Should Arsenal emulate Barca or Manu?

In the absence of a post this morning I thought I’d write a short piece and ask this question that has been playing on my mind. It is over to the technically gifted observers to develop the debate and flesh it out with tactical analysis.

We are shortly to see how these two highly successful yet differing footballing cultures match up in the Champion’s League final. It’s a one off game, so the answer will not be definitive, but it is nevertheless a mouthwatering prospect.

The main difference I can see is that Barca is overflowing with talent and invariably manages to get the best out of their gifted players. They have superior players in every game and a system that maximises their potential, and that is why they are winning La Liga and in the CL final.

Manu are also going to win the Premiership and join Barca in the final, but they have managed to win or at least gain a draw in many games whilst not playing the best football. This is not a criticism, if anything, it is to be greatly admired.

Arsenal, like Barca, has many gifted players. We compare our team to the opposition man for man before a game and conclude that ‘we should win’. But we lose when we should win as frequently as Manu win when they should lose.

Why is this?

My answer may not be popular. We have some fantastic players but most are not at the level of their Barca counterparts. With our budgetary constraints we are unlikely to ever be able to compete with Barca for buying top players. So we should forget the rather high brow distraction of thinking we are the English Barcelona and examine how we can be more like Manu (sorry chary)

Manu have the advantage of a winning dynasty that permeates throughout the current side. They are not the greatest group of players but they are a very good team. They have a rock solid defence and respect the basics of football. They have strength at the back, power and passing ability in midfield, pace on the flanks and goalscorers up front. Add those traits to a steely determination instilled by their manager and it becomes obvious why they are so successful.

How could we make Arsenal more like Manu? – it sickens to even ask the question, but if we want to add trophies to our much admired playing style, I think that is exactly what we have to do.

I’m not going to answer the question…. over to you…

123 Responses to Should Arsenal emulate Barca or Manu?

  1. mickydidit89 says:

    Great stuff Rasp and it will certainly spark a debate.
    One thing admire about Utd is that they have a very fluid approach to tactics/formation. They can switch seamlessly from 4-5-1 to 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, and this is down to a squad with options. We do not have great crossers of the ball, hence the ineffectiveness of Chamakh as well as Arsene’s tendency to play him or Bendy out wide. This is just one observation. I have already stated my position on Barca in a post, but to remind anyone, it is that we are slightly deceived by them having Messi.

  2. mickydidit89 says:

    To clarify that last point in the context of Rasps’ post, I would not fancy Barca’s chances against Utd one bit without the Messi effect.

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    You are a brave man Rasp. I admire you for that. A great way to start a debate, for sure!

    The only thing I would like us to copy from MU is the way they have made OT a fortress where oposing teams play very often with buckled knees. This is very hard to achieve when you move into a new ground: Ajax had the same when they moved into A’dam Arena from their cosy and historic small stadium ‘De Meer’. Teams who seldom or never beat Ajax away, started winning games when Ajax moved at the new ground. Quite comparable to what is happening to us.

    As I said yesterday, MU have become champions with only winning 5 out of 18 away games (but 17 out of 18 home games)! I don’t envy that at all, and to me it is incredible that they got away with that.

    Let’s stick to our approach and tweak it where Wenger feels necessary. Keep the faith: the trophies will come.

  4. Rasp says:

    Hi Micky, TA,

    I think AW has a romantic image of how football should be played in his ‘ideal world’, unfortunately that only works when the opposition plays along – and that seldom happens.

    The end result is that we have been ignoring some of the fundamental principles in search of a higher goal that our curent crop of players cannot quite achieve.

    Arguably our two best performances have been against the chavs and Barca – both sides came to play football and for once everything clicked and we took our chances. It would be nigh on impossible to reproduce that consistently because teams we should beat employ basic but effective tactics to negate our style.

  5. mickydidit89 says:


  6. itchyballs says:

    yeah we could emulate MANURE if we had three vital components that are missing.simply put….they are MONEY(LOTS OF IT),LUCK(BUCKETS OF IT)& of course last but not least THE REFS IN YOUR POCKET…sorted!!!!

  7. Rasp says:

    Haha Micky, I’ve been the sacrificial lamb – I’ve just re-read my own post and don’t agree with a word of it 😕

  8. Philbet says:

    Man Utd ‘s greatest strength this season has been the competion for places,Fergie has been able to interchange players all season virtually seamlessly,he has genuine competion for places,so strong that he has been able to leave out Berbatov (top scorer) and Nani,(looked player of year in early season) out of the side and has not lost anything in penetration or results recently.The squad is very strong and NO-ONE is beyond losing there place if they dont perform,that has kept all his player (who arguably are not the best bunch he has ever had) right on top of there game and delivered him another title.
    This is a recent phenomanon on the biggest squad theory and one that Chelsea certinly did not recognise preseason when they allowed too many to move away without adaquate replacements,
    Our squad should have the same strentgh in depth as Man Utds but some of our players are UNDROPABLE and several squad players have not stepped up, (you dont need me to tell you which ones).
    I think AW will have noticed the situation and rectify it in the summer.

  9. mickydidit89 says:

    I do feel we are very close, and while I love our fluid approach and that we have many players who can operate here, there and almost anywhere (Total Futbol Fans, me included), I think we lack two or three specialist operators, and this one area that SAF always covers very effectively.

  10. Rasp says:

    Welcome Philbet,

    Rockylives wrote a post not so long ago saying that our second string players are not as good as some think. The old problem of how to keep an ambitious young player happy when he’s sitting onn the bench is hard to answer, but the belief in the squad that no-one’s place is guaranteed certainly helps.

  11. Rasp says:

    micky, the romantic in me agrees, but my logical head says that endless possession with no end result is futile.

  12. mickydidit89 says:

    I have never agreed with a single word of any of the few posts I have ever written. Cannons aside, naturally.

  13. gareth28 says:

    Why should we have to emulate anyone? WE ARE ARSENAL, with our own history. If anything we should aim to emulate great sides we have had in the past, all had the qualities we require in spades. WE ARE ARSENAL, SOD THE REST

  14. Dom says:

    The one thing i wish we’d take from both teams is the ability to play games at high tempo, giving opposing teams no time on the ball.

    The high rate of movement in the Barca team means that Messi always has time on the ball on the edge of the D, with 2 or 3 players running in and around the box. This gives him options to either shoot, pass, or run in on goal – and he can do any of them with deadly results.

    At Arsenal, the player with the ball moves, at Barca the player with the ball stays still and the team moves to give options. This means that when receiving the ball they’re already on the move and are then able to switch direction easily.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    Hey Micky, Philbet, Rasp

    What would have been the outcome this season if TV would have been fit for almost the entire season and Vidic would have been in TV’s position? Ok, we’ll never know, but success does more than often depend on small margins.

  16. Rasp says:

    Fair point and fine words Gareth, but this group of players haven’t emulated the Invincibles and many supporters wouldn’t want them to emulate the Geroge Graham style of play even if they could.

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi ItcyB

    Did you see that text msg joke go round the last few days:

    ‘Police have said the Premier League referees headquarters have been broken into. All that was stolen was a wallet, 2 watches and Man Utd’s results for 2012/2013’

  18. Rasp says:

    Great point Dom, I totally agree. We slow down play when we should be attacking at pace in the ‘pin-ball style that the Invincibles were so good at. The team of 2003 wasn’t afraid to risk losing possession because they knew they could win the ball back but also because they knew that when the opposition committed players forward we could destroy them on the break.

    The second goal against Barca was the best of the season for me. Barca were bearing down on us, and before they knew it, after 3 swift passes, they had conceded.

  19. itchyballs says:

    as i said prev,with regards to MANURE..MONEY,LUCK & REFS….SORTED…

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Agree Dom, we need to play more often a higher tempo. When we do this we are almost unbeatalbe and we have shown this season that we can do this very well indeed: Man City and Birmingham away, Chelsea, Braga at home to name a few. It just seems hard for us to produce these sort of performances on a regular basis.

  21. Rasp says:


    I agree Vermaelen has been a major loss to the side, and even more galling because his injury was sustained doing international duty. He is a leader as well as a great player and I’m sure we would have fared better this season with him in the side. But in reality, we haven’t had a particularly bad season with injuries, totnum and manu have had more.

  22. TotalArsenal says:

    Fair enough point Rasp,

    I believe in the importance of have a strong spine in the team throughout the season. That’s where we suffered with injuries. Our best spine imho is: Szczesny, TV, Song, Fabregas, Van Persie. Throughout the season they not play together enough. The MU spine of vd Sar, Vidic, Fletcher, Rooney and ‘little Pea’ were able to play together most of the games.

  23. Philbet says:

    Hello Rasp.
    Man Utds squad has also been helped by the (almost) part time presence of Giggs,Scholes and Van de Sar, Players who are Man U to the core and only an influance for good in training, these players have always been able to come in and do a job,the two old timers in midfield have been a major driving force and losing Hargreaves has not affected there play.
    Regarding Vidic V Tv. Vidic has been a colossus this year but MU have been without Ferdinand for large parts of the season and have been able to cope playing two players (Evans & Smalling) who would not be regarded as anywhere near starters at Arsenal. The whole team has to defend and even when the side has been weakened it has stood up.
    We need our starters to have pressure put on them to perform and unfortunatly several have not had that pressure .

  24. Rasp says:

    Thanks TA. I don’t think our spine is a strong as manu’s and that is part of the problem.

    Hi Philbet,
    I understand what you are saying, but it appears that it is when our players are under pressure that they fail to deliver. What manu and Barca share is a great winning mentality and the belief that they can go up a gear and score when they need to. Barca tend to play most of their games in top gear whereas manu seem invariably to be able to dig deep and wrest victory from the jaws of defeat when necessary.

  25. goonermichael says:

    Great post and a good question, I disagree about the mancs though. This seaason they have won the league because everyone else, including us have been very poor, They haven’t won thet many games while playing poor. They have dropped 2 points at home and won the same number of games as Blackpool away. In theory they should be slaughtered by th catalans. Unfortunately in a one off game anything cane happen. As for the question, trying to play like barca hasn’t worked so I’d try the other way pwersonally. The mancs run more and fight harder for success than we do.

  26. Red Arse says:

    Morning Rasper, 🙂


    In a nutshell ……. Barca = Messi. (Give us Messi – game over!)

    In another nutshell ……. Manu = EPL — Give us Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra — game over!)

    Blasphemy? Well you were posing a hypothetical question!! 🙂

  27. Harry says:

    Rasp, fine post at 11th hour……

    Certainly stimulates the questioning of where we need to change, whats missing in our play……

    Gareth28, I think what Rasp is asking what can we learn from them, as others including them have learnt from us, all teams evolve and learn from others around them….Your are right we are the Arsenal and thats what we need to be, that we need to re-establish our identity……

    I do feel we have lost an element of what we are about with our inconsistency, how many times have we all thought, which Arsenal will turn up today?

    So in the odd game we can do it, the notable ones are against the next best three teams in europe, ManU , Barca and Chelsea, so we can do it…..

    The difference in them three games to many other games, was the intensity that we played at, the team worked as a whole and the movement that Dom alluded to was much better, if you analyse the goals 2 and 3 against Chelsea in the 2nd half, power, pace and movement, involving cesc and theo…..Even the first one just before half time when song bundled though, there was 5 players moving into the box!!

    The winning goal against Barca, was immense with power, pace and movement, the best team goal of the season…? Bendtner pass to wilshere to fabregas, take twist and release Nasri, pace down the right, support and movement, picks out Arshavin, you beauty…

    The winning goal by Ramsey against United, showed great movement in the box and support play..(the one game since barca that we have looked better)

    So what we need to do is play this way more consistently, simple really!!

    For some reason, (CC final, Newcastle), we lost belief and played with fear, movement dropped off, we stroll to pedestrian football at times, which so doesnt help theo and allows the more limited teams to push on, ie stoke.

    Players need to step up week in week out, give their all, I agree that some players seem untouchable, I dont agree that UNited have a better 2nd eleven players, I think ours let themselves down more at times, maybe played out of position and old fergie has such a way of motivating average players to perform at 110%, whereas many of ours seem to perform at 90% if we are lucky…..

    Fergie too makes changes at the right time and shows courage in decisions. Wenger belatedly makes changes which seldom work. Against Stoke he wmade early changes but the players didnt respond…..

    The team bonding could be so much better, to work for each other more and take responsibility…..

  28. Rasp says:

    Morning RA, Harry,

    I probably should have replaced ’emulate’ with ‘learn from’ in the title as Harry points out. Since our players are every bit as good as manu’s they must possess something we don’t.

    I think a lot of it is in the player’s heads, so as was discussed yesterday, the CC defeat reinforced their fears rather than giving them confidence.

  29. Rasp says:

    OK folks,

    I’m off to play cricket – I’ll leave you with this one. I’ll miss the FA cup final, but I’m not bothered since there are two teams involved that we should be able to beat.

  30. adrian says:

    Frankly, after watching arsenal this season I can all but conclude that there is a truly fundamental problem that runs through the club-defending.

    Our defending has been truly horrific this season, and I’m not sure that with TV fit things would have been much different.

    Something has to give, and as the seasons roll by, I believe arsene shoud go.

  31. Red Arse says:

    OK, I am out of the closet.

    I have listened to all the gobble dee gook about mental strength blah, blah, coming from the manager, pundits and then picked up by fans.

    It is hong kong phewy, in my opinion.

    Why? Well, I accept one individual can have more resolve and a greater will to win or achieve success than another, not just in sport but also elsewhere.

    One individual, compared to one or more other individual(s).

    I do not believe that, either by good fortune, or design, a manager can fill a team with skillful players who also happen to have greater mental fortitude than another.

    To say team (a) have a team full of individuals with mental strenght, while team (b) don’t is … hong kong phewy!

    Any psychiatrists or psychologists out there? Tell me;
    – Can you identify ‘mental strenght, other than by a subjective analysis of performance?
    – How do you quantify ‘mental strenght’?
    – Can it be taught?
    – Is it inherent in the DNA of certain people?
    – If you have ‘it’, can you lose it?
    – If you don’t have it can you acquire it?

    Or is ‘poor mental strength’ an easy hook on which to hang an explanation for a team’s occasional poor, or its antitheseis, an explanation to explain a team’s successful performance, or achievements.

    As fans, we need to question some of the glib expressions that are used in footie so that we can discard them and look for the real reasons for success or failure.

    Rasp asks what can we learn to improve our performances, and it is a good question, but we must not be side tracked or bamboozled by giving credence to theories that are not backed by scientific rationale.

    “Our team does not have mental strength” …… Pah! 🙂

  32. 26may1989 says:

    Morning, Rasp, it’s always good to read your thoughts.

    There’s plenty our team can learn from both United and Barca, but the choice between them is a bit of a false dichotomy. Ultimately, I think we need to find our own way. I want to see more direct play and more pace, which, in a 4231, to me means having a type and quality of striker we don’t have right now. Or we could go back to 442. But both Barca and United show an incisiveness we have too often lacked, and we do need to emulate that.

    Defensive play has been key to the success of both clubs, but in very different ways. United may be the league’s top scorers, but they are in truth a defend and counter-attack side. Could we become a team that played that way even if we wanted to? I don’t think so. That’s not to say we couldn’t seek to emulate the speed of transitioning from defence to attack (something I really miss from the Invincibles days).

    Barca, as we know only too well, are something very different when they don’t have the ball, defending all across the pitch, doubling up and using huge levels of energy. I see them as something much more than a showcase for Messi, it’s a form of team that has no parallels in the past 30 years, and, try as Wenger might, I don’t see us being able to emulate them. And ultimately, you either have to succeed completely in such a style of play or you fail utterly, there’s no middle ground. I agree with Rasp, our players are very good, but in the end, they’re just not good enough.

    So, I think we need to learn lessons from the two CL finalists but not try to copy everything they do. We have a group of players with strong qualities and our style of play and tactics should be fashioned around them. More than anything, we need to sort out the bloody psychology.

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    Hey RA, you are on good form again. Did you just have a coffee and a pain au chocolat my friend?! I don’t know about mental strength. Yes it has been missing in key games at times. But this can be caused by many factors and it does not mean we do not have it, structurally, so to speak. We all have ideas of what we should do better, I am guilty of that as much as anybody else. But, in the end it is just guessing, not more or less than that.

    I think the marvellous Tolstoy (War & Peace) clarifies the matter wonderfully in his materpiece:

    ‘It is beyond the power of the human intellect to encompass all the causes of any phenomenon. But the impulse to search into causes is inherent in man’s very nature. And so the human intellect, without investigating the multiplicity and complexity of circumstances conditioning an event, any one of which taken separately may seem to be the reason for it, snatches at the first most comprehensible approximation to a cause and says: ‘There is the cause!’

  34. 26may1989 says:

    Nicely put Red Arse.

    But I think you’re wrong!

    In a team dynamic, individuals draw strength (or weakness) from one another. Confidence flows from being part of a unit in which dealing with pressure is familiar, and in which individuals are scared to let each other down. It’s not just about individuals having strong will or resolve, though that’s key too.

    Whatever the reason, whatever Wenger could or could not have done to bolster the collective mental strength of the players, they’ve acquired a losing mentality. And that needs attention.

  35. Our style of play is the thing that has set us apart over the recent years but I don’t think we really have one that is successful at the moment and I agree with the comment by gareth28 @10.32 that WE ARE THE ARSENAL AND SOD THE REST.

    What I admire/dislike/hate about the manks is their ability to win ugly – I love it when we do that as long as it’s not too often – remember the home game v Wolves last season when Nik comes on and heads us to victory in the last minute or also last season a dire game against Liverpool that was also won in the last minute.

    Last season we fought until the final whistle, we were the masters of the late goal, I always felt we could score. This season in those dire 0-0 draws we could have played for another 20 minutes and not scored or indeed we were guilty of trying to play the ball out from the back instead being more direct.

    Ball’s into the box are the way forward – you can’t score if you’re not trying to. 65% possession doesn’t win games.

    I love Arsenal and I love Arsene for what he’s brought to our club – he needs to sort this mess out.

    I agree with micky about Messi being the key to Barcas success.

    Arsene’s default “this team have good mental strength” is rubbish and I hope he puts it in the bin. I don’t want to hear ever again.

  36. Harry says:

    @Red Arse@12:14: Agreed it is so easy for people to take in what the gutter press print, and so called expert pundits then sheep repeat….an easy hook as you put it……

  37. Hi 26may and Harry – are you joining us for pre-match Peronis?

    Harry – I’m so sorry your pics didn’t make it into your post the other day – Rasp just didn’t get near his pc to do them 😦

  38. 26may1989 says:

    Hi peaches. Am hoping to be at the Tav. What time will you get there?

  39. We’ll definitely be there by three possibly by two-thirty – chary will be there early though I think.

    Harry – what about you?

  40. Gooner in Exile says:

    I’m a bit late commenting, read the post an hour ago but have been in the toilet being sick since the realisation we should take a leaf out of SAF’s book 😀

    Seriously though it’s a fair point you raise. Against Barca, Chelsea and ManU at home we did indeed work well to win back possession in their half of the pitch, all three of these teams actually give you the chance because they all play short passes and move forward (even though some may pass more direct eventually they normally have to move it to the man who can hit that pass (Scholes, Carrick, Lampard etc). This means that if we do manage to rob them of possession we have an opportunity to attack swiftly in space.

    When we play some of the other teams they are content to clear their lines long and do not break ranks so even if we win the ball back before they smash it into row Z or into our box we are no better off. Also because of their propensity to kick long shutting them down results in a deflection out for a throw for them.

    As I’ve said for a while now if we’re going to play like Barca we have to up our tempo and increase movement, we also need to add a bit of ManUs willingness to be direct from deeper and attack the scrappy ball, as TA said last night they might not score doing it but it’s a threat the opposition have to cone out to defend which then gives more space to play.

    Am listening to Blackburn v ManU, Jimmy Armfield described Kuszack as at sixes and sevens before Blackburn goal, and also said ManU have had some nice passages of play but there’s no end product…….thought that was our speciality!

  41. Gooner in Exile says:

    I’ll be there from 1:30-2pm hopefully. What’s the best way to get from LivSt to the Tavern? Bus or tube.

  42. 26may1989 says:

    Lovely, look forward to it.

  43. mickydidit89 says:

    Tardis. Durr

  44. mickydidit89 says:

    Clearing out a shed as some bloomin historical society want to come and see something or other. Hate clearing out sheds, hate beardies and hate something or others.
    Role on KO and Abide With Me.

  45. arsenal fan says:

    Shouldnt we play a bit like arsenal!!!!!

  46. Footy Fan says:

    Barca without Messi would still be a great team.
    Remember, Messi was made at Barca.
    Also as a neutral. Barca > Arsenal. Every position.
    You may think about Xavi & Iniesta, but most of their moves start from Busquets. Yes he exaggerates injury but he does not dive, apart from that, great passer and brilliant plater.
    Good luck to Arsenal, just need a winning mentality, you have good players. (Except Bender). Bye guys

  47. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Peaches, you’re making some good points. Gr

    I dont think you can say that we don’t have enough mental strength (last paragraph @12.49). Our away record this season, superior to all in the PL and 25% better than MU, is clear evidence to me that we have mental strength within this team. Without mental strength we could not have achieved that.

  48. London says:

    Clever stuff Rasp, I am particularly impressed by the format.

    I agree with the way the post leans, we probably should be looking more northerly than southerly but there is one minor point that I think is incorrect and that is although Barcelona are our financial superiors their first eleven were amassed at a pittance; they pretty much all came through the youth system.
    Wenger was close to getting it right, I mean we beat them didn’t we? The problem as everyone knows is that it all started going down hill shortly after to the point where we all now realise that our squad is not as good as Barcelona and so an alternative needs to be found; the answer is probably somewhere in the middle which ironically is where Arsenal is geographically placed.
    Wenger must react to the failure, I believe he is capable but this time it needs to happen.

    A big hi five to Philbet at 10.14 — a very, very insightful comment you are very obviously a football man, I hope you return.

  49. Gooner in Exile says:

    London you raise an interesting point, the Barca team has inthe main been raised from within, most of our current squad have been acquired in late teens early 20s.

    The lads who truly represent our focus on youth policy are nit this current set of first teamers but the lads who have been at the club for the entirety of Wrngers reign who are now reaching 18-20.

    We need them to be brought through soon, so if Guardiola progressed through the management at Barca to achieve that with his squad do we do the same with Bould in a couple of years?

  50. 26may1989 says:

    From the 20 minutes I’ve seen, United deserve to be losing.

    But now a penalty from nothing….. Phil Dowd earns his wage.

  51. arsenal fan says:

    26may1989=that was a clear penalty dude!

  52. Red Arse says:


    The Lino did not give the pen at first, watch his non-flag. The crazy eyed Vidic , Ferdinand and co got to him before the ref did it and surprise, surprise the lino then gave the pen.

    Hernandez lent his knee into the GK after losing the ball. That’s how you win the league. Gamesmanship and badgering the ref/lino en masse. Not for me!

    BTW, I think Harry understood what I was getting at in my earlier comment regarding trite excuses that are then mindlessly recycled without any forethought as to whether or not they mean anything.

    Notwithstanding that, I accept your position altho’ disappointingly you sidestep answering any, let alone all, of the relevant questions about how anyone arrives at the nonsensical ‘mental strength’ judgement.

    Then again, I think we lack ‘apple sauce’ …. and as I don’t have to explain my judgement, and what that means, or how I arrive at it, I can give you a couple more if you like, and they will presumably appear in the tabloids in due course! 🙂

    Hi TA, 🙂

    I love War & Peace and have read it at least 4 times over the years!

    Your comment on ‘mental strength’ —‘But, in the end it is just guessing, not more or less than that.’ — neatly sums up what I meant!! 🙂

  53. goonermichael says:

    Isn’t it stupid having the cup final on a normal day of football?

    God I hate those mancs

  54. Big Raddy says:

    Hernadez cheated, saw the idiot ex-Spur running into no-man’s land and dived over him.Was it a goalscoring opportunity – No way. Another very nice case of bubbly and a Seychelles holiday for Dowd.

    However, MU deserve to win the PL this season – they have been the best team.

    As to which style. Barca players fitness level is superb. They run and run and yet still have the energy to counter-attack at lightning pace.

    I agree that it should be a mix of the two with a liberal sprinkling of Wengerball

  55. GhostFace says:

    Nice Post Rasp,

    Personally i dont think Arsenal should emulate Barca or United.

    We dont play anything close to Barca nor Untd.

    United are a glorified Bolton.

    Barca are disgraceful cheats.


    I do think we need to play closer to the way borussia dortmund play who have done won their league with a young team average age 22.

    So it can be done.

    Just not by Arsene Wenger.

  56. 26may1989 says:

    GM: Completely agree, it is pants for the FA Cup FInal to be played before the end of the league season and on the same day as important matches. With that, and playing semis at Wembley rather than other neutral grounds, the FA are doing a good job of destroying the traditions behind the FA Cup.

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but, having thought long and hard on this (ok, for a minute), I want Stoke to win today. Most of their football may be ugly but it’s a balanced, well put together team that exhibits many of the qualities we could do with adding. I’d be very pleased if Shawcross got sent off though.

    And the real reason is I just hate the money behind City – we can and should beat Stoke on the pitch, it’s in our control, but the weight of cash flowing into City will ultimately mean they can win titles and European Cups based on nothing more than oil being pumped from underneath the Gulf. In the end, that destroys sporting competition.

  57. No way we should even try emulating United.Arsenal are not the English Barca but they are the English Arsenal.One should take pride in this fact and stop comparing us to Barca.They are better but we are different from them.We are Arsenal.
    Here’s a funny conversation b/w Fabregas and Wenger regarding his transfer to Barca:
    Hope you like it!

  58. Footy Fan says:

    Barca without Messi would still be a great team.
    Remember, Messi was made at Barca.
    Also as a neutral. Barca > Arsenal. Every position.
    You may think about Xavi & Iniesta, but most of their moves start from Busquets. Yes he exaggerates injury but he does not dive, apart from that, great passer and brilliant plater.
    Good luck to Arsenal, just need a winning mentality, you have good players. (Except Bender).

  59. goonermichael says:

    I’m a good plater footy fan 🙂

  60. 26may1989 says:


    Interesting reference to Borussia Dortmund, who’ve absolutely dominated the Bundesliga this year, but hasn’t their game been more about defensive strength than their attacking game? And I don’t think they’re quite as young as you say, there are several in their late 20s and I think a few in their 30s.


    I’m totally with you in terms of lazy generalisations being trotted out by journos, pundits etc, and yes, mental strength like many other things, is often milked way past the point it actually meant something. My point is, for all that, it’s still real. The brutal truth about our season is we’d done well enough in the first three-quarters of the season but the team cracked when the pressure was on. There are many in the media I ignore but when I read people I trust, like Keown, Dixon, Pires and Vieira, and they say there is something missing in terms of the collective belief of the players, I find myself nodding.

    This FA Cup Final really is crap.

  61. Harry says:

    Red Arse, the linesman who gave the penalty is a very good friend of mine, I havent seen it yet, didnt want to watch, but I’d be amazed if he was intimidated by anyone, he is no soft touch, believe me!! In fact he take out the pair of them on his own…..

  62. Harry says:

    Peaches, shame about the pictures but no worries….

    I will be in the tavern by 3…….probably 2.30pm onwards…..

  63. Harry says:

    Busquets is a cheat…….end of arguement….

  64. 26may1989 says:

    I take it there’s something wrong with Footy Fan’s internet connection or summut.

    As a measure of just how easy Chelsea and Arsenal ended up making it for United to win the title, the 80 points that is the maximum United can now achieve would be the lowest champions’ total in ten years. And the number of wins they’ve clocked up is much lower than previous champions’.

  65. Gooner in Exile says:

    Huth’s first half elbow called “streetwise” defending by ITV commentary team.

    Wilkinson just hacking at Balotelli is “frustration”.

    I do not want Stoke to win, having seen Pulis on the touch line today all shouting and hollering and animation is showing him up as the cock in a baseball cap he is.

    They’ve been awful start to finish.

  66. GhostFace says:


    B.Dortmund Startin XI

    Robert Lewandowski – Age: 22

    Kevin Großkreutz – Age: 22

    Mario Götze – Age 18

    Lukasz Piszczek – Age 25

    Sven Bender – Age 22

    Lucas Barrios – Age 26

    Mats Hummels – Age 22

    Neven Subotic – Age 22

    Marcel Schmelzer – Age 23

    Antonio da Silva – 32


    Only 1 player in his 30’s.

    Durtmond have scored the second highest number of goals in the league behind B.Munich.

    Which also suggests that they dont play very defensive.

  67. 26may1989 says:

    Busquets is a cheat, a racist and a very good player.

    Pedro is the Barca player who, after Messi and Pique, impresses me the most. He shows such incredible intelligence and timing.

  68. 26may1989 says:

    Fair points Ghost, but I think if you went through the squad you’d find the average age is more like 25. Still young, and I do respect what they’ve achieved. Also, you’re right they have the second highest goals scored ratio, but you don’t mention that they are 14 goals behind Bayern. And that despite being 10 points ahead of them.

  69. GhostFace says:

    I just gave you the starting XI of B.Dortmund.

    If you do the math the average is 23.4

    I dont get the reference to B.Munich!?

    They are the second highest goal scorers in the league does that suggest that the rest of the league is defensive and B.Munich is the only attacking football team?

  70. gunstarter says:

    Agree that Arsenal players are not at barca’s level…except for wilshere.

  71. Harry says:

    26m, totally agree, Pedro is quality, best after messi…….

  72. Harry says:

    Gunstarter. not at barcas level? apart from wilshere? you having a laugh?

    Van persie
    arshavin (on form one)

    All of those would be able to play for barca and there is others not far off……

    They play higher intensity and better as a team and have messi……

  73. GhostFace says:

    Fabregas is the only player capable of playing for Barca and maybe Van P.

    The rest are not good enough

  74. Red Arse says:


    I think we have some leeway to agree! Only because I like you! 🙂

    Harry, As usual in these matters my comment about the lino was made from the pictures. You have the benefit of knowing the guy and I respect that.

    Have a look at the incident, the facts that I relayed are accurate. No flag at the time of the incident, Vidic/Ferdinand/everyone bearing down on the lino, ahead of the ref; decision = penalty.

    Footy fan

    Are you sending the same comment randomly, or is there an echo on my screen? 🙂

  75. TotalArsenal says:

    If we would be able to play our strongest 11 against Barca home and away, I still think we would have a good chance in beating them:

    Sagna – Vermaelen – Djourou – Koscielny

    Song – Wilshire

    Nasri – Fab – Arshavin

    Van Persie

    As soon as we have injuries to two or more of the above our chances diminish.

  76. Red Arse says:


    I love Kozzer at right back. Been advocating this all season!! 🙂

  77. Big Raddy says:

    Be interesting to see if AW will play Koscielny there next season or as a second DM.

    I enjoyed the Cup Final, the fans made a spectacle of it even if the football was sub-standard. We really should have signed YaYa when we had the chance.

  78. 26may1989 says:

    Raddy, I thought the reason we couldn’t sign Yaya was that he (unlike his brother, for some reason) wasn’t entitled to a work permit. If that’s wrong, I wholeheartedly agree – Kolo’s comments all those years ago, that his brother was the talented footballer in the family, have certainly been borne out.

  79. 26may1989 says:

    To be honest, the only good thing I can say about that Final is that there were two groups of fans who are not so used to going to finals that they’ve become bored by it and can’t enjoy or lift the occasion.

  80. Red Arse says:

    Sorry TA, I meant left back, of course. 🙂

  81. Big Raddy says:

    26. I am sure there are many reasons why we didn’t sign YaYa, timing and money being the most obvious.

    Has anyone seen Kos cross a ball? Or has he the pace to play LB?

    With our plethora of CB’s I would like to to try a 3-5-2, at least for a half.

  82. Gooner in Exile says:

    A tweet from Chuks Aneke to Conor Henderson today said ” Good luck tomorrow”

    Is Arsene going to show us some more of the youth?

  83. Harry says:

    Hey Red Arse, no worries mate, I shall have a look later tonight on the MotD….

    He is a top bloke, used to love monday mornings, sitting down with andy, having a cuppa and discussing the reffing decisions from the matches, really was an insight and made you think……And I so used to give him a hard time when he was arsenal matches, invariably he does the northern matches and rarely comes down south……

    One thing he did tell me was what the other officials were like as people etc…….

  84. Harry says:

    GIE: He might make the bench, amazed if he started, we need to get 3 points, the blue moonies will be even more up for nicking third after dispatching of that rugby team…..

  85. Gooner in Exile says:

    Thats a recipe for a post Harry!

  86. Harry says:

    Ghost face? You having a laugh? as well?, Maybe RVP? he is world class and would actually really suit barca, more so than David villa…..

    And no one else? Nasri is well good enough…..The others I listed I will not argue about in my opinion they are, but I respect comments that maybe not, but Fabm RVP and NAsri would all get into that team and be in the matchday squads at minimum.

  87. Harry says:

    26m, you are right, there was an issue regards work permits for Yaya, wenger decided to wait and unfortunately left it too long……..

  88. Harry says:

    GIE, if you mean the officials bit, I might throw the odd comment in here and there about them, but would feel I would betray Andy’s confidence if I said too much……

  89. Harry says:

    The only good thing about the FA Cup was the whistle at the end, crap match, thugs and smug moonies, dont like either……

    And why does Mancini leave their 2nd best player on the bench all the time? Adam Johnson is class…….

  90. Harry says:

    Total Arsenal, half agree about your comment, but I dont feel Barca are that strong after 1-11 either…..Look at the team they played against Real Madrid…..

    I think that are top 16 are good enough, its after that we struggle…..depending on who is injured etc…..

  91. goonermichael says:

    Just read a quote from rio ferdinand ” home form was the key” no shit sherlock you only won 5 away games.

  92. Harry says:

    Come On Gooner Michael, give him a break…

    He cannot help been totally thick…..

  93. Rasp says:

    Evening all,

    I think some have taken the post far too literally. The point I was making is that we (apparently) have tried to emulate Barca yet to discover the missing ingredients in our game, we may learn more from observing manu.

  94. Footy Fan says:

    Barca > Arsenal

  95. Rasp says:

    Footy Fan,

    Not many would disagree that Barca are currently a better team than Arsenal, but it is also true that Arsenal are closer to them this season than last. But for a very dodgy refereeing decision, it could well have been Arsenal facing manu in the CL final.

    Barca have also lost the admiration of many neutrals after their disgraceful playacting in the first game against Real.

  96. RockyLives says:

    Excellent topic for debate Rasp.

    Personally I would like us to emulate the Arsenal of the Invincibles.

  97. dandan says:

    Just seen the early papers, according to the mail, wenger has signed Rice for another year and has been given, just thirty million to spend, plus what he can get for selling players, with Nasri named as the most likely to go…

  98. Gooner in Exile says:

    Interesting DanDan for the Mail that actually seems fairly balanced. I’m pretty sure Wenger said in press conference that Nasri would sign in summer.

  99. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning dandan,
    Yikes, just supposing that article is even close to the truth. I feel we have 13 what I call 1st XI’ers, whereas we need 16. In other words we are looking at a required transfer budget closer to £45m excluding wages. Clearly cash can be raised from sales of some of those outside my First 13. All the teams around us will undoubtedly begin the next campaign with even stronger squads.
    Here’s a question. If there is some truth in this article, would you rather flog Cesc for £45m or Sami for £30?

  100. Evonne says:

    Micky – Cesc. As much as I love him, I think we would benefit more from Nasri, money and a new skipper

  101. mickydidit89 says:

    Hi Evonne,
    Here’s a harder question.
    Sami to Inter for £30m or Cesc to City (ie competition) for £50m?

  102. mickydidit89 says:

    One has to say that at the moment City is the most likely destination for any player City want. City can offer far higher wages, genuine opportunities for Silverware and none of that nasty hot Spanish sun.

  103. 26may1989 says:

    I don’t want either to go (though I have doubts about both), but in no circs should we sell a major player to an English rival, esp City. Kolo and Adebayor for stupid money is one thing, Cesc another.

  104. mickydidit89 says:

    I have no idea why I have got up this morning with all these unsavoury thoughts.
    Totally agree with your comment about how nice it was to see fans enjoying and appreciating the day at Wembley.

  105. mickydidit89 says:

    Really sorry I cannot meet you all at The Tavern, but late Sunday KO’s are out of the question under normal circs.

  106. mickydidit89 says:

    Cesc to City would definately be silly money.

  107. Evonne says:

    No player to City, no way.

    Hiya 26may – did you really enjoy seeing Wembley celebrations??? I switched the telly off the minute the last whistle went, NOT to see those dirty northern b***s

  108. Evonne says:

    Hm….about Nasri. From the start of the season I watched him play out-of-his skin and wondered why. I have seen Flamini doing that – his last season was probably the best. Why? He wanted a lucrative move, obviously!
    Is Nasri agenda to move to Italy and impress the potential buyer OR is he hoping to become the next captain?

  109. mickydidit89 says:

    I still love the whole occasion of the Cup Final. If Utd or Chelsea are winning, then yes it is telly off, but I am still caught up in the romance of the thing. Abide With Me works every time.

  110. Evonne says:

    Micky – you are a better man than me:) I am too jealous and bitter to be happy for other teams, a proper bitch 🙂

  111. 26may1989 says:

    Morning Evonne.

    Don’t hold back, tell us what you really think of those rival fans! 🙂

    But I genuinely like seeing the FA Cup Final contested by clubs outside the usual top four, whose fans have become very blasé, and therefore boring, about the whole thing. Man City fans will of course soon be every bit as bad as Chelsea fans but not yet.

  112. Evonne says:

    26may – I am not that brave, Rasp’s telling off is not a walk in the park, is it? And then my IP would be barred by Peaches, no, don’t want to risk that. I enjoy reading this blog

  113. kelsey says:

    Morning all.
    dandan, not like you to believe what you read in the Mail 🙂

    If cesc goes nasri gets a hike in wages and moves infield.If cesc stays (for one more season) maybe nasri will go.

    We can’t really afford to lose either, but will Chelsea and City and others acknowledge the fair play rule and basically be not allowed to spend unless they are in profit.I doubt either will be enforced, with clever accountants juggling with the books and marking down the stock(players) to fit their own criteria.

    If Wenger has 30 million that will be increased with the sale of a few players not for what we get for them but their wages alone.

    I believe nasri wants 80k a week, well arshavin is on a reported 90K, almunia on 50k (yes 50K) and cesc on 110K.

  114. Gooner in Exile says:

    This is what football is about these days:

    Actually posted on City’s website as an intro to new fans, yesterday they still had their soul, not for much longer I am afraid judging by that.

    To be fair to actual City fans they were very peeved with the club for the article.

    Cesc to City……what if it’s cash and Kompany, Silva, Tevez or Bellamy?

  115. Gooner in Exile says:

    I think AA23 most likely to leave, he isn’t impressed that he has to pay increased tax, at Zenit he has said he didn’t even have a bank account.

  116. Evonne says:

    GIE – ‘So long as you’ve got City in your hearts, we want your support – and if you are watching City (there’s only one City, by the way!) take on Stoke at Wembley on Saturday and you’ll be cheering us on for the first time in the new Carlos Tevez home shirt you’ve just bought on-line, this is stuff you need to know.’ HA HA HA HA, fantastic !!

  117. Morning all

    Raddy are you done?

    Cesc to City!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No way, we shouldn’t let any of our players go to an PL rival. I really hope Nasri will stay though 😦

  118. Anyway we all know that what’s reported in the papers is rubbish – dandan, keep it to yourself please 😆

  119. How are we going to keep ourselves occupied for 3 months whilst ignoring the rumour mill?

  120. I love the romance of the FA cup and not wanting to upset Evonne I do enjoy seeing other supporters enjoying themselves – well not manks, scummers or chavs I have to say 😆

  121. Ho hum …….. all alone in blogland …….

  122. We have a New Post …………..

    Not sure why I’m announcing it as there’s only me here 😦

  123. Big Raddy says:

    peaches. We are not. I am happy to discuss each and every rumour!

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