The Champions league resumes with the knockout stage that sees us pitted against the best team in the world according to popular and widespread beliefs, Barcelona. But are they really that mighty? On paper and in La Liga they are, but we all know the champions league is a different ball game entirely.
No point crying over spilt milk as we could have avoided this fixture at this stage if only we had topped our group, but as Le Boss is always quick to point out “To be the best, you gotta beat the best”. I love our coach, if only I shared his enthusiasm at times.
Looking to banish memories of last years deflating loss and eventual exit at their hands the lads are rearing to go and confidence within the camp can’t be any higher and as if that’s not enough good news, we only have one major absentee through injury and that’s TV5. After disposing of Wolves without hitting top gear and watching Barca held by a brave Sporting Gijon side, you’d fancy our chances especially with Puyol set to miss the first leg.
When we were drawn against the Catalans last season, I stood alone in saying we won’t lose at the Emirates no matter the situation and final outcome and I’m glad to report that this season am not alone with those thoughts. For some reason, gooners worldwide are calm about this tie and I’ll tell you why.
- •For starters, we’re not missing that many players and we don’t have anyone carrying knocks at the moment. Last season, we had Rvp out injured Fab and Arsh both half fit etc
•The team is stronger than it was at this stage last year and the emergence of key players like Jack wilshere, Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou has provided the fans with some cheer.
•If you think Messi is in form then RVP is form, banging in goals with his head, left leg and right leg.
I’ll get back to the 101 reasons why we can beat Barca but for now let’s look at team news ahead of the show down. Le Boss is most likely to stick to the same team that defeated Wolves at the weekend with the only real headache is whether to start Nasri(who has recovered from the hamstring injury earlier than expected) or play him from the bench. One enforced changed is the introduction of Eboue for Sagna with the latter suspended from the group stages. A healthy Arsenal squad will beat any team in the world any day to me.
Much attention has been paid to Paul Merson’s comments about the Arsenal players that would make the Barca team. I don’t have the exact comment but he implied that only Cesc, Nasri and RVP would enter the current Barca squad…….. as substitutes. Imagine that??? What rubbish. Is he trying to say Busquets is better than Song or Wilshere, or Maxwell and Adriano better than Clichy, or the trio of Iniesta-Xavi-Pedro beats that of Cesc-Nasri-Theo? In my own books, this is what a combined team of Arse-Barca would look like today and am sure most of you would agree.
Alves Vermaelen Puyol Clichy
Fabregas Song Xavi
Messi RVP Villa
The bench would definately have more Arsenal players than Barca, a different formation would see Nasri and or Iniesta in the line up. But the matter on hand is how to stop barca, or how to make sure our game surpasses theirs. We need to take the game to them early, and focus on our own game rather than on individual battles, keeping possession for long spells during the game is also essential. This would make Barca chase the ball which they aren’t used to and we could capitalise on that. But this is easier said than done. Xavi would be looking to do what he does best and so too will Messi, but if we can keep one quiet then I foresee an advantage.
Personally I’d love to see Wilshere stick to Messi throughout the game, not necessarily as a man marking strategy but just to harry him each time he touches the ball, kinda like Tiote did Fabregas in the 2nd half of the 4-4 game at the Emirates. No matter the team that is sent out there, I expect nothing less than 100% from them, my only worry is the fact that Eboue gets to start, let’s just pray Barca continue their habit of repeatedly attacking from the right.
We will cause them problems as I expect Alves’ attacking instincts to be curbed and Pique won’t have it easy against the Red hot RVP, and with Wilshere and Song enforcing behind Fabregas our attacks would be devastating. Even they would need to be careful as to how they attack us knowing they have full backs not known for their defensive strengths and Walcott agaisnt Maxwell is already giving me goose pimples. Our defence needs to be on their toes, they’re used to playing against physical strikers and winning aerial balls and this might pose a problem as Barca forwards don’t require any of that and like to let their feet(which by the way are some of the quickest in world football) do the damage.
Irrespective of what happens come the end of 90 mins, football would be the winner as both teams have mastered the art of entertainment, winning or losing they’re always pleasing to watch and let’s hope we’re the one’s with the loudest noise come end of the game. I repeat I don’t see us losing at the Emirates, it won’t happen.
Possible Formation : Chezzer-Eboue-Kozzer-JD-Clichy-Song-Wilshere-Fabregas-Walcott-Arshavin-RVP.
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Yeah I know this is not proper Arsenal news, but hey, this dude breathes Arsenal. He was a gunner and is a gooner through and through. So reliable news just in have it that our best striker ever, the one who holds our goalscoring record Thierry Henry has signed for New York Red Bulls, one of the major sides in America’s Major Soccer League. Actually, this is one of the worst-kept secrets of all time because as at mid last season, it was obvious Titi had no future in Catalonia. He had openly professed his love for life in New York and admitted he might consider a move there later in life. Guess that time is now. He is expected to make his debut for in a friendly against the Spuds in the United States on 22 July. This is to thanking him for all the good memories he brought us and wishing him the best of luck in his time over there.
So what would be your first reaction if you were to wake up to see the above picture on the first football website you open? Sincerely, I’d either weep and smash the computer or go back to bed and hope it was a dream, rather a nightmare. That of course, before reading to see it was just a prank by Puyol and Pique(two jokers but Barca players). Prank, joke,nothing serious is how all of it has been tagged by both the player and his father but one must wonder if it was a significant act of selfish mind play on their part.
Arsene’s Response: “You can go f**k yourselves”
OK, he did not say that but I so wish he had. He simply played it down and repeated what he’s been saying every summer of Cesc’ Arsenal career
“He’s an Arsenal player and under contract till 2015 and we won’t be listening to any offers,because he’s an integral part of the team”
Cesc himself came out defend himself stating that it’s nothing and that if it was a way to have fun, he had to enjoy it.
Onto other pressing matters then, and the question on our lips since the end of last season. Who our new signings will be and whether they will be established players or relatively unknowns. So far Koscly and Chamakh have joined and while the jury is still out on our new number 6, Chamakh comes with a somewhat proven pedigree…well his goals rate in the French league is credible but in the EPL is no better than a Crouch or Berbatov or Anelka last season. Which according to Le Boss remains just two more players, a centreback and a goalkeeper.
As much as I disagree and think we need a new centre midfielder and the sale of Denilson, who after 4 first team years is a complete disgrace (a few long range shots don’t make up for shambolic performances season long) they’ll just have to make do. If our superb attacking play can be backed up by a solid defence such as this: Frey + Clichy + TV5 + Koscly/Mertesacker/Hangeland + Sagna; then, we’re good to go. I prefer Seb Frey because he’s 7 years younger than Mark Schwarzer, maybe better and has been one of the top 3 goalies in the Serie A for the past couple of seasons.
And yes, there’s the ridiculous story that Gallas might come back, No thanks! Sol should sign a new contract simple and we’ll be just fine.
As you know the first team has already started pre-season training already. You can view the pictures of our new signings at work here, getting ready for the Emirates Cup. But just before that is our traditional season opener, a game at the Underhill against Barnet on Saturday. This is followed by a game against SK Stum Graz on Wednesday 21st July, then SC Neusiedl on Tuesday, 27th July.
Isn’t it fun to get to see the Arsenal play footie again? Hell yeah, it is!
From wherever you are reading, have fun
Escobar says so!
Hallo happy people! It’s the start of a new week and I bet you all had a lovely weekend which was crowned by the footballing spectacle on Sunday night. So the World Cup is finally over, 30 days, 32 teams, 64 games, one winner; and it had to be Spain. They were definitely the favourites to add the World Cup trophy to their Euro 2008 triumph. And boy did they do it in their own style. Spain lost to the Swiss in their opening match of the competition but it seemed as though they needed a wakeup call. They never looked back since then. They expertly dispatched Chile and Honduras, and then switched to “efficiency” mode as all their knockout games including the final ended with a solitary goal.
Last night’s game had everything you could think of; tackles, saves, dribbles, crazy bookings, play acting, controversial decisions, everything! Spain threw everything they had forward, with the Dutch team contented with staying back and hitting them on the break. And it would have worked for them had Robben not been wasteful. Ironically, this pattern of football Spain play was adopted from the Dutch! The chances was somewhat balanced, with either team likely to score at any moment but Spain definitely saw more of the ball…not like you can deny them that.
As usual our Robin VP started alone up front with captain Cesc once again on the bench. But it should later be noted that it’s really not how long, but how well. This is in no way a swipe at Robin but he was really in and out of yesterday’s game, hardly getting a shot on target no thanks to Arjen Robben who simply does not understand what the word “team” means. Robin played the entire 120 minutes and I suspect he was being kept on in case the match went to penalties. El Capitan came on with 5 minutes to go in regulation time and he was more than effective. He changed the whole dynamics of the Spain team and made more direct runs into the Dutch danger area.
Despite missing a clear chance to score, the moment of glory came when he robbed Eljero Elia of the ball near his box, started an attacking move which involved an Iniesta backheel. The ball then fell to Cesc in front of the box and he excellently picked out Iniesta who clearly showed Robben how to score a goal. The entire Spanish camp went bananas. While it was great to see Cesc smile again after what has been a difficult year, I felt gutted for Robin VP and I simply wanted to see those Barca boys cry. You needed to see the way Pique and Puyol were showing off their medals to Cesc as if to say, “come over to Barcelona and you’ll get more of this”.
Cesc meanwhile gave all Arsenal fans a glimmer of hope as per his future when he was interviewed after the match. He dedicated his medal to all Arsenal players and fans alike stating that we are a world class club. The most interesting part was when he was asked about his future, he simply smiled and responded
“I am an Arsenal player and proud to be.”
I do not know if I’m reading too much into this but I have this feeling that his time with the national team did not go for him as expected and being who he is, he expects to be on the pitch at all times. He simply won’t get that in Catalonia. Also, reports making rounds yesterday suggest that a 2 Million pound property has just been purchased by Cesc in the leafy Hertfordshire town of St Albans.
This is following news that Wenger has spoken to Barcelona President Sandro Rosell and told him categorically that under no conditions is our captain for sale. Good to see you are now showing some balls Arsene! Put those Spanish c*nts where they belong and show them we are no one’s feeder team!
Preseason starts in earnest gooners and it seems we should expect more signings very soon, I mean pretty soon. It’s also looking rosy on the Cesc horizon and it seems our Captain won’t be leaving, just yet. Rumours of a deal for Joe Cole and Mark Schwarzer have been rife but I’ll only believe anything when I see it on the official website of the club.
It’s gonna be a long week of transfer stories gooners, brace yourself for the most ridiculous of tales and I say Arsene, get in there and do some business!
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
Escobar says so!