All Guns Blazing: Arsenal derby victory would be fitting for Herbert Chapman
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Arsenal fan Layth Yousif recalls North London Derby memories and remembers an Arsenal legend
Our forthcoming derby may have been forgotten during a hectic Christmas which brought us two vital wins at Upton Park and St James’ Park, while Spurs changed their manager – but now the clash is here I can’t wait.
The atmosphere at the Emirates for a 5.15pm kick-off will be raucous, as will the pre-match ambience in Piebury Corner. RedAction and the club are even encouraging fans to bring flags to the game.
My first derby was at Highbury in April 1984. Charlie Nicholas played a one-two off the Spurs defenders’ legs to hit a goal in a dramatic 3-2 win, sending the North Bank into raptures.
Recently we have been spoilt with goal-fests – a 5-4, two sublime 5-2s, and the 4-1 League Cup win at White Hart Lane. If you throw in an (unhappy) 4-4 and 3-3, and the miserable 5-1 defeat, you feel there will be goals on Saturday.
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This will be my 60th derby – yet even having watched us win the league at Tottenham in 2004, and seen us gain 1993 Wembley revenge for Gazza’s 1991 free-kick, my favourite Arsenal v Spurs game will forever be the away League Cup semi-final replay in March 1987.
With Spurs 1-0 up at half-time, the White Hart Lane announcer informed fans how to get their Wembley tickets. Only eight minutes remained before Ian Allinson and the late, great David Rocastle scored, setting George Graham’s team on the path to six trophies.
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So tightly-packed was the away end I rejoiced by nodding my head – it was all I could do as my arms were pinned to my side and my feet lifted off the ground while 10,000 Gooners celebrated.
One Arsenal legend who would have approved of that result was the great Herbert Chapman.
Patrick Barclay’s excellent new hardback on the man who changed football, ‘The Life and Times of Herbert Chapman’, brings this pivotal figure to life. If you’ve got any book vouchers left after Christmas, this is what you should be spending them on.
Tragically, after New Year scouting trips, Chapman contracted pneumonia and died on January 6, 1934. It is fitting that we play Spurs one day short of the 80th anniversary of his death.
Whether you’re going to the game or not, take a moment to remember the man who originally shaped Arsenal Football Club. Like the whole of north London, I am sure he will be watching the game too.
Follow me @laythy29