Stone Cold Friday: Yes We Can

Fire at Will! Poor old Will, why do they always fire at him…luckily he’s called Darius but he’s willing to put himself in the firing line…

One of the most ironic and hopelessly defiant images of recent times was the charade fronted by the comedian masquerading as a former Iraqi Information minister. The aptly named “Comical Ali” stood in front of the world cameras many a time on the onset of the Iraq war – with a straight face while trying to convince the world that all was hunky dory, and that the allied forces were being swatted away like the irrelevant nuisance they were.

And all this took place despite the undeniable evidence right behind him of cruise missiles being offloaded in his backyard faster than you can shout ‘Hail Mary’. It’s not that he could miss the carnage unfolding. These were the intelligent precision missiles that could navigate traffic lights and the rush hour, manoeuvre the cul-de-sac, and head straight for apartment 4C, taking care to knock and wait for the target to open the door before exploding.

Comical Ali’s defiance reminds me of the punditocracy and the general reaction to one of the most iconic nights in Arsenal’s history. A night that was a watershed moment for the club, for the players, and for the entire Gooniverse. The comedy was best captured in the press box at the Emirates where the majority of the hacks were already online starting to file their clichéd Barcelona arselicking reports before Van Persie rudely interrupted their flow and threw a monkey wrench into their whole program.

By the time Arshavin masterfully escorted Nasri’s ball past a hapless Valdes, the press gang were clearly flustered and hot under the collar. This was never supposed to happen and you could tell they were stupefied by the spectacular turnaround. The supporters around the press box did not disappoint with their well timed chants of “Rewrite – Rewrite – Rewrite”, pointing out the obvious and reminding them that their pre-prepared Barca loving copy will have to go in the trash.

It matters not that there’s a second leg at the Camp Nou in just under 3 weeks. It matters not that the face savers try to point out that Barcelona are going to ‘murder’ us when we visit for the return leg. What happened this week was monumental for the simple reason that the mother of all psychological barriers was shattered by this team; and it was shattered with a spirited performance that dared anyone to question what this team was capable of.

Listening to the fallout from the game, you would think that Arsenal actually lost the match. The Comical Ali’s from the media and pundit circles shamelessly continue to tell us that what happened at the Emirates was a freak result and all would be corrected in the return leg.

The problem for most of them is that they haven’t seen this team coming. It was only a matter of time before the different parts of the jigsaw clicked. It was only a matter of time before the belief in the team was cemented in a spectacular way.

What is not in doubt is that the team now has the belief and confidence that they can beat the best in the world. Despite what people say about the second leg, even Barcelona are not stupid enough to think that it will be a walk in the park. It certainly won’t be easy for us, but the pressure is on them and we are very capable of scoring an away goal to crank up that pressure 10 fold. Barcelona now know that Arsenal can beat them, and that’s the difference.

What’s more important though is what the win this week means for the team from here on. The confidence will be extremely high, and we will have learnt the lessons especially from Newcastle. What is also true is that our domestic and European opponents have no illusions about what we are now capable of. This is not a ‘nearly’ also-rans team. This Arsenal team has arrived.

The next few matches are very critical in augmenting the gains from this week, and the team must take these very seriously. The fact that we are playing Leyton Orient, Stoke City and Birmingham City next should not be taken lightly and the team should play with the same tenacity and spirit as they did this week.

With United likely to meet Chelsea a week before our return trip to the Camp Nou, there is a real opportunity for us to have lifted the first trophy at Wembley, for us to be in the FA Cup quarter final, and for us to be top of the league. The confidence that this will give the team cannot be underestimated, but it is not going to be easy and we must give each one of the teams we face their due respect.

Robin Van Persie took the time in his post match interview to specifically thank the supporters in the stadium; and Wenger and Cesc have also commented on the impact the supporters have. It is now also time for the doubting Thomas’s to fall in line and get behind this team.

Enough of the moaning and bitching; enough of the anti-Arsenal sentiments from those who call themselves Arsenal fans. This team has earned the right and the goodwill to be supported unequivocally and unconditionally for the remainder of this campaign.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the stadium, in a pub watching the game, with friends, at home or on the street. We all need to shamelessly stand as one, and we all need to be counted. Many doubted that this team was capable of crossing the threshold that they’ve now crossed; let alone win any trophy.

The answer to that couldn’t be more clearer. Yes we can, and yes we will.

I’ll save my final word today for a special mention. The team as a whole performed admirably and everyone is deserving of praise especially our big name players like Van Persie and Arshavin who came to the fore when their club needed them.

But two players in particular stood out for me. Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere came of age. They announced their arrival and they announced it with style. They were not great, they were not excellent – they were world class.

The future is bright, the future is red and white!

Best get the shades out…’til Tomorrow

Posted on February 18, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 165 Comments.

  1. I totally agree – we must play like this against every team, no matter who they are. There’s no room for complacency. And the supporters should be as vocal in their support whether it’s against Barcelona or Birmingham!

  2. I’d love to know how committed Wilshere is to the club. It will be an interesting study into Arsenal DNA. Or has the whole Cesc story laid down a marker to show that we are now main players in the market and not a selling club?

  3. The patronising articles being written by pundits doing their level best to belittle what was a magnificent win by Arsenal are enough to make one scream. Martin Samuel ends his piece of garbage by telling us to ‘dream on’ if we think we can get the result we need in the second leg.

    Perhaps what hurts these people the most is that we beat Barcelona without employing ‘British grit’ by parking the bus in front of goal and lumping it forward to a big man. If Manure or the Spuds had beaten Barca by playing the way we did, there’d be so much jizz on the pages of newspapers it would be impossible to read the copy.

    Sure, they had more possession. But we dominated in every other statistic. More shots, more shots on target, more corners, and most importantly, 2 goals to their 1. How many times have we been pilloried in the press for dominating ALL the other statistics and losing? How many times have we had to read ‘Arsenal lack a cutting edge’ or that we ‘fail to kill teams off’ or any of their other favourite phrases?

    Suddenly, the pundits would have us believe that it’s possession and completed passes that count, not goals. Well I say fuck them. If they have to choke on their keyboards, if they have to acknowledge our superiority through gritted teeth, boo fucking hoo.

    We’ve had to take their snide comments and sly put-downs for too long, and now it’s time for them to squirm.

    Open wide motherfuckers! That humble pie sure is hot!

  4. Nice Read!

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I feel the win has upped the confidence levels for the Arsenal players while creating some level of doubt in the Barcelona ranks. Barcelona reminds me of Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson was a bully – first few rounds he would be all over his opponent like a hurricane – but when the opponent had the courage and tact to withstand the first few rounds Mike usaually ended up “collapsing”. Barcelona beat (play) teams into submission – ususally – but if and when a team stands up to them doubts start to emerge and if the opponents is smart enough to realize those doubts they can take advantage.

  5. “Rewrite – Rewrite – Rewrite”… Love it! No need to change a single word of this article.

  6. Great post. Our own so-called fans were knocking our win on Wednesday!!

    Oh well, i’ve supported this team through thick and thin and will continue till I die.

    Red and White till the day I die….

  7. Great post and exactly right.

    I really believe not only did the team come of age but so to did the Emirates and there’s more than a little irony (or coincidence) that on the one night the ENTIRE stadium got behind them, the players gave us their greatest performance.

    Now we know what the stadium is capable of, what happens when the doubters and the Doomers cast aside their negativity, throw their debilitating caution to the wind and join in with passion and gusto.

    I’ve been to almost all games at the Emirates and know it was a special night on Wednesday. Have you ever been to a party that’s taken a while to get going but then some of the more strait-laced guests disappear and the real party gets going? Wednesday felt like that to me altho in our case it had taken five years for the real party to start!!

    And what a party! With the “Comical Alis” of the media clinging to the walls like Billy No Mates not sure how to behave or react everybody else just went for it, on and off the pitch.

    And the post match media ‘anti-hype’ has been something to behold as you say, with pundits falling over themselves to downplay the moment and stressing it’s “only half-time”.

    Well it may only be half-time in their parallel Gooniverse but from where I’m sat the game is all but up for those who doubt the credentials of this incredible club.

    You are right to warn of complacency setting in against the Orients and Stokes of the world; possibly they represent as big a test of our club’s maturity as the more obvious bigger games.

    Right now I feel certain it will be a test we pass with flying colours. Wednesday night gave us more than a simple historic victory against the currently bench marked ‘best side in the world’. It gave us belief, unity, confidence and, possibly the most important of the lot – momentum.

    And that’s why the Comical Alis are all so worried; heaven knows what our actual rivals must be thinking.

  8. Darius,

    I couldn’t agree more: the future starts now and looks as bright as the brightest star (be that Jack, Kos, Cesc, Samir, Johan, Theo, Alex, Szczesny, Kieran, Bac, Arshavin, Thomas, Nicolas… or whoever you pick from the universe of talent that shines in the AFC sky at any given point). How lucky we are to have Arsene (a man seemingly born and named to this club and role) must now be dawning on many of his detractors.

    We can and will go forward and I am just loving it, loving it I am.

  9. dubstep version..

  10. Nice write up Darius.

  11. Kitchen Sink,

    Loving it..

  12. There are some teams and managers that can do no wrong. Step forward, ‘arry,’ Kenny’ and Sir Fergusnose. They will always get the best spin for any result.

    With a slow evening in prospect I attempted to watch the Liverpool game last night. It was impossible after the feast of Wednesday, in fact it was unwatchable.

    What was the headline on the BBC website this morning?

    “Liverpool ease to draw in Prague”

    Ease to draw? Ease to draw!!

    We will get scant credit for any achievements this season. I was reminded of how Apple are treated by the technology media. Yes, they make good looking kit which works well that tippy tappy intellectuals and smartases like to use but they aren’t big and sell millions of units y like a true technology company like Microsoft or Dell.

    When we win, and this team will win sooner or later, and keep winning the media will not change their approach to us.

    We will be ‘The Undeservables’.

    Don’t fret, who cares what a bunch of twats who work for the likes of Murdoch and his ilk think. The BBC gave up any claim to integrity a long time ago. Lowest common denominator. That’s all they go for.

    Fuck ’em. We are The Arsenal. We are on our own.

  13. Terrific video KS.

    On that subject (again) I had cause to pick up ‘The Mirror’ in a cafe earlier this week. There was an article by some columnist telling us that Wilshire, despite the hype, showed nothing to suggest that he was actually any good. He also said the same about Theo. His point was, amazingly, that it didn’t matter if they were any good, they would get picked for england because, ‘.. they play for Arsenal and are English which means to the FA that they have to be picked.’

    Pure snide drivel. I gope he choked on his whiskey and chips on Wednesday night.

  14. Oh Bob – please God don’t compare Arsenal fans to fucking Mac snobs. We are not a bunch of holier than thou, sanctimonious, highbrow nobs; we are ordinary fans being treated to extraordinary football.

  15. Well steww, I take your point but I was really only drawing a comparison between how the media treats anything that’s different. They have their favourites, they know how they work and the script is always the same.

    I like Apple kit myself, although I no longer use it, and there are a fair few apple users on here every day.

    Mind you I absolutely hate Microsoft, bur then that would be true of any MegacorpBastard Inc. that grows fatter every year on stupidity. Bit like Barca actually now I come to think of it.

  16. YES! WE! CAN!

    Talking of pre-prepared Barca loving copy… back in the studio after a thrillingly close first half, Arsenal a goal down but with more chances and the best of the play in dangerous areas… Adrian Chiles, as if woken from a heavy slumber – the epitome of hangdog – tells the watching world what a “huge gap” there is between the two teams… but little old Arsenal are hanging in there.

    I actually think being that much of a football ignoramus is bad for the spectacle. Chiles should never have been allowed near this match. A football audience of millions, rabid with excitement in the heat of one of the best contests the country’s seen in years… and we get Chiles babbling utter bollocks. Why can’t they report it live, as it happens!? Not stick to the script of what they thought would happen. It’s the worst trait in a writer I think… to be so pleased with yourself and fond of something you’ve written that you wouldn’t dream of editing it because you think it’s precious and everyone has to hear it… always at the expense of the reader. Extraneous bullshit the world would be much better off without. ITV’s sports reporting seems solely made up of extraneous bullshit the world would be much better off without.

  17. Sorry bob – my prejudices are showing. For the record I’m a Linux man, if only it would run photoshop I’d never need Windows again.

  18. Steww – I don’t think Bob was comparing the fans to Apple but just the industry response to the revolutionary upstarts in their midst! Whether you like them or not, Apple, despite years of false dawns, set backs and disappointments, went on to win out, big time. I think it’s a great analogy! If IBM are Manure, Microsoft are Chelski what does that make Shitty or the Spuds – take your pick, ‘cos they are all running to a standstill these days just trying to keep Apple in their sights, let alone keep up with them.

  19. 13. From STIM
    Can A.A. jump out of my birthday cake?
    Arshavin: It’s unlikely; I’m a football player, not a minstrel or a clown.

  20. Forget the media bullshit (i say that while i still read and listen to the drivel daily and get wound up) – easy to say not easy to do, right?? 🙂

    Anyway the thing that matters now is that we have some trophies to show for what we all see as a team on the cusp. I feel it will take but 1 trophy to tip us over the cusp and then i reckon our cup will runneth over….Theres nothing like a taste of success to make you hungry for more – and by all accounts, from listening to the players talk, they are all ravenous.

    Chow down boys – we are at 4 tables still – have your fill and see what we can come away with. Hopefully it will be just an appitiser for more to follow in seasons to come – this team is young enough to be together for quite a while yet

  21. Hi Andrey. Do you use hair gel??? If you do what type do you use?? What’s your favorite hairstyle??? I ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ your hair?
    AA:
    I don’t have an ad contract with any hair gel producer. I use water before the game. A lot depends on water chemical composition

  22. Last one:

    28. From 72994 356791
    Why football? There are so many other kinds of sports, but, of course, football is the best. You’re just great and all the girls in our class are just crazy about you! Your true fan.
    Arshavin: I started off playing checkers. When I realized that I won’t be able to become an International Grand Master, I had to leave it for football.

  23. Sorry… this really is the last one:

    3. From 241,984
    Hi, Andrey! I’ve got a question for you: I’ve seen TV reports about speed eating contests (for example, in Germany they eat hot dogs and wash them down with beer). Would you dare to speed-eat a lot of chocolate cakes?
    Sincerely, Lena
    Arshavin: I can afford to buy a lot of chocolate cakes and eat them calmly, without any fuss and contests at home 😉

  24. Jesus Christ – I just watched the Jack V Barca video (thanks KS) I mean seriously, Jesus. Fuck.

  25. LOL Limpare – priceless from Arshavin.

  26. Steww – I think think the best thing about Li’l Jack is that he’s a Gooner through and through. The fact that he’s a diehard Arsenal supporter gives him an edge and attitude. He knows he’s playing for his rightful place in history.

    I think the next thing for him is to start racking up the goals.

    And as someone mentioned on Wednesday after the game: Mario Balotteli – meet Mr. Jack Wilshere.

  27. AA23 is a farkin nut job, no doubt.

  28. Jack will be a captain of Arsenal and England in the future and be the heart beat of both. If the Don uses him properly for england, like we do, and allow him to express himself, while still remaining disciplined in his defensive duties, he will solve the long standing problem of ‘lampard or gerrard but not both’ – how about neither!! Jack will do it soon enough for them both

  29. was that alcy gazza doing that at 19 .. hahaha .. you must be ‘avin a giraffe..

    kosKOSkosKOSkosKOSkosKOSkosKOSkosKOSkosKOSkosKOSkosKOSkosKOSkosKOS

  30. One quick point, Darius… and this is why I feel complacency isn’t going to be a factor these next few games… imagine you’re on the bench on a night like Wednesday. Gibbs, Denilson, Chamakh, Rosicky… guys like that are going to be more determined than ever to put a shift in whenever they’re next picked to start… to push for inclusion in big nights to come… and to put their shoulder to the wheel and help the squad and the fans win every game they’re involved in. I can see this result doing wonders for the whole squad, the fans… the whole club has had a lift.

  31. Great post Darius. Couldn’t agree more. I was watching the match on RTE (Irish National Television). The pundits were Johnny Giles (who I met a few years ago in a Dublin hotel and when I introduced myself as an Arsenal fan he told me “nobodys perfect”) so the drivel he came out about Arsenal was hardly surprising, I have to say ably aided by Eamonn (up The Mancs) Dunphy. All they talked about was how Barca had taken the foot off the pedal and Arsenal had no chance in the second leg. It was so bad, believe it or not I turned over to messers Townsend and Southgate!!

  32. Who the fuck is Tony Cascarino ?

  33. agreed LA..

  34. Holy cack balls! I’m just listening to the guardian podcast and one of the hosts just apologised to Wilshire and Arsenal!!

  35. Imagine Gareth Southgate vs. Messi…

  36. well Keown saiad in the paper today that the emergance of Chesney would only be worth it if we win a trophy this year. I dont get the logic here? Am i missing something?

  37. A word of advice on media reports and punditry on Arsenal. Please treat as per adverts in the all media for “winter sale” or “value get-aways” or “great new collection of urban hits of 90s”. Do you read those ads and tear yourself apart and say ‘lies, lies, damn lies’ (which they are). No. You ignore it as the pig swill to attract the masses like cannon fodder to consume for the benefit of the power and profit of the corporate thieving bastards who ruin the world. Later you dance in Tahrir Square but that’s another story.

    I am seldom or never annoyed any longer by any media on Arsenal, and quite a few other things I hold dear, because I don’t expect fairplay; in fact I expect the opposite. When the rare fair article or commentary on Arsenal and what it’s about appears, I am pleasantly surprised and take note.

    There is a lot more to come in the war of words. Steel yourself.

  38. And i also think Barca players live in deniel. ” we were the best team” says Xavi. Well obviousley you were not! Cos if you were you would win.
    I think they are all shellshocked they can lose to a team that plays their own game.

  39. Great post Darius, well said.

    After reading some media reports it appears that we had 30% possession, 10 passes, no shots on goal, were chasing shadows the whole match. Whilst Barcelona has 70% possession, 100 attempts on goal, 100, 000 passes and should have won 10-0.

    I watched the match again last night on AVTO. Barca had a good 20 minute spell in the 1st half. It was NOT the 45 minute spell touted by the media. They did breech our lines on 4 or 5 occasions – sure. But, scarce mention is made of 2 gilt edged chances by VP, and the near miss by VP from the cross by Cesc. I think we can be sharper than that, and we can improve our chances in the away leg by not giving away the ball so cheaply after winning it back, which we did on quite a few occasions in the 1st half.

    2nd – half. Again a myth that Barca dominated until the 75th minute.

    I hope we have Sagna back in the return leg. And Nasri will be more match sharp by then.

  40. Even better imagine Cahill against Messi.

    This is why pundits aren’t managers, and managers who end up pundits can’t stay managers

  41. Limpar – I agree.

    Also, I think that the squad players will know that they have a critical job when called upon during rotation or to cover for injury and suspension. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t play Barca and are picked for Orient. They will know that their contribution is critical to keeping the momentum and they will have played their part in getting the team home.

    Just changing subject – Iwas thinking at half time – what if Wenger had everyone fit and played a different system as a tactical change in different matches. Just to get the opposition flumoxed.

    Imagine a 3-5-2 offensive system that morphs into a 5-4-1 defensively when we don’t have the ball – and to play from the back:

    Koscielny, Djourou, Vermaelen
    Sagna, Wilshere, Cesc, Nasri, Clichy
    Arshavin, Van Persie

    Sagna and Clichy to actually play as wingbacks.

    I was just thinking – maybe a change like that tactically when needed might change things – but then again, there’s a reason why I don’t work for the Arsenal coaching staff – LOL! Who says that will work.

    Besides, we literally attack in a 3-1-6 formation.

  42. i have to admit that during preseason when we didnt buy a gk i was still supporting AW but wasnt very optimistic over this season until we beat man shitty 3-0 after that it has been a meteoric rise up to this point and with miyaichi, lansbury, silva, JET, gibbs, botelho and frimprong still to make their mark into a team that has arleady beaten barca! without debt and with the avg age of our team this decade is gona be magnificent. gunners against the world baby (and the world’s about to bend over)!!!!

  43. The little rats at Farca are coming out in force in the media. Chavvy calling the result an “accident” and that they were “much better” than us. ” they got lucky with 2 goals on the counter” Villa claimed.

    First of all our first goal was not a counter attack. It was an individual bit of brilliance by our best player. Clichy put an exquissite ball over the defence and Robin dispatched it expertly. In that moment were were better than FC Barcellona.

    The second was a counter attack, but they had 3 defenders and their keeper ahead of play the moment the ball was curled into the net by Arshavin. The passing that preceeded it was fast and under tight situation, representative of not only speed of thought, technique and understanding between a teams players but also courage and belief. The choice of finish was the only one that would have yielded a goal which took calm to commit to and technique to execute. In this passage of play we were better than FC Barcellona. They were powerless to prevent a goal.

    The only clear miss I remember for them is the Messi one at 0-0. They had other opportunities to score or play someone else in but it was either exellently defended by us OR provided by uncharacteristically sloppy mistakes such as giving the ball away outside our box. If we can iron out those mistakes we have a fantastic chance at Camp Nou.

    We know that, not only will we get a chance to score there, we will get several. If we can take one or more it will make life very difficult indeed for Barca. As someone wrote on here yesterday, there is a big difference between being able to score four and having to score four which is the situation Barca will be in should we bag a couple of goals.

    They are scared of us it’s clear. Lets show them that we are better than them over 2 legs.

  44. i had to switch over too JD, i couldnt listen to those cnuts net give any credit whatsoever to the arsenal – it was barca who let us win it and not our own endeavors. Plus did you notice the commentary was a second quicker than the action – he was calling passes to players and shots like he was some sort of oracle – done my bulb in so it did.

  45. It’s very telling watching the ‘Jack video’ that Cesc rarely had less than a triangle of Barca players around him (sometimes more, a square, even). I suspect they underestimated Wilshire and the return leg could get very interesting as they must surely realise they have to put as many players on Jack as Cesc.

    I predict 0-1 (Song, 40th minute).

  46. Agree Deano, Barca only had 3 clear chances to score: the Messi miss, the goal, and the offside. Let them feign indignation, there is still a battle to come

  47. Not even thinking about the return leg – theres a little matter of progression in the FA cup – hopefully clawing back some points on Man Utd in the league ( 2 tough but really winnable games) and hopefully The Cesc lifting his first trophy as El Capitan

  48. Yes, I noticed thast Diese. I thought he had come over all prescient or at least had huge faith in our players.

    You cant help but love AA, can you. What a wit.

    I imagine it was actually Limpar asking him about the hair gel if truth be told.

  49. Busted. I do ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Arshavin.

    ZimPaul, that attitude is gold dust. It’s like Cb was saying in the summer. You’ve just got to laugh… and I do try to, but I must try to be more zen about the whole thing I think. Or more Zim about the whole thing perhaps. Even better.

  50. @ Darius
    “What happened this week was monumental for the simple reason that the mother of all psychological barriers was shattered by this team; and it was shattered with a spirited performance that dared anyone to question what this team was capable of.”
    Absolutely the most important thing about the win on Weds night.

    “This team has earned the right and the goodwill to be supported unequivocally and unconditionally for the remainder of this campaign.”
    Too right. And, I would add, what would be the point of NOT doing so? Supporters and players have a symbiotic relationship and they need our backing in order to perform at their best.

    Regarding the press and plundits, I did notice a lot of repositioning and revision in articles that were produced yesterday, as opposed to those that had been prepared before Weds night. But I have given up being outraged. On Wednesday morning, before the game, I even greeted with a wry smile the patronising opinion that “Sp*rs showed us the way” by beating AC Milan (you wonder where all these people have been for the last 14 years!)

    We really should laugh at them. There is a lot of comedy in this for us in the way that Chiles and co try to stick to their scripts. Henri Bergson in “Le Rire” tried to analyse and define humour and one of his definitions was that we laugh when someone is observed to be acting like a machine, ie failing to respond to a new situation and carrying on as if there has been no change. In that sense, Chiles and co are machines. Comedy machines.

    Whatever “they” say, our time is now.

    ****
    @ Limpar Assist
    I agree about the effect on the “second team”. They will all want to put themselves in the frame for Barca second leg and to play a full part in what could be an historic season for the club.

  51. Really it will be difficult away at Barca, and we mustn’t delude ourselves that one match alters the entire balance of power. What is clear is that we go in 2-1 up, that’s it, but knowing we can create and score, at least another.
    Barca then need to score 3 to be sure this doesn’t go to extra time, and they will be going for that. They are perfectly capable of that. The difference is that they are playing a team superior to that they played last season, and are still quite bemused about all this. If they come out trying to ‘murder’ us becaue the last result was an ‘accident’ they will lose this tie, I am quite certain. If they are exceptionally hard-working as well as clinical and calculating about how to neutralise Arsenal, they can win. For us if we keep our concentration extremely high we can win, and away to Barca this will be the challenge. Our tactics worked. We created more chances and won.

    The thing is … the thing is … I don’t think they have a plan except to play their game (faster, better etc), and we play ours. What emerged from the home tie was that by the nature of their offense, they need 6 sometimes 7 players high up the field, close to each other, I mean these guys attack and defend in numbers; and so if they lose the ball, there are gaps behind their midfield and we are much faster and we are fit, they really missed Puyol who almost Kos-like in his anticipation. If they alter their attacking formation, they blunt their attack to some degree.

    When we doused the flames in the middle, by reducing the gap between our mid and defensive lines, and increasing mobility, a lot of their threat came through the flanks, but none amounted to much, a few half almost chances.

    Should we score early, like they did, oh la la … Ultimately, this might come down to basics, fitness and hunger; in which case I would favour Arsenal.

  52. No one seems to have mentioned Eboue, not a bad deputy for Sagna.

    Darius vipi?

    Kiutch that is the same pundit who said Cesc wasnt good enough for Barca before the game,I was so angry i switched the channel and didnt even go back there for the game!!

  53. This ‘yes we can’ stuff? Not sure about it really. Horrible political speak. I just think we are going to fucking stuff everybody this season….and as supporters we had better start getting our arses into gear.

    ….Arsenal….

  54. I have a feeling a key player away might be Song. Their key players will be Abidal, who is excellent, Messi, Villa and Iniesta (who seemed not quite at his best).

  55. The comments by Xavi, Villa and Pep are actually good. It means they don’t have an ounce of humility and think it is a fluke. Let them think that so we can beat them on their own turf and teach them a lesson. Xavi made me laugh the most when he said: “we lost because we did not convert the countless goalscoring opportunity”. Well Mr Xavi some people counted them and you had actually less shot and shot on target than us so you can eat your word! Pep has also a good sense of humour when he said the refs decisions influenced greatly the game. He mentionned the goal disallowed, well Pep I thought you would know the offside rule because messi was offside! He said they should have got a penalty awarded for a foul on Pedro. Surely he is not speaking about the moment Pedro handled the ball in the area and jumped to the ground when Kaiser Kosc came close to him!

    I cannot wait for the return leg to hear another great piece of comedy by the catalans after we beat them at their own game on their own turf!

  56. Let’s hope we don’t go all flat against Leyton Orient. I mean it wouldn’t be the first time. We must be careful. I’m sure we will.

  57. LOL Frank….- I suppose it’s OK to say it any which way that makes it clear that we will win by a country mile.

    @Firstlady – Safi. Have you recovered from your trauma after Arshavin’s goal?

  58. @FunGunner – great points you have there.

    I truly think that the biggest prize is the scaling of the mental barrier. And like ZimPaul suggests, it’s not going to be easy in the second leg, but the team bnw rightfully believe that they can do it. The pressure is on them and we need to aim for that away goal and take it from there.

    Domestically, the media may refuse to budge, but the other teams have noticed.

  59. clockend@rider.com

    Todays Telegrapph is a real treat. Putting Tottenham’s victory against Milan up on a par with Arsenal’s. Totally laughable. That’ll be the Milan who, when we beat them a few years ago were just a load of old men on the way down. Has Gattuso got younger? What about Nesta? Now suddently, Milan are as good as Barca.
    Same old press; Determined that the facts and reasoned analysis shouldn’t be an obstacle for a vacuous, lazy, talentless hack writing crap to fill space and meet a deadline.

  60. It’s kinda fun switching from one competition to another. We should do this more often. “Hey man, who’s up next week?”. “Not too sure, I think it’s an FA thing, maybe CC”. “Naw CC is the following week, when’s the next PL”. “Dunno, after the next CL away thingy I think, or before maybe”.

  61. @Goonerluc – Guardiola should pray that he never encounters Phil Daud and his ilk in their element. Barca would never know how to react.

  62. Yep. Four competitions adds up to a country mile in my book, Darius.

    Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal…..Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenaaaaal….Arsenal,Arsenal, Arsenal….Arsenal….ARSENAL

  63. http://totallycoolpix.com/2011/02/champions-league-arsenal-barcelona/

    Some moar pic from da game! I particularly like pics 1, 17 and 26

  64. Very nice pictures, Gadget, especially No.1

  65. Delia---Block 112

    I’m still in wonderland but trust the boys are now focused on the weekend. Do hope AW doesn’t make too many changes for Sunday, we can’t afford another Ipswich! What sort of side do you think he will put out in the FA Cup? Any news on injuries?
    As always COYRs

  66. Great Post !!

    First time reader, and I enjoyed it a lot !!

    A perfect add on to my everyday Arsenal reading mornings !

    Take Care !!

  67. Great post Isaac. I’d hoped you pick out this latest ArseSnubing by the media to write your post on.

    Some great points raised, Oh how the media had already made their minds up.
    Wasn’t it great to highlight their lazy, unprofessional effort of commentry.

    As mentioned above by numerous people Chiles is clueless. At half time when his smug little round head came on I very nearly had to make a quick trip to dixons. It’s flabergasting how the media always manages to apply it’s double standards and it’s undermining of Arsenal.

    I foolishly, at the final whistle thought, finally the team will ram poor opinion back down the throats of the brainless hacks. How I was wrong.

    Still who gives a fuck, soon we’ll have trophies and we’ll cut their negativity off at the knees. What will they base the Wenger hate on then? Perhaps they’ll be forced to go with the headlines that articulate the real reason behind the Anti-Arsenal media campaign. Something along the lines of…

    ARSENAL IN FRENCHY FRENCHY FOREIGN FROGGY, NOT PLAYING OUR WAY SHOCKER!!

    I wont say ‘come of age’ or ‘our time’, as in my eyes as the team has proven their metal to the fans that count at least a year ago. But I will say that finally we have managed to combat our poor luck with a squad deeper and more equiped than any other the premiership has seen. A squad that isn’t supplemented by average players. Literally any player in the squad can come onto the pitch and do their job without any need for concern from the ‘faithful fan’. This squad is competing on all fronts and WILL win trophies this season. And from there things will snowball. This squads medal haul could easily surpass that of the core of the Man Utd squad over the last ten years. We just needed that one push to get the confidence high and the team soaring. Barca were the casualties in that happening and in three weeks we’ll finish the job!

    All the faithful unwavering fans from this blog, and everywhere else will be holding their heads high. Just a few months now and we’ll be the true fucking kings of football.

  68. Almunia

    Sagna
    Squillachi
    Koscienly
    Gibbs

    Denilson
    Wilshere
    Rosicky

    Bendtner
    Chamakh
    AA

  69. Darius, Trauma ? that was the perfect reaction to that game, unladylike but perfect for that moment! 🙂 I’d be glad to react that way anytime we beat Barca and whoever is on our way on the grand march to the trophies!

  70. Hmm, some of my posts are not appearing??

  71. Goonerandy – maybe you’re posting the same thing several times? It’ll be flagged as spam.

    @Firstlady – I hear you. I don’t think you’re the only one who lost the lplt. I went home wearing the beer I was supposed to be drinking. Somewhere in between RVP scoring and Arshavin hitting the net, I must have dropped all the drinks on our table and couldn’t give a damn about who I pissed off….

  72. ** lost the plot **

  73. Darius – No mate, I just posted some mundane stuff about the team for the weekend. Only the once as well. Maybe my ancient work PC is to blame?

  74. My poor cat nearly ended up on the other side of the room when AA scored. The fool had started creeping closer to me as the match went on. He really should know better by now.

  75. Darius I have a vision of you scrapping in boozers now. throwing beers over everyone. “Cooooommmmeeee OOOOONNNNN!” Like a north london brave heart. Haha.

  76. I can see your post, goonerandy. Sometimes one’s own computer doesn’t show them. No idea why.

    ****
    @ Delia
    I hope AW *does* make a lot of changes, because the players from Weds will be knackered and the others need a game. They will be massively motivated to do well. We have a big squad and thsi is where it comes in handy. If the team (however constituted) remembers that they have to turn up, accept the pressure of being favourites and show proper respect to Leyton Orient, we will be fine.

  77. Fun – Ah, OK. Cheers.

  78. ELS – if it wasn’t for the fact that the pub landlord was a good friend of one of the folks on our table – I would have definitely been thrown out. It wasn’t just the jumping around oblivious of the drinks or people around me – it was the screaming and shouting and cursing…LOL!.

    And I was also looking for the Spud and Manc supporting c*nts who had been waxing lyrical all night about BBB – as I just wanted to personally tell them to f*ck off. Nothing personal I might add.

    I found them on the other end of the pub.

  79. Excellent post. What a win, one of the best games of football I have seen and probably the game of the season – in all competitions!

    When I sneaked a glance at the time and saw 44 minutes I wondered where the 1st half went. The second went even quicker!

    We all know this team had character, but Wednesday night was something else. It will go down as one of the greatest victories recorded by any Arsenal team. Such a shame the media can’t enjoy the party too, this Barcelona team is so good it is a huge credit to Wenger and our lads we managed to compete and by playing attacking football. The bravery we demonstrated to attack whenever we had the chance shows how much desire we have to continue playing attractive attacking football. I know Barcelona are great in possession, but some of the attacking moves we pulled off were breath taking to say at the least.

    Arshavin’s goal will remain in my memory for a very very long time. It was the perfect goal. We have done similar against lesser teams, but to do it when under heavy pressure from the best team on the planet shows clearly this Arsenal team means business. Its an even bigger shame for those Arsenal supporters who up until wednesday night didn’t realise the quality and ambition this team has.

  80. I think andy’s got the line-up… though I would say Alex will start ahead of Jack cos Jack must be aching like a bastard and Alex only played sixty odd minutes. He’s not injured is he? Games like this I wish Henri and Craig and Aaron were available.

  81. Haha Darius, that sounds like quite a night. Were you a little worse for wear the next day by any chance?

  82. @LA
    “Games like this I wish Henri and Craig and Aaron were available.”

    Not to mention Diaby. Grrrrr.

  83. Bradys right foot

    We have more immediate pressing concerns however one thing is crystal clear regarding the second leg we can score at any time. On the break we were devastating against Barca which culminated in a magnificent second but had seen us in positions were we could easily have scored three before that. As our much maligned high line could prove fatal against Barca the room they leave in behind and the pace Arsenal have should be as much a concern for the Catalans. Looking forward to the SuperOs but to be honest I’m worried about Stoke not the result but I fully expect to see one or two of our player “done”.

  84. That’s even more annoying, FG. Diablo was just getting warmed up.

    Ah well, I’m looking forward to seeing Rosicky, Denilson, Gibbs and Chamakh back in action. Been too long!

  85. Be tempted to play Song in defence along with Squilaci and give the other lads a well deserved break.

  86. Limpar – Right you are about Song/Wilshere.

  87. Els – worse for wear is an understatement.

    I had a presentation yesterday and was only lucky that the client’s husband is also an Arsenal fan and she could totally understand why I was so giddy and totally not focussed. I was late in the first place – which I blamed on celebrating late into the night. The client had actually opted to spend the night at her sisters because her husband and friends had taken over her house to watch the game.

    Needless to say – the contract was nailed – and it was only because I swung the Arsenal story and used the story about how Wenger has developed Arsenal and the vision he has followed. She was convinced that if I can articulate such a powerful vision very passionately and have total belief as a supporter despite all the challenges – then I can most definitely do the job they want.

  88. What a bullshitting bastard!

    Nothing personal Darius.

  89. “Arshavin’s goal will remain in my memory for a very very long time. It was the perfect goal. We have done similar against lesser teams, but to do it when under heavy pressure from the best team on the planet shows clearly this Arsenal team means business. Its an even bigger shame for those Arsenal supporters who up until wednesday night didn’t realise the quality and ambition this team has.” – Chris G

    Quoted for truth! Everytime I see that goal, I’m grinning like a Cheshire. You just knew we were gonna score as soon as Cesc got free to ping the ball to Nasri

  90. The second half of that match was possibly the best event not only of my life as an Arsenal supporter, but as a sports fan period. Such joy and catharsis after Arshavin scored – I’ve saved the match on my DVR so I can watch it whenever I choose, along with Martin Tyler’s call (which sealed the deal for me).

    There are many things about being an Arsenal supporter in the United States that are annoying – matches interfering with work, the fact that 90% of football fans over here run with United or Chelsea (maybe an exaggeration, but it doesn’t feel like one) – but one of the underrated pleasures is the fact that the match ended at around 5:30 over here. Which, of course, meant I had several extra hours on Wednesday evening with which to celebrate. Not too bad.

  91. Cesc’s pass was the best pass I have seen this season. It was perfect.

  92. Nasri’s wasn’t too shabby either.

  93. Is Diaby definately out for Sunday?
    How about Eboue RB and maybe Sagna CB ??
    or Song CB and Eboue into midfield – just some thoughts

  94. Nasri’s was good, and not as easy as it looked. AA way coming in a pace from the toucline so it had to be just right. But Cesc’s, one touch, outisde of the boot, perfectly split their defence, and inch perfect into Nasri’s path. The vision is jaw dropping.

  95. All the passes to that goal were perfect Andy but his and Nasri’s were “bestest”.lol

  96. LOL Consols…you’ll be surprise how much bs can grease you through a frigging tight door. Naturally – you still have to deliver the substance once you’ve been greased through.

  97. It’s squillaci and Koscielny this weekend. Djourou has a back knack.

  98. Long black why would we play sagna CB? i thought that’s why we have Squillaci.

  99. It’s in French, but some seriously fantastic analysis of our 2nd:

  100. Play players in their positions. You can’t go far wrong.

  101. apparently jack asked Cesc to get go to the barca dressing room and get him messi’s shirt..

    http://yfrog.com/gy57ubej

  102. Always a pleasure reading this blog. Great article and comments. I had to second the idea that “Its an even bigger shame for those Arsenal supporters who up until wednesday night didn’t realise the quality and ambition this team has”. To me the last five years, though frustrating and infuriating at times, have been one of the most interesting and rewarding period s of my 40 years as an Arsenal supporter. Watching our club navigate choppy financial waters during a time when pundits thought we were in deep crisis, seeing young players develop (and other young players not develop – it is all part of the cycle), and seeing a whole new side grow from infancy, through puberty, and now suddenly, before our very eyes, into what is very close to full maturity, all of it has been nothing less than a wild and wonderful ride on Monsieur Wenger’s crazy rollercoaster.

    The fans who have spent the best part of the last five years complaning have missed out on an extraordinary voyage. As they always say, it isnt the destination that is important, but the voyage. I feel sorry for those Arsenal fans that have missed out on this voyage.

  103. Plumbing job was it, Darius?

  104. Frank – I suppose you could get away with calling it a plumbing job. It involves getting a lot of people to remove a lot of shit and work in a better way.

  105. Hi 1st Lady (any other interested parties) – To rest Kos, so Sagna CB with Squillaci.
    Stoke on Weds we have to play Kos & JD (if fit) & then again on the Sunday for the CC.
    Thought Kos (as did everyone) was immense on Weds night but it must have taken a lot out of him, Sunday seems a good game to rest him as can`t see any games coming up that we won`t need/want him for.
    We have played Sagna in the centre before and I think when we signed him it was mooted he could play anywhere along the back-line but more comfortable on the right.
    LongBlack sounds like a coffee

  106. effortless player ..

    safe passer and retains posession wonderfully I dont think he took one shot all game but I don’t suppose anyone would question him for frequently passing sideways and backwards..

    oh the beautiful world of football duplicity and double standards..

  107. Kos will be fine. CB’s (in general) don’t cover as much ground as the rest of the team, so whilst it was a tough game he should be OK. CB’s should not really be rotated IMO (injuries and suspensions permitting). We should not take Sunday lightly, it is a game we should win, but as we have already prven this year, any game we think is a “gimmie” we are more than capable of cocking up.

    You would hope our CB’s will have a quiet time on Sunday. If they don’t, then the decision to play Kos will have been vindicated anyway.

  108. Still glowing since Wednesday. In my part of the world I have no Gooner to relate with so ACLF has to do. You guys have done a good job, especially Darius’ post, exposing the disrespect and hypocrisy of the English press towards this fantastic achievement by AW and the players. Before the game they gave us no chance, up to the 8oth minute they had already mailed in their arse-licking reports of Barca’s superiority and at the end after 90 minutes, even with the help of their sub-editors, their blatant bias and inaccurate reporting was still in plain view.
    One observation: While we are demanding/beseeching unity it is pretty obvious in many of the usually AAA blogs is they have gone from one extreme to the other. There is a reactionary element in our support and among our enemies who are now trashing Barca’s possession game as if our victory is a justification for anti-football. To the contrary, it was our spirit and persistence in playing football and Barcelona’s inability to sustain their 1st half pressure which turned the tide. But we must be concerned that that technically they were able to retain superior possession and outpass us. Many, especially Zim Paul, have observed how vulnerable we were when we lost possession of the ball especially with careless passes and poor positioning. If we can improve in these two areas in the return tie, that together with our indomitable spirit and our experience in fighting the odds in the PL, we should be able to sustain our advantage and make it to the next round.

  109. What a difference not having Gallas at the back made. we got them cunts running scared now, they know we can hit them on the break out there and score anytime.

  110. Paul C,
    Agree about the extraordinary voyage this team has taken in the last 5 years.. The voyage has been like a rollercoaster ride for me with fewer downs than ups..

  111. Darius | February 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    Darius you smooth bugger.

  112. Headline: Arsene Wenger: Arsenal can win quadruple

    Actual words: “We are hungry for success,”
    “Every time we go out we just want to win the next game.
    “I personally believe we go for every single competition to the end.
    “We have the hunger and the talent and are committed.”

    More tip-top journalism, which will no doubt be repeatendlessly until adopted and accepted as the truth, then used to beat us if we don`t .
    Cesc threw pizza at ferguson, manure claimed to have a proof but they never presented it, just keep repeating the allegation until accepted and reported by the press as true.
    Tony Blair never said he watched Jackie Milburn but it still trotted out as a truth, I`ve watched the interview he doesn`t say it – he mentions him but not in the context of having seen him play.
    F£%%ng British press

  113. It is ironic; much of the critisism directed at Barca in the wake of last night, is the exact same critisism that has been directed at us for years. Nice possesion, nice passing, not enough end product.

  114. Nick Dennis or Mick dennis whatever the fuck his name is , said, forget the result it was a joy to watch barca play beautiful football, possession football. thats what we all wanted to see. but yes when we do it weekend in weekend out its just pretty but no end product. so what do the english media want? hard tackles and gritt or lovely possession football?

  115. The silliest bit I read so far was in this morning’s Metro. Adam Gibbon (or similar, basically saying how Arsenal vs Barca bored him because it was all tippy-tappy and no route-one. I know he was trying to be funny, but he then goes on to say that Jack Wilshere was given a free run, that he didn’t misplace a pass because he didn’t have it in the back of his mind that someone could come through the back of him at any moment like he does in the premiership. I know, I know… he’s on a wind-up trying to have a laugh but really, the whole thing was just embarrassingly out of touch with the modern game and just made me think – what a complete tosser.

  116. Oop… I dropped one of these ).

  117. Nice tweeting between Cesc and Jack..
    Cesc: Can’t believe I had to go to get Messi’s shirt for you. U were scared!

    Jack: You’re the Skipper mate, you should look after your players:-)

  118. It’s particularly unfunny in the buildup to the Stoke game, LA. Not looking forward to that one.

  119. I am not looking forward to Stoke away. If we have a ref like Swayed-by-the-crowd Dowd up there we could be leaving in a fleet of ambulances… but at home it’s a different story. The crowd will be right on the ref’s back at the first sign of them trying to stick one on us. It’s too important not be now. I’ll be there on Wednesday and will make sure to keep everyone around me on their toes and right in the ref’s ear. If Stoke come out to hurt us they could find themselves a couple of players down inside half an hour and then utterly fucked. It’s too high profile now… they’ll have to be very careful. You can only get away with complete Dowd-like daylight sabotage away from home. ……surely.

  120. I hope Andy Wilkinson doesn’t play. That guy shits me right up.

  121. OK, I’m going to express my terror and then not mention it again. Look at Zubar on RvP the other day – that would have been a red anywhere on the planet against any team but Arsenal. Barton got away with one against Diaby, and got him sent off to boot – standards are slipping when it comes to dangerous play against us and I’m worried if it’s going to give a team like Stoke an incentive.

    As for English refs, I’ve got no faith in them at all. How many ridiculous decisions have we suffered since the New Year – from nearly everything that happened in the second half at Newcastle, to Halsey and Dowd rewriting the rule book against Ipswich and Everton? Whether it’s home and away we can still count on the officials making one big f*ck up per game.

    And that’s all before we start thinking about the possible intentions of a throwback like Tony Pulis.

    Now I’ve said it I’ll shut up because I know it’s morbid.

  122. Hey Darius – great post…and as always thanks.

    As far as the obvious bias in the news…I love it! Let them expose themselves.
    For ourselves? Let our faith be strong.

  123. I have a suspicion that Stoke will not want to kick Arsenal off the park next Wednesday, Big Al.

  124. I read some drivel last night, on a left-leaning paper’s website, about Song not being good enough and fumbling way out-of-his-depth against Barca. What B.S.! Anyone with an ounce of brain between their heads, can see, that after Song’s unfortunate, early booking, he was treading carefully on egg shells.

    Regarding Messrs Townsend & Southgate. Andy Townsend and Gareth Southgate were average players without any discernible, technical abilities in their day. In today’s terms, the comical duo would struggle to get into any EPL teams. The latter, I remember was a feeble and scrawny defender constantly shoved to the ground by forwards who (in his words) ‘showed British grit’.

    Both played in mediocre teams and neither won a silverware of note. Southgate’s managerial career, was as notable as his now infamous Euro 96 penalty miss. And ooh, they give him a fancy role as ‘FA’s head of elite development’ (whatever that means). What glowing credentials does he or the other troll above possess to snare at us?

  125. “Possession football enables you to control the flow of the game but it’s penetrative football that wins you matches.”

    Stewart Robson, talking about the Wolves match, but it applies to the Barca game too.

  126. @ BS
    Odd, isn’t it? But Southgate is perennially popular – he just has a reputation as a good bloke. That can take you a long way.

  127. Troopers!

    The high I’ve been on, ever since Wednesday’s heroics, has yet to abate. So confident am I, that I willing to name our probable line-up two days ahead, against our next opponents, without any fear.

    Almunia; Sagna/Eboue, Squillaci, Miquel, Gibbs; Eboue/Song, Denilson, Rosicky; Arshavin, Chamakh, Bendtner

    Subs:
    Szczesny/Shea, Clichy, Koscielny, Song/Eboue, Walcott, Fabregas, RvP,

    That is still a pretty strong line-up against Leyton Orient, in my opinion. And at the same time enabling our core participants from Wednesday night’s epic, plenty of recuperation time, for the upcoming mid-week Stoke game & Carling Cup final days later.

    Interested to know what others think about my line-up.

  128. You talk like you’ve kidnapped one of his relatives, Frank. I hope you have.

    Back up just one sec – Southgate was a pretty cultured defender, and won a lot of caps for England when we had some strong competition at CB. England haven’t produced much in any other position, but we’ve been quite good at defenders over the last 20 years or so.

    Townsend was utter shit.

  129. I stand corrected, OOU.

  130. Of course it’s just my opinion, FG, but I just realised that to praise Southgate is to stand up for ITV, so I take it all back anyway.

  131. Fantastic post, Darius. I am looking forward to Goonerdom coming together behind this team–I think it is in fact happening. I must agree with Shotta though that the lesson is not that we can beat Barcelona by playing anti-football. Arsene said it best: it is in fact an endorsement of our philosophy and way we play. We didn’t park the bus. It is a concern that Barca can out pas and keep the ball, and we could do a bit better keeping possession.

    I hope we don’t have a let down now from the lofty empyrean heights of CL first leg victory over glamorous Barcelona to the agricultural work of dispatching Stoke and winning our FA cup match over humble Orient. That can happen. I expect that hostile and miserable types like Pulis and Shawcross want to take a special pleasure in smearing mud over the shine our recent accomplishment. No doubt there are refs who are still looking to punish us and would delight in doing so right now to “put us in our place,” as it were. These will be tricky times because we aren’t under the radar any longer.

    It’s even clearer now than before: We are the only salvation. Alas, but some wretches would prefer damnation than to admit it.

  132. Back of the wagon. Gaffer tape. You don’t need to know any more, Big Al.

  133. Borges Spinelli @ 5:28pm,

    Completely share your logic ( a logic, I might add, that seems to have been backed up by Arsene in his pre-match interview) and agree that that’s the team – more or less – that I would like to see start on Sunday.

  134. @ OneOfUs | February 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    ha ha

  135. @ Borges Spinelli
    I think that’s a good shout but I suspect the team will be even stronger than that.

    Almunia
    Sagna/Eboue (sharing) Squillaci Kos Gibbs
    Denilson Rosicky
    Fabregas
    Bendtner Chamakh Arshavin

    Subs: Chesney Miquel Clichy Song Eboue/Sagna, Nasri RvP

  136. @OneOfUs

    Southgate was ok at best, for his home-grown generation. Nothing spectacular. He was nowhere on the same level as Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Laurent Blanc, Marcele Desailly and co..

    @FunGunner

    Nice guy, he might be. Shamefully disrespectful he has been to Arsenal with his comments. Not a nice move.

    @Dgob

    It seems the most logical, considering the 3 games in 7 days, and the small matter of the 2nd leg at Camp Nou, 8 days thereafter. I wouldn’t want key players injured due to over-exertion, prior to then. Surely against Orient, would be the perfect and most pragmatic way of initiating Señor Miquel into our 1st team set-up.

  137. Great post Yogi. Fully agree with Consolsbob in that Darius is a total bullshitter!! 🙂 On a different note, I came across this quote today from none other than Robbie Savage :

    On Mathieu Flamini, Savage added: “He was a weak link whenever I played him at Arsenal and must be the luckiest footballer in the world to have got a move to a great club like Milan with such modest talents. I doubt he’ll play for another big club once his contract expires.”

    Now that’s gotta hurt!!!

  138. What an all round splendid fellow Arsene Wenger is. The time he gives to the press and media before and after every game is exemplary. What a star.

  139. Djourou could be back v. orient. Sitting watching the Barca game again, will never get tired of watching it to be honest.

  140. Hey people read this article and go scroll down to RockyLives comment – outstanding!

    http://mirkobolesan.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/perception-and-reality-arsenal-2-barcelona-1/#comment-570

  141. With Arshavin regaining his confidence & form; and Rosicky showing flashes of his once. lauded brillance (against Huddersfield, Everton and for Czech Rep), teamed up with an ever-confident Bendtner – i can’t see anything less than an Arsenal victory on the cards.

    Forgotten men, Chamakh & Denilson will undoubtedly be eager to prove their worth, inspired by their team-mates’ recent heroics.

  142. Djourou the Ox!

  143. i’ll put some money on goals from Nikki B and the little rush=in . hopefully we can put orient away quick and painlessly. i’m afraid of imagining the headlines if we draw or lose to Orient. fuckin media cunts

  144. Will Vermelen ever regain his 1st team spot from Monsieurs Koscielny
    and Djourou?

    Hmmm…

    These guys have done nothing to be dropped in my eyes. If anything, I
    suspect when fit, Vermelen will be No. 3 ’til the remainder of the
    season to the dynamic duo

  145. @borges I agree that Kos and DJ should be given a long, hopefully prosperous run as the starting CB’s. I am also sure that i will trust Arsene’s judgement if he does pick Vermelen over Dj or Kos. Personally i think Koscielney looks to be playing a similar role to Vermalen. Both like to push upfield and really hassle the attackers. I recall a moment in the match on wednesday where Koscieleny had sprinted into barcalona’s half and was chasing messi around until he finally poked the ball away and we won possession within 50 yards of their goal. Either way i love this team right now i don’t care who is out on the pitch, i will be pulling for them either way.

  146. Savage: “I’d love to know how committed Wilshere is to the club. It will be an interesting study into Arsenal DNA. Or has the whole Cesc story laid down a marker to show that we are now main players in the market and not a selling club?”

    Become one of his tweeps and you’ll find out how much he loves the club.

    Due to the stadium being built, the youth policy and crazy money being flung about, we cashed in on some assets when the chance arose. If we were a selling club we would’ve gotten rid of Cesc, Clichy and Song ages ago. Instead we got rid of Cashley, Hleb, Toure and Adebayor. Flamini doesn’t count as he was a free agent. Other than that we off loaded aging players like Vieira, Henry and Gilberto as per are over thirty policy. At the end of the day we made huge sums on players who were not going to take part in project youth. So, no, we were never really a selling club. The club were clearing the path for the team that we have at the moment.

  147. GA: “Cesc’s pass was the best pass I have seen this season. It was perfect.”

    Cesc’s pass was mind boggling. It reminded me of that pass he made in Germany 06 where he beat Saudi Arabia’s keeper and played Torres in perfectly. But in this game I’ll have to give best pass to Clichy. Given how tight the game was all over the pitch it took a scintillating pass to turn things around. Clichy did just that. His little dink put RVP in so well that we would’ve scored whether RVP did what he did or he crossed it to Bendtner. Personally, it was the best little chip I’ve seen in a long time. The weight, the pace and the position where he placed it were perfect.

    Honorable mentions go out to Nasri’s little left footed pass to find Arshavin, Wilshere’s one touch pass to Cesc in the build up for the second goal, Cesc’s outside of the foot pass to put Nasri through and Bendtner’s pass to wee Jack, which split Barca’s lines so well. Oh, and Koscielny was off the fucking chain with his passing. It’s like having Cesc at the back, he’s that good.

    By the way, his eminence, King Eboue was awesome against Barca. I hope Arsene plays him in the next leg. He suits our tactics well. This being said, Bacary would offer a defensive tenacity that will help us away from home. Wenger will have a headache deciding who plays at RB. I’m sure of that.

  148. Joey Barton is on the ESPN PFA Player of the Month list. Mindboggling. A choice that can only be explained by heavy use of hallucinogens or humor of the blackest kind. To quote Ren&Stimpy, ‘It is not I who am insane, it is they who are crazy!’

  149. It is true, a huge psychological barrier was passed – Top team… beaten ; It is true that a few local ghosts were exercised – Arshavin’s goal…return of his confidence?; It is true that a couple of players have made their mark – Koscielny/ Wilshere ….rise to the occasion and it is true that this team has come of age as a result.

    The logic runs, if you can beat the best in the world, you should be able to beat anyone and at this stage of the Trophy season that gives us four.

    We all know that that is unlikely to happen, probably for the reason that every team plays differently. If you have the wear withal to beat Barca on Wednesday, you may not have what it takes by Saturday to beat Birmingham, Stoke or Orient. They will all have to be beaten for who they are and we have to concentrate game by game. (that seems to have worked so far)

    This is a bit more controversial when you are riding so high: They are all important games, but only one of them connects us directly to silverware, the triple, or quadruple which is Birmingham. That is where I would be concentrating my firepower, followed by Stoke, followed Orient.

    What a season!

  150. Darius,

    No offence as I ordinarily enjoy reading your articles but I stopped reading this one after this comment: “The Comical Ali’s from the media and pundit circles shamelessly continue to tell us that what happened at the Emirates was a freak result and all would be corrected in the return leg.”

    I don’t know what media you follow but everywhere I look I have seen nothing but praise for Arsenal’s efforts. The praise for Jack Wilshire has been hyperbolic!!!

    Let’s not take the victimisation process to new levels. The media is generally not favourable to Arsenal but let us be balanced in our own assessment of them!

  151. Couldn’t disagree more Arse baggins. From the radio and print journos you would imagine we’d lost. The only praise we received was the kind of patronising ‘oooh isn’t it amazing that in a freak 15 minute comeback ickle wickle arsenal somehow stole two goals against the mighty real team of Barcelona – but don’t worry they’ll get hammered in the replay.’
    The BBC even said that Barca should have gone in 4 – 0 up at half time.

    Darius was actually measured, careful and modest in his assessment. Far from painting ourselves as victims we are drawing strength from the isolation and drawing together in a belligerent hatred of the lying scum-bags in the media.

  152. i could go on all day..
    but you get my point…

  153. yogi..it appears the theory you had the other night about rambo may have some substance to it..
    cardiff are looking into extending his deal…

  154. Dgob, did you actually read the whole article?

  155. Arse baggings what utter crap.

  156. hack. excuse me Mr Wenger ,can you win all 4 trophies
    Sir Wenger, we have a good chance and will go for all 4
    Hack headline. Wenger sensationally reckons Arsenal will win all 4 trophies.

  157. I read those pieces JonJon. Fair point.

    Why do you think that the Mirror journo expresses himself like this:

    “And you won’t see a better goal than their second by Andrey Arshavin. It was as good as Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick for me.

    I’d say it was even better than Rooney’s goal. People will say I’m mad but look at who it was against – and in the Champions League.”

    Why is this view mad? Why does he feel the need to ‘justify’ this perfectly fair opinion?

    I’ve never seen a better goal that AA’s. I don’t believe thatthat any goal is the best goal ever, just one of the best ever.

  158. arse baggins, bigging up Jack is the only thing the media have got excited about though isnt it, the english guy.

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