Rioja vs Barolo: a preview from an Arsenal perspective

In Saturday’s Guardian, there is a fantastic picture of Iniesta surrounded by five Italian players, literally encircling him in order to somehow get the ball of him. Straightaway, it reminded me of a very famous painting by Henri Matisse: ‘Dance’. In the artist’s picture, the dancers are naked and there is nobody in the middle.

Iniesta is the kind of player who can escape such a circle of top quality defenders and midfielders in a flash – leaving them behind like emperors without clothes. “When he has the ball, it’s like everything else stops”, says Torres – “He knows exactly when to release it [the ball], and he holds it so long, inviting pressure on himself and taking responsibility because, somewhere deep down, he knows that he is better than them”, says Guardiola.

Andres Iniesta is one of the finest midfielders I have ever watched playing football.

I have a similar admiration for the Italian ‘Quarterback’ Andrea Pirlo, although they are a different sort of midfielder. As I described in a recent post, he is the sort of player who, with brilliant simplicity, can totally control a game: an absolute joy to watch.

To be able to see them both again today, fighting for the second biggest football prize a nation can win, is simply mouth watering.

This evening’s Euros final between Spain and Italy promises to be a feast for the eye. The only potential blot could be the southern European nasty tendency to cheat, or the sickening waving of imaginary cards for opponents.

The two best teams have made it to the final, and this is the fourth time in the history of the Euros that the finalists have met already in their opening game of the tournament – bizarrely enough, every time with exactly eight years between them.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot watch a game that does not involve Arsenal without making a reference/comparison to/with our beloved team. Today’s game will give us a great insight into what sort of football we could be playing in the next few years.

Yesterday’s brilliant tactical post by Sagar Tarkhadkar highlighted clearly that nobody can tell with absolute certainty which formation and style of football Arsene will opt for next season. With the purchases of Giroud and Podolski, and Wenger’s announcement that he wants to play these two with RvP up front – and this combined with potentially more player purchases and hopefully the return to full fitness of JW and Diaby – it really is hard to tell what he is going to do next. Very exciting times lay ahead of us!

Today’s finalists represent two styles of football which have a fairly strong connection with the way we play currently, and have played in our recent past. I don’t really want to go into a deep analysis of formations, as we have done that yesterday. I feel we could be on the crossroad here between going some distance towards the Spain/Barca way, or towards a formation not too dissimilar to the way Italy is set up.

Are we going towards a style of football similar to Spain’s tiki-taka, with the purchase/introduction of a classic DM, who sits in front of the back four, and play a boxing-in/pressing football, high up the pitch, with two attacking midfielders in front of him? With the purchase of two more typical strikers it is now highly unlikely we will ever play anything like 4-6-0 or 4-5-1, but Arsene could be working on his own variant again of something similar to ‘tiki-taka’ football.

Or are we going to stick to our 4-2-1-3/4-3-3, or even move towards MickyDidIt89’s preference of Italy’s current 3-5-2 formation?

It all remains to be seen.

The thing is formations are not everything: you also really need a lot of good players, and a few great players, to make it work.

Iniesta is a great player and he is surrounded by a number of very good/great players. The likes of Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva and Fabregas are the reason the tiki-taka football is played at such an incredibly high level. Ok, it has not been as good this tournament as it was during the WC, but nevertheless we are still watching, from a tactical point of view as well as individual skills on display, phenomenally good football – even though it might not always be a pure joy to watch. Some of the key players lack form and seem fatigued which has an impact on the quality of their overall football at the moment.

Pirlo is also a great, great player and he is surrounded by a number of very good, if not great, players too. The likes of De Rossi, Marchisio, Cassano and especially Montolivio are fantastic to watch, and the enigmatic Super Mario has potential to be absolute world class. I like the look of this Italy side, and would not mind at all if Arsenal were to be set up in a similar way – and I think we have the right sort of players for it.

Both teams have a decent to good defence and an excellent goalkeeper, so it will be the battle of midfield and how clinically the teams are in front of goal, which are likely to make the biggest difference tonight.

This final will be a clash of two styles of football, and I will be watching it with the likes of Wilshere, Song, the Ox, Ramsey, Coquelin, Arteta and Diaby in mind. I will be fantasising about how they could play for us in next season’s campaign, and how the formations and style of football on display could work for us.

I am sure the game will give us plenty of input for further analysis for days to come, but let’s hope it will live up to its promise and not be spoiled by unsporting-like behaviour.

Will it be Barolo or Rioja which ends up on top? I have a feeling the latter might turn out to be corked.

If you are watching, I hope you’ll enjoy the game.


101 Responses to Rioja vs Barolo: a preview from an Arsenal perspective

  1. Big Raddy says:

    Another well written post TA.

    I am a great admirer of the Spanish team who have brought a whole new style of play to a game that has existed for over 100 years.

    As the W formation, Holland’s total football and the Diamond midfield influenced other teams, so has tiki-taka, and I love to watch it because it requires huge energy, considerable skill and organizational discipline.

    As you so rightly say, it should be a super game- Let us hope it is not ruined by a referee.

  2. […] Rioja vs Barolo: a preview from an Arsenal perspective […]

  3. Faran says:

    The picture in The Guardian was actually of Iniesta surrounded by Croatian players and not Italians.

    It was very similar to a very old World Cup picture of Diego Maradona surrounded by about 7 Belgian players.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi BR, good point about the referee. Pedro Proenca is Portuguese and also took charge of his year’s CL final. I thought he did an ok job back in May.

    Hi Faran, there is indeed also a similar picture of Iniesta being surrounded by Croatian players. However, in the Saturday paper edition of the Sport section in The Guardian there really is a picture of Iniesta surrounded by 5 Italians.

  5. Big Raddy says:

    Apart from the first game when the Greek chap got sent off for nothing and the Ukraine “goal” against England, the standard of refereeing has been very high.

    That said, until UEFA and the FA get serious about shirt pulling, diving, feigning injury etc such incidents will continue. Retrospective penalties may be the way forward if there is no use of in-match replays

  6. goonermichael says:

    I couldn’t care less about tonight. It’s like the manc/chav CL final. If only they could both lose

  7. goonermichael says:

    Karagounis’ booking and subsequent ban was a joke Raddy. It looked like the Russians had paid the ref off. 100% penalty.

  8. Tom says:

    If you’re going to use a wine comparison, Rioja just doesn’t sit anywhere near Barolo’s quality. Better to have used Chianti for the Italians which would be more equal to Rioja. Just saying’ like…..

  9. rhyle says:

    Good read, TA! Will be watching but I’m not overly enthusiastic about tonight’s game…hope I’m wrong and would be happy to be so, but this has got 1-0 bore off written all over it…

    Enjoy your Sunday, folks…

  10. JM says:

    Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Marchisio, Pirlo & Giaccherini are part of the “Invincibles” Juventus team in season 2011-2012, where they finished unbeaten. The 1st six names are core players in the Italian squad. Spain shall need to double their all round efforts in the final to break down the defence.

    Mikel Arteta is our current “Andrea Pirlo”. That is how good our No.8 is.

  11. rhyle says:

    Tom…sound sommelier-like assessment, but there are some fine Rioja’s out there! Faustino I Gran Reserva is great bottle. Barolo is a peach, though – especially Sainbury’s own…magic drink…probably my favourite at the moment…so Italy to nick it, then, if tonight’s result is driven by a wine-off!

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Tom, wont argue with you too much about that, although a good Rioja Crianza goes a long way for me 🙂

  13. Big Raddy says:

    A top Barolo v the very best of Rioja is like Arsenal v Barnet Reserves!

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Rhyle, you sound like a connoisseur! 🙂

    Wow JM, Arteta is our Andrea Pirlo – that is some statement. He is good but not that good imo. And thanks for the Juve invincibles note: the Italian defence has been a real treat this tournament as well.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    Out for the day, see you all later 🙂

  16. LB says:

    Barolo reminds me of the Italian defence: full, solid, heavy where as Rioja reminds me of the Spanish attack: exciting, flouid, fun, a joy really.

  17. JM says:


    Watch (Artistry of Arteta) ->

    Similarities with Pirlo (deep lying playmaker role), both in the defensive & attacking departments. Our team lost their way when he was injured in the closing stages of last season.

    Now, if we can find our own Andres Iniesta ….

  18. richie says:

    This is a somewhat fasle premise! 1st Italy is the largest wine producer in the world and a very large amount of it isn’t anything to write home about! Think Lambrusco!
    Next up La Rioja isn’t Spains top wine region, it just produces the most, at least compare like for like. Most of Spains top wines come from the Rebera Del Duero region and they can hold their own with Barolo’s all day long. Although try Vina el pison Artadi 2007 its about as good a Rioja as can be had. I think the only Italian wines that can come up to Ribero’s are “Brunello di Montalcino’s” Casanova di neri 2001 or Carpineto 2006 Although my all time Favourite Italian would have to be an 85 Guido Sassicaia a wine that ranks alongside many of the great Ribero’s and possibly one of my favourite Spanish wines Taberner 1 which amazingly is from Spains far south.

    Having got that off my chest on to the more important matters of life and death todays Football 🙂 We have a line up of two teams that are all things that England aren’t. 1st they are both very technical and tactically adept. Which when compared to Englands recent showing means they have great close ball control and as teams they have the discipline to keep their shape. Italy’s play in the main all flows through Pirlo a great playmaker if ever there was one.

    Spains plays comes from the short fast passing triangles of their midfield maesto’s Xavi, Iniesta and either Busquets or Cesc.
    Xavi is Spains real playmaker although IMHO he’s not in Pirlo’s league as fas as picking out the truely vissionary pass is concerned. Shackle Pirlo and Italy’s flair dies, crowd out the Spanish midfield trio and Spain can’t play their game. Then we have the strikers, Italy’s Baloteli can win the game playing on the shoulder of the Spanish defence, because the Italians can defend deep all night long.

    Who is going to be chosen as Spains striker? And will they be effective? Thus far Spain has played without a real stricker will someone be given the chance and will they step up? Its gonna be an intriguing game, and it is very relivant to how we as a team play.
    Remember when we didn’t have strikers and we played Both Cesc and Arsharvin as forwards? Thats Spain at the moment, they play as we did back then loads of possession with the ball moving left to right back and forth. All foreplay and no penitration! I like possessional play as it stops the opposition from playing but I don’t like it when we attack in that slow style because it gives teams all the time in the world to get set and the attack eventually breaks down. In attack I love it when we play in a fast one touch attacking style so a combination of Italy and Spain then?

    Its hard too chose which I prefer in style a Beautiful Spainish Ribero Del Duero a magnificient Italian Guido Sassicaia, but then again is there anything better than French Bordeau like a Margaux?

  19. barumgooner says:

    Nice post. I think it could be a strange game tonight. Usually we would associate Italy with boring tactical defending and Spain with open fast good-to-watch football but at this tournament its been the opposite. I’ve enjoyed watching the Italians and Spain have played the dullest games of the entire competition without even bothering with a striker. I just hope Italy continue playing like they did against Germany because otherwise this could be the most un-eventful final in history.


    Thanks for the post TA.

    Dont know nothing about wines, i drink what ever is offered to me. When it comes to booze ime one step away from a brown bag, tenents extra, and holes in my shoes.

    The Italians have ben a breath of fresh air. Great defending, good ball possesion, the enigmatic Balloteli, and of course the majestic Pirlo. Spain on the other hand are simply a phenomenem. They are going for there 3rd major victory in a row. Is this unprecedented for a European nation?. Its a simply a stagering acheivment and says everything about how far a team can go if they can master ball possesion. Proving the old adage that if you have the ball your opponent cant hurt you. I dont mind who wins, both teams are worthy of the accolade European Champions.

  21. This is all far too clever for an oik like me, but thanks for trying to educate me TotalA. 🙂

    Would it not have been better if you’d simply called it “Cerveza v Peroni” ?

  22. LB says:

    God I love this site sometimes.

    Taberner 1

    For goodness sake that is from La Provicia de Cadiz why don’t I know about it?

    Richie, Richie, Richie

    You have got me more excited than the final itself, you clearly know your wines and of course the wines of the Ribero del Duero are far superior than those of Rioja. I am surprised you just didn’t go for the the knock out punch with a Vega Sicilia Unico but hey ho if you can speak with such confidence and add something from Andalucia you sure as hell are going to get this gooner making a bee line for the nearest offy to buy himself a case of — Taberner 1

    I am laughing as I write this I cannot believe I have never heard of it, I have spent months and months in that region.

    Great comment, hope you come back.

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    LB, that is quite a poetic description! 🙂

    JM, thanks for the link. I am a big fan of Arteta and I think we’ll see even more of him next season – now that he has settled down at Arsenal. But, but, but, the way Pirlo orchestrates his team(s) against any opposition, is of the highest possible order.

  24. LB says:


    Sorry to do this but Cerveza just means beer, you need a brand.

    I am not sure which one would work best?

  25. LB says:

    Hi TA

    Like the post, in my humble opion, your style has changed, there is a confident simplicity about it which makes it more friendly, approachable, perhaps more personal.

  26. LB – how about San miguel ?

    For what it’s worth I’im backing the match fixers of course to keep in my liking for Peroni. But as with most of my punts for these Euro’s we’ll probably see the homesick spaniard celebrating another trophy. 😦

  27. LB says:

    San Miguel is deceptive as I think it is Phillipine owned.

    I would go for Estrella which means star but I am not sure if anyone has heard of it here.

  28. Crikey, the spaniards may not have their own beer ? Weird.

  29. TotalArsenal says:

    Wow Richie, that is a very fine ‘vino’ comment. I think I have seen your name on here once or twice before, but this must be the first time you have commented with such depth.

    Like LB just said, it was a joy to read your comments on the various wines. I must admit that, although I enjoy a good bottle of wine when it is being served to me, I am a bit of a philistine when it comes to wine. I like cabernet sauvingnon and I virtually always by a Chilean variant, seldom spending more than £10 on a bottle. It never disappoints me.

    But, your enthusiasm is contagious and, like LB, I am going to try some of your recommendations.

    Re your footie analysis, I agree with most of it.The only thing I don’t believe to be true is that when Pirlo is shackled the Italian creativity dies. I have been well impressed with Montolivio this tournament, and he can also pick a pass out of nowhere (he had a few assists already this summer). I also really like De Rossi, who seems similarly versatile as Song for us.

    Spain will press with a high line, but with the Italian midfielders all capable of picking a killer pass, through the defence or over the top, and both strikers capable of making the runs and finishing clinically, it will be a dangerous tactic. Then again, the Spanish are fully capable of not letting the Italians anywhere near the ball for long spells. Fascinating stuff!

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks for the feedback LB: very much appreciated. It is an interesting observation, and I think I can see where you are coming from. 🙂

    When will you be cycling through, and on top of, the Pyrenees?

  31. TotalArsenal says:

    Terry, ‘one step away from a brown bag’ hahaha. You always make me laugh! 😀

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    Chary 🙂 I think if you had written this post you would have called it: Divers vs Match Fixers, and I am sure it would have gathered many more hits than my choice of title today!

  33. LB says:


    I got back last Wednesday. I am very proud to have been able to ride from the Atlantic to the Med over every major mountain along the way at my age.

  34. TotalArsenal says:

    That’s very impressive stuff LB! There are some serious mountains in the Pyrenees of 3000+ meters. I doff my cap to you, Sir. 🙂

  35. glic says:

    Total my ol` mucker, Rioja Vs Barolo, a quick visit to Wiki to see who these players are !. Just shows what my knowledge of drinking is like !.
    I prefer a Fresh Orange and Lemonade as I do not like the taste of alcohol. If I do have some, It`s usually a very sweet cider. It`s not just the the taste of alcohol, It has a two way effect on me, first I get the giggles and talk a load of tosh and usually end up in fits of laughter ( this is why my mates used to try and spike my drinks ), then I finish off with bouts of sobbing .
    As for tonights match, I shall watch it and just admire two top teams, actually I`m more worried about our Jack, as I read that he has had another problem , Is he going to be another crock ?.
    Right, off for my first grub of the day, I`ve been outside building again and as usual lost track of the time !.

  36. kelsey says:


    that is some trip well done.

    Talking of wine and the economy over here. The average wage for an employee is 900/1000 euros a month. A bottle of Bollinger at Nikki beach is 1500 euros

  37. Big Raddy says:

    LB. fantastic. I am very impressed. Was it as hard as you expected ?

    BTW there are some fine Lambrusco’s, takes some work to find them but thanks to their awful reputation they are well priced. However, each according to their own, my favourit tipple is a mid-priced Valpolicella!

  38. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Tragically no time to dwell.
    Great stuff as always. Thanks, I will read it properly.
    Wow. How cool would it be if AA had its own Wine Column 🙂
    Seriously well done. I’ve walked much of it, but only along the top. To keep going down then back up can only be murder. I used to watch the odd cyclist making the top of some passes, and if there were any people around, always much deserved applause rang out. I’m very impressed.

  39. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    Evening all

    Whilst slightly leaning towards wanting an Italy win….I’m mostly wanting to see an open attacking game.

    Back at h/t..

  40. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Is Mark Lawrenson involved?

  41. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Italy for me, but most of all goals. Enjoy all.

  42. chas says:

    Nice one, ArisTotal.

    For those watching on BBC, there are audio options on the red button to avoid Lawrenson.
    There’s Alan Green and the Waddler.
    CBBC, not sure who they are.
    And my favourite, no commentary at all. :).

  43. Big Raddy says:

    I can only get the idiot Lawrenson. He is appalling.

  44. Gooner In Exile says:

    I have dragged myself from my deathbed to watch the game and finally got round to being here.

    Nice post TA on current viewing I hope we end up more Spain than Italy next season. Playing some very neat football and controlling the game.

    Lawrenson is an absolute fool. His comments on tackling/fouls in this game have just been plain stupid.

  45. kelsey says:

    Have to say Fabregas is playing as well as anyone.
    Every time Spain score hundreds of fireworks go off.

  46. Big Raddy says:

    GIE Sorry you are unwell. God Bedring.

    Spain playing some superb stuff. Italy need to get more physical to stand a chance

  47. Big Raddy says:

    Must have been a lot of fireworks ….

  48. Gooner In Exile says:

    Raddy it’s a self inflicted deathbed caused by copious amounts of Punk IPA.

  49. glic says:

    Simply Magnificent. Tippy tappy at it`s best !.

  50. Big Raddy says:

    Aah A real man’s illness.

  51. SharkeySure'sGhost says:

    Well done to Spain, although i thought Italy were incredibly unlucky to suffer two injuries in the same game, especially Motta’s only two mins after coming on. I wonder if Prandelli will be questioning how well Motta had warmed himself up.

    Once Fabregas replaces Xavi in the centre of park, this Spain team will become even stronger. Scary thought.


  52. RockyLives says:

    I wanted Italy to win (I’m a big Italophile) but you have to hand it to Spain – they were fantastic. Shame about the Italian sub doing his hamstring right after coming on – that really killed the game off with half an hour still to go.

    Iniesta’s pass for the second goal (and Alba’s run, control and finish) were a joy to watch.

    Good preview TA.

    Great wine comment Richie.

    Micky, there would be something sweetly ironic about a blog called “AA” having a wine column 🙂

  53. Gooner In Exile says:

    Bloody ell we had a wine debate earlier!

    I have never tried Barolo but I hope that will soon change as one of the wine collection we put together for the father in laws 70th was a £35 Barolo, I’m hoping he’ll open it when I next visit him for dinner.

    When we honeymooned in Italy we chose a Gavi producing vineyard (Villa Sparina) very hard to get hold of here but very very nice. They also produce a sparkling Gavi which was a revelation and beautiful as a pre dinner drink watching the sun go down and enjoying hams, cheeses, olives and bread.

    As for Rioja my favourite producer is Ramon Bilbao they produce a single vineyard Rioja, then the Reserva and Gran Reserva, the single vineyard is gorgeous for a light red for barbecues and Sunday roasts.

  54. RockyLives says:

    My son asked me: “Are Spain the best international team ever? Would they beat Brazil 1970?”

    I don’t know the answer, but I would pay to see it.

  55. glic says:

    I thought a real mans illness was Manflu !.
    Tell you what, I once had colic through eating vast amounts of strawberries at Lifton strawberry fields. Women will say how painfull giving birth is, but thats a walk in the park compared to the colic I had, I thought I was dying !. Thats what happens when you eat vast amounts without paying for them. 🙂

  56. RockyLives says:

    GLiC 🙂
    It wasn’t just the strawbs – it was legging it for a couple of miles with a bellyful of them while being chased by the farmer that probably did you in.

  57. RockyLives says:

    You must have legs like tree trunks.
    Well done!

  58. jnyc says:

    Hey, who does the commentary on the big euro matches in England?, here we have espn with ian darke and mcmanaman. I like them as a pair, but we have a bunch of idiots opining in the studio pre and post match.

  59. TotalArsenal says:

    Spain well deserved winners tonight, whilst playing some fabulous football. The Italians could not deal with the tempo of the Spaniards and I thought the taking off of Montolivio was a mistake. He was one of their biggest creative threats tonight, as Pirlo looked knackered and missed his usual precision in his through balls.

    Motta’s injury, with all three substitutions used, basically finished the game. As we know so well, once a team has to play against Barca/Spain with 10 men, you won’t get the ball any more.

  60. glic says:

    I turn the sound off , put a sheepskin jacket on, some earmuffs and hold a banana and do my own commentary !.

  61. glic says:

    I`ve just walked into the bedroom with the above mentioned attire on and mrs glic has told me to, ” F**k off ” !. I only went in for my Arsenal slippers !.

  62. glic says:

    Your last para` @ 9:58pm, makes you realize how lucky the Chavs were against Barca then.

  63. TotalArsenal says:

    So true Glic, they used up their luck for decades to come! 😛

  64. glic says:

    Bloody hope so Total !. 🙂

  65. glic says:

    Right, I`m off to cool down, the games well over and I`m sweating with all this gear on !.

  66. RockyLives says:

    That was a pretty good tournament and INFINITELY better than that p*ss poor WC in South Africa but…

    …I’m glad it’s all over and we can start thinking about the REAL stuff again.


  67. Gooner In Exile says:

    2 weeks until our first 90 minutes of football. Well two 45 minute games 1 v Anderlecht, 1 v Southampton.

    When did the players actually start training again?

  68. richie says:

    @TA You see what I meant about shackle Pirlo and the Italians flair dies? I understand you liking Montolivio and Di Rossi and I know they can make important assists but they make those assists post recieving from the peerless Pirlo! My comments regarding crowd out the Spanish midfield trio of Xavi Iniesta and Busquets and you stifle their play (after tonight) can now be taken as tonge in cheek! How can you crowd them? That trio could play in a phone box! They answered my question about playing without strikers and slow tiki taka possesion without penitration (us playing Cesc and Shava as strikers) They simply speeded everything up in the last third and had players making runs into the box from deep. Amazing! Why didn’t we think to do that back when we didn’t have a striker fit Arsene? (-: What a midfield what a team!

  69. richie says:

    @LB AS you liked my wine post and have spent time in the region next time your there here’s a few more killer Andalucian reds that can compete with the very best Italian and indeed with the best from Ribero – Munana 3 cepas 06 or 07 (the 1st n is a Spainish hyphenated giving a nya sound not on my keyboard) Los Aguilares Pago El Espino 06 – Conrad Cristina 06 – The Taberner 1 is 05 (06 is just slightly less) – The Vega Sicilia Unico has to be a 1970 but thats big bucks these days like €750 a pop I bought my Tabs in 06 for €20’s they are €50+ now. The above’s are less than €20’s but can hold their own with £40-50’s here. Enjoy

    Did you enjoy the match? I think it should show some of our own what Wenger has at times in the past been trying for, but without a whole set of players raised in that system its not possible. Arteta could’ve slotted in there and so too Rosicky when his fully fit but Rambo would be lost, one touch often passes him by (I’m not a Ramsey hater far from it, its just an observation) It like the old Ajax teams that played the original total football that Spains systems built on. It worked wonderfully well but only when the whole team came from “De Toekomst” Ajax’s Academy. The majority of the outfield players (7 of the starting 11) for Spain are Barca Academy graduates. They are raised in that pass & move system. There’s a great article on Sky Sports web page by Peter Fraser called in Arsene we trust saying Arsene Wenger is England only hope for 2014 because Theo, Jack and AOC will learn proper ball control and be raised in a pass and move system. Ha Ha Ha Marvelous!

  70. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning all.
    I know you’re not here, but my son also asked about the Brasil ’70 side. Does anyone here know which is supposed to be their definitive performance. Italy in the final, England, or another altogether?
    We are going to buy a copy.

  71. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I do get the irony of a wine column on a site called AA ( 🙂 ), but just how classy would that be? Just a little “Wine of the week” box on the right.

  72. chas says:

    Morning Micky,
    Don’t know.

    Game kicks off at 4:30

  73. chas says:

    Shouldn’t ‘whine of the week’ be on another site?

  74. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    I read an interesting interview over here with Fabregas.
    He was living in london with his Spanish girl friend and quite settled and although it was inevitable he would return to Spain it wasn’t planned for last season.He broke up with his partner and became more and more homesick and as a young man didn’t paricularly like being on his own in London and asked the club to release him earlier depending on the best deal we could get and that is exactly what happened.
    He feels more relaxed now living just outside Barcelona with his family nearby and has in fact now got a new partner.

    I actually believe a lot of that and is quite understandable.

  75. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Hi Chas,
    Blimey, the whole game on youtube. That’s this evenings entertainment sorted out. Thanks.
    “Whine of the week” 🙂
    Morning Kelsey,
    Don’t suppose you got too much sleep last night!

  76. chas says:


    Does that mean he didn’t want to leave the summer before he left when it was reported that Wenger convinced him to stay for one more season?

    I’d be more inclined to think it was mixing with a successful national team squad since 2008 that would account for his ‘homesickness’.

  77. robbinURpersie says:

    “depending on the best deal we could get” ? what a load of garbage..

    Kelsey, we got friggin peanuts for him and he still had years on his contract..

    Milner 26mil, bent 22mil and watch how much modric leaves for in the window..

    Our board fucked up there….BIG TIME!!

  78. chas says:

    I’m not sure how good the quality is for full screen hooked up to your TV, though. 🙂

  79. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Amazon, here we come!

  80. robbinURpersie says:

    Everytime i watch Cesc put in world class performances and lift trophies i imagine Gazidis and co. being bent over a table…

  81. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Do we expect transfer movement this week? I think so, after all, we are clearly trying to get things done earlier. Euros over, and the window is now flung wide open. Interesting times ahead me thinks.

  82. robbinURpersie says:

    Micky, i cant wait for Rasp to put Squid and gunnersauras on the ‘outs’ list..

    Hows your scouting going? are we any closer to ‘Oscar’ ?

  83. kelsey says:

    Morning Micky and Chas.

    No not much sleep but the dogs suffered.

    Not sure Chas, but the break up happened during his last season with us.I just thought it was interesting to read this only last week.

    I can easily imagine that regardless of fame as a footballer London can be a very lonely place,especially for someone like Cesc who wasn’t seen weekly in various night clubs.

    Also you have to remember that the Madrid and Catalanian players absolutely have no time for each other yet put differeces aside when playing for their country.

    Apart from Figo,who is Portugese one doesn’t see players go from RM to Barca or visa versa.

    What i like about this Spanish team is that there are no prima donnas thy play as a team and when on form find each other effortlessly.

  84. kelsey says:


    others will back me up on this.We were offered more initially for him in february but the BoD refused the deal and it was Wenger who eventually backed down as Fabregas’s heart wasn’t at the club anymore

  85. MickyDidIt89 says:

    All horribly quiet on the Oscar front. Not totally surprised though 😦
    Naturally delighted with Giroud and really don’t have a clue about Podolski yet. My happiness on that one will be determined by whether or not he’s a Robin replacement or just an addition. One way, big :-), the other a big 😦
    Gunnersaurus “Out” would be a massive improvement, and almost worth a campaign.

  86. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Cripes, Barca have got a bargain in Jordi Alba for £11m.

  87. robbinURpersie says:

    im sorry, i thought no player was or is bigger than our club..we did not play not one minute of hardball with either cesc or Farca..

    why didnt we put a media ban on cesc?

    why didnt we report players and staff of Farca for tapping up?

    why didnt we say, “cesc, you are to play in the reserves till your attitude changes”, than he would have thought twice because of up coming international tournaments..

    And why should a fee decrease from Feb til May just because we didnt accept the higher fee initially? i believe he still had 3 years..

    we got raped, pure and simple

  88. Big Raddy says:

    TH also left in a hurry following his break up and subsequent divorce.

    And strangely enough both went to Barca. Perhaps they have better counseling facilities.

  89. Morning all

    Amazing game last night, I really enjoyed it. It was certainly the best that Spain had played all tournament and even though Cesc is not the quickest he had the beating of the defender for his assist.

    GiE – you asked last night about players back in training. The Ox only went on holiday on Saturday and Robin must be away for another week. Can we make up a team with players who didn’t go to the Euros?

    Anyway, I’m off out to plant a hundred 2L pots of Lavender so won’t be around much today. We are going to need posts for the coming week if anyone has any ideas although I have to say that Rasp was marvelous at press-ganging new writers last week 🙂

  90. LB says:

    Thanks Richie

  91. Rasp says:


    Spain were deserved winners. That performance wasn’t boring, I just think they could have played a bit more expansively up to the final – but its churlish to criticise.

    I don’t think the great Brazillian team of the 70s would have played as cautiously as Spain – but then they didn’t win 3 in a row.

    In terms of the pure joy of the football (and less playacting) I still prefer the Brazillians …. for now

  92. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Richie,

    Pirlo was definitely less effective yesterday, but was he individually targeted by Spainelona? Don’t think so. He was forced back a lot by the wall of 6 midfielders and yet he managed to put a few balls through that could have let to more. The same goes for Montolivio and De Rossi and I was also surprised with the the amount of possession the Italians were able to have yesterday.

    But, in the end, the Spanish system was simply superior to the Italian one. It might tell us a lot why Arsene seldom seems to make tactical adjustments: trust in your system/formation of football and don’t make many, if any, adjustments regardless of who you play against.

  93. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rasp you agree with Arsene:

    “These guys are more than outstanding footballers; they are really intelligent and they are winners, I want to give them credit for that.

    However, they have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative.

    Originally they wanted possession in order to attack and win the game; now it seems to be first and foremost a way not to lose.

    They have become more conservative, and they don’t want to give the ball up because they don’t want to give you a chance to score.

    That’s the impression you get from Euro 2012.

    Yes, it can be hard to break down defensive opponents, but this is a challenge that confronts every successful team.

    They are still absolutely outstanding, but they have less penetration than before.”

    That was before yesterday.

  94. Gooner In Exile says:

    Funniest tweet I saw yesterday asked why Alex McLeish wasn’t getting more credit as the man who started 4-6-0 formations.

  95. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE,

    I was impressed with Montolivo throughout the tournament and surprised when he was subbed. The press had linked us with him earlier this year – I assume it was groundless speculation but I wouldn’t mind seeing him in an Arsenal shirt.

  96. Hi RobbinURP – I agree with your 7.23am, except I imagine Ivan & Co. lubed themselves up beforehand.

    Every time I see Cesc playing an injury free game for his “hometown DNA club” I feel his betrayal dragging through the Arsenal heart like a big fist reaching into the chest cavity of the Club.

    I’m still angry about his trechery now, his back stabbing killed us last season, we rallied but we only made 3rd thanks to Fulops’s Almunia style keeping in the last game.

  97. TotalArsenal says:

    GiE, I bet he regrets those remarks now a bit. Yesterday the Spanish gave the world a first class footballing lesson of 21st century football.

    I reckon that the tiki-taka variant of football will become a major force in football as other teams will try to replicate it in the next few years. Dortmund and Arsenal will become Barcelona’s nearest competitors, and maybe Citeh.

  98. Rasp says:

    Brace yourselves, it’s another Rocky Monday Morning ………

    …….. New post …….

  99. Gooner In Exile says:

    Hows that predictive typing working for you Chary? 😀

  100. Dam WordPress !

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