A thoroughly enjoyable evening watching the Arsenal tonight made even more enjoyable given the company and event I was lucky enough to be invited to.
Thanks to the guys at Grosvenor I was offered the chance to eat delicious food, drink plentiful and watch the Arsenal destroy what can only be described as a rather poor Galatasaray team.
We were in the company of Nigel Winterburn and it was very interesting listening to him answering questions on Arsenal, Arsène and the George Graham days.
But onto the game itself it was quite strange knowing the team before the kick off, no glances at the phone to catch team news. We started quickly but were also given plenty of time to move the ball. Galatasaray's high defensive line was fun for us and suicide for them. It was relatively simple to pass through them, especially in wide positions. That was how the first goal came about. Ramsey slipping the ball in between Galatasaray players for Podolski running in from a tightish angle to lash the ball into the near post and into the roof of the net. I think lash is the perfect word for that Podolski strike. It's not the first time he has done that. He lashed one past Manuel Neuer a few seasons back at the Emirates. He has hit both the post and crossbar from that position. Lukas Podolski continues to and will always baffle me as a player.
On 11 minutes, Oxlade-Chamberlain broke from his own half, drawing a defender onto him before releasing Ramsey into the box. His path to Sanogo was blocked so he turned onto his left and steered a shot into the corner. A quite brilliant finish it must be said. That finish has been overlooked for what was to come.
Just before the half hour mark Joel Campbell's corner was headed out to the left foot of Aaron Ramsey who only broke his goal drought at Stoke last weekend struck the ball at such a low point on the volley that it was almost a long range slice that rose like an arrow into the top corner. I doubt he could replicate that in another 1000 left footed attempts. What a goal!
The home side were not very effective when trying to stop us playing and at times it was like a training exercise. Arsenal players playing triangles around the Turks and seemingly looking like any shift up in gears would lead to more goals. 3-0 up at half time with Dortmund failing to breakthrough against Anderlecht meant the mammoth task of finishing top started to become a possibility.
Arsène's double half time changes affected the direction of the second half. Flamini and Ramsey were replaced by Maitland-Niles and Zelalem so we lost some control of the game. When Dortmund took the lead I didn't think it would matter so it was a bit gutting to see Anderlecht grab an equaliser and us not have the same control as we did during the first half.
Ramsey had a tight hamstring so his removal was understandable. I am not sure if Flamini was switched because he has played a lot of games of late or if he also had an injury issue of some sort.
We were certainly tested more in the second half and were forced to defend which I suppose is no bad thing for the likes of Per Mertesacker, Calum Chambers and company after the weekend mess.
Sneijder added to the collection of excellent goals by rifling in a free kick from just outside the box on 87 before Podolski ran onto a Sanogo return pass in injury time to finish with his right foot.
It is regrettable that we did not have some stronger players on the bench. A bench of Rosicky, Walcott and Welbeck for example would have made a huge difference with 25 minutes to play. But as it was we finished level on points with Dortmund but just a few goals short.
We will see where the draw takes us but the main thing was to get through and rest heavy legs.
After the game we dabbled in a bit of Blackjack. Had some practice games before using our £5 free bet which was won by yours truly. A nice ending to a wonderful evening.
Hopefully we get a nice draw in the next round for a change.