Monday, November 19, 2012

Being a football fan has its up and downs. As Gooners, although it sometimes doesn't feel like it, I believe we definitely enjoy more of the former. Saturday is certainly one that falls into the right category!

Although I could probably work it out if I tried, I cannot remember the number of north London derbies I have attended down the years. Last season's corresponding fixture was certainly the first time I had seen us win 5-2. Not only was it a crazy game and result but it proved absolutely massive in the way the rest of the season panned out.

Recent weeks could be described as entertaining but in the seven games we have played in three different competitions since our good win at West Ham, only two have seen us come away with a victory. Consequently it is a period laced with considerable amounts of frustration and disappointment too.

Knowing consistency is something lacking at the moment, I went into Saturday's game positive and confident as always but with those feelings accompanied by a degree of trepidation.

Talking to fellow Gooners, reading your e-mails and keeping abreast of various blogs and social networks online, views and opinions on all things Arsenal are probably more varied than I can ever remember right now. I take a huge amount of pride and satisfaction however, that the extreme majority agree that whatever our thoughts, we get right behind the team when they cross that white line.

It is a unity that creates that '12 man' when channelled correctly and this was hugely apparent come kick-off time on Saturday afternoon.

In the opening exchanges I felt we looked extremely up for the fight, always an important aspect in a derby game, but our opponents started well too, a mix-up in defence seeing us fall behind. Not the start we all wanted but early enough in the game to give us plenty of time to try and turn it around.

Of course the sending off did not help our visitors' cause, but that's not really our fault. Beating 10 men, especially when behind, is not always easy, we have all been going to football long enough to realise that.

What did happen immediately after the incident was that we powered forward with wave after wave of attack in search of that crucial equaliser. Theo terrorised down the right flank again and his fine cross was simply buried by our 'Big Friendly Giant' of a centre half. The roof nearly came off the stadium and the noise reached a whole new level.

Further pressure saw us take the lead and as Lukas' effort trickled over the line I couldn't help but remember back to our visitors' opener last season when a deflection saw the ball loop over Chezz and into an empty net. Get in! They all count and the resulting jostle was again crazy.

Almost before we had dusted ourselves down, it seemed, man of the match Santi went on another mazy run and Oly slotted home the third. Cue yet another mass of arms and limbs as we celebrated with further gusto!

Half time was almost celebratory although it calmed very quickly knowing we were only halfway from achieving what we all wanted from the day.

Our opponents started the second half in an extremely attacking way, totally expected given they were two goals behind of course, but we also knew this could see us benefit on the break if we were accurate, sharp and clinical.

Our fourth could not have been more of those things, Santi smashing home Lukas' cross to send us into dreamland.

Further chances came to increase our visitors' misery but we wouldn't be Arsenal right now unless we kept us all on slight tenterhooks!

Despite conceding a second, however, one cross-shot aside we looked pretty comfortable as the final whistle approached, a good injury time run from the Ox seeing Theo whack the cherry on the top of an extremely enjoyable cake.

Five-two again, would you believe it?! A great day to be a Gooner.

Montpellier away proved a tough, tough game and although we came away with the victory we rode our luck a little on the night. That emphasises that complacency is a no-no on Wednesday night as we look to progress through to the knockout stage.

For now however, I might just go and take another look at Saturday's highlights!

North London is red.



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19 Nov 2012