Super Sagna sinks the Spuds
On Sunday our lads will get their inoculations, pray for the protections of whichever gods they believe in and cross over from the world of the righteous to the Valley of the Damned, otherwise known as N17.
We’ll arrive at the Armitage Shanks Bowl flushed with the success of a recent solid run of form and ready to get another three points in the can.
In advance of the match, you are invited to submit your favourite moment from the long and storied history of North London Derbies.
The key word is ‘moment’: I’m not looking for your favourite game (from which there are so many to choose, including twice winning the league at the sh*thole).
My favourite moment was in February 2012, when we entertained the miscreants at The Emirates.
The enemy had been ahead of us for most of the season and the guttural howls of “mind the gap” had been heard across the swamplands.
I turned up at the Emirates not expecting much. We were having a faltering season and I feared our North London dominance was truly at risk. We had recently been thrashed 4-0 in the San Siro and dumped out of the FA Cup by Sunderland. The omens were all bad.
My pessimism seemed well-founded when, after 34 minutes, we were 0-2 down. Think about that – we were losing two nil, at home, to THEM! Saha had got the first, before Adebayor (boo!) scored from the penalty spot following a blatant dive by Gareth Bale (thanks, Mike Dean).
The sound of grumbling could occasionally be heard rumbling round the stadium as if a tube train was passing by deep underground. But, given the nature of the opposition, our supporters quickly got back to getting behind our boys and rubbishing the Spuds. It seemed to work, as we went hard at the Totts despite our deficit.
And that’s when my moment happened. We had just come within a millimeter of scoring (Van Perise hit the post) and the ball cannoned out towards the left corner flag. Kieran Gibbs thought about crossing but rolled it back to Mikel Arteta, who dinked a perfectly weighted cross into the Totts’ box.
And there was Bacary Sagna, charging at the ball, reaching it ahead of the defenders and powering a header into the net.
The icing on the cake was the way that Sagna did not celebrate for a single second. He just grabbed the ball and started running back towards the centre circle with an intent that said: “This is our turf. We’re coming for you.”
The rest is history. We went on to win the game 5-2, with goals from Van Persie, Rosicky and a brace from Walcott.
The result spawned weeks of fun in which Arsenal fans all over the land would wait until five minutes to the hour before asking Spuds-supporting work colleagues what time it was. Without thinking, the poor Spudders would look at their watch and say “five-to”, at which point the Arsenal supporters would break into a chant of “5-2, 5-2, 5-2, 5-2”).
Even after the game we remained seven points behind our enemies in the league table, but we relentlessly closed the gap and finished above them. “Mind the Gap” was sent back to N17, with interest.
That’s my moment. Over to you.