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Wednesday
Jan182012

Two in a Minute

BY NICK ALLEN /  @_NickAllen

Superficial as it may be, my favourite moments as an Arsenal fan are almost all linked to specific goals and the celebrations that followed them. In the process of picking out a few examples, the moments that really sent the crowd loopy, I started to notice a pattern; the goals that sparked them were usually the second of a pair, scored in quick succession in a big game.

There is something particularly intoxicating about scoring twice in a few minutes in a game that really matters. The crowd is still catching its breath from the first goal, the commotion from the original celebrations hasn’t really died down, the team comes flooding forward again and before you know it, BAM, the ball hits the back of the net again. Cue bedlam.

This isn’t a sentimental article, it’s just a little look back at a few of those crazy moments and explosions of emotion that make being a football fan worthwhile. I’ve been privileged enough to be in stadium to witness the following goals – goals which, for a few moments at least, turned sane men and women into utter lunatics. Here are my top 5.

Henry & Parlour vs. Valencia (CL Quarter-Final, 2001)

1-0 down in the first leg of Arsenal’s first Champions League quarter-final. Bobby Pires jabbed a backheel into the box from the edge of the area, it fell to Thierry Henry and the Frenchman flashed the ball across the keeper into the net. 1-1. Two minutes later, Ray Parlour picks up the ball, bursts into the opposition half and absolutely pummels an unstoppable effort into the top corner. I’m convinced no-one has ever kicked a football harder. It’s still my favourite Arsenal goal and it was the loudest I ever heard Highbury.

Reyes & Reyes vs. Chelsea (FA Cup 5th Round, 2004)

1-0 down again, this time against Chelsea in the F.A. Cup. Jose Reyes glided in from the right-hand side towards the edge of the box and struck the ball quite majestically into the top corner. The term ‘still rising’ is over-used when describing great goals, not here. Without the net there to stop it, the ball would most likely have nestled somewhere in the North Bank upper. Not 5 minutes later the young Spaniard was played in brilliantly by Vieira, his shot squirmed under Sullivan and the crowd went berserk. Not a bad way to get your first two goals for the club.

Pires & Reyes vs. Middlesborough (PL, 2004)

A game in which Arsenal need to avoid defeat to equal Nottingham Forest’s record 42-game unbeaten streak, the team inexplicably found itself 3-1 down in the second half following a farcical, long-range Franck Queudrue banana shot. Dennis Bergkamp pulled one back to make it 3-2, before Pires latched on to an Henry cross-come-shot to level the scores. The fans hadn’t even had a chance to sit down when Reyes was released down the left, turned inside and slammed the ball home with his right foot. I’m pretty sure that was the first (and last) time we saw Jose use his weaker foot. Relief and elation in equal measure.

 Van Persie, & Fabregas vs. Spurs (PL, 2009)

Approaching half-time against the old enemy with the score at 0-0, van Persie met Sagna’s near post cross to stab Arsenal into the lead. Within seconds of the restart Arsenal had the ball again. It took Cesc Fabregas exactly 6 touches, each one a work of art, to gather the ball at the halfway line, dart round four or five Spurs players and plant the ball perfectly in the bottom corner. Total jubilation for the fans, and my favourite memory from the new stadium.

Van Persie & Arshavin vs. Barcelona (CL, Round 2, 2011)

Lucky to only be trailing the Spanish champions 1-0 with twelve minutes remaining in the game, Robin van Persie somehow managed to beat Victor Valdes at his near post with a fierce effort from an acute angle. Five minutes later, a sweeping attack from Arsenal climaxed with a tantalising ball across the box from Samir Nasri. Andrey Arshavin arrived right on cue and the rest, as they say, is history. I don’t think anyone’s really sure how we beat Barcelona that night, it doesn’t really matter; that goal was celebrated like we’d won the competition itself.

For me, it’s hard to beat those few seconds after a big goal. Such a collective outpouring of raw emotion is both rare and magnificent. Of course when the screaming ends and you’ve stopped hugging the guy next to you, the reality dawns that we’re only 2-1 up and the next 27 minutes are going to be torture. For those precious few seconds though, there’s nothing quite like it.

Reader Comments (2)

Very nice!

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

I even still remember the commentary on Reyes vs Middlesbrough. " ..and it's REEEEEEYEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!!!! Stand up for the champions!"

Aaah, good days.

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThierry's Gloves
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