Arsenal Barcelona. Class prevails. As usual.

March 17, 2016

Last night The Arsenal took on Barcelona, while in Germany, Munich took on Juve.

In so many ways, both on and off the pitch, football mirrors society, and what resonated so loudly last night, was how the world’s top players are all crammed into four or five sides. Rather like the wealth gap in society widening by the minute, so the footballing giants are setting themselves so far apart from the also rans.

When I say also rans, I’m still talking about massive clubs, but nevertheless, the gulf in footballing class was so evident last night in Spain.

Barcelona simply didn’t need possession, space or time. They had the absolute world classiness of Messi, Neymar and Suarez, who they can be devastating either in space, or tightly packed penalty areas. Makes no difference, the smallest of opportunities and they devour them.

Make no mistake, I’m delighted we were playing at this highest of tables, and I’m equally delighted we fielded our strongest side. You have to measure yourself against the best to determine exactly where you fall short.

The Arsenal played hard, and certainly created goalscoring opportunities, but it would have taken a freak outcome (or a “Leicester” as I shall call it) for all the cards to fall into our laps in order to beat a Barcelona.

Freak results or outcomes prove nothing. The only common denominator amongst those with successful outcomes, is work rate and desire.

Last night proved only that class counts. A Barca front line with a market value of around £200M will always require a Black Swan scale event to be beaten by a front line valued in the region of £70M.

If the same Arsenal side took to the field against Everton, while putting in the same effort, I’d expect them to win.

MickyDidIt89


Should Arsenal play like the Cheating Barcelona? …. your vote counts

February 25, 2016

Today we continue with our new regular feature ‘Your Vote Counts’ which gives you the opportunity to see if your opinion is in line with the majority.

Following the defeat against Barcelona, consider this …..

On Tuesday, in addition to playing some magnificent football, Barca gave a master class in cynical fouling (otherwise known as professional fouling) and simulation with the intention of getting an opposition player carded/sent off.

We seek to emulate the Catalans in their brilliant style of play, but should we also follow their lead in the mastery of the less virtuous dark arts?

Arsenal generally try to play fair; to play the game in the correct spirit …. and that may have cost us the game on Tuesday.

Once Mertesacker went to ground and missed the tackle, our remaining 3 defenders had to deal with the forward movement of the most potent front 3 in the history of club football.

Bellerin, Monreal and Koscielny all had the opportunity to bring down the player with the ball before play entered our box. But they didn’t. The good guys stayed true to type, Barca scored and with it our chances of progressing in the Champions League evaporated.

Earlier in the game, I can think of at least 2 occasions when The Ox was dumped on his backside when a quick break was on. We got a free kick, the player who fouled wasn’t carded and our advantage was lost – Barca had successfully dealt with our threat.

There are 2 polls today, the first relates specifically to the passage of play leading up to the first goal …..

The second poll is more general. Many of us will have seen incidents in recent games when our players have had contact in the box and stayed on their feet, whereas a ‘Suarez’ would have gone to ground and won a penalty. Are we just too nice as a team? Would we win more games if we played the continental style of gaining any advantage we can even if it contravenes the spirit of the game?

Rasp


7 Bullets in Arsenal’s Head

February 24, 2016

We saw the good and the bad of Arsenal yesterday. The result and subsequent reaction from AW have added fuel to the ‘we should have bought X, Y & Z’ campaign. No one wanted to write a report on this game, so I have just bulleted the key points as I saw them and invite you all to add your perspective on the game.

  1. For 70 minutes we got our game plan spot on and the players executed it perfectly apart from the vital ingredient of taking our chances when they were presented.
  2. A moment’s madness when Mertesacker forgot his discipline and ventured way too high up the pitch (we’ve seen this from him before)
  3. The failure of our defenders to be as cynical as Barca and ‘take one for the team’ by bringing down the player before the ball got anywhere near our box
  4. Bringing on Flamini, it should have been Elneni but he wasn’t even on the bench – why?
  5. Mertesacker laying the ball off to Flamini instead of clearing it out of the box
  6. Flamini being Flamini
  7. Arsene stating we made the same mistake as we did against Monaco as if he had no responsibility to ensure the players understood what went wrong in that game. He should have drilled them in how to avoid making the same mistake again.

Rasp


Ramsey or Rakitic or Both?

February 23, 2016

Are you like me – fed up of hearing how Barcelona’s forward line is the best of all-time? How we have no chance this evening? How poor Mertesacker is going to have a second fundament after the game?

Firstly, I do not agree that  the frontline of MSN are the best of all-time. I would point to the Brazil ’70 attack of Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao backed up by Gerson and Rivelino. What a shame they cannot play each other, that Brazil side would spank the Catalans.

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Best Ever?

We can win and I will tell you why. Because we are The Arsenal. That’s it. Nothing more. If Mr Wenger and Stevie B. manage to get this simple message into the heads of our lads we can and will win.

Forget tactics, forget worrying about the front 3, forget about the diving and cheating the Spanish Champs will inevitably display. When Alves hits the deck Coquelin must stand over him and laugh, pointing to the badge on his chest. When Messi cuts in from the wing and dummies his way into our penalty area, let The Helmeted Cech put his massive frame in the way and smile.

Let us recall that last time we played them over two legs Barca were forced to bribe the ref and even then needed a Bendtner blunder to win. By the way, has any player in the CL been sent off for kicking a ball away since? No they haven’t. QED.

So what if Barcelona haven’t lost for 32 games and are currently – Spanish Double winners, Champions League winners and both European Super League and World Club Champs; we are The Arsenal, and they aren’t – they don’t even have a The. It’s true, have you ever heard them called The Barcelona? No, you haven’t.

Team …

Cech

Bellerin   BFG   Koscielny   Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin   Sanchez

Ox   Giroud   Ozil

My only concerns are Ox and Sanchez who were dreadful in their sub appearances on Saturday. Sanchez was a shadow of the player  we know him to be – Kelsey could have played as well.

As always when Barca or Real Madrid are rebuilding there are rumours of transfer targets; Ramsey is one who is often mentioned. Ramsey is a marmite player – hugely admired by his fellow players but not so by many a Gooner. To me he is the heart and soul of Mr Wenger’s team. Rakitic is the Barca equivalent. Both play similar styles allowing others to do the fancy-dan work and occasionally doing some themselves. Given their similarity I do not understand why Barcelona would be interested in Ramsey but perhaps together they could make a dynamic midfield pairing. Real Madrid would be a more likely destination but for the sake of Arsenal, I hope Ramsey stays.

More worrying is the Boy Wonder – Bellerin.  Surely a major target over the coming years. Hopefully young Hector doesn’t have Barca DNA or a Child Within.

Most important tonight is for both teams to excel and entertain the watching billions. We are unlikely to win the Big Cup but have to make an impression. We can win this leg and go to Barcelona with a lead to protect.

Last time we played them at The Emirates it was a little chap playing on the left who scored the winner for Arsenal  – could history repeat itself?

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Let it be So.

COYRRG

 

 


Vote: Beat Barcelona or Spurs?

February 18, 2016

So… here is the premise: The first knockout round of the Champions League is currently known as the Arsenal Stage because we (almost) always lose in it. We are about to face a team who are 31 games unbeaten, Champions of Spain and considered one of the best teams of all-time.

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Concurrently, we sit close to the top of the Premiership and have a damned good chance of winning it. In our way is an away trip to The Cave-Dwellers. Never a pleasant experience and a costly one in terms of points in recent times. A win there virtually eliminates the Lillywhites from the title race whilst boosting our own hopes.

Beating Barca over two legs would be immense but in your opinion would it carry as much glory beating our neighbours ?

 

 


The two Arsenal players Barcelona fear most

December 15, 2015

I was  on my way to work this morning listening to an interview with Philippe Auclair on the radio discussing the CL draw. It was suggested to him that Barca would be very happy to have drawn Arsenal again.

On the contrary he said, there are 2 players that Barcelona fear. Immediately the names of Ozil and Sanchez sprang to mind … but no, he was referring to a different two players …. Can you guess who?

They know about Ozil, he plays with the ball on the ground in a style they understand and equally, they don’t fear Sanchez’s all action high pressing style – it’s what they do.

No, the players Barca are wary of are the in-form Olivier Giroud (he is the kind of striker they hate to play against) and Petr Cech who has put them out of the CL almost single handedly before. He is their ‘bogey keeper’, they seldom beat him. Apparently Messi has never managed to put one past Cech.

When I thought about it, this all makes perfect sense.

They should also be aware that in Koscielny we have one of the best CBs in the world and as I have said before, our wing back pairing of Monreal and Bellerin is unrivalled in the EPL.

We are a better team than when they played us last time. With the steadying influence of Cech in goal and the quality of our defence, Barcelona will not find it easy to score against us even with their unparalleled front three.

Add the fact that the FP (little joke betwee AA regulars :) ) is in fine form and all of a sudden, Arsenal v Barcelona is the draw we should all welcome. If we manage to beat them, we can begin to dream…….

Rasp


Bellerin to Barca?

April 30, 2015

Here’s the problem – every player dreams of playing for Barca or Real. Whatever we fans think about how wrong that may be, playing for either of the Spanish giants is the pinnacle of playing achievement.

This is especially true of Spanish players who can say that RM/Barca are in their DNA (total bolleaux). Let’s face it, if you are born in a Spanish speaking country, grow up with in a Spanish culture, eat Spanish food and listen to execrable Spanish music then it is highly likely that you will choose to return rather than freeze your buns off in the Premier League.

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So why do the foreigners come to play in England? This has a one word answer …. Money, especially if they are not good enough to attract a top Spanish team.

In Bellerin’s case there is also opportunity; it is unlikely he would have played so many first team games at Barca at just 19 y.o.

My concern is that Bellerin is a major talent, almost certain to become one of the world’s best right backs and he is not only Spanish but a product of the Barca youth teams (much like an ex-Captain of ours). At Barca, Dani Alves is a shadow of the player he was, Montoya is not good enough hence Barca need a new right back – their solution is obvious.

Bellerin says ”

“If I had stayed in Barcelona I don’t know if I would have got to the top, the elite.

“I have worked as hard as I could and always with the mentality of going as far and as high as possible. Wherever I was I would have done the same.

“It’s great to play ‘at home’ and have everything where you’ve grown up,” he said of his decision to move abroad at 16, “but sometimes you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and discover new challenges.”

How will he feel when his agent says that Barca will double his wages? How will AFC respond to a €30m offer? Bellerin has a contract until 2017 and is currently in negotiations to extend which is good news.

But we all know he will return one day to fulfil his ambitions to play in his home country and it is for this reason that I make the following proposal …. our  foreign talent scouts forget Spain, Italy, France etc and concentrate on countries which no-one ever says “I am returning because they are in my DNA”. This is why the purchase of Bielik from Konin in Poland is such a fine move, he will never say “It has always been my dream to play for Legia Warszawa”. Or will he?

written by Big Raddy


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