By Myles Palmer
Arsenal 1 Ipswich 0
Goal : Thierry Henry, 66m.
Ipswich were busy, compact, mobile and played 4-5-1, so I knew Arsenal would struggle.
In fact the whole day was a struggle. I had a sore throat and was only functioning at 70% and in danger of projecting my downer-mood onto the event, as you do.
News that Niccola Galli had died in a car crash on Friday made it a bleak afternoon. A minute’s silence followed by a 60 year silence : the kid was only 17 and was on loan to Bologna. His father was a great centreback and he would have been a great defender as well. After the death of
Geordie Armstrong, this was one tragedy too many.
With Vieira suspended, and Wiltord playing, and Henry and Kanu on the bench, I didn’t fancy Arsenal to score.
By half time they hadn’t and Richard Wright had made three terrific saves.
Arsenal’s moves were too complicated and they almost never score from crosses.
Second half, the drizzle got heavier, the wind blew the drizzle into the press box.
I was damp and bored so I put my radio headphone in and listened to the Chelsea-Man United game as I was watching, something I often do at Spurs but very rarely do at Arsenal.
Adams was cruising, Stepanovs was having his best game, Lauren was fairly steady and solid.
It was fun to see players bouncing of the colossal Titus Bramble- Bergkamp, Cole, his own fullback Gary Croft, who went off with a knee injury.Or rather, it would have been fun to see players bouncing off Bramble if it had been a normal Saturday and I had been in a normal mood.
When Thierry came on the game became simpler. He replaced Lauren after 58 minutes and scored in 66 minutes.Bramble crunched into the back of Wiltord just after he touched Parlour’s crossfield pass to Bergkamp and he played Henry into a big space on the left side.
Thierry took one typically spongy left footed touch and stepped forward and hit a killer shot, right sidefoot,low past the keeper’s left from the edge of the box.
A deadly finish. He made it look so easy, so inevitable. I thought he was gonna miss but he took the chance beautifully. Arsenal depend on his goals. They depend far too much on Thierry Henry’s goals.
Arsene said Thierry had been desperate to play. But the manager was quite right not to risk him : Lyon is far more important.
But, as Arsene said, they needed to win this game to be in the right frame of mind going to Lyon.
Bergkamp is an enigma. We know that. He started at 150 mph,putting himself about, then vanished for 50 minutes, loitering on the halfway line.
He is fit, powerful, experienced, super-skilful, able to see a lot quickly, but he is a chronic under-achiever. He could do so much more.Only he knows why he doesn’t.
Bergkamp’s vision will be essential in Lyon, which will be a tough, tight, low-scoring game.I hope Bergkamp & Henry start the game.
Arsene said he will decide on Sunday morning whether Dennis will go there by car.
Tord Grip was at Highbury. He will surely recommend that Richard Wright replaces Seaman in the England squad.
But Sven-Goran Eriksson is a cautious, conservative man. He knows Seaman is well over the hill and now goes down in instalments. But I have a feeling that the new England manager will not rock the boat just yet.
I got home feeling a bit groggy at 6.30. I came through the front door and heard my daughter Caroline’s voice calling from the dining room. She said, “Wasn’t Pires awful?”
“Yes,” I said.
10th February 2001.