LONDON ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Rafael van der Vaart of Spurs is brought down by Richard Stearman of Wolves during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at White Hart Lane on September 18 2010 in London England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
I still can't believe it happened. It's been well over 48 hours since Spurs defeated Arsenal on the road for the first time while Arsene Wenger has been Arsenal's manager and I still don't believe it. I'm not even excited, proud of the team, shocked, nothing. I feel nothing.
You could show me the box score 100 times and I wouldn't believe it. If you showed me the highlights, I'd insist they were from a Carling Cup game at the Lane. I'm not sure that it will ever sink in that we defeated Arsenal at the Emirates in the league. I think that in five years, when someone asks me "Remember when you guys beat Arsenal at the Emirates?" I'll have to stop and think about it for a little while. I won't recall it instantly. The date November 20th, 2010 is unlikely to stick in my mind forever. I don't feel like we beat Le Arse, I feel like this has all just been kind of a cool acid trip.
But it did happen. I know it actually happened, even though I don't feel like it's real. And goddamn it, I want a DVD.
I think the manner of the win is probably the biggest contributing factor to why it hasn't really sunk in. I think that if we were the best team from start to finish, I'd be bragging about this great win and I would remember it forever. The first half was a nightmare, though. It wasn't just sub-par, we really were atrocious. The errors that Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Gomes made on the first goal were worthy of a sped-up youtube clip with "Yakety Sax" playing in the background. The second goal showed off how inept Jermaine Jenas is with any kind of defensive responsibilities. Arsenal weren't spectacular, they just made the most of the chances we gave them, and we gave them two really good ones. We could only improve going into the second half and I didn't expect us to get blown out of the water, but I don't think anyone expected a comeback. As much as BAE sucked in the first half, he was the only player who looked like he had any serious fight in him between the second goal and halftime, and this is the guy who admits that football is only a job to him.
Harry Redknapp doesn't think of himself as a tactician, but the moves he made at halftime made a difference. I'm sure his locker room ass-chewing made a bigger difference, but his tactical adjustments certainly helped. Jermain Defoe came on for the ineffective Aaron Lennon, Rafael van der Vaart moved to the right, cutting in, and Spurs' narrow philosophy and two strikers worked out pretty well.
Arsenal's defense really fell asleep on the first goal, but it was still very well made. Assou-Ekotto's ball, Defoe's flick, and Bale's finish were all top drawer, even if a good defense would have stopped one of the three things from happening in the first place. After the 50th minute goal, I felt like an equalizer was possible, but I still didn't think in a million years that we'd have a chance to win.
The second goal we scored was just silliness all around. It was silly that a free kick was given in the first place and even sillier that Cesc Fabregas put his hand up to block it. While the free kick shouldn't have happened, it was an absolute stonewall penalty and an incredibly stupid one to give away. All of our hearts stopped when Rafa hit his chip, but it hit the twine and the teams were level at 2-2. It didn't feel like either team deserved two goals, but after Spurs' terrible first half and Arsenal's terrible start to the second half, a level game was probably justified.
I didn't see a winner coming. I'm sure that a lot of you were hoping and praying for the winner, yelling at your TV "GO GET THE WINNER!" But did anyone really think it was coming? I hoped it would come. I felt like it was possible that it would come. But I didn't really think we were going to score a winner. I figured that 2-2 was the most likely result and that a 3-2 Arsenal win wouldn't shock me in the least. Laurent Koscielny's late header probably should have given the Gunners the win, but it was not to be.
Younes Kaboul, of all people, scored the winner. He was double marked on the set piece, but his jump was too perfectly timed and Rafa's ball was too perfectly placed for it to make any difference. They couldn't duplicate the timing and placement if they ran that set play 100 times. The one in 100 goal was the perfect winner for the one in 100 result. Spurs had finally won away to Arsenal, and I didn't believe it.
Maybe someday this will sink in. Maybe at the end of the year I'll remember the great win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Not today, though. Today, it's still something that occurred in an alternate reality. I woke up and I'm back to a world where I've never watched Spurs beat Arsenal on the road. It's time to go back to sleep.