Arcelona the Sequel

February 16, 2011

Tonight’s game has never been too far away in every gooner’s minds eye since the draw was made last December in Nyon, Switzerland.

There is no point in making far reaching rally calls….. my take is to sit back and hopefully enjoy a festival of Total Football, played out by the two purest footballing sides on earth.

Thankfully each side have their best players fit and raring to go – minus a top-notch centre-half from both sides, namely Carlos Puyol and Thomas Vermalen.

We got butchered, as we all know, in the opening 25 minutes of last year’s tie, and the hope is we turn the tables and give the Catalans a taste of their own medicine… lets impose our game on them is shout from Le Gaffer.  Quite right too.  On our day, we could feasibly rip Barcelona a new one…. they don’t have a decent back line, and rely on the rest of the team to defend from the front and keep the pressure off the defenders.

Good luck with that one Spaniards.

I like the way we enter this game, as last year we came into the match following a disastrous 1-1 at Birmingham which more or less killed our title hopes… having led 1 nil thanks to a late strike from Nasri… Almunia made a gaff and allowed Kevin Phillips to equalise deep in injury time.  Rollocks to that… as this time we come storming into the match after “slapping” Wolves in the words of their own manager.

Nasri may even return to the starting line-up, although I would prefer a start on the bench, the cup final is only a dozen or so days away and his presence there will be essential in order we finally lift silverware again.  The return to form of Arshavin should be enough to sway Wenger into doing just that.

All in all, a fabulous day of anticipation is in order, days like today are what being a gooner is all about… I love it, the whole build up.. waiting to get the team news around an hour before kick-off… the day spent wasted on Twitter chatting endless rubbish, just to kill the time… just love it.

I’m loathed to make a prediction, but if I was pushed I would favour a repeat of last year or even a step further with 3-3.

ENJOY!

Roman Abramovich may have done the biggest favour to all connected with Arsenal Football Club this January transfer window.

By spending £50M on Fernando Torres, a player who was woeful at the World Cup and unwanted by Barca or Real, the Russian oligarch has priced Cesc out of the reach of Barcelona for at least a couple of seasons.

Current Barca Captain, Xavi Hernandez admits as much….

“the thing with Cesc is that there is a problem — he is now worth a lot of money!”

Aged 3 years younger than his chavski Spanish compatriot, Cesc must now surely be worth in the region of £60-70M in the open market.  Barca are skint enough as it is, skint enough to take former supremo Laporte to court over bent accounting allegations.

What a ramshackle of a club.

There is no secret that Cesc desires to one day return home to his beloved Catalonia, but it will cost them… unless this Qatari money which has been promised turns up at the Camp Nou this summer, our boy aint going nowhere.

I’m certain that Arsenal done a deal last summer to convince Cesc to stay until this coming summer, and promise his release IF Barca can conjure up the correct money for him.  The peasants tried to bid less than what Liverpool paid for Andy Carroll!

The future for El Capitan at the Emirates is looking stronger by the day…. bloody good show say me.

Ahead of the crunch Champions League game against the aforementioned Spanish pikeys next Wednesday night, which I will sadly be watching from the comfort of my living room having been cruelly denied a seat in a City Brokerage’s corporate box… we have the small matter of Wolves at home in the league.

A game that should see us close the 4 point gap on the Mancs… both of them… if City really go for it they can win, but they won’t and therefore I envisage a 1-1 draw.

Wolves are a flipping hardcore team on set pieces, thankfully Johan should be back, unless he is rested for Barca… we should not take this game lightly.. it’s going to be a long afternoon… just hope that by hook or by crook we scrape through and start to look forward to the Barca games.

Don’t expect an easy ride against the wanderers people… it may become our hardest game of the season to date…. but all that will matter is the 3 points.

For crying out loud.. surely we are due a dodgy penalty in our direction?

Enjoy.



Forget that he played in the World Cup, he was rushed back to lead the line for the Dutch but never actually looked quite right.

Moreover, the lone striker role is just not playing to the strengths of the spikey former Feyenoord man.

I am hugely excited about the new deep lying forward and or roaming number 10, tip of midfield trio, free role thingey he has going on for him now.

With the massively unselfish Chamakh ahead of him to lay off smart ball to the on rushing Nasri, Arshavin, Theo, Rosicky, RVP et al.. I can now see how this team can both accommodate and flourish with both Robin and Marouanne in the starting line-up.

I think many of us did maybe question the validity of such an injury prone player at the club, whilst he has been off injured since November 2009!

The genius of his little flicks and tricks and deft control of a football have been there, in glimpses mind, for all to see in the past fortnight since he returned.

I love him, he is 100% pure World-Class, and there are not many players in the Premiership, let alone Arsenal who you can say that about without need to worry about retraction at a later date.  Van Persie certainly has the skills to pay the bills, and then some.

I want to see him get at least another 70 mins under his belt tonight, like he did last week against Wigan in the Carling Cup.  I also wish to see the partnership with MC29 develop more, hone it ahead of the crucial trip to Old Trafford Monday week.

Not happy to hear Cesc may be in contention for Monday.

Let him rest this darned hamstring injury properly this time… we are doing just fine in his absence and it’s also important to show the squad, should he leave next summer, that we are just fine without him in the side.

Will be looking for a confidence boosting performance tonight.

Practice game tonight.

Good enough to have it known as the Nasri role.

So we are on a low ebb at the moment, if Spuds was not bad enough, we get humbled by a poxy pub team from Portugal who caved in a mountain to build their stadium.

Fair play to the lad who got both their goals, nicely done son… credit where it’s due.

Cesc done his good hammy, whilst the bad hammy looked to be getting better, this injury jinx does not seem to be subsiding, but how good has Cesc been since he got back from his first injury bout of the season?

Not at his overall best for my money, great here and there, pretty poor at other times, give him the rest of the year off and let him rest up for the final, important push in the New Year.

Nasri will surely be asked to step back into the middle and dictate matters in the “Platini Role” as I like to call it… with Rosicky as back-up.

The Platini Role – for those who are too young, and only know that name as a hated Football politician, wrong, he was also the best player on the planet in a former life, and much like Cesc, played the central free role, he had no pace, but he had supernatural vision and the killer eye for running into space to poke home goals from deep.

He was utter class as a player, the term “elegant midfielder” was almost coined just for him!

I touched upon Nasri in a post a week or so ago, for me he has far more explosive pace and trickery than Cesc and Platini put together, his vision is maybe not up there, but he has the ability to open more space for players around him by committing defenders to tackle him as he trys to dribble past them.

I swear the lad is going to score a Maradona goal sooner rather than later, every time he seems to try and beat a man one-on-one he glides past them with consumate ease, he just cannot be taken.

He certainly has the skills to pay the bills.

Rock on Villa Park.

They will give us a torrid time on Saturday, but they will leave space, they get forward in numbers, so the likes of Theo and Nasri should be well positioned to capitalise on any sharp counters.

Monsterous two games coming up… really is make or break almost, the Wigan League Cup game being the more important for me, not going to get too cocky anymore, I have faith in this team, and that has not faded whatsoever, but maybe we all need to be a little more chillax about this season.

Take it as it comes.

There will be thrills and spills a plenty, tears of joy and madness…. through it all, we will close the season as winners or losers as a team, but the love for the club from us will never die.

We know that, so ride the wave without fear… the season will, somehow, work it’s way out from this slump.. maybe not immediately, but it will.

Keep the emotions, but also keep the faith!

Wenger has it all planned!

November 1, 2010

In that he decided that he would build a team, whilst up against the Russian, Spanish and Arab billions, on a shoestring, that was capable of dominating the greatest club tournament on the planet.

I am of course talking Champions League football.

Having written about my beliefs for this team in said competition in previous posts, I am forging ahead with my view of this squad being built with a large focus on winning the only major trophy to have eluded Wenger.

Quotes emanating from the boss today again back this view up, as he suggests the technical level of our squad is superior to teams on the continent.

The hustle and bustle of the EPL can upset the rhythm of our game, but the more sedate nature of the CL allows the skill level in our players to come to the fore and allow us to dominate teams with ease.

Shaktar Donestk are a very good team, but we just swatted them like flies.

I believe 2007/8 was the season this type of team first came together.

We challenged for the league until you know when.. and were undone by shocking decisions in the CL, going out to Liverpool in the Quarters.

2008/9 saw us reach the Semis and get taken out by Manure, on their way to winning in Russia… with a team including Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo.

Last season, the best team in the world beat us.

So it takes a very good side, or very bent decision to knock us out of the CL.

Our slight weak point in both the EPL and CL in recent seasons has been a lack of a top-notch keeper and big strong, able defending… I think we have that licked this time round with the introduction of Fab1/Chezney and the additions of Koscienly and Squillaci.

The countdown to a glorious Saturday Night at Wembley next spring is well and truly on fellow Gooners.

The much derided gooner, Piers Morgan, makes his final post for the Mail on Sunday today… and he goes out in a blaze of glory!

The article makes as much appeal to AKB’s, as it does to the Anti-Arsene Mob, who Morgan owns up to being a part of, before his foolishness abound.

So….. have a read, and think about it.

Piers Morgan – Final Mail on Sunday piece


Having watched the whole 90 minutes again, on ATVO, one thing struck me about this match that nobody anywhere has mentioned.

How many reading this right now thought we were stick on’s to get a red card in the 2nd half?

Denilson? Song? Fabregras? Djourou?

I went for Denilson, as I thought he was the reckless type to lunge into a half cocked tackle….but guess what?

We came out for that game pumped, ready to rumble and not be pushed around by the thuggery of De Bully and Co, and by the end of the first 45, we had ended up 1-0 up, missed a penalty, and had a proper scrap with them…which we won!

Roll on the 2nd 45, and we stroll out, calm, measured, and sprayed the ball around with ease.

Watch the first 45, we were hunting in packs, the pitch was small, we were pressing them with 2 or 3 men, therefore when we got the ball back, we were all tightly bunched, and did not let our extra man count.

Come the 2nd half, you immediately noticed what Wenger had instructed, stretch them, let them press you, but use the space, make the extra man count and pass, pass, pass around them.

Which we did, and scored 2 more goals from it.

So basically, the boss is correct, again, this team HAS matured, as that 2nd half clearly proved.

We had the mental fortitude to stick to the game plan and not get further embroiled in any wars that could have led to another booking and a sending off.

We are so on our way to something special, I could not care less what the press hacks have to say about “it was only against 10 men”, as that is utter tripe, their flipping 10 men still cost 10 times what our 11 man team cost to build and you can add our bench to that if you like.

The team as a whole were brilliant, some dodgy Johan defending first half aside, they all did well… special praise obviously going to Fab1 and Nasri.

Can you feel it yet? Or are you feeling it yet? It’s going to happen gooners far and wide… it bloody well is!

Massive result, huge ramifications for the rest of this season…. I’m sure the gutter press will catch on eventually, they usually do.

This is how I feel on this crisp, sunny, yet cold Sunday morning in London Town.

Not.. Can Arsenal beat City.

Our midfield today will be comprised of a Steely Cameroonian hitman, accompanied by the elegant rangey skills and power of a Parisian box-to-box man and the trio are completed with a touch of Spanish genius to bring it all together.

In Song, Diaby and Cesc, we have a perfectly balanced midfield trio.

City won’t be deploying a midfield that is anywhere near as balanced, of that I am very sure.

Yaya Toure, De Bully, and Barry are certainly not balanced, mentally…anyway!

We won’t miss Jack in this one, I love him more than you do… but this game away to City is not the game for Cesc and Jack to play that midfield.

Diaby and Song HAVE to be both on form today, no lapses in concentration, 100% determined, intelligent work rate at a clinical level is required to beat City.

Cesc can be at 60% and will still roam around as the best player on the park.

The Holy Trinity for Arsenal today is the aforementioned midfield duo along with Chamakh, his role in bringing Cesc and the wide men into the box for pops at the City goalie, Hart, will be the key to winning this game.

We are going up to that war zone for 3 points, not 1.

Will a draw do you ask?

I will tell you at 7pm

You see, one cannot say “we would have taken a draw this morning”…. that is crap, we don’t know this morning how the game will play out.

If we get butchered for 90 minutes and escape with a 0-0… yup i’ll take it.. with glee… however, if we do what we usually do, and are more than capable of doing, and butcher them for 90 mins, then a draw will not do.

They are serious contenders for sure, and will certainly provide us with the toughest games in Manchester this season and for a few seasons to come… don’t listen to the nonsense coming from the Red end of mancland… they are skintus maximus!

My prediction?

A proper rumble in the manc jungle, this game will be high, high intensity, fought by 22 men for 90 hardcore minutes.

Buckle up, and settle in for a barnstormer that we may just nick 3-2.


Confidence is crucial to all types of sportsmen and women, it’s a vital ingredient in making the magic step towards World Class ability as opposed to World Class talent.

I have done nothing but back Fabianski since the day I saw him play for us in the Carling Cup a few years back against Wigan.

I was sitting in the Clock End Upper at the time and directly behind our goal with the Pole in it when he made the greatest reflex save I have witnessed live at a match.

Here it is.

Now, believe me, a youtube clip in real time or super slow motion, could never do that save proper justice, it was almost superhuman the way he got back up after saving the first to clip the rebound onto the crossbar and save the goal.

The boy has it, whatever it is, just trust me, he has that superstar quality… it just has not been enveloped in that magical confidence dust in the past…. but it appears that penalty save in Belgrade a few weeks back has led to a sprinkle or two of the magic stuff over the Pole.

I openly, and proudly, encourage all the abuse you wish to chuck my way on this one, as I’m quite sure plenty will be directed at me, but you will be proven wrong.

Oh yes you will!

Almunia, barring injury to Fab1, won’t be playing for us again anytime soon, with Mannone off to Hull on loan, it’s between Fab1 and Chesney for the Number 1 slot in the team.

I like that concept very much.

Forget talk of new goalkeepers, it’s over… I was partial to the idea of Schwarzer in the Summer, we very nearly had him, Wenger certainly wanted him as a stop gap whilst the two Poles developed a little more, but it was not meant to be.

The confidence shattering Chavski Semi-Final, Wigan away, Porto away….. those examples of games in which Fab1 was given a sporadic chance to step in and deliver were blows to the boy, deep blows, look at the way he celebrated that Belgrade penalty save, he knew that was the moment it was about to all change for him.

Wenger knows, the staff at the Club all know just how good this fella can be between the sticks… Wenger has persisted with him, and the last few games has paid dividends.

I think it’s going to take some hellraising strikes to beat him from now on in.

That is my prediction, it will take some amazingly, clinical finshes to beat him now as his confidence is high and growing game by game.

As the title suggests, you won’t be calling him Flappy again!

Cesc was fit for the Brum game, yet not even on the bench.

Theo was definitely fit, but rested for Tuesday night’s massive Champions League match against the very, very decent Shaktar Donestk.

I don’t think Chavski are untouchable, but there is a growing problem in the Premiership right now, United have faced it, and we faced it for a few seasons…. smaller teams terrified of giving 100% against the seemingly unbeatable champions.

Chavski don’t face the battles we face week in week out.

It’s going to be almost impossible to win the league this season.. I said almost, nothing is ever assured, Chavski aside, I can really only see us and maybe City challenge.

United are 100% finished for a few years.

Trust me, it’s all over up there.

The near 20 year Golden Era for the mancs has died. RIP.

Tuesday may see Cesc, Theo, Jack, AA23 and Nasri all take the field… our Moroccan hitman should bag another goal or two, how good his he?

I love his attitude, dives aside, the fella is impressing on a grand scale, as you can never knock a man who runs his heart out for the team, and you especially cannot knock a man who scores, creates and wins penalties as often as he does.

Key man for against Shaktar, as Nik B is clearly miles away from match fitness, at least 2 weeks, and RvP… well, you know!

So he is the only striker we have.

He is more than that, when he plays and leads our line.. we suddenly have 5 strikers on the pitch as he opens up the path for the onslaught from our attacking minded midfielders to have a go at goal.

I would like to see Diaby play the holding role with Jack and Cesc in front of him, Chamakh lead the line flanked by Rosciky and Nasri with the option of Theo or Arshavin off the bench for penetration if required.

Love big games against top quality opposition, and this lot are class.

2-1 is my prediction with Cesc and Chamakh on the scoresheet.