Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe last time Southampton visited Arsenal (Video) - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The last time Southampton visited Arsenal (Video) - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The last time Southampton visited Arsenal (Video)

Today Arsenal prepare themselves for their first home game against Southampton since the 2004-05 Premier League season. The two teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum with unbeaten Arsenal yet to concede a goal so far this season and on a high after their 2-0 win at Anfield in their last outing, while Southampton are currently rock-bottom, the only team in the league without a point having been stung by late goals against Manchester United and Manchester City in their opening three games.

It was a similar build up the last time Southampton travelled to Arsenal and to Highbury as it was back then, in October 2004. Arsenal had had their record-breaking 49 match unbeaten run ended in acrimonious circumstances by Manchester United the week before but remained two points ahead of Chelsea at the top of the table and could still call on the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg and Jose Antonio Reyes all in their pomp. Southampton on the other hand were struggling under boss Steve Wigley. The man put in charge after Paul Sturrock was sacked in August looked to be having difficulties coming to terms with the pressures of the job and was still without a win as Southampton travelled to Highbury in 18th position

Arsenal were expected to batter their visitors but in what became a chilling vision of the future for Arsene Wenger’s team, struggled to break down the opposition despite the talent at their disposal. When the likes of Henry did at last break through the mass defence, they would either find the Southampton keeper Anti Niemi in top form or find their finishing profligate, as Henry showed when he cracked a first half penalty against the post.

However, after Henry had finally made the break through with a piece of exquisite control from (ironically for Arsenal), a long ball over the top, Southampton and Wigely stunned the hosts as two similar Rory Delap headers – yes Rory Delap, he of the Stoke long throws, – seemed to set to give the visitors and their beleaguered manager the most unlikely of first victories.

But then, with moments to go, up stepped from the bench a young Dutch striker named Robin Van Persie. With a shimmy and a drag inside before a brilliant, flashing finish across the goalkeeper into the top corner that would the Gunners fans would in years to come become so accustomed to from Van Persie, a point was rescued for the Gunners to keep the champions top of the league.

Arsenal eventually lost out to runaway champions Chelsea under Jose Mourinho while Southampton, who sacked Steve Wigley a few weeks later and controversially replaced him with Harry Redknapp, would go on to be relegated in the final match of the season into the lower leagues where they have turbulently remained until this season.

Sometimes it’s amazing how things change in football but occasionally, such as today when a confident Arsenal side take on a struggling Southampton, the sport just feels timeless.

Adam Mazrani

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