Arsenal v Tottenham on 26th February 2012, kick off was at 1.30 p.m. So what happened between about 2.10 and 2.24 was pivotal to both North London Clubs' entire season.
Let's face it, if we're entirely honest, most of us would have settled for a 1-0 win, or even any sort of win before the game, some would have even settled for a draw pre-match. But as it turned out we slaughtered them after they'd gone 0-2 up. As local home derbies go this was one of the most enjoyable ever, if not the best ever. And I think I should know because I've seen nearly every Arsenal-Tottenham game since about 1962.
The Tiny Totts were at this time riding as high as they had done in the league for decades and you would have to suppose they were feeling pretty pleased with themselves - and why wouldn't they. Certainly their fans were, given that quite a few of them had probably never ever seen a League table with Spurs above the mighty Arsenal. And they were loving it, they were confident, brash and giving it large before the game, in fact they were 'Minding the Gap' for all it was worth. So we can imagine how they felt when they went two up in 34 minutes. Never mind that Saha got a lucky deflected goal and no matter that Monkey Boy had to dive for their penalty to make it two nil. They were two up and we all know that the scoreline is everything in a local derby.
As it happens they had been the better team for the first half-hour but we'd not played that badly. It only took another 6 minutes to make that point when a belligerent header by Sagna pulled us back into the game. But it was a tad more than that, the way he headed that ball spoke volumes. You could almost hear him as he headed home and what it said to me was 'We're not having this! We're The Arsenal and we don't lose to that mob from the wrong end of Seven Sisters'.
You know what happened next but what amazed me was just how Tottenham wilted, and retrospectively the pretty much one way traffic from that point onward was almost inevitable. They could have rallied but didn't, instead they absolutely wilted. Their fans wilted and 'Arry looked totally clueless. They were 1-2 up away from home and beating their deadliest rivals but despite that it was almost as if 60,000 plus fans knew the game was up.
It took all of three minutes for Robin to let them know that it was. Two minutes before half time a rampant Arsenal equalised with a sweet curler from van Persie and we the fans went apeshit. The tide had turned - big time. Were we all looking forward to the second half, you bet your Arse-nal we were. Were the Spuds fans in the South West corner full of trepidation? Well I'd imagine so and if they were aware of recent Arsenal-Tottenham outcomes they certainly ought to have seen the writing on the wall, the writing which said you really ought to change into brown shorts for the second half.
Just five minutes into the second half we had the lead thanks to that sweet deft touch from a seriously in form Rosicky. Game over. But a rampant Arsenal just larded on the agony with two more goals from Theo to put the icing on the cake and empty the away end. The atmosphere was stupendous because this game had been perfectly scripted. Winning 5-0 would have been just another 'so what' scenario, but trouncing the bar stewards after being 2 down was ultimately just so much more fun.
But now to the whole point of this particular blog. Did we or they at this point realise how devastating this result was to the Spurs season? Prior to visiting Ashburton the Tiny Totts had won 10, drawn 4 and lost just one of their previous 15 matches. An impressive run and more so when you consider that their only defeat in that time was by the odd goal in five away to Manchester City. Surely not even the most optimistic Gooner, and I'm usually one of them, realised what mental pain we'd inflicted. Just how totally devastated was the Tottenham psyche. There had on 34 minutes been set to trounce their most hated rivals. Instead we said bollocks to that, turned them over, chewed them up and spat them out. Being hit for 5 when you're having your best season for ages and your opponents are seemingly having their worst for quite some time seemed to totally knock them off the rails. I'd have thought they'd recover after a game or so but it just didn't happen. Won 3, drawn 4, lost 6 is how its gone for the Totts since then. They beat the mighty Stevenage and Bolton in the Cup and also beat Swansea, all at home. They've sunk from 3rd to 5th. The Totts are blaming it on Harry's possible England call but I'd much prefer to think it was us he wrecked their season.
Greavsy would tell you its a funny old game. Certainly was that day and I'm still laughing.
You may recognise the background photo on this website - this is not a coincidence it was chosen on the basis that Rosicky's goal has been the best part of the whole season for me, thus far. It was a fine goal as it happens and even though we've scored many better ones in 2011-12 that for me was by far the most enjoyable. Don't know about you but I went fecking mental when Tomas slotted home, as did all around me.