Monday 18th January 2010
Despite being a long one as always, it was a hugely satisfying day at Bolton. The journey up could not have been smoother and to be graced with clear blue skies throughout after the weather of recent weeks, everything was there to suggest we might be coming home all smiles.
News that the injury gods had yet again whacked in a heavy blow with both Rambo and Sami out for a couple of weeks or so didn't help the pre-match mood but with Villa joining Man City, Spurs and Liverpool in dropping points this weekend and a team line-up still looking strong enough to beat anyone on their day, the feeling among yet another massive away following was one of clench-fisted defiance that Bolton away seems to throw up.
Apart from the first five minutes or so we were definitely the better side in the first period, Cesc's fine goal no less than we deserved, especially when we should have been awarded definitely one, possibly two penalties for our efforts.
Call it battling qualities, being over-zealous or downright provocation, this is all open to debate but I felt we acted with real class and self control throughout. Of course, our hosts created a few chances, especially in their best period of the game early in the second half but I don't remember a game away at Bolton where their style of play hasn't caused us problems down the years.
The way we battled toe-to-toe however, was very pleasing and when Fran calmly doubled our lead heading into the latter stages it was a fine jostle among the thousands of Gooners.
Not a free-flowing football lesson on this occasion but an extremely hard-fought three points. Equally as pleasing for me and hugely important as we approach a crucial part of the league season.
Our August Champions League exertions and the winter weather means we have that strange situation where we face the same opponents on Wednesday.
For me, the most important aspect is not to be complacent, just because we came out on top on Sunday. Three points is first on the agenda above all else, if things go even better we could well find ourselves top of the league come Wednesday night.
Fortunately there is no fast junk food outlet on my route back from home games. That kind of stuff hits the spot now and again but for the sake of my general health, I'll stick with our days in the north-west for that fix!
Come on you mighty reds!
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