By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal and Barcelona are two names in European football that are mentioned with great respect most of the time in the world of football. By the world of football I do not mean the press, the pundits and so on but in general by people that love the game and that love nice football.
We, as fans of The Arsenal, know all about how well we can play and how exiting our football can be and is most of the times. We are top scorers in the league, even with one game in hand, every game we attack from the start to the finish and people always can enjoy some amazing combinations, nice dribbling. All players are technical very gifted; a joy to watch if you love attacking football.
As I am also able to follow the Spanish league and I must say that I like to watch when Barcelona plays. Although the defeat in the CL final still hurts, as a lover of attacking play and beautiful football, one has to admire Barcelona. They also play like Arsenal, always looking for the attack, always trying to play in a positive way and they have some exiting players in their team like Messi, Xavi, Iniesta,…
They also have a similar system and try to develop players trough their own youth system. A lot of their top players like Messi came trough their youth ranks. There are other young players like Bojan and Pedro who are knocking on the door like our youngsters do at the Arsenal.
Yes they buy big names as well and mostly when there is a presidential election on the promises are made as if there is no tomorrow.
And yes I do very much dislike the way they behave towards our captain Cesc and the constant pulling on his sleeves to come back home. But that is another story and I will leave this aside today.
What I really want to talk about is the way we and Barcelona seem to struggle when we play Chelsea.
Chelsea represent almost the total opposite of all that Arsenal and Barcelona are about. Chelsea is a team filled with money grabbing mercenaries that only play for the pounds that Abramovitch is throwing around at Stamford Bridge. A team packed with older players with a high level of experience and they all know how to stop an opponent that can play nice football.
They are perfectly equipped for that kind of game. They have big and fast defenders who are not afraid to kick the shit out of an attacker. Their midfield has the ability to slow the game, to make fouls, to kick the opponents until they will have no more of it. And they have an attack with the likes of Drogba, a forward line in his own, and Anelka who we all know very well.
Playing with our young squad in the last two seasons, we have had difficulties with Chelsea. Yes we can all point at some things during the games but fact is we lost well on the score sheet the last times we played them. We struggle against them.
I really think our team is not experienced enough to outplay them yet. Their tactic is to sit and wait and they have the ability to take advantage of the slightest mistake in our backline. Ugly to see but when you get the points like that no Chelsea fan will complain.
When last year’s CL semi final was played between Barcelona and Chelsea the same thing happened. Barcelona with all their flair, technique, skill couldn’t get trough the Chelsea defensive line up and up front Drogba gave the defenders a terrible time. They did that for 180 minutes and it was only thanks to a very lucky goal, and some refereeing decisions, at the end of the second leg that Barcelona saved the football world from yet another boring MU-Chelsea final.
So the best team in the world, Barcelona, struggled to beat Chelsea with their beautiful football. Just as we seem to do.
The biggest difference between Barcelona and Arsenal for the moment is the age. Barcelona has a squad that has an higher average age then Arsenal have. And Chelsea has the biggest average age of those three clubs with years older then we.
So yes I think we will have difficulties with beating Chelsea for this season but once the old legs are getting even older our young legs will only get stronger. Our players that are mostly around 21 or 22 years old have some 8 to 10 years coming where they will be at their strongest and best. Add that with the experience they have gathered already, and one learns more when it goes the hard way then when it is always easy and always winning, I believe from next season on we will be dictating the pace in the PL and the CL.
For this season I really don’t know if the boys can get over the massive injury list we have once again. If Robin Van Persie, Bendtner, Clichy and Rosicky would have stayed fit I am sure we would have won a few more games and would be well ahead.
The best is yet to come.
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