Thursday 1st April
Being fervent fans of our club we have to admit we are always going to be biased in our views and this applies to fans in a similar position all over the world. As a result in 35 years of watching our team I can count on one hand the number of times I have willingly put my hands up and said the team we have played against were simply awesome. Last night was one such occasion.
Yet, through a combination of desire, determination and a sheer 'never give up' attitude we find ourselves taking a result into the second leg that gives us hope.
Twice this season we have been beaten at home by scorelines that suggest a trouncing. On both those occasions I don't believe we were well beaten but the games turned on crucial moments.
Last night on the other hand, certainly for the first half-an-hour or so, whether we were slow out of the blocks or not, I can honestly say I don't ever remember an opposing team playing that well against us.
We had one or two near-things in the first period too but if it wasn't for some last-gasp defending and an inspired performance by Manuel we could have found ourselves dead and buried well before the break.
At half-time people were simply looking at each other scratching their heads as to how exactly we were still level but also agreeing that it would be highly unlikely our opponents could reach those heights again during the tie.
Other than the fact we all want to win every game, overall the only major disappointment for me was the manner in which we conceded the two goals, especially the first one. Having defended admirably for the first half and given ourselves a chance we almost threw that away.
Having lost Billy Gallas and Andrey to yet further injuries, Mr Wenger played his well-used trump card of swapping Manu for Bac and introducing Theo, a move that was to turn the game.
Finally we were getting a foothold, demonstrated by Nicky's thumping header and our closest attempt so far. Theo's pace was definitely causing Barca problems, culminating in him gliding onto Nicky's superb pass for his goal. All of a sudden it gave us some hope we could take something to fight for into the second leg.
The game was at its most open (if that is possible!) but, unlike the first half, the majority of the chances were coming our way.
Theo once again caused problems down the left, Cesc was upended in the box and the chance to grab a lifeline was there.
A minute or so later and it was pandemonium! We're back in the room!
The joy quickly turned to worry as Cesc's discomfort became apparent. Not only that, the one-man advantage we would have had over the last ten minutes having gone pretty much eliminated any chance of going on to get an unlikely winner.
Let's be honest, on a night where it was an absolute privilege to be there, we've got to be happy with an unbelievable fighting draw. It sees us head out to Spain with something to cling on to. By hook or by crook we are still in the tie, make no bones about it.
Before all that we have an equally crucial game against Mick McCarthy's in-form Wolves side. Above all else we have to make sure it's not a case of 'after the Lord Mayor's show'. The three points up for grabs are absolutely essential before we even think about heading off to Spain.
Enjoy your red and white Easter.
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