Shakhtar – Eduardo – Arsenal Holdings AGM

The Gooner Republic will basking in the warm glow of a good Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk last night at the Grove. The club finance director will certainly be happy with the €800,000 (around £701,500) win bonus from the UEFA prize pool.
If we can manage a win against Shakhtar in their bright shiny new Donbass Arena (opened in August 2009) in the next group game we’ll go through, almost certainly top, barring SC Braga winning all their last three games, including belting us by seven clear goals in Portugal in our penultimate game of the group stage. I’d like to put the group in our pocket with two games to spare. I’ve always thought that finishing top and the advantage of playing at home second in the round of sixteen is worthwhile. Being home second is a real advantage in two-legged knock-out ties I’ve always believed.
If we had to surrender a clean sheet yet again I can’t think of too many circumstances in which I’d be content other than being five nil up and having a good, loyal servant to the club as Eduardo scoring against us. He thoroughly deserved the reception he got. I always thought him going over to celebrate with fitness coach Tony Colbert after his second goal from the penalty spot against Cardiff City at the Grove in the FA Cup fourth round replay in February last year, following his comeback from the horrific ankle injury at St Andrew’s in the League in 2008.
Unfortunately he never returned to close to his pre-injury form for us and moved on last summer. I wish him all the very best for the rest of his career. Whilst we’re on things Shakhtar Donetsk, congratulations to them for complying with UEFA rules and only charging the visiting Gooner Nation the same price as locals for match tickets – a princely £4! Too many clubs try to get around the rules. Shakhtar is to be congratulated for treating visiting fans fairly. If only all clubs here and elsewhere did likewise.
I also think Arsenal has got it right by operating a special system for this game in terms of away match credits. Similar to that which operated for our recent game in Belgrade (where tickets were only £9) those Gooners travelling to the game will be issued their tickets in the normal way BUT in order to claim an away credit a voucher system issued on the night at the away turnstiles will operate. Good. We’d have been in danger of having sold far more tickets than the number that actually turned up in Donetsk otherwise.
Tomorrow sees the shareholders’ annual general meeting of Arsenal Holdings plc at the ground. I’m not expecting any surprises but one never knows. The highlight is usually the manager’s address. Last season he promised us silverware. That didn’t happen. He’d be wise to keep his powder dry this year. The financial ship of state of the Gooner Nation is in reasonable health. After a very poor run in the League we’ve managed two wins in the last week. We all hope for better this season, although frankly I’m not that optimistic. We seem to have reached a plateau of being a good side playing some excellent football. We’ve now got to concentrate all our efforts in reaching the game’s commanding heights.
Keep the faith!

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