Arsenal's 20 defining matches – Guardian ebook
Having just downloaded this excellent new eBook it got me to thinking about a match that, for me was a defining moment in our history:
Arsenal 1 (1) v Chelsea 2 (1) Champions League QF 2nd leg 2004
Having come away from the first leg with Bobby's away goal in the bank in a 1-1 draw Reyes scored on the stroke of half time following a sensational 45 minutes from the Gunners.
The first half was, in Phillipp Aucliar’s opinion, the best 45 minutes Arsenal had ever played in the Champions League, a "breathless, furious, intoxicating" passage of play which prompted one amazed Italian journalist to remark: "This is not football."
A second half of attrition would have seen us through into probably the weakest group of semi finalists ever; Porto, Deportivo and Monaco. The Champions League for the Arsenal team of that season was 'up for grabs'.
Even if Chelsea were to have equalised you felt we had a superior bench and options. Rather than a dull defensive 2nd half we played in our usual flamboyant manner. That second half was one in which Wenger showed no tactical inspiration to see out the tie and progress to a glorious achievement.
The result we all know.
Had we made it through that 45 minutes I really believe we could have gone all the way and that great Arsenal side would have fulfilled it's destiny. It is also worth pointing out that the eventual winners, Porto, were managed by Jose Mourinho and this triumph was the springboard for him to join Chelsea and lead them to a level of success that they had never previously known.
Therefore, for me, this was a defining match not just for that team and Wenger but for the club and football in London in general.