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Wenger hint on striker, disharmony in Royal Household, and who will we face next in Europe?


Follow us on Twitter @Untold Arsenal

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“Making the Arsenal” – is available on Amazon, Arsenal on line, the Woolwich Arsenal site and in the Arsenal store.

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By Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood

Ah what a wonderful relaxing moment this is.  4-0 against Wigan, a chance for the kiddies to have a trip to foreign parts on Tuesday, a chance to contemplate the round of 16 knowing we are there and those silly people from Manchester are not, and Tony’s little moment of triumph to come on Friday.

To start at the start…  Tuesday.   It is said that Her Majesty the Queen supports Arsenal, just like the late Queen Mother did, indeed.   Her Majesty’s husband, Prince Phil is of course Greek in origin and may (or may not) support Olympiacos.  Royal bust ups predicted, corgis yapping, etc etc.

As for the team, we will put out those who want to have a game to keep them happy before their next outing in the Cup match vs Leeds.   Djourou, Benayoun, Park, Oxlade Chamberlain, Chamakh and Arshavin might get a spot of match practice, with Fabianski in goal, plus Miquel, Coquelin, Frimpong… that sort of team.

Meanwhile Mr Wenger has been contemplating the six weeks of the Africa Cup of Nations, saying that even with Chamakh away he doesn’t expect to buy a striker.   OK that might be expected, and that is not too exciting.  But what he said next was rather interesting — that Oxlade Chamberlain can play as a striker.

So no thought of moving Theo into the middle, but rather Mr Chamberlain.  Rather interesting.

Anyway, after having qualified for the round of the last 16 in the Champions League it is time to look back at a few things.

In what was a very tough group we are now certain of being first of our group. And this is a great contrast with the other English teams. Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga last season and after losing one of their key players they also had a difficult start to the season (sounds familiar) but during the last few weeks they have been back to the level of last year. And their win at Bayern Munich brought them within 2 points of the top of the Bundesliga.

Olympiacos is the Bayern Munich of Greece. They win most of the titles. If we’ve counted it right they won 9 titles in the last 10 years or so.  So we had to play two teams that won their league. And Marseille was the other team and they have been one of the big clubs in France for decades. Not the current champion but the year before they became champions and last season ended as runners up. This year they seem to struggle a bit in the league but those things can change.

Now I would admit that Manchester City was in a very tough group. Bayern is a well established top team and Villareal is also a very regular team in the CL. Napoli is not a regular in the CL at all. But still a top team from Italy is always a difficult team. So you could understand that Manchester City find it difficult to qualify for the next round. But even then…with all that money being splashed around the last years…

Unfortunately it wouldn’t make the club suffer one bit if they would go out because like Chelsea they don’t need the CL money at all. But it could be a downer for a lot of players over there to find themselves out of the champions league.

Chelsea are also in a tough group. Apart from the Belgium champion RC Genk, who once again showed that football in Belgium is in another (and most of the time) lower level compared to the big leagues. But Leverkusen and Valencia are also very tough teams to win from. If Valencia can win at Stamford Bridge and with the current form Chelsea are in this is a real possibility I wonder how long the “long term managerial career” of Villas-Boas at Chelsea will last. Only a few weeks ago the word from Chelsea was that Villas-Boas would be their Wenger or Ferguson. Let’s see if they really have the patience to give him the time to turn Chelsea in to a new team.

But what to say of Manchester United?  Sure Benfica is a decent side. But in the Champions League they usually go out after the group stages and have to go to the Europa League as the third best team in their group. And  with all respect to the other teams is FC Basel really a top team in Europe?  Until now they never got further than the group stages of the Champions League. And who of us have heard before of Otelul Galati before?  No us!  And yet Manchester United is not yet sure of going to the next round. In fact Manchester United in this group has to go to Basel on the last day to get at least a draw to go further. And the chance that they will not be the first in this group.  Disgraceful!

But the chance of United getting a win in Basel is still on the cards. They usually get away with it. And as the offside goal against Benfica showed, they also have their little friends to help them out if needed. When the going gets tough, the tough get… a helping hand. Could you imagine Uefa letting a team like United slip out of the CL at this stage already? I can’t. Something to keep an eye on I would say.

The difference between the other teams might be that Uefa doesn’t really like Manchester City and Chelsea. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t get much help. But United? They will if necessary get some kind of Busacca from behind his desk to help them out if needed.

But just imagine for one moment the worst case scenario for the EPL and all the other teams to drop out of the Champions League. Just imagine this. Okay, I do admit that if this would happen your dedicated Untold Arsenal Editorial Team  would fall on the floor and start laughing and will not stop for a week. Oh and give a lot of money to see and hear the pundits trying to explain such a thing and spin this worst case scenario in to a great victory for English football.

Maybe they will blame Arsenal for not showing the necessary solidarity for not joining the others in the Europa League. Maybe they will blame us for playing a cavalier-seul (lone rider) in attack.  Maybe they would say, that the Champions League has lost its charm, and the Europa has always been the more interesting competition.

Of course they might be supportive in the next round to Arsenal as the only team representing England in the CL. Now wouldn’t you give money to see their faces and the expression on their faces when they have to give credit for Arsenal and to Arsène Wenger?  But no, they wouldn’t do that.

Still the chance of all four English teams going further is there. But it was nice dreaming a bit about it not being so. The feeling of just the thought of the other three vanishing is something to relish.

But by writing this we probably jinxed it…and they all will go further.  But then again there could be some nervy moments in some board rooms at some clubs in the next 14 days. Certainly after all the hate and vitriol the media have thrown at Arsenal in the last months this is fun.

And all this while the players, the manager and the board can stay calm and confident. And wait for the draw to come. Who would you like to get us drawn against as the runners up? Milan will be one of the teams we could face. I wonder…is Flamini still alive these days? Napoli could be one of the teams there if they win their last game and this would mean City is out.  Trabsonspor, Lille or CSKA Moscou could be also in there. Ajax could be one of the teams to face. Apoel Nocisia, Zenit St. Petersburg or Porto could be one of the opponents.

And finally, as for Tony’s little moment of triumph on Friday – if you read the blog of the AISA Arsenal History Society you’ll know, but if not… well, let’s leave it for later in the week.

LATEST NEWS….. The agency that Fifa has brought in to investigate corruption in Fifa has walked out and refused to continue, because Fifa won’t act on any of its recommendations.

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16 comments to Wenger hint on striker, disharmony in Royal Household, and who will we face next in Europe?

  • SANCHEZ

    i always like this blog…………..love your article

  • Rich_Fryer

    Man U will finish second, then draw Apoel Nicosia. We’re bound to get AC Milan. Fergie will then be feted for having the foresight to finish second, and we’ll be criticised for finishing first.

  • As always, brilliant read. Why is there so few other blogs that have writers who were born with a brain??? Why do I have to read through 100’s of copy and past stories and fabricated rumors of no content for every piece that is worth reading…

    THANKS

  • Shard

    I’d take Nicosia, Trabzonspor or Porto as our opponents, but of course we’re going to draw Milan and Bussaca II. Don’t you just know it?

    As for ManCity having a tough group, that is a consequence of being new to the top. They were in pot 3 of the champions league draw, and as such were always going to draw two top teams. Considering that the German Champions were in pot 4 of our group, I think City didn’t get unlucky in the draw at all. They could have drawn Barca, Milan and Dortmund as well.

    Tony, any idea when the UEFA coefficients are made to give countries the number of automatic berths. I mean if Arsenal become the only team to get through the group stages, then England’s ranking will take a hit. Will that mean that England will lose it’s 4th place spot for next season? Or will it be later?

  • gooner

    truly we are improving and now looks like a settled team.also the optism around the club is increasing.i think tommorw too we would be lpaying 4-4-2.Just read a blog by accident and its new but a real optimistic blog like this.www.arsenalview,blogspot.com

  • So, a front three of the Ox, RvP and Theo? And the potential to drop Afobe into the RvP position when he’s fit again.
    I’m not suggesting that Afobe is as good as RvP but based on his performances in pre-season he’s got to be considered ahead of Chamakh at this moment.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Fans in high places.

    But in low places as well:

    http://showbiz.peacefmonline.com/news/201110/76110.php

  • the mickster

    Uefa Rankings
    Bascically no, England are so far ahead as to make it irrevellent, however if City do drop into the Uefa cup they will need a good run to get them into pot 2
    http://kassiesa.home.xs4all.nl/bert/uefa/index.html

  • slim

    Shard, I haven’t really checked this out so don’t take my word for it? But I think the UEFA coefficients are based on domestic league club performances in the CL over the past 5 years, so it’d take a few more years of underperforming to see England lose the 4th spot- besides some teams from say, Serie A, crash out of the group stages occasionally and still have 4 places reserved for them.

  • slim

    or what Mickster said

  • WalterBroeckx

    off topic??? OFF TOPIC???????

    Just have a look over there http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/125-years-of-arsenal-history-1886-1891

    I quote from the article on arsenal.com:

    “Recently, Arsenal historians Andy Kelly and Tony Attwood have challenged this version of events, and suggested that the waters are murkier than first thought. Official histories have mentioned there…..”

  • John L

    yes, i believe it would have to become a trend for a number of seasons for england to lose their 4 slots.

    countries with lower coefficients might be hurt from a bad season. but spain, italy and england are almost guaranteed 4 slots.

    but then wenger seems to feel its possible….

  • Adam

    Slightly off-topic so I apologise. But Arsenals draw with Fulham does not look so bad after they turned Liverpool over tonight. weird how other results can put things into perspective for me.

  • Mahdain

    wow walter tony will love that..thats what? 3 times on the official site now? they should just give you guys a gig to write on the official site 🙂

  • bob

    Walter and Tony,
    We must all be vigilant for The Bussacca Moment in Waiting. A United crash out would be a big economic blow to UEFA at this stage – a loss, methinks, in worldwide international and interest in the tournament (they do have the biggest following) and perhaps advertiser revenue (not that I know the prevailing contracts, but it’s possible). I hope one or more of the Refs will take on that match and not shy from hypothesizing out loud about any link between results on the pitch and the stakes of a ManUre defeat.