Friday 25th November 2011
Back in the late Nineties when we first attempted to progress in the Champions League the Club took the decision to play our home games at the old Wembley Stadium. Our record over the couple of seasons wasn't great and many put it down to the fact opposing teams relished the chance to play at arguably the most famous stadium in the world.
For me however, our incredible continuous run in this competition has demonstrated one other massive aspect. The teams and matches we play are unbelievably different to those we see week-in week-out in our domestic league. This of course is something we have learned down the years both on and off the pitch and with this in mind there was definitely a large chunk of naivety back then.
Wednesday night, I feel, could not have been a better example of this fact.
We are used to totally dictating the play in eight or nine games out of ten these days, especially at home, but on those few occasions when perhaps we don't, even if for only part of the game, it is hugely important to work hard, keep our shape, defend well and be patient.
Dortmund and their huge, colourful and noisy travelling support desperately needed a win and fresh from their fine win against Bayern Munich at the weekend I didn't expect anything other than a team taking the game to us in the early stages.
For all their possession and movement however, we limited them to no more than one shot from distance in the whole half. In the latter stages I also felt we were slowly beginning to take control.
As the second half progressed we looked stronger and more threatening going forward but whilst totally appreciating the tireless work Songy does for the team not even the most ardent of us Gooners could have predicted the sheer magic of his assist for our crucial opener!
RVP did the rest of course and that progression to the next stages was almost in the bag.
Back in the days of the famous 'Back Four', Stevie Bould near-post flicks for the likes of TA and Smudger to nod home were a regularity. Tommy's version for RVP to tap home our second brought those memories flooding back!
Through, top of the group and a thoroughly-relaxing trip to the Greek capital on the horizon.
An impressive night, great win and tactically spot on for me.
The perfect way to go into our latest London derby on Saturday evening as we take on Fulham.
Come you mighty reds.
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