Like many Gooners I watched the Blackburn and Wigan games and seeing our players being bossed did not make me happy. Leaving aside the goalkeeper who has been done to a fractious death over the last couple of days, I asked myself who would I have liked out there, what single player would I have chosen to put on that pitch in an Arsenal shirt.
We have had some centre halves who could look after themselves, Frank McLintock would have been roaring, getting stuck in alongside Sol making our defence more scared of him and failure than they were of any opposing player.
Tony Adams too would have had some one by the throat and Steve Bould also would have lapped it up, imagine Martin Keowne sitting watching that, he would have been beside himself. Looking back, the list is long and we all would have our favourites.
But for me, I would play Peter Storey in front of the center halves. Pete is rightly a folk hero for the 1971FA Cup semi final where his two-second half goals including an injury time penalty, pulled us back from the dead, got us a replay and eventually allowed us to do the double.
I was there that day perched high up on the banking to the side of the goal but the penalty was at the other end. I could see poor Pete putting the ball on the spot while the rest of the team were hugging each other certain that he would deliver. Gordon Banks the best GK in the world at the time facing him, swaying left and right on the goal line he swayed right Pete hit it to his left GOAL!!!, pandemonium reined
But there was much more to Pete than that, as his 19 games for England testify. Making him incidentally the most capped of that legendary side.
But most of all I remember an evening match against Leeds in the seventies at Highbury under the lights; Pete, Norman Hunter and Johnny Giles were at it all night, I think it was a 1 –1 draw. No quarter was asked or given, as three of the hardest men ever to play top-flight football fought it out.
A top journalist of the day likened Storey to a JCB shovelling up anything that got in his way that night, another begun his article “as I walked the streets of London last night after leaving Highbury, I was still shaking at the ferocity of the Storey/Hunter confrontation I had just witnessed”.
Would he I wonder have shaken after Sunday’s toothless display, I think not, unless like many of us including Arsene it was in anger. Alright I know that kind of tackling often from behind has gone, outlawed in a game that has become less and less of a contact sport, which makes Sundays refereeing all the stranger.
But the commitment, the determination to play whether injured or not, the pride in the shirt and the willingness to die for the cause and run through the proverbial brick walls if necessary would be priceless in today’s team.
I never met Peter Storey as I have several of the others, but I called him my mate because I reckoned his love of the Arsenal matched my own in those far off days.
So that is who I would play to wake this current lot up, who I wonder would you like back in the team?