Luck plays an enormous part in any season, be it through incidents on the field, refereeing decisions or player availability through suspension or injury. I am one of those who totally agrees with the school of thought that suggests much of what takes place on the field can even itself out. At the moment however, it feels like our rivals would need to be struck down with the plague to even things up on the injury front!
Our wonderful sport is full of cliches and stating 'a week is a long time in football' is very much one of them. These kind of statements are not created for no reason however, and sitting here writing these notes I feel a lot more positive than I did at the back end of last week!
I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday, a statement that, no disrespect intended of course, is not one we would normally associate with a damp grey December home game against Stoke.
That feeling of defiance that always seems to fire up inside us fans when things have gone against us was very much evident pre-match and the players seemed to respond with a first-half performance that could and probably should have seen us four or five up at the break. Chances were plentiful and even if we take just the penalty and Manu's unfortunate 'clearance' from Cesc's strike it is easy to see exactly what I mean.
It did leave us all feeling a little uneasy at the break however, knowing full well that our visitors had every chance of stinging us with their only form of threat, a set piece or one of Delap's dreaded long throws.
Apart from one or two slightly shaky moments with the first one or two however, considering the sheer size of Stoke's firepower, our defence were quite superb throughout the 90 minutes. I cannot in fact, remember a single opportunity being conceded in the whole game. Two goals, a clean sheet and good strong performance, despite so many players being unavailable for selection. Overall, a thoroughly satisfactory day.
With three of our nearest rivals all dropping points come last night it made it a fine weekend all round and certainly makes the coming trip to Greece feel even more of a relaxing prospect.
Sunny and warm is the forecast... a lovely way to take in some of the wonderful sights, sounds, food and drink the fantastic Greek capital city has to offer.
Oh... and by the way... there's a game on out there too! Three-all with our hosts equalising late on will do me... so we can join in with their qualification party! :-)
"Would you like a glass of wine with your Feta sir?"