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August 2021

Surviving the group of death

By Walter Broeckx

Somehow 11 December is our unlucky date the last years. I will not remind you of what happened last year on this day but I still feel the kick in the **** from that day. A day that celebrates the birth of Arsenal (and not just Arsenal in my personal circle) so I rather like it that we don’t play on that day.

As soon as someone woke me up with the ref appointment yesterday morning I knew it would get difficult. Or better said even more difficult than I expected it to be. Well there is one person who didn’t disappoint me then. I expected him to do something and he surely didn’t hesitated to get his second yellow card out for Arteta. When you look at the kicking that Behrami and Mertens were allowed to do in the first half it was a harsh sending off.

Both of them in the first half made foul after foul, hacking and kicking at every Arsenal ankle that came near to them. Behrami also using his arms a lot pushing it in to every Arsenal player his face for the whole game. Both Napoli players got booked but made enough fouls to be awarded a second yellow card. Arteta got his, both of them were allowed to stay on the pitch. But we knew Kassai before the start and once again our ref alerting system was spot on.

What I also feared a bit before the match materialised. When a draw is enough you get sometimes caught in two minds. Will we go for a goal ourselves or do we sit back and defend? And as a result you do neither. And I think this is what happened. Usually the whole team joins in the attack including our full backs but this time they did it very rare. As a result our attacking game never really came good.

We also were a bit wasteful at too many occasions. The pitch wasn’t as good as could be and we always seem to struggle with a bad Italian pitch in the combination with our European bogey ref.

Now I must say that apart from the kicking that Napoli certainly was strong on the night and created most of the chances. So I think they deserved the win. But was there a bit of damage  control build in this game? A draw or small defeat would always take us to the next round and the ludicrous fact that the PL scheduled our match at Manchester City on Saturday at noon seemed to be on the back of our head.

The sad thing is that with a 1-0 defeat we would have been top of the group but that last second goal made us end up in second place. Is this a bad thing? Time will tell. We are now sure that we will get a big draw with a top quality team in the next round. But this is the CL.   And I know we could lose against any such team….but I am also sure that we can win against any such team. So bring on whoever you want to bring on.

I think Uefa wanted at least one big big clash in the next round and I am pretty sure that Arsenal will be involved in that big clash game. So the chance of Arsenal being broadcasted live on TV in my country has gone up with some 100%. So you see every cloud has a silver lining.  Once again.

So who can we meet? Barcelona and Cesc. Why not. They are not as dominant as they used to be and are more vulnerable at times. Bayern Munich? Why not, I feel we are stronger this season than last season and we only got beaten by away goals. PSG? Wouldn’t it be nice to beat the money teams?

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Real Madrid? Surely why not. That would bring back some nice memories. Or their neighbours Atletico Madrid? Did we ever play them in the CL before I wonder? Can’t remember it at first sight.

With 3 Spanish teams out of the possible 5 opponents the chance of Arsenal going to Spain next year is big. And with the other possible opponents Bayern Munich and PSG we can be sure of not really big trips to far away places in Russia. Things we generally don’t like.

We could have finished first but in this group of death to go further was and is the main thing. We did it despite most pundits saying we wouldn’t be able to do it. So despite the defeat we beat the pundits once again.

In a way it is a bit sad for Naples who were the unlucky team in our group to go out with 12 points. Because in all but one group that would have been enough to make it to the next round in the CL. But such is how it goes in groups of death. And I really cannot remember any group like that ever before. So I’m feeling proud we got ourselves qualified. Bring it on, whoever they will next year. We sure will have a game that will be exciting.

But now we have to forget the CL for a few months and focus on other tasks. The next task is to get the fatigue out of our system against Saturday. With one day less to prepare compared to Manchester City it will be tough. But with Jack having had a good rest and Ramsey also having a sit on the bench in this game we surely could rotate a few player.

If I can be critical for once about Wenger I cannot understand why he didn’t bring on Theo up front in the second half. I had the feeling that with his speed he would have had the chance to do something with on of our balls going forward. There was some space behind their defence and he might have kept them busy and certainly their left back who joined the attack every time and who would have had to sit back more if Theo would be out there. Or Theo taking advantage of the space he left behind.

But who am I of course and what do I know. After all I just write blogs.

The books…

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The sites from the same team…

49 comments to Surviving the group of death

  • The effects of finishing second will not be felt now, it will be felt next feb when we have to play the second leg AWAY – remember barca in 2011 and munich in 2013. Playing away to stay in the competition is tough , see what napoli fans did to their team yesterday , their players were running for the whole 90 mins – that is home fan power.

  • marcus

    I followed Mandy’s advice and took a look at football is fixed. Kassai’s slimy little smile hung over the game and I think FIF nails it to be honest

  • Dobromir

    Great that we qualified, well done to the entire team. They got the job done on the night and with a bit more luck would’ve topped the group. The fact that we didn’t doesn’t bother me one bit. Bring on the big guns. Whoever we draw I bet they’ll be gutted to have drawn us. Win the tie and become one of the favorites of the tournament. Or lose and re-focus all our energies on the league. Not such a bad thing that.

  • Damilare

    Thanks Walter, the very thoughts in your article this morning were the same thoughts running through my mind as I walked back home from the viewing centre down the street last night. I’m happy I found UA that thinks always like I’d wanted. Thanks you.

    I caught Arsene smiling (almost laughing) after the final whistle. That’s unlike him. It tells so much of what the game plan was and what ran in the mind of our players throughout the game. Surely saturday’s game is more important.

    Please what happened to the lower stands in the stadium? Has it got anything to do with fan disturbance statement on

  • Damilare

    Thanks Walter, the very thoughts in your article this morning were the same thoughts running through my mind as I walked back home from the viewing centre down the street last night. I’m happy I found UA that thinks always like I’d wanted. Thank you.

    Kassai was a disappointment but not a surprise because of what you wrote about him yesterday. I was seen like a seasoned pundict (in the viewing centre) when the ref pulled out the red card because I’d mentioned it before the match.

    Walter/Tony, please make your ref reports available to Arsene Wenger and the boys before every match. I’m sure it will help.

    By the way, I caught Arsene smiling (almost laughing) after the final whistle. That’s unlike him. It tells so much of what the game plan was and what ran in the mind of our players throughout the game. Surely saturday’s game is more important.

    Please what happened to the lower stands in the stadium? Has it got anything to do with fan disturbance statement on

  • Va Cong

    Walter great analysis. As I though if arteta was sent off then ya least 2 Napoli players should have been sent off. Fouls stopping attacks usually get yellows, we barely made any as we were fouled. I think wenger is saving Walcott for the Manchester game he could start.

  • Pete (the 1st)

    Thanks Walter.

    Ref was as bad as anticipated – although at least didn’t cost us entirely. Have to wonder about the red cards in both matches. A coincidence…? I haven’t seen the Marseille one but sounded very harsh?

    Going forward, I think the reason Walcott hasn’t started is Sagna’s injury. Someone like Jack will offer more defensive protection and, frankly, Jenkinson has really disappointed me over the last few games. He is just not at the same level as the rest of the team – and seems to have regressed. Top bloke but, sadly, I don’t think he will be with us long term other than as a back-up.

    It is possible that Walcott may get a go on the left against City, but I would be surprised if Wenger played Jenkinson/Walcott on the right for such a tough game. If Sagna is fit again (I’m unsure?) then Walcott, absolutely. Would envisage a midfield of Flamini/Ramsey/Ozil down the middle and Wilshere/Walcott on the flanks. If Jenkinson plays then may see Ramsey in front of him and Arteta in the middle. Very conservative, but…

  • Vikrant Dogra

    First job is to congratulate the team for getting through to the knockout stages…just! Must agree with many of you about the refereeing, it was a bit too similar to the officiating we get in the Premier League; as soon as Arteta got booked for his first foul, I knew a second would come sooner or later, and yet some of the ‘challenges’ from Napoli players were not punished!

    In terms of team play, we played within ourselves a bit, Jenkinson had a few occasions where his distribution was suspect, Gibbs got caught out a couple of times, the team didn’t switch play in possession as much as normal either in the opposition half. Having such a big domestic game so soon after must have affected the performance a little, as usual English clubs get little or no help when in Europe, countries like France and Italy sometimes put matches back or forward to do this; it is something that needs to be addressed.

    Not finishing top of the group? A bit disappointing, but the aim was to qualify and we did that, some possibly mouthwatering ties, and a couple of interesting ones: playing PSG almost 20 years after that Cup Winners Cup semi-final would be fun! The current PSG side and that one are comparable in terms of quality, however, of that 1994 Arsenal vintage, the only player(s) who would probably get in to today’s team are David Seaman and perhaps Nigel Winterburn.

    Also, not sure we have played Atletico Madrid in a competitive European tie, so that would be a novelty, also a very good side.

    No easy games for us in the round of 16, mind you, I don’t think they would relish coming up against Arsenal or City, surely the 2nd placed teams to avoid!

    I also see the classic ‘goalpost shifting’ tactics apparent when it comes to Arsenal achieving anything; when you consider we were not supposed to finish 4th and qualify for the play-off rounds, and then written off against Fenerbahce, and more recently deemed not good enough to escape the ‘Group of Death’, it makes you wonder if anything is ever good enough!!

    Just more confirmation that according to outsiders, ‘Everything Arsenal Football Club does is WRONG!’

    I’ll just enjoy qualifying and sitting top of the Premier League and bring on City!

  • Va Cong

    Let’s smash city and make more happy days!,

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree with you on theo Walter, also maybe with hindsight may have played Monreal. But as you say, what do we know? But one other possible criticism of wenger, he should be using untold ref previews as part of his team preparation. We are going to have to find a way to combat such refs as we are getting these types week in week out now. Maybe wenger does not mention refs so as not to give his players an excuse to underperform but with untold work , there is no excuse for any nativity with these biased officials, who as long as we are a threat to whoever, will only get worse.

  • Armin

    It really really doesn’t matter. If we are in competition, and we are enough big team to play not for taking part, but rather to win, we have to play Bayern, Barca, Real, who ever, sooner or later. And if we are not strong enough to get trough, what does it matter, this round or next round. Maybe even better to be out in February and concentrate on PL. I am not giving excuses, it is as it is. To win Champions league we have to beat Barca, Real and Bayern, sooner or later. Or there is someone with lack of ambitions 🙂 ?

  • TommieGun

    1. Yeah the ref let them foul us. Let’s get it out of the way as it was pretty obvious. HOWEVER I couldn’t point to a single foul which was a stone cold yellow, and wasn’t given. The most would have been 50-50 (out of those not given; and he did give them 3 yellows).

    2. There is no contention that the cards issued to Arteta were wrong. The second foul was just him not being very smart/responsible. It wasn’t necessary.

    3. Clearly there is no contention nor evidence that the 2 yellows issued to the Marseille player were wrong.

    Why am I writing this ? I know I’m not the biggest poster on UA, so people here might not understand where I’m coming from. I would hope to have some opportunity in the future to elaborate more on my take on statistics, theories, contentions and evidence – and the relationship between those elements to some of the opionions here.

    But for now my point is, that last night shows no evidence that we were screwed by the ref(s) or that there is some kind of conspiracy theory against the Arsenal. None.

    Instead, I am looking at what I saw, and what was expressed by our team. Like Per said, the team knew that that they qualified and it took away 10% of their will.

    To me this was the most obvious thing. There is no shame in playing a defensive game; when Dortumnd pressed us at home, I loved our steel and solidity and the never say die attitude; but last night, it felt as we gave Napoli an easy time. Easier than they should have got.

    I believe and hope that the steel will come back against City. They showed this season that whenever they are pressed and bullied, they can’t play. When given space, they thrive.

  • Messi's Dad

    I understand (& do feel myself) the slight tinge of disappointment.

    But honestly, underlying this feeling is nevertheless pride in the club having qualified for the Champions League for 14 consecutive years, precisely to compete with the likes of Barca, Real and Bayern Munich, and not (with all due respect) the likes of St Gallen, FC Anji Makhackhala etc.

  • Pete (the 1st)

    The draw is important. If we have, say, a 40% chance of beating a heavyweight but a 70% chance of beating a lightweight (for sake of argument the other 2nd place teams), and we also assume we are likely to draw heavyweight teams in the quarters, semis and final if we progress (we may not – but…) then we would have a 0.4^4 chance of winning from our current situation which equals 2.6%. If we had come first then our chances of winning are 0.4^3 * 0.7 = 4.5%.

    Clearly, is more complicated than this, but, statistically, our chances of winning have approximately more or less halved!

    As someone noted, the weakest of Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona is stronger than the strongest of Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Olympiacos, Zenit St Petersburg or AC Milan.

    Milan are a big name but are not particularly strong this year.

  • AL

    I liked Thierry’s comments when Stelling tried to corner him into saying arsenal were doomed in the next round. He said when we were drawn against Madrid people laughed and said we didn’t have a chance, but not only did we beat them, but went on to beat other sides like Juve and all the way to the final. So yeah, if you hope to win this cup then you will have to play the so-called big guns sooner or later.

  • Va Cong

    Barcelona again then what a coincidence lol

  • AL evidence that we were screwed by the ref/s…no contention regarding Arteta’s yellow cards….no evidence/contention the yelows issued to the Marseille player were wrong….No conspiracy against Arsenal.None….

    Really? I could have understood denial of at least one of the above, but to dismiss all four(even as unrelated as they may seem)really sounds strange.

  • alex

    Every where i read today the point ending as a group runners will come back to haunt us making the point that Real Madrid or Bayern or PSG or Barca they will have a great fixture facing the minnows Arsenal.

    Really? ????

    Wait and see the draw and I am sure the Spanish,German or French team that draw against us will fancy it.

    Congratulations for making it to the group stage and now bring anyone you want.

  • Va Cong

    Beharami martens and callejon were doing the same fouls as arteta so they should have been sent off then if you are being overly critical tomiegunner. Not getting the ball sticking your legs between a player is a yellow all day. Not sure what game you were watching.

  • Va Cong

    Al I think they should have good 4 yellow cards each pretty easily that’s from the first half lol

  • TommieGun

    @ AL, if you want me to respond to that, don’t twist my post with three dots wherever it suits you and blur it into one single statement.

    Neverthelss: [based on last night only]

    1. Do you contend that either of Arteta’s yellow cards was given against the regulations ? [which is a different question to “did Napoli get away with fouls that could have merited a yellow card”, to which I already said YES to].

    2. Is there any evidence that we were screwed by the ref ? [i.e., any of the ref’s decisions that were so utterly baseless and had an effect on the match outcome]

    3. Is there any contention that the Marseille player was wrongly sent off?

    4. Is there any eveidence that there is a conspiracy against us ?

    Referees are human beings, they can and they make mistakes. It was a mistake not to send off Mertens after his foul on Giroud, but it is a long way from being evidence to support some definitive conclusion.

    [@ Va Cong – was watching the same game everybody else was.

    No need for sarcasm, thanks].

    * to clear any doubts:

    I’m happy with the result, I would have signed on advancing from 2nd spot from this group, I don’t think anyone of our players played badly and I don’t want to sign anyone come January.


  • Brickfields Gunners

    A Smart-Mouthed Student

    This is a true story!!!
    A student got into trouble at school when his teacher was teaching a math class and he fell asleep.
    When the teacher proceeded to ask him a question he snapped awake and the teacher took a ruler and pointed it at the boy while saying “at the end of this ruler is an idiot”. The student got into trouble because he replied back “And which end might you be referring to?”

  • Mahdain

    aI wads wondering when will the sewer rats show up and behold we have one in this thread

  • Brickfields Gunners

    They walk among us …….

    BELIEVE it or not , These are REAL 911 Calls!

    Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is your emergency?
    Caller: I heard what sounded like gunshots coming from the brown house on the corner.
    Dispatcher: Do you have an address?
    Caller: No, I have on a blouse and slacks, why?

    Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What is the nature of your emergency? Caller: I’m trying to reach nine eleven but my phone doesn’t have an eleven on it.
    Dispatcher: This is nine eleven. Caller: I thought you just said it was nine-one-one .
    Dispatcher: Yes, ma’am nine-one-one and nine-eleven are the same thing.
    Caller: Honey, I may be old, but I’m not stupid.

    My Personal Favorite!!!
    Dispatcher: 9-1-1 What’s the nature of your emergency? Caller: My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart
    Dispatcher: Is this her first child?
    Caller: No, you idiot! This is her husband!

    And the winner is……….

    Dispatcher: 9-1-1 Caller: Yeah, I’m having trouble breathing. I’m all out of breath. Darn….I think I’m going to pass out.
    Dispatcher: Sir, where are you calling from?
    Caller: I’m at a pay phone. North and Foster.
    Dispatcher: ! Sir, an ambulance is on the way. Are you an asthmatic?
    Caller: No Dispatcher: What were you doing before you started having trouble breathing?
    Caller: Running from the Police.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The devil’s deal…

    There were three men on an airplane somewhere above the Atlantic ocean. Suddenly Death appears on the plane. He says”Before I take you all with me ‘ll give you a chance to survive. Each one of you will throw something to the ocean and if I find it you will die”.

    The first one throws a needle. Death goes down to the ocean searching for it. After a couple of minutes he comes back with the needle

    The second one throws a hair. Death goes down and after ten minutes he comes back with the hair

    The third one throws quickly something and Death goes down again. About an hour later he comes back and says to the guy “Ok you win, I’ll let you live.But tell me what did you throw?

    The guy says “An effervescent tablet”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Try to have fun

    I went to the store the other day, and I was in there for only about 5 minutes. When I came out there was a motorcycle cop writing a parking ticket.
    So I went up to him and said, ‘Come on, buddy, how about giving a guy a break?’ He ignored me and continued writing the ticket.
    So I called him a pencil-necked Nazi. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tyres! So I called him a piece of horse shit. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first.
    Then he started writing a third ticket! This went on for about 20 minutes. The more I abused him, the more tickets he wrote.
    I didn’t care.
    My car was parked around the corner.
    I try to have a little fun each day. It’s important.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    20 years with my wife

    A woman awoke during the night to find that her husband was not in bed. She put on her robe and went downstairs. He was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in front of him. He appeared to be deep in thought, just staring at the wall. She saw him wipe a tear from his eye and take a sip of his coffee.

    “What’s the matter dear? Why are you down here at this time of night?” she asked.

    “Do you remember 20 years ago when we were dating and you were only 16?” he asked.

    “Yes I do.” she replied.

    “Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car?”

    “Yes I remember.”

    “Do you remember your father when he shoved that shotgun in my face and said.’Either you marry my daughter or spend twenty years in jail’?”

    “Yes I do”, she replied.

    He wiped another tear from his cheek and said, ” You know I would have gotten out today.”

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Walter, Great post. A slight correction though: a loss by 1-0 wouldn’t have earned us the 1st position over BD. Only a draw with Napoli or a draw by BD would have earned us the first position.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    SIGH !

    ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
    WITNESS: No.
    ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
    WITNESS: No.
    ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
    WITNESS: No.
    ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
    WITNESS: No.
    ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
    WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
    ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
    WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Tommie Gun: I am for well-reasoned dissents offered with zero abusive language on this blog thus, I totally respect your dissent. Nonetheless, I prefer to side with those who disagree with you.

    1. watched the match too but not as a neutral spectator or even as an expert one as the likes of Walter. Yet, I felt exactly as those who have expressed the sentiment here that the ref was more heavy handed against us.
    2. Discretely, the ref didn’t blow a single whistle wrong but the unfairness were in the infringements he didn’t blow and in the use of his discretion to brandish yellow cards.
    3. If you are looking for proofs beyond this, you will not find it because the ref was experienced or smart enough to not be blatant.
    As a fan, one doesn’t have more than this to go by and yet one must vehemently defend one’s own against blatant and subtle biases.

  • TommieGun

    @ Shakabula, thanks a lot, it means a lot to me. Respect.

    1. I agree. He definetly got more wrong decisions against us. No doubt, that’s math, not even opinion… 🙂

    2. Agree.

    3. That’s where the problem lies. I don’t know what do you (or anyone else writing here, except for Walter haha) does for a living. And some people (and that’s fair enough) want to keep it private.

    However, I don’t mind telling you what I do for a living: I am a lawyer, my speciality is complex litigation (which in England would make me a barrister). I have 9 years experience in the field.

    The kind of clients I represent often take me into very large public tenders and government contracts disputes (usually projects over USD 500mil).

    In order not to over explain – in huge government contracts, participants will try to disqualify participants who propsed a better bid. One of the common contention is … bias by the tender committee which was in charge of reviewing the bids.

    Now I won’t be naive (can’t remember who was referring to naivete vs. honesty but as a lawyer I will not try to claim that I’m honest, since no one will believe me … :D).

    Anyway – those committees are FAR from being fair straight up. There is always something behind the scenes. Not always bribe, not always personal gain, sometimes its simpler stuff and sometimes its just blatant bias with no really good reason.

    EVERY time I tried to contend bias, basing my argument on statistics, I failed. Now, maybe I’m a crap lawyer. I’ll be modest: I don’t think so. More importantly: my contentions were backed up with expert opinions prepared by proffessors with 40 years experience in statistics. The problem was that the other party had expert opinions which said the opposite. And in statistics (and I’m not qualified in that field) – you CAN prove anything with the same set of data, which makes it impossible to base legaly bidning conclusions on stats.

    And now I’m coming back to point no. 3 – maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong. We cannot know based on stats. We cannot know what goes on in the refs mind. Maybe he’s crooked, maybe he’s just crap.

    To sum this up: if any ref which was the subject of a contention of being bent or crooked was a client of mine, and the contention was based on stats, I would have recommended them to sue for libel and my guess is that they would have won.

    I totally agree that whenever a ref gives the other team better treatment, I feel aggrieved. I think Mertens foul on Giroud merited a second yellow, but I am not a ref and those things are well within the ref’s discretion so for me I can’t say whether he is crooked, or just a crap ref, or just an asshole. But since I do try to live honestly, at least with myself, I will not say “yeah he must be crooked” because I know I don’t have enough data to back it up.

    I believe in the team, believe in Arsene, and think that it’s bullshit, all this 1st or 2nd place in the CL. If we are in it to win it, we have to take on the seeded teams.

    Now let’s give City their first home defeat saturday lunchtime.


  • Va Cong

    That’s a good rant Tommiegunner. Glad you got my sarcasm. Alls for fair play and living life honestly. But have you seen a game where we have ever had extra help from the referee? Give the extra boost that we are treated favourably by the ref?

    I am a art director, I have a degree in architecture and planning, and computer games programming and graphics. Which might give you the edge in your line of work to dissect in these biases qualities. So I guess like wenger said I just have an opinion and gave it lol but I’m sure if I take a video evidence not stats of every individual tackle by them it was deserved a second yellow as much as arteta.

    All I was referring to is fair play sometimes too many coincidences doesn’t seem like a blip. There is no discussion really just difference of opinions which neither sides agree on and whatever whom ever is qualified in whatever certification I find irrelevant as long as there is a good hence debatable content in basis of evidence or theory from analysis we can have a good discussion. Glad we are through time to sink city’s home run.

  • Va Cong

    Oh by the way Tommiegun he was just another shit ref 😉

  • TommieGun

    @ Va Cong – Amen, and thanks.

    As for your question – no, haven’t seen any game where we were given a boost. Maybe a game where the ref made a mistake in our favor (and it was clear it was a mistake and not some favorable bias).

    I’ll go even further – I don’t think that the analysis of the ref review is wrong. I think it’s right. I think we are the least favored team of all the so called “big” teams, and by a large margin, and that’s even before looking at the stats.

    I again differ on one thing only – moving from point (a) [being the team getting the least sympathy] to point (b) [conspiracy / refs are bent].

    * How about someone (theoritcally speaking of course, this is illegal and not recommended) plant a bug on Riley’s phone or intercept his email… :~)

  • GoingGoingGooner

    It would have been nicer to have finished first in the group…no doubt but I love it when we play the big teams in Europe. On any given day, we can beat any team in the world. Last year we drew Bayern and we lost the tie but the effect of our win in the second leg propelled us forward for the rest of the year. I doubt a victory over a no name or almost no name team would have done the same thing. The Champions League is a cup competition and there is more than a little element of luck involved…why not us this year?

  • nicky

    It’s funny how different are the views of people watching the same game of football.
    Every time I see Jenkinson I’m impressed with his performance and IMO when the time comes, he will be a fine replacement for Sagna. He is of course still learning.

  • Yassin

    I cant understand what did Jenkinson do wrong, we were great up until that moment which their left back went through, that moment was Rosicky fault not Jenks… He is doing great i believe, for a young man to replace Sagna, i believe he is doing great.
    I cant believe why everyone are saying Napole outplayed us, up until the goal we were defending well, the sudden goal followed by our captain and one of the best players in the team red card did the magic and gave them the believe.

    Its in our hands, we the fans, we either transfer the losing spirit to the team, or we keep it at Napole, we werent great, but they werent too.

    On saturday we will see what can this team do with the big boys, and this game mighy be the most important, spirit wise, lets get behind the team.

  • Stuart

    I too don’t see the ref issue as a conspiracy but more of an unwritten, unspoken rule.

  • OMGArsenal

    Tommie Gun and other Gooners: Please take it from an experienced and equally cynical retired referee (who saw bias first hand while working with some top international officials) that we will NEVER prove officiating bias as being intentional, in the truest sense of the word. However, clear indication of preferential treatment for one team and against another is easy to prove. UA in their referee reviews, conclusively prove a continuous bias against AFC and a provable bias FOR certain other teams. If it was simply one official then it would not be overly suspicious but it is almost 35% of the PGMOL dandies that are being found out regularly. That amount of incompetence beggars description, and would never be tolerated in any other profession. However it is more than incompetence…but it is very difficult to give a tag to, as there is always the defense of the officials’ prerogative to interpret the Laws under the circumstances, and at the time of the events. As I have always maintained when discussing this with Tony and Walter, unless and until a PGMOL member comes out and unequivocally states that they were directed to favour one team over another, we will be left theorizing and bemoaning the lack of ability to take action against these game thieves. That is the issue of conspiracies, they can’t be easily proven or disproven.
    Concerning whether AFC would have been better off having an ëasier¨ opponent in the knockout stage….it all comes down to financial considerations. If we had gotten a less formidable opponent, and progressed, we would make more money…if we get knocked out at the group stage, we make less. Regardless, as everyone has pointed out, we will prove our true mettle in this next round. My guess is we’ll get either Real or Barca as that’s the way EUFA ¨organizes¨ things in their incestuous little world.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Tommie Gun, I know what that performance by the Naples ref looked like to me, I know what Webb in the weekends game against Everton looked like to me, I know what it looks like whenever we break, get fouled and the ref does nothing looks like to me, I know what us taking six fouls unpunished and giving one back and getting a card looks like to me, I know what the arteta situation yesterday when the ref clearly changed his mind when realising arteta was already on a yellow looks like to me, I know what the ref previews on this site predicting the behaviours of refs week in week out looks like to me, I know what Utd going a year without a pen or sending off against them in the EPL looks like to me. I would respect any research you can come up with to the contrary but until then I will value the huge amount of work done on this site and others and seriously suspect something is very wrong with the game at the highest level and that referees are the weakest link. Anything run by FIFA with characters such as arry and bully boys such as fergie and characters as weak as the refs appear in recent publications cannot be totally right. But we on untold are a broad church, with respect, please enlighten us I for one am all ears

  • Va Cong

    Haha Mandy I agree with you totally like I said Tommiegun just has a different way of thinking. Like the concept of the lottery. I believe if In luck while my friend imran says what’s the point save you’re money the odds are against you. Tommie chooses to believe the refs are correct. While it’s plain to see we can see the fouls which he says is 50-50. Can you ask a colour blind person to see beyond the grey? Who knows they just see a 50 shades of grey in favour of the selective card giving ref.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The Simplest Explanation

    A mother-in-law arrives home from the shops to find her son-in-law Pete in a steaming rage and hurriedly packing his suitcase.

    “What happened Paddy ?” she asks anxiously. “What happened!! I’ll tell you what happened. I sent an email to my wife telling her I was coming home today from my fishing trip. I get home… and guess what I found??

    Yes, your daughter, my wife Jean, naked with Tim McDurmt in our marital bed! This is unforgivable, the end of our marriage. I’m done. I’m leaving forever!”

    “Come now, calm down, calm down Paddy!” says his mother-in-law. “There is something very odd going on here. Jean would never do such a thing! There must be a simple explanation. I’ll go speak to her immediately and find out what happened.”

    Moments later, the mother-in-law comes back with a big smile. “There now Pete, you see? I told you there must be a simple explanation! “Well what is it?” Fumed Pete.

    “She never got your E-mail!”

  • Va Cong

    One for you brickfields

    A newlywed couple had only been married for two weeks. The husband, although very much in love, couldn’t wait to go out on the town and party with his old buddies ..

    So, he said to his new wife, ‘Honey, I’ll be right back.’

    ‘Where are you going, honey bunch?’ asked the wife.

    ‘I’m going to the bar, pretty face. I’m going to have a beer.’

    The wife said, ‘You want a beer, my love?’

    She went and opened the door to the refrigerator and showed him 25 different kinds of beer brands from 12 different countries: Germany , Holland , Japan , India ,etc.

    The husband didn’t know what to do, and the only thing that he could think of saying was, ‘Yes, lolly pop…but at the bar……you know…they have frozen glasses…..’

    He didn’t get to finish the sentence, because the wife interrupted him by saying,

    ‘You want a frozen glass, puppy face?’

    She took a huge beer mug out of the freezer, so frozen that she was getting chills just holding it.

    The husband, looking a bit pale, said, ‘Yes, tootsie roll, but at the Bar they have those hors d’oeuvres that are really delicious… I won’t be long, I’ll be right back. I promise. OK?’

    You want hors d’oeuvres, poochi pooh?’ She opened the oven and took out 5 dishes of different hors d’oeuvres: chicken wings, pigs in blankets, mushroom caps, pork strips, etc.

    ‘But my sweet honey… At the bar… You know….there’s swearing, dirty words and all that…’

    ‘You want dirty words, Dickhead? Drink your fucking beer in your Goddamn frozen mug and eat your motherfucking snacks, because you are Married now, and you aren’t fucking going anywhere! Got it, Arsehole?’

    So he stayed home…………..
    ………..and, they lived happily ever after

  • Pete


    Re Jenkinson. Firstly, I would be delighted if he comes good. A gooner as a child, took a different route, 100% commitment etc etc.

    But compare him in games with any of our other 3 full backs. When the full back receives the ball he generally has 3 choices – pass back to the centre-back, play inside to one of the midfielders or play down the line to the winger. Sagna, Gibbs and Monreal will tend to mix this up. Jenkinson will almost always play it back to Mertesacker. If he is under pressure he will whack it down the line. When Jenkinson does play inside or forwards there is a fairly high chance he will lose possession, compared to the others.

    I also sense that Jenkinson lacks confidence when he plays and that in turn transmits itself to the players around him. I don’t believe that he thinks he is technically as good as his team mates hence him invariably playing the simple, safe pass that doesn’t actually take us forward at all. Therefore I believe we are much weaker on the right flank going forward when Jenkinson plays – although I do think he has decent crossing ability (ref Bendtner goal against Hull). So we become unbalanced.

    When defending he is competent but, again, I don’t think he is confident when up against the best wingers – whereas I would never fear for Sagna against anyone.

    I am very sad to be critical but just setting out what I see.

    I note that Sagna faces a fitness test before tomorrow. I think the outcome of that will make a big difference to the likely result.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have noticed the same as you did.
    I love Carl for who he is but Sagna is much much better in every aspect of the game. Carl is still young and maybe he will become better. But I think that next season he will face competition from Bellerin. And if you have ever seen an attacking right back…this is him. I really am hopeful that Bellerin will make the first team next summer and I think that is why he was loaned to Watford now. He seems to be doing rather well over there.

    I have high hopes for him to be what Dani Alves has been for Barcelona for many years

  • colario

    I have never seen Bellerin play but from what you say the future is good for him and Arsenal.

    When Carl arrived he did well and it seemed we had found a future back. Recently when has played he seems to have gone backwards.

    However he is not the first young footballer to go through this and wont be the last.
    I hope for him that like Szcsesny he comes through this difficult time and fulfills his promise.

    I agree (as with Szcsesny at the time) game wise its a bit worrying especially with these important matches.

    The good thing is we know we can trust Arsene to make the best decision and his decision will be an objective one taking all the factor into account. There are factors we don’t know about.

    A little knowledge is a dangerous trap which the critics of Arsene fall into time and time again.

  • Pete

    I agree that Jenkinson seems to have gone backwards this season. But I was always concerned that he didn’t have the imagination/vision/confidence/technical ability to go forward at the same level as the rest of the team. Always had (and have) a question mark against him – but hope I’m wrong.

    With Szcz in contrast I always felt he did have what it takes… I remember his very first game, after the Brentford loan, at home to somebody in the League Cup and he pulled off an excellent low stop to his right after about 10 minutes. Yes, he makes mistakes, but I am very happy that he could be our keeper for the next 15 years – not interested in buying another keeper to replace him.

    With Jenkinson I would be concerned, right now, if you told me he would be our right back for the next 10 years if Sagna leaves in the summer. Haven’t seen Bellerin really at all so can’t comment on him – but the rumours are there that Wenger is looking for a new right back – perhaps as soon as January.

  • colario

    Let’s hope the rumour doesn’t get to Carl for that will only serve to undermine his confidence, that’s the last thing we want for him.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Va Cong – Nice ,and in the same vein……

    The Mule

    A couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. Their domestic tranquility had long been the talk of the town, and on this special occasion, a local newspaper reporter paid them a visit. He inquired as to the secret of their long and happy marriage.

    “Well,” explained the husband, “it all goes back to our honeymoon. We visited the Grand Canyon and took a trip down to the bottom of the canyon by pack mule.”

    “We hadn’t gone too far when my wife’s mule stumbled. My wife quietly said ‘That’s once.’ We proceeded a little farther when the mule stumbled again. Once more my wife quietly spoke: ‘That’s twice.’ We hadn’t gone a half-mile when the mule stumbled a third time. My wife promptly removed a revolver from her purse, hopped down off the beast, and shot the mule dead.”

    “I started to protest over her treatment of the mule when she looked at me and quietly said, ‘That’s once.'”