By George! World Class Or What?

More thoughts from Pedantic George this morning…

Recently, on a quiet day on ACLF, we had a discussion about what “world class” is in relation to players. Of course we could not agree on what it meant, let alone which of our current players the definitions actually applied to. Some, like me, had almost a team full of world class players whilst others begrudgingly considered Robin may be on the fringes of being that good.

Anyway, that got me thinking about when we did have a team full? The Invincibles? Or have we ever? Was it the greatest team the Premier league has ever seen, or did the stars align and give us a gift from the football Gods? Indeed, was it even a gift or is it a curse, an achievement that means that we will forever be underachieving in the minds of some of our more demanding fans?

I have actually heard people say that we failed to build and progress from that team .What did they want, a season where we won every game? What then, would we have to improve on that?

So, for the sake of argument, I want to ask and then answer some questions about the class of 04.

  1.  Would that squad win the league now?
  2.  Would any of our current players make the team?
  3.  Would they all have been playing in sky blue by 05?

Would that squad win the league now? I am not sure it would.

I have no doubt that the first eleven would still be the best in the league, but I am not convinced the squad players were good enough to cope with the strength of the current league. I believe every team is better than they were then, all bar United and us that is. We say there are no easy games in the Premiership now; well I think there was then.

They ended the season with one more point than this year’s champions. Would they have dropped more than one point in this year’s league? I think they would.

On the other hand, perhaps they would have turned some of the end of season draws into wins.

In 05, basically the same team, finished with seven less points and twelve points behind the Champions. There is an argument to be made that if Chelsea were not a better team, they did seem to have bought a better squad.

The thing we are told now is “Teams win games, squads win championships” .The numbers would seem to suggest that the 04 squad would now be found wanting.

Would any of our current players make the team? For me, Sagna and Koscielny (for Kolo) for sure, but that is about it.

Would they all have been playing in sky blue by 05? The way things have gone, I believe that our team of Invincibles would not now be given the chance to stay together. As soon as Chelsea started paying inflated wages “Cashley” headed for the hills.

Because we have won nothing for seven years, players can claim they are leaving because they are ambitious to win silverware. That was hardly the case for young Mr. Cole. For him it was the money. Simple as that. Imagine how many would have headed up the M6 with the riches on offer today. Remember Ashley was a Gooner; if anyone should have been loyal, it was him.

I suppose what I am saying is that people, fans, do not always appreciate just how much the Oil Money has changed the game. My contention is that not only would the greatest eleven ever seen, a team with five(I think)of the best players in their positions in the whole wide world, would have struggled to win today’s league ,but it could never come to be in the first place.

We did have though, didn’t we, us, no one else? Just us. And we will have it forever thanks to a certain French genius.

’til Tomorrow

Posted on June 24, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 195 Comments.

  1. Nice post George. I couldnt agree more.

    In Arsene I still trust..

  2. Great post, puts perspective on things

  3. ClockEndRider

    Nice one PG.

  4. PG – very nice little write up there mate. I have to say, I tend to agree with you that the Invincibles may indeed struggle to win the league nowadays. I actually think the ’08 team were a better side. They only lost 3 games – Middlesboro, Chavs, Manure. If we had beaten Manure we would have been champions. All 2-1 losses and close games. I honestly think that side would beat the Invincibles. I think the deciding factor for me is that a lot of teams now play 4-3-3, even though it has only been 8 years a lot has changed. They would still put up a hell of a fight though. Speaking of, very nice little video you posted yesterday 🙂

    Did you get a chance to watch that World Soccer Masters friendly organised by Messi? If not then make sure you do. Fantasticlly entertaining and word is they want to make it a regular thing. A pity it was held in Miami, I would have went if it was in NYC.

  5. Good read. Always hard to compare sides from different era’s as you can use the “numbers” to form a comparison to a certain extent but it doesn’t take many factors into account – attitude, ambition, mood in the dressing room, external factors (like Barca, for example) affecting player performance…to dismiss a hungry Invincibles side’s championship credentials v the Blue Arsenal / Man Utd when our current first XI is so much worse than them yet comes close in standard to the first XI of both is a tricky sell, for me.

    “World Class”. Wouldn’t mind having a read of the discussion – which article was it on? My definition is that a player is classified as World Class when he’s demonstrated that he can walk the walk on every stage – domestic, European and International against any standard of opposition, they’re players that step up no matter what challenge is put in front of them. Sagna is world class, imo…and RvP…Chezzer and the Ox definitely have the potential to be world class in the near future…but the squad is a bit thin on the ground in terms of WC players I agree!

    I’m one of those that feel we didn’t build and progress – it’s not about achievement, though. It’s about ensuring the squad retains a quality of both talent and attitude. For all his faults you have to give old capillary bleeds his due – regardless of what his teams have accomplished he’s gone out and bought either better players or competition to keep players on their toes every year. You say it yourself in your article, and you’re right, that we came 12 points behind the Champions with basically the same team. Was that a case of better quality from Chelsea? A little – gotta admit they were impressive at the Bridge – but can you quantify the impact on motivation of winning the title and going unbeaten?

    It’s an age old problem with the Arsenal and it was as much a fault with George Graham as it’s been with Wenger. We’ve always assumed that the side which delivered the title in year 1 would be good enough to do it in year 2…but people are a year wiser to you and have bought to challenge you. That, for me, is what people mean when talk about failing to build and progress.

  6. Great post. Sadly, the people who should reflect on the truth of it will never be satisfied, read it, or believe it.

  7. Nice post PG!!!
    As long as oil money exists in football we will never be allowed to have a team as good as the invincibles.

  8. And if by any luck we do get a team as good as that, it will be disbanded by the oil thugs.

  9. Well, after watching you on utube George, whatever you say is alright by me.

  10. Nice dose of verbal NINJITSU PG. the game has definatly changed and not always for the better. We will always have the memories,that’s for sure. And they are great memories too. As far as who would be able to get on that team from the current squad I would have to pick RVP AND SAGNA to start with. Song and Arshavin would be marginal and KOSHER AND THEO are in the running too. I think the INVINCIBLES would give even the moneybag teams of today a good run for their money. They did have endless heart and commitment and I sometimes think they should have been kept together just a bit longer so that the transition could have been easier and a bit more bearable on the young generation of footballers who took over from them. They will live forever in my heart and true GOONERS all around the world. I will never forget the enjoyment and pleasure of watching them do their thing on the pitch. Poetry in motion.


  11. IRISH ,I would watch.any cup with the word BACARDI in it. Sorry to say I missed the inaugural. Will be sure to catch it next year.
    What are your predictions for today’s game???
    I think it might go to extra time but ultimately ENGERLAND THE VICTORS.
    Come on WOY,show me some ambition.. GO FOR IT.

  12. hopefully no one will mess with the Italian teams pregame spaghetti Bologneseses. 🙂

  13. George, nicely done, I doff my cap sir.
    You raise some interesting points. Apart from the fun game of how would ‘they’ manage in today’s league in which fans always love to indulge, it is the development from a game of first teams with back ups into a true squad system. The squad player must be a different animal, able to feature sporadically or for a series of games before being rested rotated or in our case injured. And yet surely the truth as Tomas himself said this season is every player needs a run of games to get into their groove.

  14. mattgoonerknight

    Interesting write up PG.

    I think Chelsea themselves go some way toward answering the sky blue question: surely the wages paid and money spent in the formative Abramovic years were of a similar scale to those we are currently witnessing at the Etihad; admittedly not as astronomical but certainly enough to force the hand, or foot, of a player who was chiefly motivated by money.

    By 2005 we were just about at the end of a golden era, with the CL Final defeat arguably concluding a magical volume in the Arsenal story.

    Perhaps a more finite question would be whether a blue intervention (take your pick which one) some time before 2002 would have broken up the team. After the double win in 97/98 we did not in fact win any more silverware until the next double 01/02. During this period however, we were in a genuine power struggle with utd, with second place finishes and close calls in cup games keeping the fans and players (and the media) alike more then appeased.

    A key example of this is 1999. The history books will show that in 98/99 season utd won a unprecedented treble; however, we all know that they only pipped us to the league by a single point and only went through to the FA final due to a injury time penalty miss by Bergkamp: no trophies but very much part of the duopoly.

    I’m not so sure the players then would be so keen to run off to a new entity when they were very much in the running for being perennially number one. I mean, how many United and Chelsea players have gone to Man city over the last few years? Tevez, …I can’t think of any more (Hargreaves doesn’t count:)).

    “Would that squad win the league now?” If it didn’t it would be fucking close.

    “Would any of our current players make the team?” Agree with on you Koss and Sagna – its hard to say with some of the others – I think they would of certainly improved the squad, and perhaps allowed us to challenge on all fronts, but such guesswork is pretty much spurious.

    “Would they all have been playing in sky blue by 05?” It depends on when “by 05” is, but I feel we were good enough, similar to utd and Chelsea (I realise Chelsea sucked last year, but previously) over the last 3 seasons, to hold strong and still challenge.

    I think we’re going to have a really good one this coming season. Win something? Not so sure, but like you have rightfully said, the oil barrels are stacked against us and people should fucking realise what a great achievement this club is; past, present and undoubtedly in the future!!!


  15. Pedantic George,
    Great videos, impressive stuff. I think you are also ‘Blackburn George’ who often contributes to the Fans Forum on Arsenal TV? A very wise man indeed!

  16. pedantic george

    “I mean, how many United and Chelsea players have gone to Man city over the last few years? Tevez, …I can’t think of any more (Hargreaves doesn’t count 🙂 )
    City showed an Interest in Terry and Rooney.In order to keep them Chelsea and United had to offer them the same Money that City were allegedly putting on the table.£250k pw in Rooney’s case.Arsenal could not ever have done that.I cant recall them being interested in any others from either club.

  17. pedantic george

    Georgaki,I am also @blackburnGeorge ,not so sure about wise all the same.

  18. Pedantic George

    I suggest that you are a Wenger fan because of the beauty of the game he has brought to us. Is it equivalent to the beauty in the simplicity of the devastatingly effective moves you make in the dojo?

  19. mattgoonerknight

    I think Terry and Rooney used Citeh as bargaining leverage – similar to what RVP is doing now. Agreed that, if say Henry, was offered treble he was on with us by citeh, we couldn’t have matched it, but I’m guessing we would have done are best and hoped his love for the club, as with RVP, is enough to keep him here.

    Henry was part a winning team – RVP is currently not. Let’s hope the promise of money is not enough to break up any team regardless of the said player.

    Do you think RVP will to Citeh?

    If not, a similar rationale could perhaps be applied to what has been mentioned above.

  20. The invincibles was an actual team, it had the perfect mix of world class players such as Henry, viera, bergkamp. Then you had players who had the ability to play anywhere in the world but didn’t have the huge influence that the latter players had on the world stage. It was also the perfect mix of youth, expeiriance and leadership, look at which players of that squad captained the team in their time with the club, nearly all of them have most notably viera, Henry, bergkamp, toure and Gilberto. The invincebles were the perfect team.
    The team we have now is a billion leagues behind the invincebles, think back to when Henry came back, he brought what it truly meant to be a gunner and although his abilities didn’t show he was class his temperament did.

    Only Van Persie and maybe Sagna could get into that team on the bench probably, the point is we have no world class talent we have no natural leadership and we have no desire to be what arsenal should be, when watching the team play I just get the feeling that some players are playing for themselves, the only players I believed in we’re Wilshire, artetta and the late fabregas who of course isn’t at the emirates anymore but the point is these players love the club fabregas proved that in his press conference when he joined barca, that he fell in love with arsenal, now the last of the golden genoration is gone, you may say Van Persie should be mentioned there but if he was a true gunner he would of signed that contract like cesc did (cesc had a much greater motive to leave than robin). In my opinion trophies is no where near loyalty in the accolades. Cesc showed his loyalty by staying for another season, Henry well I don’t need to his passion for the club is clear for all to see. Van Persie however needs to repay the loyalty we gave him he needs to prove he’s not one of those twats in the Dutch team and man up.

  21. mattgoonerknight

    Right, off to dog school then work.


  22. pedantic george

    Matt,I don’t think we can look at our most loyal players and use them as a yardstick.
    The fact is Nasri was lured away,Ade and Gael too.Whatever we now think of them,I suggest their loss disrupted the teams development.
    Oil money might not have taken Dennis,but I think the likes of Patrick Vieira and Fredrik Ljungberg would have scuttled up North is a heartbeat.The disruption would have been the same

  23. Good write up George. I don’t like Oil Money either 🙂

  24. Irish

    Keep taking the tablets.Although there is no cure for madness.The 08 team better than the Invincibles!!!!! Give me strength.The Invincibles had Cole Campbell PV Pires Bergkamp and Henry all world class.Only Cesc was world class in 08.And the 08 team bottled the title throwing away a 6pt lead

  25. Nice one PG, i can’t believe am saying this but i *cough* en *cough* joyed *cough* reading it.

    On a serious note, what a coincidence! I have been waiting patiently for someone to write a post on what it means to be ‘world class’. But you only scratched the surface PG, you didn’t give your own defination of worldclass and who really thinks Rvp is not world class, funny.

    Which current players would get into the invincibles? Rvp, Sagna and Koscielny.

    Again nice write up sensai.

  26. 1.yes.

  27. Oxford Dictionary:
    World class – as good as the best, simples.

  28. Who cares ? Invincibles are the invincibles why do people keep comparing them to Manchester City. LOL. 2 Different teams 2 different seasons. Here is a question, had Arsene Wenger been given the same funds as Roberto Mancini do you think Arsenal would have broken their trophy drought ? LOL

  29. Duke, is that a no for sagna?

  30. John T

    The blog equivalent of nasal hair. Ever so slightly irritating,. but ultimately you forget its there.

    Why do you even bother? You clearly get no enjoyment from football and no one remotely ‘enjoys’ reading your tabloid speak banal bollocks.

  31. George

    Obvsiously, I didnt bother to read your post. So cant comment on it. Suffice to say that it must have been small as it didnt take me too long to skip over it.

    So, thanks for that. 🙂

  32. Am telling you Dexter that is John Terry.

  33. Seaman

    Sagna O’leary Adams Cole

    Walcott Vieira Brady Overmars



  34. Great write up, interestingly the only one of them I think would have buggered off to city would have been viera (possibly sol?).What a pity that great team weren’t champions of Europe-was it Valencia that did for them?,I’ll have to look it up.World class and it’s definition is purely a self opinion, cashley, sol,Patrick,pires,Denis and th14 were in my opinion world class,that’s six blokes that left the club or retired within a few years of each other,not sure we ‘ll ever be that lucky again but you live in hope-up the arsenal!

  35. pedantic george

    Stew,I will have a go ,but favorite(before any left,bastards) ,rather than best





  36. George – Mine was a stab at a best first eleven. Favourite will be very different!

  37. i find it impressive that a wee meerkat like yourself has gone and become a writer on this blog. way to go 🙂

  38. Excellent, thought-provoking post George. I enjoyed reading it and I agree with your conclusions.

  39. Favourites:


    Rice Mclintock The Pocketeer Santos

    Freddie TR7 Charlie George Geordie Armstrong



  40. Oh OK, I’ll play too!

    Lauren – Keown – Kolo – Sylvinho
    Merson – Rocastle – Brady – Pires
    Bergkamp – Wright

  41. Dex – that’s a hell of a team. Favourite players or best players? Imagine the passing between Liam Brady ,Bobby Pires, Dennis, Rocky and Merse! The opposition wouldn’t see the ball.

  42. steww

    Ha! Yeah man, thats my faves team mate. I am sure I missed a few ‘better’ out but what the heck!

    I loved the lil Brazillian LB and for 3 seasons Kolo was majestic. Great looking tem innit!

  43. Paulie Walnuts

    Playtime !



    Lauren – Bould – Adams – Nelson

    Rocky – Stewart Robson or PV4 (tough one) – Brady – Pires

    Dennis – TH14

  44. I think sags is the only player in our current team that would have a sniff at getting in the invincible team and this is no bad thing, after all the invinible team was the best team the prem has ever seen.

    how about how mant of city’s team would get in it? none.

  45. pedantic george

    “Favorite” team tells us a lot about each other I feel .Far more the “best” team.

  46. bloody hell george, your posts are as half arsed as your instructing..

    and how do you self preserve if someone, for example, kicks you in the bollox?

    nice one mate, its always good to read what youve got to say..

  47. seaman

  48. vieira is dead to me, if anyone asks.

  49. Very concise and thoughtful article

  50. pedantic george

    JJ,kicking someone in the goolies is next to impossible if they are aware.Every part of your being is programmed to protect them at all costs.

  51. some of the 91 team may get into the invincible team..

  52. The Arse in The Gamb

    A statistican might tell us that the time you are most successful is the time you are most likely to fall, which is why often the manager of the month award is the kiss of death. It can be luck that takes you to the top, but, as Tottenham knows, it can’t keep you there. If the odds allow it some team eventually was going to be unbeaten some time, so doing so doesn’t prove that they were the best ever, it only indicates that they could have been.

    A comparison between any team and a different era is not really possible, you can’t know, it is too complex to analyse and it is not relevant because they are what they are under the circumstances and parameters of the time. AW changed the rules with his knowledge of a foreign league, Abramovich changed it with the removal of the limits of debt. The parameters in each case changed and favoured Arsenal and then Chelsea respectively. Other teams copied Wenger and caught up and more recently Mansour has got more money than Abromovich.

    The question can also be looked at as a teams average performance, if this is substantially higher than anyone else they are likely to win all competitions, you can see this in the Euros as the teams that will be in the last eight are the ones that win the most of their matches. The ones that are left behind are the ones that are expected to be there too.

    Then you shout: what about the Dutch? Therein you can see that nothing is certain, which is what keeps us watching. England can easily win this tonight, but oooh…..those Germans again.

  53. stamping on their foot is a good one as well george..ive got out of a few close ones using that also..

    gives you time to line em up nice and good..

    or just to run away is a good self preserving tictac..

    depends on the odds.. 🙂

  54. pedantic george

    JJ if you are close enough to stamp on someones foot,you are close enough for them to have already sent you to the after life.

  55. Those guys would start and still win the league. Would they still go unbeaten? This is another question. I don’t know. achieving this feat under the league this year all things would have to break right. Still I think the guys would win the title. Those are my thoughts.

  56. pedantic george

    Thanks for clearing everything up for us.

  57. “World Soccer Masters bacardi Cup???”….eh?…
    and their intention is what…charity?
    …i’m muchas sceptical irish…

    looks more like an all-star soccer game to me.
    soon it’ll be the best euro 22
    against the best americas 22
    then africa, then asia,,,
    then countries get replaced by continental unioms,,,blah, blah

    some bs that brings the “one-world” bs much closer.
    I dig diversity, smaller unions, smaller allegiances that closer responsibility invariabely channels into ONE LOVE!
    A world not owned by anybody but tended to by all.

    ..(damn Aman, was it only a game!)

  58. george,
    I think ACLF is world class.

  59. attack first, ask questions after.. lol

    kinda defeats the object of self preserving though? 🙂

    i like your teaching style by the way, you make it look easy..

    some people have to break bats over people to get them down and you do it by performing oregami with someones finger..

    top stuff..

  60. corr:
    unioms = unions that don’t know their onions

    ..(damn Aman, it was only a game!)

  61. nice one, pedantic george rodger of blackburn who kicks ass & gets paid to instill it in others!

    1. Yes
    2. Yes (RvP, TR, AA, Kos)
    3. Nope.

  62. pedantic george

    Aman,Although I agree that those 4 are world class(ish)
    RVP would have to oust Henry or Dennis.
    And Andrei would have to nudge Bobby Pires onto the bench.And much as I love him,its a no from me.

  63. After that judo demonstration yesterday George, you still managed to exceed expectations. Excellent thoughts. Not qualified to to compare yesteryear’s teams, I am a new convert to the Arsenal way but I am with you on
    Kos (excellent game yesterday except for one moment when the entire back-four were simply dissected by Xavi)

  64. if anyone is interested, arsenal ladies v birmingham is on now.. espn. kickoff at 1400 BST, but pregame show on now

  65. george,
    all 4 would MAKE the team not necessarily as starters.
    what a bench that would be..

  66. Nice post PG

    On a different note, it was not very nice of you keep beating up that big bloke in the video. 🙂

  67. Fantastic post George:

    I think the invincibles could still win the league today. That team had the best combination of technical skill and strength that I have seen. The thing most of us forget was they also had the best team defense and conceded the fewest goals in the league that season. That makes all the difference.

    Would the lure of oil money that is in the league now have broken up that team? Almost certainly it would have. Thankfully abramovich and man city got here after we had that team so we still have that memory.

  68. pedantic george

    It was his fault for being a 4th Dan Dups. I was
    reacquainting him with the feeling of being humble.

  69. George @ 1:31

    No one will ever move Bobby Pires to the subs bench, not Andrei, not anyone, never ever!!!

  70. pedantic george

    I agree Bill.Bobby is boss

  71. I agree with Bill

    Now off for a lie down.

  72. Me, me, me. My favourites!


    Flami Squillaci Igor Cole

    Hleb Cesc Diawarra Nasri

    Adebayor Anelka

  73. Who would have the priviledge of coaching that magnificent bunch? He would have to be of the same ilk, easy to despise and of course know how to kick people’s arses to the fifth dimension.
    Step forward PG.

  74. Very funny Khalifa. OK I wanna play too so here goes, my faves –

    Sagna Kos Adams Sylvinho
    Henry Brady Cesc Pires

  75. Lots of Silvinho love today.

  76. The thing that amazes me is that ManU were going to win the title right up to about 3 minutes from the seasons end. I think the current ManU team is a shadow of former teams over the last 15 years or so. Outside of Vidic their defence on paper is poor, no central midfield and up front I don’t think Rooney has the general or goal scoring ability of their former front lines.

  77. George – Nice write up.

    The key to that 04 side was that we had a number of truly world class players at the peak of their powers at the same time. The reason for it being so successful was ironically the very same reason it was dismantled so quickly. We also had our fair share of luck that season.

    A number of improbable things coming together at once saw us have a really incredible team, and we as fans are so lucky to have had that.

  78. Marc – Very true. It is all down to mentality with Fergusons’s teams. They might not have the best players, but he won’t (seem) to accept anybody without a 100% winning mentality, and that (obviously) goes a long way.

    I have lost count of the number of seasons where we had technically much better players, only for Manure to win the lge at a canter. And that is 100% down to mentality.

  79. Well done The Arsenal Ladies. 4-2 win over Brummies

  80. goonerandy – I think your 100% right but as the current ManU team loses the likes of Neville with Gigg’s, Ferdinand & Scholes on thier way out. How long can they keep being in the mix?

  81. pedantic george

    And that is 100% down to mentality.

    And experience and favorable referees.
    That gives me an idea for a blog.

  82. fav team.

    sagna adams bould
    overmars rocastle merson pires
    bergkamp kanu campbell

  83. mattgoonerknight

    Re. the fave team game

    If he wasn’t a cunt, would anybody else have ca$hley in at left back?

    I used to love him; he was able to keep an emerging Ronaldo in his back pocket like no-one else.

    For me, based on talent, performances and achievements, he’s a shoe in.

    Real shame how it turned out.

    I then hoped Clichy would be our new Cole…he kind of did but not how I imagined.

  84. pedantic george

    Matt,In the best team ,perhaps.He wont make many’s favorite though.And rightly so.

  85. mattgoonerknight


    True, favourite is different from best. It’s a real shame how it turned out.

  86. arsenalandrew

    Very interesting post George, thanks.

    It’s interesting to try to work out to what extent the oil money has changed the footballing landscape, at least in the EPL. I think it’s true to say Man U stole a march on the rest of the league in the 1990’s and achieved a scale of dominance on the field and in the books which made it far harder for anyone to challenge. Possibly their greatest success was in consolidating and then building on their earliest successes in a way and on a scale that Blackburn and Arsenal, for whatever reason, were just unable to match following initial success.

    I’d argue Chelsea, despite their somewhat flukey CL win this season, have also failed to consolidate on their earlier (bought) success. This failure is way more damning than other clubs given the scale of the funds they have squandered along the way.

    And I’d predict that Man City can only go the same way as the Chavs, in the medium and long terms as their current buying power precludes the necessity to even attempt to build any kind of footballing dynasty. When the wells – or the funds – run dry, so will their run.

    Now Manure’s financial powers have waned due to the advent of the Glazer-generated debt burden it is inconceivable that Ferguson – or his successor – will be able, from a more modest fountain of funds, to generate a squad capable of competing at the highest levels in the same way that Arsene Wenger has over 16 quite extraordinary years. I really do see them following a gentle path down towards upper mid-table mediocrity over the next few years – or at least until the Glazer era is ended, one way or the other. The scale of spending they require to replace Ronaldo (still waiting), Scholes, Giggs, Neville, Ferdinand etc will be comparable to the challenge faced by Arsene immediately post The Invincibles. They don’t have the fiscal power to do it and they won’t be getting that power any day soon.

    I think there IS some truth in the idea that we have struggled to replicate the success of the Invincibles. But the inevitability of this is somewhat due in part to the stratospheric heights that side reached, comprised as it was of all manner of winners – from World Cups to Carling Cups – and the speed at which the Invincibles unraveled was a key reason AW was unable to build on their success in the way Ferguson had managed to spend the proceeds earned as a result of getting to the top of the EPL summit first. In effect, AW was faced with having to replace them – rather than to build on them – and to do this whilst generating substantial surpluses to fund the acquisition of a brand new state of the art stadium.

    That the stadium was intended to allow us to compete with the likes of 1990’s Man U and the Barcas and R Madrids tells you much of what you need to know about how the oil money has changed the footballing landscape. In the way armies are usually set up to fight the last war, so too were we wrong-footed by the unprecedented and unforeseeable scale of funds that started to slosh around the EPL once we had committed to the new stadium.

    But I, and many others, have always delighted in saying that £10 million in AW’s hands is the equivalent of £30 million + in anyone else’s. I’m confident that this is as true today as ever.

    And it remains the key as to how we will compete with oil.

    The new stadium played a part in our inability to consolidate and build on the Invincibles but as the funds start to flow back into the club, so will our successes on the pitch.

    And for every Fabregas and Nasri that gets prised away, it’s another windfall for AW to use in creating the stars of tomorrow playing the football of today. If oil and greed continue to abduct last season’s stars then the exquisite footballing foundations Wenger has laid over the last 16 years will ensure the Arsenal Way remains a permanent legacy. The return of fiscal liquidity enables future seasons will now open with a lethal blend of youth combined with experience.

    Arsenal are, in my view, uniquely positioned to ride the oil wave.

  87. Team I would most like to see in action:

    Sagna, McLintock, O’Leary, Sansom
    Clapton, Fabregas, Brady, Armstrong
    Bergkamp, Henry.

    No room for a DM, I’m afraid – and I can’t believe I’ve left out RvP.

  88. arsenalandrew take a bow. What a post.

  89. Joining in on the ‘favorites’ game today and considering am from the newer generation of Arsenal fans…here’s my team

    Sagna Koscielny Campbell Silvinho
    Overmars Cesc Vieira Pires
    Henry Dennis


  90. Well done again, George. Very interesting and thoughtful.

  91. Your post looks really tasty Arsenalandrew but i intentionally skipped it. I think i need a drink in one hand while rocking back and forth on the chair with the lights off of course ha!, o i can’t wait to read it man.

    But before that let me just say i love Arsene Wenger, yes! Do you know Koscielny was named man of the match in his first competitive fixture for France against cunts, i mean spain. I think we can put Koscielny’s name under the file ‘Future world class player’

    Now here’s an interesting fact, during the match yesterday Clichy, Cesc, Nasri, Koscielny, Giroud are all past or present Arsenal players with M’vila a possibility.
    Speaking of M’vila, what did you make of his performance? Personally i think he was quietly effectiveg, he did not go past the half way line, about 63 pass, 13 long balls, 9 successful, 1 chance created for Ribery with a pass success rate of 90%.

  92. arsenalandrew

    How did we not score?!!

  93. arsenalandrew

    Thought M’Villa was fine Khalifha, but I’m not really expert enough to judge that kind of player on one game to be honest.

    I think you have to be a little wary of relying on stats – that’s not to negate anything you say but stats are rarely genuinely conclusive.

    England game looks pretty even so far …

  94. arsenalandrew

    How well is Johnson playing?

    Who’d have thought?

  95. What an embarrasment England..

  96. Very exciting game. Very even. Bring on TheoX – either or both will do me.

  97. Arsenalandrew, i agree but those stats gave a good idea on how he fared against the mighty cunts.

    Big fan of hodgson but comeon man, TAKE THE BUS AWAY, this is italy not barcelona for God’s sake. When do the GOOD players come in for England? Theo, ox, Jagielka???

  98. arsenalandrew

    mj – how so?

  99. I used to think i was more knowledgeable than most when it comes to football, but the inclusion of Parker in the first eleven of the England team has proved to me that i don’t know shit.
    I thought only players with skill, flair and you know ACTUAL FOOTBALL ABILITY play for their national team at competitive tournaments but scotty parker has opened my eyes to see how wrong i was.

    You don’t have to be good at playing football anymore, just run around like parker, get an 80’s hairstyle and bang! Ba da bin bada boom, you can play shit at a euro tournament, just believe.

  100. Great post and great discussion today.

    Nobody could foresee the oil money, that’s true. On the other hand, the board did not expect the ManU revenues to rise so quickly, and this was a business miscalculation. Gazidis admitted this openly. So, yes, some things have been out of control. But there has also been some poor judgment in the business planning.

  101. Welbeck is having a bad game, Parker is doing his headless chicken dance and Young is on the periphery of the match.

    Has anyone seen Milner? i thought his name was on the formation list.

  102. pedantic george

    SV ,What if they had anticipated United’d rapid growth.What could they have done about it?

    Let me give you the answer “Nothing”

  103. Finally! Theo on.

    Now we wait

  104. pedantic george

    England are dire

  105. mattgoonerknight

    What’s more dire, the BBC commentary or England? Tough call…

  106. mattgoonerknight

    Hopefully we’ll see Oxo in extra time

  107. Please God make it stop, wtf.

  108. George, excellent!

  109. I honestly don’t know why am watching the match, surely there is a wall somewhere with the paint yet to dry, i think i will go watch that with some popcorn, hmmm.

  110. Young, acting again.

    How good is this Henderson?

  111. “Speaking of M’vila, what did you make of his performance? Personally i think he was quietly effectiveg, he did not go past the half way line, about 63 pass, 13 long balls, 9 successful, 1 chance created for Ribery with a pass success rate of 90%.”

    Interesting. Denilson gives us all that and is 3 years older, more experienced and knows how Arsenal play, yet he is derided for having exactly the qualities for which M’Villa is lauded. What’s in a name or a price tag?

  112. Nice one, George!

    I think the Invincibles would have been good enough to win the league this past season, but they would have had to have been very lucky with injuries.

    My favourite XI:
    Sir Chesney
    Sagna Toure Lauren
    Hleb Viera Fabregas Pires
    Kanu Henry Bergkamp

    England v Italy – this is like watching a European version of the Championship – so many mistakes. I can’t see either of these teams causing Germany many problems, if they continue to play like they have tonight.

  113. George, does this mean Yogi gave you the keys?

  114. Paul N, every minute i watch that match is a stab in the eye, never again man.

    As for M’vila, i have been lucky enough to see him play live for rennes, trust me Denilson doesn’t come close in terms of ability.

  115. BB

    Did you see that video? Of course I gave him the keys.

  116. Playing for Rennes in France doesn’t come close to playing for Arsenal in the PL and CL either.

  117. Khalifha, this not good enough. The OX should have come on for Parker.

  118. That is not a knock on Denilson’s ability tho, Yann is just way better.

  119. @Arsenal Andrew – Completely outplayed, the failure of English game was quite evident today

  120. “That is not a knock on Denilson’s ability tho, Yann is just way better.”

    We’ll see. If he comes, I just hope he is given a chance and appreciation of that role in the team. A lot of people slate Arteta for the same reasons.


    (I hope I am not banned)

  122. Problem is Passenal, Arsene doesn’t seem to want Denilson either. Few other clubs seem to rate him as well, certaily not as well as M’vila.

    Which brings me to a question I’ve been mulling around. Why is M’vila valued and rated so highly? What does he do that’s so special? Ok, he’s strong in the tackle but he’s not the high energy type valued by many. Is being a good tackler and passer worth so much these days? Can he play other positions?

  123. Doesn’t get better than this. Diving cunt & Cashley!

  124. YW, say no more 🙂

    Actually, I haven’t watched it yet. I’m not sure I’m ready to have my meerkat image of George destroyed!

  125. mj – so COMPLETELY outplayed that it went to penalties?

    Doesn’t quite stack up.

  126. fuck off mj you cunt.

  127. Pirlo is a footballing God!

    After a man-of-the-tournament performance in midfield, he tops it with that penalty? Yoh!

  128. All right Duke & Arsenal Andrew, I might be hurting a few sentiments on here today, so see ya later

  129. and fuck off rooney aswell the fat cunt he just brings us down. we are a much worse team with him on the pitch, no coincedence we went back to our world cup form once he came back.

  130. Passenal.

    Denilson would have had a chance last season but the boss didn’t think he would help the team so he loaned him out. So far we have not been able to find anyone to take him this year so Denilson will have another chance this season. It was not the fans who decided we needed Arteta. Unlike fans the boss is not in love with big names or high price tags and I am sure if Denilson is good enough he will work his way back into the squad. Good luck to him and If he ends up playing hopefully he can help the team.

  131. Henristic | June 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Actually Henristic, maybe the reasons are more complicated than you think. Denilson lost his mojo and was unhappy in the UK, the lack of support from ‘fans’ would not have helped that. Doesn’t mean that he is a bad player Apart from Arsenal, who has M’Villa been linked with? There’s hardly a ‘bidding war’ going on out there and nothing happened at the Euro’s to suggest there will be one. I’m sure that Arsenal would rather not spend £17m on a 21 year old with potential, but sometimes things just don’t work out. It’s not necessarily aimed at you, but I’ve been shocked at the re-writing of Denilson’s time at the club and the suggestions that he is a poor player, which he is not. If he finds the right club, I am sure he will do well. Clubs know that he is surplus to requirements at Arsenal, so of course they will try to get a cut-price deal. Times are tough unless you are one of the money bags clubs.

  132. why do we keep banging on about fukin denilson, le boss doesnt rate him now what with him playing him for so long and him not improving and impressing. let him go.

  133. Football was the winner today. I understood hodgson’s reason for defending deep against France, i even applauded the performance against Ukraineg. But this? This is a slap in the face of all football fans, that performance just smacks of chelsea. What excuse can you give for parking the bus against Italy, even during extra time there was only one team trying to win it, it seemed as if England were confident in taking penalty kicks, Err really?


    Arterta was one of the best midfielders in the league last season and people that can’t see that are donkeys, yes.
    Also, don’t use those stats describe the type of player M’vila is. The guy is like a makalele/viera hybrid, tough tackling but quality on the ball, thus the high pass percentage.
    The reason he was unable to tackle much yesterday was because of the pass and move style of spain, nobody can get near them so you are left chasing shadows.

  134. fuck off wiz

  135. Damn! ‘Don’t use’ – don’t let.

    M’vila is currently the best DM in France, averages about 85passes per match with a high interception and tackling rate, please don’t doubt his quality. There is a reason wenger has been tracking him for more than a year now.

  136. Khalifha – Italy were obviously the better side but I was still proud of the way England defended for their lives, never gave up and never said “die”.

    They looked knackered and in need of their summer hols; I guess that’s what participation in 38 games in the most competitive league in the world does to you.

    Fair play to Italy; it’s the first time I can recall ever seeing them not spending most of a game rolling around and cheating to a win and though they were unable to beat us during the 120 minutes, they deserved to go through to the next round.

    Where they will be destroyed by the Germans. In 90.

  137. Team that can’t keep possession loses. Shock horror!!!

    England really were shite. As expected.

  138. pedantic george

    “I’ve been shocked at the re-writing of Denilson’s time at the club and the suggestions that he is a poor player”

    Were you really?
    Rewriting and the dismissal of previous good form is the norm. I think.
    Once the sheep turn on a scapegoat en masse they can be a vicious bunch of Herbivores

  139. Duke

    I agree about Looney. It seems he can’t be arsed to work hard for England. We were not that good without him but bloody awful with him.

  140. LOL………….England haven’t won anything in about 45 years.

  141. Khalifa, I recognise that Denilson is unlikely to come back and if M’Villa comes he will get my support, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he has a similiar skill set to Denilson and Arteta, yet somehow he is recognised for what he does while he is not playing for the club. Denilson never was by many and even Arteta is slammed for it. But you certainly notice something is missing when that skill set is not there. It will be interesting to see how long the honeymoon period lasts before the complaints start.

  142. Ha! Duke, cheer up man, by the next world cup England will have Wilshere, Chamberlain, Walcott and hopefully other players that can play football. Milner, Parker and Terry will probably retire by then and yes Milner MUST retire.

    Arsenalandrew, fair play to them, they exceeded many people’s expecting by topping the group and reaching the quarter final but Parker still needs to learn how to play football.

  143. Still have 1 star more than some though G4E

  144. Passenal

    The same thing happened with Gilberto. Before his back injury he was rubbished by the fans. Soon missed him when he was out though.

  145. There is a paradox occurring on ACLF.

    The same people that argue that Arsene is almost unquestionable are the same ones that think Denilson is some some of uber quality midfielder.

    Le boss obviously does not think so any more, but surely he can’t be wrong. 😉

  146. “Were you really?”

    Probably not George! It’s not like I haven’t seen it many times before and know I am likely to see it many more times in the future. The fickleness of the football fan never ceases to amaze me!

  147. There was no creativity in the middle of the park. Ox should have come on for Parker; who the heck is henderson!?

  148. Italy were shit and there for the taking if we didnt have rooney bringing us down our other players would have had the bollocks to beat them instead of lookin g to that fat “world class” player to do it for us. he makes us stink and horrible to watch.

    if we had young in rooneys role with either welbeck or caroll up top we would have won tonight. or welbeck and caroll upfront. all rooney done was give the ball away.

    although maybe the old english mentalility may still have crept in and we would have lost…but still the england team with rooney in it is a diferent team to that without him. welbeck looks lost when rooney plays. he has done fuckall for 8 years now. piss off wayne.

  149. also how can such an ordinary in- significant player such as denilson create such debate.

  150. nice one dups.

  151. arsenalandrew – I admire your fortitude, but following England (as we fellow countrymen are obliged to do) provides a dark, terrifying vision of what life must be like for a Stoke City supporter. Little vestige of creativity – and anyone showing fleeting signs of it is either substituted (Welbeck), starved of the ball (Theo) or not brought on at all (Ox).

    We try to admire their heart and determination, but there’s little pleasure in watching your team apparently unable to kick the ball to each other (I’d use the word “pass”, but the England team seems ill-acquainted with it) and consequently being overrun by moderate opposition.

    The absolute nadir was when Parker was substituted by someone even less capable than him.

    I’m desperately trying to think of something positive to say . . . . . . . some consolation . . . . . maybe the fact that Theo looked a threat every time he was allowed to touch the ball.

  152. Merlot

    One positive is that some of that rubbish will not be in anymore tournaments.

  153. pedantic george

    The point is Duke he didn’t look ordinary in- significant in 09 before he got injured.
    Once again Andy hugely exaggerates what anyone is saying about something.

  154. it is depressing following england always seing them getting knocked out of tournaments by the first big team they come up against….hhhmmm…thank fuck its not like that with the arse. eh..

  155. pedantic george

    The absolute nadir was when Parker was substituted by someone even less capable than him.

    Merlot,I am going to steal that for twitter.

  156. Of course George, of course. I remember somebody here last year saying that Denilson was better than Mascherano. Heh.

    Sorry for trying to keep things in perspective.

  157. Jeez! People’s expecting? Should have read expectation.


    You speak the truth, so many arsenal fans are yet to see M’vila play but you can see comments like ‘we need to buy m’vila to win a trophy’ crazy!

    If i had not watched M’vila play before seeing him against spain i would think he was overrated but he isn’t. That guy is super quality, i have seen good Dms before but him and Song are players from another dimension, his quality will slap you in face time and time again.
    Lets just hope the deal doesn’t fall through.

  158. GA the fact that you don’t understand the point that I am making doesn’t surprise me in the least. I am not questioning Arsene’s decision to replace Denilson – things clearly didn’t work out for him at Arsenal. The re-writers of history may try to deny it, but his skill set is valued by Arsene, hence Arteta and now possibly M’Villa as replacements. I neither care nor am I surprised about which posters either cannot or will not admit it. I am just pointing out the hypocrisy of those lauding M’Villa for the same qualities for which they lambasted Denilson.

  159. GA, the people who believe they know more than Wenger, believe that Denilson is totally useless.

  160. I have said it before, and will again. WJAT AN ABSOLUTELY BULLSHEVIK WAY OF DECODING A GAME. utter cwap. I was not to unhappy with the way English played. Right strategy. Some wayward finishing by Shrek. And Johnson amongst others decided this game. They could have won this. No doubt.

  161. pedantic george

    Oh well If you remember that then yes ,you are entitled to exaggerate every other thing that is ever said.
    I mean Yes ,fuck me.That gives you absolute licence.

  162. m;villa is a quicker stronger version of a player that playes the game in the same way as denilson…so is better…so would be better for us. as is arteta.

  163. Cool, cheers George. Now I feel better.

  164. upgrades so to speak.

  165. Pas – It was not what Denilson did. It was what he didn’t do all too often. Not tracking back, giving up chasing etc,. That is what stuck in most people’s throats.

  166. Merlot – agree, I’d have loved to have seen Welbeck, Ox and Theo playing at the same time.

    To be honest, I’d have loved to see Theo playing with anyone prepared to pass to him which didn’t really seem the case tonight.

    Rooney didn’t look fit at any stage of the tournament; that so much of the play was forced through him most likely played a big part in our inability to create, as you say.

    But we defended with real heart and determination and for all of Italy’s supposed domination, they were unable to put a single goal past us in two hours of play.

    That we are even having this conversation, given how low expectations were at the start of the Euros is testament to the effort put in.

    I’m pretty sure no-one in France will be having a similar debate about their country’s team.

    Or in Holland.

    Or in …

  167. There was no reason for GA’s comment anyway.

  168. pedantic george

    The ability of some people to completely miss the point of an argument is staggering.
    If people had read what Passenal actually said,we would not be regurgitating this same shit again.

  169. or what i said george!!

  170. What the fuck happened to goldylocks, i mean Joe Hart? He had a very good game but dived the wrong way for every penalty. I thought he was the love child of Buffon and David Seaman, conceived while tapes of Peter shilton was being recorded with marvin gaye playing in the background, pfft szescney would have saved at least 1 of those pks

  171. England were poor. As expected. We’re knocked out in the quarters on penalties, after having our technical deficiencies exposed throughout the tournament. As usual.

    No apparent desire to win, which was troubling. But we were hard to beat through fortune, and best of all; we weren’t disgraced like we were in South Africa. So well done Hodgson. Obviously, he’ll need to get more attack minded when the Ox-Wilshere-Walcott triumvirate comes fully online next season.

    It’s bleak being an England fan though, can’t wait til the Arsenal are back.

  172. pedantic george

    Well yes Duke .
    Seems I can be as guilty as others.

  173. GA, in what life didnt Denilson track back?

  174. right im off to stroke the wifes back till she elbows me and tells me to piss off not tonight i stink of beer.

  175. True that George. Passenal is simply saying that this new guy doesn’t offer anything much different to Denilson as far as playing style. He may be a better player but we will have to wait and see if it pans out like that, if he signs with us.

    I will never forget Denilson against Barcelona. He tracked all over the pitch, much less back.

  176. GA, it happened once against manure in that CL game and he was never allowed to live it down. I could ask where was M’Villa yesterday when Alonso strolled into the penalty area untracked to score the first goal? It just reinforces the point that because a lot of people want M’Villa at Arsenal, they overlook his short-comings and because they want Denilson gone, they highlight his. M’Villa may turn out to be a better player, but I think he is on a learning curve and it would be better for all concerned if they reigned in their expectations, otherwise I see another Denilson situation arising. He is not the saviour of Arsenal. You Tube can make anyone look good, but even M’Villa on You Tube looks like a prospect who would benefit from understudying Arteta for a couple of years, just as Denilson might have, except we didn’t have the luxury back then so he was thrown in at the deep end to do his learning and make his mistakes in the full glare of the most demanding and unrealistic supporters in the PL.

  177. pedantic george

    Nice Post Passenal.

  178. Passenal, well said. not a word out of place.

  179. Passenal.

    M’vila is nothing like denilson, infact i regret posting those stats. If Wenger is willing to pay 16M or more on a DM that should convince you that he is better than a player on loan.

    Also, don’t use the Euros to judge a player. For example, benthner was looking like marco van basten while Rvp played like a shit adebayor, 1 match should not be enough for you to judge a player.

    Again, i have seen M’vila play and he is one of the best around already and just 21, denilson is not as good as him, same as bendtner can never be as good as Rvp.

  180. Time and again the fat and useless mancs let England down, and their club will still be considered the backbone of the English football by the juornos and neutrals. As a foreigner, I’m baffled.

    England were rubbish btw. The thought of John Terry lifting his third cup in the season was making me sick though.

  181. PG

    Thought provoking, thanks.

    I never give much merit when teams and players from different era’s are compared, so many variables.

    Not that your post is likely to convince everyone, as some always find complaining their daily vitamin.

    The video clip was impressive. You reminded me of the character Kwai Chang Caine it that 70’s TV series, Kung Fu.

    How long have you been learning your craft?

  182. I’m not sure how anyone can blame Hodgson for the way England played against Italy.

    Rooney, Welbeck, Young, Parker, Milner, and even Gerrard……no one could hold possession to string together passes. Most held the ball too long and Italy were countering.

    I thought Hodgson over achieved.

  183. Limestonegunner

    I think the Ox deserved more playing time ahead of Henderson and to sub for Young.

    Ah well, Brazil in two years should see JW, Ox, Theo, Gibbs all featuring.

  184. I think Italy has been very good this tournament. It is in a position to challenge Germany in the semis. Prandelli has a wealth options on the bench and has rotated the squad well. I cannot think of a single player who has had a poor tournament. The defense got most of the tackles right. The Italians played very intelligently yesterday – notice how their left back reduced his forward runs once Theo came on.

  185. italy were crap and the germans will tear them a new one..
    we made them look better than what they are by sitting back and letting a 50 year old run the game and putting him under no pressure..

    i have huge admiration for roy but he ballsed it up last night..

    you cant have any regrets in big tournaments like that and although we didnt get beat once the entire tournament we should have gone for it last night..italy are the better team but we had them worried several times when we went after them..
    should have scored, could have scored..

    we never beat anyone on pens i have no fucking clue why we play for them…

    but one things for sure..england need jack wilshire becuase that midfield is crap at keeping the ball and looking to the future theres nobody else coming through..

    wilshire, rodwell…

    thats about our lot..

  186. and while im here ive got a simple answer for the denilson question..

    ask him to pass it further than 5 yards when needed..a nice 40-50 yard cross field pass that finds space when theres space to be found, turning defence into attack in a blink of an eye..
    ask arteta to do the same thing. with either foot..

    ask denilson to stay composed, make the right decisions, not get bullied, and stay on his feet..
    ask arteta to do the same..

    thats the difference between those two. and the reason why one has become a key player and the other one found himself on the transfer list without a squad number..

    i dont see mvila in the arteta mould to be honest..
    hes a good arteta..with either foot, long and short..
    but hes a better tackler than what he is passer and hes also has the physical element to his game..

    keeping possession isnt the problem..

    gettting it back is..not letting the midfield get bypassed is…and its been a problem for a few seasons now..

    but we’ll have to see what wenger does..he may see le coq as the answer yet…

  187. What a great article. Clarity.

    In answer to the 3 posers
    1. The Invincibles squad would be only slightly ahead of where this squad is now, and that only because of its counter-attack mastery (the best counter-attacking squad I’ve ever seen); in several respects the current squad is stronger.
    2. Half the current starting squad would make the Invincibles, and at least get into that “inner 15” or so
    3. Yep, 3 or 4 would have gone.

    As for world class and all that. The point is we will have 4 world class players in 2 years, and that setting an incredibly high benchmark.

  188. Is England Fulham-plus or is Fulham England-lite? No disrespect to Mister Hodgson, but that was utterly derelict of possibility.

  189. or bereft of

  190. People always under-estimate Italy who are always said to be over the hill and on the slippery slope. It’s laughable. Most tournaments, WC was an exception, they start sluggish and just get better, and somehow their system is able to keep replacing, much like Germany.

  191. Very nice comments Passenal regarding Denilson, as for England unless you are English (patriotism factor) there is no way you can laud the way they played especially when you are an Arsenal fan. England played like how teams that park the bus play against us,or even how chelsea played against Beyern,nothing to like about this style at all. In the end football won.

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