Tuesday 25th April 2017
Over reactions to both victories and defeats are often talked about and there is a huge amount of truth in the fact we all do it. Consequently I felt writing my blog yesterday when my smile was still from ear to ear, or even worse on Sunday evening, wouldn’t necessarily have me offering well balanced words!
But if that wasn’t just the perfect weekend I don’t know what is! 😊
Some have said they would have liked to be facing that lot from down the road in the final. But most of us didn’t. For me personally, if we had both got through, I think it could have finished me off! I remember the nerves approaching the semis in 1991, 1993 and 2001 and they were almost unbearable. To have gone through 5 weeks before meeting them in a final could quite possibly have been too much to take.
As a result, well before anything kicked in regarding our game on Sunday, I felt very uncomfortable on Saturday afternoon. Wanting the Russians from Fulham to win is rare. Very very rare. But I don’t mind admitting I wanted that more than anything come Saturday evening.
I didn’t watch any of the game of course, so I can’t comment. I’ve mentioned before but I simply refuse to let that lot be on my telly. I pay a lot of money for the privilege of being able to watch TV but you would have to pay me to make it that dirty. Instead I read a book with one eye on Osasuna v Sporting Gijon. A Spanish relegation battle, it was quite entertaining to be fair and hearing one of the manager’s previous experience at the helm of a football club saw him in charge of Ibiza and Benidorm brought a smile to my face at least!
My other half was flicking around on social media like she does and advised a couple of her ‘friends’ comments suggested the result I wanted was looking like coming to fruition.
The feeling of relaxation I felt as a result is difficult to explain, amongst the overwhelming amusement as well of course. Especially as we had a game the following day where if we lost it was all maybe a little bit irrelevant. But somewhere deep down inside me I was filled with large degrees of confidence all of a sudden. A sensation I certainly haven’t had for some weeks.
I didn’t sleep very well Saturday night. I could blame eating a little bit late, my cats being pests during the night or just being restless. But overall it probably was that heady combination of elation, relief, anticipation and excitement at both the events of the day and those that were about to unfold on Sunday.
It was a beautiful sunny day as I left home but doesn’t that always seem to be the case when heading to Wembley? And a smooth journey saw me join my friends and fellow Gooners in the same location that proved so successful on our previous 6 victorious occasions.
And, accompanied with the nerves that had returned with a vengeance we enjoyed a quite fantastic build up to the game. I wouldn’t say everyone was exactly confident but we all knew we had a chance. A good one too if we played at our best and we enjoyed the favourable side of any luck on offer on the day.
Walking up Wembley Way never becomes a chore. Nor should it. And Sunday was certainly no different.
With the noise, colour and sheer occasion becoming hugely apparent as always when you take your seat it was time to put in a performance.
Overall I feel City just about shaded the first 35 minutes or so but we held our shape extremely well and very much came into the game in the latter stages. We looked the stronger in the second period and if anyone was going to win it was us. And we done just that in extra time.
Looking at some of the key moments they pretty much evened themselves out in my opinion. Technically City should have scored a goal when the ball was only 7/8ths over the goal line but along with the fact our players pretty much stopped when the flag went up, it was more than close to being a correct decision and it went our way on this occasion.
City took the lead with almost a carbon copy of their first goal at the Emirates. Frustrating as I felt we were in the ascendency at that time. Credit is due I feel that our heads didn’t go down. The Ox was excellent all game and his superb cross was met on the volley by the equally impressive Nacho and it was pandemonium in the red end of Wembley. Get in, let’s go on an win it.
Both sides could have been given penalties, City hit the bar with a header whilst Rob Holding nodded just over with a very similar chance. Petr made a fantastic save to tip Toure’s strike onto the post whilst Danny Welbeck was inches from smashing one in at the other end.
Then…that all important winner arrived. It wasn’t a goal of the season contender….but it was a thing of great beauty nonetheless when you consider its significance. Once again the jostle was quite something as finally the belief we could go on and the win the game hit home.
Overall, the best team won on the day. And that was very very pleasing. No disrespect intended but beating Wigan and Reading in our previous semi finals is one thing. But being considerable underdogs after our worst spell of form for many many years and beating the multi millionaires from Manchester takes semi final victories to another level.
And boy did we enjoy it.
In our entertaining pre-match period building up to the Middlesbrough game last Monday we discussing what we wanted from the rest of the season. The first three aspects were a win over our hosts that night, spurs to go out Saturday and us to get to Wembley yet again on Sunday afternoon. 100% success so far.
I’m not going to jinx the rest by detailing our other hopes but I’m sure they are no different to the vast majority of us. They start with tomorrow night’s visit of the league champions.
Leicester achieved something that simply didn’t seem possible in the modern game last season. And deservedly so too. And for a small part of this season it looked like the unthinkable might happen at the other end of the table too. But inspired by their excellent Champions League form the Foxes have made themselves very safe and ready to take on another Premier League campaign next year.
That makes them a dangerous proposition as we do our best to turn our own thoughts to the chase for European places.
Although its crucial the players get thoughts of Wembley out of their heads I would be lying if I didn’t suggest thoughts of yellow ribbons and merry months of May will be accompanying my journey back to London N5!!
Smiles all round.