Thursday 22nd December 2011

Sometimes in football you don't always get what you deserve. As fans we are very much aware of that. There is no doubt we deserved to come away from Manchester on Sunday with something from the game. Villa supporters on the other hand, will feel hard done by going away from last night empty-handed.

Arguably then, two points from the two games would have been the 'correct' haul. Three has all us Gooners going into the festive period in a far happier frame of mind!

As a fan a 40th birthday celebration made the away trip to Manchester a lot longer than the norm domestically, arriving in the city early on Friday morning, just in time to see us paired with AC Milan in the Champions League knockout stage. Arguably the toughest draw on paper, it seems in recent times in this competition, it is something we are all going to have to get used to!

With flights and hotels booked for our group, that is something we can leave until well into the New Year but as far as the rest of Friday and Saturday (and the wee small hours of Sunday) are concerned it was Christmas shopping and partying all the way!

An overnight snow flurry made the walk to the ground a tad treacherous for a game that, similarly to Chelsea away in October, would be a good yardstick for where we are right now.

City’s team and bench is littered with some of the world's most expensive and talented players but I felt we matched our hosts in every department, this despite our ongoing situation of having to play every game without a recognisable full back in our line-up.

City's results this season and their considerable attacking options meant we were always going to concede one or two chances during the game. That is where we needed a little bit of luck.

Our workrate was outstanding, some of our play excellent and with Joe Hart being named man of the match by all 'unbiased' onlookers, that alone demonstrates we were close on more than a few occasions going forward.

It wasn't to be however, and we couldn't help but walk away disappointed with the result if not the performance.

A quite fantastic curry on Sunday night completed a fantastic weekend off the pitch and thoughts turned to last night's trip to Villa Park, an almost must-win game after coming away with nothing from Manchester.

On a much warmer evening in Birmingham three days later, it was to be an interesting, extremely difficult but ultimately rewarding trip all round.

Our passing game definitely wasn't at its greatest I felt but credit must go to our hosts who worked extremely hard to close us down all over the pitch, giving us little or no time on the ball throughout. The Villa fans must have been scratching their heads as to why their team showed so much fight and desire against Arsenal when they had struggled in the previous couple of home games.

One of our better pieces of play led to the penalty and our all-important first goal, a quick throw and great turn from Theo doing the damage. RVP made no mistake and we were ahead after a difficult opening.

The equaliser came from a mix up and fortunately on this occasion one that didn't prove costly on the night. Nobody could argue however, our hosts deserved to be level.

Despite being under pressure and not at our best, Mr Wenger produced some extremely attack-minded substitutions and whereas a similar tactic at City didn't prove fruitful in the end, on this occasion it saw us take away the three points.

Tommy and Yossi added another dimension to our attacking play on the night and, after a string of corners, one finally paid off, Yossi of all people nodding home our winner.

One corner of Villa Park went slightly crazy and we all went home thoroughly satisfied with the victory.

Our rearranged Wolves home fixture comes next then leaving me to wish all Gooners throughout the globe a thoroughly merry Christmas period.

And a very red and white one at that!


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22 Dec 2011