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There was one shock omission when the team was announced pre-match. Mesut Ozil was ruled out and so Alex Iwobi took his place alongside the other ten players who won the North London derby last week. That emphasises where Jack Wilshere currently stands in the pecking order for the number ten role.

The Arsenal had Laurent Koscielny to thank for an excellent headed clearance from the menacing Barnes as the clock ticked past six minutes. It had been a cautious opening by both sides. At the other end Alexis saw his first effort deflected away for a corner which, as so often happens, didn’t clear the first man.

The match was warming up and only the fact that Barnes was clearly offside prevented Nacho Monreal from being pinged for a push on the Burnley striker in the box. The hosts were building up a head of steam and the Gunners were facing a stern threat of their credentials ‘on a cold Sunday afternoon oop north’.

In the fifteenth minute a shot from Berg Gudmundsson resulted in Petr Cech tipping the ball onto a post. It eventually resulted in clearly a corner, but Lee Mason (yes him again) booked Defour for protesting the obvious error. For all the Burnley pressure it was the visitors who should have been ahead when Alex Lacazette picked out an unmarked Aaron Ramsey in the nineteenth minute, but the Welshman’s instinctive finish was wayward.

As the mid-point of the half approached Burnley were showing just why they, as well as us, were playing for fourth place in the Premier League tonight. Mustafi had to bravely block a Defour drive, and Cech had to pluck another ball out of the air at the far post to deny Mee at least an assist at the expense of a corner. The Gunners defence was being given a thorough examination.

In the 25th minute Brady scythed through the back of Iwobi, his second offence, and clearly swore at Mason when the free-kick was awarded. His yellow card was entirely deserved. A thirty yard strike from Nacho Monreal went narrowly wide of the far post in the following phase of play. The Arsenal were coming back into the game. Alexis all but danced clear of the last defender on the half hour.

Iwobi’s effort was blocked as the visitors turned the screw before a double strike from Monreal ended up in row H. For a goal-less game it was certainly impossible to take your eyes off the screen. Back came Burnley and Cech again had to clear a dangerous looking cross from the right, before clawing another Brady corner into his chest at his far post. Six minutes from half-time the goalkeeper again denied Brady with a superb dive at full stretch from a free-kick in a central position.

From over thirty yards out Granit Zhaka spectacularly hit the Burnley fans in row M. Our attempts on goal were getting higher, in the true sense of the word. Mason somehow decided that Ramsey was responsible for taking a shoulder to nose charge in mid-air and awarded Burnley a pressure relieving free-kick. It was the last meaningful action of a strangely gripping clash of styles.

The second-half was less than three minutes old when Burnley fashioned the first counter attack, halted by Hector Bellerin’s block. Seconds later Alexis teed up the marauding Saed Kolasinac and Mee’s last ditch block saved the Clarets. Lacazette then stung the palms of the Burnley custodian, Pope. The teams had picked up the pattern of the first-half quickly.

Kolasinac was having a purple patch and once agin Mee had to be alert to effect another vital block. Arsenal had come out in a positive frame of mind and the travelling faithful responded noisily. Brady hooked Koscielny’s collar from behind but he avoided further censure from Mason.

As the hour mark approached Berg Gudmundsson was denied by the diving Cech. Another Brady free-kick was claimed at the far post by the Gunners goalkeeper, having a fine match to this point. Lacazette’s right-foot effort from the edge of the box was deflected away for another wasted corner.

A Ramsey half-volley cleared the far post as the locals jeered a perceived wrong when Xhaka made a superb sliding tackle. The locals are right up there with Stoke’s support as the most miserable, moaning crowd anyone could have to suffer. The Gunners made the obvious change in the 66th minute seeking a way of pinching the match. Jack Wilshere came on for Iwobi to a warm round of applause from the noisy visiting support.

Mason failed to give an obvious penalty when Brady cleaned out Bellerin in the box. It doesn’t even surprise us any more. Kolasinac made a mazy run down the left and drilled the ball across the face of goal. He was having a storming second-half. Burnley responded but Defour hit his effort into the under-fire locals behind the goal.

Dyche reacted positively by sending on Wood for Defour. Wenger thought it time to send on Danny Welbeck for Lacazette. Twelve minutes remained. Little Jack played a one two with Alexis and his shot was deflected agonisingly wide of a post. Arsenal were looking to grab yet another late winner in a half we had dominated. Mee’s block when Ramsey turned superbly in the box came just two minutes from the end of normal time.

The drama was about to begin in the two added minutes. Tarkowski shoved Ramsey to the floor in the box and not even Mason could ignore it. Alexis slammed his spot-kick through the hands of Pope to give the Arsenal a thoroughly deserved last-gasp win against Burnley for the third consecutive meeting of the clubs, and fourth place in the Premier League into the bargain.

Beauty had beaten the beast, again.

It’s a late Saturday preview of what has become a significant trip to the north-west. Draws for the neighbours, Liverpool, and Chelsea, have opened a window of opportunity for the Arsenal. As we saw last season a win at Sean Dyche’s Burnley isn’t easy, but we now have the added motivation of leapfrogging Liverpool and the neighbours into the top four if we can secure the three points at Turf Moor.

Let’s look at it in the way that Dyche will be putting it to his team. Burnley too have the opportunity to jump into fourth place. The clarets are behind us only on goal difference and have made themselves very difficult to beat. They won at the bus stop in Fulham on matchday one, drew at Tottenham on matchday three, and drew at Liverpool on matchday five. The only top six club to have beaten them is runaway leaders Manchester City, 3-0 at the Emptihad on matchday nine.

They are no longer the pushovers they were for so long. They have lost just two matches of the opening twelve, compared to our four, but have also drawn four to our one. It is easy to see why they are within touching distance of a Champions League place. They have conceded just nine goals, so six in eleven if you take the City game out of the equation. The reason they are not already in the top four is the fact they are only averaging a goal a game in attack.

All of which suggests we will have to produce another dominant, high-pressing, fast-passing display, as the eleven who are likely to start on Sunday did last Saturday to the neighbours. Arsene Wenger chose to highlight the hosts reptilian qualities ahead of the match.

“You know they’ve won games with 30, 25 per cent possession. That means they know what they want to do, and are patient to have that killing instinct of a snake. They put you to that place and suddenly they bite you.”

The ‘holic pound

Everything is screaming ‘low-scoring, low-scoring’. Last season both home and away we won with controversial late goals. One-nil to the Arsenal looks very compelling and the bookies agree. It’s the favourite scoreline at 7/1. I’m on it although if we produce the form of last Saturday it could be a bigger winning margin.

Win An Art of Football Teeshirt

It’s competition time again at Goonerholic thanks to our old friends at the Art of Football, who will help make one lucky Gooner’s week by sending them a superb teeshirt from their excellent range. Check out the range at the Art of Football website where you will find details of all their offerings, including a number of recent additions.

To enter the competition just answer this question.

89 Is the film record of our remarkable triumph at Anfield to lift the League title in that year. Who is depicted scoring the winner that night on another great Art of Football design?

Please send your answers to competition@goonerholic.com along with a contact email and phone number plus your Twitter handle if you have one. The winner selected after the competition closes at 5.00pm UK time on Thursday 30th November, will receive the tee of their choice. There is no cash alternative.

That’s not all we have for you from the Art of Football. This weekend get a discount of 20% off everything you buy from the Art of Football website as part of their Black Friday promotion with the code BF20.

It’s competition time again at Goonerholic thanks to our old friends at the Art of Football, who will help make one lucky Gooner’s week by sending them a superb teeshirt from their excellent range.

Check out the range at the Art of Football website where you will find details of all their offerings, including a number of recent additions. The teeshirts and sweatshirts come in a range of colours and sizes from small kids to XXL for those of us of a fuller figure! Art of Football only produce a limited number of each design, so your teeshirts, like any good piece of art, are exclusive and completely original.

You can also buy a number of prints or canvasses (print sizes A2, A3, and A4 available plus A2 and A3 canvas) which would make a welcome Christmas present for the Gooner in your life. Sting In The Tail is a wonderful record of Olivier Giroud’s scorpion kick goal for the Arsenal.

Sting in the tail

Now for the good news. Art of Football have offered a tee of your choice to one lucky Goonerholic reader. To enter the competition just answer this question.

89 Is the film record of our remarkable triumph at Anfield to lift the League title in that year. Who is depicted scoring the winner that night on another great Art of Football design?


Please send your answers to competition@goonerholic.com along with a contact email and phone number plus your Twitter handle if you have one. The winner selected after the competition closes at 5.00pm UK time on Thursday 30th November, will receive the tee of their choice. There is no cash alternative.

That’s not all we have for you from the Art of Football. This weekend get a discount of 20% off everything you buy from the Art of Football website as part of their Black Friday promotion with the code BF20.

That’s it. Get your entries in (just one per person please), and good luck to you. Come back tomorrow for a preview of the Burnley match. Thank you.

A more experienced eleven than was expected took to the pitch in the RheinEnergie Stadion. Calum Chambers returned to the side at right wing-back, so Reiss Nelson started on the bench. Francis Coquelin partnered Mohamed Elneny in midfield allowing Jack Wilshere to slot in behind Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.

The Arsenal made a bright start and Wilshere presented an opportunity to Ainsley Maitland-Niles from a tight angle which was cleared at the expense of a corner. The hosts got their first corner in the sixth minute when David Ospina had to go full length to tip away a dangerous cross-shot from Cordoba.

Just before the quarter of an hour an unlikely face provided a fierce drive from twenty yards the just missed Horn’s right-hand post. It would have been Coquelin’s first goal in four years had he hit it a couple of feet to the right. From the away end an appraisal of Tottenham’s future rang out. Talking of unlikely goals Wilshere managed to win a header in the box but aimed his effort straight at Horn.

Maitland-Niles, ever-willing to get forward down the left, crossed to his opposite number but Chambers didn’t connect cleanly with his volley and Horn saved comfortably. Also getting forward with regularity, Coquelin smacked another effort against the post. Next up with a potshot was Danny Welbeck but he saw his effort pass the far post.

Cologne lost their captain, Mahro, to a hamstring problem ten minutes before half-time. Rausch came off the bench to deputise. As the half limped to a close Elneny hit a rising shot into the crowd behind the goal.

The second-half started with Alex Iwobi on for Welbeck. Klunter’s tug on Maitland-Niles earned the defender a yellow card and a free-kick which resulted in a wasted corner. The home team made a second substitution when Olkowski came on for Cordoba. An unlikely opening appeared for Guirassy but the striker bobbled his effort straight at Ospina.

Then Guirassy blatantly dived and the gullible Mr Bezborodov pointed to the spot. The same player drilled his effort into the middle of the goal as Ospina threw himself to his right. Was that a wake up call that the Gunners would heed? Could the hosts hang on to repeat their controversial 1-0 win 46 years ago?

Cologne 1-0 Arsenal

Wilshere saw an effort from the edge of the box parried by Horn before he once again won a cross but headed the ball high and wide. Reiss Nelson came on for a tiring Chambers  and proved his worth with a speedy recovery to dispossess the growingly confident Guirassy. Cologne sent on midfielder Lehmann for striker Osako. The Gunners now had a dense red wall to attempt to penetrate.

I hadn’t spotted that the Germans had an outfield player also called Horn. It was somewhat fitting for the team with a goat for a mascot should have two Horns! They combined to deny Giroud when he beat the offside trap. With only seven minutes left on the clock the manager finally turned to Eddie Nketiah and Debuchy was withdrawn. A game of attack versus defence had long since developed and the attackers needed the extra man.

Guirassy found himself in the book for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. Nelson’s mazy dribble ended with his effort being saved by the goalkeeping Horn. Nketiah was close to an equaliser but the defenders scrambled the ball away and were rewarded with a goal-kick. News that Red Star had drawn with Bate Borisov and that result confirmed the Gunners as Group H winners.

Wilshere’s rasping drive in added time was spectacularly tipped over by Horn. The final whistle was cheered to the the rafters by home supporters who had been magnificent all night. Their chance of making the knock out phase is very much alive. It was a first defeat for the Gunners cup team, but they will struggle to work out quite how it happened.

The first photographs of Cologne are on Social Media. You can see who has gone to take in a bit of culture, and who is there for the beer and bratwurst! This is the sort of fixture that has made the Thursday night sojourns rather more pleasing than we thought beforehand.

A very young cup team has safely seen us into the last 32 of the Europa League, and a draw at the RheinEnergie Stadion will send us through as group winners. The hosts won’t lie down though, knowing that they need to win to keep their hopes of qualification alive until match day six.

They are, however, down on their luck this season. They have just two points in the Bundesliga and are currently propping up the table. They have one win and one draw in Europa League group H. Our 3-1 win in the home leg was a come from behind affair with second half strikes from Sead Kolasinac, Alexis Sanchez, and Hector Bellerin, none of whom are likely to play this time around, I suspect.

David Ospina could return in goal behind a back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, and Rob Holding or fit-again Calum Chambers. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson are expected to be the wing backs either side of a midfield pairing of Jack Wilshere and Mohamed Elneny. With Theo Walcott ruled out by a fever the front three could be Alex Iwobi, and a fit-again pairing of Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud.

Expect to see more youngsters coming off the bench in the second-half. Depending on the score it would not be a surprise to see Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah given more minutes of first-team football. As for Cologne, they will be without attacking midfielder Simon Zoller injured in last weekend’s defeat by Mainz. Club captain Mertesacker not surprisingly sat alongside Arsene Wenger at the pre-match press conference and spoke of following up Saturday’s intensity in the North London derby.

“I think it was a brilliant example of us bringing it all, fans and players together. It was a great atmosphere and lovely to see how we were together in every single situation. Even in the stands, on the bench or actually on the field, we seemed to be together. We want to reproduce, especially on Thursday. They set a good example for us, those players who came in. We saw that intensity and to repeat that tomorrow and Sunday will be a big, big challenge for us, but we embrace it.”

The ‘holic pound

When the draw was made this looked like our toughest away fixture but the way things have panned out that may not be the case. I do expect Cologne to give everything, but that Arsenal likely starting eleven is a wonderful blend of youth and experience. As I enjoyed a drink with the excellent Bergkamp the Man on Saturday I am bound to favour his favourite and have taken Paddy Power’s 1-2 to the Arsenal at 9/1.

All that remains is to wish the culture vultures and the lager swillers a fabulous trip and another good performance from the team.

Have a great one, ‘holics.

You are, aren’t you? Go on, admit it it. You’re still smiling (with a couple of obvious exceptions-sorry D and C). This was the first match following the alleged shift in the balance of power and we were widely tipped in the media beforehand to be staring a defeat in the face.

I do understand that Tottenham had shown marginally more consistency this season and journalists of a lily-white hue have had a tough twenty years plus. They unloaded years of frustration while the bookmakers ignored such emotional nonsense. Arsenal, bound to be beaten? No sir, we were the marginal favourites and they were proved right.

I’m watching the re-run of the whole match as I type, and the memories are coming back. I rushed a few words out on Saturday night while still conscious and that enabled me to watch Match of the Day.

Without doubt the atmosphere was as good as anything we have seen or heard in many a year. The stadium was a cauldron of contempt and disrespect for the old enemy. With the support engaged it wasn’t a surprise that the team turned up too. As one, the entire side put in a proper shift and left nothing unspent. The lack of a response from the three thousand eunuchs in the south-east corner of the Grove will also have helped.

And so to teagate, and I’m not the first to make the point that any abuse of a racist, or homophobic, nature is totally unacceptable and Twitter should be better self-policed in this regard. Maybe I do them a disservice because I am told by people who read Adam Crafton’s timeline before he locked his account that nothing of the sort could be found. Perhaps they did take action because I can’t believe that he or some of his “special” peers laid into the Arsenal social media team over nothing.

If the object of the exercise was to gain clicks he was spectacularly successful. Mr Dacre will be very proud of him. You might care to think of who he works for before seeing a degree of irony in the whole sorry saga. The young man wrote a mischievous piece which was always going to draw comments when it was made to look rather absurd. I’m sorry some of it went over the top, but it’s nothing new on Twitter and no blame can be allocated to whoever the amusing and talented Gunners creative was.

Back to the feel good factor. In the unlikely event that you forgot 89 – The Film was released today. If you ordered through the Amazon link in the sidebar, thank you so much. If you were waiting today the link is still there. Please help out a poor blogger and think of all the stick I might get for commenting disparagingly on the neighbours. I was told on Saturday they’ll ‘always be shit’ by an awful lot of people.

I suggested in the preview that we have a performance in us every Autumn. Thankfully so it proved today in the most important home game of the season. The neighbours were destroyed, and aren’t we glad about that.

The performance was built on the rock provided by Laurent Koscielny, Skhodran Mustafi, and Nacho Monreal. Please don’t tell me we need to go back to a four. They were awesome.

What we suspected could be a tough test was all but over at half-time. Tottenham have produced some memorable performances this season, but were blown apart by an Arsenal team who knew what was expected of them.

We were always in control, somewhat surprisingly, I’ll accept. How it took us 36 minutes to take the lead is a mystery. Skhodran Mustafi’s header was deserved, although I have since heard there was a hint of offside about it. Perhaps Manchester City will give today’s woeful opponents a couple of points after what they got away with a fortnight ago.

In all honesty watching the first half behind Pochettino was a most unexpected pleasure. Tottenham’s unfit-for-duty-internationals produced next to nothing. The Arsenal were  the team displaying the high press, and treatening on most attacks.

One became two when the wonderful Lacazette gave Alexis an opportunity he could not refuse. Even in the normally silent Block 32 a number of the regulars were vociferous in the extreme. I’m sure there must have been some Spurs fans there, but where?

The second half would surely be a nerve-racking affair as the neighbours sought to restore the status quo, but no. Gutless, spineless, the team alleged to have effected a shift in the power of balance were dismantled.

I could go on, about the performance of the mercurial Ozil, about Nacho, Shkodran, and Laurent. About Lacazette. I don’t need to if you were there.

Yes, it’s brief in the extreme, but there isn’t anything to add. We were outstanding, and as we reminded them many times, Tottenham Hotspur. You’ll always be shit.

It seems there isn’t a media outlet that isn’t hyping the latest North London derby to the highest peaks. I’ve just watched Sky Sports half hour preview show. I’ve been reading in various outlets all day about the shift in the balance of power, and who the world and his dog would pick in a mixed eleven. What value that has is anyones guess.

We can’t escape the fact that for the first time since April 1996 the team from Middlesex visit North London having finished above us in the preceding season. For twenty one seasons they rarely got close enough to smell our exhaust fumes. How their joy would have been tempered by our third FA Cup Final triumph in four years.

Silverware is their Achilles heel, and well they know it. Until they have put a trophy in a very small cabinet at the new White Hart Lane then finishing above us once will ring very hollow. Those words, the new White Hart Lane, loom large in their thoughts. The cost is set to reach nearly three times the cost of the Grove, and the financing is not at the advantageous rates we were able to negotiate.

They will have to fill their new abode week in, week out, but the public transport links are already poor for the capacity of the old ground. An extra fifty percent of capacity will test the will of people to make that awful journey regularly.

All of which matters not a jot tomorrow. It, and the way match, are the fixtures most of us (and them) look for first every season. Part of me wants to accept that they are the media darlings of the moment, they are the better side, they do go into tomorrow’s match full of confidence. Then I look for cliches. The form book goes out of the window for THE derby. Only for over twenty years it rarely did.

We know pretty much how Tottenham will set up tomorrow. Hopefully Steve Bould and the manager would have been working very hard with the defenders given the record that former junior Gunner Harry Kane has against us. Yet almost certainly we will have been looking more at how we set up to play the glorious attacking game we see so rarely these days but are still capable of.

In recent seasons, Chelsea last season and Manchester United before that, we have produced an Autumn performance of pure domination of a close rival. Could this derby be that fixture for this season? Who would be best placed to deliver that performance?

Petr Cech is certain to start in goal, and presumably a back three of Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal around either Skhodran Mustafi or Per Mertesacker will seek to protect him. Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac should patrol the flanks either side of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey.

It is the front three who will cause the manager a sleepless night. Alexandre Lacazette’s ommision at the Emptihad looked a bad call when he eventually came on as substitute and scored. If recalled then the likeliest pairing behind and alongside him would normally be a shoe-in for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Their inconsistency this season, coupled with their contract situation probably means that options have been considered.

Alan Smith tonight suggested starting Alexis but bring Jack Wilshere in to replace Ozil in the hole. There is another candidate. Alex Iwobi was preferred to Ozil at the bus stop in Fulham and enjoyed a sensational performance against Argentina in the week. I really haven’t a clue, but we will all be hoping the manager gets his selection right.

The ‘holic pound

The Arsenal are marginal favourites over ninety minutes but the shortest correct score odds suggest a 1-1 draw again. I’ve a feeling about us producing our autumnal extravaganza with the visitors contributing to a breathtaking goal fest. I’m splitting the pound between two long shots. 3-1 to the Arsenal at 16/1, and 3-2 at 22/1, look particularly attractive.

It will be an early start to the day thanks to the lunchtime kick-off, but that will allow for a generous post-mortem/celebration in the local hostelries post-match. Familiar faces will lift each other or party hard depending on the outcome. I’m looking forward to seeing you if you are going to be there.

Have a great one, ‘holics.

As international breaks go that was probably one of the more bearable ones. The release of 89, superbly documented by our expert film reviewer in the last week, has distracted from the usual tedium of the interruption of club football as well as our defeat at the Emptihad.

Gradually though the focus is switching back to yet another North London derby by which Arsene Wenger will be judged. I may be wrong but it feels as though so many matches against the neighbours of late have come off the back of disappointments elsewhere.

Won 58, Drawn 40, Lost 40. That’s the record of League and cup encounters between the two clubs in my lifetime. The derby matches are the first I look for when the fixture computer results are published in June. These are matches that still stimulate all manner of emotions, even to this of us approaching middle *cough* age.

There have been many memorable ones. The title-clinching matches at the marshlands in 1971 and 2004. The FA Cup semi-finals of 1993 and 2001 and the League Cup semi-finals of 1968, 1987, and 2007. Then there was the small matter of beating them 5-0 at the Lane in 1978, and then winning there the following season with six reserves picked during that cluster of FA and European Cup-Winners Cup semi-finals.

There was a spell between 7th November 1999 and 22nd January 2008 which comprised of 12 Gunners wins and 9 draws. The neighbours, sweet FA. Writing previews in that nigh-on decade was incredible fun. Much Micky (not you Hazard) was taken.

Last seasons defeat at the other end of Seven Sisters was our first in five matches but we have only won one of those as well, with three draws separating them. That hopefully isn’t a pointer to the result on Saturday. I’ll preview the match on Friday evening and as usual the ‘holic pound will be revealed.

The international break itself will be remembered by some more fondly than others. Both sets of boys in green will want to forget it as soon as possible, but Alex Iwobi pulled on the green of Nigeria and scored twice in the eye-catching demolition of Argentina, 4-2. Mesut Ozil gave a midfield masterclass against France, for whom Alexandre Lacazette scored both goals in a 2-2 draw. Eddie Nketiah scored five goals in two European U-19 Championship qualifiers for England. Not bad, lads.

I mentioned 89 in the opening paragraph and the screenings are now in full swing. I’ll not apologise for reminding you that the dvd is released on Monday and can be ordered from Amazon simply by clicking the link in the sidebar. Thanks to those who have already done so, and those of you who are about to having been unashamedly pleaded with again.

It’s time to complete Lucy Gooner’s experiences of the world premiere of 89 with her chat with the film’s significant driving force, Amy Lawrence. Amy is well known to most of you. A one-time contributer to the Gooner who developed her talent to the extent that having established herself at the Guardian and Observer, she was named journalist of the year at the Women In Football awards last year. She has had three excellent Arsenal books published (please don’t tell me it’s more, Amy!) and has now added another string to her creative bow. Lucy, pick up the story.

I am lucky enough to know Amy through her press box attendances!  She is great company, and her observations on the process around the film were a joy to listen to. Her opening sentence ensured we were glued to the story behind the film’s inception.

“Basically, it was a fantastically serendipitous game of dominoes, a series of conversations that went very quickly. Started off with a friend of mine called Adam Verdasco, who some of you may remember from the old days, who sent me an email saying, “I’ve just watched that “I Believe In Miracles” and “The Class of 92”. Why is there not a film about ….” And I almost didn’t need to read the end of the sentence and you think oh my God, what an unbelievably obvious and brilliant idea.

“So I then had a chat with another pal of mine, as I was clearly not a renowned film maker, and asked the advice of another Arsenal fan from the eighties who I knew who does some production. He then had a conversation with a mate of his (Davey who is the Director) who directed films and everybody didn’t need to finish their sentence! Before we knew it from Adam’s conversation to Universal, they had never even heard of each other, it was “whoosh”. Suddenly there is a film being commissioned which apparently is very unusual.

“The first phone call I made was to him (points to Lee Dixon, an executive producer as well as a legend!) because I knew he had so much to offer, and I knew that he would be someone who wouldn’t just want to take part. In terms of the kind of guy he is he literally dives straight in. We had a meeting and we all looked at each other and just knew that there was something sort of special in the air. In the first instance, I remember Lee saying, “What do you want me to do?” and we were so early in the idea that we hadn’t really figured much out by then, we knew the story was good.

“Once Lee had asked that, not just “can you give us an interview”, we all went and huddled in the corner and said shall we ask him if he wants to be a producer, sort of joining the club, we nervously decided to see if he wanted to do that and he said yes.

“Once those building blocks were in place the four people who drove it, David the Director, Lee who’s influence in getting the lads on board and so much insight an inspiration, me trying to be the glue and Sam the Editor who we called magic man! The desire all along was not just to make a doc but to make a film, to make something with some cinematic atmosphere.”

We asked Amy as somebody who was there (i.e. at Anfield!) how was it looking at the film now?  (Lee interjects with “why are you asking her? I was there too”!!!) Not for the last time does the enormity of that night, of that spring, come to the fore.

“Nothing comes close to it.  This may sound bonkers and over the top, but I think it changed my life being there. I just felt like there was a life lesson. I was 17 years old and some people were saying something was impossible, and it wasn’t. I have kind of carried that idea with me ever since.  It was a very, very powerful moment in itself and it was extra powerful because of the timing because of Hillsborough, and that fact that there was 41 days between the Hillsborough disaster and that game, which staggered me.”

Having seen the film I can say how very sensitive and respectful the whole Hillsborough piece was handled. It came across from both Amy and Lee that this was so important to all involved in the making of the film.

“Sport can make people cry (I can confirm that it often does as an Arsenal fan!) but that’s one of the things that has been interesting about when we put the film together, because you know generally you think of a sports film. You think it is going to be quite uplifting and fun, but I think that is one of the things that make it special, really quite powerful.  You don’t necessarily  expect that if you are going to watch a sports film, but there are people who have seen it who have been properly weeping.”

Amy confirmed that one of the biggest decisions they had to make was whether to have any involvement of a Liverpool perspective, and said that primarily they were very conscious that they didn’t want it to become a Hillsborough film. That they felt they weren’t equipped to do so and that there have been some fantastic things that have been done on that, and it was better to leave it for those people to have done that work which is really really important.

“What the film does in another way, we hope, is give a kind of universal story of David against Goliath. If you hear too much from Goliath your sympathies for David get a bit confusing. Whereas if you know the film is sort of told from within the Arsenal bunker you’re getting that inner sanctum feel. This is what the lads, George Graham and people, were feeling and thinking and doing leading up to and during this momentous match.”

Amy then turned her attention to our beloved Rocky. David Rocastle was such an important member of the Arsenal team in those years, which is quite remarkable for one so young and indicative of the quality we were producing in those days.

“One of my strongest memories of Rocky was going to interview him when he was on loan at Norwich, briefly, whenever it was. We spent four hours, most of which was spent talking about Anfield 89. I cannot tell you how much he loved that game, and it’s one of the great sadnesses that he couldn’t be a more active part of this, but we have been involved with the family all the way along because we want to make sure that Rocky is very much here in spirit.”

The eloquence and love that Amy has for this project is clear to hear and it was a delight to be able to listen to her be so passionate and effusive. How glad are we that she had those original conversations?

“For me those two things, the worse thing I have ever experienced in football, and the best thing I have experienced collided. They were so connected it was really important that that was a big part of the film as well.  To try portray that time and how we all felt.  We were all going through it even if you were just a fan, if you were just someone who loved football in the late eighties. That period of time was absolutely overwhelming in its emotional impact.”

And now for you all to experience the film. I know you will enjoy it, however you get to see it.

With that all that remains is for me to thank Lucy for her mini-series of guest posts which I hope, and believe, have caught the flavour of the evening without too many spoilers about the truly wonderful film. Screenings started today (Saturday). Keep up with the latest at https://www.ourscreen.com/film/89 or click on the Amazon links in the sidebar to pre-order the dvd, thank you.

89 is available in OurScreen cinemas from 11th November & on DVD & Digital Download from 20th November.

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