Wednesday February 8
Leaving the Villa FA Cup game it was nice to see people looking a little happier with life, something the month of January hadn't offered in the league. Those faces and a general more upbeat feeling was there again as we came away from Saturday's home game with Blackburn. We need many many more of those over the coming months if we are to achieve what we all long for out of the season.
Winter has finally arrived it seems, with certain parts of the country being graced with the white stuff. Fortunately little was present for the long trip to Bolton last week but it was a bitterly cold day nonetheless. The long johns don't get an outing that often (a snowbound Moscow being the last I think) but looking at the forecast I couldn't help but dig them out as we headed up to the Reebok.
In recent times I have emphasised how it is the defensive side of our game that needed to improve as we look like scoring in every game we play. That is why last Wednesday was so incredibly frustrating. We kept that all important clean sheet, yet despite many chances a combination of poor finishing, great goalkeeping, last-ditch tackles, the post and the crossbar and downright bad luck saw us come away with two points less than we should have.
Taking the positives as I always do, we did not concede, our attitude was spot on and we took a point away from home in a fixture that has caused us many problems down the years. You only have to look at the way Bolton destroyed Liverpool the other week to see we also went there with our hosts enjoying their best run of form this season.
I think our away support is well worth a mention too. On a freezing cold Wednesday night in February, when our recent form hasn't been the greatest, we took near on 4,000 fans. Simply fantastic as always.
Every game feels like a must win now and consequently we took on a Blackburn side fresh from winning at Old Trafford and drawing at Anfield, knowing anything less than three points would be little short of a disaster.
Despite losing our early lead midway through the first half, at times on Saturday we saw our team at their exciting and free-flowing best, massively positive news as we look to push on for the rest of the season.
Creative and clinical going forward, we attacked with the kind of flair we have become used to over the last15 years or so and on this occasion it was a joy and privilege to be present.
One-nil or 7-1, you only get three precious points for that win and as we head up to North East to face a Sunderland side revitalised by Martin O'Neill, I know every Gooner would take the former scoreline on Saturday if it means we come home with the same haul.
I will wait until Friday before making another 'long johns' decision!
Come on you mighty reds.
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