Archive for the ‘Champions League 2008/09’ Category

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Some perspective on a tough two days

In Arsenal FC,Champions League 2008/09 on May 7, 2009 by Highbury N5 Editor

Again, I just can’t find the words to describe my feelings on Tuesday night, watching the team I love getting smashed at home, against our greatest rivals of all time, in the semi-final of Europe’s greatest footballing competition.

We looked so weak, slow and generally lost out there.

Players have pledged their future to the club, one being Adebayor saying:

“Before signing, I can remember people telling me I had the chance to win things,” said the forward who arrived from Monaco in January 2006. Now I am empty-handed but I don’t have any reason for leaving until I have got trophies and what I came here for. Arsenal put me where I am today. They made me one of the biggest strikers in the world. I have to pay them back. How am I going to pay them back? Make them win trophies. That’s what I am here for and I have to fight for that. Next season, 100 per cent, I am an Arsenal footballer.

“I will do everything that it takes to come back next season and show how good I am, show character, personality and desire for this club. I have been doing my best, giving 100 per cent in every single game but don’t forget last season I played without injury. This time I got three injuries and that has made it quite difficult for me. But we have a good squad. We are learning things and are all young so we just want to achieve things. As soon as we have the chance to win the first trophy, I think many will follow. We just have to believe and keep going. We are very disappointed tonight for the fans and for the way they believed we could do it. We are very sorry for that.

“But it’s very important for the next season that we are here to play and ready to bring glory to this Club.”

Its good to hear players are faithful to the Arsenal cause but where was he in the games against United and Chelsea? He needs to stand up and prove his belief that he is one of the best strikers in world football.

Ade and Toure have also been saying how United are on a level of their own after the game and that is precisely the attitude we do not want with the game against them in the league at Old Trafford just over a week away. We don’t want our players thinking its impossible to beat them.

Toure said:

“I think they [Man United] are the best at the moment, they have really experienced players, they are really strong physically, they are tactically fanstastic. I think they are good defensively as well. But when you see the first five minutes of the game you could see it was not so far between the teams. We put pressure on them and we could have scored with Cesc’s deflected shot. That can make the difference – whether you have luck or not.

“We have been together for a long time but we have not won trophies yet. When you win trophies it becomes like a habit for you. At this time we did not win anything and at the moment we do not know what is happening. But I think when we get the first trophy you will see more from Arsenal.

The most important part of that is in bold. The team is a trophy away from being winners, they are not winners yet and wont be until they know how to win. How many players in a squad of over 18 have won trophies at a high level. Not many.

Adebayor has said:

“They are one of the best – I don’t think anyone can stop them,”

That is the wrong attitude. Nobody apart from our ‘unbeatables’ team is unbeatable.

I’m still mulling it all over. I’m sure you have heard of the Bendtner incident and his official apology. Hes young, should have known better but is obviously hurt, put it right son and finish our top scorer this season….just to prove a few people wrong.

til tomorrow.

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Men against Boys: Last night showed why we are fourth, and why United are world champions

In Arsenal FC,Champions League 2008/09 on May 6, 2009 by Highbury N5 Editor

I think last night has shown Arsene and ourselves that this youth project has not worked as fast as planned. Arsenal were simply helpless and totally and utterly outclassed.

This is going to be short and sweet because I need to mull everything over and not make rash comments, at one point I’ve gone as far to say that a summer clear-out is needed. Maybe tomorrow I won’t be so strong in that view but i don’t want to be a hypocrite.

I would just like to say well done Samir Nasri, you were outstanding, same goes for you Mr Alex Song. You have won me over.

Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Fabregas, Walcott, Adebayor and van Persie were awful. Where was the desire to fight?

One last note: Kieran Gibbs – I really, really, really hope that slip doesn’t shatter his confidence. Hopefully he will be a winner one day.

Let me mull this one over.

’til tomorrow Gooners.

Im Arsenal til i die, i’m Arsenal til i die, i know i am, im sure i am, i’m Arsenal til i die.

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Arsenal v Manchester United: Its here and it needs no preview

In Arsenal FC,Champions League 2008/09 on May 4, 2009 by Highbury N5 Editor

Whats the point in writing ‘we should do this’ ‘we should do that’?

Its been done to death. YES its the biggest game at the Grove, YES we have to pull out the performance of our lives (thats the fans too), YES we don’t have our strongest backline out. YES we have to play 4-4-2. We know all this already so whats the point in going back over it.

Van Persie is fit so he will play, Djourou will probably partner Kolo with Sagna and Gibbs flanking them. There will probably be a midfield of Nasri, Walcott, Fabregas with Song alongside him filling in the space between the midfield and the defence.

The other striking place will be taken by Adebayor and he needs to produce, along with van Persie.

I can harp on all day about them not being the best partnership at the club but that has to be put aside, much like all the boardroom happenings. What do we want tonight? A two goal win. Right, fuck everything else, lets do this.

If you are going tonight turn the place red and scream your fucking lungs out because there will be hundreds of thousands of other people wishing they had your seat in the house, make yourself heard, get behind your team and roar them into the Final. That’s whats at stake here, underneath I think this whole entire team probably hinges on tonight but that’s something to discuss in the long summer months ahead.

This isn’t going to be a long thought out post…or even a preview… there’s enough of those around to keep you reading up until the day you snuff it.

To put this in the most concise and blunt way possible:

  • This 90 minutes is our season, and it will have an effect on next season I am sure
  • The prize is a trip to the Final in Rome in a few weeks time
  • We are playing the reigning champions who also happen to be a bunch of cunts.
  • Can we make our second Final in four years?

Anything is possible, lets stay positive, get behind the lads and believe. Believing costs nothing. Lets put everything else aside and hope our boys pull through

LETS ‘AVE IT!

COME ON YOU REDSSSSS

’til tomorrow.

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Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal: The only consolation is that it was just the one

In Arsenal FC,Champions League 2008/09 on April 30, 2009 by Highbury N5 Editor

That my friends, was total and utter bollocks.

Contrary to Arsene Wenger’s comments saying he will attack United from the off we only mustered ONE shot on target all game, and that was pretty lame.

Arsene got it wrong again tonight, Arsenal were a mess and should have been four down by half time. Only the fantastic Almunia stood between Manchester United and a fast track to Rome in May.

Schoolboy defending from Arsenal allowed United to get 1-0 up (highlights here), it was a goal that was inevitable from the off, we were a mess tactically, Silvestre started instead of Djourou and did OK, though should have done better for the goal. Gibbs on the other hand, was fucking immense.

After the FA Cup semi you would have thought that Diaby had had his chance, he was woeful again today and I would not be sad to see him out of the Grove’s exit door in the summer. Yes, he is talented but he just does not show it.

Wenger started with Nasri and Song shielding the defence and Cesc in the hole, something we have come to expect. Did it work? Again…no. Nothing was created, Adebayor worked pretty hard in the first 45 but seemed to give up after that, Bendtner was brought for the quiet Walcott but went out onto the wing and made no impact at all, you just had the feeling we were not getting anything out of this game. If we were still playing this morning we would not have scored.

Wenger needs to learn that 4-4-2 is Arsenal’s formation, 4-5-1 on some occasions, 4-2-3-1 just does not work against the big teams. When the stakes are at their highest he seems to bottle it somewhat, we do not play to our strengths and get at the opposition.We bang on about this wonderful football the team can play but what is the point in watching us beat teams like ‘Boro and playing this great football, but revert to stout defending when we play a remotely ‘big’ side.

I don’t see the point in that.

Man United look weak when teams get at them, Wenger did the opposite and we lost. Its not rocket science for fucks sake. We really, really have our work cut out now and if I’m totally honest when I’m asked if we can win by two clear goals next Tuesday the answer is no. We are 90 minutes away from another trophy-less season.

As you can probably tell I’m very disappointed, especially after the Wembley debacle. You would have thought that Wenger would have learnt from that game but its plain to see he hasn’t. He is a great boss but tactically he has been found out again.

I’m being this blunt because I really, really love this football club and every time we seem to be getting somewhere we get a knock back. Its starting to get very very frustrating.

Wenger’s words after the game were encouraging though, they do make you feel a bit better and you get the sense we could give it a right go:

“It will be a good opportunity to show our character and our mental strength. I am confident you will see it so I invite you to a press conference next Tuesday after the game, and then you would have seen it.

There is a Final at stake. Don’t worry, when you play at home knowing you could reach a Final, we will be up for it. I am confident because I believe we will be on top next Tuesday and you will see a different Arsenal team.”

I was very emotional after watching this game, I feel sometimes that we are stuck in a vicious circle of nearly getting to a final or losing out in the final. Should we feel relieved that we only lost 1-0? Should we have put United under pressure and exposed their weaknesses? Can we beat them by two clear goals at the Grove?

I’m not sure what to think right now….are you?

’til tomorrow.

ps. apologies over the mixed tense. Half was written after the game.

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Manchester United V Arsenal – First leg: The big one is here

In Arsenal FC,Champions League 2008/09 on April 29, 2009 by Highbury N5 Editor

Right, breaking news here!! I understand that the large yellow object parked on the Nou Camp turf last night, rumoured to be a football team bus, has finally moved.

What a brilliant advert for English football!!!

Onto the big stuff then, Arsenal v Manchester United, a Champions League final at Rome at stake.

The team news in full: Silvestre and Kieran Gibbs are doubts with knocks picked up at the weekend and if we lose Gibbs from the line up it would be a massive loss, Silvestre on the other hand, I couldn’t really give a toss about. If Gibbs doesn’t make it we will certainly see Eboue at RB and Sagna at LB with Djourou and Toure in the middle of defence. Djourou is probably a cert to start. He had better be anyway.

In the midfield Song, Fabregas and Walcott are what I would consider the players that are undroppable at the moment, especially for a game of this magnitude. It is possible we will see Nasri and Song operating further back with Diaby and Walcott out wide, Cesc slotting into the hole and Adebayor ploughing a lone furrow up front. Boy do we need a performance from him tonight.

Wenger has said we are going to go for it at Old Trafford but I’m not so sure. If Wenger was offered a 0-0 he may just take it considering our record over Man United at the Grove, the first 20-30 minutes may well be slow with both teams and managers sizing each other up and seeing what both sets of players have to offer, then again, would you rule out an early goal? I wouldn’t.

An away goal would be brilliant and you feel that if United score we have to get that away goal to give us much of a chance at the Grove, an away goal at this stage of the competition is vital and would force United onto the offensive in the return fixture, if we don’t get the away goal they can sit back at the Grove.

Their defence has been slightly leaky of late, ever since that brilliant run of clean sheets they put together. Adebayor has been a thorn in United’s side on more than one occasion and sounds confident of scoring against them, a goal tonight and I can tell you, nobody will be remembering his summer antics. The partnership between him and Fabregas is one of the keys to us getting through this tie and after Fabregas’ fantastic performance at the weekend you would expect Adebayor to follow suit and show his undoubted class. I am not aware if Eduardo is in the traveling squad or not, if he is we may see him at some stage if we are looking for a goal. Lets hope that we do not concede first. You sense we have to seize the initiative and play the game at our pace and take any chances we get. Vidic and Ferdinand are a very good defensive partnership but they are breakable. Liverpool had the best home record (conceding) in the Premiership but we (or Arshavin), still put four goals past them.

I am so, so, so excited about this. We have been waiting for this game for a long time, lets hope its worth the wait because a win tonight could be one of the clubs all time greatest results. I said before the FA Cup semi that it was the biggest game since the CL final in Paris.

Scratch that.

This game is the biggest we have had since then, by a country mile.

There have been a few attempts to unsettle the team, namely from the Daily Mail speculating about Arshavin’s future but over at Gooner Talk they have spoken to Dennis Lachter who has confirmed that it is all total and utter bollocks. From now until Saturday I will be working on that site, updating it with all the news so keep tuned over there, and on here of course!

Right, the time is here. Lets enjoy it and cheer the boys on tonight, wherever you are.

COME ON ARSENALLLLLL!!!!!

’til tomorrow.

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Arsenal 3-0 Villarreal: Arsenal can be the European Champions

In Arsenal FC,Champions League 2008/09 on April 16, 2009 by Highbury N5 Editor

Last night started off with nerves aplenty, it finished with probably the best result at the Grove so far. Theo Walcott shone, Adebayor showed why he is key to this football team and Robin van Persie fired the killer blow to sink the Yellow Submarines.

Arsene’s view | “Rewind” highlights

Before I get stuck into the match I want to reserve praise for Bobby Pires, an Arsenal legend and a player I loved when he was at the club, and still love to this day. He received an amazing reception and he was clearly touched by the appreciation of our fans. Speaking afterwards he said:

“On a personal level, it was very nice and very inspiring, Honestly, I did not expect it. Although I know that Arsenal players never forget their old colleagues, it still touched my heart. Also, I found out what it’s like to play in this stadium, as I’ve never been here before. In spite of the defeat, this will stay in my memory for a long time. It has been very emotional. This is a big team that have a lot of potential, a lot of pace, freshness and youth. I would wish to see them, as well as Wenger, go all the way to the final and win the Champions League. Today, I am still a fan of this team, especially because they play the kind of football that I love,”

The guy is amazing and will never be forgotten by any Arsenal fan, his reception should serve as motivation for the current crop of players to elevate themselves to Robert’s kind of status. He is one of the clubs greatest ever players in my opinion.

It’s such a shame that one of Villarreal’s players had to result to personal insults to relive their anger. Fabregas being the butt of Eguren’s anger. There are also reports he elbowed him as he was walking off after his red card.

Onto the game and we started quite slowly but dominant in possession, there was no great snap about our passing but the speed of Theo Walcott had the Villarreal full back absolutely shitting bricks. He skinned him several times and when he capitalised on a defensive mishap – started by a superb touch from Cesc Fabregas, he proceeded to clip the ball over the keeper on the angle. A fantastic, cool and composed finish that shows why Wenger sees him as a center forward in the long term. Brilliant.

After that goal Villarreal started to come into things a bit more and whilst having no clear cut chances they still made a nuisance of themselves, Fabianski patrolled his area with great composure and ease making up for the chronic lack of pace by Silvestre who didn’t really do too much wrong. The defensive display, considering Sagna was ruled out with a virus at late notice, was relatively sound. Lets hope that continues.

As soon as Villarreal were starting to believe they could score and the crowd were getting twitchy, Adebayor stepped up and delivered with a clinical finish after a van Persie pass. He took one touch and flicked the ball past the ‘keeper with consummate ease, the tie well and truly over.

He did spend the majority of the game offside but if he scores more crucial goals like that I certainly won’t be complaining. He has proven time and time again he is a big game player who scores big goals. Like in the first leg, this goal was hugely important.

Eight minutes later Walcott was felled by a challenge that was not particularly deserving of a penalty in all honesty, the only justace being Eguren managing to talk himself off the pitch, dirty, elbowing, spiv.Robin van Persie picked up the ball, ignored the gamesmanship from the Villarreal keeper, thumped the ball home and promptly sank any hopes of a comeback for the Yellow Submarines.

After that the only matter remaining was preserving players for a massive game on Saturday evening and making sure no silly bookings were picked up.

On April 29th (i think), we take on Manchester United in the Semi Final, the first leg being at Old Trafford where we are well capable of getting a result. Hopefully the title race will still be alive and sapping energy from ‘Ol red nose’s players. One thing is for sure though, we will need to be at our best. But, as Wenger emphasises, we need to take each game as it comes:

“It is a test, but it is a challenge which we relish and we are excited about that. Before Man United, the most important is the Chelsea game. We have to focus on the short-term targets, and that is now Chelsea for us.  I would not like to speculate on any weakness of Man United. We expect them to be strong on the day they play against us, and that should encourage us to be at our best and that is how we will try to play the game. We have games before we play Man United, so let’s try to continue our run, and start with Chelsea. We are still super-outsiders.”

The season is hotting up and the side are showing maturity beyond their years, this season still has so much potential and to reach two cup finals would be a massive, massive achievement. To win something would be simply amazing but a club of this stature should go on to lift some sort of trophy from this position. Of the three other clubs in the competition we have beaten two of them this season.

Its been a rough and nail biting ride so far, but rest assured, its going to get a whole lot worse!

Up the Arsenal!

’til tomorrow.

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Villarreal 2nd leg: I'm not predicting a thing

In Arsenal FC,Champions League 2008/09 on April 15, 2009 by Highbury N5 Editor

Its been a strange old season, you could say its been a season that has been impossible to predict.

So I’m not going to predict anything, not even the starting line up.

Arsene has to drill into the players just how much work left they have to do, if they play for 0-0 it won’t end that way for sure, if we play our game, our way we can win this comfortably. But, we need to be sensible, intelligent and show why we can win this thing.

Last night we saw Liverpool almost overturn what was effectively a 3-0 deficit, they went to Chelsea and scored four goals. That’s quite some achievement, luckily Chelsea responded with four of their own.

Everything could change in the blink of an eye and a score draw is just not an option, we have to win and go for the win. Luckily Wenger seems to think that is the way to winning this tie as well:

“We know we are in a situation where we don’t want to be tentative at all, We want to be decisive but you can only do that if you decide to play in a very positive way. We have scored that away goal so it could have an importance at the end of the day. I don’t believe that we are a team who can play for 0-0, that’s not our natural way. If there are five minutes to go and it’s 0-0 even goal kicks make you nervous. I personally don’t expect any weaknesses from them, I expect some strength from us to say, ‘listen, we have the opportunity to get to the Semi Final at home, let’s take it’.  I am confident we will and we have the needed quality to do that. But you know from their game that they can be dangerous as well.”

Arsene is the man though, he knows what he is doing. Villarreal are one hell of a dangerous side so we have to be on our guard from the first whistle and the perfect remedy for any jittery nerves in the Arsenal ranks will be an early goal, that wouldn’t make too much difference to Villarreal’s situation but the mental blow might just give them doubts over their chances of progressing.

They have Pires though, he still has that magic. He will get a rapturous reception from the crowd but lets support our boys as well – As Arsene points out.

Moving onto the squad – the squad that has not really been announced yet, Diaby is back but Djourou misses out and if the fears that he has done his cartilage prove correct, that’s probably his season over. We have a few ways of lining up in defence but I really don’t have a clue what to expect. Will Eboue come in with Sagna going to LB? Will Song slot in next to Toure? Only one man knows.

It is probably going to be a nervy night so I recommend a few strong drinks before, it has the potential to be a fantastic night though. Lets hope its just that. We want to go one step further than 2006 this time.

We have a score to settle with them.

COME ON ARSENAL!

Til tomorrow.