Corruption or Incompetence?

Well, that was without doubt that most bizarrely awful refereeing decision I have ever seen.

Robin van Persie is put through on goal, the ref whistles for offside, a second later Robin shoots.

The referee gives him a second yellow for time wasting and he’s off.

I was watching with some Arsenal fans and some who support other teams. Every single one of them thought it was a disgraceful decision.

In the excitement of a Champions League game, in a crowd of 90,000 where the home fans always whistle loudly when the opposition has the ball, the referee decided that Robin heard the whistle and ignored it. All within a second.

The first thought that came into my head was “have they bought the ref?”

I discounted it equally quickly.

Notwithstanding some glaring examples to the contrary (like Bernard Tapie’s Marseilles regime) I don’t believe there is much corruption in football.

So it’s just plain incompetence, from an official who allowed himself to be influenced and intimidated by the crowd all through the game (witness all the Arsenal bookings in the first half, while Barca fouls, particularly on Nasri, went unpunished).

Whatever, it killed the game. At the time of the sending off it was 1-1 and Arsenal were on course to qualify.

Barcelona, as we have come to expect, had most of the possession and occasionally played some breathtaking football. But Arsenal were defending with great determination, clearly wanting to keep it tight until we could open up in the final 15 minutes when our superior fitness would reap dividends, as it has done before against Barca.

Would we have qualified if RvP had stayed on? We’ll never know, but I suspect we would have been in with a damn good chance. But trying to play with 10 men against the best pass-and-move team in the world was never going to have a happy ending.

So here’s my match report, such as it is:

First half, we defended really well and restricted Barca to very few clear chances, even thought they dominated possession. I’m sure many a heart was a-flutter when Szczesney went off with an injured finger to be replaced by Almunia, but Manuel did really well throughout the game and can’t be faulted for their goals.

When Barca did tiptoe their way through our defence, usually Djourou or Koscielny was there to clear things up. It was nervy, no doubt, but it reminded me of Parma 1994.

Then, in added time in the first half, Cesc made a stupid, stupid mistake, trying a fancy back-heel on the edge of our box. I doubt he would have tried that at The Grove, but he was having an anonymous game and maybe wanted to try and prove a point with some fancy play at the Nou Camp. We lost the ball, a couple of quick passes later and Messi was one-on-one with Almunia and scored at the second attempt. Half time 0-1.

Second half, we carried on soaking up pressure. It was a dangerous game but we were working hard, closing Barcelona down and occasionally riding our luck. Almunia was called on to make some great blocks at the feet of the Barca attackers. Then Nasri won a corner and when it came over a huge leap by Diaby was enough to confuse the Barca defenders and the own goal went in off the head of Busquets. Cue pandemonium among the Arsenal faithful.

Barca almost created a goal from the re-start but then we regained our shape and continued to defy them. I was thinking that if we could just hold it at 1-1 until around the 70th minute we would start to step up a gear and maybe even get a second.

Unfortunately it was at that point that the Swiss referee decided to hand Barcelona the tie.

Down to ten men, the Barca onslaught was inevitable. Their second goal was a classic Barcelona move rounded off by Xavi – a really great goal. Their third was a soft penalty (Koscielny adjudged to have fouled Pedro) which was calmly slotted home by Messi.

We had one great chance to steal the tie, when Bendtner was clean through in the final minutes, but everything that’s wrong with the big Dane was evident in his clumsy first touch and the chance went begging. Would Robin have converted it? Very possibly.

In the end, all those who said it’s better to go out now than in the semis or the final have been given their wish. And the manner of our defeat – the blatant injustice of Robin’s sending off – may help drive us on in the other competitions. Time will tell. But I was left angry and dejected by it all.

No question Barcelona play sublime football, although some of their play-acting and cheating lets them down. I would like them to go on and win the competition simply because their style of play deserves to be successful.

I hope Arsene plays the strongest team possible against Manchester United on Saturday. This is not the time to have our ‘cup team’ take another spanking at Old Trafford.

RockyLives

Player Ratings

Szczesney: Digitally challenged. No score.

Sagna: Picked up where he left off in the Carling Cup, unfortunately. His form has suddenly gone off in the last couple of weeks. He did OK, but his ball use was poor as was some of his decision making. 6

Djourou: Good game from big Johan. Tracked the Barca players well and made some great interceptions. 7

Koscielny: Also did well, particularly given his early yellow card. Like many of our team he occasionally flirted with danger by over-elaborating having won the first ball, but overall pretty good. 7

Clichy: A bit wayward positionally at times but got forward well when he could. Decent effort. 6.5

Fabregas: Anonymous and caused their first goal with a stupid back-heel. 4

Diaby: Out of his depth in this quality. Tried hard but always needed a second longer than he ought to have done on the ball. 5

Wilshere: Always working, always trying, another really good effort from Jack. Showed his inexperience and naivety at the death by taking a short free kick in stoppage time when he should have waited for everyone to get in the box and then just hoofed one in. 7

Rosicky: Closed down well but overall pretty anonymous. 5

Nasri: Worked hard down the left flank all game long and looked our most promising outlet. Was consistently fouled without any protection from the ref. 7

Van Persie: Very difficult for him as the lone striker, but kept running and kept showing for the ball until his disgraceful sending-off. 7

Subs

Almunia: Outstanding game from the Spaniard. Blocked countless on-target attempts. No chance for the Barca goals.  MoTM 8

Arshavin: Looked busy and dangerous as we chased the game.  7

Bendtner: It’s all about that terrible touch when he had a chance to get us into the quarter-finals. His skills sadly lag way behind his ego. 4

140 Responses to Corruption or Incompetence?

  1. goonermichael says:

    I just read a stat on another site that the ref has reffed 22 spanish teams in euro comps and no spanish team has lost while he’s in charge

  2. Mark says:

    I believe referees are instructed to give decisions like that to Barca because the Champions League ‘needs’ them. Annoyingly, it now allows Arsene to go into denial and believe that if he had stayed on we would have won. Quite how we have come out of 4games against Barca with a win and a draw is staggering and says more about their inability to finish teams off than about us. I don’t know how we can compete with them with so many ‘ordinary’ players. My concern is that all season we have had by far the worst player to ever play for a top 4 team in Koscielny. A complete inability to do basic defending means that he gives away a goal a game. Frankly, it is embarrassing. While this joker is in the team, it is virtually impossible to win anything.

  3. Englishmik says:

    Barcelona not only pass and keep possession but are amazing at pack tackling to get the ball back. They can only keep that intensity for 60 minutes before they tire and become vunerable. Usually at this point they are ahead and can keep the ball away from the opposition. Arsenal proved at the Emirates this year and last just keep in the match for 60 minutes and you have a chance.
    This year the referee took that chance away. Sure the stats look all Barcelona, but we were not given that last 30 minute chance when Barcelona can be beat.

  4. goonermichael says:

    That was quick. Whoever is moderating

    🙂

  5. Carlito11 says:

    I’m going to repost this from earlier because I think it has a bearing on today’s discussion.
    Here is a stat from the Swiss Ramble website which is unbiased and has a good 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?
    BR said it should be brought to UEFA’s attention. I looked at the UEFA website but naturally, for such an unaccountable body there is no email contact listed on the site. There is, however, this address if anyone can be bothered to use snail mail:
    UEFA
    Route de Genève 46
    Case postale
    CH-1260 Nyon 2
    Switzerland

  6. Rasp says:

    Morning gm, I’ve dealt with it. We can expect a few such comments on here today but we don’t need to stoop to their level. Rocky’s post pays due credit to Barca’s quality so we cannot be accused of sour grapes.

  7. KenyanGooner says:

    @Mike – don’t agree with you re: Kosc – I distinctly remember one incident with Messi 1 v 1 in the first half with only Kosc to beat where he took the ball off him cleanly. He can only get better.

    And did you really watch the first leg. I thought Kosc was great.

    @Jose. Inter had a 2 goal lead to defend last year, not one. Clearly you are out to needle people. No one is taking the bait though.

  8. goonermichael says:

    I@m off to get a visa for Viet Nam see you all later. I’m not bothered we are out. I think we would have gone through with 11. We’ll never know though.

  9. goonermichael says:

    Kenyan
    I took the bait but Rasp saved me

  10. Rasp says:

    Morning Carlito,

    The only thing I disagree with Rocky about is that he doesn’t believe there is much corruption in football whereas I would argue that it is corrupt from the very top down. Qatar getting the WC? The refusal to entertain technology? Unelected bodies controlling the game? etc etc etc

  11. tommystout says:

    Good report Rocky must have been hard to get down to writing.
    Anyhow last night just stank of conspiracy, weak referee out of his depth and obviously intimidated by the occasion.
    All those yellow cards for us, none for them, all their play acting cmon. This is what makes me hate Barca they think they have a god given right to sweep aside teams like us. I didnt even think RVPs first yellow was deserved, shocking, what about abidals hand round the throat, wheres your card now ref, terribe.
    Barca one or two chances on goal up until the sending off, we were doing the job, a good job, kozzer included (harsh – Mark). LJW was a star again and never tired. Diaby was out of his depth and pedestrian.
    I think RVP will be in trouble for his comments but bring it on, uefa are wankers the fa are wankers, its us against them all just the way it always has been.

  12. Harry says:

    Rocky, fair account mate, fair play, I couldnt have wrote much…. NB: I would have give Jack an 8, thought he was best player out there last night…19!!!!!

    @English Milk: Bang on the money my son, and for anybody who says RVP staying on wouldnt have made a difference and that Barca are that wonderful, please re-read and re-read that fine statement…..

    Next up United and as Rocky says we must play our strongest available team…….

  13. Rasp says:

    Morning tommy, I’d like to know the process that led to that referee being chosen for the game. It is not inconceivable that the ‘powers that be’ examined the record of the candidates and opted for the one who is ‘statistically the most pro Spanish’ – just a thought.

  14. Jonny says:

    Jose, we beat Barcelona 3 weeks ago with 2 goals in the last 20 mins with 11 men. We didnt have much of the game before that point then. We werent given a chance last night by poor refereeing and thats undeniable. There is no shame losing to Barcelona at the Camp Nou, they are the greatest team of all time. It took themyears to build and its what we are currently doing as we speak, no other team in UK is doing this and you can tell by Chelsea and especially Man U all flagging this season.

    We will now win the league and FA Cup and I for one welcome less games as our team can re group for a big push from now untill the end of the season.

    COYRRG’s.

  15. Wonderman says:

    Great Post Rocky, but I have to disagree with your motm choice, for me it was Wilshere closely followed by Nasri. Wilshere defended resolutely, closed down quickly, tried to start attacks and basically played as he always plays …with committment to win. Nasri was kicked and kicked and kicked and still came back for more. I thought Almunia did what we know he can do…he is an excellent shot stopper, but last night was not the prem. Cesc getting a 4 was generous imo and whilst i’m not a Denilson fan, imo if ever a game was made for a metronome it was last night. Did anyone see Guardiola’s interview afterwards where he stated ‘ that Arsenal did not have more than 2/3 consecutive passes all night’ clearly their game plan….I thought to myself did we have a game plan ? and if so what was it ?

  16. 26may1989 says:

    Many thanks for the write-up Rocky. I already commented at length on the game last night, so won’t subject y’all to another 26m verbose yawn-fest.

    But I have to pick up on Mark’s 9.39 slating of Koscielny. “We have had by far the worst player to ever play for a top 4 team in Koscielny”. What???! I know hyperbole is the norm in the blogosphere but just where do you start with such an outrageous claim with so little basis in fact? Koscielny and Djourou played really well last night, under almost continuous and intense pressure from the 8-man attacking unit that Barca use. And Koscielny, despite being in only his second season of top level football, has shown energy, determination, intelligence and above all else a capacity to learn.

    I guess it’s to be expected, but I find it depressing to see anyone from the Arsenal village slagging off our players today. Most of them did as well as we could have wanted last night but were up against a team playing way above the standards of anyone else, plus an incompetent and/or biased referee, and they nearly coped with it. I think we’d have lost with or without the rubbushy refereeing but there’s an argument that had we had a competent ref, we might have been able to pinch it again.

    Oh dear, I said no verbosity and look what I’ve gone and done….. Sorry.

  17. Rasp says:

    Morning Wonderman, I agree. I’d like to add another category to Barca’s ‘best of accolades’ – best at niggly fouling, best at feigning injury. It’s a joke that they didn’t get any yellow cards, some of their ‘afters’ were disgraceful.

  18. Is Cuma says:

    Agree with Almunia MOTM. Rosicky is SUCH a waste of time. Fab was crap.

    But more than anything, I was disappointed with Wenger. NO SHOTS at goal for the whole game! Don’t give me this 10-man excuse. Zero shots?! From Arsenal? So the game-plan didn’t work early on – why didn’t he change it? Why didn’t he bring on Bendtner earlier? I’m so disappointed with Wenger.

    Arsenal really missed Theo and his speed. It’s pointless hitting long balls because their pitch is the size of a small country so speed was an absolute must. Which just makes the Rosicky selection even worse.

    And it occurs to me now that Arsenal need many, many more fast players like Theo if they are to deal with Barcelona’s style. Come on Ryo Miyachi.

  19. Carlito11 says:

    I think the player that sums up the way Barca play (in Irish’s fantastic phrase yesterday: “They play football the right way, but not in the right spirit.” ) is Dani Alves. What a player going forward- amazing runs, brilliant ball control and fantastic positional sense. What a player in defence- I’m sad to say I thought he had Nasri in his pocket yesterday and there’s not many right backs who can say that. And yet the game was littered with niggly fouls from the player- of 50/50s going for the ball where he always got the benefit of the doubt. Of some decidedly nasty “afters” from his tackles. He’s a warrior and I’d love him in my side but he’s also a nasty piece of work!

  20. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning all,
    I am in a “looking forward” frame of mind, so these will be my only comments on last night:
    1. Stupid first yellow RvP.
    2. Unbelieveable second yellow. ONE SECOND!
    3. Superb Kos, JD and Al.
    4. Midfield totally outplayed.
    5. Barca are extremely good.
    6. Would have had a real chance with 11.
    7. Lets win the League.

  21. Rasp says:

    Spot on Carlito. Alves was brilliant and cynical in equal proportions…….. but if he’d played for us in that manner last night, he’d probably have been sent off.

  22. mickydidit89 says:

    I won’t be around today, but that does not mean I am sulking! Oh, forgot to say, with 11 men and Theo on for the last 20 minutes, I think we would have!
    Chins in place all and upper lips stiff!
    Offing.

  23. Rasp says:

    Morning micky 🙂

    I’d add:

    8. Cesc wasn’t fit and shouldn’t have played
    9. We should have started with AA not Rosicky
    10. Let’s win the FA cup and the league

  24. johnQ says:

    @jose

    There are only two things that can change the outcome of the game, goal scored and goal conceded. Obviously you didnt understand football good enough to give a comment like that. We’ve been Arsenal fans long enough to know that possession mean nothing, it is just another form of defense rather than usual ‘park the bus’ approach ala Mourinho. Everyone other than Inter fans and you thought that Mourinho approach last season was a disgrace, because its literally kills football. Although both teams was a digrace that day, one team with full of diving and playacting, and one team literally didnt know how to play football. Shame on Barca, they play lovely football, but they never going to be the ‘best team ever’ with that attitude.

    Wenger never giving excuses, he said we lost to the better team, and he thinks referee cost us the game. It’s not just him, most professional in the game thinks that call on VanPersie was the worst they’ve ever seen. It’s either you didnt watch the post-match interview or you’re just plain stupid.

    We got the first goal when playing with eleven men, and its irrelevant that we can’t have more because Barca have more possession. Obviously we went for a devensive approach at the first half of he game, and that might explain why we didnt have any shots on goal at all. It paid off in the Emirates, but not at Nou Camp, because the Ref was incompetent.

    As I said before as stupid as you are, this is some fact that you need to know, there’s no team ever beat Arsenal when playing with ten men. I didnt know about Barca, I didnt even want to know, but it’s really hard to beat a possession team when playing with ten men especially when your captain have a bad day.

  25. Gooner in Exile says:

    Mark – sorry Koscielny a clown? He was quite possibly the biggest reason we went to Nou Camp with any kind of advantage. Last night again he thwarted Barca on countless occasions.

    Rocky – top report in difficult circumstances.

    The referee was weak in the face of so much pressure from fans and Barca players.

    I admire the way Barca pressure, they always close down with 2/3 players, which means they have committed men out of position and should mean the opposition have spare players to find. However the way Barca close down means it is almost impossible to pick a pass. Then when they have the ball they are great to watch.

    Tough tough night for our lads to recover from. Strongest fit side HAS to start at Old Trafford, like I said last night if RvP or Cesc are not fit to start I will be disappointed.

  26. mickydidit89 says:

    Rasp,
    Just the double then! Nice.
    Really Offly.

  27. 26may1989 says:

    Alves is unpleasant, no doubt about it, but take him (or almost any individual player) out of that side (as Shitty are planning to do) and he’ll look a lot more ordinary.

  28. tommystout says:

    Morning Rasp
    Had that chance that B52 fluffed fallen to a not sent off RVP, i think he’d have hit it first time and won the tie for us.
    If only as Red Arse might say.

  29. Red Arse says:

    Well written Rocky, a composed and mature article. 🙂

    I might have put Jack as my MOTM, he was energetic, tried to rally the team, defended well and looked totally at home on the big stage, again.

    I won’t say too much about Bendy, but a simple toe poke probably would have won us the game after Jack’s wonderful pass. No control, again.

    Finally, I know some of you guys have coached, or are still coaches, so can you explain the way our backs play?
    Both Clichy and Sagna try hard and are committed, but seem to be seen as a weak link by many of the teams we come up against.

    This attempt to show the formation may not work, but using “B” = Barca player, and the intials of our own players, the strategic formation seems to be this.

    B……….S……..D……K..C……………………B

    Our back four percolate to the centre of the pitch within a 12 metres band.
    Clichy practically stands on Kozzer’s shoulder leaving acres of space out wide for Barca’s winger, and Sagna although not as bad, also leaves his winger free.

    The result, as last night, is a ball out to the wing has Clichy hareing out trying to close down, the winger pops the ball back to his midfield, for a give and go, and Clichy is easily byepassed. Time after time.

    Question: Is it him being a numpty, or has he been coached to do this? Whichever way, it cannot be right!

    Enlightenment required, please.

  30. pat says:

    we were robbed boys – freakin robbed. Aint no other way to put it. We were right in it up to the send off..

    “worst player to ever play for a top 4 team in Koscielny” Mark – surely you jest!

  31. Wonderman says:

    Hi Carlito I have to partially disagree Alves is a great player, but a deserved yellow card may have tempered him a little and stopped him and his mates fouling Nasri constantly

    Hi Rasp 10:13 completely agree !!!

    Lets be clear , we were beaten by the better team under the cfircumstances, whilst zero shots on or off target does not read well we will never know now

    For the record does anyone who proclaims x player or y player is ‘a clown’ without explaining their reasoning deserve a response ?

  32. SharkeySure says:

    Balanced write up there Rocky, thanks.

    Personally I might have gone for joint MotM, as Wilshere was truly a warrior last night. To play like that in such a setting, against such a great but devious and cynical team, was truly outstanding for a 19 yr old.

  33. SharkeySure says:

    ” find it depressing to see anyone from the Arsenal village slagging off our players today” – and to slag off one of our best performers over two legs is truly clown like.

    So Mark, here’s my response to you:

    Yep, thats it, you have a good day mate !

  34. Rasp says:

    Just as a side note. AW must learn that coming top of the group is imperative. 2 years running we’ve come 2nd, 2 years running we’ve faced Barca.

    Shaktar came top of our group. They won 3 nil yesterday in an easy tie and have progressed.

    Arsene get the message!!!! – next year, play our strongest team until we are guaranteed top spot in the group. This loss has cost us money and may affect our performances for the rest of the season.

  35. Jezza says:

    Arsenal’s long-standing indiscipline consistently undermines your chances. Wenger’s always turned a blind eye to it, but it hurts you every season. Four Arsenal payers quite rightly booked in first half and VP could easily have received a second before the break. That is the context in which the ref awarded the second yellow in the second half.

  36. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Devil dog has evaporated quicker than manchester utd’s bank balance 😆

  37. Rasp says:

    Jezza, and how many yellow cards do you think Barca should have received in the first half? If your answer is none, then you are also blinded by your bias. Since when is it ok for a player to push another in the face?… its not, its a straight red card. Arsenal’s disciplinary record over the last 5 years has consistently placed them at the top of the fair play league.

    In short, you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you wish to continue to comment on this site, please inform us who you support so we can judge your ‘objectivity’.

  38. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    As long as that jock plays Wayne Looney instead of Berbatov, the PL title is ours 😆

  39. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    I’d say that jezza supports Wapping Dyslectic, judging from the sense he failed to make

  40. 26may1989 says:

    Rasp @ 10.45: You’re right of course, and it’s still not clear how we managed to go from strolling through the easiest CL group we’ve ever had, thrashing all and sundry along the way, to two defeats and scraping through.

    But I really don’t mind playing Barca early; progress via a series of easy ties seems pretty pointless. Much better (except in relation to money) to face the best early on and either beat them or get this tournament out of the way so we can concentrate on what really matters.

    Am delighted Eduardo scored last night and will follow Shakhtar’s progress.

  41. dandan says:

    Fine post Rocky under difficult circumstances.
    I posted this early this morning but as it sums up what I feel, am re-posting with minor adjustment

    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 a fine Barca performance
    7 Some of our Centre halves tackles were just superb and should be Included in any future Arsenal training video
    8 Well done Arsene on letting the ref know he does see some things.
    9 If anyone doubted Little Jack was our future leader, they know better now
    10.Lets now hope we are able to muster a team and a performance on the weekend that can do themselves justice.

  42. SharkeySure says:

    Ha ha “Jezza” 10.51.

    I’ve just read your comment on another site posted under another name. You haven’t even corrected your typos !!

    What are you up to..??

  43. SharkeySure says:

    Well said DanDan.

    The negativity that some Arsenal fans manage to muster after ANY loss is incredible. On the rare occasion that I peep out from under my AA duvet and read other blogs, I’m pretty stunned by the reactions from some so-called Arsenal fans.

  44. 26may1989 says:

    Belatedly wanted to respond to Jezza who says that Arsenal have a chronic disciplinary problem under Wenger, saying “it hurts you every season”. Our disciplinary position this season doesn’t look too good, granted, but in the last 8 seasons, we have been in the top half of the PL disciplinary table every season:

    2002-3: 7th
    2003-4: 7th
    2004-5: 3rd
    2005-6: 5th
    2006-7: 7th
    2007-8: 7th
    2008-9: 9th
    2009-10: 3rd

    The idea that Wenger’s Arsenal has poor discipline gets wheeled out every now and again by lazy journos. Trouble is, it’s just not true.

  45. gunnern5 says:

    My feelings on criticizing officials are well known but this ref left me with doubts about his integrity not his officiating.

    I think a check should be kept on his bank balance — oops I forgot he’s Swiss so his account will be as secret as his motivation.

    Damn it all………..

  46. RockyLives says:

    Things often look different in the cold light of day.
    BUT NOT THAT SECOND YELLOW FOR RVP – DISGRACEFUL.

    Is Cuma – of course we didn’t have any shots on goal – the only time we tried it our player was sent off for daring to threaten the Barca goal. If we had had three more shots we would probably have ended the game with seven men.

    To SS and all who suggest Jack should have been MoTM – I thought long and hard about that. He was clearly a candidate but I thought that despite his incredible courage and effort he was not that effective (because of the Barca defending). So Manuel shaded it in my opinion – but I can see why others would pick Jack.

    Gn5 – I know you think it’s immature to criticise refs. Well, today I’m happy to be immature.

  47. Red Arse says:

    Fans can sometimes speak critically out of crushing disappointment, but I cannot imagine why/how anyone could rubbish Kozzer, he played superbly well last night, and in many of his previous games for us. Fast, classy, gutsy! 🙂

    Other “fans” on some sites get their real kicks out of playing the blame game and vilifying every one and any one, which I suspect is more fun to them that glorying in our classy play when we win.
    Do not understand them, never will.

    Barca are a class act, as has been said by many of you, but leaving aside their attacking prowess, their midfield defending when recovering the ball, on the rare occasion when they lost it, by “hunting in packs” was absolutely superbo.

    Now that is something our lads should study. Jack was constantly beseiged by three or four of their players whenever he got the ball, which says a lot about him too, of course. 🙂

  48. Red Arse says:

    I am not too keen on referee bashing, BUT, in the papers today there are pictures of the incident surrounding Robin’s first yellow card.

    There is one of Abidal with his hand arounding Robin’s neck, throttling him. In the other, I think Alves has his hands around Samir’s neck throttling him.

    Result? Yellow for Robin; No yellows for the Barca players.

    I suspect crowd induced incompetence rather than any wrong doing. Hope so anyway, therefore I am giving the ref the benefit of the doubt.

  49. Carlito11 says:

    Regarding the pack tackling- here is a video that shows it perfectly. I won’t embed it but you can click the link if you can bear it!

    My main thought on watching it is that with that many players committed to tackling in their opponent’s half they should be vulnerable to the long ball over the top but we hardly tried it and I can’t remember seeing a team succeed with it against them either. Any thoughts?

  50. Carlito11 says:

    Oh crap it embedded! I meant to just post the link. Sorry!

  51. Gooner in Exile says:

    RA on tour point regarding narrowness of our full backs I can only put it down to the way Barca play.

    The wide players were normally their full backs. The starting wingers Messi and Pedro effectively drag the full backs in, leaving gaping holes for Alves and Adriano to run into. If Clichy or Sagna hold their shape you’re asking Kos and Johan to cope with three attackers. That’s why I assume we started Rosicky to be disciplined on the right, and Nasri on the left. Unfortunately with Cesc and Diaby ineffective against Xavi and Iniesta they were being sucked into the middle and leaving their full backs.

    In summary Barca are just very well drilled and well practiced at opening up teams. When they attack they don’t just have one or two options they have four or five.

    In fact if you consider their formation it is more 2-3-5 than 4-3-3.

    Have just heard Jacobs on TalkShite say Stoke would have done a better job against Barca than we did……..god help me!

  52. Gooner in Exile says:

    Just a word for our beleaguered Dane, it was probably his first touch of the game, and it’s a big ask to expect him to take it in his stride and hammer it home.

  53. Mr Arsenal says:

    Enjoyed the article Rocky- many interesting points.

    I also completely agree with what Carlito has said with regards to Danni Alves. He’s a top player with great ability, pace and real aggression. A player that would walk into almost any team in the world. But his ‘play-acting’ is embarrassing.

    All night, he kicked away at Nasri’s heels with no intention to win the ball. The ref seemed oblivious to the Brazilian’s persistent niggling fouling all game. Yet, as soon as Alves got touched, he dropped to the floor like he’d been shot, rolling around in agony. Cue, a hostile and marauding army of Barca players cleverly surrounding the referee, relentlessly pressurising the official to book the defendant in question (which he invariably did- 4 Arsenal players booked in the first half for what were very soft infringements).

    Their ‘sneakiness’ infuriated me all game. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a great footballing side and for most of the game, we were outclassed by the brilliance of their passing and individual ability, but their gamesmanship is an ugly side of their play and the ref bought it.

    Van Persie’s sending off was a joke. That point has already been made on numerous posts. But what about Abidal? Putting his hands round Van Persie’s throat surely should have warranted him getting a red card. But the ref. failed to see that incident. How convenient.

    The Arsenal boys played with real determination and fight. Our problem was that we were never able to take the pressure off the defence. Van Persie was an isolated figure upfront- every time the ball was cleared and played up to him, he was surrounded by Barca players and could not do much with the scraps. Another striker may have helped to consolidate the possession when the ball was launched forward. And of course without Theo’s pace, we couldn’t play the ball into the open space behind their defence and let him eat up the ground.

    Onwards and upwards.

  54. Gooner in Exile says:

    Nasri and Wenger been charged by UEFA for comments to ref post match.

  55. Rasp says:

    Hi Mr Arsenal,

    An excellent well written comment if I may say so – almost a post in itself. Be careful or we may set peaches on you and try to recruit you into our band of writers, on second thoughts, it may be a good idea if you just volunteer now to save all the grief.

  56. Rasp says:

    Haha GiE, that’s priceless. The pattern is familiar, turn a blind eye to incompetence and corruption and subjugate those who dare to speak out.

  57. Gooner in Exile says:

    😀 rasp

  58. SharkeySure says:

    ” it may be a good idea if you just volunteer now to save all the grief.”

    Quality !!

  59. Red Arse says:

    Thanks GIE, that makes sense.

    Every time they attacked up their right flank when Clichy was not “at home”, I yelled at the TV.

    His pace often enables him to intervene and save the day, but there always seemed to be a sword of Damocles hanging over his head.

    Anyway, your explanation shines some light on the matter, as also does Dandan’s earlier point that the Barca tactics dictated the necessity for him to come inside to reinforce the CB’s, which chimes with what you say. 🙂

    I am half convinced! 🙂

  60. chas says:

    Further to Carlito’s post at 9.47, the FA website gives an email address for complaints to both FIFA and UEFA as below

    If you would like to direct a complaint to either UEFA or FIFA, you can do so via either of the following contact details:

    FIFA
    FIFA-Strasse 20,
    PO Box 8044
    Zurich
    Switzerland
    Telephone: 0041 43 222 7777
    Fax 0041 43 222 7878
    Mail contact@fifa.org
    Web http://www.fifa.com

    UEFA
    Route de Genève 46
    Case postale
    CH-1260 Nyon 2
    Switzerland
    Tel: 0041 848 00 2727
    Fax: 0041 848 01 2727
    Media Desk: 0041 848 04 2727
    Mail info@uefa.com
    Web http://www.uefa.com

  61. NYGooner says:

    Very dissapointed – Yes Barca is clearly better and deserved to win, but we never showed up, never fought for balls, always waited for the ball to get to us, played right into their hands. A mid tier Liga team would dhave done better. Van Persie would hardly have helped.

    Farbregas set the tone and was never involved – no fighting spirit nothing. He will do much better sitting on the bench at Barca, where when he does play, others can do the lifting for him, like with the Spanish national team. If he tries a boneheaded play in front of his own goal at Barca, he would sit on the bench for 3 months longer. His trade value just dropped by 50%.

    Wilshire – clearly a star and with heart and drive. Guardiola is right that he would start behind Xavi and Iniesta but so would every other Premier League midfielder including Fabregas. Gooners know that Wilshire and not Fabs will form the core of the Gunner teams of the future and this is a good thing.

  62. Carlito11 says:

    Nice one Chas- will get an email off pronto! Love this vid:

  63. Red Arse says:

    NYG,

    I understand your disappointment, but I cannot agree with your comments about the team or Fabregas.

    Of course Cesc’s performance was poor compared with his normal standards, but it has been reported here that his hamstring worsened after 15 minutes, and that is why he could not perform as well as usual.

    He has also tweeted his apologies for his part in the first goal, and after the fantastic efforts he has put in to playing for Arsenal over the years, I think he deserves a little more understanding.

  64. Carlito11 says:

    My email just sent to the addresses posted by Chas earlier:

    Dear Uefa/ Fifa,

    I am writing to ask how referees are chosen for matches. Yesterday’s match between Barcelona and Arsenal was refereed by Massimo Busacca. This referee has presided over 30 matches in Europe involving Spanish teams. The record for Spanish teams in these 30 matches reads Won: 23 Drawn: 7 Lost: 0.

    The law of averages dictates that the above record should come under scrutiny. This seems especially valid when one considers that there were plenty of occasions, not least 2 physical assaults on Arsenal players by Barcelona players, where either a yellow or red card would have been appropriate but NONE were given to Barcelona players throughout the duration of the match. It also seems strange that Arsenal received 5 yellow cards for offences less serious than those of the Barcelona players, in particular the 2nd yellow card given to Robin Van Persie which was the strangest sending off I have ever seen in such an important game between two clubs.

    A one second delay between blowing the whistle and the player taking the shot hardly constitutes time-wasting, especially in the 56th minute. And even then, I would not like to be the referee who decided that the player had definitely heard the whistle at that distance with all the noise coming from a full capacity crowd at the largest football stadium in Europe.

    In summary, could it be explained to me how referees are chosen for games and confirmed that their records are scrutinised to ensure that both teams will have the fairest possible opportunity to compete and win the game based on their actions and not on any preconceived ideas held by the individual officials on the day?

    Yours truly

  65. goonermichael says:

    Personally I hope fabregas is wearing a barca shirt next season he’s useless as a captain and his heart clearly isn’t here. I wonder if he’ll be cheeribng his friends on in the next round.

  66. Red Arse says:

    Nice one Carlito,

    I think I will email them similarly. 🙂

    We both know any such polite request for information will be dismissed as sour grapes, but it does not hurt to let them know questions are being asked!

  67. Carlito11 says:

    I have to say that writing that email has made me feel much better! 🙂 Now who will the ref be on Saturday at Sir Rouge of Schnoz’s Old Toilet?

  68. Evonne says:

    GoonerMichael – are you for real???? Cesc is not the best skipper in the world, but to question his integrity and committment is bang out of order. He is more of a man than players with twice his experience. I hope he never leaves Arsenal and becomes a true legend.

  69. Rasp says:

    I agree Evonne. I think the loss of one sub due to Sz’s injury may have changed things. Cesc clearly wasn’t fit but his injury worsened apparently after about 15 minutes, maybe if we’d still had 3 subs in the bag he’d have asked to come off (for Denilson?). He is committed to Arsenal and we are lucky to have him IMO.

  70. Evonne says:

    Rasp – absolutely. I think it is enough to watch games when Francesc is not playing and the difference to the overall team performance. He is a little BIG playmaker, one of the best in the world. If he goes – we have to start rebuild the team again

  71. Wonderman says:

    So Cesc makes one mistake, has one bad game and all of a sudden he’s the devil incarnate. Some of us have very short memories

  72. goonermichael says:

    Evonne I am for real. He broke my heart in the summer. He used to be my avatar but he wants to be at barca. Christiano ronaldo is a great player but I still dislike him. I’d take 35m and build the team around Jack and Rambo.

    Wonderman
    I wanted him out in the summer. I have a long memory. He doesn’t want to be here.

  73. kelsey says:

    Great post and great comments in general.Nothing much I can add except the lads looked well and truly knackered at the end and many will have to play on saturday.

    Also we now only have one keeper, manone is also injured.

    I am not ashamed to say hat I love watching messi play and though the timing of their first goal added to the woe of the night,being in added on time in the first half,which may also have influenced wenger if it had remained 0-0 the goal itself was pure magic.Not many players could have scored a goal like that.

  74. goonermichael says:

    Personally I don’t think he is committed to Arsenal. He wanted to go in the summer.

  75. goonermichael says:

    Evonne he is going. I’d love him to stay and be committed but it won’t happen.

  76. London says:

    There is nothing of any substance to indicate that Fabregas wanted to leave in the summer.

  77. London says:

    Apart from Pedro repeating it over and over again.

  78. Carlito11 says:

    Just to prove we’re not the only team to get a player sent of strangely! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-12682897
    Cheered me up anyway!

  79. Mike says:

    Disappointing loss. Barcelona are the best team in the world, but Arsenal proved that they aren’t too far away. We must now unleash our fury upon the two competitions we have, starting with Manchester United. This weekend will be great test of character, because I’m sure Arsene will put out a strong team. Hopefully everyone can bounce back positively.

    I just wish that there weren’t so many “what ifs” again after being eliminated. Last year, we didn’t have our best players, this year, we get a silly red and could have advanced at that point. I believe we could have gone on and the game would have ended 3-2 or 2-2, putting us in the next round. It’s unfortunate our some of our players were not having their best games, especially when it’s a scenario like this. They tried, but were just a bit off yesterday.

    Let’s move on and kick some Manchester ass this weekend.

  80. Gooner In Exile says:

    Carlito loving that Keep the Faith video.

    GoonerMichael I’m sure you think that Cesc said he wanted to leave, but he has done nothing more than say it is boyhood club and somewhere he dreams of playing, theres no shame in that. Added to the fact that I’m sure he realises he would not get in that current team, very few players would I don’t think he was desperate to get away from Arsenal in the summer.

    He has shown on numerous occasions this season how much playing for Arsenal means to him. You could see how upset he was last night, in fact his and our biggest regret will probably be him risking himself last night to help the team progress.

    Do you honestly think we would be as close as we are to winning the title without Cesc in the squad?

    I would however also be happy to see him go to Barca as long as we get around £150million for him, plus Messi, Iniesta and Xavi.

  81. SharkeySure says:

    No offence GM, I just don’t understand any Arsenal fan saying that Cesc is off in the summer. You say want it to be true…thats madness, but you’re entitled to his opinion.

    Evonne you said this about him : “He is a little BIG playmaker, one of the best in the world” YOu got that wrong, he IS THE BEST playmaker in world football.

    GM No one else consistently hits his level of chance making. No one. Count his assists over a season, then throw in that on many occasions those ‘chances’ have been given to AdeNuff and not a cold hearted assassin like David Villa.

    £35m..?? We’ve already turned that down !!! Nope he’s going nowhere.

  82. SharkeySure says:

    Aaaggh, double negative !!!

  83. Irishgunner says:

    Just under 24 hours later and it feels no better – I actually couldn’t sleep last night I was so angry with the referee…seen as AW and Nasri have been charged for their comments, he will be made answer for his stupid decision? I have not come across anyone that actually agreed with it – not even a Manc or Spud….

    Furthermore, we have progressed since last season. We were only a “Bendtner connecting properly with the ball” from going through. We were by no means dominated by Barcelona.

    Now for a response on Saturday.

  84. Gooner In Exile says:

    One thing that confuses me with the Nasri and Wenger charge, surely the ref has reported it, surely then the ref could have acted there and then with a red card if he felt it warranted it (there is nothing to stop a referee issuing a red card after the final whistle on pitch or in tunnel).

    I played in a side where someone got a red card in the shower block. The ref’s showers were next door and my skipper was f’ing and blinding about how useless the ref was, he came round the door and produced a red card. 😀

  85. London says:

    The 35mil offer was made by an outgoing President, someone who knew he was not going to be re-elected; people in that position always make desperate attempts to stay in power. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gadaffi has promised to cure cancer if he is allowed to stay; anyway, one of the first things the present President of Barcelona did when he was elected was apologise to Arsenal for the behaviour of his predecessor.

  86. Irishgunner says:

    GIE – 😆

    I wonder what Wenger said to him – can’t imagine le boss being anything but eloquent even in his putdowns.

  87. chas says:

    I’ve just read this on a footballfancast blog.

    “It was in the earlier rounds that Barcelona’s Mauel Pinto- the Catalans reserve goalkeeper, tricked Copenhagen’s Cesar Santin into believing he was offside by whistling to the striker as he went through on goal.”

  88. London says:

    Hi Irish

    Do you remember when Wenger had that spat with Pardue? You can clearly see Wenger telling him to fuck off……I liked that. I also like to think that he called the ref a f….king cheating c..t last night. As you can probably tell I am still not over it.

  89. Gooner In Exile says:

    From BBC Website

    “The Football Association will seek clarification from Fifa on the rules over retrospective disciplinary action. It comes in the wake of the controversy over Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, who appeared to elbow Wigan midfielder James McCarthy in last month’s match.”

    Okay we all know that it says if the ref gets it obviously wrong they can act, so my question is, once this is resolved who will be the first Arsenal player it is used against by the FA?

  90. dandan says:

    Nevertheless, despite not commenting specifically on Busacca, Uefa added that his handling of the match would be investigated further.

    “Referees are always evaluated,” it said. “There is a referee observer who evaluates their performance.”

    It is not the first time that Busacca has been at the centre of a controversy. During a match in the Swiss Cup in September 2009, the 42-year-old aimed an obscene hand gesture at fans who verbally abused him and landed a three-match suspension.

    He also made himself unpopular at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after he sent off Itumeleng Khune, the host team’s goalkeeper, in their 3-0 defeat by Uruguay. It was the only match he officiated during the tournament.

  91. London says:

    lol

    That’s funny GIE but almost sadly true.

  92. Irishgunner says:

    London – its funny to think of Arsene going off on one ha ha.

  93. 26may1989 says:

    Dandan, I remember that South African sending off very well – Luis Suarez capped a performance peppered with dives with a real classic, no contact whatsoever, Inzaghi-style dive to get that keeper sent off. I had built up such a hatred of Suarez by the end of the game (which came before his famous bit of goalkeeping vs Ghana) that for the first time I edited a Wikipedia page. My amendment felt accurate in its references to cheating but had disappeared and the page locked within the hour.

    Suarez is a fantastic player but sooner or later his tendency to cheat will catch up with him and the pundits and journos will go for him.

  94. London says:

    Hi 26

    Talking of cheating have you ever seen a Uruguay v Argentina game? It brings a whole new meaning to word.

  95. dandan says:

    26may.I have to say It is not difficult to think of a hand gesture that would epitomise a popular description of the Referee last night.

  96. goonermichael says:

    I love Cesc and I wasn’t questioning his integrity. If he stays forever I’ll be really happy. I think he’s a fantastic player too. I think his heart is in barca though.

  97. goonermichael says:

    I really het pissed off with the amount of wanking (can I say that?) about the catalans. They still cheat as much as anyone else. I think we could have done them with a different ref.

  98. Evonne says:

    GoonerMichael – I am sorry I didn’t reply, I had to go out. Of course he would love to play for Barca, who wouldn’t? Even fat old little me would try, given half a chance 🙂 Nobody can blame him for wanting to be part of the best team in the world, in his home town, near the sea and in the sun. BUT his integrity cannot be doubted, he always gives his best. There aren’t many players as committed to a team, as Francesc is to Arsenal. He repeated times and times over, that he is an Arsenal player and he wants his team to win. I have complete faith in him.

  99. Irishgunner says:

    Eamon Dunphy bigging up Arsenal, saying we almost got it right.

    Liam Brady not agreeing, saying we didn’t cope with the pressure.

    All of them calling the ref a gobshite.

  100. goonermichael says:

    Well I hope I’m wrong and he does stay Evonne at the moment he is far and away our best player.

  101. goonermichael says:

    Some of the papers here have been quite complimentary Irish. One called us bravehearts. I hope barca don’t win the CL

  102. goonermichael says:

    The spuds are going through. I’ve just been shopping at lea valley tesco which is used by a lot of spuds as a car park, they are looking so smug.

  103. goonermichael says:

    I’m off now. See you later

  104. Big Raddy says:

    Let the cave dwellers be smug. Then point them to the League Table ….

  105. Irishgunner says:

    GM – Dunphy reckons we buy a “digger” (an Essien/Vieira player) and get these “we won’t win” mentality out of our head we can dominate again.

    Brady reckons AW won’t send out his strongest team on Saturday and will concentrate on the league.

  106. Big Raddy says:

    I agree with Liam.

    I am not a fan of Dunphy, quite the opposite. Of course we would like to have an Essien or a Vieira, but whwo is out there whom we can afford – no forget that – is there another Essien or Vieira in world football, whatever the cost?

    Song is a young lad and will improve. We are lucky to have him. Should Cesc leave, a MF of Song, Ramsey, JW and Nasri (all of whom are under 24) will rule the PL.

  107. Irishgunner says:

    BR – I’m not a fan of Dunphy either, he changes his mind more than his socks, but he wasn’t saying it in a cutting way and certainly didn’t cut Song in the progress. He was quite high in his praise for Wenger, the Arsenal players and how the team/club is progressing.

  108. London says:

    The only way we will get another Essien or a Vieira is to home grow one.

    I raise my eyes to the heavens when I write about Essien……we already have a far better player in Song.

  109. London says:

    I expect Gunnersaurus to get a game on Saturday.

  110. Big Raddy says:

    He will be more creative than Denilson

  111. Irishgunner says:

    I actually used those as examples – Dunphy didn’t mention them. I’m a gonna shut up now 😆

  112. Gooner in Exile says:

    We have a couple of honegrown ones coming through which I would hope Brady would have mentioned Chuks Aneke and Emanuelle Frimpong.

    Watching Milan v Spuds game, not sure SwampFeeders have got much to be smug about. Dominated by a very average Mikan side so far.

  113. Evonne says:

    GIE and Michael – yeah, I was wondering why spuds are looking smug at Tesco’s – are they organic?

  114. I heard today that Frimpong is the beast we’ve been waitng for – shouts at other players, not a afraid to speak out in the dressing-room.

    I’m watching scummers v Milan too, WHL went very quiet during that half ……..

  115. Hi Evonne – you grow nice spuds don’t you 🙂

    Come on Flamini – make all that booing count

  116. Big Raddy says:

    Peaches! How are you?

    Problem with Frimpong is that he is injury prone. His cruciate which put him out for 9 months is the latest in a series of injuries. I guess it is one of the problems of being such a big unit at such a tender age.

    A frame like JW or Rooney is less prone to injury in the formative years.

    But when Frimpong matures he could well be the answer.

  117. Big Raddy says:

    Why couldn’t we have the ref at WHL who is letting the game flow and not dishing out yellows for nothing?

    Come on Meelan

  118. Evonne says:

    Evening Peaches, yes my spuds are grown on well rotten horse shit from Shite Heart Lane

  119. Big Raddy says:

    Spurs just playing long ball. Crouch has committed 10, yes 10 fouls so far this evening. Yellow card for persistent foul play? What do you think?

  120. Irishgunner says:

    Milan have to score at the death and crush their little dreams by winning in a penalty shoot-out

  121. Gooner in Exile says:

    Oh well Spuds get to be humiliated in the quarters instead, very lucky to not lose tonight against an average AC Milan

  122. Gooner in Exile says:

    Peaches interesting about Frimpong, Szczeny has also shown that he has a mouth, Wilshere clearly displays it too.

  123. FrothingInarticulateLoon says:

    Evening all

    How many timid and quiet winners do you ever come across in a lifetime..??

    You all know the old saying: Fortune favours the brave, and the vocal. Ok I added that last bit myself. Sue me if you must !

    ‘Faint heart never one fair maiden’. Not sure thats too relevant here though.

    Nite all

  124. Big Raddy says:

    FIL. make more sense if it was “won” (respectfully)

  125. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    So do I detect that for most of you winning the Premier League is of no consequence. Blimey, to me its everything, & Arsenal are in the box seat; front row of the grid; inside barrier if it was a horse race; lane 5 if a swimming race; Australia if it was a WC cricket game.

    Cheer up, There is much work do do, & heaps to achieve bfore the fat shiela howls out here number.

    COYRRR

  126. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    *her number

  127. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    I’ve never given a rats arse about anything barcelona. Why would I 😉 they don’t play in the Premier League.

    You all need to re focus back on more important issues. CL is just UEFA’s way of fleecing you punters for that little bit extra of your hard earned euros.

    That catalan mob were never going to be allowed to get knocked out @ that stage of the tourny. The dodgy ref proved that. Now get back on the Mighty Red & White Army. The Club needs you right about now.

    Like Mr Arsenal said “Onwards & Upwards”

  128. London says:

    Onwards & Upwards gnarley.

  129. London says:

    Does any one know how Szcesney is doing?

  130. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    G’Day London

    Jack Wilshere has warned Manchester United that Arsenal are now fully focused on clinching the Premier League title after being knocked out of Europe.

    😀

  131. Gooner in Exile says:

    Only reports are finger dislocated and possible tendon damage.

    The tendon damage would put him out for the season and may see us seek permission for an emergency loan deal with only one fit senior keeper. Personally I can’t see AW doing that, unless Almunia gets injured too.

  132. Gooner in Exile says:

    Gnarley I agree PL very winnable and is our dream.

    To win it this year when we have been written off at every opportunity will see me dancing on the streets of Islington in May

  133. chas says:

    FIFA’s new snood replacement

    http://twitpic.com/47w69k

  134. Good one Chas – as recommended whenever anyone dares to play UEFA’s darlings.

  135. Morning all

    There’s a New Post

  136. Gooner in Exile says:

    Aaaaaaaggggggh Cave Dwellers!!!!

    They’re calling our end of season party up……all bragging about getting thru and further than us and in the next breath hoping to avoid Barca or Real Madrid!!!

    We need to win the League now and FA Cup would be nice too, and then we can compare trophies at the end of the season when they resign themselves to Europa League football.

    Worse still we have been labelled anti football this morning by some prick in the Guardian, whilst Harrys team are being praised for their defensive strength….god help me, Spuds showed last night how long ball just gives possession back to clever European sides, would love to see them draw Barca if they tried that tactic I’d predict 5-0 home and away to Barca.

  137. Carlito11 says:

    Morning all- saw some discussion on Emmanuel Frimpong earlier- he resumes training this week according to his twitter account. reckons he’s 7 weeks away from playing. A nice quiet summer and he’ll be with us fully fit for next season. I have great faith in the guy- he’s played with JW for years at youth level and they have a great understanding. He’s a big unit and an excellent destructive midfielder…

  138. gw says:

    Just a small point about the ref. If he was really “corrupt” as some seem to think, and looking to give Barca everything going, don’t you think he would have awarded a penalty when Messi was brought down inside the box in the first half and he was standing about 10 feet away, not least because it was, in fact, a definite penalty in the first place?
    Incompetent perhaps, but it worked both ways on Tuesday.
    Thankfully, despite refereeing mistakes in both legs, the competition itself was not corrupted by Arsenal sneaking a place in the quarter finals that would have been wholly undeserved. Nice one, Nicklas.

  139. The Realist says:

    A couple of facts to consider, to Irish Gunner who thinks Arsenal were by no means dominated by Barcelona, this from the Eurosports website:
    Barcelona enjoyed 76 per cent of possession in the match compared to 24 per cent from the visitors. They also had 20 shots at goal compared to a visiting side who failed to manage a shot at the home goal, Excluding the goal of course.
    As for Rasp: in the Carling Cup final Ferguson was booked for kicking the ball away, just like Van Persie, I don’t remember Wilshire defending him to the ref quite the opposite. Incompetent ref, probably but corrupt? Get real. Shit happens.

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