Wednesday, March 20, 2013
A Pleasing Week
There was a big sporting occasion in south Wales on Saturday afternoon... and those of us supporting the team from east of the Severn Estuary came home extremely happy with our efforts. Now there's a line you were not likely to see written across one of Sunday morning's papers!
It was pre-Munich when I last recorded my thoughts and like all us Gooners I would be telling a 'porky pie' if I suggested our large group travelled to Bavaria crammed full of confidence. We were, on the other hand, full of anticipation for what as always promised to be an entertaining few days.
Outbound our Tuesday morning flight proved comfortable and delay-free and once checked into our hotel we headed for Munich city centre and traditionally (and not surprisingly) for one of the quite enormous Bierkellers on offer. A number of steins later and a little food along the way (sausage of course!) and we retired looking forward to matchday.
European games always see Gooners attend from all over the globe and in particular all corners of Europe and this was no exception. Consequently on matchday it was fantastic to see many old Gooner friends made through our many travels down the years, with countries such as Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Norway, Germany and Hungary being represented and making up our one enormous travelling Gooner family.
The approach to the Allianz Arena certainly gives a great sense of 'occasion', its shape quite unique in Europe, only similar in appearance maybe to the Bird's Nest in Beijing when it comes to stadia we have visited before.
An early goal to make things interesting seemed to be the most common discussion point pre-kick-off and when Olly fired in Theo's cross that is exactly what we got. I wouldn't say it was a goal that was celebrated with gusto high up in the away end but with pretty much all the game to go, all of a sudden it didn't look quite a huge mountain to climb to the three-odd thousand noisy Gooners present. A slight sense of trepidation could definitely be felt throughout the rest of the stadium too.
It wasn't to be of course but for a few precious moments we all looked at each other with that, 'we couldn't... could we?!' lookFrank Stubbs
Not conceding was equally as important of course and again I think we all felt if we could do that and score a second with maybe 15 or 20 minutes to go we had an incredible chance of progressing.
We achieved the former relatively comfortably and controlled the game well, the latter however probably arrived around 10 minutes too late, Koz's header having us believing as time ran out. It wasn't to be of course but for a few precious moments we all looked at each other with that, "we couldn't... could we?!" look.
The final whistle blew and we were out. The night itself however, left us full of pride and satisfied with coming so close to achieving what looked almost impossible before a ball was kicked.
One last night in Bavaria before we headed home and thoughts turned to our hugely important and extremely difficult way fixture at Swansea City.
A Friday night watching the mighty Quo's original line-up at Hammersmith Apollo meant we all headed west feeling fairly delicate on what really was a grotty day weather-wise but the early start meant a decent journey and a top-quality breakfast had us all looking forward to the game ahead.
For me our hosts enjoyed a five-minute spell in the first half where they could have scored a couple of times. On this occasion it went for us rather than against. The Ox smashed the crossbar twice so to go in at half-time level was probably about right.
We controlled the second half for long periods I felt and our substitutions came at just the right time. Not because those who left the field had done anything wrong, just those fresh legs gave us that little bit extra to get the all-important winning goals. Two top jostles in south Wales and we all headed back home through the quite atrocious weather with that warm glow only a win can give you. A good end to a highly entertaining week.
Once again we have to wait now, the latest international break giving us a fortnight before we welcome Reading to London N5.
You don't need me to tell you every game has a cup final feel about it now. We must go into the next one treating it just like that as we bid to get another three points under our belts.
This weekend I guess it is all about DIY and that kinda stuff.
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 20 Mar 2013