The way I see it - Arsenal v Olympiacos

Last updated : 29 September 2009 By Jason Hogan

I am often loathe to use it (particularly when I happen to be talking about Arsenal) but I am about to use the dreaded word again because football's fickle finger of fate certainly worked in our favour on Saturday night.

Don't get me wrong, I was delighted with the result at Craven Cottage but, I was even more delighted to read some of the bitterness which infused most of the match reports I read on Sunday. The sense of injustice and uproar from the press hacks was a joy to behold in a perverse way.

Fulham will feel, with some justification to be fair, that they didn't get what they deserved out of the game. But then, having been in that position myself with Arsenal a million times over and seen the press hacks show a contemptible indifference or even shameless pleasure at our plight as and when this has happened, I find it hard to then feel any genuine sympathy for a club that are treated with far more objective fairness than we are.

True, young Mannone did make a few saves for us and yes, Fulham did clip the outside of a post at one point. Yet, if Mannone had been wearing a Fulham shirt and his exploits had led to a Fulham win, not only would his exploits have been lauded, his team would have been labelled as heroes to a man even if the rest of the team were actually shocking. But as young Mannone was wearing an Arsenal jersey, the perception was almost "How dare he make saves and help Arsenal defy Fulham what was rightfully theirs".

The press stopped short of saying a travesty had been committed on the day but if you read any of the post match articles in the Sunday papers then you would have still got the gist of what they were driving at without them actually saying it.

All I will say is that it all made a vital win all the more satisfying. After all, Arsenal are not supposed to win games whilst not playing well, we are not supposed to show resilience and defiance and don't ever, EVER think that we will get credit for showing any kind of grit and determination of or own. We are invariably just way too lucky for that!

For me, Saturday's win was right up there with the win over Celtic at Parkhead. Anyone who read my piece before Saturday's game will have been left in no doubt as to how big I felt the game was and how vital it was for our self esteem going forward.

Okay, we didn't quite do a number on Fulham and show the kind of authority I would have liked. But in a game where Fulham raised themselves, the fact was that the Arsenal didn't buckle, didn't hide and produced the one bit of quality to win the game.

Those were the facts. The kind of bare facts that have been conveniently laid down against us on the hundreds of occasions where we have dominated, almost annihilated teams in matches in the past and yet still failed to win.

The press may find it impossible to be objective where we are concerned but in my book, if the facts as I have represented them are good enough to be used against us in a similar situation, why the hell shouldn't they be good enough FOR us?

Anyway it's time for me to look at Tuesday's Champions League game at home to Olympiacos.

I can't give you a true idea as to what they are like now but in the past I must say that the Greeks are one of the strangest sides I have ever seen play in Europe. I remember a tie they played in the UEFA Cup against Liverpool in Athens.

It was one of the strangest games of football I have ever seen. If I remember correctly at the time, Olympiacos went into the match with club in turmoil. The manager needed a result in the match to save his job for a start.

Nobody seemed to tell the players that though and for the best part if 75 minutes the Greeks strolled around a passionate Olympic Stadium without a care in the world. With barely 15 minutes to go they were 2-0 down when really they should have been at least 6-0 down by then.

But incredibly, Olympiacos had squared the tie 2-2 by the time the final whistle went and even I, as a firm neutral, couldn't understand how the hell they managed it -because believe me, even in the last 15 minutes, they were still hardly trying a leg.

The class of 2010 come into this year's campaign as Greek champions and will come into the game in good heart after recent back to back wins against AEK Athens and Panionios in their native homeland.

They're one of the few teams I don't know too much about though I am sure most of you will now be aware that ex-Blackburn striker Matt Derbyshire will not feature for them. How big a blow that is to the Greeks, I don't know but let's put it this way I am well pleased about that.

Derbyshire was a class act when he got the chance to show it at Blackburn and, to this very day, I am amazed as to why nobody in the Premier League took the opportunity to buy him when he became available.

What will also be pleasing to most Arsenal fans is that this lot are very poor travellers and their record away from in the Champions League is pretty wretched. I will settle for that to remain the case after they have been and gone from the Grove tomorrow night.