Every time I embark on a football day following my team I am full of anticipation for the events ahead. Most of the time I come home thoroughly satisfied, on occasion a little disappointed. Saturday was one of those where it could not possibly have been more entertaining! Simply a top, top day (and night) out.
Compared to the majority of away games, this one took a little more investigative work, planning and overall organisation. Our travelling group was quite large (30-odd) and the Wales v Australia rugby union international at the Millenium Stadium meant hotel rooms in Cardiff were limited and expensive.
When we played Swansea away a couple of seasons back a few of us enjoyed a great night in Bristol the day before the game so with that experience to go on we decided to take in that city's considerable hospitality after Saturday's trip to Cardiff. Hotel booked and travel from home to Bristol organised it left us with just the return trip to the Welsh capital to plan.
Two minibuses later and everything was in place.
Consequently a early start on Saturday morning had our party heading west into Cardiff in the glorious sunshine and all looked tickety-boo.
Those of us fortunate enough to have enjoyed our many trips to the Millenium Stadium in recent times will know what a fine city Cardiff is, especially when a sporting event is taking place. On this occasion it was kind of odd to be outnumbered by fans of the 'oval ball' but the noise and colour certainly made for an entertaining build-up to our hugely important match at the Bluebirds' new stadium.
Pre-match fare consumed and enjoyed we made our way to the stadium located right opposite the brand new housing estate where Ninian Park once stood, a ground where us Gooners were present to see the last ever FA Cup tie to be played in its long and proud history.
We needed a fast start in the match I felt and this we very much got, Jack's superb strike smashing against the woodwork. Totally dominating possession it looked only a matter of time before we took the lead and Rambo duly obliged, superbly heading home from Mesut's fine cross. Three thousand Gooners went ballistic and we were on our way.
Rambo of course showed the utmost respect for the club that gave him his first opportunity in the game and our hosts' applause confirmed they appreciated the gesture. As a fan it was a spine-tingling moment and demonstrated something that seems to happen rarely in our great sport. Despite the disappointment of conceding a goal the Cardiff City fans demonstrated their knowledge of the game and made it obvious to all they were pleased to see one of 'their own' doing well.
Our hosts were always going to enjoy a spell in the game and this came soon after Olly saw his strike cleared off the line early in the second half. Although I never felt we were under serious threat Chezz did make one magnificent save that could have proved crucial when it came to the final result. It kept our noses in front and soon after we once gain took control of the game. At one all it could have been different of course.
Flammers slammed in the kind of goal we all like to see. Yet another superb pass from Mesut and bang! No messing about, the ball simply smashed into the back of the net to pretty much kill off the game and once again the travelling Gooners enjoyed the moment to the extreme! Get in there!
Rambo's second and our third was the icing on the cake and completed a powerful, impressive display to consolidate our position at the top of the league.
Celebrations back in Bristol went on well into the early hours of Sunday morning and were as entertaining as they were messy, completing pretty much the perfect away day.
Steve Bruce's Hull City come to north London next and arrive on the back of their own fine victory at the weekend, yet more evidence this season that there are simply no easy games. Another top performance is required to continue our title push.
Come on you mighty reds!