The way I see it - Inter Milan v Arsenal

Last updated : 25 November 2003 By Jason Hogan

There I was sitting in my living room on Sunday afternoon killing a little time by watching Aston Villa play the Scum and with Villa leading with 15 minutes to go, my weekend looked on the verge of being complete.

Then, much to my horror (to say nothing of David O'Leary) Villa conspired to toss away all three points. I'll never understand this game of football, you know!

Still, two out of three isn't bad. The England rugby boys won the World Cup and the Gunners saw off Birmingham at St.Andrews.

Before I talk about the Gunners, I really must give the rugby boys a huge mention. Now I wasn't around in 1966 but with all due respect to Geoff Hurst and the rest of the lads, I think that what the rugby boys did on Saturday represented the greatest feat ever achieved by a group of English sportsmen.

The boys of 1966 no doubt carried the hopes of our nation on their shoulders but they were not burdened with the mantle of being strong favourites as well. The boys of '66 had home advantage of course when playing the redoubtable Germans in that final while England's rugby team had to play the reigning World Champions, Australia, in their own back yard in Saturday's final.

It was no surprise to me that our victory turned out to be a hard fought one. It was only six months ago that England won their first EVER rugby match on Australian soil for a start.

So when you consider all of that plus all the open hostility that England had to endure from the Aussie press you then get an idea of how big the task REALLY was for England. To have the skill and fortitude to deliver the goods when it mattered, in spite of all that, commands the most infinite level of admiration.

By the time I tuned in on the radio to listen to see how the Gunners would fare at Birmingham, I had too much of a spring in my step to be affected by any pre-match nerves. And when Freddie Ljungberg put us ahead early on, well, I was almost tempted to send my other half across the road to get me a cigar!!!

In truth, it wasn't entirely plain sailing for the Gunners on the afternoon as Birmingham battled manfully from that point on. In the end however their best efforts never looked liked being enough and I was highly delighted to see us run out as comfortable 3-0 winners.

I was particularly pleased for stand-in captain Dennis Bergkamp who crowned his day with his first goal in six months. It had been a long time coming but it was worth waiting for as he chipped the keeper in the manner of old.

Bergy's performance even moved observers in the press and the media no less to make a plaintive plea for Arsene Wenger to get him over to Milan for the game against Inter on Tuesday night. Personally, it's a shame that is not feasible.

Now, looking at Tuesday's game, the only thing I know for certain is that it should be a pretty damn good game.

Inter have faltered of late having picked up just a point from their last two Champions League games and they will not relish the prospect of having to go to Kiev next month in their last game looking for a result to secure qualification.

The good thing from their point of view is that they should be in good heart for the game themselves having thrashed a hapless Reggina side 6-0 at the weekend.

Looking at the game from our point of view, I have to say that I have mixed feelings. In a way the Arsenal do not have an awful lot to lose because even if we were to go out of the Champions League on Tuesday night, the fact of the matter is the damage, in effect, would have already been done before we ever got to the San Siro anyway. After all, we always had a bit of a mountain to climb after picking up just one point from the first three games.

On the other hand (notwithstanding the fact that Bergkamp, Vieira, Wiltord,Keown and Lauren will all be missing) we do go into the game with no lack of incentive.

Firstly, no one can deny that we do have a score to settle with Inter after the number that they did on us at Highbury back in September.

Secondly, we still have a chance to put down a marker (albeit a belated one) and show why were actually ranked fifth out of the 32 teams that started in this year's tournament.

And thirdly, if we do manage to pull off this Italian job, we will have our destiny firmly in our own hands just at the right time.

Hand on heart I am seriously going to enjoy tonight's game come what may. Playing the likes of Inter in the San Siro is what the Champions League is all about and the Arsenal should relish the occasion and not be intimidated by it.

I believe that we are due a big result in Europe and we are certainly due some luck. We have gone over to Italy and covered ourselves in glory before. Let's hope (against all the odds) that we can do it again.