. It doesn’t matter how the rest of the season pans out, or his Arsenal career, because that strike has gone down into folklore already.
The celebrations on the pitch were no less pandemonious. Men down, men shooting off in competing directions, other men coming on the pitch. Everyone lost their absolute shit and I am completely here for it.
There were other goals too, should I mention them? I won’t talk of Bournemouth’s, why ruin the moment? But a hat tip to Nelson (again) for his cross and another hat-tip to Ben White for a magnificent strike to level it. Just.
What does this mean for our season? Had we drawn it would have been another momentum-swinger. But we won and what that says about this team is the kind of thing that, if you could bottle it, would make you millions. Can we do it? Hold your horses. There are 12 games to go, and trust me every game is going to feel as decisive as this.
I am here for the challenge, whether we make it or not. This team is magnificent. We’re there for them, they’re there for us, and that they’re there for each other is unquestionable. Just enjoy the ride. And try to breathe.
(I told you I’d write a blog Mr C – hope your hangover subsided, and that you have another one today).