Wednesday 9th January
Like every one of you I have been thinking long and hard about Saturday's quite incredible game. Words such as shocked are sometimes used a little bit lightly but overall it is the best one I can think of to describe the overriding emotion!
It was a rollercoaster of a day all round. Early morning while sat on our plane waiting for take-off we were informed due to a technical fault we would be returning to the terminal. Sitting near the front we could hear both the onboard and radio technicians in conversation and it quickly became apparent that not only was our plane going nowhere, they didn't have a spare either!
For the five minutes or so before they found one it really didn't look like we would even get to Newcastle!
All things considered therefore, we were relatively happy to be arriving at our destination just over an hour late. Things were looking up!
Checked into our hotel, pre-match fare was of the usual quality and we headed up the many, many steps to the away end in good spirits.
Three minutes into the game of course, that mood lifted even higher and once RVP had notched our third and fourth midway through the half we looked at one another during yet another stupendous jostle with considerable disbelief.
With literally thousands of Geordies heading for the exits well before half time, nobody could prepare any of us for what was about to unfold.
Whatever way we look at how things panned out we simply cannot offer excuses for letting a four-goal lead slip. It is almost freakish in its rarity and overall it was a period where nothing went right for us.
What looked like football heaven at half time changed dramatically in the opening five minutes of the second. The fantastically in-form Johan departed injured, Abou was sent off and you could sense our hosts sniffed a chance.
The first penalty was harsh although we've seen them given before. TV replays have shown an incident immediately afterwards that was no worse than what Abou did but this went unpunished.
Even when our hosts scored their second I never felt we would concede twice more. For me it was now when the most crucial and result-changing incident in the whole match took place. In my opinion the second penalty decision was farcical and an example of people getting a little bit too caught up in the whole emotion of the game. It didn't look a pen from miles away in the ground and even less so on TV replays watched since.
Tommy stood his ground (nothing more) for the free-kick leading up to the greatest goal that particular player will score in his entire life and a painful but unlikely situation had become reality.
You have to give credit to Newcastle for grabbing a home point from an impossible situation but we cannot make excuses for what was a bad result all things considered.
Our night out, just like after Sunderland earlier in the season, looked like it could be considerably subdued as a result of what we had just witnessed.
It's not often we can claim Man United were responsible for lifting the mood but on this occasion they became the excuse for a little celebration.
Arsenal Football Club. The Invincibles 2003/2004.
NEVER to be repeated!
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