ARSENAL IN 2008: Painful memory of Carling Cup demise at Tottenham
In the first of four retrospective articles, Jem Maidment looks back at the beginning of 2008.JANUARY The new year begins with a routine 2-0 win over West Ham but in their next home game only a late Theo Walcott equaliser saves Arsenal s blushes in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Tottenham. It delays the inevitable – a 1-5 thr
The new year begins with a routine 2-0 win over West Ham but in their next home game only a late Theo Walcott equaliser saves Arsenal's blushes in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Tottenham.
It delays the inevitable - a 1-5 thrashing at White Hart Lane in the second leg leaves fans fuming - and the Gunners' squad reeling.
An on-field spat between Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor adds to the humiliation. The Togo striker immediately issues an apology. "I am sorry for the disagreement with my team-mate Nicklas," he says.
"We are both passionate about this club and sometimes that can be projected in the wrong way."
But it merely highlightes growing disunity within the club.
- 1 Academy to crack down on 'boisterous' behaviour after inspection
- 2 Arsenal begin pre-season in strong position
- 3 Heath patrols to increase after fisherman robbed at knifepoint
- 4 Paddling pool to be open all week after pipes replaced
- 5 I want to philately! Freddie Mercury’s stamp collection goes on display
- 6 New Wendy's opens its doors in Camden
- 7 Camden Council settles £130m Chalcots lawsuit for £19m
- 8 'Buying maternity clothes seemed so wasteful': Former fashion editor's mission
- 9 Door-to-door patio cleaners con Belsize Park pensioner out of £1,300
- 10 Parliament Hill's second kite display an 'unqualified success'
Meanwhile, Tomas Rosicky limps out of a 3-0 win over Newcastle and does not play again for the rest of the year.
With Arsenal's season threatening to implode, the league leaders begin February with a timely 3-1 win at Manchester City, Adebayor hitting two.
"We have 60 points now and that is phenomenal," said Arsene Wenger. "I don't know how much will be needed [to win the title] but it looks it will be around the 90s."
That optimism proves premature. A 0-4 loss at Manchester United in the FA Cup in front of 9,000 travelling Gooners shatters confidence and the month ends with Arsenal throwing away two points at 10-man Birmingham. The game, however, is overshadowed by a horror leg break to Eduardo.
"I have no words to describe what I saw," says shaken team-mate Mathieu Flamini, "We now want to win the title for him."
Erratic captain William Gallas also appears to have a breakdown as Blues are awarded a last-minute penalty, sitting in the centre circle in protest. The fans will never forgive him.
Arsenal begin the month top of the Premier League, but draws with Aston Villa and Wigan allow Manchester United to overtake them.
In the Champions League it is a different story. The Gunners eke a goalless draw at home to holders AC Milan before finishing the Italians off in their own backyard, 2-0. "We have not been in the most positive environment recently, from the media," said Wenger. "But I like the fact the team finds the mental strength to play without restriction."
Didier Drogba scores twice as Arsenal are unlucky to lose 2-1 at Chelsea, but the following week give themselves a massive boost, coming back from 2-0 down at Bolton - and Abou Diaby's sending off - to win 3-2.