Once More unto the Breach, Dear Friends ….

Should the unthinkable happen and United go on to win the PL, what will we say? I will tell you, we will say that the best team in England are not the Champions, because without any question this Arsenal team are the best in the country. 4 points behind but 5 years ahead in terms of footballing ability. If any team in Europe can beat an in-form Barcelona it is an in-form Arsenal.

And you doubters, think on this – last season we went to the Nou Camp level after 90 minutes. True, we got steam-rollered in the first half at THOF but more than held our own in the second.  Then we went to Barca without …  Cesc, Gallas, RvP, Arshavin and Song. Take the 5 most influential players out of the Barca team and see how well they do against a full strength Arsenal. And let us not forget, we scored first.  That night we had Silvestre playing at CB,  Eastmond, Merida, Campbell and Traore on the bench!!.

But what do we hear? We hear that AFC received a football lesson in Spain.  Well, tonight Barca will be playing almost our first XI, and I expect things to be different. Had Nasri been fully-fit, Sagna and Vermælen available we could compare like with like,  as it is we will have to beat them with Eboue.

The loss of Sagna (a dreadful decision from a dreadful referee) may well prove costly. I have made my opinion clear about Eboue, he is not good enough, and I fear for him tonight. Defensive discipline is a must and unfortunately our Ivorian has lapses of concentration. I would love for Eboue to prove me wrong but if I was Guardiola, I would target him. The combination of Messi and Alves cause trouble for the very best – both Eboue and Walcott will need total concentration.

What  a mouth-watering battle we have in midfield tonight. The emergence of Wilshere has propelled Fabregas to a higher level. Who needs Iniesta and Xavi when we have two players who are as good and are a combined 15 years younger?  Song has become the Premiership’s best defensive midfielder with the ability to create as well as tackle. And then there is Nasri, our will o’ the wisp, a man who can bamboozle any defence. Should he not play, Arshavin is returning to his devastating best and will be hungry to show the world that he remains World class. We know that Busquets is a fine player – he forced Yaya out of Barca – but Jack will have him running and tackling air. Will Mascherano or Keita play? We know all about Mascherano, a super player and  well used to playing Arsenal. I hope he is on the bench!

Then there is the form of our attack. Both Van Persie and Walcott are in fine fettle. Robin is in the best form of his life and looks unplayable, whereas Walcott has already shown Barca that his pace can and will cause them problems. An ageing Abidal should be targeted by both Nasri and Walcott, he remains a fine player but has lost a yard of pace, and by playing down the left we will force Pedro to stay and cover.

No defence can realistically stop Messi, Villa, Pedro etc. but the central pairing of Djourou and Koscielny are developing into a fine unit. They have pace and power and neither seems to panic under pressure. Djourou in particular has been a revelation – we all know that the 2 points gifted to Newcastle were as a direct result of JD leaving the field. Barca defend from the front with the strikers working the defence and stopping an easy out-ball, thankfully both JD and Kos are comfortable with the ball at their feet. Clichy will have to be alert and contribute to a secure defensive performance.

What a night for Szczezny! Still using stabilisers on his bicycle and yet playing against what is being heralded as the best football team of all-time. How will he cope? Indications are that he will be calmness personified, but who knows? It is a huge test. Fabianski wilted under pressure in the Champions League and it took him a year to recover.  It’s testament to the Other Pole in Goal that there is no talk about our goalkeeping frailties.

My team:

Bench: Almunia  Bendnter Denilson  Squillaci  Arshavin/Nasri  Rosicky  Gibbs

What makes this game such an exciting prospect is that we are playing a team like ours, a team that has one way of playing –  quick on-the-ground football, fast feet and faster imaginations, elegance and brilliance allied with pace and power …. proper entertaining football. It is easy to wax lyrical about Barca, their demolition of Real Madrid was the stuff of legend and will live long in the memory. They are fantastic in every position and have (possibly) for the first time ever, the top 3 players in the world playing in the same team, in fact Barca have 6 players in the World Team of the Year.

There has been much defeatist talk over the ‘net about the prudence of losing to Barca and concentrating on the League.  Many say that the Champions League may be a step too far, and that the prospect of fighting on four fronts is asking too much of our young team.  Nay, Nay, thrice Nay and absolutely not, this is a hugely important game in the ascent of our team to World Domination. We have to show the world we have the nuts to go on and win a major trophy, and if we can win one, why not four? :-)

This is one of those nights when I am gutted to live 1000 kms from the Grove. Tonight the team need their 12th man and it is up to each and every one of you lucky people who have tickets to roar the lads onto victory. No lapses, just 90 lung-bursting and throat rasping minutes of vocal encouragement.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners

Written by Big Raddy

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226 Responses to Once More unto the Breach, Dear Friends ….

  1. Morning Raddy – you have excelled yourself :) The excitement is almost too much to bear and still more than 10 hours to go.

    I hope the players slept better than me and have woken up in a better mood than Rasp :roll:

  2. Rasp says:

    Morning Raddy,

    A truly inspirational post. I hope Arsène can invoke the same spirit in our players that your post has in me. We have nothing to fear. They do not travel well and will be aware that we are the precocious young pretenders to their crown as the the most creative team in world football.

  3. SharkeySure says:

    Quality read Mr Radders.

    “Other Pole in Goal” – Lol, and lol at too many other points to mention.

    Tonight is our night !!

  4. Carlito11 says:

    BR- I have nothing to add to that storming pre-match pep talk! Love the COYRRG in red caps at the bottom and this line “Nay, Nay, thrice Nay and absolutely not” really made me smile! I’m veering from calm and confident to nervy anxiety and barely able to sit still or contain a coherent thought process this morning- bouncing off the walls!

  5. Femi Jacobs says:

    The two areas am worried are: Ebue and Szczezny. The Szczezny should please be aware of Messi’s trickish goal skills. He plays ball in between players where you felt is blocked. He love scoring from the angles and when face to face lifting ball is his style. Our keeper should please keep note of these things. He should avoid moving too forward.

    When he is driving from right to left with the ball, expect that he will play the ball back to the right angle to score.

    Ebue should learn from Sagna. He should calm down and not too forward minded to reserve his strenght.

    Another area is Clichy, he should attack and not be dragging backward and thereby creating space for barca. If these are done, we are winning handsdown.

    I predict goal rain today.

  6. Red Arse says:

    Excellent call to arms Raddy. :-)

    In full flow you are an absolute master!!

    By the way, titter ye not, was Frankie Howerd a Gooner? :-)

  7. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Stirring stuff BR.

    “What makes this game such an exciting prospect is that we are playing a team like ours, a team that has one way of playing……..”

    Well I guess it will come down to which manager can out smart the other on the night then.

    We know that Arsene Wenger is a One way José type of manager, who asks to attack! attack! attack! I would hope that he has some tricks up his sleeve on the night for Pep. I’d love to see Mon Ami shine, show us that he is The Man, show us that in him we can trust :P

    COYRRR

  8. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Good luck Arsene Wenger & Pat Rice. The whole world will be watching :shock:

  9. Rasp says:

    Does anyone read anything into the fact that the only messages coming out of Barc and their players are saying we are a good side and it won’t be easy for them?

    Coupled to the recent announcement that they have dropped their interest in Cesc, you can only assume they are hoping to lull us into a false sense of security.

    There is no way we will be complacent after the experience of last year’s games. They are probably just mindful that it would not be a good idea to get us fired up by being critical.

  10. Wonderman says:

    Great post BR and I agree with everything you have said. Eboue is my only worry also. I am anticipating a fantastic game and if we press them like we did to Chelsea I can only see a Gunners win. I have been saying for ages that I believe we will beat them over 2 games provided injuries are avoided !!

  11. Red Arse says:

    I second that Gnarley! :-)

    Rasper, it is the reverse psychology to telling everyone we are cr*p and winding us up.

    Apart from the fact that they are right in lauding us. We are a great club with a great team, of course!! :-)

  12. Red Arse says:

    Raddy,

    Your reminder that we had an injury ravaged team for the Barca game last year, which also affected our run in for the EPL, was well timed.

    Until your Post reminded me, I had put it to the back of my mind, partly because I did not want to remember getting beaten, I suppose, but also, as you say in your article, the constant drip, drip brainwashing by all the pundits telling us that we were given a good hiding, omits to mention the injuries we faced. well done!

  13. Carlito11 says:

    BR- love the Shakespeare inspired headline! I saw this on the web yesterday- a truly creative Shakespeare/Arsenal mash up that’s well worth reading if you have time http://clockend5.blogspot.com/2011/02/transfer-deadline-day-by-william.html

  14. Carlito11 says:

    All I’m getting a work today is “bottlers, fall apart against big teams” and “weak at the back”- hate the rep we’ve earned ourselves over the past years- clearly the win over Chelsea has only convinced us. It takes a while to change people’s perceptions and I really hope that tonight will be the start of that process!

  15. kelsey says:

    Nice write up Raddy.I agree with your team,but with Nasri on the bench.
    I dreamt last night that Mozart came on and scored the winner with a pile driver from 35 yards.

    I would accept at worst 0-0 but prefer 2-0.

    Could Gibbs play at right back or has it got to be Eboue ?

  16. 26may1989 says:

    It’s here, the day has arrived. And as a treat we have a classic from Raddy.

    Am feeling so on for it that I want to head over to the ground now.

    Eboue at RB is a concern, but the fact he has Walcott ahead of him will help, whatever people say about Walcott, he always knows to track back.

    The key (I reckon) is that the players need to work like buggery tonight, pressing Barca in midfield AND tracking the runs Villa, Messi etc make behind the defensive lines. It’ll be hard but our defenders are very fit and can do it. I also think Szczesny will need to be ready to come off his line quickly to smother attacks, something we know he is good at.

  17. Carlito11 says:

    Song will be our key man tonight- we missed him so badly at the Camp Nou last year- I have every confidence in the JW/Song double pivot. The high line is also the way to go but Eboue needs to be disciplined in a way that astonishes us for it to work. 26M- I’m exactly the same- just counting the time down till I can get to the ground!

  18. Gooner in Exile says:

    Great pre match Raddy, now at excitement level 1000 and can’t wait for working day to end and settle on sofa with my pre match pizza and beer.

    one player not mentioned who will hopefully be the key difference is LJ, last year we got stuck in our own half getting pressed in by their defend from the front approach, I think Jack Wilshere will help counter that, he gets the ball and gains yards up the pitch something that Denilson lacked last year, coupled with RvP up front and a stable back four we can win the key battle grounds.

  19. London says:

    Only fifteen comments for a fine post like that is simply not right. As Peaches said: you have excelled yourself today BR.

    I think it is correct to be concerned over Eboue, he is quite simply not as good defensively as Sagna…….and if he was he would leave the club in search of a regular first team football. Is it Eboue’s fault he is playing tonight or is it the fault of a bad refereeing decision to send Sagna off? I would say that it is the later. Tonight is no time to bring in some up and coming kid, tonight is a night when we need all the experience we can get on the field and if there is one thing that Eboue does have, it is experience.

    As for Szczesny, he was born for tonight.

  20. mickydidit89 says:

    BR,
    A great great post as I would expect, however, slightly disappointed not to find you here drunk as a skunk. I, on the other hand, was good to my word and cracked right on with the Creme de Menthe early doors. Unhappily, things did not go according to plan (ie coming around an hour before kick off), as sadly the third pint brought on an unpleasant reaction. I am now running on empty and am tragically sober. Eight bloody hours still to go!

  21. Carlito11 says:

    Just seen a stat saying Barcelona have won none of the last 6 UCL knockout games away from home- 5 draws and a loss.

  22. mickydidit89 says:

    A clean sheet tonight would be more than half the battle won, me thinks.

  23. mickydidit89 says:

    Sod it. I wonder if I can lay my hands on a litre or so of Cherry Brandy. By the way, say NO to Creme de Menthe.

  24. Rasp says:

    These are th 4 things I think we need to do tonight to win:

    1. Work harder than we’ve ever done before
    2. Defend as a team
    3. Take our chances
    4. Don’t pay them too much respect

  25. Carlito11 says:

    Does anyone know if there are any of our players who are just one yellow away from a suspension? I have a feeling we’ll get an honourable result tonight but I’ll be worried if JW or Song for example miss the return leg…

  26. Gooner in Exile says:

    Pretty sure all cards are wiped after group stages Carlito.

    You could carry suspension though, hence Bac

  27. Carlito11 says:

    That’s great news GiE

  28. dandan says:

    Super post Raddy and yes we are better equipped this year.
    My hope besides seeing us win, is that with a bit of luck football itself will be a winner tonight. Thus allowing the world to see how the beautiful game should be played and as a consequence encourage fans of the “up and kick em” EPL teams to demand of their boards that the “thuggy” managers are made to change or go.

  29. dandan says:

    By the way Flaminni was a disgrace last night and should have gone.

  30. tommystout says:

    excellent post BR, if anyone needed motivating that sure would do it.
    I think we’ll beat them tonight, i just hope we dont concede obviously EE is a worry but he’s our only worry, i’m even happy to start AA.
    Anyway good luck everyone and sing til your lungs are bleeding.!

  31. RockyLives says:

    BR
    Brilliant article – really gets the juices flowing.
    (Not sure what Mr Wenger and the Frenchies in our team would make of using Agincourt as inspiration, but c’est la vie).

    micky – what level are you at?

  32. Carlito11 says:

    Where the blazes is everyone? Is everyone deep in prayer? ;-)

  33. RockyLives says:

    Carlito :)
    Maybe the tension’s too much. A lot of people must be hiding in the smallest room…

  34. Carlito11 says:

    I think that is true Rocky. My mate who I shared a pair of season tickets with until this season when he moved to singapore sent me the following email earlier today with regards to control of his organs:
    “About an hour ago I was stood up at my desk and sneezed, the problem was the tension was so much that I grunted as well – everyone turned round and looked, so I sat down slowly and hid…..”

  35. Gooner in Exile says:

    We’re all making sure we get away from work in time Carlito

  36. Carlito11 says:

    hang work! haven’t been able to do any of it since Monday… just sitting here pretending :-)

  37. Carlito11 says:

    Apologies to those of you whose jobs are actually important!

  38. RockyLives says:

    Just killing time until it’s time to bunk off…

  39. charybdis1966 says:

    Fine, rousing pre match post as ever Radders and like me I’ll hope you’ll be at the Grove tonight in spirit(that’ll be Cherry Brandy in MDi89’s case) as I couldn’t get a ticket.
    Just over 4 hours to kick off guys and am slowly starting to cack myself – should I feel disgusted with myself for thinking that whatever it takes to weaken the Spuds(e.g. .a defender being taken out of the team for a weeks by the Flamster) is acceptable?

    Yeah, my bad. :(

  40. RockyLives says:

    chary
    Flamini’s was a dreadful, dangerous challenge that cannot be condoned.
    (But, if we’re in confessional mode, I had the same naughty feelings as you… :( )

  41. charybdis1966 says:

    I didn’t actually see the game Rocky, only a few clips of the afters but have been told it was a shocker from the Flamster, and of course the usual suspects are calling for this kinda tackle to be outlawed and a lengthy ban to be imposed, however these same suspects(Talkspite, Daily(Hate) Mail etc..) are the ones who would think it’s an acceptable tackle if it was done on an arsenal player and who was probably diving anyway.
    It’s ok for 3-4 of our players to be Shawcrossed but the first time one of Good ‘ole Harry’s team gets a slightly tasty tackle they are up in arms.

    Hypocritical toe rags.

  42. Big Raddy says:

    Thank you for your kind words.

    Chary. It would be inhuman to think any other way. But it does feel wrong.

    For some reason my wife has invited her son and his girlfriend over for dinner and to watch the game tonight (guess who’s cooking). I am in deep shock. No shouting at the TV, no swearing, no serious alcohol abuse. I will have to pretend to be normal.

    I am seeing a lawyer because this is surely grounds for divorce.

  43. California Gooner says:

    Great post Big Raddy!

    A few thoughts and questions. Do we man mark Messi when he appears in the middle of the field??? I think Wilshire could take him out the game… but somehow don’t see Arsene doing that. He never plays the opposition, does he.

    Second, how about everyone channel the 2006 Eboue — the one who played like Garrincha– 10 minutes before the match. I fear for Eboue as well, but believe that he can do it. He just needs to focus single mindedly– and having David Villa in front of him will do that.

    charybdis1966 and the rest — I did see the game yesterday and it is a bit churlish to criticize the Spurs… they went to Milan and fairly humiliated them, answering some pretty thuggish play with a victory.

  44. Carlito11 says:

    Raddy :-) I don’t believe you’ll be able to contain yourself and your step children will just have to deal with your true colours!

  45. Frothing Inarticulate Loon says:

    Good afternooon ladies and gentlemen, less than four to go !!!!

    I’ve a sneaky feeling that we’ll see a towering back post header from the Arsh to make it 3-0 tonight.

    Bollox to London and his cack handed attempts at crystal ballery, my tips will fatten your bank balance.

    Get your money on The Arse to win 3-0 with the 3rd from Arshavin. That’ll get you long enough odds for a tidy sum in winnings. Then ask for new odds with AA’s goal being a towering back post header.

    Sorted !!!

  46. Red Arse says:

    FIL, you are a wonder! :-)

    3:0 eh? Well I’ll raise you and go 1:1. :-)

  47. California Gooner says:

    Raddy– I think Eboue and Walcott will be lined up against Villa and Maxwell. It is Clichy and Arshivin or Nasri who will have to deal with Messi and Alves.

  48. Carlito11 says:

    Cali- when you put it like that I want Nasri playing even though I said previously that I would never risk him as we’ve got so many other important games coming up! gulp!

  49. Big Raddy says:

    CG. I think you are right. I have always had problems with my left and right.

    That gladdens me a little, but I still think Sagna is a big loss

  50. Frothing Inarticulate Loon says:

    Your crystal ballery is even worse than London’s !!You won’t even get decent odds on 1-1 Red, so wots the point..?? Nutter.

  51. dandan says:

    Gentlemen, what will be will be, But fitness will play a huge part because working off the ball, pressing and closing down take so much out of the team without the ball and Arsene has said we will see much less ball than we are used to, That being the case Nasri’s hamstring will be under enormous pressure were he to start. For that reason alone I don’t think he will.
    We will IMHO concede tonight however the pace of Woolcott and RVP’s silky skills are our trump cards. So a cagey passing game with fast breaks and sublime one two’s will I believe end up 2 – 2 much as I hope I am wrong.
    Come on you Reds please prove me wrong.

  52. California Gooner says:

    I am wondering if we might see Jack man mark Messi for part of the match, at least when he comes inside. Last year, we tried doing that with Song for a while and he just wasn’t quick enough. BUt Wilshire is an entirely different proposition.

  53. Big Raddy says:

    CG. I think we will play a zonal system. Clichy will try to keep Messi outside him. The problems arise when he cuts inside. But as has been said, we have to play our own game and not worry about Messi or anyone else.

  54. Carlito11 says:

    I think man marking Messi will lead to our downfall because he roams so wide across the 16 yard area. Better to man mark Xavi and cut off the supply to Messi. Anyway that’s me done- off to the Grove with my heart in my mouth! COYRRG!

  55. Red Arse says:

    Froth,

    I’ll have you know there is nothing wrong with my ballery, crystal or otherwise! :-)

  56. Sorry everyone, I’ve had a really busy day. Hope we have a good night tonight, see you all later xx

  57. gunnern5 says:

    Dare we dream?

  58. harry says:

    nice read radders, dont worry about the twelve man tonight, i’ll be singing for you and gooners around the world……4-2 to the arsenal tonight, feel it in my bones…..

  59. Frothing Inarticulate Loon says:

    Even loons like can me dream tonight GN5.

    Welcome back !

  60. Big Raddy says:

    Why not GN5 ?

    Thanks Harry

  61. RockyLives says:

    Gn5
    Dare we NOT dream?

  62. 26may1989 says:

    Have no idea what the result will be tonight but van Persie to score!

  63. Big Raddy says:

    JW’s first goal for Arsenal?

  64. Frothing Inarticulate Loon says:

    Sorry Radders, forgot to mention it earlier. Its LJW’s brace followed by Arshavin’s towering back post header.

    Ps. Sharkey’s always told me that I should always put ‘respectfully’ in any comment I make to you, but he never said where to put it. Is it Ok here..? ‘respectfully’

  65. 26may1989 says:

    Tut tut Raddy, LJ already has three Arse goals to his name, one in each of PL, CL and League Cup. But would be fabuloso if he scored tonight…. though it would probably also be accompanied by instant rumours of Wilshere to the Nou Camp.

  66. mickydidit89 says:

    Level 5. Fire resistant underwear on.
    COME ON YOU REDS

  67. Big Raddy says:

    26. Nerves. I knew that!!

    FIL.Respect.

  68. RockyLives says:

    Right, still at desk at work but have just opened first can of beer of the day (an Alexander Keiths Red). Whoops.

  69. mickydidit89 says:

    Koscielny to score.

  70. Big Raddy says:

    Holy Jamolee. Are we all armchair tonight apart from Harry and London?

    Is Rasp going? Did Peaches find a ticket? Or Chary?

  71. mickydidit89 says:

    Rocky,
    Did you do the loud cough as you broke the seal?

  72. mickydidit89 says:

    BR,
    Altogether now….ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  73. Big Raddy says:

    Nice RL.

    I am on a Veronese red but will move over to the classic Tuborg/Schnapps combo for the game, or if my guests give me the “eye”, it will be a long night on the Reds. No shame in that.

  74. mickydidit89 says:

    Chary, no. Peaches, think so. Rasp, must have.

  75. RockyLives says:

    micky
    spot on: “AHEMMMMM..HAAARGH..”
    (can safely opened)

  76. Big Raddy says:

    A long ommmmmmmm – almost 2 hours to kick-off.

    Luckily, I have Danish commentary so will not have to suffer Sky bigging up the opposition at our expense.

  77. mickydidit89 says:

    Rocky,
    Cunningly disguised!

  78. Frothing Inarticulate Loon says:

    Oooooommmmmmmmmmmm

    Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm

  79. RockyLives says:

    BR
    I take it the guests are not particularly footy-friendly?

  80. mickydidit89 says:

    Back in 20

  81. RockyLives says:

    micky
    is that 20 mins or 20 drinks?

  82. Neamman says:

    I hope we win but sorry to spoil the mood.. the CL is periipheral to me. I will happily swap it for another EPL championship. will get far more joy out of us beating the spuds at WHL than beating Barcelona.

  83. Big Raddy says:

    They don’t know a corner flag from a shoe-box. But no doubt will be making judgements throughout.

    It will be a night for the deep breath and patience.

  84. mickydidit89 says:

    Neamman,
    Just sit back and enjoy the win.
    Just beaten 10-9 by my son at table football. Incidently, it is a must-have game. Far more important that a good home has one than say, floors for example.

  85. Big Raddy says:

    I remember the first time I beat my dad at subbuteo. He never forgave me.

  86. mickydidit89 says:

    BR,
    When the Missis is not looking, drop something on his head. The weight of the object will have a direct relationship with the length of peace and quiet achieved. I am a scientist. Or something.

  87. California Gooner says:

    Neamman, that is fine for you. Is it OK if the rest of us want BOTH? YES AND. THIS AND THAT. Today we are playing Barca, so beating Barca is what I want!

  88. mickydidit89 says:

    Hoping and Ommmming that Nasri starts. Why? Because right now, he is the best footballer in the world, and I know these things, because I never watch any other team. Intuition rules.

  89. thedeadlygonner says:

    Come on you reds.
    Surely last year half our team was out and we still managed 6-3 on aggregate.Well it will be tough but we gonna play them to the last minute.Eboue will be our concern as he has done whole season when he plays.But i hope he proves all of us wrong.Just too nervous……………………….Come on you gunners.

  90. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning California,
    Quite right. Coming to your country for the first time next week. Cannot wait.

  91. Irishgunner says:

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    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!
    ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!

  92. mickydidit89 says:

    Irish,
    Save your voice for when it matters.

  93. kelsey says:

    nasri does start. !!!!!!!!!!!

  94. Irishgunner says:

    MIDI – I can shout for the whole 90mins,fear not.

  95. kelsey says:

    Wojsce – Eboue – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy – Song – Wilshere – Cesc – Nasri – van Persie – Walcott

    Subs: Almunia, Rosicky, Denilson, Squillaci, Arshavin, Gibbs, Bendtner

    no chamakh ?

  96. Irishgunner says:

    Hello Kelsey – long time no see.

  97. kelsey says:

    Hi Irish,
    did you enjoy your visit.

  98. kelsey says:

    my screen has gone all red and white,has happened before.is it a lucky omen. i joke not.

  99. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah there you all are, my screen gone ping pong red and white.
    Kelsy hi,
    Ah, see you have the same problem.
    Nasri starts…fantastic news.

  100. Irishgunner says:

    Hi Kelsey – I did indeed, a win always helps :)

  101. mickydidit89 says:

    Nope gone again. Its all Irishs’ fault! Repeating the Arsenal has sent a message.

  102. mickydidit89 says:

    I will join you all for a swift one at half time.
    COME ON YOU REDS!

  103. SharkeySure says:

    I’m a little bit on edge…. just a little bit.

    Yeah right.

    Where’s my brown trousers..??

  104. SharkeySure says:

    No Diaby either Kelsey. Not sure how Rosicky’s made it onto the bench for this one after his last few cameo’s

  105. SharkeySure says:

    Is everyone on the toilet..?? Lol

  106. SharkeySure says:

    Ok quick nip to the loo for me too then.

    Back at Ht

    COYRRG !!!!!

  107. Big Raddy says:

    Come on you Reds…….

    Fed the 5,000 – now for the action.

    BTW. I got 100% today. First XI and bench. Must be a good omen

  108. Irishgunner says:

    Song would want to be careful – those cheating bastards will do anything to get him sent off

  109. Irishgunner says:

    For fuck sake – the 3rd time they have got through with that ball and they finally score from it.

    Same fucking story!

  110. SharkeySure says:

    We really need to get Walcott into the game !!!

    Eboue’s done some funny things but defensively he’s been OK.

    Wilshere is the outstanding player from that first half.

    Cesc has misplaced a months worth of passes in 45mins compared to his usual high standards.

    Their out ball has been to Alves over and over again. Sammi gets draw in to keep our midfield compact, then Alves runs outside of him.

    Oh and these commentators are doimg my head in. You;d think we hadn’t had a single shot at goal.

    Conclusion. We’re doing OK, but need a spark from somewhere.

    Back at FT

  111. Big Raddy says:

    Clichy! Come on man, get a grip on your wingman. All their attacks are coming down his side and he played Villa onside. Pants.

    Seemed a very long half and this Barca team are quite good aren’t they?

    Cesc is just not finding his range so we are not creating enough.

    Get the ball to Theo – he looks hungry tonight.

    I can see Song or Nasri getting a second yellow.

  112. Gooner in Exile says:

    Cracking half of football for the neutral I guess.

    Someone tell me how Barca close down so well? Always seems they have 2/3 players on us whereas we have 1/2 on their man in possession.

    Cesc needs to up the tempo with his passing, which will hopefully speed up our game, it has to be one touch like they do.

    Song needs to sit deeper, he is chasing the ball too much when he should be giving centre backs more cover. Koz has been immense Jack is unbelievably brilliant at times.

    One goal from 3 chances, clinical (unlike us)

    Second half …….. come on!

  113. mickydidit89 says:

    Ok, so they are quite good. Here’s a plan. Song will get himself sent off. They are not too physical in the middle. So get Song off. Drop Cesc alongside JW. Nasri in the middle and AA out wide. Lets out play them.

  114. SharkeySure says:

    At least we have an able deputy for Nasri, so he can be subbed if required.

    To be fair to Denilson, this is the sort of game he does well in. There’s got to be a chance that we don’t see Song for the 2nd half, as he’s committed about 6 or 7 fouls since his yellow.

  115. SharkeySure says:

    Great shout that Midi. Agree !!

  116. mickydidit89 says:

    By the way. RvP has scored every four chances this season. So one of the next two is going in!

  117. Big Raddy says:

    Will AW dare to play such an attacking formation? It would be great.

    Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb

  118. SharkeySure says:

    True that Radders, resoectfully.

    I’m expecting Barca to tire in the 2nd half.

    3-1 The Arse

  119. mickydidit89 says:

    Robin: 4th on target…..yessssssssssssssssss

  120. Irishgunner says:

    What an atmosphere….. CHAMONE

  121. SharkeySure says:

    I’m a gooner !!!

  122. SharkeySure says:

    I’m glad to be one

  123. Gooner in Exile says:

    Courtesy of @EastLower on twitter:

    “King Juan Carlos, Don Quixote, Sevvy Ballesteros, Picasso, Julio Iglesias, your boys took a hell of a beating.”

    Get In. Now ITV have realised we had some chances in the first half.

    Wilshere and Kosser joint MotM

  124. SharkeySure says:

    Robins goal…wot a strike !!

    Fair do’s MIDI you called that change !!!

    Wilshere !!! I’m almost speechless

  125. Gooner in Exile says:

    Micky called the subs and reorganisation for Arsh. Well done.

    Absolutely buzzing!

  126. mickydidit89 says:

    What a night. What a crowd. What a game. Kos, Chezzer and JW absolutely immense.

  127. SharkeySure says:

    Yeah its a tough call between them GIE, but I’d have to give it to Jack. To be as brave and fearless in a midfield that is so crowded with top top talent is phenomenal for ANY player, but to do what he has done tonight at the age of 19years and 6weeks is bordering on the ridiculous.

    Kozzer – wot a find !!! Gary Cahill …lol !!!

  128. Gooner in Exile says:

    How refreshing, not a physio in sight, and the only added time was 2 minutes for substitutions in 2nd Half.

    Quality game of football.

    I need to say it again Kosser IMMENSE!

  129. mickydidit89 says:

    Lads, the change around was nothing. I kept telling my son Robin’s fourth on target would go in. Bingo, I have re-established myself as King of my own Domain. That matters! I’m The Daddy.
    God I’m happy.

  130. kelsey says:

    3 man of the match for me.

    kos for his defending

    jack for a sublime display

    arshavin for the winner,what a beauty

    oh adrian childs is such a prick

    the boys will take huge confidence from this.

  131. Gooner in Exile says:

    Wilshere words can’t describe

  132. SharkeySure says:

    Chezzer !!! Top top keeping from him tonight. He was even unlucky with the goal, I think his height went against him on that one a little bit

  133. SharkeySure says:

    We’ve just played the best team in the world and driven them into the sea !!

  134. Gooner in Exile says:

    Again again, I want to watch it again, bottle that second half display lads and we will win all 4.

  135. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Can I firstly say congratulations to Arsene Wenger & Pat Rice :lol:

    Secondly can I say we’ve got Jack Wilshire & Szczesny, & and Cesc, &

    Finally, 0-1 the commentator was saying that Barca are arguably the greatest club side ever assembled. Well they just got dismatled.

    It sets up my day just nicely :cool:

  136. Gooner in Exile says:

    Kelsey spot on with Arsh, not sure many others would have had the calmness to pass that in like that.

  137. SharkeySure says:

    Rohan says:
    February 16, 2011 at 21:40
    ahahahahah Jose Mourinho. You *mupppet*. We beat Barcelona at their own game and we did it in style In absolute ******* style.

    Had to paste that here…just had to !!!

  138. mickydidit89 says:

    The combination of our wins here and against Chelsea means we have broken that big match hoodoo. Tonights result could be massive psychologically when we come to league games against Utd and Spurs.
    Truly a great night for The Arsenal.
    Very goodnight all.
    Goon To The Moon.

  139. Big Raddy says:

    Thrilled, just thrilled.

    Koscielny my MoM, Outstanding performance. And JW – excellent. So was Szczezny.

    If Cesc and RvP can raise their games we have a real chance at Camp Nou

    And the Emirates was really rocking. The best I have ever seen it.

  140. SharkeySure says:

    Arshavin…the casual finish of a superstar !!!

  141. kelsey says:

    we just need a draw, as we can score.

    we have got 3 weeks to prepare

    hopefully eboue won’t play

    puyot is suspended.

  142. Gooner in Exile says:

    SkySports post match much better than ITV, not sure John Collins and Trevor Francis were watching much of the Roma Shaktar game.

    John Collins purring about Samirs pull back.

  143. Irishgunner says:

    Wilshere is all ours :D – the boy is a genius.

    Never gave up, completed 100% of his passes in the first half, brilliant ball to Cesc in the build-up of the winner, and does he get stuck in to defend….

    If Cesc sticks around what a midfield we have…

  144. London says:

    Yep

    I am with you BR, it was Koscielny MOTM for the ninety minutes, Jack was very close though.

  145. Big Raddy says:

    Once we scored there was only one winner.

    As has been said, the subs were superb. Nik and AA both involved for the goal, and AA gave an extra dimension to the team. Plus Song was tiring and could easily have been sent off. Moving Nasri out to the right was inspired and his set-up for AA sublime.

    But …… we are unlikely to see Messi miss 3 sitters again

  146. Gooner in Exile says:

    Your right Raddy by the second half Kos had him in his pocket and he ain’t letting him out til April ;D

  147. John Q says:

    MotM Jack Wilshere!!

  148. Irishgunner says:

    We score the first goal they will really have to go gung-ho and we need Walcott to have an intelligent game after that.

    Did anyone else feel less nervous tonight because we now seem to have a goalkeeper who won’t make a comic error?

  149. London says:

    I started trying to write a report but two hundred superlatives in a row does not make for interesting reading. I am just too happy to put my thoughts into something worth while. Someone else have a go please.

  150. SharkeySure says:

    Lol London. You only got two hundred ??

  151. Big Raddy says:

    Did my job London. The lads clearly read my post at half-time :-0

    And 200 superlatives is good for me.

  152. California Gooner says:

    Just back from the pub exhilarated! Here it is just 2 pm, and I have to figure out what to do with all of this adrenaline! Amazing match… went with two friends and their 11 month baby — who seemed to blurt out her third word — “Arsenal!”– before getting shy.

    Wilshire was my MOTM with Koscielny a close second. The way Wilshire was able to break their midfield pressure with his fantastic ball control and clever movement and turn defense into attack was phenomenal. He was like Xavi, only better.

  153. London says:

    I don’t know if they showed this on tv but at the end Cesc was so over joyed that he couldn’t stop himself hugging all his mates the trouble was that all his mates in green just didn’t feel the same way and were avoiding his embraces. By contrast, all his mates in red and white were only too happy to share his happiness.

  154. Big Raddy says:

    Irish. Chesney not only is a fine shot stopper, he also distributes the ball better than any GK since Seamo

  155. SharkeySure says:

    Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas: “They are the best side in football’s history in my opinion. That is one game and this is half-time. It is a nice victory but that’s all. If we show it here and not the Camp Nou, it is nothing for us.”

    Exactly wot we want to hear. Wot a remarkable young man !!

  156. Irishgunner says:

    BR – Agreed. Looks a proper keeper – someone did write a post during the summer saying if he was good enough he was old enough … who was that??
    :oops: Moi :lol:

  157. Big Raddy says:

    CG. Go for a run/cycle in your Arsenal shirt

  158. Big Raddy says:

    Irish. Well played

  159. London says:

    Yeah, that is quite funny, Cesc is bit like Xavi but only better, actually that said he is capable of playing an aweful lot better than he did tonight.

  160. Big Raddy says:

    Time to do some serious damage to the brandy bottle in celebration. Otherwise I will never get to sleep

  161. John Q says:

    for those who want to sell arshavin must feel like a shithead right now! :)

    and koscielny? wow!! absolutely mouthwatering display!! to keep the best player in his pocket in his only second plight in top divison football was just, fuh,, i literally cannot find any superlative to describe his perfomance tonight.

    we owe many big thanks to the ‘Man’, the man that build this squad together. the man that takes all the criticism for believing in this young squad. the one and only, ‘In Arsene We Trust’!!

  162. California Gooner says:

    BR, I already did that Before the game, hoping to calm my manic energy — not even our world-class local herbs can keep me from randomly shouting Go Arsenal or high-fiving strangers. It is a condition the locals here know little about, but find amusing.

  163. London says:

    Your preaching to the converted over here John Q

  164. Big Raddy says:

    Agreed London.

    I was disappointed in both Song and Fab in midfield. Cesc’s rangefinding was not to his normal brilliant standard, and Song looked way off the pace. On Danish TV Laudrup and Molby said Song was too slow to be in a top side. Could they be right?

    The man who didn’t disappoint was JW. Unbelievable talent

  165. Big Raddy says:

    CG. ……. sex???

  166. London says:

    Song started off poorly and got better, in fact I would say his second half display was brilliant.

    As for Molby critising Song for being slow, ffs he was up against Messi, Xavi and Iniesta; I mean, who don’t they make look slow?

  167. California Gooner says:

    BR — I worried about Song too. I worried about him before the game and worried about him after his very early yellow card. He is great in the PL, but we saw what happened to him during this match last year. But Denilson has been so anonymous this year, he wasn’t really an option. Diaby would have been, but he was injured. Ditto Ramsey. In the end, brining Arshavin in and shifting Nasri to midfield worked. And credit to Song, despite the early card he stayed in and kept fighting.

  168. RockyLives says:

    What a game, what a night (and it’s not even night here yet).

    Full credit to AW for his tactical change in the second half: Song off, Nasri into midfield and Arsh up front. Who says he can’t change a game with his substitutions?

    MoTM? Tough call between Kozzer and Jack. I would give Jack the edge because of his age and because he managed to impose himself on arguably the greatest midfield the game has ever seen. Mind you, Kozzer imposed himself on the greatest striker in the world… er… joint MoTM?

    And finally, as they say on the news, what joy to upstage the Spuds again. They’ve all been banging on about being the greatest team in Europe because they managed to best a fagged-out and past-it Milan team. Well, we’ve just beaten the best team in the world. Hahaha.

    BR – a performance that lived up to your post.

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

  169. London says:

    I supost the answer to my own question is the one and only Jack Wilshere.

  170. California Gooner says:

    BR, brilliant idea! Not much else could actually improve this day!

  171. Irishgunner says:

    I’m off to bed a very happy camper – night all.

  172. London says:

    I am sure we have all recorded this game and will watch it at least four times again this week, well when you do watch Song’s foot work in the second half…..it rivals Messi…..you think I have gone too far in my love of Song this time? Just watch and you will see what I mean.

  173. Irishgunner says:

    :lol: They keep showing Szczesny’s reaction to the goal on Irish tv – classic

  174. California Gooner says:

    My Dear Nephew, an Arsenal fan of about 18 months, asked if this victory was better than San Siro or the Bernabeu. I remember loving each of those nights… but there was definitely something even better about this. As Cesc said, the best team in the world… and we beat them at their game. For real!

  175. London says:

    CG

    It must be early afternoon over there, do you fancy writing a match report? I am not going to be able to stay up past midnight.

  176. London says:

    Well, as I went to the San Siro and to the Bernabeu, I can tell you that tonight was good but it wasn’t quite as good as winning in Real Madrid’s back yard.

  177. California Gooner says:

    London, great ask… I am tempted, but … I will definitely get in trouble with the girlfriend if I take a few hours off work to do that… but one of these days I’ll have to do it. There is something of an agreement here at home about taking time off in the middle of the day to watch a match — that I have to get to work.

    Now if no one picks it up by evening, I might sit up and do that tonight.

  178. London says:

    Oh well, it seems I am on my own again, night night.

  179. Big Raddy says:

    And before I go ….

    May I apologise to Emmanuel Eboue. You had a fine game tonight and threw my criticisms in my face.

    Well played that man

  180. London says:

    CG

    No one is going to pick this up, hence the fact that it is just me and you here, it would be really good if you could give it a go, don’t worry, what ever you write will be warmly welcomed for the simple fact that everyone will be so relieved they didn’t have to write it themselves lol

  181. London says:

    Respect to you BR, he did have a good game……but I hope Sagna is playing in the away leg.

  182. California Gooner says:

    OK London, I’m in. BR, you are big man with your apologies to Eboue. He looked very, very good, didn’t he, and grew as the game went on. Really, nothing of note came from Barca’s left side.

  183. London says:

    Well done CG, I expect Rasp to put his beer down now and come and join in lol

  184. Honeys I’m Hommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmme

    What a night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  185. Rasp won’t be home for about another half hour

  186. London says:

    Right on cue, hi Peaches. Happy, happy, happy.

  187. Stunningly happy London – sang myself hoarse, how about you?

  188. Mike says:

    Hey all! Sorry I kind of just showed up and then disappeared for a while there… I’ve been very busy with some of my engineering classes as of late.

    Just had to say that I am so proud of the way our players performed out on that pitch today. Fabregas was a little off, but there was no doubt in my mind how committed he was to kicking some Barcelona ass.

    I met some new Arsenal fans at the bar during the match and we could not stop raving about how incredible Jack Wilshere was today. Man, he’s going to be something else. I’d for sure give this kid man of the match. Of course, Koscielny put in quite a great shift as well. The best part — they just keeping getting better and better.

    I am so ecstatic right now… I think I’ll go have a drink or two. Everyone, celebrate this victory for our team who has risen to the occasion and proved the world wrong!

    Don’t worry, I’ll be back more often now. Will definitely try and write up a headline post soon!

  189. London says:

    Peaches

    I didn’t want to leave I would have happily continued to sing my heart out for a good hour after the final whistle.

  190. What a day, had to spend 4 hours in IKEA with my no2 daughter which was a good mind numbing way to spend 4 hours but then I had to drive to Finsbury Park with all her stuff and then turn around and come back.

    En route home Franchise texts me to see what time to meet him – as I didn’t have a ticket and had bullied him into watching at the Tollington with me. Within in 2 minutes I got offered a ticket and had to stand Franchise up – sorry Franchise xxxx

  191. London says:

    Hi Mike

    Good game to return to.

  192. London says:

    Hahahhaha friends a?

  193. Thanks Mike, nice to see you again, pop back whenever.

  194. London says:

    I got to go now, night night.

  195. gunnern5 says:

    Heck I dared to dream and Arshavin made it come true!!!!!!!!!!!!
    In my 64 years of watching that is up among my personal top 10 Arsenal wins.
    A certain night in 1989 at Liverpool is my number one!
    Can we win all four – well we are the only team that retains that dream – so I will just keep dreaming…

  196. California Gooner says:

    BTW London, where do I ‘file’ the game report?

  197. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    CG

    If you do a game report, don’t forget to make mention to the 12 man. The Home Fans were brilliant.

  198. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    peaches

    @ 2-1 & the place rocking to …….”by far the greatest team the world has ever seen” the look on some of the Barca fans faces was priceless :lol:

  199. Hi gunnern5 – nice to see you, what a night, hope we made enough noise to reach you in Canada :)

  200. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Arsene Wenger certainly pipped Pep with his strategy.

  201. It was some night to be there gnarley, the place went nuts when Robin scored and then ultra crazy when Arsh put us ahead :D :D :D Great to be a Gooner

  202. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Ha! Ha! you all sounded bloody great from down here. I always said that The Arsenal would beat Barca. Why not I say. ” If it bleeds, we can kill it” & today/tonight Catalan blood was spilt @ Ashburton Grove.

  203. Nite London

    Blimey gnarley, who you gonna talk to when we’ve all gone to bed :(

  204. Rasp says:

    Evening all :P :) :? :roll: :P :P

    Aherm…… Rasp earlier today…. “the score will be 2:1 tonight and 1 all at the camp nou trust me :) :) :)

    Raddy,
    You were wrong last night, Gallas is definitely not better than Kozzer.

    Kozzer and LJ joint MotM for me and Jack looked every bit as good as Iniesta or Xavi.

  205. Just watched the Arshavin goal again 3 times – pure class :P :D :lol:

  206. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    peaches

    Its a work day here so I won’t really have time. But while you are all on I’ll certainly have a chat.

  207. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    “Jack looked every bit as good as Iniesta or Xavi”. No raspy, he looked better :lol:

  208. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Ok, time to go. The sunshine calls :cool:

  209. Have to sleep, nite all

  210. Gooner in Exile says:

    Final thoughts…..I’ll sleep well tonight

  211. Carlito11 says:

    Just got home from an extra hour and abtut singing on the holloway road! What a night to be a gooner! No voice, no choice, arsene wenger’s red army!!!! We love you arsenal we do ooooooohhhhhhh Arsenal we love YOU! Sleep tight happy gooners

  212. chas says:

    Great, great night at The Grove. I love you all.

  213. RockyLives says:

    Mike
    Nice to hear from you again – wondered where you’d got to!

    Chas
    Love mutually returned.

    Rasp
    Great prediction for the first half! I hope you’re right for the second.

    Peaches
    You’re so naughty.

    CG
    Cometh the hour, cometh the man from California. Well played mate.

    London
    Off the hook – you deserve it.

    Gnarley
    What price JW now? £35m minimum, not that we’d sell him. Balotelli my arse.

    Carlito
    Keep living the dream my lad.

    Gn5
    Nice to see you again. Us Canadian Gooners gotta stick together.

    I LOVE THE ARSENAL

  214. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    I have now watched the game a second and third time,and each time it gets better.

    AS RVP said we had a twelfth man that being the fans, they were fantastic,especially when a goal down.The library was a collasium.(sp)

    Jack really was man of the match considering his age,the importance of the game, and when you watch him,he is forever looking up where to send the ball(are you reading this Theo.)
    Kos gets better with every game and on a night like this, described by lee Dixon, as one of the best matches he has ever seen) we had 11 heroes.
    I am still not sure if RVP meant what he did or was it a cross,but who cares.

    The only downside for me is Eboue.From the first few seconds he huffed and puffed and just does not install confidence,and to an extent Theo especially in the first half tracked back to help him, otherwise our lionel looked out of his depth.

    Nasri playing a full game astounded me, which proves never believe what you read.
    Cesc, just smile a bit more it would make my day.

    No question that several players knew they had been in a game and looked shattered.

    Nevertheless we are still very much in the tie as we are definitely capable of scoring and their defence will be weakened with Pique suspended.

    With regards to Song, if you look back through the archives this season,he nearly always starts slowly with a few aimless passes and the booking was unfortunate so early in the game.

    As a side note Wigan had 5500 fans in last night for a cup replay, so there is a great divide in the PL.

  215. Gooner in Exile says:

    Zippity doo dah zippity day my oh my what a wonderful day.

  216. Morning all

    We have two match reports!!!!

    Rasp is on a course today so I’m just trying to source a couple of pics to stick in the first post from Wonderman.

  217. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    GiE

    Thats the Old Scotch club song. I’ve sung that with gusto many a time

  218. New Post – pics to follow

  219. Evonne says:

    I’d say a lot will depend on the Carling Cup outcome. Winning the cup would be a great morale boost, the lads will be on a high and so Barca will have no chance WHATSOEVER…I hope

  220. Thank You…

    Great Site . Thanks For Posting…

  221. CSCS Test Centres

    Once More unto the Breach, Dear Friends …. | Arsenal Arsenal

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