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Pires and Freddie complete escape
11 December 2003

It's being classed as one of the greatest comebacks of all time in the Champions League.

Arsenal's 2-0 win over Loko not only booked our place in the last 16, but also meant we finished top of our table, having been bottom only two games before.
After the 5-1 win in Italy, I was still left wondering if we would shoot ourselves in the foot and mess up at home. recent Champions League history suggests that it might not be as easy as just winning our last three games and simply going through without having to rely on maths to work out the group.
Why were we again having to go through all this.
Our group was never going to be an easy one, but surly it was fair to think that we should have our path into the next round sorted or at least more clear cut than this?
Maybe not, maybe it's always best to go into a game knowing you have to win?
After 5 seasons of thinking we might just make our mark on this cup I was too scared to think anything anymore.

The Inter game should have been a clue that we might have turned the corner this season in Europe, but it's hard to allow yourself to believe that everything is going to be ok. Remeber last season and winning 3-1 at Roma? We didn't win again.

To feel like this about a team like Arsenal is a very odd situation. You look around and see the players we have, the way we play the game, the way we tear teams apart. And yet we can't crack Europe.
I was told by many a mate that Arsenal would come through this group and win their last three games. None of them could understand my lack of belief, and I don't think anyone but another Gooner could. All I got back was "that's just typical you". I suppose they were right. But how was I suppsed to feel going on our record?

But 10th December, Arsenal did it the easy way. A comfy 2-0 with at home to Loko had us finish top of our group and sailing into the last 16. Suddenly we were not only through after being out less than a couple of weeks before, but we were now going to miss the bigger names in the next round. No easy game in the last 16 of Europe I know, but it's always better to be facing someone like Porto instead of Real Madrid at this stage.

The question now of course is.........
Have we turned the corner. Is this at last the season we make our mark. Is this the season we can seriously think about getting somewhere?
Going on the last three games, surly the answer is yes. The players look like they have faith again, that last minute goal by Ashley Cole against Kiev, seems to have woken them up. Hammering Inter should be more than enough to give players belief in this cup.

It's time outher teams started being scared of us. Now is the time for Arsenal to make that happen. I don't doubt that other teams are cauious playing us for one second, but it's time they really didn't want to come to Highbury. That might have just started. I hope so.

I might just be ready to let my guard down again and start thinking that we might just do it this year. Ok maybe I'll just wait and see if we get past this next round first.



andyw@theginge.com
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