Should Arsene Be Wary Of The Age Gap?

A policy which he appeared to hold very dear is one that might help Arsene through the current trials and tribulations.

At Arsenal, once you hit the age of 30 a new contract was only forthcoming if you agreed to it being agreed on a rolling basis. That was fine for Dennis Bergkamp, not so good in the books of Robert Pires who understandably felt he was worth a first team place. His years at Villarreal suggested that he at least had a point worthy of discussion.

To Arsene, the key has been whether the older players will prevent the development of youth. To use his own word, “kill” them.

In some cases this might be true. Yet the manager has never fought shy of promoting youth and very few have been ahead of schedule. Jack Wilshere is most notable in that respect but his season has proved fruitful, the Young Player of the Year award well deserved.

Goodplaya notes in his post yesterday the following:

  1. 2010-2011: With 11 games to go the title was in our hands. We’ve won once in seven and now the title is gone
  2. 2009-2010: With seven games to go we were two points adrift. We won one of our next six and finished 11 behind Chelsea.
  3. 2007-2008: We were five points clear with 12 to play. We won one of our next eight.

There are extenuating circumstances such as injuries which need to be factored into these collapses in form, the squad system is designed to compensate for them.

In those situations, older heads might have kept calmer in certain matches, stopping runs developing. Yet there is evidence that this is not always the case, the inclusion of Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre suggests that age and experience in isolation is not enough. Similarly, William Gallas fulfilled all of the requirements but was unable to stem the flow.

Much of this is linked with title-winning experience. The two centre backs had that in abundance so that is not enough. Indeed the demands of a player ready for the Premier League and be an experienced title winner are mutually exclusive for Arsenal. Whom of United and Chelsea’s squads could they tempt that would be good enough to improve the squad we have?

However, those three seasons reflect a more worrying trend; the squad are not learning from their failures. Whilst they are capable of getting into good positions, the next step is beyond them. As much as that is the fault of the manager in adapting the sides tactics to key absentees, there is a collective responsibility for the players as well through the failure to learn.

So can Wenger benefit from a smattering of experienced heads throughout the team? Certainly, the centre of the defence is not the only place from where play can be influenced. Midfield and attack can equally benefit from experience, especially in the absences of Robin van Persie.

The question is whether Arsène sees this as an admission of failure in his belief in youth or if he is persuaded that it is beneficial in the longer term to have a short term solution. Aside from perhaps establishing silverware, there is another benefit for the manager to consider. As the squad matures, the older players leave and are replaced organically, the remaining players assuming the senior positions.

Cesc noted last week that he had the likes of Henry, Bergkamp and Gilberto to look up. Perhaps, with a little help now, he and some of the current squad can be the ones looked up to in the future.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on April 26, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 285 Comments.

  1. whew. in this climate, talk of allowing arshavin to leave seems so daft. lansbury, frimpong, afobe, coquelin, JET (?) all allowed in during the same season…integrating song/denilson was tough enough in o8 09 (although we did make the semis of both major cups that year). I hope cool heads prevail, that we 1) keep Nasri 2) keep cesc 3) get a solid strike partner for robin.

  2. Arsene was the first to point out the age gap, and acknowledging that Barcelona are on average 4 years our senior which in terms of experience is a massive boost for them. Since this is the case, he needs to consider adding more experienced players to the team.

    Arsene brushed aside criticism and answered “Judge me in May”.
    In a few days it’ll be the start of May. The team are out of all four competitions. There was early promise and strong belief, but as Arsenal have proved, self belief cannot overcome some obstacles.

    It’s great to have a manager who plans for the future. It’s not so great to ignore the here and now, which is ultimately what football is about. It’s not like a university education where you’re asked to be frugal (unless you’re privileged enough to have parents who will financially assist you) and delay your reward for 3-5 years. Football is about building the best possible team this season with the resources you have.

    Talk of killing a players career is nonsense, there’s the loan system which the club have thankfully wised up to and have sent I think 18 players out on loan. A young player should never be brought into the first team in an elite club unless they’ve won their place on merit. Competing with the best players in the business only makes them better players.

    If the manager can’t fit a player into his plans for the season, and he’s too good for reserve team football A) Loan him out. B) Transfer him. Is this killing a players career? It most certainly isn’t, there are hundreds of good football teams where a player can develop their career. The manager’s priority is to be the best, for the clubs supporters, for the elite players in his team and of course for himself.

  3. …Arsenal…

  4. Seriously. I am proud of our prodigious reserves, but how many will make it with us? certainly kyle bartley, who has been through wars with rangers, probably vela, in spite of his agent, and definitely afobe, maybe botelho? scores of others are off. hopefully we make a bunch of cash.

  5. Average age 23. Barcelona average age 27. I’m waiting until the 2015-2016 season before expecting us to dominate the world. If we win anything before then it’s a bonus.

  6. Forget age….if you are good enough your age doesn’t matter. I can recall Stanley Matthews, still playing at 50 and, sadly, young hopefuls finished as professional footballers through no fault of their own.

  7. If only it worked that way Block4.

    Supporting Arsenal is enough for me but if we are to have an interest in team development then it would seem that a few changes are required to pull this team over the line next season.

    Mistakes have been made consistently over the last few season’s and we can’t really keep on expecting advancing years to somehow stop them happening. Our mistakes are serial and several. No one thing.

    I’d like to understand why manu, with a seemingly inferior squad, are now looking like runaway champions while we, with a squad packed full of talent, are struggling to win a game.

    I don’t have Arsene’s knowledge, I always leave my football thinking to him. I would be surprised if he doesn’t use this close season to change a few things. Ship a couple out, bring in a couple of players who can shake up the dressing room.

    I don’t think this squad as constituted will deliver consistently. If it was going to, this was the season. Too much baggage now. A shame.

  8. Confidence

  9. Well consolsbob, many have been saying the squad needs shaking up for the last couple of seasons. But I keep being told that it will be alright when our current squad matures.

    In every squad there are players who aren’t going to get any better and/or have not performed to the required standard. And that standard at a club like Arsenal is to win the title. This is what the manager needs to address in the transfer market in the Summer, looking for him to pull another Wilshere out of the academy two years in a row is looking for miracles.

  10. I think we just missed out on one player this year…

    That one player could be any of the following:
    Vermaelen.
    VDV – if he’d come to us instead of WHL.
    Yaya Toure.
    Greedybayor. (pain the ass but the extra 7 – 10 goals could have won the title)
    Flamini.

    The recent run is poor in terms of draws… but if we’d beaten Newcastle, beaten Spurs at the Emirates and played properly at Old Trafford we’d be in a commanding position now.

  11. There are a lot of parallels between this season and 02/03. Maybe end up on similar points. Prhaps a position lower, though we don’t know yet. But then this squad have to contend with a better league. Don’t write the squad off. Plenty more to come from them next season.

  12. I agree that a young player should win their place in the team on merit, but if they are not getting the opportunity when players ahead of them do not appear good enough I start to question how succession works.
    I believe (and many will disagree) that players like Denilson and Diaby are just not good enough and they have had more than their fair chance. I know Diaby has gone from one injury to the next, but I’m not completely sure what his role is. If he is an attacking midfielder we have raft of them who would get in the team before him and if he is a defensive midfielder then he needs some proper training as standing in the middle of the park and watching a player with the ball run past you is not the way its done. If all of our squad is fit does Diaby even get a look in and who does he replace?
    Denilson’s role is even more unclear, he has the ability to pass but often chooses to go sideways rather than forward, he appears too lightweight in the tackle and in possession to take on the DM/holding midfielder role and again would be behind several other players in the attacking role.
    I know Frimpong was being lined up for a bigger role prior to his injury at the start of the season, so I would like to see him more involved in the coming season and I also hope to see a role for Lansbury in the squad next season. I don’t see why we didn’t keep him this season rather than letting him go out on loan yet again. Maybe we also need to be a bit more cut throat in our approach to some of the wider squad as players like Mark Randall have been around for a long time and don’t look like they are ever going to make it (he doesn’t seem to be getting games for Rotherham either).

  13. Indeed, Frank, there will be plenty to come but some won’t be here to deliver which is the natural footballing order. But if nothing changed, as Cbob says, there’s too much mental baggage around them. The good thing from Wenger’s point of view is that wholesale changes are not needed.

  14. I never thought I would ever say this but after watching Man Utd last night, I think we could learn something to our advantage. Their passing is much like ours except the passes are longer and therefore more purposeful. If we could do the same and cut out the close and sideways stuff, I’m sure it would improve our play. I now await the usual storm of abuse.

  15. Knowing AW I doubt whether we will go through a pre-season without bringing in players and letting some go,YW. But we are not far away from winning ways. As for mental baggage. Don’t know what that means. The emergence of our two Polish keepers and the re-introduction of TV will hold us in good stead at the back I think.

  16. Watching the CL game last night I have to agree with Frank, confidence is a major factor. Manure were comfortable as a team, although I do accept that Schalke were poor. The Mancs just looked so much stronger on the ball and they closed their opponents down quickly, defence starting from their offensive players (please note AW). Unfortunately manure are going to win trophies with an inferior squad as their players play as a team both with and without the ball even though they don’t have the technical ability of many of the Arsenal players. As an aside, we probably picked the wrong young Mexican as well as Hernandez as an amazing eye for goal and is hard to knock off the ball. Vela looks lightweight in comparison, did we do that to him?

  17. Football matches at the top level hinge on a few small incidents. Those small incidents did not go in our favour this season. But they may well go for us in the future. The Mancs may win everything this year, but will have got away with murder. Although I doubt they will beat RM in the final.

  18. Other the weekend one of the commentators (it might have been Fat Sam) pointed out that the last ten games of the season were completely different to the previous 28. So why do we appear to throw it away in the last phase of the season? Injuries? Mental fragility? Tiredness? These are all factors which impact on other teams as well, but they seem better able to handle it, whilst we appear to collapse when we should be busting a gut to break the tape.
    Do we rely too much on a small nucleus of very good players who play too often during a season to be able to stay the course without running out of steam through injury or exhaustion? Much has been made in recent weeks of AW rushing back players from injury and them not looking match fit on their return (Fabregas and Djourou spring to mind). Do we contribute to our own downfall over a season? If the manager was more comfortbale swapping the squad players in and out during a season perhaps we would not get the seemingly annual player burnout we appear to suffer from. We all know that, if fit, Fabregas, Wilshere and Song are first choice on the team sheet so why the manager doesn’t appear to trust the players behind them in anything over the cups he doesn’t care about?

  19. Sorry chaps, its quiet in the office today so it gives me more time to vent my spleen on here.

  20. UnbiasedTobias

    Wavey,
    I’m not too convinced that success will come by integrating more of our reserves into the squad. After the way that the season has panned out I’m shocked that people are even talking about this.
    I’m faithful to the arsenal, but in all honesty I’d rather have a trophy than sit back trophyless beating my chest saying… “Ooohh yeea we produced bartley and lansbury and bla bla bla”
    It would be nice to see them excell in an arsenal shirt, but if that gets in the way of our success than its a sacrofoce we have to make.
    We really could have done without the whole Craig Eastmond’s little error in the champs league.
    We need experience but not neccessarily over 30’s players. Just good fit winners.

    Anyway… Gr8 post yogi

  21. My two pence on the experienced player discussion, I think it is equally important that the player has a larger than life standing in the club. Squillaci, Gallas and Silvestre when brought in did not have that quality even though they were experienced. None of them enjoys/enjoyed a standing in the team like Bergkamp or Pires or Henry or Vieira and the likes. Sol Campbell had that standing and it was evident that he was able to motivate the players. The way our team responded to Ramsay’s injury in the game at Stoke last year is a case in point. But sadly, Campbell’s footballing ability was not anywhere near Arsenal footballing standard when he rejoined.

    I think in hindsight we created a bit of vacuum during the transition from the Invincible team where not enough and probably none of the stalwarts from that group were retained long enough to provide an organic transition to the new squad.

  22. The difference between the Invincibles and this squad is not as great as some would have us believe. Especially if we compare pre-03/04. I daresay there were ‘fans’ ready to scrap the squad at the end of 02/03.

  23. Hi Unbiased,

    I’m not talking about Lansbury, Frimpong and Bartley being first team choices week in, week out, but I would like to see them on the bench with the opportunity to come on from time to time. For some reason I have this idea in my mind that Lansbury could develop into a player similar to Scott Parker, hard to get by in the middle of the park with a sweet pass. Somebody like that is going to end up being more influential in the team than Denilson is.

  24. I suspect the vacuum was caused by maturity, a subject which has come up many times over the last few seasons. AW has said at times in the past that we should have a bit more maturity in the squad (particularly in midfield), but he has never really addressed it.
    I never regarded bringing in Silvestre as adding maturity, I regarded it as getting in an old fart on the cheap who SAF knew was well past it. Initially AW highlighted Silvestre as a great acquisition as he had the ability to play as both a centre back and a left back. He must have almost choked on his croissant when he realised Silvestre needed a zimmer frame to get around the pitch.

  25. A change of emphasis and mind set is needed, not a raft of new players. The whole team has to learn how to defend. Barca did it to us. Their front six players harried and hassled our defence & midfield constantly. It’s all about work ethic. We have quality players but we have to get more work out of them.

    Arsene needs to work on defending (as a team) over the Summer. 56% of goals conceded from set pieces is just not up to the standard required.
    We need maybe max 3 new players, probably a centre half with an “old” head, a big “Viera” like defensive minded centre midfield player, and a “Hernandez” like striker to work with Van Persie (This new striker must stay in the box, and must shot on sight!)

    It’s been hard to take the results in the last two months. But, remember what we were like in the 70s/80s, a mid table team who won the odd cup and a league title once every 15/20 years. We have come a long way since then.

  26. UnbiasedTobias

    Wavey,
    Ok if that’s the case then its alright.
    U gotta good point boutlansbury being better than denilson, and IMO bartley much better than squillaci so. If the could replace the chaff in our team then that would be great.
    But no getting away from it, we need exp in the team.

    😉

    What wenger did wrong is that he went out and bought ooollld players that he thought our boys could look up to, wen what he should have done is buy influencial players in their prime. And integrate them into the squad, its expensive yes but its an investment and with investments u get out what u put in. If you want to pay 750k on sylvestre, a united player, who’s above 30 and already been dropped from manures first team he maybe a great mentor off the field but off it, his lack of physical ability becomes our achiles heal. Same story wit Sol, and Squilacci.
    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

  27. What better way to lift ourselves out of a slump than to fight for our home turf in a grudge match against Man Utd? I’m expecting a huge response in training these next few days, and a big performance on Sunday.

  28. Right, honestly what hurt us most this year was going for all four honours. Not due to losing focus or fatigue setting in (although that may be proving the case recently), but the fact that we attempted to play or best 11 in every game all season meant that squad players, when called upon, were rusty.

    What you’ll hear a lot from Wenger over the next few weeks and at the end of the season is talk of it being most important to ‘keep this team together’. That’s because it’s true. This squad is close. And the collective experience of players like Cesc, Song, Van Persie, Sagna, Clichy, Arshavin, Rosicky will serve them well next year.

    The fact that a lot of squad players have had very little games this year will make it difficult for us to do that tho.

  29. Football teams aren’t chains

  30. We are hearing a lot of this statistic that 56% of our goals conceded this season have come from set pieces.

    How many goals is this in total?

    And how does this compare with the number of goals conceded by other teams from set pieces?

    And while we’re trading numbers, does anyone know how many times we’ve hit the woodwork this season – and how this compares with other teams? Seems to me it happens every game – but then I’m watching in red-and-white-tinted spectacles.

    Not sure where to find these figures.

  31. UnbiasedTobias

    Its an analogy frank. And there is no doubt that a defence is very much like a chain. If we have calamatious cb’s in there like sylvestre and squillaci, mistakes will happen.
    Basically loads of quality upfront cannot cover for a soft defence.

  32. Not specifically ranting about a player, but Squillaci is a great example of the type of player you are talking about Tobias. Wenger brought in an old hand from Sevilla who had only played in the Spanish and French leagues and expected him to be able to seemlessly slot into a Premiership club. Even if he was just brought in as cover it was a gamble and whilst he has gradually settled in to role to some extent (knocking out your defensive partner during a match can’t be good), I don’t want to see him in the starting 11 every week. Old does not mean experienced.

  33. To compare the invincibles and this side is like comparing chalk and cheese. They play a completly different type of football for a start. That side had 3 or 4 players who could claim to be the best in the world in their position. This side has none, with only maybe Cesc being able to lay a claim.

  34. @GA
    And RVP, and Sagna. 😉 At least I do not know any better CF than Robin and there are a few right backs that are on about the same level as Sagna, but none that are clearly better.

  35. UnbiasedTobias

    I said he should bring in experienced players in their prime not old players. I don’t want him to sign old players unless they are in tip top condition physically.
    I want him to sign vermaelen type players, like jan vertonghen. players who have leadership but are IN THEIR PRIME therefore they can develop a rapport with the players and we can still have them playing top quality footy in 5 6 7 years.
    Squillaci was a short term remedy to a long term problem.

  36. They are still debatable thougheh? Good players with out doubt. The likes of Henry, Paddy, and Pires would have walked into any side on the planet without question. We have good players, but none at that level.

  37. Squillaci appeared to be desperation when other targets appeared to fall away. I would hope that we are able to get our transfer business done quickly in the summer, but the nature of the market now appears to generate some form of bidding war which means that we get bid out of the market for a player out a fairly early stage. The list of names we were allegedly interested in last summer would have filled a telephone directory, but they all appeared to go elsewhere with our interest having cooled some time before they transferred elsewhere.
    We need to identify out target list early and get the business done in June or July. That will also allow us to decent pre-season to get the new players adjusting to the Arsenal style.
    I think Scott Parker is probably in his prime at the moment, but he might only have two or three more seasons at his best. I’d still rather they were spent at Arsenal than somewhere else though.

  38. Nice post YW,

    Progress has undeniably been made, but the same mistakes seem to occur.

    We were closer than ever this season.

    We lost by a freak mistake in the league cup final gifting Birmingham their first shot on target in the second half and the league cup in the 89th minute.

    We went out by the odd goal and horrendous refereeing (non- disputable) away from home against the lord gods starting XI (ahem..) in the champions league. Having scored 3 against them and beating them in the first leg.

    We went out of the FA cup away at Old Trafford against a team that have 1 and a half feet in the champions league final for the 3rd time in 12 years and have all but wrapped up the EPL. Their goalkeeper was man of the match.

    We lacked maturity and confidence at certain times in the league for sure. The dire atmosphere at home doesn’t help nerves one bit. Why oh why cant we just get behind our team? If we did it in force confidence would grow. The atmosphere was electric when we played Barcellona coincidence that we won?Nope. We have the best away record in the Premier league….We have the best away fans in the premier league. Coincidence? I dont reckon so.

    Talent wise, who would anyone on here honestly swap for any of our starting XI from the other big boys in the Premier league? Vidic and Rooney? Vidic is a cynical git and rooney has sleeze, arrogance and media bile all over him. I do not want to support a team that wins trophies like that.

    Support your team instead of being scared of being proved wrong. . Trophies are an inevitability but they could come a hell of a lot faster with our support. Some see it as offensive to be told to cheer because ‘their’ money is not being spent on Luis Suarez *scoff*. What are you sitting there for? Why buy a ticket? We’re competing. We are beating the likes of Manchester City away, Barcellona and Chelsea over the course of a season. We’re getting to finals and quarter finals. We’re mathematicaly not even out of the league title race even now at the end of April with 4 games to go.

    Doomers- people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  39. the 30 years of age rule is ridiculous. Shows what a plonker AW can be

  40. “They are still debatable thougheh? Good players with out doubt. The likes of Henry, Paddy, and Pires would have walked into any side on the planet without question. We have good players, but none at that level.”

    I think it would be best not to compare that generation to this one – for a bunch of reasons:

    The best I can think of this that people will draw the conclusion that we should just go out and buy the equivalent of Pires, Henry and Vieira at their peaks. That’s a bit silly because the Pires we bought wasn’t the same as the Pires we grew to love – same goes for the other two. Pires and Henry were regarded as good players who had gone a bit stale, while Vieira was merely a promising youngster.

    There’s also always a kind of inertia when it comes to supporters appraising their own players. It can take time for performances to be recognized, and of course there’s no guarantee of future consistency. Pires for instance had three great seasons during his five year stint. But I bet in 2002 or 2003, when he’d already started turning it on, nobody would have claimed that he was one of the game’s greats.

    You could compare him to Nasri now; Nasri’s just coming off the back of a great season overall. But right now we can’t be sure if its a permanent step up or not. We have to wait and see, and only with hindsight in a few years (hopefully) would we be able to assess him properly.

    Sorry if that’s a bit awkwardly put.

  41. Good post Yogi,
    Experienced doesn’t always mean better. Experience must come with the right mentality and quality. Of our recent experienced sigings, Sol had the right mentality, but was lacking in quality. Silvestre lacks everything and was a horrible signing. Gallas is a quality player, but is mentally brittle and injury prone. He is still by far the best of the lot, and should have been kept imo.
    Thinking about our other older players; Rosicky-not sure what he adds to the team. Wenger used him sparingly, mostly in the cups. I had high hopes for him as start of season, but I guess all those years of injuries have taken their toll on his ability. Not sure about his menatily either. Seems more like a good follower than a leader.
    Arshavin- top quality player. But I don’t know if he feels he really belongs to this team. His goals and assists stats have been impressive nonetheless, even after what many consider to be a poor season for him.

  42. UnbiasedTobias

    The whole early transfers thing is something I’m amazed wenger hasn’t woken up to.
    It takes pressure off the new players cos it gives them sum time to get into their stride and not be thrwon into the deep end.

    I would love to c parker in an arsenal ahirt but I doubt he would be the solution.
    He would bring some fire to the squad, if only he was abit younger. A de rossi, or palombo, or vertonghen, or fellaini can still be with us for a few years.
    While De Rossi, isn’t that young players like him can still play at 35.

  43. Assessing the length of a new contract by reference to a specific age appears nonsensical as each individual develops in a different way. Whilst I can understand that the manager doesn’t necessarily want to overload the squad with 30-something players on contracts which are just too long, an arbitrary age limit can’t be the answer. If a player reaches the end of his contract at the age of 31, but is still in the first 11 week in, week out I don’t think there should be a problem in giving him a new two year contract, but if he is already only playing one or two games a month at best you’re not going to offer him a contract for the rest of his playing days because they are clearly already dwindling. Players starting to go off the boil is another matter and AW clearly had a good eye to spot that Vieira, Pires and even Henry might not have it at Premiership level any more. All three players have gone on to have good spells at other clubs, but didn’t we have the best of them at Arsenal?

  44. Rosicky’s made 33 appearances so far this season, which is about average for a midfielder in a squad our size. He’s been absent through sickness for the last three or four games. I think he’s been a big miss actually. Great for a spark when a game’s in the balance. I really hope he stays and I think he will.

  45. UnbiasedTobias

    LA
    33? Wow thot it was less.
    How many starts?

  46. Nice post.

    I can’t agree with those that say Wenger has only looked out for the future and this is the main reason to our failings this season.

    I don’t think we can blame experience or mental strength. These players have battled through some epic games and pulled off some amazing comebacks. As the stats show, we keep dropping off at the end of the season. I think every Arsenal fan knows that whatever team Arsene puts out in August they will come out flying. We have simply crumbled under the pressure. Its hard to take when you think back to the CC final when we all expected to win at least 1 trophy. The players thought that was their 1st trophy to lose, and that expectancy was our downfall. We missed our chances and somehow lost.

    Cesc – over 200 games and counting
    Clichy – 250
    RvP approaching 200
    Sagna – 170
    Song – 150
    Nasri – 130

    We have players who are experienced at the very top level from a very young age. They just don’t have the nack of pulling a vital win off when the opponent is using every trick in the book to make a game go their way. Maybe as many say its because we let some of the experienced lot go too soon, that was a situation which we couldn’t avoid unfortunately as we had to move stadium.

    So winning mentality I can agree with, but experience no chance. As YW said, we had an older squad last year and look what the brought us.

    We have seen massive improvements in various positions this season. Our midfield has added the energy and ability of 2 of britian’s finest center midfielders. Ok we haven’t seen Ramsey that much yet, but we know he has the mental toughness to come back very strong. If I was Wenger I would push aside any calls for a typical DM. Ramsey is the complete CM, like Wilshire is. Maybe that is expecting a lot, and maybe that has been a problem in the way we expect from the likes of Denilson, Gibbs etc far too soon, but with Ramsey he is one that is ready.

    A couple changes is required, as you discover at the end of every season. There are a few positions which Arsene has rectified which he hasn’t got any credit for this season.

    GK.. we have a REAL Arsenal number 1 in our ranks now. No disrespect to Almunia, he was a great servant and a very good keeper but Schezny looks to be the complete keeper that not many Arsenal fans expected. How many people called for Wenger to put the club in further debt to bring a Buffon type pensioner in?

    CB.. I don’t care what anyone else thinks of Djourou and Koscielny, but that are top CB’s. Maybe not quite in Vermaelen’s league, but we have found 2 CB’s who are good in every department. Our inability to defend in certain pressure moments collectively and on set-pieces cannot be always pointed to the CB’s who have shown a massive improvement.

    CM.. Adding wilshire to the squad has given us another dimension. His energy, commitment, technique and passing is as good as we have seen in any CM that has played are club. Although our midfield has been improved, i feel Wilshire’s inexperience and drive to continually go forward needs to be toned down. 3-1 up at Spurs, 4-0 at Newcastle… etc etc.. The inability to hold out a game is down to our inability to hold back from our gung ho attitude.

    After careful reflection at the end of the season I hope the players learn from these errors. Pat Rice will be missed, I just hope with a new #2 coming in maybe we can sort a few of our tactical issues out because that is all they are. Rubbish teams seam to be somehow causing us problems when it matters too often. Tactically we need to toughen up. Everything else is there. We seemed to be developing a plan B last season as well. We never really switched to a 4-4-2 at all this season. This is something that must be considered when you got the likes of Chamakh and Bendtner sitting around.

  47. I think RVP, Cesc, Alex Song and Tom Vermaelen walk into any team on the planet right now. They’d all make Barca, Real, Utd or Chelsea better sides – if that’s the standard we’re talking.

    Interestingly none of the above made PFA Team of the Year. Though Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, and Samir Nasri did. They’d all make those sides better too come to think of it. These are some of the best footballers in the world right now.

  48. Pat Rice has been a fucking lion for this club. He takes every matchday warm-up home and away and delivers rabble-rousing, fist pumping team talks at every one. Anyone who’s ever said ‘Pat Rice isn’t vocal enough’ doesn’t have a fucking clue.

  49. Limestonegunner

    Markus, I think the blow to morale after the Cc final and the snowball effect in the other two knockout competitions had more consequence than the fatigue, but who knows, you might be right that it contributed. I recall though that in several matches we play really weakened sides with 8-9 changes that couldn’t put away Ipswich in the semi-final first leg or Leeds or Leyton Orient without replays. Squad members got games in the Christmas and January period but were unconvincing. I think the problem was the scale of changes. More regularly changing three or four might have been a better way to manage the squad. But this so so record suggests that perhaps the squad got games but just isn’t as strong as we thought, which is why the manager didn’t play them down the stretch since the end of January.

  50. Limestonegunner

    Nice post, YW. You aren’t avoiding the uncomfortable questions but do try to give a balanced and measured view. Much appreciated. As a result the comments have been genuine and, mostly, respectful discussions.

  51. p0roblems are in midfield, song isnt good enough and jack not old/strong enough imo. Wonder what it would be like to have a 26-28 year old quality player in those two positions, yes , Jack might not get as many games as he has this season but the quality of the squad would improve

  52. Limestone, I agree, you can’t change the entire squad and expect them to play together like the first team. I don’t think we got that balance of rotation right this year at all.

    What was more worrying in the last few months is that our starting 11 seemed at times like strangers.

  53. I would like to see Rosicky to stay also. His passing and ability to hold the has been greatly missed over the last few games.

    I do feel however Wenger could be tempted to let him go.

    When you look at who has delivered in our team this season he doesn’t really stand out.

    Maybe Diaby’s on pitch outbursts will cost him his future instead of Rosicky being shown the door? Its hard to judge who will be going at this point in time. There are a few players who havn’t really pushed on as much as the inpatient supporters would have liked. Denilson, Gibbs, Bendtner, Arshavin etc.

    What we must address this summer is which players can we count on at the end of next season to pull us through. We have looked clueless over the last couple months in turning draws to wins when it matters.

    Hopefully we can make a few additions which will put us in a better shape for next season without losing too many players.

  54. It is tricky to compare players at different ages. When I glibly compared Nasri to Malouda, this is what I meant:

    Different positions, different players.
    But overall, it’s fair to say Nasri’s first year was more impressive then Malouda’s, and Malouda was the finished product when he came to the PL. They both came from the same league, at about the same time. MAlouda was a key player for the Romans last year. Absolutely a good player.
    It’s also fair to say that Nasri adjusted quicker then Pires in his first season, We all knew Pires’ reputaion when he came, and had to be a little patient. Last season Nasri needed some time to recover, regain that ‘half a yard ‘of Pace, etc. Maybe it’s easier at the younger age to adapt and adjust. I don’t know, but he is an exceptional player, who will only get better.

  55. Woah!
    I had no gr*t there for a moment.

  56. UnbiasedTobias

    I actuall think song is quality… B4 his injury he looked like the vital component in our success.
    He scored a few goals, retained possession, made some nice passes and cleaned up the midfield. Its harsh saying he’s not good.
    He needs a partner, or atleast someone to cover for him and challenge him for his spot.
    If we want a youngish player to challenge him M’Vila looks lyk the man… And he’s french so he won’t have a problem with language and all that.

  57. Are you implying that Alexander Song cannot speak English?
    Or that Arsenal only sign French speaking players?

    Uncredible.

  58. OOU – I agree 100% we can’t compare that team with the current one. That was sort of my point I suppose.

  59. I think we have good players without question, but I also think as fans we all too often trump them up to a level where they are not.

    A good example of this is ChrisGooa’s comments (I am not having a go here mate, so please don’t get defensive) about Ramsey. Now I really like Ramsey, and think he will develop into an excellent player. But to say he is already a complete midfielder is way overboard. He had only just started to break into our 1st team and has only played a handful of games for us (and Cardiff). He has great potential without question, but is a long way off being a complete midfielder.

    We also expect that all of our young players on loan are going to come through like Wilshere has. It is just unrealistic. Bartley, Lansbury, Vela, Watt are all good players, but I would not be suprised if none of them actually made it with us and ended up doing well at a slightly lower level. Many expectations of these players are unrealsitc.

  60. “I’d like to understand why manu, with a seemingly inferior squad, are now looking like runaway champions while we, with a squad packed full of talent, are struggling to win a game.’

    Beats the hell out of me too

  61. UnbiasedTobias

    What im saying is that we have a predominantly francophone squad so therefore it would make sense to a player with m’vila’s quality who can slot straight into our squad without the language barrier hampering his progress.
    It wasnt my main point at all it was just an extra reason to sign him.

    if we could sign hm b4 others get interested it would be amazing, if too many people find out bout him his price will go up…

    why are we soo quick to attack people’s opinions on this site anyway sometimes we should take some time and think bout what another guy’s saying. i never for one second implied song couldnt speak english.
    this is supposed to be for people to express their opinions and learn from others not to get slated by others

  62. I feel that we all have a nagging feeling that something needs tweaking and that is what the manager, if he’s honest with himself needs to address. I have looked at Man U.. and just by looking at their squad, you can see that in almost all positions, Arsenal has better technical players…even on GK, any team in the world would kill to have chezzer on the succession. so much like Joe Hart. Age doesn’t matter; it’s the heart.
    Difference with Man U is the motivation..Chelsea too. They dont easily concede to defeat. Vieira aptly said too many Arsenal players dont put their bodies on the line for the team. The gratest mistake we ever did was to let Gilberto go seeing as all our invincibles had left. In him we had a motivated leader, Makelele level of player with a knack for important goals. I dont think it’l’d have killed Song but rather sharpen him.
    If Arsene’s philosophy needs tweaking. Generational change is gradual..not overhaul.
    IMO I would bring back TH14 as an impact forward. The lad’s still got it and he’s willing. Cash in on Bendy while the Bundesliga still wants him. Change the game to 4-4-2 when Thierry comes on. anyone remembers how lethal TH14 – RvP partnership was and can be??? We need an experienced head to cover for Song and we can experiment with Fabregas in Wilshere’s position…where he used to play before; Nasri playing ahead; He’s got penetration and bite. I think if we played 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 in the same match we’d be invincible again.
    What say you fellas.

  63. GA, Of the four loanees you mention I would say only Lansbury really has any chance of coming back and establishing himself at Arsenal. I can see Denilson and Rosicky being moved on and his chance could come there as he seems to have had a good few games at Norwich and has an eye for a goal too. For the others, Vela’s loaning out is a shop window job if ever I saw one (50 appearances in three years suggests he’s had enough chances), Bartley has several youngish centre halves in front of him (Vermaelen, Koscielny, Djourou and possibly Miquel also) and Sanchez Watt has been used sparingly by Leeds.

  64. LA @12.41pm

    Now I’d like to know exactly what Pat Rice has done wrong. Why has a loyal and capable been reduced to a figure of ridicule and blame. Not one person has come up with any shred of evidence that title failures are his fault. Do you want to know what the problem is? All the idiots want Rice replaced actually want Wenger out but are too scared to say it for fear of people laughing at them.

    YW

  65. Its not the players fault. When it is squeky bum time there are not enough big players to drag them through it. Cant blame the players for being too young or inexperienced.

  66. What a servant of the club Pat Rice has been. If he wants to call it a day then we should have nothing but the utmost respect for his decision and ultimate thanks for his efforts over the many years with us. If he thinks he still has something to offer then who are we to say otherwise. Would i like to see some new coaching blood in the first team setup (whether Pat stays or goes) – yes would be the answer. Some new ideas, an outside view, a little fresh breeze through the methods cant but help in my opinion.

  67. Ooh… the thing that bugs me most about Arsene is that he has allowed the half hearted culture of Laissez faire to take root at Arsenal the culture of ..oh well..we’ll do better next time. Blood, sweat and tears do just fine for me.

  68. UnbiasedTobias

    Yogi
    unfortunately this is what happens wen a teams not doing well, every1 gets on the blame train. nobody is safe from undue criticism.
    it happened to liverpool, chelsea, newcastle
    its human nature.
    I dont think Pat rice should be held accountable nor should wenger, he’s made a few dodgy decisions but i think the majority of the blame has to go to our players and the fans in the stadium.
    the players for conceding goals that you dont even see in schoolboy matches and for missing easy chances., and the fans for not being supportive enough.

  69. Language barrier?
    Please provide some evidence of this.
    Nasri and Gallas had some real problems when it came to language, eh.

    Utterly Uncredible.
    End.

  70. UnbiasedTobias

    Come off it Finsbury….
    youre not even arguing with my main point of bringing M’vila in.. your just tlking shit and disagreeing with me for the sake of it. im not trying to convert you to think like me, its my opinion that a team who can all communicate freely will play better football.
    leave it out .

  71. Another hot one YW. This one brings so many other issues into play.

    Pires, was so unfortunate to be forced out but, let us not forget the same thing happened to Edu, and more importantly and very damaging to us was when Gilberto, was forced out by Wenger’s age policy philosophy. After being told he was too old to given a long term contract he went onto a decent career elsewhere and captain Brazil for a few years. In the meantime our defence became weak. gigantic error in all 3 cases as they should of been kept there to bring the youth through and guide them in all things Arsenal and how to win and see out games and not buckle under pressure.

    I’m not saying we should be looking to utd for an example but, there’s no denying that they are where they are due to balancing their younger and older players who know how the job goes.

    The policy didn’t “kill the youth chances” it killed us as a collective defensive unit. The times had changed by the time Wenger was executing his 30 and over policy but, he already had it in his head and wasn’t going to change his mind.

    These are the things that hurt the most when you look back there are massive errors which by management that have damaged the team for years. We all thought because we was wiping the floor with every team that we could carry on doing it without the players that were forced out.

    It was a nice thought but, it clearly hasn’t worked apart from Wilshere.
    Can anybody see fergie shipping out players because they are stopping youth from coming through? That’s a cricket think ffs.

    Our back four should never of been spilt up or allowed to go anywhere in the first place. Wenger should of tried to hold on to players like Kolo and Campbell whatever the cost as he did with Cesc when he wanted to go. I don’t recall Wenger going all out to stop them as he did with Cesc.

    I’m just hoping all these things are to past and Wenger steps away from all this policy crap because it really has taken us backward and made us very easy to read lately. There is also no confidence within the side for whatever reasons and we don’t look like a collective unit anymore.

    He is still the man for job and it would be the biggest fk-up if he was to leave us. As I mentioned before I trust in him to the fullest I just think he’s made some errors in the past that came to bear. He knows what needs fixing so…

  72. Limestonegunner

    Maybe ManU’s team isn’t as inferior as we like to think. They’ve been somewhat inconsistent away from home domestically but very strong away in Europe, viz. yesterday’s pounding of Schalke (as poor as we might think they played). Ferdinand and Vidic are probably the best current CB pairing when fit. Their goalie is still top notch. Rooney has come back into form, on the wings Nani and Valencia are quite good. Berbatov is leading the league in goals and Hernandez is a deadly young poacher.

    They haven’t been imperious and certainly play a very cowardly brand of defensive football against us even at home. I like our players better as footballers and people, naturally. But perhaps even though this ManU is a weaker team than a few years ago, it still has some real quality players and a determined bunch of pretty decent players who play hard. We worship technique, which is essential for the way we play, but the players either individually or in their collective dynamic are lacking something that we are still struggling to understand. What worries me is that AW has been mystified by his players more than once this season and at a loss to explain their performances. Still can’t see anyone better positioned to make the necessary adjustments this summer.

    Right now I really think we need to make a statement and defeat them at the Emirates–its important for their belief in the campaign to come.

  73. I agree that victory against ManU is very important, especially for the future. When was the last time we managed a result against the Mancs? Wasn’t it in 2008 when Nasri scored a double to see us win 2-1? It’s been two season’s where we didn’t manage a victory or even a draw against them and so it’s really important from a psychological point of view that the team manages to overcome this.

  74. Whenever I’ve been close enough to the action to hear our back four talking it’s always been in English.
    “Keeper’s!”
    “Yours!”
    “Drop!” “Out!”
    “Facken’ Geddim!”
    – Just easier that way.

    I reckon that’s just it, YW. Wankers, basically. Blood, sweat and tears? Pat Rice gives everything. Who we gonna get… Eden Hazard’s dad? Pep Guardiola’a Granma?

  75. come off it unbiased toby.

    Maybe you were not folllwing what happened to the English and French teams at the WC. Maybe you were. United they stood.
    Oh. Regional accents. Yes, I forgot about them. Always a problem.
    Always.

  76. Copied and pasted a few interesting and concerning things from yesterdays Arseblog.

    “While I’m sure there are all kinds of bonuses and incentives built in, if you have a huge basic salary it has an influence on how motivated you are to achieve things. Look at Armand Traore. Offered first team football and a permanent move to Benfica but he wouldn’t accept it because the salary was half of what he was on at Arsenal. Fair enough, you might say, and there’s a world of difference between England and Portugal, but what does it tell you of the culture at the club when a young player, barely good enough for the first team, is on money so high they turn down first team football at a club with plenty of history and prestige? A perfect example of how money is the primary factor in a career.
    Ok, so you want to sell Denilson this summer. Who is going to pay him the £3m a year he’s on at Arsenal? How do you broker a deal? I’m told the transfer fee we got for Eduardo last summer was negligible, simply because Shaktar could not pay a fee plus pay anything close to the wages he was on at Arsenal.”

    Not sure how much of his info is accurate but certainly raises some concerns about any flexibility we have going forward. I think the idea was to pay these players and put them on long term contracts so that anyone who wanted to buy them would think twice and have to pay top dollar. It certainly handcuffs us when we want to make some changes in the squad and counterintuitively probably will decrease the amount we will get for any players we want to move. The 25 man squad rule and the hoped for arrival of a few new outside players to freshen squad and sprinkle in a couple of Lansbury’s means we probably need to move some of the senior squad players that have not played much. Hopefully we can find someone who will be able to pay their wages or perhaps we can send some money with them to the next club similar to whats done in American baseball.

    What happens to all the players like Watt, Sunu, Eastmond, Henderson, Coquilin etc etc etc etc. Players who are probably not going to make significant first team impact. May be the “Traore Effect” is why Mark Randall and Gavin Hoyte are still on our books. I guess we can keep paying most of their wages and loaning them out until they are out of contract similar to Nordtviet or keep them in the reserves like Merida.

    At the time we started project yoof no one could have thought of all these permutations and combinations so its hard to criticize in retrospect. Spending much of our “transfer kitty” on wages for the senior and junior squad and stockpiling many many young players since you never really know which ones will make it, made sense at the time. However, no one could have expected us to be 6 years completely trophy free and the policy has handcuffed us if we want to make some changes. The club probably will have to eat some of the salaries and move on. Lessons learned I guess.

  77. Very poor analogy. In fact it doesn’t work at all.

  78. Limestonegunner,

    Another mystery is that why hasn’t Wenger and the players haven’t adapted to
    the way Utd play us? To my knowledge apart from the last meeting they have played us exactly the same way for the past 5/6 yrs.

    One would think that by the 2nd or 3rd time you would wise up and be on the look out for certain things e.g the common ball over the top in direction the Clichy (works every time they must say).

    This is weakest utd side we wee ever see in our life time and everybody knows the style they play when we meet but, come end of May I can tell you now that nobody (except for Gooners most prob) will recall how they played they will just remember what they won at the end.

    I so agree with you when you say we need to make a statement v Utd but, we need to put in a better performance than the last 5 games or whatever to do that in any form.

  79. Yeah whenever i have been close enough the defence havve spoke english..”not a fukingain fab”,”oh ffs clichy”.

  80. What are you on about, Bill?

  81. Footbll team? Chain? Chain? Football team?

  82. UnbiasedTobias

    Finsbury

    im soo tired of this pointless argument.
    after Limpar’s comment i see that i am wrong.

    HOWEVER the main point of my argument is that M’vila would be a good signing i just tagged the language thing on.

    I dont get your World Cup story at all… it really was useless.

    are you happy now?

  83. UnbiasedTobias

    frank
    whats not to understand about the chain?

  84. Limestone @ 2:13:

    The reason ManU looked beatable early in the year was some very uncharacteristic defensive lapses. They have concede more goals already this year then any year in memory. I think that was more related to the “been there, done that” complacency that some top teams struggle with rather then real drop in quality. They probably also rightfully felt they could turn on the after burners when needed which contributes to that form of complacency. They have certainly picked up their game again at the business end of the season. The Chav’s went down that road for much of the season but they have more issues with age and they did not/could not get back in gear quite soon enough. They showed signs of complacency last year whenever they got more then a few points ahead of the pack.

  85. Limpar – I think he means that we are paying some of our younger players way too much money. The problem is that the one’s who won’t make it with us will be hard to offload as other clubs won’t match their high wages.

    Please correct me if I am wrong Bill.

  86. @Goonerton
    But often the difference between us and them was really minimal. Like for example in the FA Cup tie Kos was one on one with VDS twice and only superb keeping prevented us from scoring.
    On the other hand in the match at OT in December United had very few proper scoring chances and Park, out of all people, managed to score the perfect headed goal from 10 yards out.

    It’s as if all the luck we have just deserts us when we play them while they can try the most ridiculous things and somehow they will come off. I think this must be down to some kind of mental block. The squad needs to convince themselves that they are better and that they can beat Utd and they need to work hard to make up for any lack of luck we might be having.

  87. I can’t imagine anything less like a chain than a football team

  88. Bill

    That Traore did not take the move to Benfica might not just be down to money. If it was, it shows you all you need to know about the man. He is willing to risk not getting a new contract when his Arsenal one is up, preferring that cash to a longer deal with Benfica and signing-on fees, etc? He’s taken a short term view and may live to regret it.

    Plus it also shows he does not want to be a footballer. He does not have the desire or love for the game. He is willing to leech off the club rather than play first team football? Sorry, cannot have any respect for the lad.

    Now do we know for certain that Denilson is on £3m a year? Or is this another one of the spurious rumours that abounds like Wenger being on a bonus for transfer profits? Even if he is on that money, how do you know he won’t leave given the opportunity?

    Randall has certainly had opportunities on loan to prove himself but hasn’t really succeeded anywhere from what I’ve seen. These kids need to buck their ideas up or else they will become a summer statistic for the unemployment office.

    YW

  89. UnbiasedTobias

    What about comparing a back 4 with a chain.
    Think bout it. If you had 4 links in a chain, 3 of them we’re metal one was elastic band, when you strech the chain, it’ll snap right.
    So at all times u need to be able to put out a back 4 that is top quality.
    If you try and understand it, it actually makes sense.
    Its not a poor analogy you’re just thinking too simplistically.

  90. Bill,

    Is that honestly true about Armand Traore?!

    If it is (and I hope not) these are some of the smaller issues at our club that could be contributing to what we have been seeing in these last few months. These things can’t be happening at our club. If your not good enough to even get into the side for a whole season when your not injured then a termination of contract is in order. I hope Stan, clears out all this sort of crap from our place.

  91. The key to buying experienced players is to find ones at the peak of their performance. Wenger however tends to go for bargain basements (due to the lack of sell on value) and these all tend to be well past their best such as Sylvestre. We need players prepared to take responsiblity in all areas of the pitch. We have listened to too many excuses as to why x,y and z failed to clear the cross, forgot to track the runner and passed the ball instead of taking the shot available to them.

  92. UnbiasedTobias

    PS7
    Agreed

  93. YW
    hopefully more of those long contracts given out to the youngsters will run out this summer and we will let more of the yoof who look unlikely to ever to get up to Arsenal standard go. In an age where every academy has to keep an eye out for scouts from across Europe at the training ground every day I can understand why we would want to tie down talented youngsters which ensure that we are adequately compensated for the training if they try to move on. The problem is that is very hard to identify the likely future first team players when you are negotiating contracts with academy players, maybe there should be an assessment clause in contracts which allows the club to review the development of the player at regular intervals. Either that or we just have to be better at spotting the lemons in the academy before they get full contracts. Why aren’t the scouts who spotted Fabregas, Ramsey etc checking over our academy players every so often to provide a critical eye?
    Not sure about the financial details of Denilson’s contract, but £3m is about £57,000 a week in round numbers which isn’t necessarily out of the realms of possibiliity.

  94. Investment in the best players in any one age group is what makes the players who come through the youth teams the players they are. Would Wilshere be the player he is now if he’d played for Stevenage until last summer? Or has he benefited from playing with some of the best in the country in his age group every week… Not all of them will make it but lots do. Djourou, Sczesney, Gibbs, Frimpong, Miquel…. there’ll be in the first team next year. Lansbury, Coquelin and Henderson have got a big chance too. Lots more behind them too as you should know.

    Some get let go, others go for big profits, others stay and become shirt-selling, world-beating superstars. I fail to see the handcuffs.

  95. Twas a nightmare for the management when the club offloaded the likes of Christpher Wreah, or M.Voltz.

  96. Limpar – “Not all of them will make it but lots do. Djourou, Sczesney, Gibbs, Frimpong, Miquel…. there’ll be in the first team next year. Lansbury, Coquelin”

    Djourou and Sczesney will certainly be involved. Gibbs in the squad also, but I don’t really get where you think Frimpong and Miquel will be involved from. They may well be decent players in the future, but why on earth would they be invovled in the 1st team next year (CC appearences aside maybe)?

  97. YW,

    It does leave one wondering who’s f-ing idea it was to be giving out these extended contracts to players not just young but, not proven and very very average. I mean I see players week in week out for sides like WBA, Wigan for instance who have better MDs in their teams than Denilson. Please don’t let me find out he’s on 3 mill a year. That would put the rotten tasting cherry on top of our season thus far.

    I can’t see Stan, letting all this go on as he’s a acute business man and it’s not good to have below average players at the club on this wage.

    Denilson, should of kicked on two seasons ago after a decent season when I for one thought “this is the man to replace Edu at last”. But, now looks like a player who heard that rumour too and can’t be arsed anymore. Now we know why it seems.

  98. YW:

    That is why I said in the post “Not sure how much of his info is accurate”

    I suspect there is some truth to what he says since I have never thought Arseblogger to be overly sensationalistic and he certainly does not try to be hyper critical. The main point is that in retrospect our policy of paying for potential and giving some of the long term contracts we have given has pitfalls when the players do not play to their potential. Clearly there were good intentions and good reasons to give some of those contracts and some of the consequences could not be anticipated. As I understand it the 25 man rule the club will have to sacrifice some players and may be for very little return to bring in some new blood as most of us feel is needed.

    btw. A long time ago we debated wheather or not the public should know how much salary each player makes. Perhaps Denilson is not really making $3M/year. There are pro’s and con’s to both sides of the debate. Having that sort of knowledge would certainly eliminate some of the fan anxiety and help to short circuit a few of the rumors that always start flying when there is an information vacuum to fill.

  99. I don’t disagree with the concept of a youth policy LA and I agree that some very talented players have come through the ranks at Arsenal. I guess I’m just a bit concerned that the contracts given out to youngsters are too long to avoid them being poached. Mark Randall is a case in point, he is now 22 and has not been able to pin down a regular spot at Rotherham United, let alone at Arsenal. So why is he still on our books?

  100. Frimpong will be in the first team squad next season, I would wager. He looked easily Jack’s equal in preseason. Different type of player but same level of ability. Coquelin may have something to say about that in preseason too. Reports from Lige 1 sound very promising. Had Eden Hazard in his pocket the other night by all accounts.

    Iggy is already in the first team squad. Chances will be limited with Vermaelen back but he’ll be in and around the matchdays again which is remarkable for a centreback his age.

  101. This late season collapse has been a bit out of the ordinary for Arsenal under Wenger. The team appear to average (according to my memory of a recent article in the official club magazine) about 21-23 points over the last 10 matches of the season under Wenger. Currently the squad have 7 points and if they win out the rest of the the last 10 matches can only attain a maximum of 19 points. That is below the average under Wenger as the best possible case; on current form it is hard to see the team beating manure (but of course I expect it!), which would make the points total even lower. Wenger is enough of a boffin to recognize this, I’m sure he even has a statistical answer for it! Judging by the no-doubt incorrectly quoted articles appearing in the news lately he seems intent on trying something a little different to shake things up in the off season. Who knows? No matter what happens it’s wonderful to love the sport and to love a team like The Arsenal.

  102. Limpar – That is where you and me differ mate (I am not looking for an argument here either, just me thoughts). I think expectations on some of our young players are way too high. It is just unrealistic.

    Frimpong did look good in pre-season. A couple of friendlies at half pace is no indication if a player is ready to play in the PL. Miquel did OK against average opposition when we had no choice but to play him as every other defender bar one was injured.

    They should be nowhere near the 1st team of a club challenging to win the PL in my view. They are just not ready. Added to that they would be coming into an already very young team, and could well be short of guidence. Of all the players you mention Coquelin after a season of competative foorball under his belt would be the most likely to get into the squad, but look who he has in front of him. He will be lucky to make then bench (which is fine, and a good way for players to slowly be inducted).

  103. Limestonegunner

    It is from last week so maybe everyone has already seen it, but I thought this article on/interview with Theo was very heartening. Of course it is talk and the real proof is on the pitch, but the fact that Theo does extra work on things he has needed to improve, studies previous games, has closely studied Ljunberg, has had an evident effect on the pitch this season. It isn’t specifically mentioned, but it seems as if these have come from Theo’s own initiative. Without the big figures of the early part of the last decade around in the squad, there still are some ways to learn from them. It suggests that it is really important, particularly for younger players, to have some continuity, players to look up to and learn from. Theo is sharp and dedicated, so he is doing the best he can to learn from the videos. It is something Cesc mentioned in his interview as well. Theo doesn’t want being young to be an excuse anymore, which is good, but it is obvious he and others could benefit from more senior players–he idolized Henry–he could learn a lot from him, maybe as someone who could work with the strikers? At any rate, he also suggested it would be great to have some quality additions and mentioned attacking players like (Cesc, Robin, and Samir). I don’t think Theo fears competition. He wants the players to take more responsibility and reveals that Wenger does tell them things he won’t say to the media. Top class person and player.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/8469820/Arsenal-forward-Theo-Walcott-hungry-to-learn-the-lessons-of-this-season-and-see-team-fulfil-rich-promise.html

  104. Evil,

    We don’t have any luck at the best of times but, too right we have none whatsoever when we play utd. We could do with making it hard for them instead of the dumb mistakes we seem to make every time we play them.

  105. Graham, they moved down the road to Ashburton Grove. Did nobody tell you?

  106. Watching Prem Years 2001/02 season.

    Freddie was awesome!

    So was “oh it’s only Ray Parlour”.

    Wiltord’s goal.

    Never lost a game from home.

    Good times. Good times.

    After the dust has settled, it will hit us all again that these times are not that far from returning. Our man knows what changes need to be made.

  107. unbiasedtobias

    Heard that were linked with Kevin Gameiro from Lorient, hes actually looking pretty good 18 goals 30 games and 55 shots on target, and he’s young. Not sure whether id prefer him or chamakh in a 4-4-2 with RVP though. ive seen some of his goals, the boy can finish, and hes got great acceleration and pace, good at running of thos little through balls nasri and rosicky like to play

  108. Limestonegunner

    Guardiola is claiming RM are favorites and had a foul-mouthed rant after Mourinho’s needling. 4 El Classico’s in 10 days is taking its toll, but I like to think Arsneal softened them up a bit. Barca had started believing its own hype about being the greatest ever and so on. A thin squad and a real stresser despite their possession dominance, where a crazy ref let them off the hook, has shaken their confidence and exposed a chink in their armor. And, Mourinho knows how to pounce when he has an opening.

    Normally, you’d expect a 2nd home leg to be a favorable schedule, but given the series of fixtures, it potentially puts a lot of pressure on that final game. It has built very nicely for Mourinho’s team: Bernabeu draw, neutral ground cup victory, Bernabeu win? Barca would have wished to come home and build up some confidence, I would expect.

    We’ll see, should be exciting.

  109. It’s strange that Wenger courted Chamakh for a season before signing him and then seems to have consigned him to the scrap heap after half a season.

  110. Limestonegunner,
    I read the Guardiola/Mourinho comments on the Times website at lunchtime, just hilarious. Mourinho said Guardiola was a new form of manager, one who moaned about the ref’s decision being correct. He knows exactly how to wind up his opponent.

  111. Fair enough, andy. I don’t think they’ll have a big part to play next season myself, just that they are future Arsenal players. You can tell – just like we earmarked Scezsney, Gibbs, Wilshere and Djourou from an early age. You just knew they were made from first team stuff. You’re right about first team football though, maybe Frimpong will be out at another Premier League club next season.

  112. Wavey, Chamakh has one of he world’s form strikers ahead of him – someone who makes or scores a goal almost every hour at every level of the game. It’s a pretty exclusive scrap heap.

  113. Limpar – Like you, I have hopes for Frimpong. From what I saw of him he looked exactly the type of player we need. Tenecious and agressive, but can play a bit too. A loan at a Championship club would be a good thing for him next year I reckon.

    It is just so hard to tell who has that bit more than being a good player, enough to make it with us.

  114. I think Chamakh has done well for his 1st season in the PL. Especially if you consider we really relied on him in the early part of the season. His goals were vital.

  115. LA
    that’s if we insist on playing to a rigid 4-3-3 strategy in every match. In those games where the opposing defence hold a tight line RVP finds it harder to play off the CB’s shoulder as happened against Liverpool and Spurs recently. RVP had to play with his back to goal against Liverpool and for most of the second half against Spurs. He tends to spend most of his time on his backside and gets frustrated. Whereas in the second half against Bolton RVP dropped back into a position he seems to prefer behind a target striker and Chamakh should have been given more of a chance to do the job as target man. So many times we brought Bendtner on to play on the right wing which makes no sense because if anything Bendtner is also a target man. So if we should have been playing either Bendtner or Chamakh as a target man in front of RVP in some games, my vote would have gone with Chamakh.
    Chamakh wasn’t just behind one of the world’s form strikers, he was also behind Bendtner and that doesn’t make sense.

  116. Maybe we should be looking to line up some of our potential out-to-loan for next season players with the Championship sides coming up. What better way to cut your teeth in the Prem than with a team who are really going to be up for it.

  117. With Chamakh, he was rushed in at the beginning of the season and carried us until Van Persie came back. Arsene has said in the past that it takes 6 months to adapt to English football. Chamakh did really well. But he said himself at Christmas that he had played too many games and wouldn’t be back to his best until March. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes but I get the feeling that it wasn’t all just down to fitness with him.

    Great player for us though. I’ve said it before but I really like to see him in front and Van Persie just behind pulling the strings. Especially when we’re struggling for ideas.

  118. LA

    I can understand Chamakh being behind a fit RVP but behind Barndoor Bendtner that is beyond a joke

  119. finestcuts said
    “There was early promise and strong belief, but as Arsenal have proved, self belief cannot overcome some obstacles.”

    A lack of self belief was the obstacle. We faltered when our confidence was shattered at Barca, along with some prior dissapointments.

  120. Keysersoze, please dont say that Gallas didnt have the quality when he came to Arsenal. That is just not true.

  121. People mention Barca’s defending well what did we do against them in the first leg? We do defend from the front but we are weak at set pieces, THATS IT! If we can sure that up we will be not only be good but a great defensive team.
    Another thing is that our league is more physically demanding than where Barca play. They can almost relax and win any match and only worry about RM but not Arsenal. In that case its easier for them to keep up such pressure.
    I think there is proof that in a more demanding league that they wouldnt be as good defensively by the simple fact that they couldnt keep it up in the 2nd half of matches that we played them.

  122. Frimpong, a 19 year old who played 3 good games in the preseason, is now supposed to be quality backup to Song if he goes down and potentially have to carry us to PL and CL glory?

    Wilshere at least had some appearances before he even went on a half season loan to a PL team where he got a lot of playing time.

    Have we really been sold on our youth being world beaters… while still youth…this much?

  123. Calm down, Busch, noone’s said that.

    While I think Black Squadron… or whatever the fuck they’re called… have their heart in the right place, and they make some good points about ticketing… I can’t help but agree with this guy about how silly and potentially damaging a ‘protest walk’ is: http://viewfromn5.blogspot.com/2011/04/protests-what-do-black-scarf-really.html

  124. 1) Then I don’t see how Frimpong gets a spot on the squad next season when (even if Cesc goes) we still have Wilshere, Diaby, Ramsey and Denilson to rotate with (or replace Song in case of injury) in the ‘back 2’ CM positions. Nasri, Diaby, Ramsey, Rosicky to rotate in the ‘forward’ CM position. Again, that with Cesc leaving and us keeping to this system.
    I think he should be loaned to get consistent p.t., but since he’s under the age thing, who knows what will happen with him.

    2) Any protest walk is stupid, not because of issues, but because in reality even if it had a potential message about high (and possibly raised) ticket prices at a bad economic time for the fans, it has too much potential to get hi-jacked by idiots.

  125. Why is there so much infighting going on among Arsenal fans? Aren’t we all after the same thing: success for the club? So why can’t we all get along, civilly.

  126. Players can support each other and drop in. Links in a chain can’t do that. Your analogy has it that ‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link’, not so for a football team. A football team is not as weak as its weakest player. Nope. Not the case at all. Never has been. Never will be.

  127. Because some Arsenal ‘fans’ are complete and utter cunts, Colney, and many are more stupid than you can shake a stick at, and some aren’t even Arsenal ‘fans’ at all.

  128. bob pat den tel

    YW
    Just as I was falling into the depths of despair with the fortunes of our team I read the excellent article by Matthew Syed in today’s Times and I now know why I support our team and Wenger when all seems lost

  129. can someone post the article?

  130. I hope madrid eject the stupid ‘more than a club’ gang. That will remind our Cesc that the grass is not really greener on the other side. On the other hand, i would hate to see Fergie win the champions league…again! So,come on madrid !(i mean,hala madrid!)

  131. Bragging Rights Ltd

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    At BRL we find this totally normal. Don’t listen to what the losers tell you about “different kinds of achievement” – the only success there is comes with a trophy.

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  132. While I agree that a foot ball team is not as weak as it weakest player it certainly does not do anything other than bring the strength of the team down having a lesser player in it. THere is no doubt about that

  133. Borges Spinelli

    In 8 weeks (56 days)
    Played 11 games:
    2 wins (only)
    4 LOSSES
    5 DRAWS
    Lost out on 4 title challenges
    Scored 12 goals; conceded 16.

    To say the current collective of players aren’t far from winning ways is a gross inaccuracy. We are piteously so far from that intersection, that we wouldn’t even recognize it on sight. Take a look at the above statistics. These are indisputable FACTS.

    Oh, and this widely accepted ‘mental fragility’ hyperbole as the PRINCIPAL cause of our season’s collapse is absolute rubbish. Lack of desired quality in front of goal, comes to mind. So does indecision during clear goal-scoring opportunities; unwillingness to commit to crosses in the penalty area – worse, no one in the box; too many speed merchants, not enough brawn – midfield trio getting muscled out far too easily; lack of communication (amplified by numerous collision of teammates); lack of fluidity in passes + concentration loss in crucial moments in defense.

    There are also way too many persistently injured personnel still retained. I counted 7 players who are always guaranteed to miss parts of the season. The adverse effect on the balance and morale of the squad in difficult times when fatigue sets-in (physically + mentally) shouldn’t be underestimated. Trimming this perennial casualty list down to 4 players would noticeably aid our cause.

    For my sanity and thousand others’ well-being, I hope Monsieur Wenger can stem the decadence and return the Arsenal back to its rightful, glory days.

  134. I know this sounds silly, but I sometimes wonder if the average IQ of our players isn’t too high. Wenger favors smart players, right? And intelligence and a propensity for nerviness seem to go hand in hand, yes? Because somehow it all seems to boil down to one of those mind things…

  135. Depends why said ‘lesser’ player is perceived to be a ‘lesser’ player.

  136. Fg,if that is true explain Eboue to me.
    Surely he is stupid enough?

  137. Limestonegunner

    BRT, this is uncomfortably close to the notion that 4th/CL qualification is like a trophy. Some of the angry glory hunters might argue that your proposal has already been tried by the club and manager. I don’t think you want to go there. In the end, it is legitimately disappointing not to have won something this season when we went deep in three cups and were close in the league. Don’t you think?

    George, why go after Eboue like this? Without his goal, we would have drawn at Blackpool (and could well have lost if the penalty by Kos had been given), so his foul, which to my mind was controversially penalized, did no more than balance his previous week’s contribution at worst. In fact drawing to Blackpool is much worse than drawing to a big side like Liverpool, even at home. Wouldn’t you agree? Watch his interview with ATVO after Liverpool if you get a chance; it made me appreciate how hard he took that refs call.

  138. Limestone,I was kidding mate.I like Eboue.I also like a bit of humour .

  139. Arghck! BRL… that felt like a Paul Verhoeven movie.

  140. Limestonegunner

    Sorry, George–I posted about Eboue a few days ago–just sticking up for the Tinkerbell/Mr. President/Eboueman!

  141. “For my sanity and thousand others’ well-being, I hope Monsieur Wenger can stem the decadence and return the Arsenal back to its rightful, glory days.”

    It was Wenger who created this expectation, before him there were no ‘rightful glory days’. Some people have very short and selective memories.

  142. Bragging Rights Ltd | April 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm |

    Good one BRL!

  143. Should have said it before but great post Yogi:

    I think that we can’t give up on adding some experienced players because the ones we have added before didn’t help. Fish Face Silvestre was a reject from Fergie. Sol was on his last leg but there is no doubt that he did add something mentally to the squad last year. Gallas should have been a leader but clearly he was a basket case . The experienced players we add should also be someone who the other players can look up to on the pitch and have the prospect of adding something for at least a few years. I know its alot to ask for and difficult to quantify and identify in potential transfer targets but that should not stop us from trying. Adding a couple or 3 good players this summer does not invalidate project youth. It will not kill our best young players although it may speed the move away from the club for those who probably not make it anyway at AFC.

    Agree with Cbob’s post at 9:31 and your comment at 9:50. We have to start planning for winning today (next year) . Winning today and continuing to build for the future do not have to be mutually exclusive. Your comment about mental baggage at 9:50 in the current squad is also critical IMO. We need to move some of the players out and bring in some experienced players who can challenge for the first team and re-energize the players and the fans also. Many have talked about an adjustment in mental attitude is all that is needed and that may be true, but that is easier said then done especially after several years of recurring problems that you document. Adding some new faces is the easiest and best thing we can do at this point. Just for the sake of change I would also like to see some changes in the coaching staff and the addition of a defensive coach who may have a gruff edge to him to add some contrast the boss. We don’t need and can not afford a large scale overhaul and certainly we can not kill the youth academy or any of the great things we have accomplished but some changes would probably be good for everyone.

  144. Passenal | April 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    It was Wenger who created this expectation, before him there were no ‘rightful glory days’. Some people have very short and selective memories.

    That should be carved in stone above every entrance to the ground

  145. why did we not have such luck when we played Barcelona? now half their midfield is out! Even Tottenham would beat them now…

  146. ChrisGoona: A well written article. When playing time in the Premier League is added up on the team, there is a fair degree of experience to be had on this team.

    As has been mentioned on the blog today, there is a problem with hitting cross bars and the like which, if the sights on the team were corrected just a fraction, would have translated into a large number of victories. As well, many if not all commentary in the media, also remark, that Arsenal are a team that make one pass too many. I confess, that I wince on every occasion this ‘too many passes’ remark is made. In fact, I begin shaking with rage and begin spitting vitriol at the television. Again, as has been mentioned on the blog today perhaps the team could take a lesson from the Mancs on being more direct in our passing. Understand, that is not to say we should adopt the footballing style of the Mancs. I am quite happy with the Arsenal method.

  147. Well tbh its better to loose the title by a margin of 9 pnts than by a margin of 3 2 points. Cos if that was the case we all know it was the ref that disalowed Arsharvins goal vs Sunderland that really cost us the title. Or the refs leanience with penatlies at OT. Now atlest we can say we lost it on our own without help from any refs.

  148. 3 or 2 points that is not 32…

  149. Not able to watch but sounds from the gamecast like RM is really parking the bus. Adebayor, Benzema and Huguain all sitting on the subs bench and lesser Ronaldo as lone striker. Barca with 80% but not breakthrough. Sounds like the special one trying to repeat what Inter did last year.

  150. El Classico?? More El Borefest

  151. Abou Diaby is now on twitter, for those who have twitter.

    @AbouVDIABY

  152. Borges Spinelli

    Passenal,

    Speaking of being selective: you’ve done the exact same thing, by ignoring my central point and sensationalizing my innocuous, closing remark. Would you by any chance happen to be a tabloid reporter?

    Would you prefer for me to revel, as the the team wallows in mediocrity?

  153. Borges, the comment is hardly innocuous, it’s rather insidious in fact.

  154. What else is new, barca players feigning injury.

  155. pedro is such an actor man. And Barca is doing nothing but having posession on their on half really.. boring team to watch so far…

  156. YW,

    Good statement regarding Denilson’s rumoured wages. With this issue and the Armand one I guess I’m also looking at reasons why we so say have no money to spend.

  157. Is sure that he wants to join his boyhood club of fucking cheats?

    And I used to think the lesser Ronaldo was the diving sort, but this team is just full of cunts.

  158. I agree, Ateeb. Pedro just won the Oscar for best supporting Actress. Walks into Arbeola, rolls around on the ground for several minutes and in the end Arbeola even gets a yellow card??? The only player that should’ve been booked is Pedro, for diving and trying to con the ref.

  159. wow all this acting in farca v madrid is driving me nuts!!! how is the referee supposed to make calls when guys like Sergio Biscuits is on the pitch? he goes down holding his face after marcelo touches his torso.

  160. Biscuits trying to out do the Pedro dive

  161. Dupps
    despicable dive by biscuits. barca players are just cunts.

  162. Honestly, I don’t care if Barca are the best footballing side in the world, in the end, a big part of their team consists of diving and cheating cunts. I hope Mourinho does them and does them good. Nick a goal or two, sit back in the return leg and frustrate them Barca cunts to no end.

  163. I think the Barca players are getting frustrated their theatrical talents are not rewarded by the german ref. They probably say to eachother “what a cunt ref”.

  164. Ha ha. Exactly. Fuck this team of diving cunts. Embarrassing to a fan of such a club, that not only encourages this sort of behavior, but keeps such players as well. I hope despite their trophies, this team does go into history as one that was of diving cheats. And it’s not just Pedro or biscuits, but right down to their bigger players like Messi and Xavi who do the same. And the way they run up to the referee, is hilarious. As if no one in the world is watching what their players are doing. We’ve got too much class, and our fans are envious towards Barca. Screw them.

  165. Limestonegunner

    Unbelievable divers, these Barca cretins. Mourinho found an 18 wheeler to park on the pitch–2 holding midfielders and a converted CB in midfield, Ronaldo as striker, and 3 strikers and an attacking midfielder who use to be player of the year on the bench. He is on a one man mission to kill football as a form of entertainment!

  166. look the Barca players make a mess of it in the tunnel. im just waiting for the famouse “throat grab” in second half. Wonder if you can place a bet on that.

  167. El Crapico again – whatever Barcelona’s antics I still can’t see how any neutral would wish Maureen and his boring football success.

  168. how bout them gunners eh?

  169. I don’t care if Mourinhio parks a submarine on the pitch. I just want him to stuff these team of diving cheats. But hey, Barca can entertain you with some real good acting, if the football gets boring!

  170. Limestonegunner

    Isn’t it a yellow card offense to try to deceive the ref–simulation? How does Barca not have at least 3 yellow cards for blatantly trying to get RM players sent off by feigning that they have been attacked. Between Mourinho killing the game and Barca treating it as Renaissance dramatic tragedy (with multiple death scenes), this game is almost aggravating. There has been more arguing with the ref than any kind of attacking play. There should have been 5 minutes of extra time for stoppages, but the ref decided to spare us!

    Let’s hope someone can do something in the second half.

  171. @OoU
    Well, I for one just do not like the exaggerated form of cheating. I mean, some of the exaggerated falling and rolling is part of Spanish football, but Barca take it and make an art form out of it. Against any other team I would be against Mourinho, but the only way Barca entertained me tonight has been with their acting. I just find it disgraceful that the dirtiest team in football should prevail. No matter how good they play football.

  172. Limestonegunner

    I have to agree with you, Evil. As opposed as I am to Mourinho and Real for what they represent, the Barca act is so disgusting that I am tempted to favor them. This CL competition gives us very little hope for football and no one left to root for, except for a Schalke miracle.

  173. Borges Spinelli

    There’s a succinct difference between an impassioned plea to Wenger, to restore us back to winning order, and calling for his head to be hung above the turnstile. The latter, definitely, is an insidious position to hold.

    Anyhoo, Passenal, it’s not worth falling out over, buddy; let’s enjoy the El Clasico.

  174. Colney

    The reason for the in-fighting is that those who weren’t around before Wenger want the success he brought to continue. They don’t know anything more than that, the hardship that is required to bring on the continued success or the wrong choices that will be made along that road. That this is only the third Golden Age in Arsenal’s history. Out of 125 years of existence.

    But they’ll tell you in no uncertain terms that you are just an Arsene supporter.

    YW

  175. I dunno, Evil, I think I’m just hardwired to root for the team that tries to play football. The playacting’s ugly, but Mourinho’s not averse to dirty tricks and gamesmanship either.

    For one, in the league match 10 days ago he got Marcelo to jump and wave his arms around on the 18-yard box in Valdes’ line of sight when Madrid had their penalty – sounds innocuous, but it made for a really ugly spectacle. And then Arbeloa spent the first half of the cup game kicking Villa off the ball.

    And watch his players niggle at Valdes on setpieces now they don’t have a sub ‘keeper.

  176. Barcelona get another dubious decision go their way and they are so full of class that even the goalie runs out to tell the ref to give Pepe a red card.

    What a set they are!

  177. Limestonegunner

    Pinto red carded. What a shambles. Now Pepe and Mourinho. Will Uefa ever require Barca to play against 11 men again in the knockout stages of the Champions League?

  178. Hilarious. He wins the ball, both went for the same ball the same way. Pepe’s mistake? He didn’t dive like a bitch. This CL just smells really fishy now. Barca needed one of our players to get sent off to win, and same here. Well screw this.

    OuU?

    Would you reconsider lending your support to madrid, after that ALves play acting? Come on. We can do with you backing us up.

  179. omg i cant belive that, im expecting Alves to come back any minute now…

  180. Paul – they are cheats

  181. Will UEFA ever allow barca to play against 11 men? Or is that not part of the plan?

  182. I have never seen a team crowd a ref like that before, they have no class at all.

  183. Borges Spinelli

    That was harsh! These Catalans are lucky herd of slimeballs, when it comes to refereeing decisions going their way.

  184. oh the “injured” alves is already back, after faking it. this is such a farce…. does anybody take Barcelona serious anymore? we all knwo they cheated their way to the fina if they win now…

  185. agreed dups!

    they have no shame at all!

  186. Passenal | April 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm |

    “For my sanity and thousand others’ well-being, I hope Monsieur Wenger can stem the decadence and return the Arsenal back to its rightful, glory days.”

    It was Wenger who created this expectation, before him there were no ‘rightful glory days’. Some people have very short and selective memories.

    Passenal, I think you’re being a bit to harsh on Borges. Its not like he’s calling for Wenger to be sacked.
    From that perspective, how is it wrong to ask for the glory days back from the man who was himself the architect of the clubs most successful spell?

  187. we knew that in part already Poodle, they are very good no doubt but how can the obvious be ignored?
    I cannot believe that the whole of England didnt get behind Arsenal given the joke of a ref and decision.

  188. El Crappio more like Evil, Didier Drogba was right this is a disgrace to football for all the tiki taka barca are a load of dirty cheating c@nts, stupid tackle by pepe but WTF was that by Alves . And arsenal are called weak,?Real are no better. This is exactly what mourinho wanted. When are we ever going to see a game were barca play a decent game gainst a team with more than ten players. Is this the crap that sep blatter keeps bleating on about.We will be back next season even stronger…hopefully and tw@t them into oblivion.COYG.

  189. YW

    Thanks for responding. You are correct when you say people want Wenger to replicate his past successes, but even those fans must know we don’t live in an ideal world. There are unforeseen challenges along the way and only through perseverance can we succeed. I have always wondered why people who are always up in arms don’t go support another club?

    On a lighter note, what camp are you in Yogi :D.

  190. There goes fifa’s resepct campaign out the window. RVP doesnt here a whistle and Barca and Real players crowd referees and try to influence deciosns is considered to be sporting behaviour is it

  191. Gooner4life, I saw nothing in that tackle that warrented a sending off. A yellow would be harsh actually.

  192. oh and my puntids are just jizzzing over that goal. they love Barce so so so much!

  193. the irony is that Murino said this yesterday and Guardioloa got so angy, Murino was right though, willingly or not. the fact he said it and it comes true is just so dogey….

  194. Alves, Biscuits & Pedro would embarrass me if I was a Barca fan.

  195. People moaned about Eboue diving but this is bloody awful.

  196. Guardiola is such a lucky coach.

  197. yes, having the refs on your side must be lovely for a manager.

  198. Last of The Country Gentlemen

    What an ugly match this has been

  199. I guess if we get Guardiola as a replacement for Wenger we will walk the CL. Not sure about the league though.

  200. Sorry, this is what can happen when you turn up to contain at home.

    It makes me even prouder of our performance – went toe to toe and deservedly won the first leg against this lot.

  201. In my opinion Guardiola is overrated, any coach who swaps Eto for Ibrahimovic has no clue what he’s doing. He’s lucky to have great players at his disposal.

  202. Funny this is OOU that RM though not having much of the ball had more shots that Barca at one point.

    But the sending off changed the game to be honest. RM didnt deserve that to happen to them.

  203. it is clear that Wengers current reign divides opinion and each to thier own. For the short sighted amongst us Wengers efforts and principles have been nothing short of phenomenal and got us to a position where we are consitently punching above our weight and which in comparison , any other club would not have been able to achieve given the financial constraints.We are even a top draw team now in Europe. can anyone rememeber the heartbreaks of Wembley and Batigol!!!!! Our time is coming and that will be a great day. The players and fans just have to beleive. Wenger is clearly disappointed with the players and they cant be enjoying the years they are putting onto the Manager. But as he states the buck stops with him and hopefully he will have taken a good long look at where things went wrong and changing that for the coming season. The team have also shown that they want and need the presence of older wiser heads when the going gets tough to calm things down or motivate the team when the chips are down.Maybe Vermaelaen is the missing link. Although United have been ordinary their defensive mindset has been key and the experience of van der sar., vidic and ferdinand, evra has complimented the raw energy of hernandez and rooney and the ordinary but herculean efforts of their midfield. Also our high intensity game seems to leave us with the tank empty in the final stages of the season. one year wiser and stronger. COYG. The Midget has also single handedly won el classico part 3,,,a diamond in a cesspit of sh@t

  204. funny thing is…

    more shots than…

  205. The day barca wins an important tie against 11 men then i will take notice. all the goals came after the sending off.

  206. We played barca at their own game and beat them at the emirates, nuff said!

  207. ManU vs. Barca. Gag.

    I guess Barca is easier to swallow for me then RM but a close call.

  208. Messi is a great player but he behaves no different than the rest, he actually blasted a ball into the stands and busted a woman in the face in the Copa Del Rey match against RM. No apology either.

  209. @Paul N
    And that is truly saddening. I would’ve thought that Messi, knowing he is the best player in the world, would at least show some class, but no, he is a cunt and one of the worst. Add to that his constant diving (Denilson got a yellow card in the return leg last year after a dive by Messi).

  210. I don’t think there’s any doubt Barcelona came closest before the sending off though, Paul. If you show up at your own place and your plan is stifle and nick a goal on set pieces you’re taking a risk. They used up so much energy by opting to cede possession and closing down, and had no legs once the space started opening up after the red card.

    I’ve got no real affinity for Barcelona – I’d root for any team against them as long as they have a go…and aren’t managed by Maureen. Lesser of two evils for me.

  211. funny how graeme sounness is lambasting mourinho and his tactics, the same man who has said in the past Arsenal need to change the way they play. am i missing something here?

  212. OOU, as an Arsenal supporter I really dont focus too much on who cames closest. We would almost never lose based on that.
    I may not like the style that Mourinho plays but fair is fair, if his play keeps the ball out of the net, he has a right to do it.

    Since Barcelona beat our team unfairly, I would prefer RM. Now if the other team was United that would be different.

  213. Off topic, but can anyone please explain to me, what exactly has Squillacy done wrong?

  214. Paulie Walnuts

    Looks like we`re going to get the CL Final `everyone wants to see` (they mean EUFA) – with Rooney & his evil twin Dani Alves pitted against each other at Wem-ber-ley. Urgh.

    Is there a Respect campaign in the CL by the way ?

  215. I wish Messi scores a quadruple against Manure

  216. mj_gunner – he didn’t cost £23 million so he cannot be any good.

  217. Paulie Walnuts

    Colney,

    The only thing you`re missing is this vital piece of knowledge – Souness is a twat

  218. I know that it’s not really cool to like Barca right now, and in some ways I totally agree, but you have to say that Mourinho got everything he deserves. Real madrid have Casillas, Pepe, Marcelo, Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi alonso… and they basically do a Stoke. Madrid were playing at home remember and we saw no ambition, no sense of risk, and nothing but cynicism. And Pepe deserved to go off… if that tackle had been on one of our players rather than that c*nt Alves I’d be screaming at the TV (BTW Andy Townsend is a moron). I hate the Barca media love-in with a passion but the day has not yet arrived when I’d support the utterly cynical anti-football approach of Mourinho.

    And for all the muppet who constantly wither on about Wenger’s tactical limitations… compare and contrast what you saw tonight with what we did we a less experienced team… if only we had Kaka on the bench. The down side of the loss by Madrid tonight is this…I’m getting the feeling that Real will soon be sniffing around Wenger again very soon, may be tomorrow… and if the marching morons (imagine marching for better commercial activity whilst lamenting the club releasing two shirts a season! What do these idiots think that commercial activity entails… oh and they are marching to keep our away strip yellow too. We need a march for that?) aren’t careful they may well get their unstated wish.

  219. So please, can someone throttle this idea that Mourinho is the best coach in the world. Aaah, you did, thank you Pep.

  220. Joshua
    If Wenger leaves, I could see Fabregas handing in a transfer request, same with Nasri, and Sagna.

  221. Colney

    If Guardiola is overrated, what is Mourinho?

    As for which camp I’m in, not sure… 😎

    YW

  222. Well, the red card for Pepe was softer than the one Cahill received for his challenge on Chamakh.

  223. YW

    Mourinho is vastly overrated in my opinion. The only way Pep could succeed in England is if you paired him with a sporting director. You can’t trust him to “buy the groceries and prepare dinner as well”

  224. Joshua is right,Madrid got exactly what they deserved,f.all.
    Any manager who sets up like that at home is a tactical moron.Having said that it worked for old red nose against us in the FAcup.

  225. Colney…

    Quite right. Whatever chance we have of Cesc staying goes up in smoke if Wenger leaves. And Nasri’s Dad is supposedly often seen at the Camp Nou ( I don’t know how true that is TBF) but Nasri could play for any of the big teams out there and they’d pay him more too …

    What really gets me is that Madrid have a fantastic side that can take on Barca at football. The quality is there… Benzema is a fine, fine footballer. Ronaldo is not only a fine footballer but he has the mentality of a champion ( he’s a tosser too but that is by the by) De Maria and Segio Ramos, etc are all excellent and technically gifted footballers… and what is Mourinho doing with them? That man annoys the living crap out of me. Good night every body.

  226. Especially considering the team Barca had to put out I feel that with a more offensive team Real could’ve really gotten a result. So Mourinho, tactical genius, got outwitted because he for some reason decided to play for a 0-0 at home.

  227. Real Madrid were doing just fine until the ludicrous red card. Some people have to get off their high horse with this ‘attacking football’ business. You can play any way you want, and Mourinho sets up the way he sees fit, and only an idiot would argue that it hasn’t been effective for him. If we didn’t have a player sent off against Barcelona, I’m confident we would have progressed, and today was de ja vu:

    Barca dominating posession, the other team relatively comfortable containing and looking for a break.

    Then the ref intervenes with a bullshit red card and that’s your lot. What a joke.

  228. Btw. Cesc did something very similar to Pepe last season. Two players going for a high ball or Cesc trying to block the ball but it basically played out almost the same way Pepe’s foul happened. Back then Cesc didn’t even get a card and I remember saying that it should’ve been a yellow. Not going to change that opinion now, even if it’s a player I don’t particularly care about

  229. When it comes to attacking football I maintain the opinion that possession is one thing, but if you can’t create chances you don’t deserve to win a game, even if you have 95% possession. With 11 players on each side Real had created more chances.

  230. Correct Evil, Madrid had more chances up until the sending off with only about 25% possession.

    Lets call it how it really is, again the ref decided the tie and thats not good for the game, is it?

  231. MJ said,
    “Off topic, but can anyone please explain to me, what exactly has Squillacy done wrong?”

    I am trying to find out the same thing. He only came on and played well recently and all you hear is that he is not good. I am sure with a run of games he will do the job and quite well.

  232. “possession football allows you to control the game, but penetrative football wins games” – Stewart Robson

  233. Bob…

    It wasn’t a ludicrous red card. It was a dangerous tackle and the guy deserved to go and please don’t anyone dare compare Pepe’s red card to Van P’s. They have absolutely nothing in common.

    And if everyone played like Mourinho no one would watch the game. What is the point of having Ronaldo, Benzema, Kaka, Xabi alonso, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and on and on… and setting up defensively at home in front of 90,000 of your own supporters. It’s the equivalent of using a Ferrari as a mini cab, isn’t it?… and he is on 10m a year or something. And I’m on a high horse?

    It’s not my problem if you make rubbish judgements, Bob… the man has now lost by an aggregate of 11-3 (or something like that) to Barca this year alone. 11-3 and Madrid have a talent that cost 80m on the fielded and another that cost 50m on the bench and their fans are watching football that makes creosoting a fence sound interesting. If Mournho doesn’t win all you’ve got is basically sh*t on a stick.. and you want to talk to me about high horses? Just because you are lying in the gutter doesn’t mean that I’m on a high horse mate… the problem with you is that your sights are set so low that you can see past a mound of dog sh*t.

    Good night. Really.

  234. JM did not play for 0-0 at home. He knew that Barca would be there for the taking in the last twenty minutes.He watched us play them four times and that was how it was going for three of those games. He also knows that when Barcelona United play in Europe, they have the patronage of UEFA. To the extent that referees will send opposition players off if BU look threatened. JM watched RvP get sent off in our game in the Gnu Camp…and he learned. He predicted, and he was correct in his prediction. Barcelona United’s credentials are tainted, stained forever more. They are not a great team because enormous question marks hang over them. They are fixers, and the press and media collude in it. It is an utter disgrace.

  235. It was an utterly ludicrous red card and Daniel Alves is one of the modern games biggest cheats.

  236. Actually, Mourinho confirmed as much in the interview afterwards, Frank. He said that the plan was to go all out in the last 20 minutes with three strikers and a no 10.

  237. I hope that Cesc goes in the Summer. It is better for Arsenal.

  238. Joshua, I usually agree with you but that red card was more than a joke.

  239. Even the special one can’t overcome the antics of UEFA’s darling team.

    Stumbling Cheats meat Arrogant Cu*ts

  240. Joshua,

    Everyone else thinks it was ludicrous, Pepe even got the ball. The fact that it’s not comparable to RVP’s is neither here nor there.

    If you don’t want to watch Mourinho’s football that’s fine with me as well. Whether you agree with it or not, or think it’s boring has nothing to do with the fact that it’s effective for him, as his trophy haul proves.

    Nothing wrong with my judgements. What happened to Mourinho tonight, happened to us, and it was a farce. The 5-0 loss was a one-off, that much is obvious seeing as it was his heaviest loss ever as far as I’m aware, and that loss distorts the aggregate. It’s like saying the 6-1 loss at Old Trafford years ago is indicative of Wenger’s games against Utd. Either way, there’s not much else to say.

    Basically your argument amounts to ‘they used all that money so I ought to get some eye candy’.

  241. G4E – is that your line-up for the final?

  242. Didn’t think of that dupsffokcuf, but good catch mate. 🙂

    An occasion worthy of Wimbledon

  243. Getting the ball doesn’t excuse the severity of the tackle. But i do agree that the red was a bit harsh.

  244. I’m sorry but the idea that Real Madrid are less an establishment team than Barca is a freaking joke… how clueless do you have to be to believe that Barca are UEFA’s darlings and Real are not?. And some of you really ought to wise up… Mourinho doesn’t give a flying fuck about RVP or Arsenal… he was playing mind games and using us as part of that and his mind games didn’t work. Madrid have played Barca how many times this season?… and how many has Jose won? Madrid are where in the league compared to Barca in a 2 team league?…how many points are the behind Barca? Is that UEFA’s doing too?

    And why is he learning from Wenger? … what did he say about Wenger at the beginning of the season? Google it if you don’t know. Mourinho is a SH1T and he and his team deserved nothing tonight and that’s what they got… nothing. And Pepe’s offence was a red card. I only wish that more people were sent off for that kind of stupid tackling because we won’t be getting the horrendous injuries we get. Mourinho lost because he didn’t have the guts to play Barca at football. Give Wenger that Madrid team and let’s see what happens..

    I can bet that he won’t be waiting for the last 20 minutes. people talk as if wenger delibrately set out defend the way we did at the Camp Nou… look at the team he picked! Jose wasn’t doing anything Wenger would have done… we attacked Barcelona at home from the word go… they had a 30 minute spell of dominance but we were a threat from the off. Wenger didn’t wait for the last 20 minutes… it’s just that barca give so much at the beginning of matches especially at home and we are equipped with our pace, quick breaks, attacking instincts and passing to exploit it… more than any other team in Europe IMHO… and to be blunt they never pressed Madrid like they press us so there’s nothing to suggest that Madrid would have gained the upper hand in the latter stages. Some folks are just easily fooled it seems.

  245. Bob…

    There’s nothing in law about GETTING THE BALL, you are just repeating the sort of stuff that is a staple on Sky sports. You can get the ball and still be guilty of serious foul play. Go and read the rules. It was a sending off offence. May be some folks are blinded by their Barca envy. I would have sent Pepe off… and I detest Barca.

  246. Limestonegunner

    Frank is exactly right. And that is what I was getting at in my preview post above–Arsenal showed the way this season against those arrogant cheats. Mourinho has done it before with Inter but the most recent matchup that demonstrated what Barcelona were susceptible to was ours. RM doesn’t have the same defensive solidity as his Inter team. This was a replay of our second leg–Barca scores two goals after a man is sent off.

    As much as I despise Mourinho and what RM under Perez stand for, the cheats of Barca really get my goat. Not just Alves; Busquets is a close second and now Pedro and Messi were getting in the act.

    The whole thing shows how football is doomed. Arsenal is the only salvation.

  247. I found a clip of the Cesc tackle. So, the same people that say that Pepe deserved his straight red card, would you agree, that yellow for Cesc after this challenge was soft and red would’ve been the more appropriate colour?

    I don’t see much difference between this tackle and the one by Pepe. And both are yellow card offences in my opinion.

  248. @Joshua
    Would you have sent off Fabregas?

  249. Paul N…
    I’ve just watched the incident again and I’m even more convinced than before. he caught Alves high dangerously… a red card wasn’t harsh at all. We don’t always have to agree 🙂

    Goodnight mate

  250. I think you are getting confused, Joshua. Most of us could give a fuck about JM or Real Madrid. I am certainly no fan of either, but there is a pattern to Barcelona United’s European results and their behaviour off the pitch. The only common factor with the RvP decision was that the red card today was a rotten decision at a crucial stage in the game…again. It was predictable and it was predicted. Barcelona have become a monster, which is a huge black cloud over their ability and quality.

  251. Best two teams in europe in the final thats how it should be .Unlike 2004 when we were the best team in the world and got knocked out in the QF

    United are good but Barcelona are a brilliant football team and will beat United as easily as they did in 2009.As for Messi wonderful player

    Greedybayor Ha Ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  252. Well Joshua, all I can do is disagree. Pretty much everyone else agrees that it wasn’t worthy of a red card, though.

  253. I completely agree with what Frank said. This ‘send off an opposition player if Barcelona look troubled’ bullshit is becoming a joke.

  254. Frank…

    the RVP decision was utterly ridiculous. Pepe deserved to be sent off. There’s nothing to compare. You cannot tackle like that. Simple. I’m sorry but if your moral compass is so askew that you judge the severity of a tackle depending on whom the tackle is on then you cannot complain when xenophobes say that our foreigners are fair game. Pepe deserved to go and he went.. that’s it. Mourniho didn’t have the balls to play Barca at football so he lost. My heart breaks for him. Not. And for those saying that he learn’t from Wenger… at no time during our home match against barca were we as passive and defensive as Real were tonight, WE WERE ALWAYS A THREAT… and we don’t have Ronaldo.

    Time for bed… tomorrow is a work day.

  255. When Barcelona knocked out Chelsea two years ago when they should have had 4 penalties.There was so sympathy for the Chavs we were laughing our heads off
    And if Barca get Rooney send off in the final and beat them we will be loving it big style.Fuck Utd

  256. Limestonegunner

    The real myth is that Barcelona come to play football. They come to deceive, lobby, and harass the referee. In short, they plan to dive and cheat to get opponents sent off so they have the space to play. It clearly has become a vital tactic in their overall strategy. It has now happened in several important European matches over a few seasons, so I don’t think it can simply be dismissed as the dynamic of their games. Their systematic play acting and harassment of the referee demonstrates that it is actually a principle of their play. That is utterly bankrupt.

  257. Joshua
    Barcelona is UEFA’s darling daughter that has a step sister then?

  258. http://twitpic.com/4q9s5z

    AS has been accused of manipulating images…

  259. UnbiasedTobias

    So yea, if barca progress to the finals with united then I’d rather barca won.
    And both us and chelsea have to beat united, along wit united losing somewhere else and chelsea winning all der games.
    That would make united trophyless
    And would help to ease the pain of this season.

    Its sad I know but I really h8 united. People have told me I hate them more than I love arsenal
    Nt sure if that’s true but…

  260. Not for the first time either if I recall, YW.

    Good posts again, Joshua.

  261. I think that your assessment of the game is clouded by your hatred of JM, Joshua. I hate him too, but that was not a red card offence, and it changed the game. Again.

  262. Evil: “So Mourinho, tactical genius, got outwitted because he for some reason decided to play for a 0-0 at home.”

    He didn’t get outwitted. This comment assumes that Mourinho has any tactical wherewithal to begin with. Which is wrong. His problem is that he’s a charlatan who lacks balls and got steam rolled for parking the bus.

    I’m afraid he bit off more than he can chew with this one. By the way, he’s about the fifth or sixth manager Real Madrid has had since Wanderlei Luxemburgo stepped in for world cup champion Vicente Del Bosque. And how many leagues have they won since then? One. The one where Cappello won it and then got sacked shortly after. This push for a manager is a rotten organism that shouldn’t be let into our club.

    Bill, see what happens when you try to apease the plastics and not the fans who will be loyal to the club even when the chips are down? Real Madrid would be taking the right steps to right their ship instead of trying to impress everyone with their big name buys. Meanwhile, Barcelona has had basically the same squad Rijkaard built and is winning everything because of its continuity. Go figure.

  263. From Alex Song’s FB –
    ”we are confident in beating man utd this sunday, we need to gain our respect. The team is physically and mentally prepared for this big encounter.
    ALEX SONG”

    & some of the responses –

    ‘i hav been a gunner since i was a kid but i dont want arsenal to win the league because if we do arsene wenger would not buy any players.fab must go,sneijder must come.almunia must go,given must come,squillaci must go,cahill must come’

    ‘ Honestly wit no disrespect, am tired of dis mental strenght stuff. All we want is result nd tropies, emulate man u’s winnin mentality cos presently i don’t c eni 1 at man u bt dey win al d same. Make us proud guys’

    ‘ we are tired of dis talks…am a gunner from infancy and about 6yrs we are tropheless…arsene wenger must go.!..against man utd alex song is not easy…but make us happy’

    ‘alex are u sure of what u re saying coz i know man utd are far better dan us coz they av gud players and d way they possess their game luk na they won shalk 04 2 goals 2 knee in d tuesday champions league.i just hope u re sure of what u re saying.’

    ‘U r the worst team ever. 2 my surprise u r the most talented side we hv hd. U lack atitude. Am an arsenal support bt man utd is far ahead. Hv that wilshere atitude in ol of u…’

    ‘ Dats a lie,d arsenal squad is filled wiv losers nd we dnt v d mental strength 2 beat hull city,down down arsenal’

  264. OoU have to say im hardwired the sameway..

    lesser of two evils..

    Joshua I just keep agreeing with you, I think i’m going to get a shirt printed with your name to honor you..

  265. UnbiasedTobias

    So an arsenal player tries to envoke confidence andbelief in himself and, the fans, and he gets slated like that.
    Its sad…
    But most of the FB arsenal fans don’t know what they talking about.
    Should read what people say on almunia’s wall everyday. Its ridiculous.
    That’s the kind of attitude that permeates into the stadiums

  266. Is Messi better then Bale?

  267. Limestonegunner

    Kitchen Sink, will it be a Barca shirt!?:)

  268. I am in no way a fan of Real Madrid, but the antics of Barca are a fucking disgrace. I have never seen a bigger bunch of cheating, diving, slimy cunts than those at Barca right now. Barca has just entered my top three hated teams in the world…if that is the best that football has to offer, then football is in a sad, sad state of affairs.

  269. Like anything else in the world we can look at only what we achieved and under what circumstances. You can also peg your own accomplishments against others.

    We are no one to tell Sir Wenger how to perceive his work. He sees a physical manifestation of his work everyday, The Emirates Stadium. It is probably worth more than all the trophies SAF has won.

    Yet, I think people hide under one’s own metric if things don’t go the way they did. Is there an explanation for the surrender that happened since the game at carling cup. It has nothing to do with supporters, management and the outside world. It was due to him, his staff and the eleven on the pitch.

    Faith and Obsistance are two words that mean the same things, but are just separated on the result, success or failure.

    I hope for his own sake, he can see clearly what ails our players. I don’t know. I only see them for 90 mins every weekend ‘ Like the most of us’. I just hope he has the strength to change things even if he finds it is against some of his principles.

    I don’t want him to leave Emirates with bitterness and a feeling of letdown by the supporters and fans. But maybe he might not be helping his chances by aiding guys like Diaby and Denilson, who sometimes dont know what it is like to play for Arsenal. ( I am prejudiced here as i mentioned earlier, i only see them for 90 mins).

    In the end, there is a discord between Arsenal Supporters and Wenger. He needs to either clear our expectation by saying we are only a Top4 club, and i will deliver on that. Cool!!….that might hurt a bit but its ok.

    But if he mentions in the beginning of the season as he has done so for the last 4 seasons, that we are here to win it, then it is about time that he does things that allow him to do it.

  270. Both teams from last night should be charged by FIFA for failing to control their players. Every single foul resulted in the refferee being surrounded. It was disgusting behaviour by both sets of players. I thought the ref actually did pretty well, but it was never a red card.

    If it is a Manure Vs Barca final, it leaves me with a huge dilema. I really really can’t stand Barca, but on the other hand there is no way I want another English club to win the CL. It is a lose/lose situation 😦

  271. More than a club, a film studio.

  272. ‘Obsistance’, now there’s a word, or maybe not

  273. Messi couldn’t do it at the San Siro, so Bale’s definitely the better player.

  274. GA,
    It’s all felt like a lose/lose situation for me since that CC final. Two many thing going ‘wrong’ even when its not got much to do with AFC! For instance wouldn’t it have been nice if Barca were a decent team in terms of ethics? At least we would have a team to root for because the fact is of all the top teams, they play the closest thing to our style .
    I used to be a Barca fan as well , but their antics these past few seasons have really put me off. I didn’t bother to watch the game yesterday because they just annoy me now.There is no doubt in my mind that all the diving and theatrics are a part of their overall strategy (as opposed to one player e.g. Ebuoe, acting out) and that’s just sad.
    The problem of course is that I can’t really root for them to lose either because that just means either Mourinho or Fergie wins the CL. A lose/lose situation indeed… 🙂 There really isn’t anything realistic to look forward to footballing wise this season is there?

  275. UnbiasedTobias

    That’s what we’ve come to expect from barca, its how they play… Its so rotten, but if you ask barca fans if barca deny they will deny flatly.
    Even in the world cup, iniesta was horrible with his play acting, but good old howard webb bought into it.

  276. The only good that could happen now is some sort of mass brawl which see’s both teams in trouble. Madrid were diving all over the place last night as well. Di Maria, seemed to desperately trying to “out-dive” Alves.

  277. UnbiasedTobias

    Henristic, me too. Barca was like my second team, even after the 2006 CL final, but their diving and harrassing the ref and their plastic fans piss me off too much.
    The way they’ve stolen so many of our players irritates me aswell.
    Just over that squad, them and united. Fk them

  278. For a manager whose first club had to go to court in order to defend that winning mentality* which helped Mourinho acheive his first bauble, he doth protest too much.

    *The mysterious scandal known as the case of the Golden Whistle.

  279. *******s.
    >achieve.

  280. ## We love you Arsenal, we do,
    ## We love you Arsenal, we do,
    ## We love you Arsenal, we do,
    ## Oh Arsenal we love you!

  281. 1 loose cannon

    Rvp said after the barcelona. That catalans are the worst team He ever played against when it comes to moaning and harassing the ref and the diving that goes with it . It is a tactic that works for them everytime. It is clear now the refs favour the bastardos.

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