Friday, December 7

Athens is a city we have visited many times down the years, our three Champions League matches with Olympiacos matched by three previous confrontations with their city rivals Panathinaikos. Although there is only so much 'enjoyment' you can get from one city it is at least one of those I do like going to.

The rivalry between the two main clubs is very easy to see as a visitor, every single bar, shop, street or restaurant we visited having local fans wanting to express their views, be they about their own team's exploits or the fact they wanted us to beat the team they dislike!

Culturally and historically there is obviously a huge amount to enjoy, especially if you have beautiful sunshine like we did.

Frank Stubbs in Athens

Piraeus being the busy port for the Athens area it is also the home of our hosts for the game so come Monday night we decided to take in the entertainment on offer there, a fine decision and one that once again saw bed being hit well into the early hours.

Consequently we were all a little jaded on match day and with so little to get excited about by the game itself, the mood didn't really get much more buoyant as kick-off approached.

Frank Stubbs in Athens

The local fans' enthusiasm certainly made for a good atmosphere if not as boisterous as previous years and in the first half we played relatively well. The chances we had certainly matched our hosts, Tommy's excellent finish after a good move seeing us take a lead into the break.

The second half however, did not match the first and we fell to our second defeat in this season's group stage. Disappointing, easpecially for all those Gooners who travelled, but with our progress already assured, not altogether unexpected.

One final night out completed another enjoyable visit to the Greek capital as discussions turned to our possible opponents in February and March next year.

Before that is decided however, we have some massively important games to play in two domestic competitions, starting with the visit of the high flying Baggies on Saturday.

We are the only English club to still be in every competition we have entered this season so we have to see this game as an opportunity to get our league campaign back on track.

Come on you mighty reds!


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7 Dec 2012