Category Archives: Champions League

Victory for Abramovich, defeat for football

At the end of another disappointing season for Arsenal it would be easy for any Arsenal supporter to be negative about Chelsea’s Champions League victory.

Of course it would also be easy to celebrate, given that Chelsea’s win consigns Spurs to yet more second string European football.

So why should we come down on the side of negativity? For a reason that no-one could have anticipated.

Just when the modern face of football couldn’t sink any lower, along came Roman Abramovich and his entourage.

When Cech saved Robben’s penalty, Abramovich was understandably excited (after what appeared to be a brief moment of ‘my God I’m so rich should I show any emotion?’ consideration). He leapt up from his seat and pumped the air in joy.

But that’s irrelevant. Look behind him and you will see an eight-year old boy proudly wearing his Chelsea strip. He’s just as excited by Cech’s save, but his celebrations are cut short by the iron forearm of one of the owner’s henchmen. It seems this young supporter got just a little to close to Mr Abramovich, and was lucky to escape with his windpipe intact. The gorilla’s forearm appears across his body, just to make sure he doesn’t get overly excited.

Embarassing is not the word for it. Unfortunate doesn’t even come close. Pathetic is there or there abouts.

Here we have an instant microcosm of all that is wrong with modern football. Chelsea Football Club is simply the plaything of a very, very rich man who couldn’t give a flying feck about the common supporter. As, of course, is Manchester City.

Supporters who celebrate the victories of these two clubs must surely feel a slightly hollowness underneath it all; the feeling that they don’t really matter anymore.

If they don’t, they need to watch the clip of Mr Abromovitch celebrating. Then look behind him

And then watch it again.

This article was written by an anonymous man!

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Wenger has Gotze to get stuck in come January

It seems no matter where you go what you do you can’t escape Arsenal transfer speculation, even in September papers were linking us to deals in January ‘price agreed’ and ‘Arsenal make contact with’ are titles we’ve all become accustomed to. It doesn’t even seem to be tied in any way to form either, when we were having our worse start for 50 years the flow was as steady as it is now.

One name that has constantly popped up since the middle of the summer window though is that of 19 year old ‘wunder-kid’ Mario Gotze of Borussia Dortmund. The German teen has attracted attention from pretty much every big gun in Europe read, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Milan (Inter and AC), Manchester United, Chelsea (pfft) and of course Manchester City. I’m sure Liverpool were in there somewhere but as he’s not English and ridiculously overvalued ‘King Kenny’ will doubtlessly look elsewhere.

Arsenal are enjoying a real resurgence in form right now, Arsene managed to turn the vibes around at the club after the 8-2 thrashing with a few signings, we had the blip at Blackburn after that and a few slip ups but overall the team is plodding along nicely playing in a way we haven’t seen before.

Some of the technique the o-la-la if you like has gone out of our game but there’s a steady work ethic and real passion to grab the win now. The players seem to be enjoying each win all the more now and under Van Persie’s captaincy they really do look like they’re willing to fight for each other and the fans to get the victory. Though we have lost some of our flashiness it’s nice to see, we all remember the super slick Arsenal shipping four goals against Newcastle, or going 2-0 up against Wigan only to lose 3-2, or going 4-2 up against Spurs only to drop to a 4-4 draw. When Chelsea clawed their way back to a totally undeserved 3-3 at the Bridge this year I doubt I was the only one thinking ‘and wait for the fourth.’ But to my surprise it was us who bagged the fourth and fifth goals to take a historic win.

Some players have really stepped up to the mark and they deserve a pat on the back for it, it’s these guys you need to keep around. When the going got tough they didn’t need to be searched for, they were right there on the line fighting. I’m thinking of Koscielny, Schez, Vermaelen (now he’s back), of course RVP, Arteta, Gervinho. Ramsey is putting the effort in aware that our midfield talisman will return in a month or so. Walcott has stepped up his game now he can feel the breath of the Ox on the back of his neck. Frimpong and Coquelin have done well and brought a freshness and youthful energy to the team every time they’ve played. Andre Santos is improving with each game and it’s staggering how many attacks he starts each week.

But to notice the heroes, you can’t help but point fingers at the villains. Chamakh looks to be heading out of the club most likely to PSG (Le City de Manchester of Francais) and with a fee of £12 Million being talked about I wouldn’t shed too many tears at seeing the weirdly oily back of the Moroccan’s head. He’s been given enough chances and although some of his ball work and hold up play is good, he just doesn’t score enough goals or even look interested in being an attacking threat.

As much as it pains me to say it we need to look to sell Arshavin and bring someone in to replace him, and perhaps this is where young Gotze comes in.

I don’t know how many of you have paid attention to the German youngster since the summer but I certainly have (as much as I can) and he looks like a cross between a Fabregas and a Nasri. He has that killer ball in him, quick feet and a great sense of the game like Cesc. But he also runs the wings, has good pace and bags of tricks like Nasri. From reading up on him, joining his Facebook page he also seems a genuinely nice guy and has nothing but praise for us having played us. His agent said ‘Mario was wowed by the setup at Arsenal. The ground and the fans, the way they play the game is the way he wants to.’

Rumour has it Arsene is ready to break our transfer record and splash £25 Million on the kid. Dortmund want £30 Million but I think they’re playing hardball, though they are in a better bargaining position than say LOSC Lille who want a ludicrous £44 Million for Eden Hazard – another Arsene target.

The window opens in around three weeks and I hope we’re much more organised than we were this summer. What happened in August was nothing short of a complete shambles and it took an 8-2 pasting at Old Trafford to thankfully wake up everyone at Arsenal HQ and they pulled their fingers out.

Let’s hope the fingers are already out, the phones are in use, e-mails and faxes (if anyone does that anymore) are being sent and we are negotiating because we do need reinforcements. These players are trying to so hard and I can see a burn out in the very near future. We can’t expect Robin to carry the team to fourth alone. And we can’t expect Jack to come back and be our Cesc and Samir in attack – talented though he is.

However, I do appreciate you cannot change too much too soon and upset what is a very precarious balancing act at Arsenal. I think most of us can agree losing Chamakh in January would hardly upset the apple cart, neither would the loss of the Squid for a couple of million. Frimpong looks like he’s going on loan to Wolves and unless Diaby (who’s injured again having played five minutes of football) can string a few games together before January I’d be tempted to send him on loan to France with a view to a permanent move in the summer.

We’re not going to bank fortunes, perhaps £15 Million if the expected transfers of Chamakh and Squillaci go through and Arshavin stays put for now but it does mean we’d only have to spend £10 Million of our money (the fee for Arteta) to land Gotze who has made it clear we (along with those Catalans clowns) are his preferred destinations. Please Arsene, don’t do another Mata.

Lukas Podolski along with Damiao the Brazilian striker have been linked with Wenger clearly realising that Van Persie will need a rest occasionally and with Chamakh looking ready to jump ship and Park hardly inspiring confidence up top he needs a good understudy.

I know there are people who still want defensive reinforcements along with a whole host of new talent but I honestly think Mario Gotze and perhaps Podolski or another decent striker will be enough to see us start battling at the top of the table again. Don’t forget Wilshere will be back at the close of the window meaning our options in attacking midfield are mouth-watering.

Should the German arrive do you put him in the middle of the park? Or up top with Van Persie and Gervinho leaving a probable middle of Arteta, Song and Wilshere? That’s the beauty of a player like Gotze.

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Article written by Super Cesc.

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Dortmund KO’d, who’s next?

Firstly, I am beginning to like a team in Germany. In the first leg against Dortmund, they showcased to us a wonderful stadium, immersed in yellow, filled with vociferous fans chanting away. Their fans did not disappoint at the Emirates, as well, creating a wonderful atmosphere. BVB has an exciting team, with a solid defence and a team that can match toe to toe with any club in Europe on their day in attack. Jurgen Klopp looks to me like a coach to look out for. Arsene is talking short term about two years of his contract being left. Jurgen Klopp looks like a young manager who runs a tight budget and knows to manage a team of kids. You run the Math and tell me what I am thinking! A quick comment on three players that caught my eye in this BVB side. Kagawa, Hummels and Goetze. I won’t be surprised to see them plying their trade in one of the top leagues soon. Hope we do get our hands on Goetze, though! Once Theo moves to the centre, he looks to me to the perfect right winger to play at that position.

But firstly, it is a time to showcase immense pride. Qualifying out of this group looked a task when the draw was made. But qualifying top of the group with a game to spare shows the kind of recovery that this team has shown. I can hardly pick on any performance yesterday. While the mainstream lazy media would again talk of Van Persie, it would be foolish to ignore the contribution the rest of the team is making. RVP is putting his chances away and has been phenomenal. But the team is giving him the chance to score authentic striker’s goals. I would be worried if Van Persie is beating three defenders and going on solo runs to score all his goals. But, thankfully, such a need has not arisen. The team has created chances and offered to him on a platter. If by that definition, Arsenal is a one man team, I think I know of at least two more “one-man” teams called Real Madrid and Barcelona. The other reason that this one man team chant has increased amongst lazy journalists is that there has been equally strong contributions from the majority of the team in this mini-run that we are in. All players are standing up and giving an 8/10 performance. Last few years, most games would have some players at 9/10 and some at 5/10. This year, I do not see any passengers in the team. Everyone is contributing in their own way. Ramsey regularly puts in a through ball that opens up a defence or makes a telling late run. Song has been ever present as the shield. Walcott and Gervinho have added a dimension with their directness. Arteta has given solidity to the midfield that has long been missed. Koscielny and Vermaelen have been immense. Santos and Mertesacker (barring the crazy blip against Norwich) have been growing with every game. Szczesny and Van Persie have not been that bad, as well, have they?

From what I see of the Champions League tables, this is how it looks like the teams that would qualify.

Group toppers

Runner ups

Munich

Napoli

Inter Milan

Lille

Benfica

Man U

Real Madrid

Ajax

 Leverkusen

Chelsea

Arsenal

Marseille

Barca

AC Milan

APOEL

Porto

Amidst all the vicarious joy, my fellow Gooners have enjoyed in the misfortunes of the other English teams, it does affect us a little bit. From this above table, AC Milan and Napoli look like the teams to avoid when the draw is made. If United and Chelsea had done their job properly, a probability of landing this unfavourable draw was 28% (2 teams to avoid out of 7 possible opponents). But United and Chelsea threaten to potentially finish second, which would mean the probability of a bad draw increases to 40% (2 teams out of 5 possible opponents). Not good at all. I hear you Arsenal fans cry out if they qualify third then we would be back to our 28%. I guess so. But United would surely qualify and City would surely go out. Chelsea is a 50-50. We drew Barcelona last year and gave them a proper run for their money till a referee got irked with us for daring to compete with Barca. So bring on the draw, and we are ready for the lot!

Article written by V.Vikas – Arsenal-view (http://www.arsenal-view.blogspot.com/)

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Arsenal qualify but my nails aren’t in the best shape

After a nail-biting second leg against Udinese, who took a half-time lead and had a penalty saved by Szczęsny, I am have literally felt a weight was lifted off my shoulders after the stress of wondering what’s going to happen to our team this season.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have obvious concerns, notably the lack of replacements for Cesc and Nasri, but I’m sure that Arsene Wenger will bring in some new recruits in the next few days, and I have a sneaky feeling he’s going to surprise a few people in this transfer window.

Firstly, what a game of football for the neutrals. Two attack-minded teams who really went for it from the off, and full credit to Udinese who are a cracking team, and it’s a shame they won’t be in the Champions League, especially after losing three of their biggest players in the summer.

Arsenal didn’t play the most breath-taking football in the world tonight, but they really did grind out a result, and it’s the kind of hearty performance that we have been lacking in key games.

Onto the players. You can’t fault Szczęsny, and he made one of the best penalty saves I’ve ever seen, in a very important part of the game.

Jenkinson was absolutely solid, and didn’t look out of his depth at all. He didn’t looked nervous at all, and was possibly my man of the match.

Sagna was steady as usual, even playing out of position. Vermaelen was solid, and Djourou looked had a decent game even though he was at fault for the Udinese goal.

Frimpong was getting stuck in, and the boy has got potential to be a big, big player for Arsenal in years to come. Song was steady in the first half, but improved a lot in the second half when reverted to his familiar role. Ramsey played well tonight, but he’s no Fabregas replacement. In my opinion, the jury is still out on Ramsey. I’d like to judge him at the end of a full season though.

Gervinho was in and out of the game, but he made a difference late on, and his energy and pace troubled Udinese late in the game.

Walcott. Hmm. Great finish, but probably our most enigmatic player, bar Diaby. Still not convinced he can offer Arsenal a lot, but his stats are decent, and he’s coming back from injury. Once again, I’d like to see Walcott last a whole season before I judge him.

Van Persie looked good tonight, but he still looks very isolated up front. He’s going to miss the support of Nasri this season, but I’m sure we’ll sign a replacement to help him out.

One other player who needs to get a big mention, and that’s Tomas Rosicky. He was absolutely quality when he came on tonight, and we shouldn’t forget that before his injuries he was one of the top midfielders in Europe. He’s had a tough time with injuries over the last few years or so, and he could be a key player for us this season. He’s still only 30, so he’s still got a few good years in him.

After watching Udinese over the two games, I really do like the look of Agyemang-Badu. He was absolutely quality in both games against Arsenal. Obviously, Di Natale was always going to dangerous and he proved that over both games too.

All in all, I’m ecstatic with tonight’s result, and I’m sure this will give some Arsenal fans a little bit more confidence going into the big Premiership clash with Man United on the weekend. What a bloody hard start we’ve had!

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Gunners Storm Back to Take Lead into Barcelona

Those doing football or sports betting at BetUs may have figured that Barcelona would come into the Emirates Stadium and roll over the Gunners in Wednesday’s Champions League action. But Arsenal showed a steely resolve to come back from a goal down to edge the Catalans 2-1, taking a one-goal lead into the Nou Camp on March 8th.

In this matchup of arguably the two best technical teams in Europe, Arsenal started quickly, carving out some good chances before David Villa stunned them against the run of the play with a goal in the 26th minute. That unsettled Arsenal and Barca looked to take control of the match. Lionel Messi was rather subdued, missing a header and was largely held in check by Laurent Koscielny. Still, Barca went into the break with a 1-0 lead.

The second half was a different story as it was all Arsenal as captain Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri started to come into the game, along with Jack Wilshiere, who was the man of the match for the Gunners. But the match really got going when Arsenal brought on Andrei Arshavin and Nicklas Bendter, starting with Arshavin, who played the ball to Gael Clichy in the 77th minute. Clichy then played a lovely ball to Robin van Persie, who finally hit the target in an off-shooting night to knot the game at one, although Barca keeper Victor Valdes really should have done better in protecting the short side of the goal. Five minutes later, Nasri made a surging run down the left-wing before crossing for a trailing Arshavin, who made no mistake for the match-winner. Barca made Arsenal fans chew their nails for the final 10 minutes, but the Gunners held on for a famous victory. Still, they’ll have to step up their game to compete with Barca in the Camp Nou in three weeks.

Article written by Victor C.

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Barcing at the crossroads

Whew! What a game for me to finally start writing again! Playing Barcelona at home would be the highlight of the season, a game which goes a long way to define fan’s opinions on players. Heroes would be made today and so would villains. Shirt sales for the year get defined on games like this. For a change, we have a full squad to choose from for a huge game of the season. For a change, we are going in with form to play the game. For a change, we are going with a goalkeeper who does not dive twenty seconds after the ball has passed him. For a change, we would be starting with the best defensive pairing of the season. Believe it or not, for a change, Van Persie would also be playing from the start. (I was dreading the worst in that Wolves game, Thank God!).

If I have to honestly assess our chances, I thought, I would compare the respective teams from the same fixture last year to what we have today. Szescesny with one hand tied to the back is better than Almunia. Gallas and Vermaelen vis-à-vis Djourou and Koscielny is a close call. But, Gallas lasted only half a game that night and we played Song in the backline for half the game. Clichy has put his error prone season of last year behind him. A fit Fabregas in form this year is better than the one that was playing in the end of year last season, with injuries. Nasri and Walcott are much better this season. Bendtner is no match to Van Persie. Diaby, on his day, is probably one of the best midfielders in Europe, but not as dependable as Wilshere. Barcelona is almost unchanged, but for the clinical David Villa instead of Ibrahimovic. The former is a lethal striker and could hurt us, but the aerial threat of Barcelona is considerably reduced. Iniesta would be a valuable addition to Barcelona this time around, but Puyol, despite his age, is a big miss. Overall, probably both teams are stronger this time around. But due to the huge difference between the bench strength of Arsenal and that of Barcelona, the gulf was much wider. The difference is narrower, even though Barcelona is still stronger, with the full squad available for selection. In the midst of all this, here is something for you all to chew. We drew the game two all yesterday. And the second fact is an even more amazing one. In the golden age of Guardiola, Barcelona has not won an away match in the knock out stages of the Champions League.

I have always felt that we have a much better chance in a two-legged affair if we play our first game at home. We are a confidence team and a good result in the first leg would always jettison us to greater things in the away leg. We can get at them today and get a result. I know it’s a big ask, but I would really love a clean sheet today. The Champions League in recent times has become all about the important away goal. A clean sheet today should put us in a strong position. A victory with a clean sheet is an icing on the cake. But the priority has to be clear.

I think Arsene is going to spring a surprise today. He is going to play on the counter attack, with the pace of Walcott, Van Persie and Arshavin. I might be day dreaming, but in the second half against Wolves, it felt as if Arsene was giving that strategy a go. And, lo and behold, we scored a goal on the counter. The only worry I have is the suspension of Sagna. But, come on Eboue, let us spread your brotherhood into the heart of Catalunha! Come on, ye Gooners!

Article written by V.Vikas (http://www.arsenal-view.blogspot.com/)

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Arsenal to take a leaf out of Tottenham’s book

I’m often frustrated by the Arsenal fans who are unhappy with the overall performance of our team, and our chances of winning trophies under Arsene Wenger.

We’re the only team in England with a chance of silverware on all four fronts (Premiership, Champions League, Carling Cup and FA Cup), and we’re sitting in a nicely placed position in the Premiership having played the toughest fixtures of all our rivals.

This is why we should attempt to emulate the Tottenham fans. They are a great example of how to appreciate what you’ve got.

They battle for a top 10 finish year in year out, and they’re over the moon with that.

They also fair relatively well in the cups. They’ve qualified for the Champions League for the first time in history, and they treated it like they won the World Cup. It must be wonderful to appreciate the smallest things, something Arsenal fans have taken for granted.

In my lifetime, they’ve won three FA Cups, two League Cups, and even a UEFA Cup. 6 trophies in 35 years, that’s one every 6 years or so, and they are absolutely ecstatic with that. Fair play. They appreciate their team because they know they’re never going to be one of the big 5 on a consistent level, and that is what I respect about Tottenham fans.

The last time they won the league was 1960-61, almost 50 years ago. This is why other teams want to emulate them.  Since their last league championship, Arsenal tried to emulate them but only went on to win 6 championships. This is not good enough.

Tottenham are from North London, so we decided to emulate that, and try our luck with a move North of the river. We did just that, and we’ve been living in Tottenham’s shadow ever since. Sure, we’ve won a lot more trophies than Tottenham, we play better football, and we continuously finish above them, and qualify for the Champions League. But this is not the point; everything points to them being the better team. But Tottenham fans never get complacent.

Now, let’s try to emulate the Tottenham fans, and be appreciative of what we have. For every £5 we spend, they spend £1m, and it’s paid off, as they are one of the top 100 teams in Europe, and rightly so.

I take my hat off to you Tottenham fans.

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