August 26, 2010
I love the live draw for the Champions League, more so the knockout rounds, yet the group stage still heralds an air of magic about it.
There is no doubting the glamour and mysticism of this great competition, the annual world cup for club teams.
London get 3 representatives this season, and with the final at Wembley next May…. hmmm !!
Ok this is how it works, Arsenal are at the big boys table, all has to do with coefficients etc, bottom line, we are rated due to our constant appearance in the tournie every year, and reaching finals and semis on a consistent basis helps too.
Along with us, Manure, Chavski, Barcstards, Inter, Bayern, Milan and Lyon will sit in Pot 1.
So basically, eight groups of 4 teams will be headed by each of the above listed teams.
Then we go to Pot 2, which includes decent teams with some pedigree… Real Madrid and Jose find themselves in this pot, and that means, they can be drawn against Arsenal.
Pot 2: Bremen, Real M, Roma, Shaktar, Benfica, Valencia, Marseille, Panathanikos.
Teams from the same country are not allowed to be drawn against each other in either the group stages or the first knockout stage, therefore, Barcstards could not draw Real in the groups, nor Valencia. Inter or AC could not draw Roma in the groups etc.
Next we move down to the shite teams, the wastrels of the Champions League, the vermin, the cheeky gits who scrap in by the skin of their teeth, the teams that are not much cop, will probably never find themselves in the tournie again, kind of like those pony teams that make the 3rd round of the FA Cup from non-league footy… they aint gonna win jack, it’s all about a day out for them.
Spuds are in said pot, enough said.
Pot 3: Spuds, Rangers, Ajax, Schalke, Basel, Braga, Copenhagen, Spartak.
Pot 4: Hapoel, Twente, Rubin K, Auxerre, Cluj, P Belgrade, Zilina, Buraspor.
Basically pot 3&4 give you cannon fodder to play, home and away… but you would not really want to be travelling to Turkey to play Buraspor, before a weekend game against Chavski… even, Mourinho back at Inter.
So what’s the best case scenario for Arsenal?
I would say, you want a glamour tie, you want to pull the best team from Pot 2, to set up 2 mouth-watering ties… as the top 2 go through, it matters not what the results are as the other 2 teams from the shit pots should be smashed up anyway.
Also, you don’t want the long distance travelling.
Putting all those variants into the play, gives us 2 types of prospective groups for Arsenal, Best case and Worst case.
Arsenal, Real Madrid, Basel, Twente
Arsenal, Panathanikos, Spartak, Buraspor
Then you always get the stories, the headlines, the reunions of the Champs League, Mourinho back at Chavski? or Ronaldo back at Old Trafford?
Pretty obvious, that the main attraction of this first group stage draw is who Real/Jose will get paired up with from Pot 1, and because of the way the whole system works with teams from same countries not playing each other, and there being plenty of Italian & Spanish teams in both top pots, the mathematicians amongst you will have worked out the very high probability of The Special One coming to a ground near you this Autumn.
Draw is live, on plenty of TV stations in Europe, widely available to you guys worldwide with free streams and will kick-off at 5pm London time today.
April 21, 2010
The bookies make the Portugeezer a pretty safe bet to manage the Spanish giants next season.
City are 4/1 to be managed by him, Liverpool 7/2.
Real Madrid, consisting of the all the current Galacticos, and more to be signed this Summer, must surely be a very attractive proposition for Mourinho.
However, I see him back in the Premiership next season.
His overriding reason to leave Italy is owing to the national hatred felt for him… I thought the Spanish hated him aswell?
The man courts attention and love, and he gets both from the Media and many football fans in England.
Would I want him to manage Arsenal (best priced 12/1), not in a million years.
Mourinho is great T.V, great for Media, but a trouble maker of the highest level possible.
He was handed a great team assembled by Claudio Ranieri, the man who is trumping him to the Serie A title this season with A S Roma, and moved to manage Inter following 3 titles they won under Roberto Mancini.
I am not doubting he is an exceptional manager, but I would dearly love to see him take over at say Liverpool, and show us if he has the capabilities to build a team, as opposed to taking over a great team and slightly tweaking them.
If City can sneak the last Champions League spot, I shall be wagering my pounds on him taking over at Eastlands from Season 2010/2011.
There is nothing to be gained from managing Real Madrid, the rough and tumble of the Premiership is perfectly suited to the style of football his teams operate under.
If Liverpool somehow quickly sort out a new Billionaire in the coming weeks, that would be the option he would prefer… and then we would get to see how good he really is at building a winning side from scratch.
At City he would have a nucleus to work with, CL football, and plenty of money… but no prestige.
At Liverpool he would have plenty of prestige to restore, certainly no CL for a season, and maybe plenty of cash to spend.
I look forward to his return with interest.
April 11, 2010
Ninety-minutes on that disgusting pitch should have sapped plenty of energy out of the Chavs from West London.
The Russian gangster’s club side face Jack Wilshere’s Wanderers of Bolton on Tuesday evening at the Bridge, I don’t really expect much from Bolton, although they did beat West Ham on their last trip to the Capital.
Bolton have a poor away record on the whole, if Chavski are feeling leggy after the Cup Semi, we may see a chance of dropped points.
Very slim chance, but the hope is most certainly there.
Tottering Trotspurs take on Pompey this afternoon in the 2nd Semi, pray for a draw, extra time, injuries, and plenty of broken hearts.
Hopefully the pitch has cut up a lot more since the first Semi, the size and nature of the pitch certainly leaves a mark on any players who have played a full game in the past.
One hundred and twenty minutes will finish off any players for a good week.
Recovery for our game on Wednesday evening would be pushing it, and make no mistake about it, the spuds game is our only proper remaining game of the season.
We win in midweek… we win the title.
United are done, and only a point in front of us, they won’t beat City at Eastlands, not a chance.
Chavs could easily win all 3 remaining homes games, but the two away days at Spuds and Liverpool should give us much hope.
Only five wins out of five will land us the title, a draw will just not cut it on Wednesday night.
The spuds have a pretty good home record this season, a full week of rest for our lads, coupled with a taxing game on Wembley marshes for them, and we get the edge we need to ram raid 3 hugely valuable points.
This will be the most important North London derby for quite a while, history is on our side.
Back in May 1971, Arsenal went to the Lane knowing a score draw would not be good enough for our title chances, Ray Kennedy and co made sure 3 points were the order of the day.
Arsenal, as we all know, went on to lift the league and cup double.
In April 2010, Nicklas Bendtner and co need to make sure the same outcome is forthcoming.
The secret squirrels on the Wembley marshes should get the momentum moving in our favour today.
March 18, 2010
The odds of predicting the four Champions League quarter-finals correctly are close to 200/1.
Is it not funny how the knockout draws always pair up nice stories, such as Beckham and Manure in this years 2nd Round…
Mourinho back at the Bridge, Benzema’s Madrid playing his former club Lyon.
If we look at the 8 teams in the bowl tomorrow, stories can be conjured up.
Barcelona and Inter… Eto’o swapped for Ibrahimovic last summer, Mourinho is still the most detested man at Camp Nou.
Lyon have had some almighty clashes with Bayern over the last few season’s, they always seem to be paired at the group stages, can they finally make it to play one another in a 2 legged knockout?
Arsenal and Utd have two stories to make.
Revenge against Manure for last season’s Semi-final loss, and domestic rivalry of course… add the conspiracy of 2 English clubs being paired every season, and you would not bet against it.
I pray for it.
The second story for Arsenal centres around Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh who is very likely to sign on a free for Arsenal this summer.
His current side, Bordeaux, are managed by former Manure centre back Laurent Blanc.
Within that little triangle of Arsenal, Utd and Bordeaux, we will get a pairing.
I think the odds and the alignment of the stars are in my favour.
Not to mention the warm balls 😉
March 17, 2010
It seems we finally have a settled core to our starting eleven.
The central, so-called spine, positions of the current team display all the requisite strengths one would assume necessary for a title-winning team.
In Thomas Vermalen we have found our warrior, our fighter, our defensive leader.
The previously much derided Alex Song has developed into a fine midfield enforcer, he has plenty of scope to develop his overall game yet further.
The elegant, skillful, power packed play Abou Diaby brings to the table is essential to the way the team opens up defences.
Diaby will run the Arsenal midfield for years to come.
Nicklas Bendtner is still a very raw young footballer, all we ever seem to read or hear about is his ego, or his supreme confidence in his own abilities.
Those personal issues aside, the boy can certainly become a world-class centre forward, under the careful tutelage of Le Boss.
Wenger speaking after the Burnley home game, in which Bendtner missed many glaring chances, gave a very candid insight into the inner workings of the young Dane’s mind.
“He looks at why he missed the chances and gets it right in the next game. Nicklas is really improving at the moment. That was just an isolated game.
“In every competition you always have something to prove and show how good you are. He has a good mental strength and, even if he was disappointed with the chances he missed, it will not diminish his desire and confidence to going to the next game.”
High praise indeed, I rarely recall a player who has received such constant backing from Wenger.
The Frenchman clearly rates him incredibly highly.
Bendtner only turned 22 recently, he has now come out of the “much potential” age group, and is poised to step into the arena of consistent high-class performances, backed up with regular goals.
His overall link play impresses me the most, he is blessed with a fabulous first touch, has the vision to spread play intelligently, and can obviously stick the ball into the back of the onion bag.
His aerial presence has done wonders for the team since his return from injury, the losses against the Manure and Chavski were much to do with giving up easy possession in the final third, as the ball just bounced back off 4ft 11 Arshavin.
I would dearly love to play Manure again this season, I’m keen to have us paired in the Champions League draw this coming Friday morning.
The defeat at Old Trafford was bad luck, we played a wonderful game for large parts that day, had that early 2nd half effort by Van Persie crept in, we could have gone on to spank the mancs something rotten.
Yes, I know, coulda, woulda, shoulda… but, we woulda!
The previously mentioned defeats to Manure and Chavski, at the Emirates, were spineless, not literally.
Our backbone is now nicely intact.
So, Platini, Blatter, UEFA, Far Eastern underground gambling gangsters, the KGB, Paul Daniels, Zippy from Rainbow, Orville the duck … whoever fixes the bleeding draw…
deliver us the Mancs if you please.