Thursday, November 23, 2012
Of the many combinations last night's two Group B games could throw up, only one would mean we progressed to the knockout stages for yet another year. Job done I guess!
Leaving home yesterday afternoon it was wet, windy and downright chilly, a sign this country's colder months are definitely upon us. Yet arriving out of Arsenal tube station having been 'underground' for a good half hour or so, the wind had dropped, the skies cleared and it definitely felt a lot warmer.
I say all this not just to give a weather report but the colder weather always has me analysing our season so far in more detail than before, safe in the knowledge we have seen enough to draw some more accurate conclusions as to where we are right now.
If we manage to overcome Bradford in our League Cup quarter final next month, last night's result means we will head into 2013 chasing success on all four fronts. That alone suggests we are doing something right.
Champions League group games are so often totally different to what we are used to watching domestically. 'Footballing chess' is how I would describe it at times, lots of concentration and probing before choosing the right time to make that important move for victory.
Last night certainly fell into that category, both teams enjoying a chunk of first half possession, the better chances falling to us, our visitors threatening with little more than a couple of crosses and shots from distance.
I felt comfortable at half time that despite it not being the most inspiring of games, we would be OK in the second period.
Our two goals were definitely worth the entrance money alone. Jack's continued progression after his long-term injury reached its next level with his fine finish from Oly's knock down, again emphasising the immense threat we offer this season from crosses. It was a goal that not only obviously meant a huge amount to Jack, but it opened the scoring before any nerves started to set in on the night.
Poldi's strike was a joy to behold. A good move saw him latch onto Oly's flick and without a second thought unleashed a thunderbolt volley to double our lead. It was the kind of goal where for a tiny split-second you can hear the crowd gasp. "Get 'old of that son!", as they say. Well some of us do anyway!
Schalke's home win made it the perfect night as we can yet again go to Greece relatively relaxed about the whole affair. Olympiacos are assured of Europa League qualification whatever the result whereas we could still win the group of course.
Three big Premier League matches precede that, of course, the first of two on the road being our evening kick-off up at Villa on Saturday.
Despite their current position I am struggling to remember many occasions where this fixture has proved easy. We've enjoyed a good week, let's hope we start the next one in the same fashion.
As always us travelling Gooners can play our part.
Frank @stubbsy70Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 22 Nov 2012