BRING IT ON!

What do you expect from tonight? Will we estacionar el autobus? Will we start gung-ho, try to score early and then work on the counter, or try to play keepball and settle slowly? Or do you expect Barcelona to blow us away early and give us a lesson?

All my non-Arsenal friends are predicting that Arsenal will get a hammering tonight and that we were fortunate to win at the Grove. To them I say “ Pish Tosh and a bottle of Pinosh”. Beating Barca was one of the great Arsenal performances and I see no reason why we cannot progress at the Camp Nou.

I have read the suggestion that we would be better off losing tonight; that we cannot win the CL because there are too many English teams in it and it is less shameful to lose to Barca than, say Chelsea. Again I say “pish”. We have beaten the Chavs on aggregate this season, thrown away a win against Spurs and were unlucky at Old Trafford. We are better than Bayern. In fact, the only fear I have is Real. We can win this Cup.

But first we have to get a result tonight ….

One of the key questions to be answered tonight will be which team is most affected by their missing players? Will we be able to take advantage of the absence of Piquet and Puyol without our most effective strike force? How damaging will be the loss of Song? (he is 50/50 as I write, and I am assuming he will not be risked.)

Should Song be out, who should take his place as our defensive shield? In a perfect world it would be Ramsey or even better, a fit Vermaelen. As it is AW has to decide between Denilson, Diaby and Rosicky. I expect Mr Wenger to take a safety first stance and play Denilson, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rosicky get a start in place of Nasri or Arshavin. AW must have been hoping for more from Diaby, who would be ideal if he could just play with more intelligence. Diaby is without question the most frustrating member of the squad; tonight should be a night where he showcases his huge talent but I doubt he can be trusted in so important a fixture.

Wilshere established himself as the coming man at the Grove – I hope he can keep his cool at Camp Nou. His booking for what appeared to be dissent on Saturday was a worry and hopefully not a portent of a young man developing arrogance. Self confidence is an absolute in a player of JW’s undoubted skills, but the glare of the media on one so young can turn heads. I hope AW can keep him grounded. One thing for sure is that Barca will not take him so lightly again.

Our defence is solid at the moment and I am delighted to see Sagna return (though Eboue did well in the first game). This is the best back 4 we have had for 5 years; youth, experience, physical power and ability on the ball. Have we ever seen our CB’s propel the team as we saw JD and Kos do on Saturday?

Upfront we have problems.  RvP is in the squad, but is unlikely to start. In his absence and on the evidence of Saturday, I would play Chamakh as a lone striker. I love Nik but it appears he requires more time than the Barca defence will allow him (though he has scored at Camp Nou). Chamakh has been publicly praised by AW and I expect him to start. The news has just been released that RvP is travelling with the squad – I wouldn’t risk him, but what a sub!  With 20 minutes to go at the end of a tight game, Robin could make a huge impact.

Our most important players? Fabregas and Szczesny. Fab will be so excited about tonight, the opportunity to show his wonderful talents in his home town stadium.  He will control the tempo of our game. What a night for our 20 y.o. GK. To play at his age in what is the glamour tie in World football is unimaginable. He seems to be unflappable which he will need to be. There is no question that he will be by far the busier keeper and should he perform to his highest ability we have a chance. If he freezes, we are sunk.

My team:

My fear is that should we be 2 down at any time in the game we haven’t the weapons to get back into the game. Without RvP in the starting line-up we lack bite – we need a big night from Nasri and Fabregas. If we score (and have the luck) we will win.

Barcelona is home to many interesting chaps.  Picasso, Dali, Jean Miro`, Gaudi, Jose Carreras, Montserat Caballe`, Pablo Casals, Victoria de los Angeles among others, but does not appear to have any proper Rockers. Perhaps it is a weather thing?

Will I be nervous tonight? Will I be envious of Brigham who is at the game tonight? What do you think?

COYRRG

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282 Responses to BRING IT ON!

  1. Red Arse says:

    Hi Raddy, :-)

    Well written! A nice mixture of caution and optimism, exactly the way I feel.

    I am feeling quite schizophrenic about tonight’s game. To be frank I am fearful of the worst, but hopeful for the best.

    Courage is the key. If we go for it and, tho’ giving them due respect, not be overawed by the occasion, we can do it!! :-)

  2. kelsey says:

    Morning all and as usual a good write up BR.

    Barcelona is also the world’s biggest pick pocket area down in Las Rampas, so hope we pick a pocket ot two.

    Team selection will have everyone guessing but I believe Arshavin will start ahead of Rosicky, and I have a hunch diaby will be in there as well.

    As I said yesterday a 3-2 loss would do me fine, but I believe we are more than capable of a draw.The first 25 minutes will be the key not to concede as I believe we could finish the stronger.

  3. Carlito11 says:

    Cheers for the post BigRaddy. In response to your question about what I expect- I expect Barcelona to start quickly and perhaps score an early goal. I expect heroics in midfield and defence and a strong push to equalize in the last 15-20 spearheaded by the Boy Wonder coming off the bench. Either that or an early Arsenal goal and 70 minutes of trying to restrain a tsunami of Barcelona attacks. I don’t think we can win the match- to beat Barcelona home and away would be “to dream the impossible dream” but a score draw or even at 3-2 loss would be perfect and won’t see any complaint from me!
    As Harry mentioned earlier today- the boss has some extremely difficult choices to make about Robin, Cesc and “who to play in the Song role”- and I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes. Therefore, we have to back whatever he decides on as they are choices that cannot be taken lightly.
    With regard to rockers Raddy- Barcelona has a fine local scene of Spanish metal and hard rock which I experienced whilst living there. Due to singing in Spanish and sometimes Catalan they don’t get much exposure outside Spain. Manu Chao calls Barcelona his home even though I believe he is not Spanish.

  4. gunnern5 says:

    Morning all: It’s 4:40 am here and I’m full of anticipation and trepidation.
    However most of all I’m thrilled that our team are going in with a 2-1 lead it gives us a great opportunity to progress.

    Only 9 hours to wait for KO.

    Boy it’s an incredible feeling anticipating the… “what if”

  5. Gooner in Exile says:

    Cat amongst the pigeons there Raddy.

    Was thinking myself that on Saturday we lacked any real threat on the bench to bring on for last twenty minutes or so. Leaving Arsh and RvP on the bench will definitely give Barca something to concern them in the closing stages.

    To answer your question re CBs I’d say not since Sol have we had a defender confident to add numbers to the attack.

    My only question is Gibbs?

    I would start Deni, but I would consider making him man mark Messi, just to be close when he is about to receive the ball or to prevent him receiving the ball could be vital in our efforts. He will need help whenever the ball makes it close, live Jack and Cesc to deal with Xavi and Iniesta.

    On Jacks temperament it is one area I have read Liam Brady had to do a lot of work, prone to retaliation in his youth they have tried hard to reduce his flare ups. I have read as a youngster he would also be in tears if his teammates did not play to his high standards, again you sometimes see his frustration at others around him when they fail to play the right ball or connect with his passes.

    Can’t wait for 7:45pm.

  6. Osi says:

    What’s wrong with you? Are you serious about Gibbs starting ahead of Clichy or is Clichy injured?

    With Clichy fit I can’t see Gibbs starting ahead of him. That’s impossible.

  7. kelsey says:

    That’s that then. Carlito and I go for 3-2 loss or a draw. Simples ;)

  8. glenn says:

    I have to disagree with your team selection and your pediction of if we go 2 goals down we have not got the weapons. We only have to score to level the tie so than it’s still game on.Also clichy will play instead of gibbs and rosicky should be grateful for a place on the bench hopefully sitting next to denilson we can not afford to have passengers tonight with them 2 in the side. My heart says yes we can do it but the head says different so let’s keep everything crossed.

  9. Adrian Tan says:

    Good morning all gooner fans.
    There is no reason why Arsenal can’t get a result ie a win or even a draw.To get the result all gunners must concentrate 100% repeat 100%. Please don’t be dazzled by Messi’s intricate dribble and watch him pass one gunner after en route to goal.
    The thing if the gunners surround him ,for all his skills he is unlikely to escape the cordon unless he is Houdini. Then we shall see whether he is unplayable.
    Those who watched Wolves beat MU will know it can be done. Admittedly Messsi is a much better player all round than Rooney. But the Wolves managed to surround Rooney to make sure he doesn’t have time space to shoot.Then he was effectively rendered ineffective.
    The same thing should be done to Messi. No matter how great a player he must have time and space. Deprive him of these two he is rendered 70% ineffective.
    Good luck to the gunners . I believe the gunners can score first and niclk a 2-2 draw.

  10. Rasp says:

    Many many apologies, I did the pitch layout and lefty Gibbs at LB, BigRaddy chose Clichy – I will rectify asap :oops:

  11. Carlito11 says:

    GiE- Can’t agree with you having Denilson marking Messi- he’s struggled to be goalside of attacking “threats” from Leeds, Ipswich and Orient at times this season- zero chance of keeping Messi in his pocket.

  12. Carlito11 says:

    A Fabregas/JW/Nasri midfield would be my preferred option with both Chamakh and NB52 and Arshavin as the “conductor”.

  13. Rasp says:

    Ok mistake rectified, Clichy is at LB (of course)

    Thanks for pointing that out Osi and glenn and apologies to Raddy for misrepresenting his team.

  14. Wonderman says:

    BR very well written post. For the first time this season I have no real pull in either direction with regards to the result tonight. Which I hope means we will draw. Frankly I dont care who plays or how we perform, as long as we go through

    @Carlito 10:05 totally agree

  15. kc says:

    Good post although I can’t agree completely with your starting 11. For me I’d rather see Arshavin over Rosicky and Bendtner over Chamakh if Van P can’t start.

  16. kc says:

    Denilson is my least favorite player on the squad but in my mind he fits for this game maybe even better than Song. Anybody remember how off pace Song looked v Barca at the Emirates? He could’ve been handed a second yellow about 3 or 4 times in that game. Also Denilson played well in this fixture last season.

  17. Carlito11 says:

    Adrian- I hope we don’t try and crowd messi out as you suggest- he’s proven very adept at working tight spaces. JD and Kozzer would be better served being able to see what the little wizard is attempting in my opinion. Rendering him 70% ineffective is ineffective enough in my book! Both he a villa are great at playing off the shoulder of the defence. To stop them we need to cut off the supply which normally means busquets xavi and iniesta. With busquets dropping to CB they’ll have mascerano in his position so there’ll be a good deal more attrition in midfield this time around.

  18. 26may1989 says:

    Cheers Raddy, good pre-match as ever.

    Am feeling surprisingly serene about tonight – if we lose, c’est la vie, this season’s all about the PL, but if we win……..!

    I agree that Denilson should get the nod ahead of the ponderous Diaby but feel we should start with Arshavin, who’s rediscovered form, and Bendtner. Both Chamakh and Rosicky, while improving, aren’t back to their best.

    I think width will be really important tonight, and in that sense feel we’ll miss Walcott as much as Song. The real advantage we’ve got tonight is Barca’s underbelly – they’ll have to play Abidal with either Milito or Busquests at CB, and that will hurt them, given the importance of the CBs allowing the FBs to push on and play like midfielders most of the time. If we can get at them on the flanks often enough, Maxwell and Alves will be forced back, making the midfield contest much more even.

    Despite my optimistic tendencies, my head says the score will be something like 3-1 to them, but we could do it tonight.

    Getting excited…..

  19. Carlito11 says:

    Following my thought about the combative and tight nature of the midfield tonight- I believe that Nasri could be our key man as the player best suited to working a decent chance out of a tight spot. We also need to play high up and use the width to strech the midfield. This really is a thinking man’s game n’est pas? It’s making me think a lot anyway! :-)

  20. Morning all,
    I think we are spoiled with getting such stylish and intelligent match previews from Radders on a regular basis – well done sir.
    Some 7 hours to go and of course I’m starting to cack myself but I am slightly surprised at Clichy being omitted, is that because he may be the weak link in defence?
    It’s true that Sunderland did target his side of the defence on Saturday yet I feel he has big game experience.
    The loss of Song is not going to be felt as keenly as it could have done if we were playing a very physical midfield however if Diaby has a good game we will be fine
    Thanks for the good wishes, my shoulder is a bit better and I’m sorry to have missed Rocky’s excellent post on the Govan Gobshite.

  21. Oops, I see my comments about Gibbs/Clichy are now redundant.
    I don’t know of many Rockers in the latin countries either, I’ve only heard of Sepultura(from Brazil), I can only think that metal is suited to temperate/cold climates

  22. Carlito11 says:

    Chary- Mascerano (combative midfield)

  23. Geoff Strong says:

    Great post Raddy, sums it up perfectly a mixture of hope and trepidation.

    Walcott is the player we will miss most as I believe we will need to break quickly on them to score the one or two goals we will probably need and the game would have been perfect for him. In which case we need to play Arshavin to give us the pace. A repeat of his 4 goal performance at Liverpool will do very nicely.

  24. Carlito11 says:

    Chary- Mascherano (combative midfield). On the subject of rockers- the only group I remember the name of is called Extremaduro- “Extremely hard” a play on words from the region of Spain (Extremadura). I believe they are pretty popular. They also go in for a lot of pogo punk in Catalunia…

  25. Carlito, the Masher being picked in midfield hinges on whether they stick Biscuits back in defence or they use Miliito with Abidal as the centre back pairing(as opposed to Abidal and Biscuits)
    From what I hear Barca fans don’t rate Nillito, so you could be right that they will have a midfield of Iniesta, Masher, Xavi with Messi, Villa and Pedro up top.
    I know there are various tribute bands all over but interesting about Catalans liking punk – perhaps they are playing the anarchists to the establishment of Madrid/Rest of Spain ?

  26. Carlito11 says:

    Chary- Anarchism has strong political roots in Catalunia- there are still aspects of it visible in the culture there. I got a dressing down from an 80 year old lady for calling her “usted” which is the polite form to address elders! She told me her generation had fought to get rid of these hierarchical terms (which she associated with Spanish tradition) and that I should address her as “tu”. Of course there were many older people who would have been upset if I followed her advice!

  27. Carlito11 says:

    An interesting linguistic sidenote- Old English had equivalents to the “tu” and “usted” forms but only one remains, the modern “you”. This is derived from the more formal and respectful “thou” and the more familiar and informal “thee” disappeared from everyday use (in the south). Says a lot about our class-obsessed forebears I suppose. The opposite was attempted by the Catalans until Franco took over…

  28. goonermichael says:

    We were better when Song went off first leg. Great post Raddy but the chavs would have knocked us out on away goals 0-2 3-1. :(

  29. goonermichael says:

    Carlito it is much worse in Japanese.

  30. There’s no pleasing some people is there Carlito ? You just can’t tell what’s the right thing to say at times.
    I guess it all stems from their regionalist/nationalist tendencies I suppose, the need to differentiate themselves from anything connected to Franco et al.

  31. Rasp says:

    Ok, I’ve read the post now, another classy assessment from our Danish correspondent.

    I’d play Arsh and Bendy in place of Rosicky and Chamakh. I think Rosicky is still struggling for form whereas AA is getting close to his best – would Thomas have scored the 2nd against Barca, I think not.

    I understand why Raddy goes for Chamakh but I think Bendy’s belief and arrogance compared to Chamakh’s current state of mind gives the Dane the edge.

  32. Rasp says:

    I am surprised at the comments re Jack. I like Guardiola and thought he was above such things. He has basically said that our best player from the first leg (which we won) was only good enough for their B team. I hope Cesc equates that to his position were he a Barca player. An uncharacteristic lack of class from Guardiola – I hope he is more magnanimous after tonight’s game whatever the outcome.

  33. goonermichael says:

    Rasp
    Guardiola’s comments have been twisted he was being complimentary about Jack. I hope they help to focus our boys though.

  34. goonermichael says:

    I can’t have the sound on :(

  35. goonermichael says:

    It’s funny. I’m loking forward to this and I’m not that bothered by the outcome as long as we give them a really good game.

  36. chas says:

    Me too, GM.
    I might be a little different at 7.40pm, though. ;)

  37. 26may1989 says:

    Rasp

    Glad to see we’re on the same wave length re line-ups tonight!

    I think Guardiola’s been misrepresented re Wilshere – he seemed to me to be saying it was a good thing that LJ’s been given a chance to develop, something that the youngsters in Barca B don’t get often enough. The English journos appear to have locked onto his reference to there being lots of talented youngsters and said that Guardiola was saying LJ was nothing special. At the beginning of the interview, Guardiola was heaping praise on LJ, saying he’d been impressive this season.

  38. goonermichael says:

    AS long as we do well if we go out we can concentrate on the league., If we win we’ll have so much confidence for the rest of the season. Sylvestre isn’t playing so messi won’t score so many this time.

  39. Carlito11 says:

    I agree that having watched Guardiola’s interview he was saying that Jack is a real talent but such a young player would not get the chance in Barcelona’s A team due to the pressure to get results. I hate the meeja but if this creates a spark that inspires Jack to “be the man” tonight I won’t complain!

  40. Carlito11 says:

    GM- what a relief that we don’t have that Manc Mole to rely on this year. No way I can see them winning by 3 tonight- imagine if the 90 mins end 2-1 to Barcelona! Bloody hell I can’t take the excitement!

  41. Rasp says:

    Thanks guys, I’m pleased my original feeling about Guardiola has been proved correct – I’d be quite happy to see him managing at the Emirates one day.

    My prediction before the first leg was a 2:1 win at the Emirates and a hard fought 1:1 at the CN, I see no reason to change that belief.

  42. Red Arse says:

    Carlito,

    I am in agreement with many of your comments this morning. I particularly agree with you and 26 that Guardiola’s comments have been misinterpreted.

    If anything, I felt he was being slightly disingenuous in having a go at Arsene.

    He implied that Jack had been given 1st team opportunities that would not be given to similarly talented Barca kids because of the pressure on him to get results.

    The implication was that Arsene was not under such pressure. A point quickly refuted by Arsene in his own interview.

    Pretty mild stuff, in truth.

  43. Smith14 says:

    I’d definitely start with Bendtner, if RVP’s not fit. Bendtner worked hard on his own on Saturday and got himself a couple of chances. He won’t be over awed by the game wheras Chamakh looks a bit out of sorts at the moment.

    I think Song is the real blow tonight. Diaby is a bit too pondorous at times, although capable of a great contribution going forward. I’d favour Denilson to sit, taking on a covering role in a double pivot with Jack. Wilshere sits very deep for us so the two of them can combine and give the ball to Cesc and Nasri to cause problems going forward.

    I think Barca will score but we must keep our heads and maintain a bit of perspective, a score draw would be fine.

  44. Red Arse says:

    Rasper,

    I agree that Guardiola seems a pretty decent man as well as a good manager. Just like a younger version of our own Arsene really! :-)

  45. Big Raddy says:

    Thank you for the kind words about the post.

    Of course, I was in two minds regarding the team. The likelihood is that AW will start with Arshavin, but I went with Rosicky for his defensive ability – he loves a tackle and if we can hold them at bay for the first 20 minutes the pressure may tell on Barca.

    My choice of Chamakh was to do with pace. Nik is a fine player but is ponderous and I imagine us scoring on the break through Nasri and Chamakh,

    Like many I am ambivalent about the game at the moment, but come kick-off I will be nervous as hell.

    Carlito. a 2-1 and extra time or even worse penalties would undoubtedly lead to a coronary!

  46. Carlito11 says:

    Smith14- I’m with as far as Chamakh’s recent form goes until Sunderland when his introduction looked like breaking the dealock and the man himself looked back to his bright-eyed and bushy-tailed early season self. In truth, as I have said earlier, I would like them both to start and really push Barca back into their own half but that remains my own pressure-free wish and I doubt AW would make such a risky call- not sure I would in his shoes either!

  47. goonermichael says:

    People (including barca) are making so much of the second leg last year. Sylvestre was the reason for at least 2 of messi’s goals. We also had Cesc, TV and RVP out. This season we have a better defence, a better keeper and Fab is playing. And no sylvestre (surely on of Wengers biggest mistakes)

  48. goonermichael says:

    sorry TV was playing :)

  49. goonermichael says:

    Song was out last season

  50. goonermichael says:

    And we will have a strong bench

  51. goonermichael says:

    Real Madrid are interested in Arsenal’s Japanese winger Ryo Miyaichi, who is currently on loan at Dutch club Feyenoord.
    Full story: CaughtOffside

    Didn’t take long did it? He hasn’t even played for us yet.

  52. kelsey says:

    aparently word in spain is that eboue will be in the holding role !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  53. kelsey says:

    GM,

    the chinese have taken over the hairdressers in Madrid. My daughter got a wash,cut and blow dry for 9 euros in uptown Madrdid :)

  54. Red Arse says:

    Kelsey,

    I hope the reports are wrong!!!!!!!!

  55. goonermichael says:

    Did they do a good job Kelsey?

  56. kelsey says:

    i knew i would catch at least one of you out. holding role = auxillary kit man.

    i don’t mean to be frivolous today but it is best to let the mind wander onto absolutely anything apart from the game tonight until the team is announced.

  57. kelsey says:

    if she says they did it is good enough for me, and as i am paying that makes us both pleased GM

  58. Carlito11 says:

    So that was a wind up Kelsey? Phew! If Eboue has to make a lot of tackles in the centre of the park he’ll see red for sure!

  59. Harry says:

    Great pre-match Raddy, set the scene nicely, lots of options to discuss and some big big decisions to be made by Le Prof…….

    I have had butterflies since I got up this morning. It seems to be a volatile mixture of anticipation, nerves, excitement, panic, intertwined with a streak of calm inner belief that says, hell yes we can do it, but that belief is curbed by the realisation that I support The Arsenal and we don’t do things the easy way, so whatever happens it going to be a long night…….

    In the cold light of the morning after, if we can truly say, we had a go, leave nothing in the tanks, empty the ammo store fully and just put our hands up if we do go out, then I can live with that. As far as we all do believe we are the Greatest team in the World, which I do personally believe and will never doubt in respect to the period of time since our inception, there again is a honest reality that says, currently Barca are the team to beat and favourites to go through and win the competition. Lets do ourselves proud and give them a game and see where we end, football is cyclic in its powerbases, can we start the end of Barca’s? and begin ours? Who knows, a bit of luck, rub of the green? And a few world class performances we can match them, fire with fire…….

    Tonight I wouldn’t swap our midfield trio of Fab, Samir and Jack for Xavi, Iniesta and probably Javier Mascherano, would you?

    Tonight I wouldn’t swap our defence for theirs? Would you?

    Up front if Van Persie plays with Arshavin and perhaps B52 would you, ok I wont ask, agreed this is where we need to be mindful of what the task is that we are faced with…….Keep out Messi, Villa and Pedro and we can qualify, that I am sure of. Last year we were without 5 first teamers, this time only really 1 that we will truly miss for this match is Walcott.

    Our time is nigh, it is tonight that we turn Wenger’s belief into tangible evidence to show the doubting public that we are truly can take on the best and we should be feared………………….

    Whether we win or not, not sure, but I have a little sneaky feeling at the end of the night a certain player called Francesc Soler Fabregas will score a goal, which will be like a dagger driven deep into ones heart by a loved one……as it knocks out Barca……

    As for the line up:

    Chesney

    Sags Koz Jd Gael

    Wilshere Fabregas Nasri

    Arshavin

    Chamakh and B52

    Bench: RVP, Squid, Eboue, Diaby, Rosicky, Denilson and Almunia. (Gibbs probably to miss out, not that I would agree with that.)

  60. mickydidit89 says:

    Straight Red Kelsey. That was a horrible prank. Some of us are very heartattackable right now. Behave!

  61. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning all, and thanks for great warming up post Raddy.

  62. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh very bloody funny. All hiding?

  63. dandan says:

    Great read BR I admire your touch.
    I can however see no place for Thomas a man who seems to be past his best, Walcott is a huge loss, he would have been our breakout man when they were pressing, So Nasri will be in for that role, Will RPV play who knows? perhaps the last half hour if we are in with a shout. Whatever tonight for me is a game to be enjoyed without worry the PL and FA cup being more realistic targets as I suspect both Robin and Fab will be lucky to stay fit for so many high pressure games.
    What price fab Needs an operation in the close season?
    Re Denilson man marking Messi? poor man has no chance, watch Messi as he receives the ball always on the angle, never looks up having done that already, mark him too tight and he is turned and gone before the defender moves. So what to do defend in depth, jockey, tackle and pray :-)

  64. Red Arse says:

    Dandan,

    The Gunners midfield should learn from Manure, and take turns cracking Messi on the left ankle, a la Scholes & Co, and get off with it because jack, Samir or Denilson only did it once each, a la the attack on Reyes, and in any case it’s not their fault they can’t tackle, poor things! :-)

    We are too decent to do it, of course! :-)

  65. mickydidit89 says:

    RA,
    That is an appalling suggestion, and I won’t have it (unless I was looking the other way, in which case I didn’t see anything, so could not possibly comment).

  66. Carlito11 says:

    Harry- that’s the team I would like to play as well but do you think our leader will do it?

  67. gunnern5 says:

    A Man U poster on another site mentioned that a Budget Airline stewardess was sacked for putting a toddler in an overhead bin.

    I responded and suggested that it was probably Nani as his crying was upsetting the other passengers.

    They binned my post – simply no sense of humour.

  68. mickydidit89 says:

    G5,
    Perfectly reasonable suggestion!

  69. mickydidit89 says:

    Re selection: I am with Carlito who is with Harry.

  70. mickydidit89 says:

    Unless RvP is 100%, in which case, let’s take them big styley!

  71. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh very funny, gone again. You know what, I simply do not believe any of you are doing any work whatsoever today!

  72. Just to take our mind off tonight: LOL at Pakistan, giving away 100 runs off their last 5 overs against the Kiwis.
    Maybe they had a touch of the old spot fixing going on there,again. :)

  73. Carlito11 says:

    Micky you’ve benn right up to now- been avoiding work like my life depended on it! But I now have to go teach a class and then get across town for job interview! Don’t give myself much chance of getting the job given my hyperactive and distracted state!

  74. gunnern5 says:

    We need a quick goal to make them go all out on the offense, hopefully leaving holes for us to exploit, so I would start with RVP up front plus Arshavin and Nasri on the flanks.

    If we need goals near the end that would be the time to bring on B52 – when Barca have tired legs.

    The position that concerns me the most is the goalkeeper, not over who is selected but the fact that it’s invariably our goalie that lets us down the in big games. Hope I’m full of s**t but I am concerned.

  75. mickydidit89 says:

    Let me guess, you teach English Language?

  76. mickydidit89 says:

    G5,
    On this occasion, we all hope you are full of s**t :-)

  77. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh jeepers, still six hours to go. I am going to find something to break, and then, mend.

  78. gunnern5 says:

    It’s a beautifully sunny day, there’s still a lot of snow still on the ground but I’m off out for a drive, I need to cool off and calm down.

    It’s tense for us supporters but imagine how bad it must be for the players.

  79. London says:

    Great post BR

    I haven’t been able to read all the comments but I liked Kc’s suggestion that Denilson is probably better suited for tonight’s game. I believe he had a 100% pass rate on Saturday, this is exactly what we need: break up play and make sure you find a yellow shirt, preferably Fabregas.
    Also, I do not believe for one minute that Guardiola said anything as rude as has been reported. He is no where near as good a manager as people make out but he is more intelligent than that.

  80. chas says:

    Micky, what was kicking off in the woods last night?

  81. Gooner in Exile says:

    Ok caught up, I knew my commendation for Deni to man mark Messi may cause some raised eyebrows.

    The point was that when the holding midfielder he can be pulled out of position or caught in two minds, given ONE job I think he could do it. This would also reduce the need to double up going backwards by our left midfield.

    We NEED an early goal, Barca will not stop attacking, as for them tonight the best form of defence is definitely attack attack attack.

    We need to move the ball quickly it was hard enough at home to move the ball through the midfield it’ll be harder in Camp Nou so we must look to hit the front men early.

    All this is asking AW to change his current philosophy to suit the opposition and I know that is a big ask.

  82. Red Arse says:

    GIE,

    We may have no choice but to use Denilson as you suggest.

    Problem is he does not seem to understand the need to get goal side, when tackling, which is why he is often left trailing forlornly in the wake of his opponent.

  83. Harry says:

    GIE, I can see your thinking but Denilson is too slow to man mark messi…….

    carlito: would love him to go with that, give arshavin a roamiing role with Bendtner and Chamakh getting right in at their centre backs.

    Feeling right up for this……

    Chesney will be fine tonight GN5, that I am sure of….

    Big night for all the boys, believe……I do…

  84. 26may1989 says:

    No-one going to make any pancake jokes?

  85. Red Arse says:

    26,

    They would probably fall flat! :-)

  86. Gooner in Exile says:

    As someone mentioned pancake jokes here’s one I received via twitter this morning from a dipper:

    Flipping heck, Arsenal need a sweet display, not playing like lemons. Can they handle it when push comes to shrove?

    Followed by:

    Arsenal need to come out hot and put together some crisp passing, especially around the edges of the pitch. Don’t be tossers..!

  87. goonermichael says:

    chas says:
    March 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm
    Micky, what was kicking off in the woods last night?

    Teddy bears picnic?

  88. 26may1989 says:

    Thank you Arse and Exile, that’s better!

  89. Big Raddy says:

    Huge night for Chesney. And for all the players but the spotlight will certainly be on our Other Pole in Goal (OPIG).

    If he has a blinder we have a chance, because it is not reasonable to expect Barca not to create loads of them.

  90. Big Raddy says:

    ugh …. a double negative.

  91. Red Arse says:

    26,

    You did ask for it! :-)

    A Welshman, an Englishman and an American were having a drink.

    At first they talked about cars and farms, and true to form, the American had the swankiest car and the biggest farm. Then they got to talking about children’s names.

    ‘My son was born on St David’s Day’, remarked the Welshman, ‘So – look you, we obviously Christened him David.’

    ‘That’s a real coincidence’, observed the Englishman’, My son was born on Michaelmas Day, 29th of September, so we decided to call him Michael.’

    ‘That’s remarkable’, piped up the American, ‘Exactly the same thing happened with my son Pancake

    Customer: Waiter, will my pancake be long?
    Waiter: No sir, it will be flat and round like everyone else’s.

    I admit they are appalling! :-)

  92. 26may1989 says:

    Shocking RA, just shocking….!

  93. Hi all

    Been keeping myself busy in my garden, and the time has flown by – look just under 4 hours to go, bet they’ll be the slowest ;)

    Whilst I would love tonight to be the Cesc and Jack show I think that Jack is very very good at protecting the back four and I would have Cesc and Diaby in that three with Diaby pushing forward at every opportunity to join in the attack. Just saying.

  94. dandan says:

    What are you planting or pruning peaches

  95. California Gooner says:

    Great write-up Big Raddy. I’m off to watch the game in my special spot– driving an hour and a half to be there…

    regarding Rosicky’s love of a tackle: you don’t tackle Barcelona. you play the position game, hassle, get them to misplace passes. That’s why we won’t miss Song that much in this game.

    Cheers.

  96. Big Raddy says:

    CG. That is a very good point. That being the case perhaps Diaby would be better than Rosicky – he takes up more space.

  97. RockyLives says:

    Great pre-match BR
    I’m super busy this morning but have cleared the decks for this afternoon to watch the game.

    I would go with Den for the midfield role – playing Jack behind Den and Fab. Like many, I don’t hold Den in the highest regard these days but his tidy passing and quick movement of the ball make him ideal for this game. Cesc will lead the forward thrust, with Jack helping from deep. Den can keep things ticking over with accurate short passing and, when we don’t have the ball (which will be often), breaking up the Barca play.

    Catch you all later.

    COYRRG

  98. Red Arse says:

    She’s planting the late potatoes Dandan.

    Putting up all those crosses takes her for ever! :-)

  99. Gooner In Exile says:

    Just heard Stewart Robson on Talk Sport (who surprisingly have been very encouraging today). He reckoned we need to bypass the midfield quickly and turn the defence, which I tend to agree with if we can hold the ball up once the first bit achieved, for that reason Wilshere will be key tonight, when getting the ball he is one of the few who can look for a longer pass, and then it will be up to whoever the more attacking players are to support the man in possession.

    One massive thing in our favour compared to last year is that our goal in the Nou Camp changed nothing, Barca only ever needed to score one goal to put themselves through.

    Therefore tonight they will hopefully worry more about conceding than last year.

  100. Harry says:

    Flamster is still a Gooner, love his article in the papers today, just a shame he left the way he did…….

    Fret not my fellow gooners, time is nigh, do not sigh as this team will tonight be flying high….

    Cesc will be the man, as he rules the nou camp field,
    Wengers young guns will do the biz, as many trophies they will yield…..

    Come on you rip roaring reds, tear barca to shreds
    Score an early goal and put this game to bed…

    come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn………..

  101. Gooner In Exile says:

    Harry set that to music and we could have had a Barca rebel rousing video to publish before the game :D

    I am up for this!!!!!!! I might not be able to take the next three hours so am going to do some work.

  102. Big Raddy says:

    Fine stuff Harry.

    Don’t know what to drink through the game. I have tried Tuborg/Carlsberg and it is unlucky.

    Drank a nice Barolo through the CC Final – never again.

    Tried a NZ Sauvignon Blanc for the Man Utd away game – didn’t work.

    If I go for Whisky I won’t be sober enough for the second half.

    Problems, problems …..

    The wife suggests something non-alcoholic !!!! How silly.

  103. Gooner In Exile says:

    A nice young Rioja in honour of our young Spanish Captain. I’d recommend the Ramon Bilbao Rioja.

  104. Gooner In Exile says:

    Ok i’m gonna be on Twitter for the 90 minutes i reckon, rather than here, so if anyone does the Twitter thing i’m @Richard_TBS

  105. SharkeySure says:

    Cracking pre match Mr Radders.

    I had the good fortune to visit the Nou Camp in 1999 for our CL game that year. One of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Its just a shame that the antics of some people who are synonymous with the club have diluted my affection for the city and the club itself. Its really hard to separate the two in my mind.

    That night I went, the vitriol and abuse directed at Davor Suker just for warming up, let alone when he actually came on, was the worst I have ever witnessed in any football stadium. I might as well have been at the Ali Sami Yen in Istanbul !!

  106. 26may1989 says:

    OK, I’m not going to be able to join in the neurotic chat during the match, as I’ll be watching the match on a delay (am on duty re the kids). Remember, enjoy it!

  107. barumgooner says:

    Please please please, if Diaby does play tonight let it be one of those rare occasions when he shows us all what AW sees in him and proves me wrong. I will quite happily eat my words and cheer his name as though he was my hero.

  108. Big Raddy says:

    Barum. Whoever wears the shirt has my 100% support during the game. Afterwards I have been known to be critical ;-)

    And if he plays tonight, Abou is my Darling.

    26. How are you going to stop yourself having a peek at the score, and surely your friends will be sms’ing ?

  109. SharkeySure says:

    26..on kids duty. Whoa there fella.

    Hows this for a plan.? You leave them outside an off licence, and before too long they’ll get picked up and taken into foster care for the night. You then get them back tomorrow, and you’ve not even had to pay for a sitter.

    Ps. Remember to wrap them up warm, and make sure its a busy off licence.

  110. Big Raddy says:

    SS. You lucky chap, I have never had the opportunity to go to the Nou Camp.

  111. Big Raddy says:

    SS. Did that work for you?

  112. barumgooner says:

    BR. True all our boys get my support too. Not sure about the darling thing though. I get more nervous when Diaby plays thats all,
    hes like a box o choc-o-luts

  113. SharkeySure says:

    To be honest Radders, I’ve never actually tried it myself, I was just trying to be helpful. :-)

    I’ve watched a few games on live-delay, and always resisted the urge to peek. The toughest game was Ipswich away, the urge to fast forward to a part where we played well was as strong as any urge I’ve ever known.

  114. SharkeySure says:

    Radders, my trip to the Camp Nou was one of the best nights of my life. I got a ticket locally in the afternoon, and was sat amongst the Barca fans.

    Just me on my todd, but what an atmosphere. The stadium was pretty impressive when I’d had a tour the day before, but to be in it when full for a CL game against my beloved…it was like I’d ‘dreamt the impossible dream’ whilst staying over at Jimmy Saville’s house, and Jimmy had made it come true.

  115. SharkeySure says:

    Time’s a passing, the games a getting nearer…

    Nope, I’ve no clue either, before you ask !

  116. Gooner In Exile says:

    I’ve tried watching a few games on delay, incredibly tough especially as it normally involves a car drive home which means i have the aded temptation of the radio, if its only 15 minutes or so its fine as i can forward through half time and catch up to real time.

    Anymore and its a bugger.

  117. SharkeySure says:

    All hiding..?? Even you Mickey !!! Not funny, not clever.
    :-)

  118. SharkeySure says:

    I agree re the 15 mins GiE. I’ve also done it where its a full 1-2 hr delay. Mobile is handed to wife for safe keeping. NO RADIO on in the car, on ANY station. We get home and my 10 yr old has to go in and rewind the Sky+ to the kick off whilst I wait in the hallway.

  119. Gooner In Exile says:

    Hehe Sharkey,

    I tend to Sky + it then use user defined to find the right spot.

    They’re not hiding they’re all in their flotation tanks making sure they are free from any stress pre kick off :)

  120. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    5.00am into the car to get early start 4 work. Turn on radio & Hotstuff by Donna Summer is playing.

    Its a sign! Get ready 4 something special.

    P.S 4 me its a media blackout, I’m recording it for later.

  121. chas says:

    from twitter

    Chesney diaby sagna cesc kos, rosicky nasri van persie wilshere djourou clichy

  122. Harry says:

    Cannot do the delay thing, must watch, all else gets put on ice, anyway all my kids are avid gooners……

    Just deciding whether watch in pub or stay at home……

    So excited………I just feel we can get a result…..

  123. Harry says:

    Well, team is in……..

    Ches
    sags Koz JD Clichy

    Diaby Wilshere
    Fabregas

    Rosicky Van persie Chamakh

  124. SharkeySure says:

    If thats right Chas then deffo expect to see Arshavin coming in on 55-60.

    But for sake of the teams balance I would have preferred to see Denilson instead of Rosicky, but hey ho that team looks designed to stifle and contain.

    Earlier, someone barely had a space on the bench for Tomas. I thought thatwas about right to be onest.nyway, thats all behind us now.

    C’mon Tomas, tonights your big night son !!! Go get ‘em. Time your runs in and around TweedleJose and TweedleJuan at CB and you’ll be filling your boots tonight.

    As Raddy said …bring it on.

    Harry, if you’re there, please post up your battlecry.

  125. Harry says:

    Not sure I heard that right? anyone confirm…..

  126. Harry says:

    Chas seen, that sounds better

  127. Harry says:

    Be Proud, Stand Tall, Stand as one Stand Together Conquer all………….

    Come on Arsenal…………………..

  128. dandan says:

    Harry is Diaby not chamakh

  129. mickydidit89 says:

    No Nasri…nuts!!!
    Great about RvP.

  130. Carlito11 says:

    Well having a job interview is a very goo way to get your mind off things! In the pub and rvp starts! I am over the moon! :-) :-)

  131. dandan says:

    Nasri is in mickey

  132. SharkeySure says:

    Harry, u sure there’s no Nasri..???

  133. mickydidit89 says:

    Sorry lads, but RvP AND MC?

  134. SharkeySure says:

    Best of luck with your interviews Carlito, I’ve been having minor nightmares with my quest for a return to the land of the unemployed.

    Two verbal ‘offers’ is the good news, nothing yet confirmed in writing by either is the bad news.

    I’m hoping that all the good news that I’ll need for a month is coming my way tonight though !!

  135. SharkeySure says:

    *employed*

  136. Big Raddy says:

    SS 6.37. I can just see it.

    Sometimes when we get to the final few minutes I just can’t watch and find excuses to leave the room, like the plants on the terrace need watering or I will top up my drink – anything to get away from the tension.

    I guess it goes back to my childhood, Doctor Who and hiding behind the sofa!

    Was it London who was suggesting building a bar behind his sofa? Great idea.

    Let us hope that it is so tight I need to hide

  137. SharkeySure says:

    BBC teams:
    Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Busquets, Abidal, Adriano Correia, Xavi, Mascherano, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa, Messi. Subs: Pinto, Bojan, Keita, Milito, Maxwell, Afellay, Thiago.
    Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Diaby, Rosicky, Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie. Subs: Almunia, Denilson, Squillaci, Arshavin, Eboue, Chamakh, Bendtner.

  138. SharkeySure says:

    I loved that bar behind the sofa line !!!

    Personally I can’t bear to take my eyes off of the screen for even a split second !!!

  139. Gooner In Exile says:

    Right I’m confused who’s right Chas or Harry?
    According to Twitter:

    Szczesny
    Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs
    Diaby, Wilshere, Rosicky, Fabregas, Nasri
    Van Persie

    Rasp left Gibbs in? Clearly Rasp has lines of communication :D

  140. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rosciky and Gibbs to be disciplined on Messi? Huge Huge ask for young Gibbs to front up against Messi.

  141. Harry says:

    Sorry for duff info, was what I heard on radio, then I saw chas team above mine, then I look at Arsenal.com and its different again……I’ll wait for the line up on TV……..

    Off to PUB……Sing loud wherever you maybe cesc is the lord of the barca field said he…….

  142. Carlito11 says:

    Happy with the team as long as AA comes on for Rosicky early second half. Harry I love that battlecry! SS- good luck with your offers- not sure I fancy this job but it took my mind off the game 90% for two hours so I thanked them for their time! :-)

  143. Gooner In Exile says:

    Fever Pitch time!!!!!!!!!!

    Gnarley see you on the other side lets hope its a sunny one!

  144. SharkeySure says:

    Right, shirts on. I figure we’re playing in yellow tionight, so I’ve gone for old gold with blue stripe (band?) thru midriff, c.1998.

    My fave Arse shirt of all time I reckon.

  145. goonermichael says:

    Robin is starting OMG what a turn up.

  146. SharkeySure says:

    Didn;t I post the BBC teams already…..disappeared.??

    Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Busquets, Abidal, Adriano Correia, Xavi, Mascherano, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa, Messi. Subs: Pinto, Bojan, Keita, Milito, Maxwell, Afellay, Thiago.
    Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Diaby, Rosicky, Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie. Subs: Almunia, Denilson, Squillaci, Arshavin, Eboue, Chamakh, Bendtner.

  147. mickydidit89 says:

    Bar behind the sofa. Brilliant!

  148. Big Raddy says:

    I can’t decide if Mascherano playing is good or bad for us. Busquets has more presence but Masc has more bite.

  149. Gooner In Exile says:

    I was going to go for the blue diagonal treble stripe (Adidas kit) but decided to stick with tradition of not wearing colours in living room.

  150. Gooner In Exile says:

    Is it the yellow shirt yellow shorts combo?

  151. kelsey says:

    all the best lads and lasses. the main thing is that we give a performance.

    come on you reds (yellows)

  152. FrothingInarticulateLoon says:

    I’ve just had a shiver, and its left me thinking we’ll win 2-1 tonight.

    Go for 0-1 at H/t if you really want to make money !!

    Yeah I’m a loon, so what !!

  153. SharkeySure says:

    Good news for me Radders. Masch has hardly played this season, has hardly played for them at all since he got there I reckon (this is his 2nd at Barca right?

    He just cannot know the system as well as Biscuits, and he was hardly the cutest of passers whilst at the Pool.

  154. mickydidit89 says:

    Chum just texted team saying Nasri IS playing??!??
    Anyone.

  155. FrothingInarticulateLoon says:

    Well said SS. I agree that Masch is the weak link.

    Re my earlier bet of 0-1 ht, and 1-2 ft, throw in odds for a red for Masch and you’ll be able to buy Kelsey’s house with your winnings.

    I’m just too good to you lot !

  156. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah Sharkey,
    Just saw your team. That’s much better. I withdraw my “Nuts” comment. Much happier.
    Will join you all at half time.
    COME ON YOU YELLOOOOOOWS

  157. SharkeySure says:

    Alright lad(ie)s, this is Sharkey Sure signing out at least until h/t.

    Off to ready myself for our night of glorious triumph. That team has given me a warm feeling.

    Be Proud, Stand Tall, Stand as one, Stand Together Conquer all………….

    COYRRG.

  158. 26may1989 says:

    Am out, pancakes done, kids about to go to bed and am now going to switch off phone, computers etc. See you on the other side, or after half time if I catch up.

  159. goonermichael says:

    Is there a game on tonight?

  160. goonermichael says:

    God I thought I wasn’t fussed by this game now I’m shitting myself. See you later. Let’s hope we give at least as good as we get.

  161. Gooner in Exile says:

    Even Twitter got it wrong and included Gibbs confusion reigns……….here we go. COYRRG

  162. Rasp says:

    Rosicky in place of Arsh – big mistake

  163. Big Raddy says:

    OK. See you at half time. Good luck to one and all…… or as they say here Poj Poj

  164. Wonderman says:

    What a disaster !!! Chesney going off!!!

  165. Rasp says:

    The referee is crap. He’s booking our players for nothing and letting them get away with scissor tackles. They are a dirty cheating side as well as being technically brilliant.

  166. Rasp says:

    Diaby not up to the pace of the game, Rosicky not even in the game, Fab notinvolved and they’ve just scored :(

  167. goonermichael says:

    Has cesc already signed for barca?

  168. Gooner in Exile says:

    What the hell is Cesc doing there?

    He owes another season at least for that one!

  169. goonermichael says:

    I wanted him to go in the summer

  170. chas says:

    I’m so fuckin angry

  171. SharkeySure says:

    Suicidal moment from Fab, absolute suicide.

    I hope and pray thats not decisive.

    We were never going thru without scoring, so no change there really.

    Give it 10 then get Arsh on for Anonymous Tomas (apologies, no real offence intended).

    Is RVP fit enough to do 90..?? I bloody hope so.

  172. goonermichael says:

    These catalans don’t look all that. (except for the number 4)

  173. Rasp says:

    Arsene needs to make early subs. The loss of Sz was crucial, he can only make one early sub (as if?) in case there is an injury. Cesc is not fit and RvP needs to calm down. Diaby’s foul should’ve been a penalty so the ref has evened up is bad decisions.

  174. RockyLives says:

    I’d take Diaby off. Just not up to it in this sort of game.

  175. Carlito11 says:

    I’d be more optimistic if we’d had a shot on goal! On the positive side the team that scores first in arsenal v barca games always loses!

  176. Gooner in Exile says:

    To be fair Barca are awesome, but if Rosicky ain’t going to help Sagna out we may as well stick Cham or NikB on and play 4-4-2.

    Cesc does not look fit neither does RvP. Jack trying to fight Iniesta and Xavi on his own as Diaby is not up to speed.

    We may have to admit we aren’t good enough to beat them. They might well have two irregular centre backs but it doesn’t matter if we can’t test them.

    Will Barca tire tonight too?

    If we lose RvP or Cesc as a result of this for 2/3 games they’ve let us down by risking themselves for their egos sake

  177. Big Raddy says:

    One could point at half the side for their play. I cannot understand why they are incapable of making a pass., is it the pressure of the game?

    Cesc, Rosicky, Diaby RvP, all bloody hopeless. And we all knew when Almunia came on that if he had to make a save he would screw it up. Let us pray that Chesney is not too badly injured.

    But fairplay to Barca. A stunning performance and the Messi goal was sublime.

    Sure we could point to Cesc not clearing his lines but there are few players in the world who could finish like him.

    Oh and the ref is crap. Once again we are getting yellows for nothing whilst the opposition don’t get carded for scissor tackles and blatant diving.

  178. mickydidit89 says:

    Yikes!
    Have to change things and go for it.

  179. Big Raddy says:

    GIE that is a great point about ego. Cesc looks way off the pace.

  180. Carlito11 says:

    I am at a loss how we turn this around- hope wenger knows now cos I really don’t get it! Annoyed with the ref giving them every benefit of every doubt. Just hope they tire as they’re supposed to.

  181. Big Raddy says:

    Anyone think we can win from here?

    No, I didn’t think so :-)

    But who knows. AA comes on a smashes an equaliser …….

  182. johnQ says:

    come on guys, there’s still 45 minutes left. get behind the team. Fabregas probably didn’t even know what he doing. Obviusly Arsene tactics is to try to not conceded on the first half. It didnt paid off, yes, and hopefully he can brings his masterstroke tactics again for the second half. and for all Arsenal fans, pray my friend, pray. Put all your hope in your hand and hopefully the God might hear one of our those prayer.

    The players, please win. I really want to put my shit on the face of Barca fans behind me! Oh and on Alves face too!! F**#ing cheating dirty little bastard! Right now Barca officially replace Tiny Totts as the (put your dirtiest words here) team of all time!!

  183. Rasp says:

    We were one nil down in the first alf at the Ems

  184. Gooner in Exile says:

    The ref has been swayed by Barca colours and the fact that yet again our players refuse to go down when fouled. We must go longer second half

  185. harry says:

    this is truly awful……..not at the races………cannot see any positives….
    Jack and back 4 ok and nasri trying rest need to shape up……just gutted, just left pub to come home, hoping change of venue changes the alignment of planets and some cosmic rays liven up this team……

  186. Gooner in Exile says:

    My Dad just texted a similar thing Rasp, it’s true but we needed to go in 0-0.

    Koz, Jack and RvP all on yellows, uncomfortable second half awaits.

  187. Big Raddy says:

    Right. Tme to change shirt and socks.

    We’ll win cos’ we’re Arsenal ……

  188. Gooner in Exile says:

    Nice plan Harry, I have adjusted to back of my sofa.

  189. Gooner in Exile says:

    Sorry I don’t believe RvP what an idiot!!

  190. Rasp says:

    That was a ridiculous red card, RvP justifiably claimed he couldn’t hear the whistle but he only kicked the ball a fraction of a second after the whistle blew.

  191. Carlito11 says:

    I’m livid!

  192. harry says:

    sorry worse yellow ever……..

  193. Rasp says:

    They need to goals to win in normal time, we need to frustrate them. If we score a second, they need 3 in normal time.

    …..Almunia an unlikely hero ????

  194. Gooner in Exile says:

    Why haven’t we put Cham or NikB on?

  195. chas says:

    What have we got to do to get a ref that isn’t corrupt?

    That said, we were embarrassingly out classed.
    Well played Almunia.
    If only Nik’s first touch had been better.

  196. mickydidit89 says:

    Very numb. Sorry AA’ers, really nothing to say.
    Lets win the League.

  197. Carlito11 says:

    We are getting used to being beaten by ref decisions aren’t we? Proud of the team for second half display with ten men and almunia can be proud too for keeping it respectable.

  198. mickydidit89 says:

    Nite all.

  199. Gooner in Exile says:

    It’s hard enough playing Barca with 11 men. When you start with 2 half fit players you do yourselves no favours.

    When one of those gets himself idiotically sent off, even less favours.

    There was a good second after the whistle he knows full well what he is risking after a silly booking in first half. Jack played with more brains than RvP second half …… go figure.

    Barca were awesome Cesc and RvP clearly were not fit.

    But at the end of the day we were not good enough and got a footballing lesson.

    Time to concentrate on PL if Cesc and RvP can’t play Sarurday I will be even more annoyed, they have a week off after so no need a rest excuses please.

  200. johnQ says:

    Almunia man of the match! Ref flop of the match!

  201. RockyLives says:

    GiE
    So you know as an absolute fact that RvP heard the whistle, right?

    In a stadium that holds 99,000 people and where the home fans ALL WHISTLE LOUDLY WHEN THE OPPOSITION HAS THE BALL.

    You know he heard the whistle.

    Well, you’re a better man than me.

  202. Gooner in Exile says:

    We can’t blame the ref we really can’t! We weren’t in the first half so going down to 10 men didn’t really help. But we were already beaten.

  203. RockyLives says:

    My goodness we’ve seen some terrible reffing decisions lately, but that one takes the biscuit.

    I am absolutely livid.

  204. Big Raddy says:

    That was humiliating.

    One could point to a referee who was insane, and a Dane who has no first touch, but we were totally outclassed.

    Notice how all their attacks came down Clichy’s side., and he showed why they targeted him. His decision making was appalling.

    Just the Double left

    but fairplay to Barca. Tonight they were the best I have seen

  205. Rohan says:

    Are you serious with that comment GIE?

    90000 people screaming, and you think van Persie should have pulled out of it. He didn’t even hear it ffs.

    “idiotically sent off” yeah right.

  206. barumgooner says:

    Gutted…………If only we could find two more Wilshere’s…… Sadly without Song our midfield just isn’t strong enough. Diaby, Rosicky and even Cesc were pedestrian. Never mind, the double will do.

  207. RockyLives says:

    GiE
    I really don’t agree. At 1-1 we were right in the game and, with eleven men, we would have created many more chances as they tired in the final 15.

    With 10 men – no chance.

    If not for that ref, I believe we would have gone through.

  208. chas says:

    GIE, we’d only just got back to 1-1, “already beaten”, ffs.

    Anyway, night all.

  209. Gooner in Exile says:

    I just think it’s him Rocky. Maybe I’m just annoyed with him if he hadn’t have picked up the first stupid booking it would have been a non issue.

    The players seemed to hear every other whistle to stop play so I have to question it.

    But the ref did not beat us today, we lost to a better team end of.

  210. barumgooner says:

    BR. I actually thought Clichy had a good game as did all of the defence imo.

  211. RockyLives says:

    We’ll never know if we lost to the better team because of the referee’s bizarre decision.

    Even if he heard the whistle, the time between it being blown and him shooting was one second. ONE SECOND.

    Tell me GiE – have you ever seen a booking like that in your football-watching career?

  212. barumgooner says:

    Was RVP even offside, didnt look it to me but they never showed a replay ?

  213. RockyLives says:

    I’m going to stop commenting now because I’m too angry and I don’t want to say things I’d regret.
    Goodnight all.

  214. SharkeySure says:

    “If we lose RvP or Cesc as a result of this for 2/3 games they’ve let us down by risking themselves for their egos sake” – so so true GiE !!!

  215. Gooner in Exile says:

    Chas we were gifted an equaliser, nice because it happens rarely, but what else did we create in 60 minutes?

  216. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Why not just talk to RvP and ask? IMO it was a dreadful decision in such a high profile match – but maybe that is the point. This is a ref. who has to be in the spotlight. We have seen them before and we will see them again.

    But nonetheless, with or without RvP we got thrashed

  217. Rasp says:

    I said it immediately after the sending off and they have just confirmed that RvP shot 1 second after the whistle blew with 90,00 screaming fans in the background. We may not be able to make excuses but we can state facts, the referee got that completely wrong and it changed the complexion of the game

  218. Rasp says:

    …. Be proud, stand tall …….

  219. Big Raddy says:

    Even Schmeichel is saying it was one of the worst decisions he has ever seen.

    Peter says it is impossib;e to hear the whistle at the Nou Camp, Preben Elkjaer and Jan Molby agreed.

    The ref ruined the game

  220. SharkeySure says:

    I donlt care how well Barca had played, how much pissesson they had, when Robin go sent off it was 1-1.

    We had less possession in the 2005 FA Cup final and went home with that trophy didn;t we..??

    Likewise Michael Owen stole the same trophy from
    of us when we were by miles the better side. Therefore I can categorically state that its irrelevant who was the better side.

  221. Gooner in Exile says:

    I’ll tweet him Raddy, it’s a big decision, and yes maybe ref gets it wrong. I’m more annoyed with half fit players being risked.

    Time to step away from the forum and come back tomorrow refreshed and looking forward.

  222. SharkeySure says:

    I’ve been there too, its absolutely mental the noise in that stadium, especially at a time like that, ie we’d not long equalised and Barca were heading out.

    The Barca fans had been whistling non stop for every patch of possessim we had from the first minute. That would have ramped up at least 15-20% with the game at 1-1 on the night.

  223. Big Raddy says:

    I thought our tactics throughout were spot on. And despite being hammered we still had a chance to win the game in the final 5 minutes.

    Had Nik ……..

  224. Harry says:

    I am livid………..

    Sorry GIE, so so so wrong mate, yes he got a silly card in the 1st half, but that 2nd yellow has got to be one of the worse I have ever seen, I pay money to watch 11 v 11, not for some dope to brandish cards out like confetti…..90000screaming out, it is hard to hear, split second, that was not purposely kicking the ball away…

    Right in short:

    1. Barca were exceptional, granted and over 2 legs deserved it for possession stats alone.
    2. Jack gets my MotM.
    3. Almunia gets a thumbs up for a great display….
    4. Why oh why did nik have the touch of an elephant at the moment of true hero esq proportions…so close to 3-2…..
    5. Team did well with 10men and deserve some credit, albeit Barca had a amazing workrate, especially when they lost the ball….
    6. When RVP went off, we were at 1-1………..

    Just gutted, such a shame to lose that way….

    Think I will hide under my quilt for a few days, before I get so angry………

  225. SharkeySure says:

    The key thing that I had to wait for the pst mth re-runs for was….where was the ref when he blew.

    He’s about 10-15 yds into OUR half when Fabregas plays the pass, which leaves me guessing that he’s blowing across a distance of about 60yds from him to the Boy Wonder. Abidal continues to play, as does Valdes, as does RVP. No one stopped.

    Out on an injustice isn’t the worst overall result for me, and it DOES NOT diminish that wonderful night at the Emirates three weeks ago

  226. Big Raddy says:

    And it was definitley not a penalty. Koscielny’s foot was planted before the attacker fell over him. As such it is no penalty. But I told my mate that the ref was sure to give Barca a pen at some point in the game after Sagna got booked for nothing.

    My emotions remain high.

    Time for a nightcap and some some Thomas Hardy

  227. SharkeySure says:

    Well said Harry.

    I just said to Wonderman on the phone that we really have to give thanks to Almunia. He did us proud tonight. Funny thing is that he came on and I thought, well its not like Sz has had any work to do so far. Almunia then had to make save after save after save.

  228. Irishgunner says:

    I can barely bring myself to comment but even Manchester United and Tottenham fans are calling into Irish media saying it is one of the worst sending offs they have ever seen – you then know its wrong.

    A Chelsea friend of mine have pointed out the sendings off given in favour of Barcelona in recent seasons during the knock out stage for next to nothing – is it all coincidence?

  229. Irishgunner says:

    http://www.daylife.com/photo/0gu58901ZRcHC?q=Arsenal+Football+Club

    Red card?? Ah, yes, but not to the barcelona loving cretins of Uefa.

  230. SharkeySure says:

    The worst moment of the whole night for me was around 92.5 mins. We win a free kick just inside our half, out by the sideline.

    Cue the set up of our last alamo like attack. Djourou, Kozzer and Diaby, all join Nik B in the box, and its brown pants time for 90,000 Catalans, who know that a high ball into the box is coming, and they only have two players over 5ft 9 in the side to help defend it.

    Whaddya mean it was passed short quickly to Wilshere who then knocked it forward whilst Dj Koz and Diaby were all 30-50 yds from the opposition penalty..??

    Madness. That was criminally naive of us !!

  231. SharkeySure says:

    Jeez Irish I’d even forgotten about that. The commentator said that two players had laid hands on RVP.

  232. Carlito11 says:

    All i have to say is this: we support Arsenal, a team so great that it takes the referee to beat us! Goodnight all- I’m still proud to be a gunner.

  233. SharkeySure says:

    Overall, very proud of the boys tonight. Battled gamely playing a system which is completely alien to us and goes against all that we believe in. But we did it, and we did it well.

    Goals put you through, possession doesn’t, and we’d scored one so we were their equals at that point.

    Onwards and upwards, we march on.

  234. SharkeySure says:

    Carlito – agreed.

    Nite all

  235. Irishgunner says:

    SS – and right IN FRONT of the referee would happened not to see it, quelle surprise.

    I despise the way Barcelona do everything to get the opposition sent off. As great a team they are, they are a stain on football and are nothing to aspire too. They play football the right way, but not in the right spirit.

  236. Irishgunner says:

    Rather be eliminated as the Arsenal than go through as Barcelona!

  237. SharkeySure says:

    “They play football the right way, but not in the right spirit.”

    That’s spot on Irish. I saw that in the first minute with Xavi’s collapse under Clichy’s non challenge.

    I said earlier that many of the current employees of Barcelona are besmirching the clubs great name. Shame on them.

    Right, deffo going now.

  238. London says:

    If Van Persie heard the whistle he is a silly boy if he didn’t the ref is bad person, am I allowed to say cunt I can’t remember, either way Van Persie is the only one who knows the rest of us are just guessing.

    Jack in the 80th minute some how finds the energy to surge down the right wing before amazingly sliding an inch perfect ball across for the on rushing Bendtner to hit home first time and seal the victory……….

  239. Irishgunner says:

    London – Even the Barca players played on, that is what has me believing RvP more than anything else.

  240. London says:

    Next up some manc loving twat of a referee no doubt.

  241. California Gooner says:

    London, that was a crappy red card either way. The ref basically changed the game over a big nothing. That after carding three of our players very softly and allowing Alves to get away with a nasty foul. I actually suspect corruption, but maybe he was just shit…and nursed shot at that. No way RVP deserved to be sent off. He stays on and maybe we’re through, Barca dominance and all.

  242. California Gooner says:

    …and all the Alumni hates should really chill. He kept us in it with an excellent display.

  243. California Gooner says:

    Nursed shot was supposed to be ” biased shit”. My iPhone keeps editing me!

  244. 26may1989 says:

    Evening friends.

    First things first: the current Barca team is the greatest team, bar none, that has played in my lifetime. Better than the Brazil of Socrates, the Ajax of Cruyff, the Argentina of Maradona, the Milan of van Basten and the Barca of 2006. In fact, they’re better than the Barca that beat us last season. We just have to acknowledge genius when we see it, and tonight we saw it. This is a side that will be discussed for years to come, and to be honest, I don’t even think they were playing at the top of their game tonight. And to think we managed to beat them in the first leg.

    We have a very, very good team, and in my opinion we are the best in England. But let’s not delude ourselves, we are just miles behind this Barca side. And frankly, that isn’t shameful; there is simply no other side that comes close to Barca. The only way this Barca side can fail in a particular game is if they screw things up themselves, they’re unlucky or if they face an utterly destructive side (e.g. Inter under Mourinho) at the very, very top of its game.

    It was still galling tonight of course, especially to see the degree to which we were outplayed and the role of one of the stupidest refereeing decisions any of us will have seen for a long time. And christ knows, we’ve seen some bad ones. Who knows, perhaps van Perise did hear the whistle, but as others have said, how can the referee be sure? A really poor decision.

    And if you look at the game, he only had three big decisions to make and got two of them wrong: the second yellow to van Persie and the failure to give Messi a penalty when Diaby took him out on the edge of the area. The only big one he got right was awarding them the penalty for their third, a nailed on pen. I often say the refereeing we see on CL nights is superior to that in the PL; not tonight.

    But I reject any suggestion that the van Persie decision cost us the tie – it denied us a reasonable shout at getting back in, but we had zero attmpts on goal before van Persie was sent off, we were already being caned. I don’t believe we have had a game under Wenger before where we have not had a single attempt on goal; that is a shocking, sobering fact, but one that says much more about them than us.

    A word for our man of the match: Manuel Almunia was just fantastic. His best two games in the past year have been against Barca, home last year and away this year. He’s not good enough or consistent enough to be our first choice keeper, but for all those numpties amongst the Arsenal fans who have abused and disrespected, watch Almunia’s performance tonight and hang your heads in shame, were it not for him, we would be facing up to Spurs, United and Chelsea fans having lost by 4, 5 or 6 goals. Just think back to that Barca vs Real Madrid game; we didn’t lose 5-0 the way probably the best Real side for a long time did.

    All the defenders plus Wilshere played fantastically as well. Of the remainder, I thought Nasri, Diaby and Rosicky were ok. What can one say about Cesc? He was just invisible. It must have been galling for him. Van Persie had a Mission Impossible task and was so far from the play most of the time, I find it impossible to judge his performance.

    A disappointing, but not surprising, result. I even managed to predict the score correctly, not that that took a huge degree of insight. But fret not my AA chums, this season was never about the CL, we are on our way up, in the way Barca were 6 or 7 years ago. We saw tonight an illustration of where we can get if we continue.

    One word on a very minor issue: the TV coverage was rubbish tonight, so many cut aways when we just wanted to follow the action. Very annoying.

    West Brom away on the 19th, that’s our most important fixture this month. And if we want silver linings, this really does help with our run-in – it frees up some midweeks periods, especially immediately before what could well be the title decider, Man U at home on 1 May.

  245. visionsport.TV says:

    Barca were absolutely brilliant tonight. But the red card was a disgrace. referees are ruining football . . . http://wp.me/p14o8R-6y
    FIFA must do something to protect the integrity of our game!

  246. goonermichael says:

    I’m sorry to disagree but this barca side didn’t look that good until Robim went off. Cesc may as well have worn a barca shirt. At 3- 1 bendy could have put us through. What if that had been Robin with that chance? We didn’t deserve to go through. I hope those wankers don’t win it.

  247. goonermichael says:

    Totally agree about the tv coverage very amateurish

  248. goonermichael says:

    fucking scum catalan cunts (am I allowed to say that?)

  249. goonermichael says:

    visionsport you should stick to republik of mankuntia

  250. goonermichael says:

    Why do the mancs only start complaining when the odd decision goes against them? they stay quiet most of the time

  251. California Gooner says:

    I have to disagree regarding Barca’s brilliance. They completely dominated possession, but then our guys seemed content to let that happen. They really had no bite until the first goal… and then the sending off meant we were always going to be chasing the game. I’m not saying we win the tie if RVP stays on, but we definitely had a real fighting chance. The decision to send him off was really shocking.

  252. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    barcelona need to score 3 goals to go thru against a hard working, well orgainised unit. The easiest way & best way is for the ref to send an Arsenal player off for trying to score. What a FLICKING joke that comp is :lol:

    You can see why barca do so well in it. They get the run of the green, & when things don’t go their way they get a helping hand.

    Anyway, I’m not all that fussed about the CL. Now the boyz need to keep their peckers up & win the BIG ONE.

    Its time to really dig deep & win the PL, the one that matters. Mind u the Double would be doing it in true Arsenal style, chammmmoneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

    COYRRR

  253. dandan says:

    1 Barca’s “defensive attacking” play was superb, they prevented us putting any passes together by hunting immediately and in packs.
    2 As a defensive performance it was one of the best I have seen for years from Arsenal built around Big Al who was a hero.
    3 Clichy was forced inside consistently to help man the trenches, thus allowing Barca to keep a man out wide for a get out pass, not then a bad Clichy decision but a necessity.
    4 All round we were outclassed by the best team in the world,
    5 The Ref was as bad as it gets.
    6 AA ers are to be congratulated for their reasoned and generous acceptance of fine Barca performance
    7 Gooner Michael of course is not included in 6.
    8 Well done Arsene on letting the ref know he does see some things.
    9 lets now hope we are able to muster a team and a performance on the weekend that can do themselves justice.

  254. dandan says:

    Some of our Centre half’s tackles should be included in any future Arsenal training videos, they were superb, close to perfection

  255. Gooner in Exile says:

    The morning after the night before.

    I’ll start with an apology re RvP, it seems popular opinion and most experts are with him on this one. I will explain my reaction. As he took the shot I was worried I shouted at the TV not to do it, I had heard the whistle on my speakers and immediately when he struck the shot I feared the second yellow.

    I’m still annoyed that Cesc and RvP started when clearly not fit.

    I’m still amazed by Wilshere who at 19 plays with the head of a 30 year old and is unbelievably courageous.

    Kozzer and Djourou had good games, Sagna and Clichy did as well as could be expected in the face of two wingers and full backs that never stop going forward and Almunia had a blinder.

    The ref was handing out yellows to us the same as PL refs do, and not giving fouls against us, but he also could have given Barca a pen in the first half for Diabys trip. The second yellow for RvP was harsh, I’m pretty sure the Barca players asked for it. The penalty looked like he gave a goalkick until Xavi protests and his hand starter pointing at the spot (in fairness Kozzer knew).

    The League and FA Cup Double is what we can concentrate on now, and is very much achievable.

    COYRRG

  256. Evonne says:

    We just have to hope that Spuds lose tonight

  257. Gooner in Exile says:

    :D Evonne that’s the spirit!

    If they don’t lose tonight I guarantee they will draw Shaktar, Schalke or Valencia.

    We paid last night for failing to win one game on the last three CL group games.

  258. Big Raddy says:

    DD. Perhaps in the heat of the moment I was harsh on Clichy, as you say the defence played exceptionally well

    26. I disagree totally about it being a nailed on penalty. Danish TV did a slo-mo on it and Kos got there first. The Danish commentators all said they understood why it was given but that had the referee the advantage of similar technology he would not have given the penalty. But this is the old video tech argument :-)

    I have just heard the radio interview with Arsene. He is fantastic. After such a defeat he found ways to describe the ineptitude f the ref. without recourse to abuse. Could any other manager have done the same?

    Arsene felt that without the sending off we would have gone on to win the game, stating that his tactics were based upon Barca tiring. We will never know if he would have been correct, but Arsene Knows…..

  259. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Good point about the CL group stages.

    Though we wouldn’t have enjoyed that great night at the Grove 2 weeks ago

  260. Gooner in Exile says:

    True Raddy.

    Any team that manages to beat a full strength Barca over 2 legs will deserve to win the CL. I am still in awe of their performance. Even against 10 men it is rare to see a football team dominate like that.

    Clearly Arsene had a game plan to soak up in the first half and then attack them second half. Just seen player post match interviews with Jack, JD and Bac, they were dignified in their responses, what is it about a team resembling their manager? Mightily impressed and proud.

    Unfortunately yet again we are left this morning playing the what if, and if only game.

  261. Carlito11 says:

    Morning all- somehow hurting more this morning than last night. Boy, we were outplayed weren’t we?! Lots of positives from a defensive point of view though and big al must have won over some doubters which is crucial given he’ll get a run of games now.
    Here is a stat from the Swiss Ramble website which is unbiased and has a reputation for identifying “irregularities” in the game:
    “Arsenal were well beaten last night, so let’s not blame ref too much, but Spanish teams do well when Busacca is in charge: P30 W23 D7 L0.”
    interesting eh?

  262. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    GiE

    “Unfortunately yet again we are left this morning playing the what if, and if only game.”

    That was the best thing that could have happened to The Arsenal, getting that distraction out of the way.

    I hope Utd, Chavs & Spuds win their fixtures so that they have to spread their load on the run in.

    The PL Title is now so close to being reality, I can almost taste it :P

  263. Gooner in Exile says:

    True Gnarley, just can’t bear to see Spuds progress any further in CL, my DNA can’t see that happening. Agree with Chavs and ManUre tho.

  264. Big Raddy says:

    Carlito. A very interesting stat and one that should be sent to UEFA

  265. SharkeySure says:

    Morning All

    GiE I also had a moment of concern when RVP took the shot on, but dismissed it as being OK, as he took the shot on so quickly. I was stunned when the ref even approached him, but figured it was too tell him to be careful. I just did not believe he could see a second yellow for that.

    How does he run 50 yds to give RVP a second yellow, but do nothing when Abidal grabs RVP by the throat right in front of him..??

    Who knows what happens if that last chance is fed into RVP instead of HRH..??

  266. Big Raddy says:

    A Barca / Real Final would be good with two English teams knocked out in the semi’s. One of which being MU.

  267. Big Raddy says:

    SS. No longer HRH, they split up 7 weeks after their baby was born.

  268. Harry says:

    Still gutted…..Out from my quilt…..

    Love the boys, still proud to be a gooner…..

    and I totally agree with this statement:

    “They play football the right way, but not in the right spirit”

    Wenger had a plan, soak 1st half and then hit them when they tire in the 2nd half, losing chesney hit 1 sub, losing VP destroyed the plan completely…..

    (Dont get me wrong,didnt agree with line up, but you could see the plan)

    Its all conjecture as to whether it would have made a difference had Robin stayed on, but it was 1-1 at the time, they were worried end of…….

    Message to nik: Practice your first touch 1000000times before end of the week……

  269. 26may1989 says:

    Completely agree with gnarley at 8.35 – just hope the players see it that way too.

    Raddy, I’ll have another look at that foul later on. If you and the Danish pundits are right, that would mean the ref got all three big calls wrong!

  270. Rasp says:

    Morning my friends…. new post

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