I don’t really buy into the philosophy of avoiding the big teams in the Champion’s League. I feel that you have to play a good team at some point; that’s what the Champions League is all about. However, topping the group means avoiding Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich at the first knock out stage which, to be fair, is a good thing. Not in the sense of fearing coming up against such teams but, it gives an opportunity for this set of players to keep growing. Never the less there are some decent sides who have finished second (AC Milan) and look like finishing second that we could draw. The important thing is that we’ve qualified splendidly from, let’s not forget, a tough group consisting of two domestic Champions.
We can put the Champions League into hibernation until 2012, knowing that the trip to Greece on 6th December is academic.
This means we can focus on gaining three points in our Premier account on Saturday, and getting past Man City (who may have one eye on Europe) next week to make progress in the Carling Cup.
What’s been good of late is the emergence of a real team spirit, a sense that these guys want to play for each other. Of Course our Captain is setting high standards but we’ve also seen some quiet and unsung work going on; Koscielny’s improvement has been amazing, Ramsey is gaining in consistency, Song is looking proficient and comfortable, TV5 and Arteta have bought a sense of composure to the party and Theo is shutting up some of the haters.
The squad are looking like they want to do something this season and it’s to be commended how they have all turned things around.
In a season that looked like it would be defined by events at Old Trafford we have seen defining moments at Stamford Bridge and against WBA and last night. Moments that need to be appreciated for what they are; shoots of growth of this great club of ours getting back on track.
If I paint an optimistic picture it's because there is genuine room for optimism because what we are seeing is a team again in Red & White.