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You're Just Too Good To Be True

After winning the Double in 1997-98, Arsenal fell into a Bermuda triangle of silver medals. They narrowly missed out on retaining the double in 1998-99; with United pipping them to the league by a point, whilst Bergkamp`s last minute penalty miss in the F.A. Cup semi-final against the same opponents cost Arsenal dear as they lost the match in extra time. In 1999-2000 Arsenal finished a distant second to United and lost the UEFA Cup Final on penalties to Galatasaray. That summer, Overmars and Petit were sold to Barcelona and Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord came in, but Arsenal finished a distant 2nd again and lost the 2001 F.A. Cup Final to Liverpool in a heartbreaking final seven minutes. The Gunners had picked up a reputation as English football`s perennial bridesmaids, who would let the bouquet slip at the crucial moments. By now the fabled back five was creeping towards retirement; Lauren replaced Lee Dixon at right back, Academy graduate Ashley Cole made the number three shirt his own. But Arsenal were struggling to replace the influence and leadership of Tony Adams in the defence. That was until Arsene Wenger journeyed to the other end of the Seven Sister`s Road and made the most controversial signing of his reign. Sol Campbell`s Tottenham contract had come to an end and the cream of Europe cased his signature. Barcelona showed Sol around the Nou Camp, Inter Milan promised him a wage of around 120,000 a week. But he chose to come to Arsenal, much to the chagrin of the Spurs faithful.

Effigies were hung on the Seven Sister`s Road as the Tottenham captain had joined arch rivals Arsenal on a free transfer. But despite the hyperbole and the bile, Sol spoke of his desire to play in the Champions League and win trophies. He would do both with unerring regularity in his Arsenal tenure. Arsene added the signatures of goalkeeper Richard Wright, Dutch midfielder Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Japanese tee shirt mannequin Junichi Inamoto and responding to Henry`s demand for a "fox in the box"- Everton striker Francis Jeffers. All of the aforementioned would be spectacular flops in an Arsenal shirt. As well as the signing of Campbell, the summer was dominated by a long running transfer saga involving one of their best players (isn`t every chuffing summer?), as Patrick Vieira courted the attention of suitors in Madrid. Arsene buttered his young midfield charge up with the vice captaincy, promising that he would pass the armband to Vieira in full once Adams had confirmed his imminent retirement. The future of the manager himself was also under close scrutiny, with only twelve months to run on his deal, Arsene Wenger appeared reluctant to put pen to paper, though he repeatedly affirmed, "My word is as good as my signature."

The Gunners began at the Riverside to tale on Steve McLaren`s Middlesbrough, those of us that travelled revelled in the signature of the Spurs captain with a repertoire of songs that must have aped every single classic pop song you can think of. But one really stuck, Middlesbrough come out to "Papa`s Got A Brand New Pig Bag" by Perfecto Allstarz, and as the teams emerged from the tunnel, the balmy Teesside air reverberated to "Do, do, do, do, Sol`s a Gooner." Much like another one of our more famous chants of the period, "We`ve got Dennis Bergkamp" it was much a tuneful expression of disbelief as a gloat to beleaguered opponents. Henry`s smart chest trap and volley put Arsenal ahead, but when Ray Parlour was sent off midway through the second half, Arsenal`s indiscipline looked set to cost them again. The previous two seasons had seen a bevy of red cards coupled with a poor away record; key reasons for finishing more than 15 points behind United in both campaigns. Yet the Gunners displayed a fortitude many doubted they possessed. Ehiogu brought down Cole with two minutes left, Pires scored the penalty before Dennis Bergkamp scored two fabulously taken injury time goals to seal a 4-0 win. Before the match, so poor was our record on the road, when a friend predicted a 5-0 victory, I spat that I promised to streak if we went 5-0 up! But Wenger had slightly altered our tactics for away matches, Wiltord and Ljungberg played as attacking wingers behind Henry, this gave Pires a more central berth. His form that season would justify that tinkering beyond all reasonable doubt.

But despite the strains of steel visible that afternoon in Middlesbrough, Arsenal still took a little while to gel completely. Disappointing home draws with ten man Bolton and Blackburn Rovers, as well as home defeats to Leeds United and Charlton Athletic left Arsenal off the pace in early November. Sol Campbell returned to White Hart Lane amongst the invective and the vitriol as Arsenal drew 1-1 with Spurs. Campbell`s Arsenal career had begun underwhelmingly to that point, with weight problems and indifferent form dogging him. But conversely, the Spurs fans that voiced their hatred of him so vociferously kick started his Gunners career. A week later, Manchester United visited Highbury sitting four points clear at the top of the league, it would prove to be a make or break fixture on a filthy rainy evening at Highbury. Paul Scholes- playing in a new role upfront with Ruud van Nistelrooy, opened the scoring as the home side trailed 1-0 at the break. Such a result would have left Arsenal seven points behind their Northern nemesis, but a second half comeback that would be the catalyst for their campaign was about to blow the race wide open. Freddie Ljungberg`s dink and subsequent sweary celebration epitomised the hybrid of flair and grit the team would show. But it would be calamity that gave the Gunners the points, with nine minutes left, Barthez inexplicably kicked the ball straight to the feet of his friend and compatriot Henry, who slid the ball past him. Four minutes later, Vieira`s spinning through pass should have been gathered comfortably by the errant French keeper, but he allowed the ball to squirm under him; leaving Henry to slip the ball into an empty net once more. "Give it to Barthez" echoed through the Highbury rain as Ferguson looked on stony faced. At the final whistle, I recall a huge crowd gathering outside the dressing rooms on Avenell Road in the pouring rain, looking up at the visitors` window and shouting, "Barthez, man of the match, Barthez, Barthez, man of the match!" (Before you ask, yes, I did join in). The game gave Arsenal the confidence they needed to end their relative drought and the second half fight back showed the Gunners were developing a presence and togetherness to compliment their passing football. Gilles Grimandi recalls; "The balance was developing in the side at the time, with a gritty defence and a mixture of muscle and skill in midfield."

There were a number of collective factors that lit up the 2001-02 season; the sublime coming of age of Robert Pires, the mesmeric forward play of Henry, the defensive steel of Campbell, the blossoming of Ashley Cole and the purple patch of Ljungberg (or should that be red patch?) But individual moments likewise punctuate the campaign. In December 2001, the Gunners hit a six day patch that would elevate the club to another echelon. A resounding Champions League victory over Juventus was followed by Arsene Wenger ending speculation over his future by signing a new deal on a Wednesday. The next day at Islington Town Hall, Arsenal`s plans for a new stadium less than two miles away from Highbury were given the green light as planning permission was granted. On the Sunday, Aston Villa came to Highbury and assumed a shock two goal lead at half time. Sylvain Wiltord hit back with an instant second half consolation, before Henry equalised with twenty minutes remaining. In injury time, Enckelman`s poor kick was seized by Pires, he typically split the Villains` defence with one slide rule pass leaving Henry to slide the ball into the bottom corner for an unlikely 3-2 win. The momentum was gathering apace, but the visit of Newcastle nine days later threatened to enervate it. Ray Parlour was sent off quite ludicrously by Graham Poll- so inept was the decision that even opposing captain Alan Shearer pleaded with Poll not to produce a red card. Craig Bellamy was sent off in the second half for an accidental collision and Poll`s reputation as a gurning attention seeker was crystallized. But so far as Arsenal were concerned, two late Newcastle goals saw them lose 3-1 as the Geordies won in the capital for the first time in five years. The points weren`t all they lost; at the final whistle controversy ensued as Henry proceeded to blow his top at Poll, ranting at him all the way to the dressing room despite Lewin`s best attempts to calm him down. The national press clucked its collective tongue and told the country it was another example of Arsenal`s indiscipline. But though an unsightly incident; it gave Gooners the germ of the thought that this team had developed some fire in its belly. Arsenal didn`t lose another game for the rest of the season.

Nine times out of ten in the modern game, referees will succumb to the torpor of the media when officiating any team that is in the eye of a storm. (Arsenal waited five months for a penalty following Eduardo`s dive last season). Paul Durkin took a pound of Arsenal flesh in the following game at Anfield. Arsenal were already missing Tony Adams through injury and Patrick Vieira through suspension, when Giovanni van Bronckhorst was on the receiving end of on e the Premiership era`s most deplorable red cards, he slipped on the unctuous surface under no challenge, climbed to his feet and jogged away. Durkin gave him a second booking for diving. The referee had no such inclination to send Dudek off for a professional foul nine minutes later as Henry converted the resulting spot kick. Ten minutes into the second half, Robert Pires sauntered to the by line and cut the ball back for the onrushing Ljungberg to make it 2-0. Despite Litmanen`s consolation, Arsenal held on to win 2-1 at Anfield, with ten men as a nation poured scorn on them in the days building up to the game. The demonstration of a siege mentality had all of us travelling fans believing that this side had what it took to win the league. Consecutive draws with fellow title rivals Liverpool and then Leeds at Elland Road in January made it appear as though the title pendulum had swung towards Manchester again. (Apropos to nothing, that Leeds game at Elland Road was the last time I was not present at a domestic Arsenal fixture. Very noteworthy in our club`s history, I`m sure you will agree!)

But one thing that stayed absolutely constant was Arsenal`s ability to score- they became the first club to score in all of their league fixtures for a season- and there were some pearlers amongst them. Pires` volley against Middlesbrough, Bergkamp`s chip against Bayer Leverkusen, Parlour`s volley with the outside of his boot in an F.A. Cup tie against Gillingham. But the ides of March were to delivery artistry on a different plateau entirely. As the business end of the season approached, the Gunners were beset with injuries. People often forget that Igors Stepanovs played enough games alongside Sol Campbell to secure a winners medal, whilst guardians of pub triva everywhere will be aware that the Gunners are the only league winners ever to dish out medals to three different keepers. Giovanni van Bronckhorst ruptured his cruciate ligament in a 4-1 win over Fulham in February, Martin Keown tore a hamstring, Tony Adams` fitness was such that he could only manage one game in three (he only appeared away from home once in the whole season; on the first day at Middlesbrough), Jeffers` ankle troubled him constantly. When Arsenal travelled to St. James` Park on March 2nd, Henry succumbed to a stomach bug whilst Oleg Luzhny`s injury meant the Gunners were playing fifth choice left back Lauren. But as the wounded lay strewn across the battle field, Dennis Bergkamp lit the evening sky up with a bolt from the blue. With the scores at 0-0, Pires whipped a ball into Bergkamp with his back to goal on the edge of the area. What followed next is burned onto the memories of all that saw it.

Bergkamp twisted his foot, meeting the ball with his instep and flicking it around Dabisaz, who was at Bergkamp`s back. Once he had executed the spin, the ball arrived around the other side of the dumbstruck Dabisaz, where Bergkamp used his strength to hold the defender off, before slotting the ball into the bottom corner. Such an outrageous piece of skill so sublimely executed would have been written off as fluke had any other player pulled it off. Not Bergkamp. To this day, what strikes me most about the goal is not the execution, but the speed of thought. Those of you that have played the game need only to put yourself into the Iceman`s position. We`ve all had a ball drilled to our feet with our backs to goal; the thought of most footballers, professional or otherwise, in such a situation is surely to hold it up and look for a team mate. In the 0.3 seconds it takes for the ball to travel from Pires to Bergkamp, at what point does Bergkamp decide on such an outrageously complicated piece of skill? It is surely not possible to devise such a move in such a small vacuum of time? It was a goal that said everything about Bergkamp as a footballer, improvised, unchoreographed genius. A natural footballer who seemed almost at times to be guided by satellite, as though he had one of those radars you get at the bottom of the screen on simulated football games operating in his brain at all times. My great regret about that goal is that we were so high up and so far away in the third tier at St. James` Park, that we did not see the manifest piece of genius properly. It`s like being told you`ve just missed a shooting star because you were tying a shoelace. Sol Campbell added a second as an injury ravaged Gunners side beat one of their main title rivals on their own patch.

The next league fixture at Villa Park provided a similar piece of footballing artistry. The Gunners led 1-0 at Villa Park when David Seaman crucially saved a Gareth Barry spot kick. Arsenal cleared the danger as Freddie Ljungberg looked up and played a long diagonal to Robert Pires, who had only Boateng between himself and goal. Pires lofted the ball over Boateng`s head, leaving the Dutch midfielder chasing fairies, before Pires poised himself and lifted the ball gently over the head of Peter Schmeichel. Again, the goal is of symbolic importance, Pires had been the league`s brightest star for the entire season. His poise and balance on the ball, the ability to pick a pass emphasised by his 15 assists, the nack of arriving in the area right on cue. Pires revolutionised the way the winger played in England, he was a left winger just as likely to pop up in the centre circle or the six yard line. The days of the chalk on the boots type so revered in this country through great players like Giggs and Waddle were at an end. A week after that goal, in an F.A. Cup replay with Newcastle, Pires hurdled a challenge from Dabisaz and landed awkwardly, rupturing his cruciate ligaments. His season was over, but it didn`t prevent him picking up the Football Writers` Player of the Year award. His team mates were to give him their own tribute some weeks later. But for now, Arsenal had a void vacated by their prescient left winger. One young man was ready to fill that void and propel Arsenal headlong to the title.

The injury to Pires was a sentimental blow, but it also robbed Arsenal of their most potent creative attacking player. Some reading this may find it difficult to believe that Henry ever took a backseat to any attacking player the club had during his eight years, but Pires really was that good. But his cruel banishment allowed one of the great Arsenal double acts to flourish. Most recall the end of the 2001-02 campaign belonging to Freddie Ljungberg, with his penetrating runs, streak of red hair and boy band looks. But to dismiss the part Dennis Bergkamp played in Freddie`s purple patch is Gooner heresy. Tottenham were the first to feel the sting of the roundhouse kick and karate chop, Bergkamp fed a sumptuous through ball to Ljungberg as the Swede slipped in unnoticed to slide the ball past Kasey Keller for 1-0. But Spurs won a penalty with eight minutes left when Seaman felled Poyet; arch nemesis Sheringham despatched the penalty and ran towards the visiting fans with his lips pursed towards the club crest. But when Chris Perry took a swipe at Henry in the area in the 88th minute, the Gunners had the chance to keep their title tilt on an even keel. With Henry injured, Lauren stepped up as a stadium held its breath. Fingernails were chewed clean off, heads pensively rested in hands as Lauren stepped up. Ludicrously, he demonstrated a scary amount of composure and pea rolled the ball down the middle of the goal at a rate of about 0.3mph. The ball brushed Keller`s studs and barely had enough puff to hit the net. But it crossed the line- quite literally in slow motion- and Highbury exploded as the tension was relieved and the tension was released into the early spring air.

The Gunners quickly secured a place in a second consecutive F.A. Cup Final when they despatched Middlesbrough 1-0 at Old Trafford- tellingly, that fixture meant Arsenal`s game away ay Manchester United was to be moved to May 8th. "We`ll win the league at Old Trafford" came the expectant cry in the games that followed. A tense home match with Ipswich was won late on with a Freddie Ljungberg double in the last ten minutes. Likewise, the Gunners left it impossibly late in the following game at Highbury with West Ham, Ljungberg once again latching onto a Bergkamp through ball to break the seal after 83 nerve shredding minutes. Kanu added a second in his typically idiosyncratic style. United`s response was to beat Ipswich at Portman Road that Saturday, typically Ruud van Nistelrooy dived to win a penalty in a 1-0 victory. But United`s reign was coming to an end. The Gunners went to Bolton and once more, it was the class of Bergkamp that told; first another inch perfect through ball to Ljungberg established an all too familiar pattern to make it 1-0, before matching his feat with a pass of similar elegance to Wiltord to secure a 2-0 win at Bolton. Hard as it is to believe now considering what`s gone on between the clubs since; Bolton fans cheered each of our goals, chanted "you`re gonna beat Man United" towards the away support and even applauded our supporters coaches on the way out of the Reebok, such was their distaste for United. Arsenal went to Cardiff in the Cup Final that Saturday and defeated Chelsea 2-0, a sublime Ray Parlour goal and another Ljungberg effort- this time a gorgeous solo effort in no way aided or abetted by Bergkamp- confirming one half of the Double secured. Their next league fixture was at Old Trafford, where they needed only a point to be crowned champions and swipe the crown jewels in full view of the throne.

Wednesday, 8th May, 2002 will forever go down as one of the greatest nights in Arsenal history. I was about to sit my A Levels and made myself incredibly unpopular by bunking school yet again to attend- thereby missing a Mock English A Level. That`s a big no no when a) you`re English teacher is also your form tutor and b) you`re applying to do an English degree! But frankly no teacher in the world would have believed that I had been struck down by a mystery illness on the day Arsenal won the league at Old Trafford and my teacher was even less impressed when I refused to even apologise the next morning. But the omens did not appear to be good, on top of injuries to Pires and Adams; Bergkamp and Henry dropped out on the morning of the game. Most of us simply refused to believe that United would countenance conceding their title on their own ground. Yet Ferguson`s tactics were spiteful and disappointing. Keane and Scholes- two of the greatest midfielders of their generation, resorted to kicking and clogging. Ferguson left van Nistelrooy on the bench and Arsenal, spurred on by the majestic duo of Vieira and Edu- took control of the game. United registered barely a shot. On 68 minutes Arsenal, who though in control, had rarely threatened themselves, burst through when Wiltord`s reverse pass found Ljungberg, his shot was straight at Barthez, but Wiltord had continued his run unchecked to slot the rebound through Barthez`s legs. Yours truly was unfortunately positioned against a barrier and as such, was squashed to smithereens in the resulting celebration, but it`s hard to even register physical pain at such moments. Someone brilliantly unveiled a banner marked CHAMPIONS SECTION. United knew the game was up, Ferguson sent on van Nistelrooy who had time to donkey punch Ljungberg in the kidneys in full view of referee Paul Durkin. But Arsenal were having the last laugh. "Hand it over Ferguson!" the triumphant travelling Gooners sang, as his face grew gloriously purpler with every passing minute. At the height of the Arsenal United rivalry, this was truly epoch making stuff. It also meant Arsenal had been the first club in over a hundred years to complete a league campaign without a single defeat away from home.

The final whistle sounded and, to their credit, a large section of United fans applauded the Arsenal players in their finest hour. It was a gesture that showed that this was a rivalry underpinned by a mutual respect- albeit a grudging one. We sang and celebrated for a good hour after the final whistle, the players joining us. The sight of Campbell careering towards the East Stand lower with his lips pressed up against the badge and Vieira making an identical gesture further cheered a delirious travelling contingent. Until Arsenal win the Champions League, I doubt I`ll find a night to match it. In fact, I think it might have been the greatest night of my life. Music is a great stimulant for memory; I recall wearily climbing back onto the coach and the radio playing Daft Punk`s 'One More Time.` That song always takes me right back to that night. Our coaches parked up on Avenell Road to find an absolute sea of beer and champagne bottles where homebound Gooners had celebrated around the walls of the stadium into the wee small hours. We crept through the now moribund terraced streets to our cars and buses home quietly murmuring the "Freddie song." That Sunday, Arsenal played to a party atmosphere, defeating Everton 4-3. Henry confirmed the Golden Boot, scoring his 24th goal of the season, the Gunners confirmed their record of having scored in every single league game- a record that would eventually stretch to 55 consecutive league games on the score sheet. As the players ceremoniously lifted the trophy, a heavily strapped Robert Pires went to lift the trophy last; his team mates all genuflected to him; an illustration of the team`s indomitable togetherness and of the form of the player himself. Tony Adams and Lee Dixon bade farewell as both retired having served the club with scarcely paralleled distinction. The day didn`t perhaps have the poetry of the Everton match in 1998, but it was the perfect end to the perfect season.LD.


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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday August 11 2010

Time: 11:06PM

Your Comments

Chris Perry (Shudder) A dark, dark era of my beloved club. Next Week Gary Doherty
There are a number of moments that are burned indelibly in my mind and in a way the sight of Pires standing on the podium while the other players gleefully acknowledged his contribution to the season was as poetic as any of the phrases that encapsulate the triumphs of the past.
I think were it not for Henry's legend overshadowing him slightly, Pires would rightly be recognised as one of our greatest ever players. I thought he was the best left midfielder in the world for a few years there.
Little Dutch
hes was a pretty good diver aswell ;)
Anything to take your minds off the fact that your captain wants to leave for a successful club and the only trophy you can win is the Emirates Cup
Don't need to worry about our captain leaving he's tied down to a long term contract. It's not like he's going to leave on a free and join our neighbours - though you must admit Sol was totally justified and fully rewarded for doing so as the article so memorably describes.
A football club is like a family for the fans - when Sol left, he turned his back on the club that developed him, and in effect spat at every Tottenham fan. Now, you Goons may appreciate that, God knows you lot get spat at enough when you attempt to enter the visitor's section at WHL... but he demonstrated the lowest form of character.
Pires was awesome, Rosicky, Arshavin and Nasri are all good but they have yet to come close to what Pires did week in week out. And yes, he dived... along with every other attacking player in the EPL.
Professor Calculus
Ah the visitors section at WHL - sometimes known as the champions section - we've won the title there - twice y'know. Sol won the title there too - he looked pretty pleased with himself at the time as I recall.
@ Stratty. Yeah I agree, but what are we meant to do, hate Sol for being part of our awesome unbeaten team? Are Chelsea fans meant to hate Cashley Cole for being the best left back in the league. Yes it's awful for the fans who are "betrayed" but it's their unique problem, asking other fans to share the grief is just pathetic. We get it, we sympathise and we can relate to it, but Sol becoming one of the best defenders in the world at Arsenal is not our problem.
Professor Calculus
No, well, I'm sure the saga remains a source of extreme amusement. It doubtless would for me, had I not been born mid-70s, and thus having grown up when it took a certain type of person to support the tedium that was your output at the time. It's really a shout to those in journoland who seem perplexed that we are still bitter. I think sometimes for players moving from one club to another, is like a teenager leaving Sainsburys to work for Tescos. Journalists are even more clueless. But for fans, as I said, the club is family - I know it's the same for you lot, as well.
It remains just one source of joyous amusement amongst many. Tedium of our output would have been what? - the Graham era I would guess if you were born mid 70's and took an interest mid 80's onward? It's true he wasn't known for the beautiful game but he was successful for us. I guess that's what must have persuaded you to make him one of your longest serving managers of the last 20 years or so. Shortly after Graham left you Campbell also left. I guess he was a bit sloppy in not making sure Sol had signed a new contract.
Stratty sums up the class of Spuds support- proud of the fact that they spit on visiting supporters. I bet he's equally proud of the 'Tottenham 16' that got rounded up for racist /homophobic chants at directed at Sol at Pompey. Pure class that lot!
Professor Calculus correction, every attacking Arsenal player in the PL, at WHL we boo are divers and rightly so, just look at Zokora dived at Pompy (badly too), boo'd the week after, never did it again!
elbondo is that the 16 of which only 3 were prosecuted, 1 guilty, 1 argued successfully that the chant was neither Racist or Homophobic which lead to the 3rd having the charges dropped! Also I think you will find most of us are certainly not proud of any spitting and it happens at every club. The other thing most other fans don't seem to realise is that most of us don't hate Sol for where he went as much as we hate him for Lying through his teeth for personal profit, he could have gone Utd for free and been mildly hated, he could have gone to your lot for a fee and been hated (not mildly I doubt), but we would have got over it, the truth actually is the guy has no respect for anyone or anything which is not money and his dirty cousin and agent is no better if not worse as he has gone on to prove with several deals since, they are scum and not in the rivalry sense (though they are that too!).
Anyway thanks for a great recollection of a magical season LD!
stu, just responding to Stratty who admitted that he thinks it makes him more of a man if he spits on Arsenal supporters. I would like to think that most Spurs fans aren't as low as he is. As for the Tottenham 16, OJ Simpson got off too, doesn't make him innocent ;)
elbondo most fans FULL STOP are not that low, irrespective of club bar maybe one of two well known trouble clubs, as for the fans getting off, they 'got off' because they successfully argued the chant was neither Racist or Homophobic, something I entirely agree with as I know what they were signing, it was however offensive, abusive, rude and not suitable for Children, but that was not the case held against them and if it were I think a lot of clubs would fall under it. The main reason they successfully argued it was because the song leads into "Because we've got Leddley at the back!" and I don't think I need to tell anyone what race he is (I hate that word, are we not all the Human Race?), what I do find funny is he is the only player I have ever heard of going official to the police with a complaint about a chant and his chant is by no means the worst ever across football, even Figo told the spanish police to forget about the pigs head incident. Sol should grow up, end off, anyway he can retire and ***** off abroad will all his money and be happy soon so he may as well get over it.
P.S. I was not trying to tell him to get lost with that last bit, more trying to point out that he has the money to get away from it and live a very happy trouble free life as he has the money to do so, something which many honest, trust worthy and loyal people NEVER get the chance to do. In my world people earn respect, he will never!
There are some horrible people at Tottenham, I do confess... mostly sitting in the cheap seats; although it's not as bad as Chelsea. I think going to the nasty neighbours was significant because Sol knew the pain that would cause. I'm not proud of the use of homophobic chants, but we were one of the first clubs to ban such chanting in the stadium. I remember working the door at the Arsenal Tavern a few years ago after a game, one Saturday night, (wearing my Spurs badge, of course, hee hee). There was quite a lively, tough crowd in the corner of the pub. A few of them wearing rainbow badges. All sorts of people go to football games, be a mistake to pidgeon-hole everyone.
Amos, you could also say arsenal lost the title there last season 2
Unless they are goon of course Stratty! :-P

Back to my Race point though and I know many will find this view naive, but it angers me so much that we even categorise people by race, in all walks of life, if it is not an 'Equal Opportunities' form it is something else, can't remember where I heard this first (it wasn't from me), but it goes something like this...

As football fans we support our club, then unite to support England and hate Welsh, Scottish etc, then in the Olymipcs we are Brittish all of a sudden and unite again, then in the Ryder Cup we are united as Europeans, only if Aliens should attack is this world likely to unite (if they even exist). I guess it is a fickle world we live in and maybe we have to hate someone \ something, would certainly be a nice site to see everyone as one. Anyway that is enough of my Ghandi moment!
@ stu_u2k. No fans like to see their own players dive, do you really believe that Spurs fans are somehow morally superior to any other fan in the country? Get out of here. Besides, booing is hardly a Clockwork Orange rehabilitation camp, I've seen plenty of Spurs players dive, the only time a player won't dive is if they think the referee won't buy it, Zokora along with other foreign players relatively new to the Prem, stop diving when they realise the refs over here aren't so generous. You can't surely think the quaint, Victorian era booing makes Spurs players honest.
Professor Calculus
Isn't Spurs legend Jurgen Klinnsman attributed with introducing the dive to English football?
Fairplay, Robert Pires was class.
It is a great sense of torment to me that national teams play at all - the purpose they serve, of filling in the time during the summer, or honouring club players through recognition - does not make up the inconvenience they cause generally. Stu_u2k, have you seen the film Zeitgeist? I think you might like it, I think the whole film is still on Youtube.
We dont HAVE to hate, Stu - free your mind. Even with the Goons, we have a pact to hate each other, but we're all in love really! ;)
two spurs fans having a conversation on a vital arsenal site. nice.
Lovely piece again LD, so many happy memories of that season. I will never forget that night at Old Trafford. I can still hear myself shouting " carry it ! " to Wiltord as he sped towards United's goal before slipping Freddie in. I just KNEW at the start of the season that we would win the league, but it was still an amazing feeling to have it all confirmed right in front of Fergie and the United faithful.
Cockney Rich
Yeah - they're boring these spud contributions aren't they!
When I see Campbell these days he looks haunted. A great defender who sold his soul to the devil and can never buy it back. Ah well ...
Amos - If you have no experience or concept of winning a PL title, it's bound to be boring for the
Cockney Rich
( sorry, contd from ^ ) VS morons to read about it. Interesting though for us to know that they trawl our site just to feel the emotion in winning something.
Cockney Rich
It's true, I'm confused as to why there are so many Spuds over there. The article title, nor the byline contains any reference to Totnum whatsoever. Still, there's still time for Vital Spuds to produce a series of articles on their league winning seasons. If someone starts now, it should all be done by the time the kettle's boiled........
Little Dutch
It might take them a bit longer LD. They'll need to dust the ouija board off to find someone to tell them how they won the title.
I'm sure lordjohnny can help, I hear he's still got the brass rubbing of the open top horse and cart parade through Haringey.
Little Dutch
I am amazed as to why some Spuds fans have posted on an Arsenal title winning thread and not on their own VS article bleating on about Dawson playing for England. They must have thought ' Nah, I'm not bothered about Dawson, I'd much rather read what it's like to win the league ". Well boys, seeing as you enjoy these title winning threads so much, the good news is that LD has very kindly done loads of them. Enjoy.
Cockney Rich
Us Spurs fans are on here becuase for some reason this trip down memory lane came up on our newsnow site. Whats interesting though is that, aside from whether your Captains gonna leave, there's nothing for you lot to talk about other than pipping back to PAST glories. Sign of the times that if ever there was one ;-)
MJBSpur I'd save some of these articles is I were you. You'll need something to talk about over the next few barron years. Hey maybe next season you'll be able to write one about how you used to be in the Champions League....
Wow, your club is so obsessed with all things Arsenal that our title winning seasons pop up on your newsnow? Voyeurs or what. It's a series in case you hadn't noticed that's been going on for some time. Perhaps you'd like to remind us of great Spurs Champions League campaigns? Maybe a commemorative plate in recognition of your game against Little Boys in the qualifiers or whoever they are?
Little Dutch
My wife (the gooner) and I got some freebies from a united employee for that one - had to sit amongst the plastics, but were just in front of the arsenal fans. Made her wear a jumper to cover over the retro arsenal shirt she was wearing, but at the end of the match she ripped the jumper off and was jumping up and down in front of the arsenal fans. The threats and abuse she got from the scum fans of united would have been understandable if she hadn't been y months pregnant at the time!
sorry, 7 months pregnant not "Y" lol.
Little Dutch, I'd imagine the series has been going on for some time. You've had a lot of trophyless years to fill of late.
fifthcolumnblue - Your wife sounds perfect. Would you like to swap ??? My wife is Italian and likes nothing more than to watch her beloved Genoa grind out a 1-0 win. ZZZzzzzzzz.
Cockney Rich
What's a barron year? You might have meant barren years I guess - and I suppose if you've gone half a century since winning the title you might be expected to know something more about them than we would. On the other hand when we're the only club in the country to win trophies in the top flight in each of the last 9 decades you wouldn't expect us to be too fussed about the pauses between trophies. So we can rejoice in the past and also relish the future.
> Amos, I think he meant Paul Barron, one of our ' class act ' goalkeepers from a few years back.
Cockney Rich
Paul Barron? Did he pop up on their newsnow too? This obsession is going too far. They need help.
Lol picking up on spelling mistakes in a forum. You witty little monkey. And my bad, of course you're not bother that you haven't won ANYTHING for about, what? 5? 6? years now. What was I thinking....
Not as bothered as if we would be if we'd only won the CC in the last 20 years! - or if Ipswich Town had won the title more recently than we had. What were you thinking? Nothing of course. You don't do thinking. If you did you wouldn't be here in the first place!
going back to your fuuny point i would like to make is about graham poll, when he was the ref at Highbury for the newcastle match...his decison making was so bad that night that all the fans home and away were signing his theme tune....yes you know the one... OH....GRA.....HAM POLLLLLLLL IS A FAAARRRRKKKKIN AR SOLE repeat to fade....
"Not as bothered as if we would be if we'd..." And you picked me up on spelling! And actually we've also won the FA Cup in the last 20 years...just ;-D Face it, you've become the mid table equivalent of the top 7/8 and I can say without a shadow of a doubt its been more exciting Supporting Spurs in recent years than supporting the goons. Can't argue your premier league record or your "unbeatables" side but we've all got History, ours as proud as most, but footballs about the excitement, entertainment and the now. You can scoff at our CC wins but I'd rather have won and lost in finals as regualrly as we have over the last few years than do just enough to get by like Wenger seems content with.
.....and as "mickey mouse" as the CC might be you can't tell me you wouldn't have loved beating Chelsea in the final.
My personal favourite CC Final was in 2002. Spuds became the first team in history to play with the roof closed and still get *****ed on. Lovely memories.
Cockney Rich
Gramatically clumsy maybe but then I didn't bother to pick you up on 'you're not bother' in your previous post. Yeah you've got history alright just a lot less than us - and less than Everton, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Chelsea, Newcastle, Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Wolves, Blackburn If we've become a mid table equivalent where does that put you? As I said you don't do a lot of thinking do you. Probably best not to in your case - delusion is a much more comfortable state for you.
Amos you are a true forum god. Insulting intellegence and picking up on grammer. Classic! Oh and deflecting from my point, which you and I both know wasn't that we have MORE history than any of the clubs you just mentioned, is another classic forum tactic used when you have no genuine retort. And as for the "mid table" comment. You know exactly what I mean so again, nice try but deflecting from my point is a little weak.
Anyway, I could carry on this back and forth all day but I'll go back to the Spurs forum and the here and now. Oh btw, did you enjoy last season goal of the season?? Beautiful wasn't it! ;-D
Surprise Surprise, once again this thread gets infested with Spuds who probably actually spend more time on Vital Arsenal then they do on Vital Spuds. How pathetic is that? Well anyway, the main standout moment that season for me was Pires goal at Villa Park. Top class goal from a truly top class player. Reminded me of Davor Suker's goal for Croatia against the Danes in Euro 96 (funnily enough also involving Schmeichel). Another enduring memory for me is Barthez helping us to a win over ManUsa. I remember seeing Henry's first goal and thinking Barthez is a clown, when Henry's second went in, I was laughing my arse off too much to be able to think. Then of course the title win at O.T and Wiltords goal and Tim Lovejoy making a complete tit of himself in the FA cup final, dissing Ray Parlour, only to then have Romford Pele smash the ball home. So many great memories. Thanks for bringing back the memories with this write up LD. Great Stuff.
I could only insult your intelligence if you were able to display any. I didn't pick you up on grammer (which incidentally is spelt grammar) just made a comparative observation when you did. I see you find history uncomfortable. Not surprising really - best for you to stay away from the topic of trophy droughts then. I can't deflect you from a point you don't have. It's been more exciting to support Spurs over recent years??? Yeah that Ramos relegation period following the Jol relegation period must have been a real blast. You might see the last 4 years and your CC exploits as a triumph compared to us appearing in a CL final, the kids giving a full strength Chelsea a game in the kids CC cup, running the champions close 2 years ago but that's just what delusion does for you.
we spend more time on VA, wrong , this is the highest posts on a article on here for a while, says a lot, we come on an ye lot comes faster then danny rose rocket, already 60 comments and its not even on 24 hours, come on VA lets make 100 comments
MJB lets them set there sights on bigger things they have no chance in winning, they should lower there standards this season an go for CC an FA cup
"OH....GRA.....HAM POLLLLLLLL IS A FAAARRRRKKKKIN AR SOLE repeat to fade...." sung by both sections at Pompey, in his last game i do believe, he was terrible.
I suppose it has been more exciting to be a Spuds fan over the last 4 years. Much in the same way that a man who hasn't eaten for a week will be much more excited about lunching out on a dried crust than a man that eats caviar every day having yet another champagne lunch.
Little Dutch
Well Said 123. An average of 18 post per article on VA compared to an average of 53 over on VS and we're accused of spending all our time here! lol Stick on an article about PAST glories and they can wait to chip in. Says it all really.
i suppose your right LD but there's nothing worst then having a champagne caviar lunch and you cant finish it
Absolutely priceless !!! A Spuds fan mocking another team for reflecting on ' past glories '. You couldn't make this stuff up could you ???
Cockney Rich
LD you being the ones that eats caviar every day!? haha Who's delusional now. Its 2010 mate not 2003! I'm suprised you haven't wasted away in that comma you must have been in for the last 7 years! For ***** sake EAT SOMETHING ALREADY!!!
That comma I've been in? Wow, you've taken this grammar and punctuation thing to heart haven't you? Contrast and compare, Spuds reaction to finishing 4th and qualifying for a CL qualifier. Our reaction to finishing 3rd and qualifying for the CL for the 13th consecutive season. Any success you want to compare, past or present, we overshadow you easily every time. Interesting that you think it amiss of me to write an article (part of a series) about us winning the league in 2002, but you list winning the F.A. Cup 20 seasons ago and winning the Couldn't Care Less Cup three seasons ago?
Little Dutch
I didn't list anything Little Lady but if you want to compare silverware over the last 5 years ("any success you want to compare....") go for it. Footballs about winning trophies and thats someothing you haven't done for years. You can mock the CC as I've said but when you play Chelsea and then United in the final it speaks for itself. Its only your arrogant lot that play children throughout which in all honesty is pretty disgracefull and disrespectful. Then again why would I expect a foreign team to have any respect for English traditions.
"Foreign team with no respect for English traditions." Oh dear, Daily Mail reader. You might have noticed that England turned out 3 Arsenal academy graduates last night, which is about 3 more than your lot provided. Trophies over the last 5 years? Go on then, we've got an F.A. Cup, you've got a Carling Cup. F.A. Cup withstanding, consecutive CL qualifications are a better measure of a team's success than one League Cup in a blue moon. We know about playing Chelsea in League Cup Finals, we played them in one in 2007- who was that team our kids beat in the semis that year? Your little club wet its pants when it finished 4th last year, for us its a minimum expectation. But if you want to go on the most absolute recent history, we finished above you last year and over 2 games, won 4-2 on aggregate. I think the question you're really dying to ask is, "yeah, well, let's compare Carling Cup trophies won in 2008."
Little Dutch
Won't be too long before Wenger sends out the 1st team for the Carling Cup.
Clive 49
For me Pires is the Greatest Arsenal player ever. Followed by Jens, Lehman of course.
and whats ur maximum
75th comments, warning VA may crash
Maximum expectation? The quadruple I expect. Yours is not getting spanked by Little Boys and scrabbling enough together to finish 4th again.
Little Dutch
Thats your problem. You view qualifying for the CL success. Yeah we are excited about qualifying this season but thats because its another step in the right direction. You've been qualifying for years and are still viewing it as success. You say its your "minimum" but like 123 says whats your maximum then?? Seems to me all you've been achieving of late is your "mimimum" yet you seem content? Hmmm....
*minimumAnd the quadruple! hahahahahahahahahahahahaha I can only assume you didn't hold a straight face when typing that. You've been under achieving more than I thought if thats the case!
That's because it is success, it's harder to qualify for the CL 13 years in a row than to win one Carling Cup. Do Arsenal fans strike you as content at the moment? You've pointed out the very comparison I'm making, to us qualification for the CL is the norm, expected. Qualification isn't regarded as soemthing to celebrate, quite contrary to you lot who do consider it something to celebrate to the point that you bring out commemorative plates in your club shop. Yes, all we've been achieving is our minumum and it still comfortably outdoes your maximum.
Little Dutch
By comfortably do you mean only confirming 3rd on the last day of the season? I've got a few Arsenal mates and I can assure you they didn't find it quite so comfortable.
Even if we'd have lost the last game we'd have finished 3rd. In fact, the last day were 3 of only 4 points we picked up in the last five weeks of the season and it was still enough. I would term that comfortable.
Little Dutch
Delusional more like. We can all point to points dropped regardless, when they occured is irrelevant. We dropped 6 to Wolves! 6 points that would have seen us finish 3rd. But no doubt that just means we're ***** where as you only picking up 4 in 5 weeks was just part of your comfortable plan. Its one thing to have a bit of banter but you really are an idiot aren't you.
There's no attempt at mitigation here, all I'm saying is that for you to have overtaken us into 3rd would have required us to lose our final seven games. Arsenal haven't lost seven league games in a row since the 20s, ergo, it was comfortable, yes. When it comes to delusion, I think the Spuds are the principle holders of that flame. For instance, your assertion that your Carling Cup win is worth more than an F.A. Cup and consecutive CL qualifications over the last 5 years, or your contention that Spurs are in any way, shape or form, not vastly in our shadow. Both in the present and the past.
Little Dutch
That definition of comfortable is plain stupid. If you can say that you went into the last game of the season - especially concidering you're recent run of form - and were completely comfortable in the fact that you would finish 4th you are either the coolest man on the planet (clearly not the case) or a liar. But if you want to kid yourself thats fine. Just know that whatever you say I don't buy it for a second and I know deep down neither do you.
*finish 3rd
Yes, I was perfectly comfortable. Especially considering we were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes. A Fulham side with a wretched away record and a Europa Final on the horizon were never going to bother us. Besides which, even if there were nerves, the fact that there was a period of ten minutes in the whole season where you sort of kind of had a chance to finish above us out of the 3,420 minutes in a season suggests comfort to me. That you're even trying to use that golden ten minutes as some kind of beacon shows a) your inferiority complex and desperation to use Arsenal as a yardstick for everything you do and b) how smalltime your club is that that is determined a stick to beat us with.
Little Dutch
lol of course ;-)
Virtually every VA article I read has at least one Spud making a comment. Is there nothing worthwhile on VS to talk about?
Sir Henry
Comprehensively shredded but too dense to even realise it. It could only be a spud. No wonder it's been an exciting 5 years for them (so exciting on one occassion that they literally shat themselves as I recall). In much the same way I suppose it's been an exciting 50 years since they won a title.
Spud is such an offensive and cutting slur btw. I don't know what mastermind came up with it but they truly are an evil genius. Ouch :(
Yeah, like that geniuses that came up with, Ar2na1 and "bale you out". MJBSpur, aren't you the guy that argued that you guys have been more successsful than us and have a greater history? Now that's comedic genius right there.
I don't believe that any other club has to deal with the same level of neurotic obsession from a geographic rival that we do--before their recent takeover, I don't think City fans spent all their time trolling Utd blogs or Everton fans to Liverpool blogs, etc. The spuds are a truly a peculiar tribe, they spend so much of their time looking at us, worrying about us, talking about us. It's hilarious to watch because it's a backhanded acknowledgment that there's not much to look at at their own club.
For it to be comedic genuis they'd need to be some sort of consciousness. You can see why they are concerned only with the number of posts they manage can't you. It's the same principle by which The Sun thinks it can claim it's the best newspaper.
jaelle, VA are the easiest to wind up, always take the bait no matter how many times i come on, so ill leave ye alone in your own little world, an obsession is a figure of ur imaginantion, sorry to burst your bubble, oh nearly a 100 commesnts, most popular article of ur boring summer.
123spurs and THR are genuine trolls, they don't actually believe what the say but they do it to wind us up, MJBspur on the other hand is actually deluded enough to believe what he spews.
The idea that you're winding anyone up 123spud is just another delusion. You're irritating - a bit like a mild case of athlete's foot - but you're so pathetically obviously crying out for attention that your obsessive neediness would be sad - if it weren't so easy just to laugh at you.
Gronedrone, nope wasn't me that said that. Jaella, I never come on this forum usually and I think it's more u that has the obsession that we are that interested in u cause it strokes that already inflated ego u all have. Of course we'd love to get one over on u but don't pretend u don't love to gloat just as much when u beat us.
You're the one here mjb - shouting through our letterbox. You're the one interested in seeking our attention - we're not seeking yours. Nobody here is in great need of your trite contributions. Not obsessive are you? Delusion defined.
MJBSpur, we understand the greatness of your club now. You have opened our eyes and minds. Bravo. Now how about popping back on to VS.
tottenham hotspurs i do not even recognise them as a true london team...more like middlesex swamp dwellers....when you last won the league you wasnt even part of London...what a joke
Yes I picked that up somewhere recently too. All this rubbish about us not being a true North London club whereas Islington has been part of the County of London since 1900 while Tottenham was in Middlesex until 1965. Ergo - the spuds are just a bunch of displaced refugees.
'you wasn't even part of London...what a joke' . Hmmm I'll leave that one alone. It is a neat idea to accuse us of 'displacement' when we haven't moved anywhere, but been subject to the vagaries of county boundary changes. I shall not dwell on your geographical status, nor mention your wonderful European record. As for postings, when we contribute your site loses that one man and his dog aura. You should be grateful.
Middlesex just didn't want you - who could blame them - you should be grateful we took you in oldtimer. Your lot are just a bit too needy though - always crying out for attention and contributing nothing - footballs dependent waifs - a bit of a burden really.
Judging by the way the new stadium plans are going, Haringey don't particularly want you either. Can't blame them really.
Little Dutch
What happened to the VS mantra of " Now we have qualified for the CL, we can attract ALL the top players in Europe " ? Nah, they don't want you either.
Cockney Rich

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