You Just Cannot Count This Team Out

By on April 1, 2010

So, let me begin by saying that I was probably thinking what alot of you were after reading guest contributor, Greg Schwartz’s article yesterday regarding starting Eboue and Walcott on the left. In fact, I told him to expect to be flamed, but, to his great credit, he stuck to his guns. Now Walcott and Eboue may not have played on the left, but they both came on as subs and had a major impact on the match.

With a day to reflect back on the match, let me share some of my thoughts. I believe I can say with NO exaggeration that yesterday was the worst 60 minutes of football I have ever seen from the Arsenal. In my over ten years as an Arsenal supporter, I have never seen us so completely dominated for so long a period of time.

Yet, having said that, I believe we once again showed immense character, of the kind that has kept us in the title race this season. In fact, I am more proud of the side after that display than I was after the 6-1 win over Everton on the opening weekend. This team just does not know when to quit, when to lay down and die.

Regarding possession, I felt we enabled them to dominate  possession by giving the ball away so cheaply and so often. It was like we had a team of 2007 Diabys out there. But, in the end, what did Barca do with their possession? Nothing, really. Their two goals both came from disappointing, fundamental errors on the part of Almunia and the defense letting Ibrahimovic get in between Song and Clichy when Vermaelen had pushed up too high. Their goals were our own fault. For all that great football, none of it got them a goal.

I don’t know what I can say really about Cesc’s yellow card except that, to me, it wasn’t a foul and an English referee would never have given it. That he will now miss the return leg has to be crushing for him. On the night, I thought Nasri was our most consistent player in attack and I don’t rate our chances much less knowing that he will be in Cesc’s central role.

The substitutions of Theo and Eboue made the difference for us last night as Barca, especially Maxwell, could not deal with Theo’s pace nor Eboue’s directness. If we are to get the result we need at the Nou Camp, I believe those two will have to be on the pitch. Let’s also not forget Bendtner who set up both goals.

Consider that, to injuries, we lost our captain, our former captain, and our most explosive player in Arshavin (for three weeks now with a calf strain) and a 2-2 result even at home to the best team in the world doesn’t seem too shabby at all. I have watched Barca a fair amount this season and that first sixty minutes was some of the best football I’ve seen them play all season. It has not been par for the course this season, like it was last season. They will need to replicate that performance and more if they want to go through.

The pressure is on them, the holders playing the second leg at home, not us.  And we seem to play better when that is the case. In that case, the away goals mean less than usual because we must go to the Nou Camp to win anyway. Arsene wouldn’t have it any other way.

This match, despite being dominated for such long stretches of the match, will only breed more confidence in the side that no matter what happens, we always have a chance. I believe we can go to Barcelona and get the result we need to go through, especially considering Barca will now be missing Pique and Puyol for the return. As I said last week regarding the title race, the same applies here… it’s not over yet!


  1. damstar

    April 1, 2010 at 11:03 am

    if we get a 3-3 draw at barca we can progress as well….i dnt think we can beat them at the nou camp…but we have to score by any means..

  2. Chris Redmond

    April 1, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I admire your optimism, and I, too, think it is quite possible for us to go and get a result over there, especially with their two centre-backs suspended, and the fact that Nasri is more than capable of filling Cesc’s void, as he has proven already.
    However, we simply cannot play again like we did in the opening hour. Yes, Barca are the best side in world football, but we gave them far too much space to pass the ball around. Despite Almunia’s first-half heroics, his positioning for Ibrahimovic’s first goal unfortunately is not a once-off occurrence for him. He must be replaced and Arsene knows this. Let’s keep pushing this season, though; there is still all to play for.

    • ArsenalStation

      April 1, 2010 at 11:29 am

      Chris, you should know by now that I am always optimistic when it comes to the Arsenal. But I completely agree with all your points, Chris. Obviously we will need to keep more possession of the ball and Almunia was totally at fault for the first goal. Every time I watch it, I just keep wondering what he thought he was doing getting caught like that. It’s his indecision that cost him a solid position and like you said not for the first time.

  3. thomas Golien

    April 1, 2010 at 11:37 am

    the only reason it wouldn’t have got a card with an english referee is because they are biased towards london team take chelsea u and spurs for example and even man u (i know there not from london but huge numbers of people in london support them) and fifa would lose money if they started giving decisions against you in england because these london teams and man u have the vast majority supporting them and rolling in the cash for fifa and if they suddenly started getting decisions against them and didn’t do as well because of it they would be losing huge amounts of money, funnily enough i didn’t see the yellow card because i didn’t watch the game and have no idea if it was a foul or not and shouldn’t really have commented but i just hate cheating londoners, although i do admit fair play for getting a result against barcelona and arsenal are my favourite london team because they don’t buy there way to where they are even if the referees do give u (london teams aswell and man u) a hand

    • looneygooner

      April 1, 2010 at 11:44 am

      The fact Wenger took a huge gamble by playing Cesc,Arshavin and Gallas has blown up in his face, Cesc and Gallas are out for the season, the reason we struggled so much last night was the fact the team had to carry those players. Cesc should have been rested along with Arshavin, playing Gallas in a high profile match after being out for two months was a disaster. Wenger’s tactics wee wrong again

      • Daxxjoker

        April 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm

        Bloody truth ! ! !
        That has ruined our shot at the title,as well !
        But don’t worry,my friend.We will get that win at Camp Nou.
        Like – never.Maybe 2 days earlier.

        • ArsenalStation

          April 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm

          Far lesser teams than us have won at the Nou Camp…

    • looneygooner

      April 1, 2010 at 11:46 am

      I can’t stand whining idiots on blogs that don’t concern them, take your xenophobic remarks, idiots like you are not welcomed here you imbecile

  4. Daxxjoker

    April 1, 2010 at 11:51 am

    First of all – I only agree about Cesc’s yellow card.It wasn’t a foul in a first place.And maybe Denilson should get a card for a challenge like that.Not our captain,and not in our home.

    Second – Walcott’s shot was terrible.Thank god Valdes is their keeper,so that ball went in.We were very lucky with that.

    And we think we are the kings of late goals.No ! We are the kings of stupid goals conceded ! Even after seeing with my own eyes the stops Almunia made,I couldn’t believe it.I guess he was due a night like that after all of his mistakes over the past few seasons.But he had to throw it all down the craper.

    You’ve all seen what this team is capable of.Shitting their own shorts every time the big match is in front of them.They couldn’t pass,they couldn’t hold on to the ball and defending was a nightmare.The same was against Manchester and Chelsea.I have never seen that kinda marking.They were open and alone on the left and on the right,and they did hide the ball like it was 31 against 10 on the pitch.
    Diaby was nowhere to be found,so cut that crap about him being a top class.He is not there yet.Yes,ofc he can get there but he is not there now.

    Thinking that Pique and Puyol being suspended is our advantage – is not reasonable thinking.They are not Arsenal.They don’t have Silvestre and Campbell as a cover.With the help from their dm’s – they will be pretty solid at the back.

    Now let’s look at our own squad.We are without Fabregas,Arshavin and Gallas.Two of them are done for the season,and Andrei thinks he’ll be back in 2-3 weeks.
    I am asking you – who will create and who will score at Camp Nou ?! ?! ?!

    It is not that important,actually.I just hope we don’t concede 4 or more.That will be hard.So – I don’t know how some people can write that we can go there and win.How much brain-washed one has to be to even consider thinking about that.I am just afraid we don’t get beating of a lifetime there.No matter how many times you look at it and from how many angles – we are simply out of the CL.End of story.So that is not important.

    What’s important is – we have these new injuries.And cause of that – our shot at the one real thing we could have won – now sucks and blows..Big time !
    You can all do the math,starting from tomorrow’s big match.You can study the remaining fixtures of all 3 contenders,you can do whatever you want – we will finish another season winning nothing.
    And why ?! Not because of injuries.No.Not even because of surrendering all of the 12 points from the matches of the big triangle.No.
    We won’t win the PL cause of the numerous bad pitches around the league.That’s a valid reason.
    As for CL – that’s simple.We shit ourselves when facing strong opponents.Like in the last season’s semifinal return leg,and like last night.
    I am just happy our players have seen what it’s like playing one touch football on a higher level.We can do it against Portsmouth – and Barca can do it against us.Having 25% of ball possession in the first half – that’s a disgrace that will haunt me forever.
    So,all of you – stop with the fake enthusiasm ! We will not win at Barca.Let’s just hope our lads can come back with pride in defeat.But as I see it – it will be 4 for them.

    • ArsenalStation

      April 1, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      The pitches in the Premier League are “a valid reason” why we won’t win the title? Come on Daxx, that’s ridiculous even from you.

      You only call other people’s enthusiasm “fake” because you have none and are the football supporting equivalent of the grumpy, bitter old man in the neighborhood.

      I can assure you that my enthusiasm is 100% real. You see a bad performance overall. I see a team that got a result on a day they were far from their best and their opponent was at their best.

      Yes, the injuries hurt but to say that Barca missing Puyol and Pique won’t matter is ridiculous as well. Those two aren’t the strongest center back pairing in the world and Barca will now be forced to play with their backups.

      If you’re so sure we don’t have a chance of winning, I imagine you won’t even bother watching the return leg.

      I wonder why you even bother to support any club at all since you just seem to be so miserable over football all the time. If football made me as bitter, cynical, and miserable as it makes you, I’d stop watching. Life is too short. For me, football gives me pleasure and when the Arsenal do well it gives me immense joy. I’ve been less miserable in seasons where we don’t win anything than you are right now after an amazing comeback against Barcelona. Why is that?

      • Daxxjoker

        April 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

        I have time only to reply to the first part.
        That was me being sarcastic,referring to Wenger’s comment after Birmingham game.For not getting it – it is your own fault.
        It was like – when we had possession,it was St.Andrews.And when they had possession,pitch turned to one we had at Emirates.

        • Daxxjoker

          April 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm

          Let’s continue.
          I have enthusiasm,just not as much as you.Mine is reasonable,yours is way over the top.It is like we are couple of Stoke City fans.And you are convinced our team can compete for the title.I know what is wrong with our team,I know what our team can and can not achieve.So i say – Ok lads,this season we are aiming for the mid-table.And you are – nevermind Liver,Spurs and City beating us every time – we can be in the top 5.It doesn’t work that way.

          Do you just refuse to see or accept that our off-days always come when we are playing big rivals ?! Every time.And it can sometimes happen when we play Everton and others.
          Did it really never occur to you ?!

          OK.You think it matters.Them playing with Milito and Marquez.We will see.We will see how many goals we will score,if any – and how much we will concede.

          Your imagination tricks you easily.I am not some dude who will today be a fan of and watch Arsenal,and tomorrow be a part of United’s army.You and your friends can pin me all kinds of labels – I am none of them ! ! !
          I am a Roma fan since the fifth grade,and an Arsenal fan since the sixth.Everyone who has met me said to me that they have never seen a fan like me – someone who gets sick when his team concedes a goal when being 5:0 up.

          Again – I am not any of that.You can write all kinds of bullshit about me – you don’t know me.So it doesn’t matter.I am not bitter nor cynical.I watch football all the time – so don’t speak football with me.You are there every weekend to watch Arsenal maybe.I watch Arsenal’s every game,Roma’s,Valencia’s and Werder’s.And every match that’s any good that don’t include any of the team I like.
          And when Arsenal play and win – I am the happiest man there is.I get sore throat from yelling and few times cops came to my door,having complaints from the neighbors about noise.They are all used to that now.OFC it affects me when we don’t play good.I mean – play like shit.
          And in your case – it doesn’t bother you.You just don’t give a shit.What matters to you is that Eboue and Diaby had a great one-two played out on the 71st minute and that’s enough for you.Like it will get to you that we drew against the team which is full of cavemen.No,ofc not.There goes a final whistle and you are off to have couple of beers.

          As for you writing nonsense like “that’s ridiculous even for you” – see if I give a fuck.I am only seeing and speaking the truth most of you refuse to see and speak.It is all flowers and rainbows for you,cause you are probably high as a kite.

          • ArsenalStation

            April 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm

            First of all, Daxx, I watch far more football than just Arsenal. I may not watch “every match that’s good” like you (though I wonder how you know a match is gonna be good before it is played). I watch a handful of PL matches each weekend. I also watch La Liga, though I can’t be bothered with Serie A. Sometimes I’ll watch Bayern when they are on Gol TV. I am also a season-ticket holder for many years of my hometown club. Secondly, I don’t drink.

            And I never said you would be supporting another team only that everything you write about the Arsenal is miserable and dismal. Even after wins, you rarely have anything good to say about the club. Why is that? You may think you’re being a “realist” but being a football supporter is supposed to an escape from reality. I have enough things in my life to make me miserable. Arsenal is my alternative to that. You make it seem as if there’s something wrong with those of us who are willing to believe in the manager and the players. THAT is called being a “supporter.” You are more a “criticizer” than a “supporter.” Honestly, half of the stuff you write is worse than most of the shit I read from anti-Arsenal “pundits” like Stan Collymore and the rest.

            Get behind the team. If when it is all over, we haven’t won anything, then you are more than welcome to state where you think we went wrong. As I will and have done. But, until then, we should be looking to encourage the squad not demoralize them. What if the players thought the way you do. They’d have given up a long time ago.

            Do I think that it matters that they will be playing two backup CBs? Of course. It would matter for any team, even the mighty Barcelona, who does not appear to be very strong defensively. They looked highly vulnerable when we got in the final third especially in the final 20 minutes or so. Who will get more joy out of us beating Barca or us winning the title? The person who believed in his club against all the odds, against all the pundits, against even his own fellow supporters who wrote us off for dead, or the person who spent 6 months talking shit about his own club constantly? You will merely be surprised if we win, where we, who have always believed in the club, will be vindicated in our belief in the club.

            I write this blog because: a) I love my club deeply and have for over ten years b) I like to write and share my thoughts on the club c) for some reason, other people seem to be interested in what I have to say, whether they agree or disagree. NOT because I have some kind of “truth” about Arsenal or football, in general-as if there was such a thing. What you need to realize, since you are still a young kid, is that football is about opinions and no one’s opinions are “fact” or “truth.” Not even yours.

            No matter what “other people” tell you, you don’t know anymore about the game than other readers of this blog and certainly not me since I have probably been watching it for more years than you’ve been alive. But, nevertheless, I am still willing to listen to your OPINIONS and let you have a forum here to express them. You should be so accomodating and understanding of others opinions and not talk to them like they are idiots because they don’t agree with your pessimistic assessment of the club they love.

    • Chamika De Zoysa

      April 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      25%…yes bad but did u notice that we gave them the space to play, when you do that they’ll play, whether is Barca or Wolves..that doesn’t matter…did they manage that in the last 20 mins or so….No…..cause we were pushing them…..that’s football…….
      against Man U…chelsea…we had 60% possession but we lost the game not by one by 2,3….did the possession of the ball helped us then….Nasri will create theo will finish….

      • Daxxjoker

        April 1, 2010 at 5:56 pm

        And did you notice that we always give that space only to big teams ?! They come to Emirates feeling like at home and run over us like over pile of shit all day long.
        Coincidence ?! Don’t think so.They are all better teams right now and we can not beat them.Chelsea scored 3 and could have scored 7.Manchester scored 3 and could have scored 9.And Barca – being the best team there is – could have scored 12.And they were not attacking – they were just taking the advantage of our inability to keep the ball and open spaces all over the pitch.
        And I can not believe I am explaining this,but here it goes.
        We were pushing them cause they were satisfied with 2:0 lead.First game,away from home and they are 2:0 up.What are they supposed to do ?! Keep going forward ?! Thank god they didn’t.
        It was the same at the Bridge.We couldn’t do anything and Drogba struck twice after they dominated in the first half.It was enough for them.The intentionally let us have the midfield in the second half.And some fans saw that as a good thing.Nevermind we didn’t create any chances.And nevermind they let us have that possession.It is something that the Gooners took from that game.As if Chelsea wouldn’t dominate us in the second half like in the first,if they wanted to.

    • ntobi

      April 1, 2010 at 1:23 pm

      No one is forcing you to believe that we will win at the camp.believe what you believe but dont get irritated by those of us,who believe the young lads can emerge winners.I BELIEVE WE CAN WIN.They conceded even when it was not our day.In the first leg,fear was ours,in the second,sure it will be theirs especially after our come back.Any team that will be selected by the profesor,will give us pride.YES WE CAN.

      • Daxxjoker

        April 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm

        OFC you will write you believe ! You must suck up,you have something to prove to someone.
        I had the belief when we were traveling to Milan and few other times.When I knew we can win if we play without mistakes and opponent is not stronger than we are.
        And believing that we will win there will do you no good.
        We will speak after that game and you and all of the fans here – including administrators – you all will write “Daxx,you were right.Sorry for writing your words are ridiculous.”
        AND I AM EXPECTING THAT APOLOGY AFTER THE RETURN LEG ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

        • ArsenalStation

          April 2, 2010 at 9:40 pm

          If we lose the tie at Barcelona, that is no reason to apologize for having believed in the team or for having pointed out that you didn’t believe. And football is all about stronger teams not winning, if it wasn’t the league champions would be 38-0-0 every season. Yes, Barcelona have more talent, but we were the ones that showed heart and character on Wednesday evening.

  5. Chamika De Zoysa

    April 1, 2010 at 11:59 am

    we will win this tie….we have done this more time than others……AC Milan, Real Madrid…can any one remember those games…everyone thought we’ll be rolled over in those games….what has happened is history…Barcelona may be the best team in the world…who cares…is it matters….they were beaten by Ruban at Nou Camp….so we’ll do it…..just written us of…that’s the best thing that everyone can do for us……..

    • Daxxjoker

      April 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      It is a stupid way of thinking !
      They lost to Rubin at home ! Wow ! That means we will win there for sure.
      Wait ! We lost to Sunderland away ! That means we will concede 12 at Barca.

      • ArsenalStation

        April 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm

        It doesn’t mean we will win for sure but it sure as hell doesn’t mean we will lose for sure, like you say. What you say is no less “a stupid way of thinking” since you are just using the other extreme.

      • Chamika De Zoysa

        April 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

        if you don’t have the believe…why on earth u play football…let teams like Barca, Madrid, Man u & Chelsea win the trophy’s in the first day of the season….if we don’t dream that we could win why go there…just stay back and enjoy the free time….hahahahaha…..

  6. Greg Schwartz

    April 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Yes, the game is in ways a set back. We did not win; in fact, we are behind in a tie after the home leg. We’ve also suffered injuries that maybe resting players could not have prevented. That said, why be bitter, why look on it pessimistically. We have crossed bigger mountains before, including in Spain at the Bernebeau. I say keep the faith. Henry had it right today when he said the roar at the Emirates inspired the comeback. What Arsenal needs as much as great players (which I’m convinced this squad has) is great fans. I think, and this is only a personal opinion, a great fan should never give up on his or her team just because they’re behind. We’ve clawed our way back into this tie, we have been gifted a chance at the title. So fuck probability, fuck the fact that it will be hard, and let’s get behind the team. What’s the point of moping when we still have a chance. Because, honestly, if the fans give up on the players, we have no chance.

  7. pat

    April 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Daxxjoker – seems like you dont get too much enjoyment out of watching arsenal play? 2-2 draw vs one of the best teams in the world I think is not a bad result, far too early to call time on the gunners – but hey the return leg at the camp is going to be tough and cant wait for it. I think psychologically Barca may be hurting a little because they didnt put the game to bed, and what I love about this arsenal side is that when the chips are down the lads just get right back up… it is going to be fascinating to see – no Puyol, their best defensive player B52 must be salivating at the chance to play at the guy who replaces him…anyone know who that would be?

    • Ted Harwood

      April 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm

      It will probably be Marquez (old/slow) and Milito at CB for them on Tuesday, pat.

    • Ted Harwood

      April 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Well, I guess Marquez isn’t that old, but still.

  8. jonathan

    April 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I didnt get to watch the match, because I couldnt get off of work. I did however, sneak the ESPN gamecast onto my computer while sitting at my desk. It was really tough just to watch that. Barca was just peppering us with shots, I am glad that we made the few that we took actually count. When I saw that Fabregas was taking a penalty shot near the end there, and to see him make it, I just wanted to jump up and scream right in the middle of the office.

    I am however really gutted about all the injuries that we have once again been dealt with. I know that we have quality players that are on the bench who can step up to the plate, but with Fabregas, Arshavin, and Gallas all out for what looks like the season…is a horrible blow.

    Who do you think will be in the starting line up for the rest of the season with all of the injuries we have?

    I still believe that we CAN win against Barca, and if not the league…at least make a very strong and respectable finish.

    Keep the faith!

    • ArsenalStation

      April 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      I usually never guess starting lineups but here’ who I would start:

      Song-Nasri-Diaby (Denilson)

      Alternatively, I have thought Theo might still be best utilized as a second half sub, in which case you could start Eboue in his place at the beginning. As for Diaby or Denilson, I am torn. I know Denilson played far better in the first leg so it’s basically a toss-up for me.

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