Monday 29th March 2010
Scoring injury-time winners is something we have enjoyed immensely in recent away games. It is safe to say the boot was very much on the other foot on Saturday. In fact as I sit here writing these thoughts it really is a case of the Monday blues.
Different to the majority of away games my pre-match routine was unusual on this occasion, a weekend away at friends in the suburbs of Birmingham seeing me take a short train journey into the city and enjoying much refreshment in an unfamiliar establishment.
Heading up to St Andrew's in a cab I was confident but definitely nervous. Like at Stoke and Hull in recent games I think we all knew it was going to be a tough old game.
Although being comfortably in front would definitely be first choice, on a bumpy surface I was relatively happy with the way the first half had gone.
A tight and quite scrappy affair was exactly what I expected but I was always confident we would get stronger as the game went on.
This proved to be the case and as we poured forward the moment came as Sami rifled his shot home to the delight of the travelling thousands. Another late winner we all hoped, indeed if Sami and Andrey had taken further chances we would have been home and hosed.
The equaliser was cruel and graced with oodles of bad luck. Even if it was a moment of brilliance however, it wouldn't make it any less painful.
I have watched the goal in TV replays in order to form my own analysis and I see it as follows. There was a Birmingham player in an offside position but he didn't touch the ball. With the current offside law, if the
linesman had put his flag up it would have been more controversial than the goal standing.
Manuel was the hero last week, and according to many pundits and fans, the villain this. For what it's worth I think that's a tad harsh. From a couple of yards in front of him the ball has been smashed clear by Bac and straight into the striker's face. The scorer knew absolutely nothing about it and the ball could have gone anywhere. The speed and change of ball direction meant all Manuel could do is react. The fact the ball looped up and into the net was just bad luck in my eyes. By getting his hand to it at all has meant many have called it a mistake.
It's a cruel blow but we are not out of it yet. We will fight on, make no mistake about that.
At least we have got a nice low profile and easy fixture to take our minds off it! ;-)
Barcelona at home. The first time we have seen such a competitive fixture at our ground. I'm sorry but I don't include Wembley!
The whole world of football will be watching, let's get behind our team with gusto and drive us on to an important first-leg lead.
FrankCopyright 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 29 Mar 2010