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Ritual Matchday Pie & Predicting Sanogo's Goal

I was lucky enough to be present at The Emirates when we had yet another chance to redeem ourselves after another poor result. A trip to our home also means a welcome return to my matchday ritual.

Choose appropriate 'Lucky' Arsenal socks. Wednesday night was the turn of Bergkamp socks.

Train to London Bridge. Northern Line, then Piccadilly Line to Holloway Road.

As soon as I exit the station, I am driven towards one location. It is my own little pocket of Nirvana. Serving manna on paper plates, it is Piebury Corner. Wednesday's choice of pastry-covered treat was the 'Tony Adams' (Steak & Ale). Gravy covering all foodstuffs on my plate, I happily gorged. Never mind if I had to be up at a ridiculous hour the next day. THIS was living.

I then met up with some wonderful Gooners and we made our way to The Tollington. After imbibing a solitary whisky and becoming a stepping stone for the untold amount of people entering the pub, I made my apologies and left the scene.

I headed toward the stadium and did a quick lap. This may seem foolish to most but I make sure that no matter how often I go to our home ground, I never take the surroundings for granted. I did my pilgrimage to the bronze effigies of our iconic heroes of the past and then entered The Ems.

I normally try to sit in The Clock End but a ticket is a ticket. I was sat in the West Stand, about three rows from pitchside. It did bring a wonderful view of Jurgen Klopp being interviewed by a dazzlingly beautiful female pundit from his home country, but it also meant that there would be no cover from the eventual torrent of rain.

Whether you are of the opinion that the Champions League is the ruination of football or the pinnacle of club football - or both - when the Champions League anthem is heard, it brings with it strong memories of halcyon midweek games where glory is tantalisingly close. Maybe not so much currently, but nostalgia is a tease. 

I made my apologies to the stranger next to me and informed them that if we score, I am prone to hugging, to which they laughed but then hastily ignored me for the rest of the match. Time for Kick-off.

Prior to the match, I made the prediction to someone that Yaya Sanogo - yes, no goals in 19 appearances Sanogo - would break his rather gargantuan duck. His inclusion bought questioning and raised eyebrows amongst the masses but he does bring an air of unpredictability to proceedings. You may now bow and proclaim me your All-Seeing Leader.

What a start. Such a fillip after so many weeks of disappointment. The build-up to the goal saw Sanogo ball-juggling and giving a back-heel lay-off to Santi in the box so anything was possible on this inspired night. Should we have been so surprised to see this from our maligned Postman? Not only was he selected in his country's Under-21 squad, he also starts for them and then proceeded to bag a brace against England's starlets, so maybe this wasn't such a shocker.

The match exhibited the many strengths we have but have alarmingly failed to use over the season thus far. With possession we were expansive and cool under pressure. We nullified their threat, with their best chance arriving in stoppage time. Our back-ups which we have had to call upon since our injury curse shows no signs of abating, performed fearlessly.

Martinez, Sanogo, The Ox, Per, Arteta all hit the levels we know they are capable of. My Man of the Match though, was Calum Chambers. He provided some answers to the biggest question doing the rounds on social media - why is he playing at right-back? Such quick feet and quicker thinking, his link-up play with The Ox provided the lion's share of our attacking threat as a whole. He defended stoutly without the odd impulsive error he is prone to.  It was the menace he carried into the opposition half that merited the rave reviews however. He was a colossus at both ends and he frankly startled me with his talent with the ball at his feet.

He would be wasted at centre-back. That isn't to say he shouldn't play there. He could have a more than successful future plying his trade in the middle of defence. Such is his prodigious levels of talent though, that a position where he can have more influence with the ball would surely reap more rewards. He really could be a revelation.

Alexis got his obligatory goal - what a goal it was - and we saw out what was in the end a rather comfortable victory against a team who will still challenge the European elite despite their struggles domestically. It certainly signals a potential new dawn and a herald for positivity.

By the time I had walked to The Angel station due to Holloway Road being closed, I was saturated with rain. I was oblivious. The nature of the result had left me with a warm, mental haze where anything is possible.

The detractors will maintain that the opposition were struggling on the eve of the game. They will also gleefully add that Dortmund had already qualified. I have had enough of the morose though. I choose to believe that we can achieve with the team we have (plus a defender and midfield general ) and I will sing myself hoarse to show my support for my team. Which I did on the night. That is the essence of being a ' supporter' after all.

Another great European night, great company and some more memories made. I'll take that every time.

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Tags: Dortmund, Sanogo, Piebury, Rituals

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