Apr 072010

Barcelona 4 (Messi 21, 37, 42, 88) Arsenal 1 (Bendtner 19)
(Champions League Quarter Final 2nd Leg, agg 6-3)

It would be so easy after a heavy defeat to criticise the players who didn’t reach the high standards they are capable of, to belittle a referee who was conned by a number of dives (notably by Busquets and Alves), or to pick holes in the nature of the goals we conceded.

But that would be churlish. At the end of the day, we were beaten by the better team, a unit that exceeded their usual level (no mean feat), and a pair of players a cut above anyone else on the pitch – Xavi, who was sensational in midfield, never giving the ball away and always creating, and of course, Messi, who bagged all four goals in a devastating display of finishing.

To be outplayed by the best team in the world is no disgrace, particularly when you are missing so many first team starters. To run into a genius having one of those nights is just unlucky, and while we contributed to our own downfall at times, you have to wonder who could have stopped Barcelona tonight. In the end, we weren’t even close.

For each goal, you could pinpoint a mistake on our part, but that is the case with almost every strike in world football. What Barcelona do better than anyone is press when not in possession, giving the opposition absolutely no time on the ball. So relentless is their pressure that sooner or later a sloppy pass is played, and then they are so electric going forward that they can punish you ruthlessly.

But despite their brilliance and our status as heavy underdogs, we struck first – Walcott was sent through by Diaby, and instead of shooting squared it behind Bendtner. At that point, I thought the chance had gone, but when the Dane’s initial shot was saved, he reacted quickest to prod us ahead. Game on, it seemed at the time.

Unfortunately, Barcelona had more gears, and just a few minutes later, Messi’s attempted pass was deflected back to him, and he lashed an unstoppable drive from just outside the area, with Vermaelen desperately lunging to block.

By half time, he had his hattrick – his second coming courtesy of a late run into the box after setting Abidal away, and the third an audacious chip over Almunia after our defence had been caught upfield. I felt for Almunia at this point – he had narrowed the angle, and knowing Messi likes to dink the ball, he stayed upright. Messi simply dinked it higher.

That was the killer blow, and although we had chances in the second half to reduce the deficit, it was no surprise when Messi added a fourth late on. Again, Almunia was unlucky – he saved the first shot, before being nutmegged by the second.

Half the team played very well – Almunia, Clichy, Vermaelen (mostly), Diaby (at times), Bendtner and Denilson had good games, while on the flip side, Rosicky and Silvestre struggled, both being withdrawn in the second half. Nasri looked good early on but never seemed to recover from a heavy early tackle.

But we had no-one to match the remarkable brilliance of Xavi and Messi. The only players we have that are capable of destroying opposition in that manner are on the treatment table. That isn’t an excuse – there are no guarantees that a fully fit squad would have triumphed.

At the end of the day, we have to hold our hands up and admit we were second best. Wenger has, Bendtner has and we must too. At the same time, we should draw immense confidence from the fact that even with twenty minutes left of a tie with the best team in the world, our patched up team were not giving up the hope of recovery. Many will learn from this.

We now have a week to recover before playing Spurs next Wednesday night. That should allow the players to rest, refocus, get over this disappointment and move forward. The season is not over.

Onward. And congratulations Barcelona.

  44 Responses to “Sometimes you have to hold your hands up, shrug, and move on”

  1. The awful truth/stark reality is Arsenal aint good enough to challenege the top teams.If it’s more of the same it will be a case of as you wer.
    I think there are alot of dead wood in the current team both in defence and attack. To allow one player to score four goals in a game smacks of criminal negligence.
    Yes I know Messi is a great player but surely he won’t score four against Inter. Mourino is too wily a coach and knows time and space must be denied for such players.

  2. I agree with you my Malaysian brother.

    Lets face it. Losing to the world’s best team is no disgrace. Conceeding four cheap goals is a disgrace. Arsenal’s defence this season has been poor especially againist good sides. Our defenders especially Vermallen are too attack minded and are often caught out of position. The goals we conceded today are not much different from the silly goals we conceded against Manure, Man Shi*ty and Chelsea. The problem with Arsenal IS NOT ATTACK! Even if we had Fabregas, Asharvin and Van Persie our defence would still have cost us. While their is debate about Silvestre there is no doubt that our mauling againist Manure and Chelsea came when we had our first choice defence playing.

    Why did Wenger when he realized we had a problem in defence (especially with Djorou out for the season) buy a player who can not play twice in a week? Wenger has always gambled in defence. Silvestre was a gamble and so was Campbell. Vermallen lets face it was also a gamble. In the beginning of the season Asharvin wondered whether Vermallen coming from another league would settle quickly in the EPL. Asharvin suggested that Wenger buy an experienced CB. (I know Asharvin has not had an influential season but his advice was correct. In the final analysis Wenger can learn something from David Moyes of Everton. Arsenal does not necessarily need a 30 million pound defender. But seriously look at the frugal Moyes and his assembly of defenders such as Jagielka, Distin, Heitinga among others. That defence in just two months neutralized Drogba, Rooney and Tevez. By contrast those three guys tore us to bits earlier in the season. Twice this season Everton have neutralized Tevez.

    In conclusion, Wenger’s philosophy in attack is reasonably good. He can assemble a great attacking lineup. When it comes to defence Wenger is out of depth. He is willing to invest in band aid and inexperienced adhesive when some like Mourinho at Inter invest in Cement and Steel. What would Arsenal do now with Lucio plucked from Inter for just five million!

    Wenger invests quality in attack. Its like he buys diamonds in attack and when it comes to protecting those diamonds he invests in second rate security systems. The result?
    Arsenal diamonds in the form of Fabregas and Nasri sooner or later decide to leave for pastures new.

    End of rant.

  3. Arsenal could have lost those two legs by 10 goals. They were so out of their depth it was untrue. I have always had a soft spot for the Gunners – until their humiliation last season in the Euro semi against Utd which angered me. Wenger’s ego is so large now he’ll never change.

    I just can’t believe how poor some of those Arsenal players are tactically and mentally. The Barcelona youth team could have challenged Arsenal over the two legs never mind the Barce first team.

    Wake up Gunners; if Wenger doesn’t somehow fluke the title this season ye need to get him to buy experienced players or sack him. Arsenal were a big club before Wenger arrived and have shown him enuf loyalty. He is in cuckoo land if he thinks the likes of Diaby and Denilson etc are good enough.

  4. i have to disagree there arsenal played well but three of messi(who was was fabulous) couldve have been avoided silvtre who u would expectot be able to clear the ball didnt do so once in the game and literally pass to balls to messi in which he scored and people are saying diaby and denilson isnt good enough they are(not sure bout denilson)but song is the pivot of arsenal without him we cannot mount our comeback and if u think bout it most games he played in he put his all

  5. I agree with u guys, malaysian gunner, steve biko &alan. Losing 2d best side in the world isn’t shameful but the manner of arsenal’s loss is.we cud have lost d tie by 15-3, did we not know it was barca we were playing? No tactics whatsoever, intimidated in our own backyard, no there are no positives to take out of the tie (d comeback in the 1st leg wud have been if it fired us up 4d 2nd but obviously it didn’t)
    Our only bright sparks last nyt were 1.clichy 2.aluminia 3.vermaelen(@times)
    &steve i strongly disagree that we are ok offensively, B52 is obviously better than b4 but @best good enough 4maybe portsmouth(he simply doesn’t d determination &ambition required of a striker), yet he’s our lone striker. Why? Ask d guy who said i wnt buy a striker i’v got bendtner &eduardo, truth is we’v been outplayed in all d big matches dis season bar the league match with man utd @old trafford which we still lost &i maintain d problem’s being due to wengers tactical inadequacy. It requires no tactical input 2beat us cos we neva change our style, we are so easily read but AW says we dnt need 2read d opposition, why? His brand of football will defeat allcomers!

  6. Wonder why wenger never plays sagna in the centre of defence more often, esp. When we are short of options at the back… Surely he knows more about defending than clumsy silvestre, who must be one of Arsene’s worst signings (absolutely useless and ineffectv)…
    Our defence always seem to panic and concede soft goals in the big matches…the arrival of Vermalean I thought would change that (and he would’ve if he’d played under a coach who organises the defence better) but even he seems to suffer from the defensive naivity that typifies us.. I still have faith in the manager but surely he has seen it happen once too often to be able to sort the problems out.. As far as defensive tactics goes, you’d have to rate him amongst the worst managers in the league… But all is not doom and gloom, we are still in with a chance in the league and have to keep the faith in our manager and players…

  7. Steve Biko – great point of view – thanks. Reminds me that watching Vermalen at the beginning of the season he looked more like a perfect DM than a CB. Song has developed brilliantly, but Denilson hasn’t. In the old days we would “break in” one potentially great talent at a time. I remember when Anelka was vilified by all until he came good. Van Persie needed plenty of years as well. Now we have to wait not only for Diaby and Denilson to come up to the level we need but also to see if Eduardo and Rosicky will get back to what they used to be. That is too much for one team. There are plenty of great players out there who would do a great job for us, and would relish the chance to join a wonderful football club like ours.

  8. I agree with Steve. Arsenal’s defence is a joke. AW has never bothered about defence . His motto is you score one I will score two forgetting that it’s easier to prevent a goal than to score.I am afraid Arsenal will continue be also rans.
    The thing is everybody has been implorig AW to buy the finished product rather than kids. let’s see what he does in the next season.
    If it’s kids again I can guarantee Arsenal will continue to be mauled by MU/Chelsea/Barca.

  9. Take Messi away and I think we would have been through

    He IS the difference in yesterdays game. In periods where he took a rest we had more posession and it was even.

    Yes both games clearly show that our C-team is not good enough for a CHL Semi final. But who is surprised ? We need to get more players at A-team level to rotate more and get less injuries.

    ON YESTERDAYS GAME, though. Without the incorrect off side ruling on Bendtner at 0-1 we would surely be 0-2 up …. what would then have happened ??

  10. The manner of this defeat was totally unacceptable but its not even a shock any more. These results just keep happening and regardless of whether its squad players or not, the total lack of defensive cohesion or organisation is ridiculous.

    The club is going nowhere in its current state and the only reason this season its a right-off is because Chelsea and United are dropping stupid points. We shouldn’t be anywhere near them – as the four games against them this year highlighted!

    I can only hope that with Pat Rice’s imminent retirement we bring in someone with some idea as to how a defense is organised because Wenger hasn’t got a clue.

    Separately can anyone explain to me why the club saw fit to offer Eduardo and Rosicky new contracts when they offer nothing and neither can finish a match?!? We all feel sorry for them considering their injuries but their parts in the squad just add anything.

  11. You all do realise we were missing Gallas, Djourou, Sol, Song, Cesc, Ramsey, Arshavin and RVP right? That’s almost an entire team…

    Thats the equivalent of Barca missing

    Gallas- Puyol
    Djourou- Milito
    Sol- Marquez
    Song- Busquets
    Cesc- Xavi
    Ramsey- Keita
    Arshavin- Messi
    RVP- Ibrahimovic

    ….You really are dillusional if you think they’d beat us without those players, as any of you were that we’d beat them away without ours.

    There’s was nothing wrong with the tactics last night (in fact, the tactics were spot on).. it was the personnel and that was nobody’s fault, just bad luck.

    Let’s hope some of em are back for thre spuds.

  12. Dan – you’re in a dream world. They had their 1st and 2nd choice CB’s out and still looked comfortable at the back.

    They had their 1st choice CF (Ibra) and 1st choice CM (Iniesta) out and still dominated in possession.

    And as for tactics, I’d like you to explain what tactics we were using because I saw nothing that suggested the team knew what they were supposed to do.

    They didn’t man mark Messi, they didn’t zonally mark him and they didn’t go gung-ho? So what was it because we also didn’t press them in midfield?

    From what I saw it was 10 outfield players doing their own thing. We had no partnerships across the field and it just meant we weren’t able to keep the ball or win it back.

    All credit to Barcelona and Messi because they are fantastic, but what point is there in sending out a side destined to fail against the big teams.

  13. you lot that call yourselves gooners are a disgrace.

    You’re criticising our team for the manner we lost in, take a step back and look at who played in the game…Silvestre is our 5th choice defender after Gallas Campbell Song and Djorou.

    When denilson got booked for the perfect tackle which messi was rolling around like a swatted fly from, it was clear that we werent allowed to tackle them.

    We we were missing Van Persie Arshavin Fabregas Song and Gallas.

    In barcelona terminology thats missing… Ibrahimovic MESSI Xavi Puyol and Busquetes! if you took those players away from the game yesterday do you think Barca could have scored? I only counted ONE player that took shots worthy of mention in the game…Messi.

    He was the only difference in the team.

    Stop belittling a depleted squad and be proud that they held their own till the last 20mins and kept the tie alive!

  14. I have to be honest and disagree with a lot of your comments folks. We are not as big a club as Barcelona, so even taking injuries out of it (to both sides) we would be underdogs.

    That said, we were missing half our team, and a considerable number of our reserves. Bear in mind Silvestre is our FIFTH choice centre half.

    And no, we don’t have as deep a squad as Barcelona. Why? We have nowhere near their cash reserves, so there’s no way we can. It is all very well saying ‘buy experience’, ‘buy this’, ‘buy that’, but sometimes that can be a lazy argument. Take a long hard long at our squad and tell me where we are missing experience.

    A good rule of thumb is that you need two players you can count on in any position. By that token, we are (in my opinion) a keeper and a centre half short, and that is discounting Campbell because he can’t play twice in a week.

    As for the manner of the goals, Barcelona always make you look like you’re making mistakes – the press so hard that they force them, and the capitalise on them brutally. Put simply – they make you look like you’re playing a lot worse than you are.

    I’m not saying we played well last night – a lot of those players can do a lot better. I thought Almunia and Clichy in particular were excellent, but there was no way we were going to win that game unless 9-10 of them were flying. It didn’t happen.

    But rather than criticise our players, I’d rather congratulate Barcelona, because this time, I think that’s the right way around.

    This team have come a long way, and continue to head in the right direction. To be in the CL quarter finals and still just about in the title hunt is remarkable given our injuries. Imagine where we’d be with 2-3 injuries?

  15. Rich-
    Yeah and we had our 1st choice CB and 6th choice CB. They had their 3rd and 4th choice CB. They were missing Iniesta, we were missing Cesc. They were missing ibrahimovic and we were missing RVP.

    On top of that we were missing Sol, Djourou, Song, Ramsey and Arshavin.

    You don’t know anything about tactics if you think “it was 10 outfield players doing their own thing”.
    We did press their midfield alot actually.. but every time we did, the ref blew for a freekick. We didn’t man mark Messi, you can’t man mark him- he’s too quick. There’s nothing you can do to stop him other than defending deep but if you do that, the game looks like the first 20 mins of the first leg, their whole team dominates instead of him.
    We worked very hard, they just pass the ball too well and when you get near them, they go down. The ref was falling for it all night.

    They didn’t look comfortable at all.. we should have scored 3 goals but Bendtner’s touch was poor and we wasted a couple of other opportunities. Watch the game again.

    The only difference between the sides was Messi… do we have a Messi, NO but neither does any other team in the world.

    What’s Pat Rice got too do with our defending?? you really know nothing about coaching or tactics if you think blaming Pat Rice is in any way relevant.

    You come across as a depressive moaner and someone who just repeats what they read elsewhere.

  16. not good

  17. Nice to see the last couple (pete and walid) of posters are mature and understand football, not what they read on the internet and in the papers.

    Take note Rich. Grow up.

  18. for the past 5 yrs you’ve been holding your hands up..Now get this straight. WENGER IS THE PROBLEM

  19. men against girls i’m afraid……a couple of years back liverpool went there and won and also chelsea did better last year……i recken wengers tactics are crap when it comes to the crunch matches…..as an arsenal season ticket holder i think wenger must go!

  20. Walid – the reason that people are focussing on the manner of the defeat is becoming an increasing trend.

    This year we have been thrashed by United, Chelsea, Man City (twice if you include the CCup) and Barcelona and we’re lucky its hasn’t been more than that.

    Against the big teams (regardless of whether we have injuries or not) we are coming up well short and the players are not delivering.

    Its no disgrace to lose to Barca at all, but to not track the fullback like Walcott did on the 2nd goal, and to go charging up the pitch and miss the ball like Vermaelen did for the 3rd, is basics and we are constantly getting this stuff wrong.

    Its all well and good being able to pass through the poor teams in the Premier League and Europe but sooner or later you need to control the big games and we are just not looking like we can do that.

  21. Ok seriously, enough with the ‘Wenger must go’ rubbish. Do you even remember where we were before him?

    It is one thing acknowledging the comparison between where we were and where we are, and quite another then realising that he has had financial contraints at a time when certain other teams have been able to splash the cash at will. And people still moan about a lack of squad depth.

    Frankly, if we had no squad depth, our season would have been over in February, considering our decimating injuries.

    But I know these points are futile – the ‘Wenger out’ brigade won’t realise how good they have it until he does finally go.

  22. Biko makes a very good point about our attacking minded defense. Its always nice to see backmen score but usually u prefer it to happen when your teams at lest 2 or 3 goals up before u get that confident. We have seen this time and time again with gallas and vermaelen. In the first 6 rounds of the premiership if anybody can remember.., gallas and vermaelen combined were our leading goal scorers.. Quite amazing really but you have to wonder was our defense spending a little too much time up the wrong end of the field?

    I think players like eduardo, rosicky and diaby deserve at least 1 more year to prove themselves. Considering they all have come back from horrific or long-term injuries. They have had their first year back to get some fel for it again but if they dont show real improvement next season then i believe its time to sell..i hope they all make it because they wont sell very well on the market i can assure u of that.

    i hope we dont lose carlos vela..This guy has been hard done by Wenger i believe.. he deserved to start in a few games were eduardo just wasnt in touch.. Vela has been around the club for long enough to deserve better than that and im afraid he will be leaving next season.

    If i was to take a punt i would keep vela over eduardo really.. Might sound harsh (just love dudu make no bones about it ) but he’s younger and i believe has more talent.


  24. Rich, I don’t think anyone can argue we were perfect last night – far from it. We were handicapped by injuries, but some of the players also failed to rise to the standards they are capable of. Unfortunately, Barcelona did.

    But as I said in the article, Barcelona do make you look worse than you are with their persistent and organised pressing. It really is impressive to watch – at one point in the first half, Nasri won a sliding tackle, got up, looked up, and suddenly realised he was being hounded by four opponents. He lost the ball, and probably thought ‘what the hell?’ at the same time.

    At the start of the season, we were pressing in the same way – if there’s one lesson to take from last night, it is to do that again.

    I think you’re being harsh on Vermaelen for the third goal. Yes, he went charging for a ball that he then didn’t win, but we learnt from the first leg that we have to win the ball higher up the park.

    For me, the biggest loss yesterday was Song. If you want to win the ball high up, he is your man.

  25. Just an aside, thanks for all the intelligent debate everyone, keep it coming. I know we all don’t agree with each other, but the way it is being argued is great.

  26. oz_gooner, I wouldn’t be surprised if Eduardo was let go soon – being older than many of the others, he is less likely to return to where he was, if he can’t at the moment. A real shame.

    Diaby, on the other hand, has been really good recently (except for the first leg of this tie).

    Vela is a funny one – I wonder if he has some kind of attitude problem, because I can think of no other reason for his lack of chances. For Wenger to actually say he is fit but not selected was quite a comment.


  28. Dan – I’d suggest you read Jonathan Wilson’s piece about pressing in the Guardian before commenting on tactics. As he points out very well, what Arsenal do is individual pressing where one player will go to the ball and the rest take up positions (note – not man-mark), whereas Barca undertake a full press which means 2/3 players going to the player with others cutting off lines of distribution.

    Both have their problems, not least running out of energy when undertaking a full press but when it was so clear from the first game that marking space and individually pressing the ball was not going to work we should have tried something different.

    As it was we tried the same thing with Messi’s finishing making it a score-line that it should have been at home.

    As for the Pat Rice comment, I’d suggest you learn to read because I don’t blame him at all. Its just that he is looking to retire this year and it would be great to bring someone in that has a clue how to defensively organise a side. The difference between Barca’s offside line and our own was embarrassing.

  29. Having watched quite a few Barca games this season I took the quarter final draw with a shake of the head: Farewell to Arsenal, typical Fergie-time-style walk-over to the final for ManUre. My first assumption is now proven correct, hopefully Bayern can prove me wrong this evening.
    Still, after watching the (last part of the) first leg at the Emirates, I had a glimmer of hope: We may have a chance of knicking this in the second leg. We will need luck, and a lot of it, but we have a chance – even without Captaion Fabtastic.
    90% of my optimisim vanished when I heard the reports that Song was out of the squad. Another 90% disappeared when I saw Silvester in the starting line-up.
    In retrospect I totally agree with Groan’s headline, “Sometimes you have to hold your hands up…”: Barca was – on the night – out of our league. We were beaten by a far better team (again, on the night).
    But still, the disappointment that – for some – may be a surprise, considering my non-existent expectations pre kickoff, is huge, and it hurts, stings, burns.
    There was at least one potentially defining moment in the game, coupled with one trend:
    1) Bendtner played through at 1-1. Would have been alone with Valdez and had a golden opportunity to put us ahead again –on a psychologically important time. He was wrongfully called offside. Replays show that he was a yard onside – and the assistant ref was perfectly placed with nothing to block his view.
    2) The Barca Liverpool-/Gerrard-like cheating/diving/rolling about. It became very obvious very soon that Arsenal players were not going to be allowed to take the ball from the Barcelona players, let alone tackle these fragile superstars. Example 1: Denilsons tackle on Messi. A good tackle, that – considering Denilson followed up by locking Messis legs and tripping him – probably warranted a freekick. But a yellow card? And teathrical rolling about in agony that made me start to look for the guy with the elephant rifle in the stands? Come on! Example 2: Eboue embarks on an Eboue-style run up the right side. The worst diver of them all, Busquets, is outpaced, tries to hold him back, and when dragging himself loose Eboues hand slightly brushes Busquets’ upper chest (no face, no neck, no throat). Busquets goes to the floor (again, where was sniper man?) holding his face like Eboue has sprinkled him with acid, or bear spray. Result: FK to Barca, yellow to Eboue.

    Again: No question Barca where the better team. No question they deserve their place in the semifinal. And I have to admit I both hope and believe they will takt the title for the second consecutive year.
    But it would hurt a lot less losing a game if this importance if my I didn’t have to sit here and wonder:
    Just what would the outcome be if the officials didn’t make the mistakes they did, and hadn’t fallen for Barcas…uh…falling?

  30. @Anonymous: Yeah, Liverpool and Chelsea went there and won. First of all, Barca “a couple of years ago” was a great side, but nowhere near todays qualities.
    Second: Do we want Arsenal to play the cynical non-football that Diverpool and the Russkies represent?

  31. Wengers contract runs out next year…He is thinking of going this summer.. I’m a cousin of Pat Rice and he has said to me that Wenger is thinking of joining Real at the end of the season. Mark my words!

  32. @ArseneKnowsShit: Funny nick. Reading your post I have to assume your real name is Arsene – cause you clearly know shit.

  33. Pete – I totally agree with you on Barca making teams look worse than they are and when I consider the difference in the team between this year and last year at least we can say we’ve moved forward.

    I guess my concern is that the gap between us and the top teams in an individual game is increasing and whilst we relied somewhat on one player in Henry to make the difference, without a superstar we need to have a cohesive unit that works and acts together.

    And its that aspect that looks to have gone wrong in these games as every time the opposing team gets the ball we look in trouble. It also increases the likelihood that one person’s error (i.e. the two I mentioned and Clichy’s in the past) look far worse because the rest of the team aren’t covering.

    As for your comments on players, I agree that Eduardo’s time is coming to an end with Chamakh’s imminent arrival, which is a real shame.

    With Vela, the arrangements with Mexico mean that we keep getting a player back that is jet-lagged and has to have two week breaks throughout the season. Again I think that means that his time will soon be up.

  34. Anonymous – if you were a cousin of Pat Rice, you wouldn’t say so. Wenger will not join Real Madrid this summer because:
    a) He always respects his contracts
    b) Of all the teams he might ever join, Real are the last, because of the external influence.

    Stop talking tosh.

  35. @Anonymous: Oh you’re Pat Rice’s cousin and know these things? Afraid your cousin has misinformed you, or my dad has misinformed your cousin.
    Because I am Arsene Wengers ugly, illegimate child, and several times over the past few months – in our bi-weekly meet-ups for some garlic snails and Perrier – he has assured me he is going nowhere!

  36. @Trond Bendiksen: I can’t disclose anything more. Wenger will be at Real next season….Wait and see.

  37. Rich, it is difficult to know how we are going to close the gap on Barcelona, but I think we can agree that we aren’t going to do it by signing superstars.

    The only approach left is to sign young, develop, and resist the overtures of the bigger clubs. It seems to get tougher as the number of super-rich continues to increase, both in our league and abroad.

    But I don’t think we’re a million miles off – we need to imitate Barca’s work ethic though. Credit to the players for never giving in, but Barcelona are in a league of their own because they are a ferocity of team spirit to individual talent. That’s pretty rare.

    Agreed on Eduardo and Vela, and a shame in both cases.

  38. @Anonymous: Also, I am your cousin, not-enough-times-removed, and I personally know that you are an attention-seeking pathological liar. I also know your mama has told you to stay away from these forums. Now, do what yo’ mama says!
    (also, remember, Pat Rice isn’t really Pat Rice. Pat Rice died in a car crash in 1972, but they found a stand-in, who is actually the guy who was travelling the country in the late sixties, playing in pubs, with that other guy, who they selected as Paul McCartney’s stand-in, when he (Paul McCartney, that is) took a hike and needed a replacement. Come to think of it: You’re not you, either. Anyone named “Anonymous” isn’t anyone. Find a mirror, make sure you exist. You’re probably in for a major surprise).

  39. @Trond Bendiksen:Remember me my friend when the news brakes out in the summer.

  40. Agreed it won’t be by buying superstars that we catch up but by tactically developing a team that understands its responsibilities.

    Whilst we continue to have wide midfield players allowing opposing fullbacks to go past them and having a reliance on Song as the only defensive midfield option, we will always be ripe for picking by a tactically astute manager.

    Arsene seems to have the right idea in developing a unity between the players by growing them together but as it stands it just doesn’t look like they all understand what is expected of them.

    It also increases the likelihood that players want to leave. It wouldn’t of gone unnoticed that Clichy and Nasri both vented their frustration at other players when their efforts to close down weren’t matched. And that’s not even taking into account the likes of Arshavin and Cesc who are both in demand and will be desperate to add some silverware to their collection.

  41. There are certain players who need to step up, and credit to Wenger for giving them time – if we had our way, Song, Eboue, Bendtner and co would have left the club yonks ago.

    Diaby has come on this season, Denilson recently too.

    It’s strange – the press, and bloggers, keep banging on about the lack of experience, yet for me it is our most experienced players that are often those at fault. The ones we are seeing as our future are developing nicely (granted that, as you say, some still lack positional discipline and responsibility).

  42. Bottom line….. Spurs will thrash you gay gooners 3-0 and send wenger packing his bags for madrid period……….COME ON YOU SPURS!!!!

  43. Messi was truly brilliant. Silvestre was at fault for a couple plays but in the end Messi was phenomenal. We learned our lesson from the first game and pressed them a lot more and alot harder this time around.

    In the first game Song essentially marked Messi out of the game; he had his moments but for the most part Song was very effective. Without him Messi was able to roam much more freely and we paid for that. I think we would have been able to hold that lead and perhaps add to it if Song had been healthy, he was definitely the man we missed the most, in my opinion.

    We obviously missed our Captain as well; missed his heart and desire and leadership.

    It looks like Arsene is now willing to shell out the cash to bring in some developed talent to support our large cast of developing talent. If we buy wisely this summer and can avoid the injury bug this team can truly rival the Barcelonas and ManUres of the world in the coming years, and for a long time to come because the system is in place and will keep pumping out the talent.

    Let’s crush Sp*rs and knock them out of contention for Champs league!!

    Keep the Faith

  44. Rich, it is difficult to know how we are going to close the gap on Barcelona, but I think we can agree that we aren’t going to do it by signing superstars.

    The only approach left is to sign young, develop, and resist the overtures of the bigger clubs. It seems to get tougher as the number of super-rich continues to increase, both in our league and abroad.

    But I don’t think we’re a million miles off – we need to imitate Barca’s work ethic though. Credit to the players for never giving in, but Barcelona are in a league of their own because they are a ferocity of team spirit to individual talent. That’s pretty rare.

    Agreed on Eduardo and Vela, and a shame in both cases.

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