Arsenal v Leeds United 4th round Carabao Cup 26th October at The Emirates

Arsenal A 26th October 2021 Carabao Cup 4th Round

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Centenary Square 26th October 2021

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It was lovely to be able to take my granddaughter Hannah with me to the game in London. Having allowed plenty of time to get to the ground to catch the coach, we were there in no time and still had an hour to waste before leaving. We decided to look around Centenary Square first before looking around the shop where I could have spent a fortune. As it is a case of going to the football or buying something in the shop, the football wins hands down.

We got stuck in some traffic around junction 32 on the M1 that was just grinding to a halt. As things started moving again, we passed the cause of the hold up. An articulated lorry on its side in the field next to the motorway that was resting on some power cables. This accident caused an impact on Leeds fans getting to the game tonight with some forced to turnaround. I spoke to one lad outside the ground just before kick-off who told me his ticket for the game was still on the M1! We had a stop at Muswell Hill before heading early to the ground as Arsenal had informed the coach drivers, they would be closing the roads around the ground around 5.30pm.

We wandered up and down the streets for a while as we needed to find a Subway for gluten free food and luckily, we had a good guide in Nikki and her guide dog Annie. We then returned to the ground as I wanted some photos of us all in front of it and a kind policeman volunteered to take a photo of us with my camera. My daughter Dani, her boyfriend Chris and Hannah went into the ground as we were in different sections but as I was meeting someone outside before the game I stayed with Nikki until she met up with her son. A couple of Arsenal fans started talking to me with one saying how good it was to see so many Leeds fans in the capital for a Tuesday night game, showing great support and to enjoy the game. As I was wearing my Billy Bremner shirt another fan said my shirt was an old one and did, I remember his friend Vinnie Jones playing for us. Oh yes, I remember Vinnie, then he said he was really a Watford fan. It was good to just walk about outside the ground though with no issues as if we owned the place. Seeing the signs for the “Clock End” took me back to the 70s and all the trouble that happened on the terraces in that end as a Leeds fan. Getting followed all around the stand by groups of Arsenal fans hell bent on trouble and intimidation before trying to get back to the coaches in one piece was very hairy. At one game we were charged by the Arsenal fans which saw a big gap appear in front of me as everyone scattered, leaving me faced with snarling aggressive lads shouting come on at us. As I wasn’t a fighter, I got away as soon as I could shaking like a leaf plus getting injured climbing over a wall to get away from them.

Team: Meslier, Drameh making his first team debut at right back, Rodrigo, Roberts, James, Forshaw, Dallas (Captain), Llorente, Struijk, Phillips and Harrison.

Subs: Klich for Forshaw (45), Gelhardt for Roberts (53), Cooper for Llorente (58), Greenwood for Rodrigo (69), Summerville for James (69).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Cresswell, McKinstry, Hjelde.

Leeds lost the game2-0.

Attendance. 59,126 with 5,500 Leeds fans.

Referee: Andre Marriner.

Booked: Roberts.

Leeds attacked the goal where the Leeds fans were packed in the lower tier. After Arsenal having the first chance of the game where Meslier saved the shot, Leeds started attacking winning a few corners. It was noticeable that Arsenal pulled everyone back into defence to defend them. Leeds were making some great runs out of defence with James looking very fast. Our first real shot at goal was from Harrison which was saved by their keeper. I was very impressed with young Cody Drameh too who was playing very well and assured on his first team debut. With Leeds on the attack, one of their players hurt himself when trying to foul Leeds and was left in a heap on the ground. Surprise, surprise, the referee stopped the game which angered the Leeds fans because play should have carried on as there was no reason to stop it. The game has gone soft especially as it was their player’s own fault. Although Harrison and James saw their shots easily saved by their keeper and Arsenal sent a shot wide before the break, the scores were still level at half time. Leeds had played very well in my opinion, with lots of fast attacking play although we hadn’t scored.

At half time as I was just going back down the tunnel, I saw a young lad having a go at another Leeds fan for pushing him. I tried to intervene by “pushing” him away saying it wasn’t worth it and he apologised to me saying it had been deliberate and was not an accident. As the young lad’s mates joined in with the verbals, and I wasn’t making any headway, I walked away and left them to it.

I was surprised to see Bielsa had made a sub by taking Forshaw off and bringing on Klich for the start of the second half. As the team had been playing so well, I wouldn’t have changed anything, but it is possible after Forshaw’s recent injury that had been taken into account. It was a tale of two halves though because we never got going in the second half. With our next change shortly after the restart we lost the strength we’d had in midfield. The referee caused Leeds fans to scream at him when a blatant push and then a foul on us were let go and play continued rather than us having a free kick. The same didn’t happen to Arsenal of course, as he blew up for every challenge giving them a free kick. How frustrating was that? Arsenal took the lead shortly afterwards and we were adamant the ball had not crossed the line when Meslier kicked it out with his feet. With all the pushing and shoving from Arsenal in front of him prior to this they should have been penalised for it. As it was when watching the action replays, we had to concede that the ball had crossed the line even if it was only slightly over. Arsenal then started with their unsporting behaviour and gamesmanship going down at the slightest touch and the referee obliged by awarding them numerous free kicks. Slowing the game down when their player went down in the penalty area no trainer came on and he got up. Whether it was the same player or not one walked to the side of the goal then back into the penalty area. The next minute a player went down so it was ages before play resumed and their player had got up again. The game was killed off from a Leeds point of view when Cooper’s short headed back pass was picked up by Arsenal who got to the ball first, rounded Meslier and the ball trickled into the net although it looked like it was going wide. I’m disappointed that my dream of a cup final at Wembley and Europe beckoning has gone done the pan again. Winning breeds winning as instilled in me by Billy Bremner and the great Revie team I have been privileged to see play.

After their first goal someone threw a bottle down at the Leeds fans to the right of the stand from the Arsenal fans above. That opened the floodgates for retaliations going backwards and forwards between both sets of fans. For the rest of the game there was a lot of unrest with things thrown from both sets of fans. For a minority of our fans, resorting to smashing seats though is not the answer and is out of order especially as Leeds fans bore the brunt of it. Sadly, my granddaughter got caught up in it when a bottle was caught by the fan stood in front of her and she got very upset, so Dani, Chris and Hannah moved to the back of the stand away from it. The Arsenal stewards were very apologetic saying that for the last three games they’d had big issues with Arsenal fans causing trouble and they’d no idea how to deal with them. If that was the case, why on earth did they have these fans sat above us especially when they wouldn’t give us tickets for the upper tier this year, because we were stood up all through our last game there? It doesn’t make sense to me.

Outside at the end of the game as I was waiting for the others to get there, suddenly, an Arsenal woman shouted, he’s only 10 as she and her child walked past me. It looked like they’d walked across the front of some Leeds fans walking down the slope, but I hadn’t seen anything that he’d been deliberately targeted.

I am so glad that I don’t need to get up for work after a 3.15am return home and my sympathies go to those fans who have to go in. Having been there and done this many times too, it shows the effort and commitment our fantastic support makes every game to follow our team. See you at Norwich on Sunday for another long-distance trip. LUFC – Marching on Together!