Injury time is ‘Arsenal Time’: Having to deal with late drama a huge part of being a Gooner

I think it is fair to say that us Arsenal supporters witnessed the most explosive of our season when we all cheered and celebrated Welbeck’s injury time winner. That goal was one of the most dramatic and loudly cheered goals I have witnessed since I started supporting the club, and potentially the one of the most important as well. I’ve just about got my voice back today and I’m so happy for Danny after all he’s had to go through the past year.  

We’ve got 12 cup finals ahead of us now (at least)- every match is significantly important with very little room for error. Beating the leaders and closing the gap to just two points from the top surely will give our team so much confidence and hopefully we can kick on from here on.

danny-welbeck

Danny jumping into the crowd with joy

As if you haven’t heard, Welbeck’s goal was the 100th league goal Arsenal have scored in injury time- more than any other Premier League team. I’ve done a statistical study of our 100 injury time goal and also put together four graphs to put the data into perspective.  Sunday was the third occasion we have scored in stoppage time in the league- the other two being Giroud’s goal against the same opposition and Ramsey’s strike against Sunderland. That was Welbeck’s second goal for Arsenal after 90 minutes; the first was against Hull at home last season when he salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw. That game was also the 21st time Arsenal have scored a winning goal in stoppage time; only Liverpool (27) have done it more times. Interestingly, we’ve scored 9 stoppage time goals past Leicester in the league, which is the joint-most we’ve managed against any other team. I won’t go much into explaining the tables and graphs as they are pretty self explanatory and you can view them right below.

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Arsenal’s 100 injury-time goals in the league

Let’s stay on the topic of injury time goals. I’ve been a fan since 2005-06 and if there’s one thing I learned, it is the fact that Arsenal are never far from late drama and having to deal with scoring/conceding injury time goals is a hallmark of being an Arsenal fan. There is a famous quote that goes along the lines of “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best”. I think that applies to fans of football teams that have watched their teams concede an advantage late on one day and score an even later winner the next round. Football is full of ups and downs, and conceding and scoring late goals are the epitomes of our sport’s worst and best moments. Most of us have been through those terrible times when Arsenal threw games away late on, and those types of agonizing experiences make occasions like Welbeck’s goal on Sunday even more sweeter to celebrate. That is the life of an Arsenal fan in a nutshell.

I’d like to recall 10 games I’ve witnessed during my relatively short time as a fan that has involved injury time goals (both for and against). As you go through those games, try and think back if you saw that game too. If so, how did you react to it and and how did that helped you grow as an Arsenal fan? If you weren’t following the team at that time yet, take a few minutes and watch the linked videos. Those matches have defined my journey as a Gooner so far and also represent significant moments in the club’s recent history.

1. Arsenal 2-1 Man United (2006-07)

That was my first taste of celebrating a last minute winner. Thierry Henry scored in the 3rd minute of injury time to beat United. He also said later on that that was the first time the Emirates felt like home since moving into the stadium that season.

2. Arsenal 2-1 Fulham (2007-08)

First game of the 07-08 season and I remember going into the new season quite nervous because we’ve just lost Thierry to Barcelona and we didn’t make any big signings. And the team got off to the worst possible start after Fulham scored in the first minute from Lehmann’s mistake. Hleb’s goal to turn the game around in the last minute gave me relief that our young team has got great character and things may not be as bad as feared before.

3. Birmingham 2-2 Arsenal (2007-08)

We’ve just beaten Blackburn a week ago and went 5 ahead of United with 12 games to go. The Birmingham game was the early kickoff and Arsenal had the chance to go 8 clear. Who would have known that match would turn out to be the biggest disaster of the season? Eduardo’s broken leg, conceding a penalty in the 5th minute of stoppage time and Gallas’ meltdown all contributed to the beginning of our downfall that season and the players never recovered from it.

4. Bolton 2-3 Arsenal (2007-08)

By that point, our title challenge was beginning to derail and since that Birmingham match, nothing has gone right for us. It looked another bleak evening when Bolton went 2-0 up and Diaby got sent off. We managed to pull three goals out of  the bag in the second half and kept the faint title hopes alive for the time being. In terms of the match’s context alone, it was one of the best comebacks in league history.

5. Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham (2008-09)

That match was a perfect example of the old cliche “Arsenal being naive and not knowing how to close a game out”. We were 4-2 up until the 89th minute and Clichy’s mistake gave Jenas a goal. 4-3. Alright, still winning. But instead of seeing the game out, the players  kept bombing forward for the 5th goal and when it was Tottenham’s turn to attack, there were only three Arsenal players defending in their own box. Infuriating to say the least.

6. Stoke 1-3 Arsenal (2009-10)

That game still remains our only win at Stoke since they were promoted, and it was probably because they were down to 10 men after Shawcross got sent off for breaking Ramsey’s leg. What was significant about that match was that instead of crumbling like they did at Birmingham, the team showed character and channeled their frustration/anger in the right way to score two very late goals and win an important match to close the gap at the top. Fabregas scored from the spot in the 90th minute and Vermaelen tapped in a third later.

7. Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool (2010-11)

I still look back on that game as the one that managed to bring me down emotionally to the lowest point. Once again, our title charge was derailing and we needed to win against them. Looked like we were on our way to doing so when van Persie scored a 98th min penalty. Ecstasy. Surely we’ve won it! No, we haven’t. What followed was agony times 1000.

8. Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal (2011-12)

We had endured probably the worst possible start to a season in the club’s history and that game got us back on track somewhat in that season. Mind you Chelsea were pretty poor in the league that season but days like that when your team manages to score 5 at their place does not come along often at all. I probably watched van Persie’s hatrick of goals over and over again for that whole week.

9. Reading 5-7 Arsenal (2012-13)

Definitely the craziest match I’ve seen. I couldn’t believe what I was watching when Reading of all teams went 4-0 up. Three injury time goals- the first from Theo to tie the match at 4-4 in regular time, the second from the same guy to put us up 6-5 in added time of extra time, and third from Chamakh to make it 7. After the match, Arsene said “You can‘t play for Arsenal and give up, no matter what the score is.” That quote still sticks by me as a monumental message to this day.

10. Arsenal 1-3 Monaco (2014-15)

The context was that we were all happy to get Monaco, an easy draw on paper for once, even after finishing second. And our expectations all turned to dust as Monaco fired not one, not two, but three away goals past us. The last goal was the most infuriating. Why we left ourselves so exposed in injury time of the first leg of a tight Champions League knockout round was beyond me and quite infuriating to see.

Note, however, that I picked matches that exclusively involve goals scored in 90 minutes plus added time. Therefore, games with Tiote’s equalizer in the 4-4 (88th min), Martins’ goal in the cup final (89th minute), and Ramsey’s winner at Wembley (scored in Extra Time) weren’t mentioned.

Til next time!

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