A moment in time

A moment in time

Please listen to this song while reading the post…

Laurent Koscielny intercepts the ball for what feels like the hundredth time. He stops Barcelona’s attack dead like a wave breaking on a rocky shore. He pauses for a moment, deliberating over what to do with his second or two in space. Soon confronted by an wall of aqua, he twitches the ball right in customary fashion, seeking out Nicklas Bendtner, the only red shirt with courage enough to ask for the ball at this tense moment.

His first touch is good, his man backs off him briefly. But by dallying on the ball he attracts the attention of five Barcelona players, hungry to turn his self-confidence and awkward style into a chance of their own. It is in this moment that everything changes, for just as he looks certain to lose the ball, he squeezes a pass out to the left. One of the men pressuring him stretches out a leg but it finds its way to Jack Wilshere.

Arsenal’s world shifts.

Wilshere speeds the attack up instantly, controlling and passing the ball with the same touch. He understands where the players are around him. He understands that Koscielny and Bendtner have completed the hard task of moving the ball beyond Barcelona’s press. He knows there is space in behind and it his responsibility to take advantage of it. He is 19. He shouldn’t know.

He fires the ball into the feet of Cesc Fabregas just shy of the centre circle.

Upon receiving the ball the captain is already aware of the space afforded to him. He cushions the pass with his left foot, pirouetting on the ball like a figure skater setting up for a spectacular finale, and slides the ball up the pitch with the outside of his right foot. He has the ball for no more than half a second, but in that time uses it better than most will in their entire career.

His pass angles into the path of Samir Nasri, who is charging down the right-hand flank like it is the first minute of the game. It is not. It is the eighty-fifth minute and due to a hamstring strain he has not played football in three weeks. He should not have the energy to do what he is doing. But he does.

Nasri has spent the game probing the left side of the pitch, wearing down Dani Alves’ mind and body with his exquisite dribbling skills. This time he pops up on the right and draws the attention of three Barcelona players. The direct nature of his first touch, driving towards the goal, convinces a scrambling Pique to give him space. Abidal also sits off to cover space, leaving Nasri one-on-one with Keita.

He cuts inside. Everybody in the stadium expects him to shoot. He pauses for a moment to survey the movement of the players around him. He spots a player on the far side with his hands out-stretched. He notes the dawdling nature of the man who is supposed to be marking him, the man he has turned inside and out throughout the game. Like Bendtner three passes before, he squeezes the ball beyond the lunge of Maxwell — his desperation exaggerated by the frazzled nature of his flowing brown hair — and into the path of his intended target.

Barcelona’s world shifts.

Pique, standing by Victor Valdes’ side to help prevent the expected Nasri shot, now blocks the goalkeeper’s view. From loyal soldier he becomes a nuisance. Valdes peeks around his distractor’s body in an attempt to reassess a situation that is rapidly getting out of their control.

Andrey Arshavin’s little legs take three steps too many as he lines up to strike the ball. He prods at the ball without breaking stride, hitting a shot that penalty-taking manuals forbid. He doesn’t even place it in the corner.

But at the moment he makes contact the three men in front of him are moving the wrong way. They cannot shift quickly enough.

The ball goes in.

Have your say on Arsenal v Barcelona by leaving a comment.

Watch the goal again here.

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46 Responses to “A moment in time”

  1. henry
    February 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I was a little bit disappointed about the orient game but what a reminder of a game i’d ALMOST forgotten. This post is epic, you beast.

  2. Alan_goat
    February 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    This post is very good.

  3. ^_^GUNNER^_^
    February 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    “Wilshere speeds the attack up instantly, controlling and passing the ball with the same touch. He understands where the players are around him. He understands that Koscielny and Bendtner have completed the hard task of moving the ball beyond Barcelonaโ€™s press. He knows there is space in behind and it his responsibility to take advantage of it. He is 19. He shouldnโ€™t know.”

    ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ I absolutely loved this part !!

    Come On You Gunners !!!

  4. brengunner
    February 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    a “hall of fame-post” !

  5. Andrew Weber
    February 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Ah, cheers everyone! I enjoyed writing it. If you’re really into it, I’d really appreciate spreading it around on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks again.

  6. Nicholas
    February 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    … brings a smile on my face, great post, took me back to that magic evening ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. rico
    February 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Nice one ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Nick
    February 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Possibly the best arsenal blog entry I’ve ever read on the best game I’ve ever seen between two fantastic teams playing incredible football. All soundtracked by a stunning track on the new Radiohead album that I was listening to anyway. One thing you could have added was the way that time stopped while the 60,000 in the crowd paused to take breath before the greatest outpouring of joy I’ve felt at the Grove.

  9. Suzagooner
    February 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Of course I shall spread it around `Facebook`.I love your post`s Andrew and,you have come up trumps again.You have cheered me up,after `coming down to earth with an almighty bump` after yesterday`s result,with another cracker.Jack has got to pick up a couple of awards at the end of the season…..`Best young player` and `Most improved player`….in my opinion anyway!

  10. jebo
    February 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    I loved the song BZW,,,some peoples may ask why we are talking about this again and again. but I cant stop about that game. and for some peoples who have been talking about Arshavin….i think he gave the answer with that amazing goal, that’s Arashavin!!…

  11. Gruggy
    February 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    I don’t know what was better : The brilliant post or the fact I was listening to “Lotus Flower” just before I read this, which inturn progressed to “Codex” as I began reading.

    Arsenal gods perhaps?

    The post does the game justice Andy – well done.

  12. Ranjit
    February 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Thanks for the stupendous summary of yet another wonderful moment in the history of the Arsenal. The impossible is possible.

  13. priyavratst
    February 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    what a discription of such a wonderfull counter attack goal…it is one of the finest counter attack i have ever seen.

  14. Jeffers
    February 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Great!great! Great! Great Andrew Webber. Thank you. This sweeps my gloomy face after last nights draw with 0’s and also after another costly error from our spanish waiter,Manuel Almunia.

  15. Arsesession
    February 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    comprehensibly spot on Andrew…….

    A single play that generations of Arsenal fans will encapsulate for ever.
    Yet, why should any of us be amazed?
    It’s ‘out’ Arsenal.

  16. Daryl van Horn
    February 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Lovely piece – more poetry than analysis and does justice to the poetry that was our second goal. Have watched this so many times and you’ve described it perfectly.

  17. Andrew Weber
    February 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    @ Gruggy – Sometimes fate just takes care of you, right? I was listening to the song while writing it so I thought I’d share it with everyone. Combining music with writing changes the reading experience a bit, I feel.

  18. Gruggy
    February 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    @Andy – Couldn’t agree more.

    It’s like cheese on a hamburger, sauce with your chips, peanuts with a beer and Arshavin and a match winning goal. Some things just… fit together.

    We’ve got a Cup final coming up on Saturday night (Sunday morning here) fellas – Fire up!

    P.S – Any Sydney based Gooners interested in heading over to Cheers Bar to watch the game?

  19. Jace
    February 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Absolutely great post man, best I’ve ever read.

  20. ASNLthruNthru
    February 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Truly a “Roy of the Rovers” account of an “Arshavin of the Arsenal” super goal!!!

  21. billi
    February 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I really wondered if such a late comment on the Barcelona-game could be interesting yet ……….. but you surprised again………… poetry……. it lifted up again…….. this special moment made that evening unforgettable……… it’s just like that – great write ๐Ÿ˜€

  22. Tazz
    February 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    Who knows, I may not be able to walk, nor write, hell not even speak. But eons down the line, when I re-tell my grand-kids about the very first time my Arsenal won a quadruple, mark my words, I’ll ask him to go through this piece.

    An opinion as late as this, wasn’t supposed to be this simple. And. Beautiful.

  23. Andrew Weber
    February 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Such sweet words, thanks guys. I will have to do creative writing like this more often if you’re enjoying it. It beats the hell out of news round-ups!

  24. Sing for Song
    February 21, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Mt heart bursts with joy and pride!
    Arsenal has many artists and now one more …..
    add the name – Andrew Weber!

  25. Auld Super
    February 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Enjoy it while you can gooners because in camp nou we will destroy and eliminate you. But congratulations on beating the best team ever and by having the balls to do it by playing football.

  26. shambogunner
    February 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Freaking loved that man, best ever, not going to spread it though I dont think other fans would relate or enjoy it as much as us and they may even sneer our celebrating of what they see as one game…..a week later and that article has brought it all right back though, great stuff.

  27. Raymond
    February 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    This is the best written description of the winning goal in the first leg. Beats everything else I have read in print journalism.

  28. Andrew Weber
    February 21, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    Lovely Shambo, Sing for Song and Raymond. Glad people are enjoying. Really, really happy.

  29. Gruggy
    February 22, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    Continuing the man-love theme here; love the new layout as well Andy.

  30. Patrick Weber
    February 22, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    I’m proud of you brother, I think you captured the emotion and the heart of every Arsenal fan, worldwide with this piece. If anything making it hit the heart a little harder.

    Might I suggest listening to the Radiohead tune while watching the goal, and… Because I’m an alternative bastard. Watching this video because it’s Martin Tyler. http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/andrey-arshavin-barcelona-8516553/

  31. mayank
    February 22, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    An awesome post match post. Simple yet beautiful. A complete write up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. mayank
    February 22, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    BTW the selection of music was awesome. Gr8 taste indeed!!!

  33. GunnerBoss
    February 22, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Awesome post….tried singing it though.
    Read it after watching the goal again and its just perfect. Wish the feeling could last forever.
    I told you guys to be PATIENT with Arshavin, didn’t I?

  34. Gruggy
    February 22, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    @ Patrick – Here’s one better : Listen to Radiohead whilst watching any goal.

  35. Oliver Jay (Bluefields.com
    February 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Haha awesome post, especially with the music….contacted Hollywood for a feature film yet?

  36. GunneRon
    February 22, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Fabregas…… Its Nasri
    Can he go all the way here….
    Its still Nasri…..
    Looks for ARSHAAAAAVINNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!
    We’ll never forget those words courtesy of Martin tyler, we’ll never forget that goal Arshavin scored and we’ll certainly never forget that magical night when we beat arguably the greatest ever football team which, let Me remind you, had lost only ONCE, that’s right only once in 35 matches prior to last Wednesday night. That barcelona team will get beaten again one day, it’ll lose matches but it’ll never ever get beaten at it’s own game and We managed to do just that….
    Now that my fellow Gunners is a fucking incredible achievement which we should all cherish for the rest of our lives…… Longlive Arsenal FC blog, longlive Arsenal FC

  37. kore
    February 23, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    lovely write up.. well done!
    I’ll just add ” .. and the arsenal fans’ world shifts ” at the end

  38. Gooner4Life Conor
    February 26, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    WHAT A BLOG ENTRY! Actually so good, describes the moment perfectly.

  39. Gooner4Life Conor
    February 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    ^ * WHAT A BLOG ENTRY! Actually so good, describes the moment perfectly.

  40. AKONGO CHALO
    March 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    fantastic stuff,keep it up loyalists.

  41. Finnish Gooner
    December 31, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Amazing moment. Nothing else to say. Thank god i was there at the Emirates that night. I was happy, i was proud and i wont forget. Happy New Year for You all.

  42. Atash
    February 12, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    That was beautiful. That almost made me tear up. We are the Arsenal. Do not forget what we have achieved!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. The Carling Cup Final Preview: Feel it, enjoy it, celebrate it - February 27, 2011

    […] excited to see which players excel at this level. Will the likes of Wilshere play as well as he did against Barcelona? Will Djourou and Koscielny remain as rock-solid as they have been on a day as big as this? Will […]

  4. Remembering 2011, looking forward to 2012 - December 29, 2011

    […] Rather than talk, talk, talk, I’d just like to wish you all the best and leave you with my favourite post of the year about my favourite Arsenal moment of the year: ‘A moment in time’. […]

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