Frank Stubbs: Angels of the North

Mesut Ozil

Nerves are something that go hand in hand when it comes to being a football fan. Usually however, this is down to an up-and-coming fixture. Saturday's pre-match variety all started at Southampton Airport!

Although our flight was scheduled to arrive into Newcastle with plenty of time to make our game just down the road in Sunderland, any delays could make it a little bit 'tight'.

Breakfast consumed, the one announcement we feared came true. "Ladies and gentleman waiting to board your flight to Newcastle, please be advised we currently have a technical problem with the aircraft."

Then the nerves kicked in!

It seems there was a problem with a computer so as we took off around 45 minutes later I assume somebody pressed 'control, alt and delete' and the issue was resolved! It was also a sign that everything for the rest of our trip could not have gone better.

A taxi to our hotel in Jesmond and onto Sunderland, we even had time to enjoy a couple of pre-match jars in our usual haunt.

It was to be a highly-entertaining encounter and demonstrated perfectly how it doesn't matter how much you dominate the large majority of a game, you can still need that 'rub of the green' to get the result you want.

Two of our summer signings started the game and both were highly influential. The passing ability of Mesut Ozil was clear not just with his contribution to our superb opener but the chances he created throughout a first half where we could have been home and hosed.

A one-goal lead is always fragile and with the taste of half-time refreshment still fresh we found our lead had disappeared. Disappointing and all the more frustrating given our first-half domination.

The equaliser also gave a hosts a big lift of course and it took an absolute cracker of a volley from the outstanding Rambo to put us back in front. The noisy away Gooners celebrated with gusto.

Then came the controversy and a refereeing decision that went our way when, had it been different, we might have seen our lead pegged back for the second time in the match.

As it was, Rambo calmly slotted home after another superb passing move and the two goal cushion proved enough to see us home and dry.  

As with any away game, a massive and very satisfying three points.

Celebratory behaviour was next on the agenda and we took on Newcastle city centre in the usual fashion. A highly entertaining conclusion to a top weekend only made slightly painful by the resulting nausea that accompanied our journey back south on Sunday.

The first encounter in our tough Champions League comes next as we head off to the south coast of France this week.

It's probably our last opportunity this year to enjoy some lovely summer sunshine. To come home with something from the game however, is obviously far more important!

Allez Les Rouges!


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