Stone Cold Friday: Balancing Your Perspectives

“Hey Yogi, you gonna handle this lot? I just woke up, you take your share.” I’m not Bambino and he’s not Trinity. He’s Darius

It’s often said that the last mile of any arduous journey can seem the longest; fraught with a myriad of challenges that makes reaching the promised land so near, yet so far. This week has been a classic indicator of what perils lie in wait to ambush Arsenal’s continuous endeavour to glory.

The Catalans, one of our possible opponents in the next round of the Champions league are quickly touted as the universal benchmark and SI unit of what total football should look like. A comparison quickly followed by the misguided narrative that Arsenal is the poor man’s Barcelona

The reaction for most part to our loss on Monday night was for me, more disappointing than the actual game. Let’s face it; it was painful to watch – and an advert for the superiority of the EPL it certainly wasn’t. What isn’t in doubt is that Arsenal could have pulled their finger out and performed better on the night, but we are where we are.

What baffles me more is how we got to the stage where the justified disappointment in our performance subsequently consumed us to the stage where perspective and objective thinking after the cold light of day was thrown out of the window.

The misguided suggestion that perspective should be followed right out of that top floor window with the baby, the bath water and the entire bath tub crashing onto the Holloway Road is as ludicrous as it comes.

“But Darius, we’ve been here before every season for the last 5 years”, I hear some of you screaming with hands thrown up in frustration.

I must admit, the fact that say for example, since we last beat United 2 years ago, we’ve lost 5 games against them and drawn 1 shipping 10 goals with only 3 in reply. Any which way you look at it, it sounds bad, it really does.

My sense is a lot of the acrimony and disillusionment is to do with the loss of bragging rights around the world when it comes to games against our nearest title rivals. For some, facing colleagues and friends at work, around the water cooler and down the pub has become as excruciating as a visit to the dentist without the anaesthesia.

But let’s look at some simple facts. We’re still within touching distance of the summit of the table, and have a good chance to top the table at the end of the year. We have conceded fewer goals than this time last season. We are still in with a chance of winning 4 trophies. Most of our senior players are available for selection with only the notable absences being Vermaelen and maybe Ramsey who is out on loan.

There are so many myths, factual inaccuracies and misguided narratives peddled about Arsenal from within the Arsenal blogosphere and out in the media that they’ve developed a life of their own. I mean – why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Let’s look at another ridiculous narrative that lacks context and perspective. We are told that Arsenal is light years away from Barcelona. But are we? For one, we are at different stages of development. The Catalans went through the same growing pains and didn’t win anything for at least 6 years.

Moreover, they’ve got to the current stage by supplementing their squad with a ridiculously unsustainable financial model that has seen their debt spiral out of control into the hundreds of millions. And no, they’re not going to be bailed out by the shadows lurking in the financial corridors of Spain.

After Greece and Ireland, Spain are odds on to turn up in Brussels, cap in hand asking for at least €360 billion (not million) to get them out of jail. Ask the Heads of State stuck in those smoke filled rooms with their advisors last night trying to develop a ‘get out of jail free card’. My point is that even for Barcelona, the environment they exist in has permanently changed and they are not going to be able to do what they have done in the past.

So are they really light years away from us? Their country’s economy is living on borrowed time, and even they aren’t that naive to think that the laws of economics don’t apply to them because they’re more than just a club.

Coming back to England and the narrative about the last barren 5 years for Arsenal, ask yourself what it has cost Chelsea and United to actually win the various trophies they have in that period. £1.6 billion and counting.

The opportunity cost for Arsenal’s way of life and our approach to development is that we will experience the highs and lows of the inconsistencies of development. I suppose the more relevant question is “how long does development take”?

Those with patience are indeed a very rare breed, and my sense is that there’s more of a problem of supporters managing their own expectations about what it will take to see this journey through, as opposed to whether Arsenal’s project youth is working.

There are 16 other teams in the EPL and points against them are as valid and relevant as the points against the other title contenders. The disappointment and frustration mid-season of not beating title rivals cannot be allowed to consume us to the point of not focusing on the rest of the EPL.

When pots start calling kettles black, you do ask what moral ground we stand on by asking for our players to show strength, character and tenacity to overcome these inconsistencies and low points in the season; yet we’re not prepared to be strong and tenacious to dust ourselves off, get back on the horse and help carry them through the rough patch.

All 4 trophies are up for grabs and this is not the time for self-doubt and nebulous pontificating about the could, would or should haves.

As for the draw today, we will have to beat one of those teams to get our hands on the Champions league trophy – and my take is that the earlier the better. Contrary to conventional wisdom, none of the teams likely to draw Arsenal are that excited about the prospect of facing us at this stage. Even if some don’t believe it, those teams know we’re damn slippery customers that they want to avoid like a nonsense.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on December 17, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 248 Comments.

  1. well said… of the best i have read in the last weeks. we didn’t play well on monday agreed. sure its not the end of the world. we have played chelsea and man united on there turf so they are coming to emirate can’t we at least wait on that? man u went to city and left with a draw….chelsea went to city and left with a loss….we went and left with 3 points please give this boys a break.
    we tend to forget ourselves when we lose and yap a whole lot of crap but when we win… o we are the greatest in the world. what gives us the feelings that these players in as much as they get paid alot of money don’t feel down when they loose? they are not machines mind you and there are off days in any human being. please let respect our club and get behind them solidly…. well afterall we are just some spoilt brat.

  2. Alex Song's Hair

    Bullshit. We are a shit barcelona, we try and play like them and consistently fail. They play total football consistently, they retain possession for long spells against massive teams. What do we do? Consistently lose the ball, having almost no patience at all, not even shooting, just passing forward quickly and then being hit on the counter after a pass inside was cut out or cleared to a player on our halfway line that hasn’t been picked up on the wing whilst our two CB are both right next to each other practically ignoring the danger.

  3. Alex Song's Hair

    Wait till they come to the emirates…. where we are shit. That’s a great way to look at things.

  4. Alex Song’s hair.

    Why do you then bother supporting a shit team. You have a choice you know.

  5. Excellent as usual Darius – you are a great AFC cheerleader!

    I was amazed the other day when a spud supporter at work said to me, ‘your team aren’t doing very well at the moment’ after the manure game! I pointed out that if second in the league, in the semi-finals of the Carling cup, last 16 in CL and about to start on the road to Wembley in the FA cup, is doing badly, then I’m not complaining! It’s all about perspective.

    This is the tide the team are swimming against – ridiculous expectations, fuelled by an overly critical media holding AFC to a different standard than other teams coupled with weak support, which is not able to see beyond that. It’s no wonder the team are playing inhibited and not able to release the handbrake and show us what we all know they are capable of delivering. This is the most talented squad in the EPL and a bit of encouragement and belief from the people who claim to support them and want them to do well would make a refreshing change.

  6. Sorry about that, my hand slipped.

    As a neutral I think Wenger Vs The Special One would be a more interesting game at this stage.

  7. Mongolian Gooner

    Well If Barca played in the Premier League they wouldn’t be that dominant. Teams like Stoke, Bolton and West Bromwich will give them a headache with their physical approach of the game. They will tackle Messi, and Xavi. When they fall theatrically on the pitch playacting an injury guys like Mike Dean, Mark Clattenburg will simply ignore it, maybe even yellow card for some.

    On the other hand we thrive when teams play actual football against us. So we wouldn’t have any problem playing in La Liga. Teams in Spain looks to be playing very technical game.

    So I don’t think we are poor mans Barca. We are Arsenal.

  8. LOL James my friend. Where was your hand when it slipped?

    Real Mad would be interesting for a next round tie. They also suffer the indignity of not having qualified for the quarter finals for I don’t know how long – and Maureen might actually have to change tactics.

  9. Inspired writing by you as always Darius. Something tells me we are destined to draw Barca in the champions league draw again. Let them give us no hope and keep calling us Barca Lite. We will surprise Barca and the world but will need to play the best games of our lives COYG Surprisingly all the other premier league teams expected to progress at a canter. We will see who has the last laugh.

  10. I don’t understand why everyone seem to think Barcelona is a done deal when there is a 75% chance of facing someone else. Like James, if we were to face a spanish team I’d relish taking on Real Madrid.

    Then again with almost 2 months to go before the next round, much can change between now and then. Things could be swung in our favour… or against.

  11. Excellent articale, I totally agree with Mongolian Gooner, Barca will not be able to survive in the league. Fat Sam is gone but imagine a Barca team playing Blackburn or Stoke on a rainy November. Messi, Xavi and Ineista will be knocked off the park and Barca will be worse than us.

  12. Pulis is making a fool of himself. I guess Stoke gets to play us only twice a year and he’s not going to miss his shot at getting some cheap publicity for himself.

  13. Darius,

    I take your points, but I think that you aren’t looking at the whole picture when addressing supporter’s concerns. It’s not just losing to Man Utd or Chelsea or even Spurs as they are decent teams, it’s losing at home to West Brom and Newcastle, pissing away points at Sunderland, throwing away first place in the CL group through complacency in Donetsk after going ahead and naievety in Braga. These are constant failings that show no signs of being addressed. And before anyone jumps on me about being down to ten in Portugal, I’ve seen us win at Anfield with ten and playing Kanu in midfield, so don’t even bother, it can be done. While we are still near the top of the league, do you really think that one or more of Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City or Spurs (please no!) will go on a run of wins. With our seemingly brittle confidence I have little belief that we will go on a smiliar run of our own and pull away from the pack.

    On the Barcelona comparison, how many managers did they go through to get out of their barren spell and to where they are now (I think unarguably the best in the world at the moment)? I am not for sacking the manager at all at the moment, but if keeps on saying he has a squad capable of winning the league, which he has for the past few seasons, then how long does he get before he has to deliver?

  14. thanks darius for a more optomistic view, which resembles my own views. another thing people should realise is that the premiership is a much more competitive league where we can be givin a hard game by a larger amount of teams compared to barca. having a monopoly on a league for so long brings a lot of benefits like cash, players etc. stay the course people.

  15. Playing Barca in Europe relies hugely on the referee. If we have someone who’s not going to be awestruck into giving them every decision or scared into not blowing for dives etc. But, as people have said, it could be Bayern, Schalke or Real too, so let’s see what the draw brings. We’ll need to beat the best at some stage, why not now when there’s slightly less pressure?

    Great stuff btw Darius – liked this a lot:
    “When pots start calling kettles black, you do ask what moral ground we stand on by asking for our players to show strength, character and tenacity to overcome these inconsistencies and low points in the season; yet we’re not prepared to be strong and tenacious to dust ourselves off, get back on the horse and help carry them through the rough patch.”

  16. I don’t mind who we get. We are more than capable of beating any team on our day.

  17. Well done again Darius,

    I am in agreement with and cheered by most of the other contributions so far. We need a more positive perspective and firmer support.

    For the life of me I failed to understand the negative attacks from within our ranks. I put it down to Red and White inspired responses; to the new consumerist society and its demands for immediate gratification; to socio-economic depression; to jealousy on behalf of our opponents (Hi James); to xenopohobia against a largely continental and black player fueled team. In the end I’ve decided that it’s probably a combination of all of these and a sickening reality that ‘we’ ( being, the die-hard, unswerving) supporters will need to live with until we start winning trophies. And that leads me to the question of today’s draw and my overall expectations.

    I do agree that Barca and AFC are very similar (especially since they started playing Wengerball over the last few years!). However, I think that we’re still seeking our best form and formation while they have theirs. I’d therefore prefer a draw against any of the other three over a Barca draw at the moment. If we win through this and have a great Xmas, I’d love to meet Barca in the finals in London. He who laughs last…

  18. Camberwell Gooner

    I’ve been flip-flopping between pessimism and optimism about our beloved club all week but your fine article has put me firmly on the bright side of life. Yes we’ve had some real stinkers this season. Yes we got turned over by a shoddy piece of defending at the the Theatre of Cunts. And yes we often concede goals to the opposition’s only shot.

    And yet…we’re barely halfway through the season people, criticism is fine when it’s considered and constructive, but what the hell is the point of supporting the Arsenal if you’re going to predict doom and gloom all the time and effectively rule us out of everything before the boys have had a chance to show what they can do in games that haven’t even happened yet? If people want to *just* moan without even looking at the positives they’re welcome to go and support Stoke or Blackburn. Then their whingeing would be wholly justified.

  19. The team development is on track and the manager has shown in the past that he is capable of creating a winning team so the boards willingness to give him time to actualize this is not actually just wistful thinking.

    It is slower than fans expectations and even the players and managers will be disappointed at times, but i think the team is gradually moving there.

    in many of the loses this season, we could actually have done better so there is room for improvement, which they will! its not like we did the very best possible and were totally outplayed and all that.

  20. As far as the Champions League goes, we are equally as likely to win or come unstuck irrespective of the opposition. We’ve beaten good teams in the past and lost to supposedly lesser teams. With the amount of time between today’s draw and the first leg, Arsene and the squad have enough time to prepare properly, scout the opposition, etc. Before then though there are three domestic competitions to focus on. Today is merely a distraction from the important stuff.


  21. @ YW,

    why is today a distraction? Did I miss something?

  22. Great post Darius. Arsenal reminds me a bit of Greg Lemond. He won the Tour de France without winning a single stage. He was simply the most consistent overall. Though it’s impossible to win the league without winning a match it can be done without beating Chelsea and Manutd! Unfortunately we lost nine points at home, unnecessarily. We could be seven points ahead! So lets develop some consistency against the other seventeen teams and lousy to the two indebted big guns wouldn’t be so painful after all.
    As for being the poor man’s Barcelona it’s probably who we can match against Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. So there’s Cesc, Nasri and RVP. Tough call that!

  23. Darius, well written as per usual!

    Also Arsenal vs Barca in the CL final in Lindon will be just fine!

    I winder what the English press will do then? Grudgingly support arsenal as the EPL rep? Stranger things have happened

  24. Camberwell Gooner, not only are you from my ends (or should that be “endz”? The youth of today and their oddly spelt vernacular eh?), we are also of the same mind!

    Anyway, I’ve just had the most intriguing thought whilst pondering the very nature of ‘blogs’. “Blog” is just a lazy way of writing “web log” and these logs in recording the thoughts of their author (and the comments of their audience) essentially capture the prevailing Zeitgeist. With all the various sporting blogs, the Arsenal ones serving a particular importance to moi, perhaps in 50years time, the archives of all these blogs will serve as important tools of history. I think it’d be quite interesting looking back on this period and seeing my inane mutterings: laughing at what could be my delusions or the silly ramblings of the doomers. Good times ahead!

    Yogi make sure you perserve your archives! You could make a fair bit of money in times ahead

  25. great article Darius as usual.

    I really would like to get Real in the draw as I want us to humiliate that c*nt Mourhino and whingy Ronaldo.

  26. Grand Oral Disseminator

    Taken from Good Will Hunting:

    My father was an alcoholic. Mean fuckin’ drunk. Used to come home hammered, looking to whale on someone. So I had to provoke him, so he wouldn’t go after my mother and little brother. Interesting nights were when he wore his rings… He used to just put a belt, a stick, and a wrench on the kitchen table and say, “Choose.”

    Well, I gotta go with the belt there.

    I used to go with the wrench.


    Cause fuck him, that’ why.

    Barcelona, please.

  27. I salute you GOD! Always knew you were a Gunner

  28. Stories abound that Wolfsburg are going to make an £11M bid for Denilson in Jan. The club would seriously have to consider that amount of cash for a squad player. Especially with the emergence of Wilshere, and the return of Ramsey.

  29. GOD,

    And there’s me being a disbeliever for so long. I’d have opted for the belt (Schalke) or stick (Real) and reserved the “f**k him” for Maureen: a true c u next tuesday:~)

  30. Goonerandy,

    Interesting (?) speculation!

  31. As this is a well informed site,could someone kindly confirm or deny that Pat Rice is either resigning or retiring.

    I agree we can beat anyone on our day,but can we do it twice.
    The spanish economy is in freefall and it will have an effect on Barca for sure, though not so sure about Real Madrid as they seem to have an ever flowing monetary pipeline straight to the government and above.

  32. Kelsey – Real are bailed out by the Spanish Royal Family, hence the name. Not sure about Rice though, where did you get that from?

  33. On barca they are doing things to reduce their huge debt, they signed a 33 million € partnership with Qatar foundation.

  34. GA, I’d strongly urge the club to resist that loot. What he’s brings to the table is quite unique and, in my humble opinion, under-utilised.

    You’re like the German correspond for this site dude! So tell us, what do the Germans make of Denny?

  35. I agree with Gadget. Good old Denny should be at the Arse for years to come. Lovely guy who is massively underrated and under-appreciated by many.

  36. Geo, a few sites are reporting he had a fall out with Wenger during the spurs game about who should be subbed,but it’s most probably rubbish.

    Barca do have this new shirt deal,but they have been making drastic cuts in personnel throughout the club to reduce their debt of around 400 million.They are asset rich yet cash poor.

  37. Not really sure to be honest mate. German football is similar to the PL, but not quite as fast. The quality over here is definitely on the up though.

    I think we are well stock with central midfielders, and I must admit am not huge fan of Denilson. I know plenty are, and that is fair enough but I am not. He is a decent player, but no more in my opinion. I think at that money, we should sell.


    Don’t know much about him, apart from that he is highly rated.

  39. Denny is an essential squad player!

    We doo not sell players for the sake of selling except the player totally wants to leave or else the club totally want him to go

  40. Essential? A bit strong I think.

    In front of him are Cesc/Diaby/Wilshere/Song/Rosicky/Ramsey(?).

    £11M? Yes please.

  41. Goonerandy

    Hazard would be a great addition, he is still really young but really talented. Capable of moment of genius but a bit inconsistent at times but he is coming back strong. Lille is top of the french league with by far the most potent attack. He has also been voted young player of the year for the last 2 or 3 years.

  42. with our injury records and the fact that at least 4 mid-fielders are required in any game, then yes, he is essential and i do not really think Ramsey and wilshere are ahead of him. he has been recovering from a back injury if u clearly remember and diaby has not been exactly available either, so yes once again, essential is right!

  43. We don’t need the money Andy. For the sake of an extra 11 mil profit, seems like it would be a big mistake. He offers a lot to the team with his style which fits perfectly with the Arsenal way. Cesc Rosicky and Diaby all play in the more advanced role, whereas Song is the only real defensive player in that list. Ramsey and Jack may play back there sometimes but neither are as defensively inclined as Denilson. We should definitely keep him imo.

  44. I must admit, i do like the look of Hazard. He’d provide some nice competition for Arsh on the left. But to be honest, our attacking options are pretty abundant these days, so definitely not essential to add anyone there.

  45. AC Milan vs Spuds
    Shaktar vs As Roma

  46. valencia vs Shalke

  47. inter vs Bayern

  48. Real or Barca…

  49. OL vs Real
    so we are against Barca

  50. We’ve got Barca.

  51. great

  52. Its like a setup

  53. Wenger knew…

  54. Gunnerluc, thanks for the link. Barca again? That’s one match up I didn’t want. Anyway we’ll get on with it!

  55. ‘well you gotta beat the top sides at some point’ tm

  56. Well bring em on! I really hope we can prove some critics wrong with this. Beating them would shut some people up for sure. With TV5 back, Ramsey, Rvp back in form as well as Cesc, we’ll be a such a better position than the last time we played them…

  57. its barca…

  58. We’ll start as underdogs on this one – again. And honestly I’m afraid, very afraid. But miracles do happen. This is football after-all!

  59. Don’t be afraid KG, we can beat them, with the right attitude and workrate, anyone’s beatable.

  60. Do we play ’em at Camp Neu first?

  61. Geo, of course we’ll beat them but even Ali was afraid before he knocked out Foreman.

  62. Emirates first Gadget. Same as last time…

  63. True, true KG 🙂 We can Ali the shit out of em for sure, preferrably no rope-a-dope though…!

  64. Waiting for the pessimists to come out… Should be flooding in any minute soon…

  65. My team against Barca would be Sczesny, Sagna, Clichy, Djourou, Vermaelen, Song, Denilson, Diaby, Fabregas, Nasri, and Van Persie. Has to be a tight game – that’s why I’ve packed the midfield – and with players of the highest technical ability. And expect a monster of a game from Fabregas yet again. Clichy and Denilson would also perform big time at the Nou Camp!

  66. Just saw this headline about Stoke: ‘They’ve evolved from the team that came up’

    Just makes me think of single celled amoebas, sliming their way out of the lower leagues, gradually ‘evolving’ into the immense, lumbering neandthols, until they reach their ‘evolutionary peak’ personified by Shawcross. Pulis is yet to make it past the single cell stage, but he’s getting there.

  67. Geo, no rope-a-dope? I love that!

  68. there was always a 1 in 4 chance of it happening so no surprises there!

    Bring them on. Final before the final and all that

  69. We’ve been here once before men. We know what they have, but they do not know ’bout us. Yet weakened by injury and suspensions, we drew blood. Fought back at home, struck first away.

    They tried to take our captain, but we stood firm and defiantly roared “NO”. They are strong, yes; to say anything else would be to spread falsehood and lies. But so are we. We have strength, cunning, pace, but more than that, we have honour: an hounour they sought to debase and defile.

    Let us unleash the dogs of hell upon them! Tight defending, excellent possession, clever playing! Let us slay them! For Hleb! For Cesc! For Thierry! For Wenger! For Arsenal!


  70. Geo
    Not pessimists realists.Barcelona are the best team in the world and have the best player.Sadly Wenger cocked up in the group stage.How do you beat two teams 6-0 and 5-1 at home yet lose both away games

  71. Ooops, here we go again…………..

  72. Walcott to come on after they tire. He’ll provide Ali’s famous knockout punch.

  73. Woah! What a fantastic couple of nights we’ve got on our hands there! BIG!

  74. Excellent… now where did I put that giant balloon…

  75. Andy, Barcelona IS the best team in the world. So we’ll show them respect, then wallop them!

  76. Camberwell Gooner and Gadet seems you guys live in my neck of the woods.

  77. KG, almost agree on desired line-ups but I’d switch in Fabianski and Walcott for Tech Tech 9 & Diaby.

  78. Chelsea seem to have the easiest draw of all. Even manutd’s isn’t that bad. Spurs is tough. Had we won the group we would have got Roma. Bayern vs Inter, Arsenal vs Barca, those are the big ones

  79. A big chance to pay them back for trying to ruin our summer.

    We are genuinely massive underdogs. But people often forget how many chances we created against them with so many injured players.

    Over 180- 240 minutes anything can happen.

  80. Here we go again…

    Andy, pray tell, what’s a realistic fan?

  81. Gadget, interestingly enough Messi did admit that Walcott was the one player they really feared!

  82. The true price of failing to win one of the weakest groups in CL history was revealed today when it was announced that Barcelona will eliminate Arsenal from the CL KO stages. Shaktar in comparison got Roma!

    At least it means that this Arsenal team can do what it does best – lose games against the “big” clubs.

  83. Walcott’s sucker punch can be administered in less than 3 one hundredths of a second…

    I read this great anecdote about Ali, someone finally getting one over on the most articulate world champ – he was on a plane and they were going through the safety talk (‘exits here’ etc), and a stewardess asked him to put his seatbelt on. He said to her ‘Missy, Superman don’t have to wear no seatbelt’ and she replied ‘yeah but superman doesn’t catch planes does he?’

    You go girl!

  84. Gadget | December 17, 2010 at 11:36 am |

    Theyll also never take away our freedom.

  85. You don’t even have a glass do you AIC?

  86. A fully fit squad & my bet is on THE MIGHTY ARSENAL!

  87. am with deano

    there is unpredictability in footy.

    Arsenal can beat barca, and we owe them for the last 2 times they have knocked us out

  88. Hoo-ra Damien! Show that fighting spirit!

    Geo, Perfect response to one with such parasitic tendencies! I’m more inclined to say “Fuck off and find your balls”. I guess I just did.

  89. AIC what you on man? Barca don’t play no ugly football like Manutd and Chelsea. This gonna be a pretty match up. Two beautiful people man. A demonstration of how football should be played!

  90. Why are people afraid of Barcelona? There’s only one way to win the CL – and that’s by beating the best.

    This Arsenal team is not going to realise its full potential by hiding away behind the sofa – we need games like Barcelona. Even with the massive injuries we had last time round including the loss of Gallas and Arshavin during the game, we still shocked their system.

    Barca cannot play any better than they do on occasion – remember they were recently humiliated at home by a team promoted from the lower leagues. Arsenal can only get better.

    Besides, at the Nou Camp, our biggest impediment was that Denilson was so unfairly yellow carded for Messi’s play acting in front of a gullible referee. Playing divers like Barca on a yello card is just like playing with one hand tied behind your back.

    Two moments of madness (which probably wouldn’t have happened if Gallas was still playing) cost us two very stupid goals. We drew first blood until Messi got them out of jail. Sometimes you can’t legislate for the sheer individual brilliance of the Messiah.

    The key to closing Barca down is an in form Theo and an in form Denilson. Our game improved 10 fold when both players came on. Denilson was critical and instrumental in helping us retain possession, while Theo was just their worst nightmare. Theo will pin them back and it won’t matter that he isn’t accurate every single time – they’re not going to take the chance that Theo will mess up.

    Bring on Barca – it’s about time we paid for Paris 2006.

  91. AIC
    we finished 2nd in the weakest CL group.Having beaten the team who won the group 5-1.The Spurs get an average AC Milan side we get Barca.We should have pissed our group but Wenger fucked up by not picking a strong team until the group was won.We cant beat Man Utd and Chelsea in our own league so why would we beat Barca over two legs?

  92. I dont understand why people put themselves through it Gadget. Surely life would be much more fulfilling to look at things in a positive light, rather than being cynical about everything, all the time. I know that personally, that kind of mentality has kept me sane throughout tough times… Different strokes for different folks I guess… Doesn’t mean I dont think their grosely incorrect, or a cunt.

  93. inter from 2nd positin last season and against many pundits expectation, won the CL and yes beating narca along the way.

    so i really wonder what u are on about AIC.

    It is not as if barca has never lost a match in this life so what is it about u guys, that you cannot approach a game with a modicum of optimism regardless of opposition.

    be sure that in football, less fancied teams have been beating their supposedly superior opposition for so long now!

  94. Nice one Darius, payback time!

  95. Darius
    Denilson and Walcott played in the 4-1 hammering in the Camp Nou!!!!

  96. narca = Barca

  97. Team Spirit, I’d be ashamed if we beat Barca the way Mourinho did with Inter. But I’d get over it!

  98. Guys….Sylvestre played at the Nou Camp last time. I thank the old boy for his services but the one- two he played for Barca’s equaliser was exquisite.I don’t think that is likely to happen with our current defenders.

    Please no-one give in to morbid curiosity and look on Le Grove. A line from Star Wars comes to mind- “never has there been a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” I think I prefer some Chelsea fans…

  99. Reminds me of the time we knocked out AC Milan. We weren’t expected to go through. Mind you AC Milan WILL knockout the spuds!

  100. Great post Darius. The Walcott and Denilson thing is spot on. We looked like beating them as soon as those changes were made. We didnt have Chamakh, a healthy Djourou, other centre backs that don’t hate eachother, 2 in form goalies, an in form Nasri, RvP, Sagna looking even more solid yet creative, have i missed anything? We are so much stronger this year it’s plain to see.

  101. Indeed Geo, but I’m an intolerant grudge bearing bar stweard among many other things, so allow me to call thm all cunts on your behalf! 😀

    Speaking of which, all my fellow Camberwellians, I say this presents the perfect opportunity to get together in future! Let’s make the Barca match happen!

  102. before we pkayed AC milan we heard no english team have won at the san siro, we did, i think also at the barnebau we did overcome Madrid that year, although i think we drew at the barnabeu… so maybe we have not yet beaten barca, but its not impossible!

    West brom beat us this season after so many years f trying, am sure very few saw that coming. that is the unpredictable-ness of a footy game.

  103. Andy,

    I agree we won our first 3 games and then we f***ed it up. We had a great opportunity to top the group and improve our chances but no. It was such a poor group as well.

  104. Team spirit,

    Inter were 4 time champions of Italy and had a tactical manager who did what was necessary to nullify Barca. We can’t do that.

  105. Lol Gadget 🙂

    Re Camberwellians, I’m wondering if there will be any carrots involved?

  106. Why bring up WestBrom TS?

  107. Andy.

    Trying to reason with your defensive pessimism is like playing a guitar to a goat. Why even bother supporting Arsenal if all you do is just moan. Even if we won Group H – what guarantee was there that we would beat whoever else we were drawn against, or what guarantee was there that we wouldn’t meet Barca in the next round?

    Yours is beyond constructive debate on anything – it’s just venom and poison.

  108. AIC and Andy can you do us a favour and fuck off to le grove or even better find a rope and hang yourselves! You are a true embarassment to supporters.
    Yes we will be underdogs, yes if they play like they did against Real we will probably bow out but for god sake football is a game and nothing is certain so try to be cheerful for once in your miserable life and look at the bright side, we will see one of the best game of the season and if we play to our strenght and qualify the whole world will be scared of us!

  109. @ KG,

    every body feels because we have lost to barca all the times we have played them we cant win, well it is not written in stone anywhere… we can go into the game thins time around and beat them!

    @ AIC,, Why will we not do what it takes to beat them?

    a keeper in the form of his life can be the difference on that day u know… Do u remember Nigeria versus Argentina during the WC 2010?

  110. Also…our poor recent record against big teams stems from their refusal to play us. Man U packed the midfield at home on monday. That simply won’t happen against Barca and that’s why even hamstrung with injuries lat time we had 5 or 6 great chances to score.

    I seem to remember at 3-1 in the Camp Nou a time where Bendtner miss controlled in space in the box. No disrespect to Bendtner who did well against barca, but if thats Van Persie it’s 3-2 no doubt in my mind, and a grandstand finish for a 3-3 that would have seen us through. Bendtner also had a header saved from point blank and hit the post with a header. Nasri was about 5 cm away from opening the scoring at Home. Rosicky blazed over having a clear sight of goal. Diaby missed a chance to pass to theo to surely make it 2-0 at the nou camp…

    I think that is slightly beyond clutching at straws, those were chances that could have gone either way. No point beating about the bush though, Barca were better last time and deserved to go through but had 1 of their first choice players missing (iniesta) and even he came on as a sub in the second leg.

    The point is we play football and Barca play football. We will have chances to score and with Van Persie, Chamakh, Arshavin, Theo, Nasri, Fabregas, Diaby and Song playing against a team that is more concerned with attacking us than stopping us play….I’d say we have a pretty good chance.

    A fine chance.

  111. Darius
    I didnt think we would beat Barca last season and i dont now.If you stick your head in the oven does it mean i have to?
    I bet you were one of those who said we would go to OT and wipe the floor with Man Utd

  112. Mr Cream. If you want to support a team who spends far too many millions on defenders and defensive midfielders, then parks the bus and fouls, cheats and dives their way to European success, then fuck off to Money City (but you’ll have a few years to wait – oh I forgot, that’s your main problem isn’t it – patience). Personally if i were an Inter/Porto/Chelsea/Real fan, I wouldn’t be proud of what Maureen’s done. Any mug can spend ridiculous amounts of money, and implement as many dirty tactics as possible, maybe that’s why Allerdyce was bleating on about being Real manager… any mug can inherit the richest team in each league and buy their way to boring football success.

    We obviously differ massively (thankfully) in that I am happy to wait for success, supporting Arsenal every step of the way, and am proud to watch the football that we produce, as well as the impressive progress we are and have been making. Whereas you would prefer us to win everything now, even if it meant jeopardising our club’s financial future, and playing the shitcunt anti-football that the self proclaimed special one is so good at.

  113. AIC

    Fuck off about the group… doesn’t make a blind bit of fucking difference.

  114. I make a plea to the premier league referees: enforce the rules properly. If you do not get ahold of the games early on and punish unruly challenges appropriately, then you only decrease the chances of seeing the greatest footballing show on Earth in a few months from now. Let a full strength Arsenal squad take on a full strength Barce squad.

    And should Bibin the Barca fan from the other day read this: may the best team win!

  115. Why do people keep forgetting we had SIX first teamers missing??
    That’s Gallas, TV, Song, Cesc, RVP, Arsha.
    Add Chamakh, JW, KOS/Squilly & we are a far better side. If we manage to keep even 80% players fit, I am sure we are in for a very very close game.

  116. F uck me!!we had to get Barca again. Nothing we can do about it at this point but play the best we can when the time comes and beat them.
    Darius by the way nice post. Been hiding since the loss to manure as there was so much negativity in here i thought i had lost my way and gone to Le-moan.

  117. So now we have said inter were second last time around and still won, we hear it is due to the tactic genius of their coach… So why could not the tactical genius have made them come 1st in their group?

    In our case as usual, there is no need to wait for us to be out before it is a forgone conclusion!

    U sure inter did not benefit from the ash cloud that caused the barca team to travel by road for the 1st leg and may have affected their preparations?

  118. Oh fake Andy, you’re oh so realistic.

    I now see the error of my “delusional” ways. Help me. Help me to see the realism of being a football fan.

    No, wait… realism… football fan… quite possibly two mutually exclusive terms… chump

  119. Wasting your time, Geo..

  120. Love the new avatar Yogi. Can you please shoot AIC?

  121. @ Andy
    i was one of those that expected us to beat Man U at OT this season… even their fans were worried and would have taken a draw! i felt the team was poised to do better than in previous season

    We could have done better on that day and if we play them again soon, the same result is not guaranteed at all

  122. Consols my dear friend…some people are only alive because it’s illegal to kill. Stop encouraging YW.

  123. Geo | December 17, 2010 at 11:48 am |
    “You don’t even have a glass do you AIC?” – I laughed at that…

    Truth is it doesn’t matter one jot when we play this lot. AIC is so manically depressed he sees a European Cup tie against Barcelona as something to be pissed off about. Unbelieveable.

    The tie is perfect for us. We’ve all been wishing we could play them with a fit, fresh first team. So let’s play them as early as possible. Having the ‘final’ in mid-February is a touch. We’ve never had so many star players returning all at once like we’re seeing now. By mid-feb players like Fabregas and RVP, Vermaelen, Theo and Diaby – will all be absolutely flying. Maybe even Aaron Ramsey too… if Forest ever thaw their bloomin pitch out. This is going to be f*cking huge!

    And when we win it the whole of the Premier League and the rest of Europe will be running scared. It’ll be a bigger springboard for success than any League Cup win. This is a massive opportunity to really set our season alight.

  124. Darius – I agree that the reaction to Monday’s loss was way over the top, we lost 1-0 at OT, hardly a discrace. I think, the outburst was more due to frustration at the number of losses already suffered this season and the general inconsistency.
    Let’s face it our recent record against the bigger teams IS dogshit, but we are due a result at some point and I can see us taking points off them at home this season. This “big” games are not as important as the media like to make out but we DO need to learn how to take some points in these games.

  125. consolsbob | December 17, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    “Love the new avatar Yogi. Can you please shoot AIC?” – And that…

  126. Being an Arsenal fan is so boring.

    Not sure if I’m looking forward to Stoke FC’s attempts to play ‘football’. I’d rather stick ski poles into my eyes then pay to watch a grown adult run around in the frosty cold, with a towel stuck into their shorts.
    Can we ask for a refund if we spend five minutes out of the ninety watching that prick wipe his hands? Can we have a charitable collection, and buy the PL refs some stopwatches?
    H0ly Armitage Shanks! It’s been snowing. He’s going to need TWO TOWLS!…

    Random but interesting post about the number of refs in the PL:

  127. In truth, I’m looking forward to tomorrows game.


  128. I don’t even have a glass, ha, ha even I laughed at that.

    I do look forward to games like this but I don’t give us a hope of winning. The only thing I cling to is that we have a good record of winning when written off but I don’ t think this will save us.

    As I have said many times, I call things as I see them. All of this “we have to beat every team to win” and “we can do it” just ring hollow.

  129. …Next month… League Cup Semi-Final, an FA Cup clash with Leeds, and the Oily Upstart Mancs in the league… all for under a tonne! Mattyboy was right…. there really is a Christmas ticket pricing miracle afoot….

    Happy Christmas, AFC…

  130. COYM!

  131. Indeed. How can you not be excited about a Champions league knock out tie aganst Barca?

    I suppose there are those who would prefer to play, say, Charlton, Sunderland, West Ham and Luton on an endless loop. Provided, of course, that Arsene could guarentee to win every game.

    Misery thy name is AIC.

  132. I think it’s a great draw. We were unlikely to win it this year so what could be better than a tie against the best team around at the moment. Great for the club, the players and the fans. And with a following wind, a bit of luck and some unbiased decisions we might win. Wouldn’t that be nice ?

  133. @ AIC …. All of this “we have to beat every team to win” and “we can do it” just ring hollow.

    hollow it may sound, but has a lot more truth, more hope, more enthusiasm, more everything than declaring us to ave lost even before we play! It is not a given that we will lose that match is all that most of the rest of us are saying. Some are really saying we can win it and others are at the other extreme from u saying we WILL win it… which is a better approach to take to a game than expecting to LOSE it!

  134. isnt it Real Madrid not Barca that is always bailed out by the government? Barca have the best brand in football, I dont see them having problems generating revenue .

    I have to disagree with you today Yogi and it’s very rare that I feel that. We are light-years away from Barca – Barca have become one of the greatest club sides ever, fit to rank alongside Milan of 89/90 etc

    Even at our very best in 2004 we would have struggled to contain them and let’s be honest we have a 10% chance of knocking them out this season at best.

    I just hope AW sends a team out designed to contain them because if we play high up the pitch they will destroy us, as they should have done at our place last year. But our defence is nowhere near good enough to withhold them.

    Our best bet is a score draw at home and park the bus away….in 2006 we were able to do that, but now….?

    The one consolation is if we out early we have an advantage in the league.

  135. Realistically, we are doomed, basedon the players current attitude and rotten luck plus their ever so present nervousness in big matches. I don’t expect a spanking by barca but a good showing by the lads is the least they can do. Maybe two one nil losses are fine.

  136. David Slew Goliath with a Donkey’s Jawbone…So who knows it may turn out that We can get a result against Barca…As where we stand todayI’m not so sure……

    Do you not think that Pep G is NOT going to have them ready n primed after all the Summer’s shennanigans re Cesc..Cme On…..

    AIC has his right to see things as he sees fit..He’s only going on what he has seen thus far….So Giv da youth some slack n ease up off his back…

  137. Ramofrd we cored 3 agaisnt them last season..surely we arent doing that badly!!

  138. with people like AIC and Andy they need to protect their hearts. Its all about fear. They are probably at work telling other that their arsenal are not good enough and that softens the blow and the ribbing when we loose.

    Some people just cant handle the heat. What has being negative ever done for anyone except keep you down and guarantee failure. hopefully at least the boys must be more positive and not realistic like Andy and AIC.

    I am realistic when I own money and know I have to pay it back. It doesnt pay me as an Arsenal supporter to put down my club. Yeah Barcelona are seen as the greatest. Well if you want to be the greatest you have to beat the best. It okay if you are not the best but you must keep trying. Or maybe thats just me.

    THe moaners at Le grove are weak but also a little scary. that site makes me uncomfortable.

  139. there’s a world of difference between Barca of 2011/11 and Milan of 2008 – Milan were an ageing team full of midfielders who couldnt run anymore and unsurprisingly they couldnt handle our passing and movement.

    There is no parallel at all between them and Barca.

    Who knows? we can obviously still do it. Having Vermaelen and Cesc back will help. But let’s be honest – it was the worst possible draw.

  140. If you think they’re all that and a bag of chips then it stands to reason you think we’ll have to beat them to win the competition… so then why not play them in mid-February with as fresh a squad as you’re going to get, with your best players fit, and with matches sandwiched between home games vs Wolves and Sunderland, and FA Cup ties. Looks like the perfect time to play them if you ask me.

    I am over the moon for us to so quickly get the chance for our first team to slap the smug out of them for their win over our 2nd team.

  141. AIC has his ‘right’ to say things as he sees but then so do we.

    Actually, none of us has any rights at all on this site. It belongs to someone.

  142. Attempting to contain them a la half a billion squid madrid is the only way to narrow our hopes down to 10% Romford Pele.

    We will try to out play and out score them. As they will us. And we will have opportunities. The odds are in their favor. But standing toe to toe with them is something they never experience, for good reason you could convincingly argue.

    Arsenal have the players to hurt Barca. Arsenal have the team to hurt Barca. I think if you were a Barca fan now you would not be too thrilled about this draw.

  143. I wont lie, as I already said, Barca was the last team I wanted to meet at this stage in the season. HOWEVER

  144. Poo on a very long stick! Sagna’ll be suspended for the first leg. C’est la vie! Lord Eboue is as good a replacement as any. He and Theo should link up nicely

  145. Graham from London

    Just read this quote from Arsenal Secretary David Miles, after the CL Draw. “Lionel Messi is obviously one of the quality players in Europe and manager Arsene Wenger will have done his homework. He is their main danger man.” Trust me, homework is not what Wenger does, at all, ever. So let’s pack in all this blind optimism from this blog + the other 98% of these responses and get real. If he had any idea about winning this trophy he would respect all opposition and beat them by doing some homework. Man Utd did it to us Monday and have been doing to us for years as Fergie knows how to beat us. Wenger is irresponsible with the way we are set up considering where Arsenal are as a great club. Defending isn’t a dirty word, it’s as valid as attacking, and even a true art, one which he has thrown to the dogs. We will win the EPL in the next 3 seasons only because the other teams will gradually weaken while we just stay where we are. Come 2014, lets hope the board, if we have won nothing, make him work for his next contract or be gone.

  146. Now that the die is cast, bring them on! My faith in this squad is almost limitless despite the fact that we have not found our full momentum yet (a point worth cogitating on – given our current position in the league etc). If we can gain some consistency and step up our performance over the Xmas, I’m sure that we have the potential to inflict a memorable defeat on Barca.

    All things being equal and all players being back to full form, I’d opt for the following line up to take them on (and ‘out’):

    Sagna Kos TV5 Gibbs
    Cesc Diaby Song
    Walcott Chamahk Nasri

    My reasoning is to maximise both defensive and offensive potential and increase the general speed within the team. Given their lack of defensive strength and/or natural speed, this means that RVP, Wilshere and Denilson would be on the bench to offer alternatives.

    If this team showed up and was on its game, do I really think it could beat Barca over 2 leg? HELL YES!!


  147. Funny thing about rights is none are absolute, they’re all imaginary, and created merely by the immediacy of power.

    For example:
    Bank Clerk: “Say there fellow of disrepute, what gives you the right to rob this bank?”
    Criminal: “why my good fellow of yellow stained pants, I had the highest of hopes I’d be asked such a question. See here in my hand, this gleaming mould of various alloys and mechanics happens to be the very next best thing to God and Jesus and all His choirs of angels in the heaven above: my gun and her devilish hellspawn.”

    My point: I have too much time on my hands

  148. Deano – not sure if you’re saying madrid tried to keep it tight against barca but they did the total opposite actually. – they played high up the pitch because Jose knows he cant get away with simply defending at real because of the expectations.

    and as a result they got torn apart.

    The only team who has shown how it’s done is Inter – and we dont/cant play like that.

    We have unfortunately demonstrated time and again a weakness against the counter and Barca are kings of the counter. if we go toe-to-toe we will be torns to shreds. we need to sit back, play song and diaby holding and try and hit them on the break, with theo.

  149. Oh here comes the guy who’s been scouting for the club a few weeks back and knows better than Arsene who is worth buying. Seems you didn’t like to be told off by the blind optimist last time.

  150. Dgob if i may ….HOWEVER let them come and we will beat them.

  151. Graham are u sayin’ that arsenal should sack wenger? Is that a wise move? I bet u’d like fat sam as manager. Been there and tried that back in ’95 remember? We ended up with kiwomya and hartson as the front to with a midfield of selly hillier mcgoldrick and morrow….pretty dull.

  152. Eddie McGoldrick was like a quicker, more flair Robbie Keane.

  153. max
    He is the guy who came to tell us who would be a good buy, he knows it all so no he wouldn’t want fat sam as manager but he think he should be the next manager as he can do a better job than the current managerial team.

  154. Our best defender disqualified against Barca is a big blow.

    OK, now lets concentrate on Stoke.
    —–Song——-Diaby(if fit)/Jack————
    ————RVP(if fit)/MC——————

    Sub – AA, Vela, Chamakhattack, Lukasz, Eboue, Denilson

  155. I watched all of the fights of Cassius Clay who hit Sonny Liston with a mysterious punch that won him the title. Cassius Clay was often interviewed by the late Howard Cosell who was fond of drawing out the rebellious person who claimed he could dance like a Butterfly and sting like a Bee. Cassius Clay maintained that he hit Sonny Liston with his ‘Rabbit Punch’ which the camera had difficulty detecting. Clay reported that his hands were to fast for the camera to follow.

    Eventually, and as everyone knows, Cassius Clay transformed into the Muslim, Muhammed Ali. Ali’s biggest fights were with Joe Frazier who plodded around the ring with a tight defence and chose to wade into Ali who accommodated Frazier with his so called Rope a dope technique which was aimed at attempting to tire Joe out. Ali took some vicious punishment from Joe Frazier including a broken jaw in one of the three fights they had.

    Now, what in the world has Ali’s fights got to do with Arsenal Football Club? It is my claim that Wenger requires a strategy of the dimensions of Ali’s ‘Rabbit Punch’. Hit them with something they don’t see coming!

    This new method would require a major rethink from Arsene. The team is a bit too predictable. All the teams see Arsenal coming and they all use the Rope a Dope on Arsenal. Wenger must develop a Rabbit Punch!

  156. Firstlady,

    Many thanks. I did kind of finish that sentence just below it though.

  157. Two Owls – Last year’s Inter were the rope a dope kings, our fixture is more like an over-confident Ali, fighting an up and coming Cassius Clay. We’ll be the underdogs, but we know we’re capable of the necessary floating and stinging, and of course the 3 hunredths of a second rabbit punch. Barca may well become complacent after last year’s result…

  158. “Clay reported that his hands were to fast for the camera to follow.” – wasn’t it more that his punch was too quick to be captured by the slow shutter speeds of the flash-bulb cameras of the time – rather than by the camera men themselves? Either way… we have a rabbit punch, goes by the name of Theo.

    Also, Two Owls, you might know… at what age did Cassius Clay win the Olympic Gold? Was it 18 yrs? Alan Hansen is such a mug.

  159. Supporting a team managed by Fat Sam would be like trying to love an ugly cretin with a penchant for domestic violence.

  160. Fat Sam will teach the lads how to bend over and get some frm the mancs every season.

  161. Sorry, on the boxing thing…

    If anyone wants to see the most frenzied, free-for-all punch fest, check out any vids you may find of Katzidis vs Graham Earle. Absolutely awesome fight. I’m not that into boxing, but if you like to see a lot of punches thrown in a short space of time, check it out. No defending there..! They both look like they should be knocked out several times each, but both keep bouncing back. Awesome.

    I’ll try to find a link…

  162. Part one:

    Part two:

    Well worth a gander – even if you’re not a massive boxing fan…

  163. Re: Inter-Barca games from last season.
    Bojan was their main CF as they chased the tie, is that correct?
    I can’t be be bothered to look it up.

    So, they they dropped Ibrahimobvic. because he’s an idiot, and they dropped Henry who was finally in good-ish form, because they didn’t like what he said about Arsenal, and relied upon a rookie. No Villa.
    They lost the tie because they couldn’t score.
    Sounds a familiar problem for a team up against TBOF?
    Well, they had a goal ruled out for some reason. Perhaps Howard Webb could explain.

    Guardiola never makes mistakes.

    D**Med I tell you.

  164. Awful typos. Yikes!

  165. Darius:

    Very well written as always. Hope you are right about what you say.

    What it frustrating to me is that we have been saying for at least 3 years that we have the best players and the best manager in the league. On paper we are better then we were last year and the teams around us are worse, so in theory we should be flying, yet we seem to have this unsettling propensity to underperform and play to a level just below the “big” teams around us. Based on the strength and depth of this squad we should be dominating not in 2nd place. I think most supporters who are realistic understand how tough it would be to win in 06, 07 and even 08 while a rebuilding squad played against financially doped ManU and Chelsea squads but that is not the case today. Perhaps it is not an admirable thing to do but supporters get frustrated when it does not look like we are making progress.

    We do have the schedule in our favor and run of wins that takes us to the top and gives us the momentum to finish the year strongly for once is certainly possible. The teams around us are clearly weaker so this is a great opportunity. I really believe the major trophy will be a springboard to many more expecially in the PL. The road to that first one is just proving to be much more tortuous then it should.

    Barca!! Gulp. A good performance win or lose would really help our confidence so may be this is a good thing. Bad performance would really hurt.

  166. Theres a growing tendency to say its all wenger’s fault. To me the players should take most of the blame. Sometimes seeing le boss so fucking mad at the touchline with his players shows how much he cares for the team. This team will have to look themselves in the mirror and start to ask serious questions. Its time to show they too cared. I’m beginning to agree with gallas in a way. If we had 11 players throwing fits on the brum’s pitch instead of alienating big will g, then we would have won it that season.

  167. My post with links are in moderation. It’ll hopefully be up soon… Sorry I know it’s not footie related!

  168. Limpar Assist, Alan Hansen is indeed a mug of the First Order! He is such a Troll when it comes to giving Arseal a decent review. I am so fond of the Scots, having married one, that I have been reluctant to bury his lousy reviews of Arsenal. Now, it is done! And yes I think that you are correct about Cassius Clay winning the Olympic Gold at the age of 18 years. I saw the event live on TV and remember his performance. As for the shutter speeds of the cameras in those days Cassius would have claimed that the Human Eye is too slow for the speed of his hands. Howard Cosell laughed at the seemingly audacious Cassius Clay. But, Clay virtually always had the last laugh in the ring. He was indeed a sight to behold when at his best!

  169. Whoops! did I type Arseal. My apologies.

  170. Bill – ‘We’ haven’t been saying we’ve got the best team in the league for 3 years. We’ve been saying that we’re going to have the best team. And now we have that team. We’ve seen a full squad of players in their prime at Chelsea, with their players now beginning to slip into veteran territory, Man U have had similar ageing issues, and we are the only team that has progressed every year. Our younger players have vast experience behind them now, all with plenty of scope to imrpove – can’t say that about Chelsea, that’s for sure. We’ve removed the problem players from our squad, we’ve aquired much better options to those available last year and the year before, and now we’re in a position to surprise, not only you, but Barcelona as well as all the pundits/media etc that share your pessimistic views about Arsenal’s chances.

  171. So, there seem to be two schools of thought regarding tactics for our forthcoming Champions League match against Barcelona. The first suggests that we give in immediately, before we have even kicked a ball. The second suggests that we wait till just before kick-off, fertilise the pitch with our own waste matter, and then give in before we have even kicked a ball. For myself, I’m not convinced either of these strategies will give us the best chance of success. I remember our match against Barcelona at the Emirates last season. I remember that Guardiola was astonished by the quality of Barcelona’s performance. It’s true, they had the upper hand in the first half or more of that match; but the final score was a draw. Walcott, and especially Denilson, turned the match in our favour that night. Let’s hope we succeed in selling the latter in the January transfer window. The lesson of that match: Let Barcelona play as they will, and we can equal them. The second leg was a less happy occasion. We played badly, and we got thrashed. For only one half of one match of the tie did we play as we can play, as we should play. If we had played thus for 180 minutes, I am confident the result would have been very different.

  172. Geo,

    Castillo v Corrales I (RIP Chico) was perhaps the best fight ever. I liked Earle vKatsidis as well but check out this other fight. Unbelievable.

  173. At least we won’t have CL games to hinder our battle for 3rd/4th.

  174. What is everyone worried about? While I would have enjoyed the chance to stick it to Mourinho, this is probably the very best draw possible for us and the very best time to face Barcelona. Just as LA said, we’ll be fresh and should have a full squad with our best players back from injuries, rested, with enough games to be in form. If that’s the case, this will be some fantastic tie! We won’t be favored but they aren’t relishing playing us, of that we can be sure (just ask Bibin…). We can go into the tie without pressure but desiring revenge. If we win, wouldn’t you like our chances to go all the way? If we lose but acquit ourselves well, we should be able to focus our energies on winning three trophies. The only negative that could come is if we are at full strength and get thrashed, hurting the confidence of the team. But that isn’t the likeliest outcome except for the most pessimistic.

    The best thing to prepare for that tie is to win our home games and make the Emirates a fortress so that we put pressure on the second away leg. The best way to prepare is to defeat Chelsea and ManCity, win the CC and go in with a string of victories so that our deep squad is fit, in form, playing well and with confidence.

    We start with Stoke tomorrow and have something to look forward to in February and to play toward.

    However, I do think, Darius, that your comparison between Arsenal and Barcelona is flawed and have mentioned this in the past that there are big differences to account for: 1) we don’t have access to global youth talent from ages 11-16 as they do (Messi could not have come to AFC at age 12) 2) playing in the PL means we have a different domestic set of conditions that should and will inform how we play and compete and 3) We have not made a recent habit of supplementing the youth core with major signings of the very top professionals at their peak (we have but one recent example–Arshavin). Wenger sees Barcelona as the benchmark but there are some real differences that are not just a matter of phase of development. We’ll have a chance to see where we stack up in February, nevertheless. We have to support the team during this stretch but it is true that we are not quite fulfilling our potential and yet demonstrating the progress we should expect in our development–that is a concern to this mid-point in the season. Happily, it hasn’t cost us anything yet in any of these competitions but there are tough challenges ahead. Troubling signs, but still good chances to overcome these hurdles and have a fantastic season. That’s fair enough, that’s football. The team and the support have a chance to redeem themselves and prove their quality.

  175. I’ll check that out for sure AIC. Cheers.

    But then you go and ruin it…

  176. Two Owls, I like the boxing analogy. The rope a dope tactic however was developed specifically in the rumble in the jungle vs. George Foreman not in the first match with Frazier in Madison Square Garden which preceded the Foreman fight and which Ali lost. Ali wasn’t the underdog in the Frazier fights–two world champions facing each other three times and fought very evenly. But Ali was an unbelievable underdog to Foreman and earlier to Liston. He was capable of adapting his strategy to the opponent and his own condition. LA is right, Theo is our rabbit punch. I can’t see us playing the rope a dope, though.

  177. Limestone

    Hilarious post 3.09.Make the E******* a fortress.Have you ever been there.There is more atomosphere on the moon.If we had come off the pitch in the home tie and Barca were 6-0 up we couldnt have complained.We came back once they took their foot off the gas.Normal service was resumed at the Camp Nou

    RIP Ralph Coates

  178. Andy, what was our record last year at the Emirates? I am talking about getting up for the Barca tie–are you telling me the atmosphere wasn’t good for the derby v. Spuds?

    What does what happened last year have to do with what I discussed in the post? At least engage the issues rather than repetitively spout this drivel. Yes, we were beaten pretty soundly last year. We have a chance to try to put that right. As I said, we won’t be favored, so we’ll have a go. I think it is better to face them early–do you have any reasons from a footballing perspective to feel that facing them later is better for us? Judging from your attitude I don’t gather that you think we have much of a chance to win that competition anyway. From your own perspective, wouldn’t it be better to do or die earlier so we can concentrate on the two more winnable contests/competitions this season? All we lose is some CL money in that case. Money isn’t our problem right now.

    You are just being incoherent, I think, because you are taking some perverse joy out of slagging off your own team. That’s sad. I believe in being realistic, and I expressed my concerns that we haven’t been performing as we ought. But I don’t see what’s negative about meeting Barcelona or why we should simply write off our chances to compete.

  179. Everytime people mention our win against Milan people say that they were old and all this nonsense, however no one was saying that at the time, we were expected to get killed. Only after, that was an excuse, as there is always is when Arsenal beat a big team.

    Ramford, Barca get additional monies also.

    Please lets not respond to AIC. We know how he is already (most of us), so lets not let him drag us into these arguements. Thats what he wants.

    Hows life AIC?

  180. Andy, you are an astronaut?

  181. I think this is a great tie but I hope the team dont focus on it. Lets take care of business at home and we will be good for that battle.

    You know people can say what they want but if we have all of our players available I like us against any team.

    I think people have not even noticed that we basically without 5 wonderful players on Monday – RVP, Cesc, TV, Ramsey and Diaby. These are all players who can change a game at any moment and where the hell is Vela! may I ask?

  182. Paul N, nice one–can’t see Andy helping that atmosphere much, either at the Emirates or on the moon!

    That victory against Milan was an important one. But it has been a long while since we defeated a European great, since then in fact. We have gone far in the CL competition without facing a side like that and losing when we first meet a top side. That’s the problem. So we face the best side early this time. The positive is that if we win, who is going to stop us? We’ll be flying!

  183. Paul N
    Who did AC Milan have of the quailty of Messr Xavi Iniesta and David Villa?.They were a poor old team.We only have to look back 9 months at how good Barca were. In fact for 45 mins at the Grove they played the greatest football have ever seen and the HT score was 0-0!!!!

  184. @ andy
    so obviously, it is forever impossible to do what it takes to make the emirates a fortress?

    like we once didnt have a great record at home that seems to have a problem this season although not in the CL me thinks

  185. Paul,

    I’m good thanks believe it or not. You won’t hear me belittling our win at Milan. We dominated them away and it was a wonder how the score was still 0-0 late on in the game. Cesc, Hleb and Flamini were just amazing but it was one of those nights when everyone played well if I remember rightly. The first English team to win there as well. It was a magical night.

  186. Very good points Limestone. This is a good time as any to meet Barca. We have a chance to exact revenge, without the pressure of being favourites, (are we ever favourites when we meet the big teams?) but there are more important games coming up, starting with Stoke.

  187. Paul again,

    Diaby and RvP are always injured and cannot be relied upon (apart from to get injured again). They are squad players due to injury. Forget Vela, he is not what we need.

  188. Our win at Milan was incredible, but if we do not repeat such performances (and result) more often, the argument can be fairly made that it was an exception to the rule (that we usually fail to perform against or beat big teams).

  189. Untold Arsenal’s Tony Attwood:

    “Those who will not give up: just join me in our support for our Gunners. After all, that is the only thing I can do. It is the only thing I will do. It is the only thing we can do. I will be there, in victory and in defeat. That is why I am a Gooner. No way will I give up until the final whistle, so should all of you. There still is too much to look forward to.”

  190. Correction. Above quote is taken from Walter Broeckx

  191. Andy, you really do yourself a disservice depreciating that victory over AC Milan. They were defending champions and, unlike Inter this year, had not lost their winning coach.

    Have you heard of Kaka? (best player in the world at the time) Pirlo? (recently WC finals best player), Inzaghi? (the guy is still scoring goals) Pato? (Brazilian phenom who scored a great deal in the CL that year). Gourcuff? (a great talent on their bench–is it Arsenal’s fault they didn’t know how to use him?) I suppose you don’t rate Nesta and Maldini defensively? Perhaps you just don’t watch Serie A or missed the 2006 World Cup?

  192. Im really looking forward to playing Barcelona! It will be a way way way way entertaining game. It will deffo be the best game of this seasones CL . I dont care if it is only the first knckout round! Im just happy two so entertaining and footballplaying teams will meet. Both the matches were great last year. Arsenal missed alot of key players for the return match, this time we will meet them with full force . RVP, Cesc, chamakh, Wilshere even Ramsey and Vermaalen may be ready.

    If we win it will be awsome. If we loose we will have given the globe two super sick games worth remembering and can contentrate on FA cup and PL just like Chelsea nex year.

    There may be other teams in the CL final, and there may be other “giant clashes” later in the CL season. But im sure no other game this season will be as preatty, beautiful and exciting to watch as Arsenal vs Barcelona.
    For all true football fans, for everyone that appreaciate breautiful football and football as it should be played, it will be the happening of the year. It will be what everyone talks about, and what everyone will remember from this seasons CL.

  193. The fact that the CL match is in Feb is a bit worrying. Isn’t that when our injuries start piling up?

    I’d like to see Chamack hrotated more with Bendtner. It will reduce the chances of fatigue induced injury to the former, and help ensure match fitness for the latter. I thing it would be prudent not to bank on VP. If he’s fit throughout the season fine, but his injury history tells us the chances of him playing the rest of this season without injuries is lower than most of our other players.

    We have good options in defense and midfield especially with Diaby and Vermaelen to return. Would prefer if Cesc plays very little in December if there is ANY doubts at all over his fitness., to increase his chances of being fit for the run in. Song too needs a rest I think. The quality of his play has reduced somewhat but the problem is the lack of adequate backup for him in the PL. Denilson isn’t always suited to the rough and tumble games. Why oh why did Frimpong have to get injured?

  194. AIC, there was a time when Clichy was constantly injured. Do I know tell myself, “RVP and Diaby will be injured when we play Barca”?

    Thats self defeating and foolish. One must always hope for the best, if not you are very sad and a detriment to your own health.

  195. now not know

  196. Barca again!

  197. Wenger the wanker

    What a disgrace.Wenger the senile wanker will get embarassed yet again by Barcunts.Why dont we fans kick this overpaid moaning bastard out of the club.

  198. Clichy was injured for a period of about 18 months. RvP has been injured on and off since he joined in 2004 and Diaby on and off unfortunatley since he was assaulted in 2006 – over 4 years ago.

    If they are available then great but I can’t count on it. I am not saying for definite that they won’t be available just that there is a good chance that they won’t be.

  199. Henristic,
    One good thing about this season is that despite major injuries we are still in everything and some of these players will be fresh in February. Diaby, Vermaelen (if he returns), Ramsey, RvP, and Cesc should all be fit.

    I think that’s right about some rotation being needed for Chamakh and Song–key players. We have some serious fixture congestion between the Boxing day home match with Chelsea and the end of January, with the CC two-legged semi and the start of the FA cup v. Leeds. There is ample opportunity to play Bendtner and even Walcott up front as RvP gets more games as well. He needs to play in front rather than the Cesc role–I think it wasn’t right for him. I agree entirely on resting Cesc if he isn’t completely fit. I think we have rushed him back too frequently. I think Denilson is great for us in games against the less physical PL sides who play some football, as he is very good at keeping possession and intercepting balls but not providing defensive cover when he has to track back–WBA, Wigan, Blackpool etc… but not Stoke! But we are a bit light in cover/competition for Song and I do worry about him being injured, as he was last year versus Barca. Then again, Denilson was excellent against Barca. he settled things down, kept possession and allowed us to recover in that second half.

  200. @limestone, you would not have had to worry about backup for Song if Frimpong was not injured. Hes not back until next year though 😦

  201. AIC, the point is he overcame his injury problems, that is my hope for RVP. Its like you are wishing for him to get injured again.

    I am expecting them to be healthy, you can have it your way.

  202. Poodle, I know, I liked what I saw with Frimpong. Shame. We’ll have to see how he develops now and comes back from injury. But it is an area of the squad that is weaker than others right now.

  203. All the obvious Trolls are out to play today.

  204. TBF,my gut feeling is the Barca tie is going to be a spanking for us.Wenger has no clue when it comes to tactics.We wont win anything under this senile sex maniac who is turning out to be a joke day by day.Spuds will qualify for the second round,and this wanker will fuck off next season,fooling us all,who have followed him like blind goat.

  205. A secret recording taken by my NASA spies of Sergio ‘Zero Gee’ Busquets drinking a glass of water during a training session:

    “A combination of surface waves and body waves that go through this sphere…a delightful interplay….Most of the collisions result in an elastic collision, but every once in a while a collision will result in a mass transfer across the interface. This mass transfer has a momentum exchange associated with it.”

  206. W.T.W – Youre not a fan then?

  207. This is a great tie that will hopefully accelerate the departure of “Wenger the liar” from the club. Barcelona will expose our weaknesses like no other team in the solar system. They will crush us like a peanut under pressure from a neutron star. The emirates will be vaporised in a puff of smoke. The powder puff midfield and defence will be laid bare under a barcelona blitzkrieg composing of the most deadly forces known to mankind. We will go out of the tie with such a whimper, that it will be equivalent to the destruction of Hiroshima after the dropping of the atom bomb. The players and club will lie in ruins for decades, from which there will be no coming back. The failed youth policy, the Wenger favourites, the emphasis on frenchophobes, the spin, the non-defence, and the bizarre tactics (attacking), the bizarre policy of sustainability (which is just an accountancy term) will become a footnote in history.

  208. Finsbury, are you saying Barca v. Arsenal will be a bubble war in which they will be pressed into our anular space?!

  209. henristic (unless you are being sarcastic), since you already know what going to happen you no longer have to waste time talking, thinking, writing or watching the CL as far as Arsenal are concerned

    Wenger is clueless, in that maybe you dont have to waste time with the whole season.

    I dont get the need to have to berate your own team to no end. If you give us no chance its better to support Barca, why abuse yourself?


  210. I was hoping we’d get Barca and we did.

    Yogi, the doomers have conceded that we can’t spend our way to the top. They always say we should spend £20 or £30 million pounds on players who they think are better than we have, as if they knew better than Wenger about scouting and nurturing talent. When you point that out to them then they say that Wenger’s clueless about tactics. They’re hopeless. That’s why I don’t think we should argue with them anymore. Every day that Wenger is at the helm with a team he picked is torture for them. Hopefully we get another decade of Arsene Wenger so they can suffer.

  211. upon reading it again, it had to be sarcasm Henristic.

    My apologies!

  212. On Saturday 24th August 1965 Arsenal faced Stoke at Highbury.

    Denis Hill-Wood, Chairman, noted in his ‘Message’ that, “We all appreciate that a long period has elapsed since Arsenal won a major trophy and you may rest assured that this concerns us as much and probably more so than the spectators. The spirit at the club now is as high as it ever was and the determination to do well is as strong as ever, but there have been occasions when injury has set us back and that little something, known as the ‘ability to click’, has escaped us.”

    Arsenal played in a ‘new strip’ in fact the original one of red shirts with white collars and cuffs because, ’The Voice of Arsenal’ informed us, it was felt that it would”…look nicer and be more practical from a players’ point of view.” The Voice also thanked fans for supporting an initiative to give one point for every four goals scored which unfortunately at the FA General Meeting failed to garner enough support.. A rule change to allow substitutes for the first time was approved.

    Bob Wall highlights a problem with fans leaving the stands early and blocking other spectators views although, he tells us, the locals don’t mind people living a distance away leaving – just don’t stand in the aisles. He also tells us that “..bad language is part of the modern scene and that…on reflection I am sure all our male supporters will agree that it is not only unpleasant but embarrassing if a man brings his wife or girlfriend and has to endure the sound of a man nearby constantly using foul language. Arsenal, he says don’t “..wish to be stuffy”. Apparently, this is only a problem in the Enclosures, not the Stands.

    Elsewhere we learn that of the 32 players retained for the season, only 6 were born in London. Three were signed from ‘Glasgow Utd’, three more from ‘Possilpark YMCA, also in Glasgow.

    The Arsenal team that day: Furnell, Howe, McCullough, Neill, Ure, McLintock, Skirton, Eastham, Baker, Court, Armstrong. While the Stoke side included Dennis Violet. This was their first season without Sir Stanley Mathews wh retired at the end of the previous season.

    The Programme of Music provided by the Metropolitan Police Band included ’March of the Guns’, a selection from ’Mary Poppins’ and in the ’Pop Parade Selection’ ’Tis the Day’ sung by Constable Alex Morgan.

    Here is yesterday’s football result: Arsenal 2 Stoke City 1

  213. Limestone,

    lol, maybe. First thought was of that ‘ripple effect’ we saw as Sergio fell to the floor for the umpteenth time in the Away tie.
    Be careful with those antacid tablets.

  214. Muppet, brilliant!

    “and the bizarre tactics (attacking), the bizarre policy of sustainability (which is just an accountancy term) will become a footnote in history.”

  215. superb Muppet. It’s good too see great minds arrive at the only rational perspective…. the perspective of the REAL.

    I do think you undersold it a bit though..

  216. Guardiola comments (from The Grauniad):

    “Arsenal frighten me, but that is true of all the clubs in the draw,” said Guardiola “I will be a little calmer when I start to watch their games if I can see any weaknesses. Arsenal are a classic of English football….I think they will be stronger than they were last season with [Samir] Nasri now fully established in the team, plus the signing of [Marouane] Chamakh.

    “Also there’s a difference this time: Cesc [Fábregas] will be on the pitch…If you’re not at your best, Arsenal overrun you. It should be a fantastic game because we are two very similar sides. They are a very bold, daring team, a side that forces you to defend very well. They play and defend with the ball – they are a very good team…”

  217. Youngguns is reporting that, Havard Nordveit could be leaving the club to Monchengladbach.

  218. People like AIC and others bore me.We are playing,maybe,the best side the world has ever seen in a cup tie yet they moan about,really what is the point of being a fan if you cant look forward to games like this? I bet Liverpool fans wouldnt mind it! We went with half a team to the Camp Nou last year and lost ,get over it! This ties in Feb,and i promise you Barca will not be looking forward to this game.

  219. I am glad that we drew Barcelona. To win this tournament you have to beat the best, so lets do it now and really shut up our critics. We will more than be up for this one and it’s the ideal chance for Cesc to step up to the plate and prove to the world what a great player he is. Everyone is writing us off including the plastic Arsenal fans over at LeGrove. This may be just what is needed to push our team forward and I for one believe we can do it.
    On another note we need to destroy Stoke tomorrow to set out the marker for the Chelsea game, this season is not over yet.

  220. This season has just started DFG!

  221. This truly is a win win situation for us. Last year, the Barca match further depleted our side, and essentially ended our season prematurely (with a little help from our players it should be added).

    This year we play them early! We win, we shall have nothing but pride and I will rub it in the face of every doomer for the better part of a decade.

    We lose, we concentrate on the league and make sure we challenge to the very end. Even if we get injuries, the should be back for the final charge of the season.

    We cannot lose.

    But still, let’s go get the win.

  222. Frimpong on twitter :

    “Really disappointed by some of the Fans losing Faith Already Believe and Achieve.Cmon u Gunners”

    Seems he must have read AIC & Andy’s crap.

  223. Paul N – Absolutely!

  224. dups, the funny thing is these AIC’s and Andy’s of the world say that these blogs and the internet have no effect on the players. To them they dont have computers and read blogs at anytime.

    Imagine the confidence we would give them if it was mostly positive.

    Faithless jokers!

  225. Paul

    Many of the players use twitter so it is not to much of a jump to believe they read blogs as well.

  226. well, how about a little bit of good old fashioned anger, clenching fists, gritting teeth and saying: just wait, doomer fuckers, we will show you who the daddy is?

    just a thought…

  227. Yes Suga, I will hope that people such as yourself will cause them to get very angry however if they win you still cannot celebrate as you dont believe they can or will. You are still a doomer afterall.


  228. Graham are u sayin’ that arsenal should sack wenger? Is that a wise move? I bet u’d like fat sam as manager. Been there and tried that back in ’95 remember? We ended up with kiwomya and hartson as the front to with a midfield of selly hillier mcgoldrick and morrow….pretty dull.

    He’s got 4 more years, no one will sack him anyway. Lets see what he can do to rectify the last 5 eh?

  229. Paul,

    look, I want to believe, I really do – whatever you say, I believed we were capable of stuffing about the worst ManYoo side for long time a few days ago!

    and yet, when they had no flair, hard work just did the trick…

    to be honest, drawing Barca is a win-win situation: if we win, we are in good position in the CL and the confidence will be skyhigh, if we lose, we have one less competition to worry about and theoretically better chance in the other three…

    unless we get obliterated and team’s mentality suffers , that is…

  230. Oh here comes the guy who’s been scouting for the club a few weeks back and knows better than Arsene who is worth buying. Seems you didn’t like to be told off by the blind optimist last time.

    Looks like your scouting now as well, I was going to move on to the midfield but you can take over if you want. Hazard is a good start, any more? Might become more of an optimist if AW would stop restricting the budget for no good reason. We are not in financial trouble last time I looked, as far as I know we never have been. And the money is there, always has been.

  231. Very nice piece of history my dear “Old Man” 🙂

  232. If any team has any designs of greatness. They must beat the greatest. So Barca or whoever we must always be ready.Sorry to bring out the boxing puns again but Ali vs Liston anyone. Can we do it. Yes we m*tha f@ckin can.!!!!COYG

  233. Graham is still a c*nt, always has been.

  234. AIC/Andy,

    I must admit that I’ve been scratching my head to work out why you are so negative; why you appear only when there is something negative to feed off; why you persistently seek to undermine all that AFC stands for; why you feel the need to come onto a positive gooner blog to spill your bile; why you repeat dogma produced in the wallet of Murdoch the Anti-Christ; why you still claim to support AFC.

    Then I recalled a maxim that brought light to this darkness: “Misery loves company”!

    Were it not for the fact that bile extends to the ground and the players, I’d simply say no more. However, I could not possibly begin to convey in mere words the contempt that I hold you (and all of your ilk) in.

  235. Graham,

    Similar to AIC/Andy but with an even more adopted and inherited (inaccurate and unthinking) diatribe. Sheesh!!

  236. 5yrs, zero trophies and none in sight. There is a difference in being optimistic and being plain stupid. I am not implying either, might just a case of possible delusional thinking.
    Arsenal on paper clearly have a championship wining squad, some individually talented players. So why are we not all asking the question, what is going on with the current batch of arsenal players?
    the answer is simple,…. tactics/strategies whatever name you want to give to it.
    The short passing game that AFC employ is beautiful on the eye, and clearly attracts many followers but unfortunately is also responsible for stifling arsenals progress from being a attractive team to being a successful team (it’s possible to have both Mr Wenger).
    Its time to stop being so delusional about the clear and all to apparant limitations of the current arsenal tactics. When plan A doesnt work, wheres plan B and if that fails, then whats wrong with having a plan C.
    Anyone who thinks otherwise, please refer to monday night, were clearly the short passing game was successful were tempo was at best in 2nd gear and passing options were limited to those players standing stationary.
    Maybe we need to take a look at how barcalona play (or we could just play against them and let them demonstate it lol) analyse how they alternate their game so frequently (short passing + direct play) and then maybe AFC will be able to break teams down that play how man united played on monday (how most teams play against arsenal). Its not rocket science guys/girls…..

  237. Geo, Gadget, limpar…and where is Frank today?As the eternal optimists, let’s have your predictions now on Arsenals champions league fortunes. We’ve heard all your talk, now back that up and tell us what you think is going to happen against Barca? I’ll tell you what I think, we are out…we wil be beaten. It’s a realistic assessment of the situation, can you make one also?

  238. Russ, how can it be a ‘realistic assessment’ when you do not know who will be fit on either team. It is just your opinion against other opinions. Nothing to do with realistic assessment. What you should say is that if both teams are at full strength Barca are the stronger, but the stronger do not always win.

  239. bradys right foot

    To be honest I couldn’t care less about a match in two months time, don’t care about Pulis, Shawcross or Messi. The only thing i care about is getting 3 points today.

  240. You’re absolutely right BRF and I hope the players are thinking the same thing. They cannot afford to be distracted by the outcome of the CL draw.

  241. Today’s post full of Christmas cheer, is up here:

  • And they say Wenger doesn’t sign any one. The good news is that Ryo Miyaichi is joining our club in January. Great isn’t it?

    And no, I don’t know who he is either but…

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