Things came together for us at Fulham on Saturday, and we've had these opportunities to score in other away games this season, but without making the crucial breakthrough.
Away from home, if you can survive the first 25 minutes or so without conceding, then the home team starts to panic and then you can do something. At Blackburn, for example, although we were not playing great football, I think there was a 20 minute period when they didn't even go in our half. Then we made a mistake, they score, and it became more difficult for us.
So at Fulham we had early chances, we kept going, and because it was still 0-0 after half an hour we were able to score that first goal. If you get that first goal it will help any team in the world, but especially us.
We did well down the left wing against Fulham, and everyone knows I like to attack down that side. Some days it works better than others, but on Saturday Freddie did really well down that side and that helped me to create space.
I think that's where we have missed Ashley Cole this season. When he plays he gives us an extra body up front, gives us more options, and on Saturday Freddie did that for us. Unfortunately we have missed both Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy this season, who are both used to getting forward. I must say Mathieu Flamini did well for the fourth goal on Saturday, but of course his main concern is to make sure he defends well.
Ashley Cole though looks to go forward all the time, and it's a dream for me when I play with Ashley Cole. Sometimes away from home I find myself one against two or one against three, so when Ashley, or Freddie as he did on Saturday, makes a run behind me, it makes it easier, and that's what we've missed at times this season.
We defended well as a team but we also have to attack as a team and we did that well against Fulham.
People made a big fuss about what happened between Zat Knight and Moritz Volz at half-time, but things like that happen in football. Zat is a good player, and obviously I know Moritz from his days at Arsenal, and I just did what I had to do. I just hope they would have done the same for me in that position. But it's happened now, it's over, and really I think it's a shame that people were talking about that incident, more than what happened in the game. Surely the game itself deserves more coverage than an argument?
It's always nice to prepare for a game like tonight's with a win, but the Champions League is another competition. Remember we had just lost to Liverpool before we went to Madrid and won. I thought we did fight quite well at Anfield, and we were a couple of minutes away from getting a point. But everyone said it was not the best way to go to Madrid. The Champions League is different though, and we are unbeaten in the competition this season. In fact we would have a perfect record if I hadn't missed that penalty against Ajax.
But we know that Real Madrid can turn things around, just like that, so we have to be careful.
It was a great night in Madrid two weeks ago for everyone, and I'm sure the fans will remember it forever, but what we all really want is to go through tonight. Even if it is a boring 0-0 draw tonight, not that I think it will be boring, but if it is a dull game, as long as we go through - then we will love it. The same for Madrid, they won't care how they do it, they will just want to get through. Tonight we just want to progress, if we can play well then even better, but let's get through.
Don't get me wrong though, we will play how we always do at home, but on the other side we don't need to be stupid. We know Real Madrid like to go forward, that's how they play, and I think it will be a similar type of game to the first leg.
But it's important that we don't have to chase the game. We can keep it tight, dig in, and we know that when a team comes forward we can hit them on the counter-attack.
So we are going to play our game, but we know we can afford to wait for them. We are in a great position. Last year we were 3-1 down after the first leg in Munich, we won 1-0 in the second leg and could have grabbed the goal late on, but we didn't. This year though, we know they have to come out at us, and that doesn't mean that you don't play well. It's what we did at their ground, and I thought we played well then.
It should be a very special atmosphere tonight. It's big for the fans and it's big for the players, but when we are out there we don't really think about who we are playing. All you are thinking about is doing your best, after the game you can talk about when you played Real Madrid and all that stuff. But what we are doing here is trying to make sure everyone around Europe knows about Arsenal, and that they are scared of Arsenal.
That's what we are trying to do. Hopefully one day people will talk about playing against Arsenal just how we are talking about playing Real Madrid. I know we are far away from their nine European titles, but we are trying to make a start.
Thanks for your tremendous support out in Spain for the first leg, create a special atmosphere inside the stadium tonight.
Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 8 Mar 2006