Midfield Can’t Be Left A-loan And Leading Issues

Ahead of the visit of Chelsea to The Emirates this weekend, the news is quite mixed. Seeking equilibrium on scales is not going to work with Abou Diaby‘s 45 minutes of action in a friendly against Oman not balancing out fears over Mikel Arteta’s season being over, by a long shot. Or lead weight, whichever you prefer.

Not confirmed on the official website, The Guardian reports that scans showed ankle ligament damage. This ties in with Arsène’s comments post-Wigan that the injury was not a simple twist. It is a blow but not an unexpected one; at this stage of the season, it is one that the club could do without. His absence will mean a reshuffled pack in midfield, an early thought is that Aaron Ramsey would start but it is one complicated by Benayoun’s absence due to the Premier League ruling on loan players being ineligible to play against their parent club.

The fear of a below-par performance is misplaced; would a player want to be tarred with the brush of what is essentially, corruption? More iniquitous in the loan system is that wages are partially paid by clubs in the same division. Arsenal are as culpable of this with the players loaned out but it is this rather than team selection which is the biggest issue. Making clubs focus their attention on wages is part of the much vaunted but soon to be ill-fated, FFP regulations introduced by Uefa.

Focus though must now turn to Chelsea, who will no doubt be bouyed by their win last night and indeed their recent form. One man at the centre of attention is Robin van Persie, mainly for the wrong reasons this week although it has been refreshing to see a number of journalists recognising his performances by pledging their support for him in the FWA Player of the Season Award. I am not entirely sure that will be enough for him to win that.

For van Persie, his elevation in the game might not come as any surprise. He has always been confident when talking of his abilities, an arrogance brought on by the mastery of his craft. That arrogance is a positive; I do not recall him using it disparagingly toward others but certainly as a motivational tool. van Persie may have taken to the central striker role more quickly than he anticipated but it was question marks over his fitness that mainly surfaced.

Few have been raised over his captaincy. He has displayed leadership qualities which suggest this time Arsène may have got it right in handing the armband to the best player in the squad. In the case of Cesc, it was a sop too far for the young man whose temperament on the pitch was impacted by his unsettled personal circumstance. That desire to return home should have precluded the responsibility given to him. In defence of player and club, they had been badly let down by William Gallas and there were few alternatives. A brave decision would have been to give the captaincy to Thomas Vermaelen but it is understandable that the manager wanted someone who understood the ethos of the club and had it ingrained in his character. Even so, it seems that the decision had more to do with keeping him at the club.

Wenger has long held the view that captaincy is not as important as it is widely held in this country. Fabio Capello certainly underlined that with the England role and I grasp their belief that each player should be strong, be a leader in their own right. Yet if you look at the current squad, you can see as many players who are not leaders as those that are. In that sense, the captaincy is important as a focal point is needed to bring those strong elements together. It is accentuated by Arsenal’s history in the position.

Even in lean times, there has normally been a strong captain. In good times even more so with McLintock, Adams back through to time to Tom Parker. It went awry when perhaps more than ever Arsenal needed it. For the all of his legendary feats, I do not perceive Henry to have been a good captain. Some of that was not his fault with younger players admitting to being intimidated by his reputation. That is not necessarily a problem if one or two make that suggestion but when the number is bigger than that, it is an issue when the captain casts a bigger shadow over the club.

van Persie is helped by the fact that he has experienced players at the back, accompanied by capable in midfield. That combination makes his job easier although there are times when influencing the play from an advanced position is more difficult. Arguably, the clubs best captains have defenders although Joe Mercer proves the exception to the rule.

Whether Arsène actually took much consideration of that in appointing the Dutchman is unknown but the responsibility seems to have been positive on van Persie with his best season in terms of fitness and goals. A return to goalscoring ways on Saturday would be most welcome.

’til Tomorrow.


Posted on April 19, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 119 Comments.

  1. @Yogi
    So when the “move” happens, what will happen to “Arsenal On This Day”? Will it be integrated into the main site or will it stay where it is?

  2. As for yesterday. Chelsea were clever in their play. One proper chance and they made it count. Lucky on several occasions but in the end I guess their fighting performance merited the win. But if they were already battered like this at home it’s quite easy to imagine that with more clinical finishing it might be a cricket score in the return leg. Some called it a good defensive performance, but when you allow 4 shots from really close range, I do not think it’s that “good”. Chelsea will have to double their efforts if they want to progress.

    Some context.
    Possession: Chelsea 30%/Barca 70%,
    Shots on target: Chelsea 2/Barca 15.

    When we played them last year:
    Posssession: Arsenal 47%/Barca 53%,
    Shots on Target: Arsenal 8/Barca 7

  3. Evil

    Don’t know but since you’ve mentioned Arsenal on this Day, here’s today’s shameless plug, http://afchistory.wordpress.com/ when Stoke City RFC were dumped out of the FA Cup. Again.

    Expecting to sort out the hosting in the next few days.

  4. YW – you are probably right, but I simply cannot understand how they can award the Player of the Season to anyone else, other than RVP.

    I certainly understand your scepticism and suspicion, but the obvious alternative candidate, Silva, has to my mind had, very much, a season of two halves.

    I don’t see anyone else in the running – ask any neutral and they’ll almost automatically confirm RVP as the runaway favourite.

    Giving it to Silva, if it happens, would be a travesty but then no stupider then when it was given to Giggs for half a season’s excellence and bag full of nostalgia.

    I guess I should stop trying to make sense of the insensible and the indefensible.


  5. I would have no arguments with RVP winning any award out there. However my personal favourite player of the season is Little Mozart. He has made me smile.

  6. @Jonny
    You’ve jinxed it now. Scholes to win it.

  7. Evil that would be some achievement – he isn’t even on the shortlist!

  8. Oh, I didn’t even know they were at that stage. After having checked the names that are on it, I guess that Silva will win it if Manchester City win the title. Otherwise it’ll probably — and rightfully — go to Robin. But what about Rooney? If he eclipses his personal best goal tally and ManU win the league?

  9. Yup the rejuvenation of TR7 has been a joyous, thrilling weave in the fabric of the season – a great story of overcoming the odds – and fitting reward for Arsene’s faith and Tomas’ indefatigable determination.
    Big props to The 1 & Only also – best I have felt about an Arsenal keeper since Big Dave.

  10. jonnyneale – I concur with every word.

  11. Limestonegunner

    I’d enjoy RvP winning these individual awards but think that satisfaction will only come for him and us by winning some competitions. I think with a proper summer of business and preparation, we should be in a strong position, especially if we win third this season. That is still crucial.

  12. Evil – I think it is awarded this Sunday!

    Having viewed the bookies, it’s a straight up fight between Silva and RVP.

    It looks as though Silva is shading it but for the life of me I have not got a clue why – first half of the season he was awesome, but he has fallen away since then. He created seven chances against Norwich, and got an assist, but it was his first since January 22 against the Spuds.

  13. Limestonegunner

    Arteta, Kiscielny’s development into our best defender and the return of the Rosicky of 2008 before his injury have all been thrilling developments this season. Add some excitement about the Ox who is a genuine talent and it has been a very good season in that respect.

    The main thing that has brought real joy hs been the fight and collective spirit of the team under RvP’s magnificent captaincy. Something special in this that we haven’t seen for some time. We will need to make sure to keep this over our summer business. New guys need to be good characters and we don’t want those who might have had a casual or uncommitted attitude coming back to the club. It is something precious. Let’s savor it these last four games.

  14. Making game to game predictions in football is a mug’s game unless it is Manchester United in the PL. Take prognosticators who saw an over-the-hill Chelsea being given the run-a-round by Barcelona or gooners who saw either the QPR (yours truly) or Wigan games as formalities. A salutary tale as we prepare for Saturday’s clash with Chelsea. The most important factor in our favor is Arsene Wenger’s ability to consistently get his team over the line for 15 years running. I am cautiously optimistic.

  15. @jonnyneale:

    Imagine Scott Parker with the award…I did and it ruined my day :/

  16. Limestonegunner

    Once Gibbs will be available, here’s a thought for Chelsea. How about Gibbs at LB and Santos for either Arteta’s spot or left in the front three?

  17. Big Brovar. It used to be ‘First!’, now it’s ‘First?’. You’re losing confidence ain’t you? And you never make any comments, do you actually read the post?

  18. Limestonegunner

    He wanders around following the play anyway, is physical and can match up with big Chelsea players, and is very good at keeping possession.

  19. Santos certainly likes to drift into midfield a lot when the opportunity presents itself. He’s truly one of a kind. But it might work..

  20. Limestonegunner

    Since Gibbs is available-sorry, typing on iPhone!

  21. Limestonegunner

    Evil, even if central midfield is not the right idea, he could start ahead of Gervinho or the Ox upfront. Although I do think AW had him in mind as one of the culprits v. Wigan who played too individually trying to make something happen.

  22. Why bother Topovacha – it is never going to happen! Life is tough enough without pissing on your own cornflakes and ruining your own day. :0)

  23. Limestonegunner

    I was quite concerned about the Wigan game and thought Chelsea could give Barca problems; QPR was never a given since we narrowly beat them at home and they have been tough at their ground. But we should and could have done better. Now we’ve got our backs to the wall if we want third. A win c. Chelsea is really needed to keep ahead of the chasing pack. Hope the lads can pull out a performance like the ManCity one.

  24. Incredible breakdown of stats from last night
    One has to suspect they will get utterly humiliated in Camp Nou.

  25. The single most significant issue for Chelsea is Kos. Assume he is back and the best defence partnership in EPL may resume; no slight on Djourou, he’s played well, but somehow with Kos there TV5 is better.

    Santos cannot play upfield; the whole point (of his forays) is throwing the opposition out of position by the extra player, but this does need Kos or Ben, maybe Ox, around (to cover) to work.

    I read, by pure chance (my daughter arrived from england), a wonderful review of the Wigan game in The Times. Nothing negative about Arsenal at all; the story is all about Wigan, how they found themselves in this unlikeliest of positions (2-up) and held on against the waves of attacks; and how true (footballistically speaking) that their escape, if it pans out, would represent an amazing chapter in this season.

    Now a draw with Chelsea, which has the hallmarks of a truly explosive encounter, and things really start to get edge-of-seat interesting with Stoke away coming up; although Stoke of this season is, I think, more beatable by the Arsenal of this season. this one looks to go down to the wire now, maybe the last game, maybe the last minute of the last game, maybe goal difference, a lovely football situation.

    But don’t forget, Spurs and Newcastle have to win everything in sight to catch us; it’s not all about us is it, the twists and turns are not over. Mathematically, we might still be allowed one draw if our goal difference remains, but the horror of Chelsea hanging on to a draw in Camp Nou, and then winning the bloody thing and cancelling 4th position as a route to Europe 1 is a very upsetting and vexing prospect. But still, as they say, it’s “in our own hands”. I’ll take 5 points ahead with a game behind, ahead of living on hope.

  26. It’s thing I so love about Arsenal with the backdrop of the EPL. We are so often served up amazing high-stakes football adventures, truly worthy of a great and exciting team. It’s the real difference between Arsenal and the Manchester duet of money and influence.

  27. I wonder if we will start Ox on the left on Sunday, not as deft but more forceful than Gerv. Midfield is clear surely, Ramsey with a few instructions, and Diaby in the wings.

  28. pedantic george

    If its slow now ,just think what the summer brings.

  29. A win on saturday will be great… Kips us ahead of the chasing pack. Lets just hope chelsea have a hangover cos am somehow little bit less confident about the game since chelsea’s trashing of spurs(does evry team in london now put five past them?) and scrappy win against barca..if these run of result shouldn’t boast their confidence, then I wonder what will..
    But we are the Arsenal… Lets play our game and smash them blues(nd hope we aren’t entering our annual season demise…?)
    kip the faith! Win, loose, draw, smashed, spanked, mauled will always be proud being a gunner.!

  30. speculative, bored, tired meanderings, cliches, fights with doomer mongrels braving the sunlight and wonderful discussions on russian literature, middle east history, any latest scandal, and music.

  31. I reckon we’ll see Gervinho in place of Benayoun on Saturday, he’s all over the Arsenal Player today. Ramsey is the only choice to play in place of Arteta, Diaby has had no competitive games and I don’t think Chamberlain will be thrown into a high pressure game like this.

  32. If we start the Ox on the left on Sunday we’ll be in real trouble especially as kick-off is lunchtime on Saturday.

    I’m sure there are twists and turns to come but I’m moderately relaxed about playing the Chavs who will be monumentally distracted by last night’s success, a false dawn if ever there was one. I was much more worried pre-Wigan as that is a club, totally dependent on TV money, with an unbelievably limited fan base (being a rugby playing town) fighting for it’s very existence and a recent track record in securing quality results against top sides.

    We WILL miss Arteta who has had far more influence on our games than most neutrals realise but a real benefit to be had will be the return of the Kos-Verminator partnership. So a draw looks a realistic prospect should we somehow not take the win against a Chav side wearied by playing out of their skins just a few hours ago.

    A brace from Rambo would also shut the brainless flotsam that resurfaces at every ‘opportunity’.

    Going back to the Wigan game – it was the first match in a while when the home crowd struggled to get into gear (a bit like the team, truth be told) and I think most were stunned at the early goals leakage (can’t recall that happening before!).

    But I wonder if anyone else actually attending the games agree that the Emirates crowd, since Xmas (or February, at least) has really come into its own – possibly for the first time on a consistent basis since the place opened. Or have I imagined that?

  33. Limestonegunner

    ZP. You might have a point there but he certainly has played as a winger for Galatasaray many many times.

  34. pedantic george

    Andrew.I think the crowd will show how fickle it can be.
    They booed Arshavin’s very name.So the as a collective can fuck right off for me.

  35. Limestonegunner

    Sorry, meant Fenerbahcr–got my Turkish Superliga teams mixed up!

  36. If Ramsey plays he’ll be more advanced with Rosicky in Arteta’s place.

  37. I believe the ‘player of the year’ award is still up for grabs.

    Robin will need to find his second wind and carry the team to 3rd if he has any chance. Media darlings this year and certainly high on the favorites list are Silva and Rooney.

    Zim –

    regarding Santos…..I see your point about his forays and agree.

    However I can see his talent being maximized in a more upfront role. Other than Gervinho (when he was in form), the club has no winger with Santo’s 1v1 skills and CONSISTENCY in breaking down defenders with astute and accurate crosses and passes.

    Our wing play has dried up during the past 5 weeks and I feel this is a major reason that Robin finds himself in a goal drought. (I do not count penalty kicks)

    Santos is so confident in taking the ball inside or down to the end line and beating any defender, his creative play would stretch our opponents and open up the middle for more

    Just my impressions and certainly Arsene will have his own ideas.

  38. PG

    The summer is manic. All that transfer speculation with gaskets being blown by those who berate the manager for not signing a player who won them 2 PL titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and 5 Champions League on Football Manager. Brilliant.

  39. Santos and Gibbs both played together on the left earlier in the season. It’s not a big leap to have a wing-back play further forward. The interesting prostect for me would be playing him in the middle behind VP.

    As for Chelsea, if last night is anything to go by Mikel, Meireles and maybe Drogba won’t have the energy to start. We might see both Sturridge and Torres start for them. It’d be bloody typical if Torres decided to start scoring again.

  40. Off the Arsenal subject.

    I find myself extremely fortunate to be attending both CL semi final matches next week.
    My first trip to Spain.

    Maybe some of you have been to Barcelona or Madrid and would suggest a pub, or a ‘short’ must see list.

  41. pedantic george

    Arsesession I went to Barcelona last week and we got pick-pocketed twice in two hours.
    My advice is stay in you hotel room. Thieving bastards is what they are

  42. longblackcloud

    Markus: Drogba can`t possible recover, I watched last night and he was hit by sniper fire on least 4 occasions – he did incredible well to bravely finish the game after such life threatening injuries –

  43. Thanks again for a good post Yogi:

    No idea how the game will go this weekend. Not sure who will start for Chelsea and how much of a mental hangover for them. I have always and still do fear Drogba but I don’t know if he will start. The rest of the season will give us the best indication yet of the true mental strength of our squad. Fortunately As Shotta pointed out we have always been able to summon just enough strength to keep us in the CL spots in the past and I expect we will again. We certainly are clearly a better team then this version of the Chavs when we play close to our potential. Its quite simple, if we play well we will win. I agree with Limestones assessment of our situation at 11:14 (as always).

    I miss the avatars. Hope we can get them back soon.

  44. Limestonegunner

    For future trips Arsession you must head south to see the Alhambra palace in Granada and Madinat al-Zahra and Cathedral in Cordoba–the great architectural and artistic legacies of al-Andalusia, Muslim Spain.

  45. pedantic george

    “Limestonegunner | April 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm
    For future trips Arsession you must head south to see the Alhambra palace in Granada and Madinat al-Zahra and Cathedral in Cordoba–the great architectural and artistic legacies of al-Andalusia, Muslim Spain.”

    Or find a “Hard Rock Cafe”

  46. PG – I remember your comments last week. Appreciate your reminder above.

    I guess its best to travel with no money or credit cards and aspire to become a pick pocket.

    Italy has the same reputation.

  47. Arsesession – as I said earlier, the award is being announced this Sunday – I imagine the votes have already been cast.

  48. pedantic george

    LG have you heard the Fans Forum this week?
    I was on my Arshavin soap box

  49. Limestonegunner

    I’d like to chime in with Bill about the usual excellence of the post, YW. In fact we should just refer to you as His Excellency YOgi’s Warrior. HEYW, if it weren’t too cumbersome.

  50. Surely not George that doesn’t sound right.

  51. pedantic george

    Arsesession,I ended up putting 10 Euros in every pocket I had ,and guessed they would not manage to get them all.

  52. pedantic george

    What doesn’t sponge boy?

  53. Arsession – when in Barcelona make sure you head down to the harbour and make the most of the old town; I pickpocketed the same person there twice a week or so ago so it’s well worth the trip.

    Came home with a thesaurus and a scrunched up, tear-stained signed poster of Andre Arshavin – hope you have better luck.

    Madrid didn’t do a lot for me, tbh, although it was quite sunny and didn’t rain much; some splendido art galleries if that’s your bag?

  54. pedantic george

    Vet good.Take a bow son

  55. Limestonegunner

    I enjoyed that comment quite thoroughly PG; very good point to have raised on the context of the Wigan game and worth repeating fully here again. Caught Tom and Hughesie a bit off guard, did that one, as everyone has just about forgotten how AA brings that extra bit of quality and nous needed to break down defenses in such circumstances. I do think he wasn’t quite hounded out but was desperate for games ahead of the Euros, though supporter impatience sadly might have had some partial role. AA needs to play more centrally or freely. With proper fullbacks behind him he could have helped us in the run in. If he comes back with a determined attitude and committment he could still do great things for us next season as I doubt we’ll have Benayoun with us and Gervinho has another ACN, mad as it is, next season. Play him centrally in front of Arteta and Song and we can risk his defensive liabilities as long as he is fit and presses across the front. Either way a big asset we could benefit from if we want to win big competitions next year.

  56. Limestonegunner

    Andrew and George, you witty chaps!

  57. Limestonegunner

    We’re going to stuff Chelsea in a blaze of power, pace, and an RvP brace. Theo also to torch Cashley anfd fire one in. Ramsey with a long distance strike. I hope anyway!

  58. Or Arsesession, do as I did last time that I was in that city which is to put your cash and card(s) into a fag packet, leaving an empty wallet in your pocket. They nicked that but left the fag packet alone.

  59. jonnyneale,
    I’m playing catch up this morning and must have skipped over your point that Sunday is awards day.

    Silva is the only other player I see giving Robin a run for the award.

    I’m more concerned that the team qualifies for CL play next season, than any individual award. That said, Robin has been amazing for Arsenal.

  60. Limestonegunner

    It does seem like the Ems has changed. But Chelsea is a big test of the team and support. We need to keep up intensity and swing back momentum for those final three matches with a big win and statement that we can get over the line for third and lay down a big marker for next season.

    Double over Chelsea, win and draw over Newcastle, splits with City, Liverpool, and Spuds isn’t bad at all. Only ManU has had our number and we can certainly better this next season if we keep up our progress.

  61. Andrew – very funny mate. Proper LOL! 😀

  62. Time to set up the ACLF Pickpocketed Support Group.

    Yogi – you must have been gambling wildly that your personal pickpocketer didn’t smoke.

  63. Limestonegunner

    Evil, we didn’t get the credit we deserved for that win over Barcelona. I have a sneaking suspicion that it will take a couple dodgy penalties or red card on Drogba to get Barca over the line. And that might be too costly for appearances sake this time around.

    If Real can get a draw in the Classico, it could be sad times for Cesc. Too late to get on the Barca gravy train and leaving Arsenal when we are possibly on the cusp of greatness again in the next season or two if things this summer go right for us.

  64. Limestonegunner

    Great player but as Evil said, he is a cog in the machine there and that machine may need some servicing if Guardiola leaves and they haven’t won league or gone to the CL final.

    Tears? I have none anymore. Our future is RvP now. Need to finish strong and give hope for next year. RvP can lead us somewhere great. He has the charisma to be a great Arsenal legend. How much glory will come to the Arsenal captain who brings the first title to the Ems?

  65. Limestonegunner

    I have to say though that it would be ver very bitter for Cheksea to win London’s first European Cup/CL. That special honour should belong to Arsenal under Arsene Wenger and it is sometimes astonishing to me that it didn’t happen. It will be even sweeter if it happens in the next couple or three years with RvP’s team.

  66. Limestonegunner

    Ok enough fantasy–so much ahead of us in the near term, but I am up for this and hope, nay–believe–the team is ready to fight for it. It will help if RvP catches fire now. He loves scoring against Chelsea as does Theo. time for a big performance like our win against ManCity.

  67. Limestonegunner
    hoping there will be a follow up trip and your suggestions.

    great stuff…….do you still have the Arshavin poster?

    Harbor and old town sound like a must.

    Football is the passion, so other subjects take a back seat. I traveled to Italy end of September (last year)……my first trip. I visited many of the typical cultural exhibits and have no regrets for the time spent.

    was advised the same (empty wallet) and fag packet for my trip to Italy. Thanks.

  68. When my half-brother visited Barcelona, he cunningly carried his money in a pouch that fit in the palm of his hand and had straps round the wrist for added safety.

    Whilst on the tube a woman collapsed and almost immediately they pulled into a station – she got up and ran from the tube and he looked down and realised it was gone.

    He’s a Spurs fan so it’s pretty funny.


    Years later my x-wife and I visited the city, with warnings from everyone about the nature of the beast. We were on immaculate vigil but, on the fourth day, I relaxed for a pico-second and had my bag stolen, whilst I was having my photo taken. It contained my passport and my wife’s favourite jacket.

    At the police station, the chief was leaning on a moped smoking a giant cigar and chatting tom his mates. We entered and waited. 3 hours later, we got seen amongst the hundreds of others and we were basically laughed at and dismissed. I imagine, after we left, they carefully filed the forms we had filled out, in the bin.

    Whilst waiting I met an 80 year old Canadian woman with a broken collar bone who’d had her bag wrestled from her and was pushed to the floor in the process. She lost all her money, travellers cheques and her passport and was about as distraught as you could imagine. No one cared – the police just looked bored and irritated by our presence.

    4 HOURS after entering the building I left, with a pissed off wife in tow, and a heart full of indignant fury at their utter stark, contempt for tourists. Only to be greeted by the sight of the fat police chief.

    Leaning on a moped.

    Smoking a cigar.

    Chatting to his mates.

    In that moment I’d have happily punched that cigar down his fucking throat.

  69. pedantic george

    Yes Sponge boy ,but you got your crime reference number , didn’t you?

  70. jonnyneale
    not a situation I’d like to experience…..and I’d likely have the same reaction.

    Was there anything redeeming about your trip to Barcelona?

  71. YW,

    “In the case of Cesc, it was a sop too far for the young man whose temperament on the pitch was impacted by his unsettled personal circumstance.”


    “If Real can get a draw in the Classico, it could be sad times for Cesc. Too late to get on the Barca gravy train and leaving Arsenal when we are possibly on the cusp of greatness again in the next season or two if things this summer go right for us.”

    Spot on. I’m also reassessing him post-Arsenal. Did you see him against Chlesea last night? Shocking! I think Barcelona are a slower team through their midfield with Cesc in it and I feel that was also our case. TR7 offers us more and so can a few among our current midfield ranks.

  72. George, where can we hear the fans forum? Link man.

    Those wiley spaniards would have their work cut out with me. My agoraphobia/boundary issues is like a spider sense.

  73. pedantic george

    Dgob,I usually agree with you .But come on,less of the re-visionary nonsense.Prick that he turned out to be,he was a top player for us ,when fit and of a sound mind.

  74. pedantic george

    click on “news” and down to Fans Forum.

  75. Port Olympic can be a fun night out in Barcelona, and Las Ramblas is a must.

    Never had any problem with pickpocket’s there myself, Maybe it was the wallet being snug in my skinny Chino’s – or maybe they were scared off by the sight of a grown man in skinny chino’s and espadrilles. The horror.

    Oh, and RVP has been a very good captain so far, vast improvement on the last 2 anyway.

  76. Dgob,
    what I noticed is that in their system Cesc is not the main go to creator. First year at Barca, he appears to slowly working his way into his role on the squad; like a new kid on the block and allowing the old guard to run the show.

    Against Chelsea he placed himself in excellent goal scoring opportunities plus gave Sanchez an exceptional ‘lob’ over the Chelsea center backs.

    Chelsea played well and the margin of difference was thin, luck.

    Rosicky when healthy offers a different style of play than Cesc. With Hleb and Flamini the four had remarkable understanding.

  77. George,

    I agree that he was a good player for us and must admit a slight revisionist tendency on the basis of his post-departure comments: “I never understood the midfield role before I came to Barca…” ffs

    Nevertheless, I do think he slows down the movement of a midfield (ours and theres). I’ll go one further and say that Aaron sometimes follows the approach left by Cesc and this impacts on our speed of movement when he’s playing. I know he can/will alter his current approach and offer us even more in the near future. In this sense, I am being serious when I say that I still feel that although Cesc was a great player for us, he did limit our approaches – or we limited them around him in a way that we do not need to with TV7 at the creative centre.

  78. Arsesession – yeah the rest of it was peachy.

    Beautiful city but it is spoiled by the fact you can never switch off – especially on Las Ramblas. It’s incredible when you think about it as, in terms of tourist destination, that’s pretty much equivalent to Oxford Street. The security operation on Oxford Street is massive. They have plain clothes cops and CCTV designated for the sole purpose of protecting the tourists.

    In Barcelona no one cares at all. If you are not Catalan then it’s pretty much fuck you.

    When I went home, obviously I had no passport, and so I was on a list of names permitted to travel without one. I glimpsed the list and there must have been 30-40 names on there. That was for one day and, when I pushed, the girl admitted that that was perfectly normal.

    I truly think that’s appalling.

  79. Arsesession

    The nightlife is brilliant, especially the Port. Personally, I found Las Ramblas too touristy but then my wife’s uncle took us off the beaten track around the city.

  80. Arsession,

    I cannot disagree with your assessment but my point to George still hold. Speed kills. Beware of those who kill your speed!

    Of course, if he should return at some unimagineable future point, his abilities will suddenly rise in my (and all ‘right thinking people’s) eyes.

  81. It’s a Thursday – if you need reason to smile this will help.

  82. When Cesc started with Barca, he actually brought a bit “Arsenal” to their play. But after 6 months he has settled in. Now he has stopped scoring, stopped taking responsibility. He is just another cog in the well-oiled Barca machine. I bet if they’d be out there without numbers and similar hair styles, you wouldn’t be able to tell Cesc apart any other Barca midfielder.

  83. mattgoonerknight

    Afternoon all,

    I’m still reeling from Monday hence my recent self imposed ban from all things football related, ACLF included.

    Win, lose or draw I just want to get this weekends fixtures out of the way and over with, as (it goes without saying) these results will have a huge impact on the 3rd – 6th place shoot.

    If all was to go our way, the status-quo will have been resumed and I will back to being as content as I was at 7:59pm Monday evening. If this was to happen it would be amazing.

    If the very worst was to happen (win’s for sp*ds, Toon and Chelski), I will be reaching for the diazepam and avoiding all football related media until May 5th (I’m going to the Norwich game, so can’t really avoid football then).

    In reality something in the middle is perhaps most likely and regardless of the results we still have the most points on the board which is an envious and promising position to be in.

    Good job the toon and Chelski are playing each other soon too; at least we know one, or both, will be dropping a few points there!!


    Sorry I’ve gone AWOL.

    355 sigs….See if we can reach 500 before the end of the season?

  84. Evil:

    May be I misunderstand your point. I don’t like Barca either but I am not sure that Cesc molding his game to their style is a bad thing for him to do. Hard to argue with their results.

  85. @BIll
    It was just an observation. He isn’t our Cesc anymore, he has been absorbed into the Barca collective.

  86. mattgoonerknight


    Obviously subject to extreme bias…from myself!!

    The Premier League all time (Arsenal) 11 was a no-brainer.

  87. Evil:

    Don’t want to start another round of Cesc debates but unfortunately I think he stopped being our Cesc (in his own mind) a year or may be 2 before his actual move.

  88. Paulie Walnuts

    Whilst we have a couple of selection issues for Saturday the Chavs have some real biggies to deal with – following two cup semis & just prior to a trip to the Camp Nou.

    You`d have to believe RDM would want to include as many of his starters from the last two games but knowing he`ll want them against Barca I suspect he`ll rotate. No doubt Cech & Terry will play & probably Cashley but they`ll probably be a mish mash which should help us.

    If Ramsey plays as expected I would imagine it could be a day when Song is instructed to screen the back four.

    I wouldn`t have a problem with AOC starting but suspect Arsene will go with Gervinho for this one.

  89. Hello gents I know its been a while since i was here just been working hard and damn government laptops wouldn’t let me get on the website.

    All this talk about Cesc IMO needs to stop he is Barca through and through and we have a captain that bleeds Arsenal red and white, hell even Benayoun (who is on loan) said that he only cares about Arsenal and their success and making sure we finish 3rd(this was in response to somebody asking him about Chelsea adn going back).

    Losing Arteta is a massive blow as he has been BRILLANT and he has been a major factor for us like noone could have envisioned. I would think Arsene would put Ramsey in “Arteta’s” role but would love to see a midfield of Rosicky and Benayoun with his his tireless energy and definite skiil set with Gervinho playing outwide. Either way the Chavs have a huge decision to make in who to play and who not to play. Terry and Cahill have no choice but to play with Luiz still out and i doubt Lampard, Drogba would play and maybe a couple others. I do hope Bosingwa plays and Arsene puts Gervinho or the Ox outwide because if Bale(who i despise and think isn’t better than any of our wide players) beat him time and time again with no skill just pace imagine what Gervinho and Ox could do with being even pacier and having skill.


  90. pedantic george

    c.I am not sure our two boys are quicker than Bale.

  91. @PG

    i missed typed it should read, *with being even more skillful and having his pace. They may not faster but they all have the same pace. We have seen time in again the Ox and Gervinho run by players the same way making them look like they are stuck in quick sand

  92. George:

    I would not pursue him now or spend big money on him even if we had a chance but I would certainly be very happy to have Bale on our team. He and Theo on opposite wings would be quite a lot of fun to watch.

  93. Limestonegunner

    He’s been assimilated by the Borgalona collective.

  94. If we make the CL I think we should try to buy Mark Schwarzer as a back up keeper for Wojo and for our FA and CC GK next season. I don’t know if Fulham would sell him or if he would want to come as a back up but I hope Ivan makes some inquiries. I can’t see Wocash or Almunia coming back and any title hope we have would go up in flames if Wojo gets hurt and we don’t have a good back up GK. It would probably be more expensive then Arsene would like for a back up GK but it could potentially be a season saver.

  95. Limestone 7:36:

    :). My son would love you forever for that reference.

  96. @Bill

    would you rather have Podolski or Bale?

  97. C:

    Have seen very little of Podolski so can’t honestly say who I would rather have playing on the left wing. Podolski’s ability to play centrally and rest RVP would tip the scales for him over Bale, but were money no object I would love to have both. Although he is somewhat one dimensional Bale is very good at what he does.

  98. @Bill

    I have seen quite alot of Podolski and imagine Bale with skill power and an eye for goal while still being able to hold up as a central striker. Plus i wouldn’t want Bale anyways he is now and forever will be a Spud plain and simple!

  99. C:

    Fair enough. I haven’t seen much of Podolski. If he is as good as you say we will definitely be a better team if we get him.

  100. Slow day:

    Just saw something on the internet where they asked you to vote for which team in the CL semifinals had the best looking girl friends/wives between Chelsea and Barca. The most amazing thing was the women that Carles Puyol has been with. How can anyone with a face like his and a perpetual bad hair day sleep with women who look like that?? Amazing what fame and wealth will do.

  101. pedantic george

    Yes Bill he is no Hugh Hefner is he.?

  102. wojo
    Sagna. kosher. tv. Gibbs
    . song. santos/aaron
    . Mozart /0x
    . Theo. rvp. 3gs

    Guys after / in second half.

    Probably. A good line up in absences of Mikel and Benny. Lets take the game to them .

  103. George:

    When I was younger a friend told me that the key was jewelry and expensive lingerie. That can be the only reasonable explanation.

  104. goonerkam:

    Can’t imagine trying something as different as putting Santos in central midfield for a game like this. Song Aaron TR7 for me. Gibbs or Santos at LB close call. The rest is a no brainer.

  105. pedantic george

    Bill .did you get some .And do you still like wearing it?
    Not sure you should be sharing that information on an open forum.

  106. George

    LOL. We can always count on you.

  107. So george you got pickpocketed twice in Barcalona a…my Mother used to have a bar up the coast from Barca…its a great city, very chilled….i had no probs myself of any of that kind but really george you have to be careful when you go down them back alleys looking for some of that illicit recreational stuff.

  108. @Bill
    I understand your trepidations but in Santos we have a strong no non sense experianced head that can’t be intimidated and will dribble through one or two players with bravery. Hence opening up 3gs with space and one on one situations. He also has a shot in him and I hope to GOD they open up on them with their canons right from get go so they can’t sit back and soakup pressure. They may come out and will open up more spaces in the back. Where Theo thrives. They can’t play run and shoot with us for full 90 minutes. We have to strategize and use their weaknesses to our strength. GET. THEM ON THE ROPES AND POUND AWAY .AT WILL. they way we played against city and these same blues not long ago.

  109. Limestonegunner

    Haha, Bill–trekies unite! Now where did you see that wag comparison?!

  110. pedantic george

    Duke .I wish.

  111. Limestonegunner

    A very fine post apropos of our recent (yesterday’s?) discussion on Ramsey, Arteta and the midfield ahead of Chelsea and our other three remaining games.

  112. Hellloooooooooo

  113. I once saw a beautiful sunrise in Bahrain.
    Tragic events, such a shame. I’d like to agree with those who disagree but sport and politics do mix. They always have.
    Not always for the best.

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