Does European Glory Beckon?
Club in crisis is normally a phrase bandied around with the words “Arsenal” and “No trophies for five years”. More legal action over the farce that is Liverpool has emerged this morning, NESV are apparently going to sue Hicks / Gillett using the Trade Descriptions Act. They thought they had bought themselves a football club, not a shambolic mess.
Anyway, to Arsenal and the resumption of the Champions League this week sees Eduardo return to The Emirates, sporting the colours of his new employers Shaktar Donetsk. Of the three other teams in the group, the Ukranians are the strongest. There was an interesting piece on Football Focus this weekend which highlighted the similarities between the two clubs, albeit Shaktar benefitted from the investment made by Rinat Akhmetov in the late 1990s.
Both sides are in a strong enough position to progress to the next round and whilst these games are not dead rubbers, two defeats would not be enough to sink either campaign. It would just make things a little harder in the next round. Arsenal are being touted as having a better chance of winning the European Champions League than domestic honours. That was before the weekend’s results which showed the folly of making sure that the red carpet wove its way through London’s streets to Stamford Bridge. The Premier League has yet to see a quarter of its programme completed, ensuring incredulity when stating that anyone is already out of the title race. A run of thirty unbeaten games would see the trophy flung to any corner of the country.
European glory is a different matter. Once the group stage is negotiated, so much relies on the luck of the draw. Even then, a tough route to the final is pretty much guaranteed. Internazionale disposed of Chelsea, Barcelona, CSKA Moscow and Bayern to win. The year before, Barcelona beat Chelsea, Lyon and Bayern before dumping on Cristiano Ronaldo from a great height. There is rarely an easy ride.
Winning the trophy has been tantalisingly close for Arsenal. Despite losing to Barcelona with one hand on the cup, The Invincibles had the best missed opportunity. Had Chelsea been beaten, surely they would have safely negotiated a path to immortality in Arsenal eyes with Monaco and Porto poor by comparison to recent semi-finalists.
Can this vintage go one better than their predecessors? There are positive signs for the squad. Firstly, the number of players returning from injury is far greater than previous seasons. Normally at this stage of the season, we wonder where Wenger will get a squad from. That does not guarantee the cycle which starts again in March will not recur this season.
However, the squad has more depth than previous seasons and of the traditional English opponents, the only team which you would genuinely suggest has a good chance of beating Arsenal is Chelsea. United are without doubt weaker, riven by internal dispute and unable to win at the moment. Spurs. Well, perhaps Arsene could field the Carling Cup team for the away leg…
Against the continental sides, there are strong opponents, the Spanish sides whilst the re-emergence of Bayern last season points to improvements elsewhere. It is in these ties that the ‘winning mentality’ demanded by Cesc, emphasised as already existing by Arsene will need to come to the fore. Sloppy mistakes have been costly in the past against Barcelona; an inability to hold onto the lead in the Camp Nou to the interval crucial in the eventual outcome. Had the defence held firm, the opportunity to sneak another on the break would surely have presented itself?
Ball retention appears to be better than this season than before; efficiency in front of goal has likewise improved although it felt at times on Saturday as though there were bad habits returning. Defensively, there is more of an attacking threat with the absence of Vermaelen not noticeably diminshing the goal returns. Chamakh’s aerial ability offers more options than before whilst a fully fit Nicklas Bendtner can also provide the variety that successful teams require. No more can complacency creep into an opponents game once the ball goes wide for a decent cross is as likely in the air as along the ground. Obviously that requires delivering but the options are there.
There is much to be hopeful about this coming season and the air of negativity is baffling. Understandable as the disappointments of losing to Chelsea and West Brom were, the win over Birmingham has not erased them. Indeed the criticism of Chamakh is frankly appalling. So what is he emphasised the contact? There was contact made; Dann is being more dishonest and deceitful than anything that Chamakh is alledged to have done by continually denying contact which was proven by the television replays. This is a time to get behind the team not cower behind the headlines.
Posted on October 18, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 173 Comments.