Thursday 11th March 2010
Putting a few quid on our big Danish centre forward scoring the first goal on Tuesday night seemed downright obvious. Our sport simply dictates that kind of thing was always going to happen. I wonder how many Gooners out there whacked their money on the hat-trick!
Anyone who saw our first leg out in Portugal must have been confident that we could turn our one-goal deficit around. We were the better side for most of it and the two goals conceded were certainly more given away than created by our opponent.
Football isn't that simple however, the way our football-supporting brains work seem to add far more doubts as matchday approaches than the positives we took shortly after the first leg came to a close.
Pre-match talk for example seemed to centre on the fact we would need three should we concede, along with the disappointing news our captain's hamstring was too damaged to warrant risking him taking his place in the starting line up.
Looking at our team however, the attacking nature of our five-man midfield always looked full of goals.
From minute one we needed to be on our game and this was hugely apparent.
The opener was thoroughly deserved and I don't think there was any Gooner in the ground that wasn't pleased for the scorer.
Just a few minutes later and Nicky grabbed his and our second after a mesmerising run by Andrey (or 'The Meercat' as he has become fondly known among our section!). The ground erupted as we all realised we had one foot in the last eight.
The opening moments of the second half were arguably the most crucial of the entire match. The only period where we found ourselves under a little pressure we held firm, Porto's only real chance seeing the fantastically in-form Sami clearing a goal bound header off the line from a set piece.
What followed next thoroughly made it a 'feel-good' night. Sami topped another great performance with an individual goal graced with sheer class.
Three-nil and it was pretty much game over.
A typically Arsenal end-to-end break saw the ever improving Manu calmly round the keeper and slot home and a great victory was becoming a rout.
Just time for Nicky to top off an incredible week individually with a calmly slotted home penalty and the icing was on the cake of a highly satisfying night.
As far as who we face next is concerned, this season's strange format at this stage of the competition means we can relax for a week at least.
On the pitch however, every game feels massive at the moment and Saturday's trip to Hull is the next on the agenda.
It's another ground where rugby is played so I don't expect the surface to be particularly great and with our hosts battling to avoid the drop we know it's going to be a tough old encounter.
With the attitude and desire we have shown in recent weeks I'm convinced we'll be OK should we take the same attributes into Saturday.
Let's top off a fine week...
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