The Emirates Goes Nuclear!

Deep in time added to stoppage time, Reiss Nelson gave us one of the great moments of the Emirates era, chesting it down and thwacking it home to seal a dazzling comeback win from two down. 

Nelson’s goal sparked mass delirium, with the bench emptying onto the pitch, our captain collapsing to the turf, an inhuman howl issuing from the stands, and all of Arsenaldom sharing in a moment of rapturous joy. I have heard a crowd make such a ferocious noise, so loud it gave the commentators’ mics distortion.

It crowned the hardest of hard-fought wins, against an awkward team that was always elusive on the counter, and found innovative ways to defend with their arms while avoiding punishment. 

Arsenal trailed for 70 minutes of the 98. This advantage played into Bournemouth’s hands, suiting their defensive gameplan and piling danger onto every turnover. Do not overlook the resilience and concentration to bring this back to 2-2 alone.  

To start, Bournemouth turned the kick-off into an attacking set-piece by overloading the right side of the pitch, drawing our players to cover. The left was empty and they advanced to the corner of our box without facing a single challenge.

The cross snuck under Gabriel’s foot, though he can’t really be blamed for it, putting it on a tee for Billing who had an open goal. It was more clever from them than sloppy from us, but we didn’t come out looking good. 

Our best chance of the first half came a couple of minutes later when Odegaard forced Neto to dive to the bottom right, and Saka followed up, striking the goalkeeper on the chest unawares. 

The remainder was intermittent pressure on the Bournemouth box, alleviated by time-wasting and two or three troubling counter-attacks. 

The most incisive of these drew a point-blank save from Ramsdale, although the replay showed that Solanke was probably offside when he broke, so it could have been ruled out. 

After Saka’s chance, our best hope of a first-half goal was via a couple of penalty shouts. The first looked like a clear handball by a disoriented Mepham after a botched header. 

Decisions like that make you doubt yourself, because I don’t know how it wasn’t given by VAR. I know even less now after the events of the second half. 

The second big shout, just before half-time, looked innocuous in the moment, but the replay showed that Tomiyasu was first to the ball and was kicked by the defender. It might have been soft, but they have been called in the past, for teams that aren’t Arsenal.

Trossard went off with what looked like a muscle injury, leaving us with three forwards injured, and Emile Smith-Rowe coming on. ESR hadn’t looked fully fit before this game, and it was a bit troubling to see him on the pitch so early, knowing that we needed a contribution from him. 

The second half was a harrowing blur of churning Arsenal possession, blocked shots, snuffled-out Bournemouth counters, wasted Arsenal corners, yet more potential handballs, and interminable time-wasting. 

Every time we worked space for a shot it was straight at Neto, and as our corner count racked up did anyone else wonder that it would be typical if Bournemouth scored from their first one? That’s just what they did, when Senesi lost Partey and doubled Bournemouth’s advantage after an hour. 

Partey had atoned within five minutes, seizing on the Cherries’ first moment of hesitation all game to get on the end of Emile Smith-Rowe’s looped header. Neto was booked in the aftermath, having successfully eaten into a big chunk of the game up to that point. 

Bournemouth had looked less assured even before they extended their lead, and for the final half-hour we were able to put the squeeze on them without respite. 

Smith-Rowe, evidently trying to find his feet, made way for Nelson, who has looked sharp when fit. The winger found space down the left, digging out a deep cross from the byline, met by White for his first ever Arsenal goal. 

That was not an easy chance, but he adjusted his stride like a seasoned poacher, and the ball had already flown two feet across the line before Neto could paw it out. 

I don’t have the energy to discuss all of the second half penalty claims. Maybe that’s how they get you, by grinding you down with confusion. 

The biggest came on the back of the equaliser, when Saka’s cross was elbowed onto the post by Stephens, who leaned into the path of the ball. Looking back, it’s no wonder all of our other shouts were dismissed, if the claim had to be even more clear-cut than this one. I remain mystified. 

With time ticking down, Martinelli went on a driving run from the halfway line, bursting into the box before blazing over. Saka, clearly flagging, then miscued. 

More time was lost to delayed restarts and fake injuries, including a long one in the first minute of stoppage time, which is what gave us that one final chance, angled into the corner so adroitly by Mr Nelson. 

With injuries and fatigue accumulating, who’s to tell what other contributions he might make before the season’s up?

As the ecstasy softens into a happy buzz—had anyone else forgotten about the power of back-to-back wins? I know I had. Because in two weeks we’ve put together 12 points. It took us three months to amass fewer in the winter of 2020-21.

A final thought for rival fans, squinting at spyware-riddled streams to witness Reiss Nelson blasting the ball into the net and the deranged catharsis that came with it. 


31 comments on “The Emirates Goes Nuclear!

  1. I absolutely love these Birdkamp posts, they have completely invigorated what had become a very flat place. This particular one grabs the mood perfectly.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Cheers Bird!
    Great reportage on one heck of an exciting game. One thing the highlights don’t show is the tension that built and built and built, 80% possession nearly the whole game, the Foontnmouth time wasting, that in the end gave us the injury time on injury time, for magic Nelson to d othe biz.
    Its going to be a great bench cam…


    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thank you BK. So it wasn’t a dream then.
    The report perfectly captures the whole range of emotions spent during this rollercoaster. It was interesting to me that I actually got to injury time and found myself thinking that we could still do this. A testament to just how far this team has come in the mentality stakes.
    Penalty decisions, I just don’t know anymore.
    On top of that you have some media outlets suggesting that the goal shouldn’t have stood because too much extra time was added.
    All this means one thing people are getting worried about the qualities they are seeing in this Arsenal team.


  4. This is a write-up as befitting a game of this magnitude and importance as it’s possible to get. I don’t know how you set about writing something like this (which is why I merely comment) but it’s a very memorable piece:

    “The second half was a harrowing blur of churning Arsenal possession, blocked shots, snuffled-out Bournemouth counters, wasted Arsenal corners, yet more potential handballs, and interminable time-wasting.”

    That is EXACTLY what it was – ‘a harrowing blur’. I simply did not believe we could possibly be two down by the 60th minute. I was fearing not just for the game itself but the outcome of the season, knowing this was supposed to be one of the ‘easy’ games of the run-in, I was doing all sorts of distressing mental calculations.

    So bravo on a marvellous write-up, it’s hard to add too much to the anguished drama you’ve described leading to the picture of unrivalled sporting delirium we all witnessed, and were subsumed by, in the 98th.

    When the ball came out to Nelson, far from the goal, an impenetrable army of players between him and the goal, I didn’t think he’d hit it, he couldn’t possibly. Another cross in, surely?

    I was certain the whistle was about to go (it was).

    Did anyone else feel time slow down?

    It took me back to the scene in the Nick Hornby film “Fever Pitch” where the action became slow-motion as Arsenal’s unlikeliest League-winning goal of all time, was prodded home in the dying seconds of that historic Anfield game.

    Truth be told, watching from home, I just stood up, in silence, not certain I’d seen the ball going in the goal, no longer trusting my senses, watching for the linesman’s flag to go up, wondering how half the stadium had suddenly made it onto the pitch in celebration. I stood in awed silence for a full minute, awaiting the intervention from VAR that, miraculously, given what had gone before, never came.

    What a game. What an effort. What a stunning result.

    My only footnote is to reflect on the four (4) very obvious occasions VAR contrarily declined to get involved. Two of our penalty claims were surely ‘nailed on’?

    Could it be a spot of VAR revenge on behalf of their rightly dismissed old mate Lee Mason?

    I would not be at all surprised.

    I fear if we win the thing, it will not be thanks to any undue assistance from those wretched men in black.

    And if we DO win the thing, it’ll be games like today’s that will be turned into the blockbuster cinema smashes of tomorrow.

    Beyond Fever Pitch, or something like that, perhaps.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Brilliant stuff Birdy and thanks so much. As George says, we owe you big time.
    What a game, and how amazing it is to see this team piling wave after wave of attack until the oppo cry enough. And the crowd too, rocking the Ems like never before. The connection between team and fans is amazing. Saw someone say that the documentary that aired just before the season started has made us feel that we really know the players. The fact too that they are so young and so many home grown – and that the players that have come in weren’t hugely known big stars elsewhere – has also helped create that sense of unity.
    I loved listening to the Arsenal Player commentary and hearing Winterburn (think it was him) so nakedly passionate about the unfolding events. There’s a great Twitter thread by Dan Critchlow that captures the reaction of that goal. I know I was reduced to incoherent bellowing when it went in: hate to think what the neighbours made of it!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Yeah Mills, a big three points of course and a last-minute winner is always big, but it was 100% everything that came before that caused that caused that mania, from the time wasted to the penalty shouts.

    AA, I was quiet too. I think I made an odd squeaking noise, and the rest was taking the crazy scenes, with the camera shaking, and also waiting for VAR because you never know.

    Thanks George and FH! It’s a pleasure to do them.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Thank you BK.
    Best comeback since the 2014 final! Arteta played with nerves of steel on that fine day.

    Some of us were never in doubt.
    About the pgmob and that’s why Shotts was able to write a blog/website in advance of their bungling! the bogus officials who have been retarding English football which has returned to a peak since the seventies even the Invincibles could not win a game of football on a tilted pitch, the Arsenal are back playing the best football and renewed the battle with money City for that purists title after a few years break. They were denied a league title by a copious penalty count in favour of some club sponsored by a betting company in 2015 but that didn’t matter to me then and it doesn’t matter now!

    Though I do hope the Hale End narrative is strong enough to overwrite the Riley & Webb’s script. Sooner or later they too have will follow their hero Don Revie. Into the dustbin of history.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Liked by 2 people

  9. Arsenal women: one -nil down, two- .one up!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. 3-1 now just before half time for Arsenal women, i feared the worst after going behind so early after last weeks result

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I felt the same Ed, last week we werent too hot! Good to see us playing much better.Why is Wienroither on the bench though?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My wife went off to a hen weekend looking forward to a good time and also being away from me and my lads shouting at the telly.
    You can imagine her delight at her coming home today to find me sitting on the sofa shouting at the TV cheering more ARSENAL goals.
    3-1 half time COYG.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. On the more worrying side I have to travel to two weddings one on the 22nd of April (we play Southampton on Friday 21st at 20:00) and even more worrying the second one is on Sunday 28th of May.
    What the absolute fuck, 50% of all arguments in my married life have been about ARSENAL and I think there may another one brewing.


  14. You can tell the excellence of Birdy’s review when it draws so many of the PA crowd out to write so many excellent comments.
    I have just been down the comments section reading each one and pressing like, like, like, like as if I was a desperate freak on a dating site.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. ARSENAL woman denied a stonewall pen looks like it’s the whole club the officials hate

    Liked by 1 person

  16. tricky one Ian!

    Should have been a pen?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. dog shite reffing in this game! Bah!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thats it! After many disappointments we beat Chelsea in a cup final! No Viv or Beth, but played really well. Why Chelsea werent getting booked I have no idea…
    Top weekend for the Arsenal!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. ARSENAL beat Chelusa and the officials 3-1 another trophy for the ladies

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Loving all the posts which reaffirmed that I wasn’t dreaming yesterday.
    I actually thought during time added on that we may grab a winner, such is my belief in this teams character and mentality. What a total turnaround.
    The penalty injustice continues and now some tell us that the stoppage time goal shouldn’t count because too much time was added on.
    It seems to me that some quarters are getting worried about the many qualities that this team has.
    Keep calm and carry on Arsenal.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Looking like a day to remember for the Arsenal ladies too.

    Ignoring the officials and the joy of the late win I wonder if we’ll see another league game without Xhaka or Jorginho starting? Not Partey’s best game at the back but he was on his Todd. If there was a game to risk resting the other two then Bournemouth at Home was probably an opportunity to do so, i hope is that such rotations when necessary will be left to the European games.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Despite what so many would have you believe, we are a less good side when Xhaka doesn’t start.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Nelson has had more football the Rowe this season & I guess is therefore fitter at this moment and with his cameos before the World Cup and now, with Arteta’s trust in the player it’s a safe bet he’ll play more.

    Many here appreciated the loss from his injury but with great credit to the coaches the team has coped well this season when others have been out such as Zinchenko etc*.
    I believe the squad could’ve coped better in the lull if these two players had been back a little earlier but what a great return for the pair of them to the first team! Incredible scenes. Odegaard can collapse to the turf in exhaustion and joy and many of us can feel the same knowing the support & quality off the bench is there.

    *inc. their appreciation of the loss of Elneny & quick recruitment of Jorginho, Trossard for Jesus

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Liverpool pound manure 7-0 but that wasn’t the remarkable thing, that was left to the officials who continued to protect manure all the way through the game. Once again they should have had at least two players sent off.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. “Trossard for Jesus” well he does seem to be able to walk on water at the moment

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Our and cities remaining games are quite similar except we go to Newcastle and Forrest and have wolves at home and they play Leicester, Everton and Brentford.
    With our game against each other being at there place and the experience of previous titles wins they must still be favourites.


  27. Ian when you said
    “50% of all arguments in my married life have been about ARSENAL”

    I fully expected it to finish with
    “the other 50% were about unimportant things”

    Liked by 2 people

  28. that Chelsea ladies manager, emma hayes is one very nasty piece of shit, what a despicable interview she gave after the cup final today. Snide and bitchy, a proper cunt, who is well suited to the club she works for, cunt.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Thank you BK for another excellent write up.
    What a wonderful weekend of football, pretty much all round. No matter how they tried, and they tried hard, several times in the Bournemouth game, even the PGMOL couldn’t ruin it for us.
    The worry, we are short of strikers, but this bunch are as resilient as they are adaptable

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Well of course I enjoyed the 7-0 buffeting, but I’m not surprised they suddenly ran out of ideas and energy after two big games against Barcelona, a Cup Final, and then a come from behind FA Cup tie. Good to see a few reputations nicely shredded though!

    Liked by 1 person

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