If Henry Can, Welbeck Can

March 16, 2016

Time to play with The Big Boys. Finish Top 4 and this is the reward. No-one expects us to win the CL, only one club can do so and, let’s be honest, it is not going to be Arsenal in the near future, but what Top 4 offers is the chance to play in the Camp Nou or the Allianz Arena or the Bernabeu.

In other words glory.

Can you remember when Thierry waltzed through the Real Madrid defence to score an unlikely winner? Or wee Arshavin slotting home to beat Barca? Or Ramsey scoring against all the odds at Dortmund?  Why do you remember those particular goals?  It is because we played and beat the very best and we have the opportunity to do so tonight.


Can Arsenal win? Why not? We have beaten Barca before and they have already declared that a couple of their first team will be rested (well, Pique at least). Barca will expect to win at a canter and there is no pressure on an Arsenal team who have been written off by both the media and their own fans.

We were a Bendtner kick and a bent referee away from beating them over two legs in 2011. Given that Welbeck is even better than The Greatest Striker Who ever Lived, we must have a fighting chance, though  it must be admitted that MSN are slightly better than VMP (Villa, Messi, Pedrito).

Our Team: Should Mr Wenger prioritise the weekend game with Everton or go with a full first choice team tonight ? Montreal and Bellerin were benched on Sunday and will surely start. Welbeck played just 15 minutes but what an impact he had! Will he start ahead of Giroud who took a battering from the Watford CB’s? In my opinion, Welbeck  – if fit – should be our first choice central striker until season’s end.

Campbell on the right or Theo? Was Theo rested or or dropped on Sunday?

Midfield must be Elneny and Coquelin, we have little choice.

And what of Ozil? He went missing in the home leg and has been peripheral in recent weeks. He tried to grab the game on Sunday and almost effected an unexpected comeback but where was he in the first 75 minutes? People question whether Ozil wants to stay at Arsenal; perhaps they should think about who would sign him to a winning team. Leave Arsenal and Ozil is unlikely to find a club playing to his unique talents nor will he find a place with the Big Boys. Sanchez is in the same situation.

We are massive underdogs for a reason , primarily thanks to Coquelin’s stupid foul for the penalty and BFG’s momentary lapse of reason, should they make similar mistakes we could be on the end of a hammering BUT Mr Wenger cannot PTB at Camp Nou – we have to score. Get one early and Barca could wobble. Get two and we will win.

Unlikely but possible, and whilst the possibility exists let’s believe it can happen





White hankies and lacklustre support- Let’s not turn into Barca fans

February 15, 2011

Written by CarlitoII

On the eve of THE rematch, I wanted to share my experience of living in the beautiful city of Barcelona. I moved  there (permanently in my mind) 3 days after 9/11. I fell in love with the City, Las Ramblas, the fantastic area of Gracia where we lived, and the relaxed and welcoming Spanish/ Catalan lifestyle.

Needless to say, I met a lot of Barcelona fans during my 18 month sojourn in their fair city and the discussions I had with them led me to be very disappointed in their fan culture. Admittedly, this was during the days of Van Gaal at Barcelona, and the era of Zidane, Raul and McManaman at Real Madrid. Nonetheless, it seemed to me that there was a vast discrepancy between how I thought of myself as an Arsenal fan, and how they saw themselves as Barca fans.

I find it hard to recall specific games, but it slowly dawned on me that the supporters I met would rather lose playing great football. In protest at the pragmatic tactics of the dour Dutchman, the masses waved white hankies around the ground, walked out when their team went behind and constantly complained about what the man said in the press and his lack of charisma. Being a young man who had supported Arsenal throughout the Graham years, I could not understand the fans’ complicity in their own downfall.

The great history of the club was explained to me: the amazing resistance to Franco that meant the stadium was the only place in the whole of Spain where you could speak Catalan without fear, the amazing football of the 70s with Cruyff, the Cruyff-led “dream team” that won the European Cup at Wembley and the tradition of swashbuckling football that was always, first and foremost, an expression of anarchist resistance to the Fascist regime of Franco. All themes I could warm to, yet the reality was a spoilt football public that would not sing unless winning with style and constantly sniped at their players and coaching staff.

I was unimpressed. Moreover, Arsenal were playing the best football I had ever seen us play and that Summer we won the double and won the league at Old Trafford which I watched at a great Irish pub near the Sagrada Familia. There was no comparison. At Highbury I knew that if we went 1-0 down we would not throw in the towel and signal our surrender as the white hankies demonstrated, we would sing up and urge our team on. In fact, I characterised the crowd at Camp Nou as Tottenham fans- forever in thrall to past glories, getting on their team’s back and dragging them down.

Now Barcelona were not a bad team in those days. They had Kluivert on top form, Saviola looked like he was going to be top drawer and with Overmars, DeBoer  and Rivaldo there was no doubting they were a force. But they couldn’t match Real Madrid at home (they went out to them in Europe too) and they didn’t play with enough panache for their demanding ‘socios’. I didn’t even want to go to Camp Nou, I was disgusted by the sniping and what I felt was a lack of support for their team. Angry and drunk one night, I asked, “Do you only support when the team plays well?” How they laughed at the young Englishman with his lack of class and his broken Spanish!

10 years later I find that my own team has now acquired a similar attitude from its fanbase. “We’ll sing when you play well enough” seems at times to be the dominant theme on the blogs and from the fans. I thought when I lived in Barcelona that Arsenal fans would forever be superior, would never question the club or the team as long as they played their hearts out and we sang our hearts out.

But it seems that success is a double-edged sword and despite Barcelona coming through their malaise to become the greatest football team I have ever seen play the game, their fans no longer know what it is to support their team through thick and thin, they are merely connoisseurs of great football and I hope with all my heart that even if we one day become as great a team as they are, we never fail to support our team when the going gets tough.