By Avenell Dave
Emirates has never known a night like it.
If Arsenal fans could make that sort of noise every game, imagine what an intimidating cauldron the Emirates could become.
I said to my fellow Addicts before kick-off that we would win 2-1 and to be honest, I never had any doubt that we would get something from the game, even if just a draw.
We were privileged last night – and it’s the sort of game that will go down in our history as one of the great great European nights.
Of course, the result is still on a knife edge and we have to hope that the fact that the last three Champions League knockout games that Barcelona have failed to win at home have all been against English sides is extended to four (thanks @Opta).
I’ve heard and read much about the Real Madrid side of the 1960s and the Brazil side of 1970 and I saw for myself the great Milan side with its Dutch trio who beat all in their path with panache.
They may not have dominated Wednesday’s match as much as last year’s game in North London, but Barca are still an hugely impressive side to watch.
It doesn’t matter how many players are around them, how much pressure they are under, they always seem to be able to find a pass, and the fact that they doubled the number of completed passes we were able to muster says much for their potency.
But while Xavi may be a genius on the ball (and a scumbag when he opens his mouth), Jack Wilshere deserves just as much credit for showing the Spaniards that there are English players of great quality as well.
Jack hardly put a foot wrong all night and matched incredible skill and vision with the tenacity he said we would need to show.
Just as last year, Barca tired and we took advantage – their fitness levels are something we must exploit in three weeks’ time.
Yes, we rode our luck with Lionel Messi’s ‘goal’ which didn’t appear to be offside and a couple of handballs that went unseen (the linesmen were atrocious), but we deserve a bit of luck.
We’re on a phenomenal run of results and while I expect to see quite a few changes on Sunday against Leyton Orient, it’s vital that we don’t take that game too lightly given the potential for a banana skin.
Can we win the second leg? I think we can, especially with Gerard Pique out of the team, but we will need to score at the Nou Camp and we’ve shown we can do that already.
If Laurent Koscielny shows the composure he did last night and if he and Johann Djourou get their line right so as not to be beaten by the offside trap as happened at the start of the game last night, we can put last year’s defeat to bed and look forward to the quarter finals.
Enjoy the feeling – nights like this are worth savouring for as long as possible.