Sunday 4th December 2011

Although at this stage I cannot categorically confirm the above to be true as I'm writing these thoughts high above the clouds on my morning flight to Athens, the last weather forecast I viewed certainly seems to suggest we are in for a pleasant few days!

Even if it is just overcast in fact it will be a far cry from the conditions for Saturday’s visit to the DW Stadium.

If the weather was a bit grim however, our victory on the day definitely wasn't, especially in a fixture that has seen us leave disappointed on more than one occasion in the past.

Getting up and ready in the dark is part and parcel of most people's everyday life this time of year and some of our more distant away days also start this way. As with every trip however, a bit of brekkie and travel banter soon has everyone in the right mood for the events ahead.

Having arrived in Wigan in time to watch the Newcastle v Chelsea live TV game the emphasis on how crucial moments can influence the outcome of all matches was clear when the referee chose to give a yellow card to the away team's centre half rather than a red for his challenge on the home team’s forward. A controversial incident and one which, had it gone the other way, may well have changed the result.

I mention this because our hosts started well and if it wasn't for Andre's early block we could have gone behind. Mikel and TV's quick double midway through the half might not have materialised had Wigan's early chance gone in and given them the boost they yearned. A crucial moment indeed.

Without playing fantastically well in the first period we went into the break with a highly-satisfactory two-goal lead, the perfect way to keep warm on a cold, wet and blustery afternoon.

Whether it is due to losing leads on both our previous visits I'm not sure but when the referee turned down an absolute stonewall penalty appeal when Rambo was hauled down early in the second period, I felt anger, frustration and almost resignation that it could be another game-turning moment.

Certainly our hosts probably enjoyed their only five-minute spell of pressure since the opening seconds in the period that followed the incident, but once the best move of the match saw Gerv slot home the rebound after RVP's shot was parried, it was game over.

The media have recently enjoyed suggesting we only have one goalscorer in our team so to be three up without our captain being on the scoresheet was satisfying to say the least. It was inevitable, however, that the goal would come at some stage so after yet more fine wing play from the ever-improving Theo, RVP completed the rout on what was a fine away display all round.

The thousands of travelling Gooners let rip with a new 'He scores when he wants' chant, a noisy, amusing and very apt end to the day.

A few hours later and I was watching Match of the Day in a hotel near Heathrow Airport and thoughts turned to what should be one of our most relaxing European trips yet.

The promise of nice weather, fine food and refreshment in one of my favourite cities and of course the chance to see our young squad on the Champions League stage makes sure it should still be a highly-entertaining few days.

For Olympiacos, it is a simply massive fixture. If they think it will be a foregone conclusion as we have already qualified however, they may well come unstuck. Every one of those players wearing the red and white will be extremely keen to impress, just like they have in the Carling Cup this season.

I'm sure they will.


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5 Dec 2011