Thursday 25th August 2011
Our travelling group of eight's plans for today very much depended on last night's events. A defeat would have meant a draw to watch tomorrow. Our classy and gutsy performance however means we want to get to a location where we can see who we face in our latest tour among Europe's elite.
Consequently I am writing these thoughts on our train journey between Udine and Venice before returning home late tonight.
Events started early on Tuesday morning with a problem-free journey to a city that is completely unique. To see everything from postmen, to fire crews, to bus routes all on water was quite something and coupled with taking in the nightlife it made for a great first day.
By the time we took the train on matchday the PMT had seriously set in.
With the whole football world waiting for us to fail, we knew as Gooners this was a huge game.
Our host city was very pretty and welcoming as we enjoyed the build-up in the glorious sunshine. The overwhelming feeling throughout the day was that the locals also knew this was a massive game and were full of confidence that they could progress.
For me - I thought the clean sheet last week could prove crucial. We knew we were capable of scoring away from home but Udinese comfortably showed enough in the first leg to suggest we would have to defend extremely well.
The stadium was very 'old school' and as expected our hosts helped create a noisy and colourful atmosphere.
From minute one however, we dictated the game. On chances, both teams could have scored a couple but despite all our possession we went into the break teetering on the edge.
The game changed in our direction over a few crazy minutes in the second half. Gerv's great run to the byline saw RVP bury his cross and we were well and truly in the driving seat.
Before we'd finished celebrating a penalty had us back on tenterhooks. Chezz done the business with a simply incredible save, reminiscent of Goalie's stop in the penalty shoot-out in Sampdoria back in 1995.
Theo's dazzling run and finish pretty much put the tie to bed and we celebrated in typical style as our possession football saw out the remainder of the match in a thoroughly professional manner.
Texts from home stating things such as 'get in!' pretty much summed up how we all felt in a period where 'Arsenal Knocking' seems to be fashionable and our celebrations into the wee small hours were tinged with satisfaction, defiance and relief.
Man Utd away next then, a nice easy one to try and get our league season back on track!
Before that it's the draw and the plans start again for our latest European Tour.
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