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October 2020

The sheer and absolute horror of British football journalism revealed; but we’re not learning the lessons.

By Tony Attwood

From “nicking a living” in the Daily Mail to the “complete player” on the BBC today; that is the story of Mesut Özil.

As you may well have read or seen on Sky, the recently sacked David Moyes said of Mesut, “I still think the jury’s out on him a bit.”

Cue the sniggering.  But what the Mail didn’t mention was their own headline in March 2014,

Lost and lazy Ozil might have cost Arsenal £42.5m but he isn’t worth two-bob… and he’s nicking a living

Now of course players change, and of course Mesut is playing much better now than he has previously at Arsenal – some say better than at any time in his career.  But even so, this change in the Mail from abuse of a player to sniggering at an ex-manager who says something silly, is not just childish and pathetic, it is also highly misleading.

Indeed if we look behind the drawn curtains that the football covering media never want to have pulled back, what we find is several issues that interact.

First, the media have a great interest in promoting the transfer market as the be-all and end-all of football.  If the club is not transferring players then it is not at the game.

Consider the Metro on 1 September this year

Arsenal fans call for Arsene Wenger to be sacked after signing nobody on transfer deadline day

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They continued,

“Piers Morgan led the revolt on Twitter after the north London side only managed to land goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea in the transfer window.

“Remarkably, Wenger’s side are the only club in Europe to have signed no outfield players over the course of the summer.”

As we have shown time and time again on Untold the amount of money spent in the transfer window has little to do with where a club stands in the league.  Chelsea have had a net outlay of £224m over the past five years, and Man U £300m.   The press respond to this a bit like an alcoholic who has a headache and who suggests that it will go away if only he can have another drink.

But more we have shown that even if players do eventually make a difference, they often don’t make a difference at once.  Only 25% do that in fact.   Mesut is clearly in that group.  He was not useless as suggested last year, of course, but he was not as brilliant last season as he is this season.

So just like Thierry Henry, Mesut took a while to adjust to the pace, violence and lack of refereeing protection of the Premier League.

But more than that – the media whip up the hysteria about transfers but then make fun of any transferred player (and his manager) where they deem the transfer has not worked.

The fact that the media has never seriously engaged with this argument about the worth of transfers against the worth of buying in younger players and moulding them in the style you want, but instead has kept pumping out the mantra that the club that buys the most players will win the league, without ever wondering if it is true, is an absolute indictment of their ability to comment upon football.

At the heart of the problem with the reporting of football in the media is both the media’s forgetfulness about its own past statements, and the remorseless focus on the immediate.  Like my three year old grand daughter who made a fuss yesterday because she couldn’t watch a video on the iplayer NOW! the Daily Mail and its allies set out to destroy the career of anyone who doesn’t reach their imagined level of satisfaction today.

Indeed one could say that the football media is now run by people with the emotional outlook of three year olds for readers with the emotional grip on reality of a three years old.  In fact I’m putting my granddaughter forward as football editor of the Daily Mail.

So when we read in the Daily Mail that “Arsenal fans rounded on David Moyes after the former Everton and Manchester United manager gave a rather harsh assessment of Mesut Ozil,” we know that once again they are trying to hide their own past gibberings and set themselves out to be a benign publication that allows the “man in the street” to “have his say” and chuckle at one of the 1,850,000 unemployed people in Britain today; a once proud man now reduced to talking tripe in front of the camera to earn a crust.

Moyes had clearly not read his pre-match briefing.  He should know that now the media is full of Mesut the Golden Deliverer.  The Man from the Gods.  “One of the standout Premier League players so far this season,  racking up 13 assists, twice as many as the next best provider in England’s top flight.” (Sky Sports web site).

And of course they go scampering to Wikipedia to find out that the record for assists in a season is held by Thierry Henry with 20 assists in 2002/03.  The Mirror has worked out that at this rate Mesut will get his 21st in his 25th game.

“If he plays every one of the Arsenal’s next ten games, that will be the away game at Bournemouth on 6 February.  If he misses one game, it would come at home against Leicester on 13 February.”

Here’s the record list of assistants – you will note that in 2001/02 and 2002/03 Arsenal had both the assist champions of the season.  It gives an interesting insight.

Player Assists Season
Thierry Henry 20 2002/03
Cesc Fabregas 18 2014/15
Frank Lampard 18 2004/05
Cesc Fabregas 17 2007/08
Eric Cantona 16 1992/93
Robert Pires 15 2001/02

Five other players have also reached 15 in a PL season.

There is also an interesting point in Fabregas’ achievement of 18 in 2014/15.  We all know how poor the man with the Barcelona DNA has been this season.   What is often missed is that his decline started in January 2015.  Fabregas got 15 of his 18 assists in the first half of the season and after that went into what looks like being terminal decline.

And here’s the present season: Most Premier League assists 2015/16…

Player Assists
Mesut Ozil 13
Gerard Deulofeu 7
Kevin de Bruyne 6
David Silva 6
Riyad Mahrez 6

There’s also another record that’s been grabbed – the assist Mesut gave in the game against Tottenham was the sixth game in a row in which he got an assist, which broke another record.   Fabregas is shown in the record books as having six games with assists consecutively in the Premier League, but only because his interval half way through that run with Barcelona to top up his DNA, game in the middle of it.

Consecutive Premier League assists

Player Club Year Total
Mesut Ozil Arsenal 2015 6
Cesc Fabregas Arsenal/Chelsea 2011-2014 6
Antonio Valencia Manchester United 2011 5
Thierry Henry Arsenal 2004 5
Ryan Giggs Manchester United 2003 5
Gianfranco Zola Chelsea 2002 5
Darren Anderton Tottenham 1993 5

Mesut’s sequence ran from the Alexis second goal in the 2-5 away win against Leicester.  (And it is interesting that on BBC Radio 5 this weekend the “experts” were unable to think when Leicester had last lost a match.  The answer was rather obvious, but no they couldn’t get it).

Gary Neville on 25 August this year was typical of the media.  Lacking anything much to say he went on a rant against Mesut including, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mesut Ozil take responsibility for the rest of his team. I’ve seen him have good games, where he passes the ball well, gets involved and gets assists but doesn’t get enough goals.”  (He also laid into Alexis at the same time).

On 11 November he said of one of Mesut’s crosses, “It’s no surprise that it was his delivery at the end. He does a lot of the right things on the ball and delivers it into the right areas.   It’s a great, great record. It’s some feat and he’s playing now at the level that we all imagined he would.”

34 comments to The sheer and absolute horror of British football journalism revealed; but we’re not learning the lessons.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The constant anti Arsenal comments from the media has left them exposed.
    Now, as we sit on top of the league….until this evening at least, we await our fate in the knockout stages of the ECL….which as we know will most likely be Barca, things are looking good. As I survey our team, I see at least six or seven of the very best of players, including a man recently described as the best defender in the EPL, another recently described by Gerrard as the best attacking MF in the league, the same player also called one of the best two players from the British Isles. We have a legend in goal, a player described as the best number ten in the world, by the enemy, another live wire genius who can at times carry his nation as well as his club.Apart from those six or seven special talents, there is a group of players not that far behind. And then, there is our manager.
    How the media/AAA can go against that and look serious I just don’t know.
    The praise from some parts of the press at the moment is well merited, but ultimately, think I will let them stew in their Spurs/Liverpool love in

  • Mandy Dodd

    I mean one of the best two players currently playing….. from the British Isles of course,

  • Ted lockett

    Very intellegnt article, well done.I used to own a hi-fi business and one of our customers was a journalist for a rigt wing broadsheet and was trying to get some dirt on John Prescott, in fact he said they had found positive information but they would not be publishings that! Says it all I think.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Mandy, in case you wondered, I just clicked “like” in your contribution above. Now you know what some of us are up to when we are not adding our comments on UA(lol).

    To your point, I see now why the English press, pundits and AAA will never like Wenger. Our beloved Piers Morgan (PM for short) provided the insight.

    Yesterday, he let it be known that he is suspending his “WengerOut#” campaign, obviously, in light of Wenger’s (and his players’) disappointing refusal to work to PM’s script by providing consistently dismal results on the field. The gall of it is that PM also sent another Twit pleading with Wenger to buy a “world class” player – for that matter, any world class player, so that wenger could show his seriousness about Arsenal’s intentions.

    Clearly, he knows, even as he typed the message that Wenger is not like that and wouldn’t become like that based on his urgings.

    Clearly, in PM’s mind, how and why Arsenal made it through the European Championship group stage as well as is sitting atop the EPL table without, to his consternation and to the consternation of the pundits, press and AAA, showing his seriousness by purchasing an outfield player in the summer transfer window is completely lost on PM.

    Clearly, Wenger is just not that type of coach that does his job with a furtive eye on the opinions of the press and pundits. Clearly too, any coach that dares to ignore the opinions of such influential “football experts” must be beyond crazy.

    This character flaw on Wenger’s part guarantees that any love-in between him and the pundits and the British press and AAA – from whom PM is an eloquent spokesman, is bound to be short-lived as an ice block in an oven.

    It is impossible to get through to such “experts” that PM speaks for that Wenger’s results thus far in this season (and for that matter, historically at Arsenal) confirms his seriousness and expertise in what he does. So, no need to bother or to attempt to do this.

  • Pat

    Pace, violence and lack of refereeing protection. The Premier League well summed up, Tony!

  • nicky

    I do not think we need take too much notice of Neville’s view of Ozil.
    The German is honest, fair, talented and a ball player, traits that are totally alien to retired thugs like Neville.

  • colario

    The media gets more readers by aiming its message in a way none thinkers understand because there are more of them in this world than there are thinkers.

    wWhat does more readers mean to the media? More advertising which in turn means more money which in turn means bigger profits.

    The more stupid the media prophet the bigger the money profit.

  • Menace

    It’s a media trait. If there is nothing to publish make up some bolony (American offal sausage) & publish it. It may not be the truth but some will swallow it.

    Piers Morgan is a typical BS journalist. Speaks his mind (less intelligence in it than in a football) & thinks he is Messi, Ronaldo, Boycott & Barry John all rolled into one. The idiot is truly a media example. Looking forward to his next rant as it is entertainment rather than sense.

    This is the season for Red Nose to lead the pack (taking Santa on his way), so we should be hearing from him when LVG has brought MU to the edge & all hype of the Nevilles get shown up with a couple of trouncings.

    I love the way Vardy is celebrated while Mahrez is the true sporting hero. He gave up his penalty to allow Vardy the chance to get to 9 goals. Little mention of it though! (there’s gratitude).

    I’m still fearful for Girouds left hamstring. I hope the physios are treating it.

  • Pete

    B*llox. It’s Barcelona.

  • Rich

    Moyes comment interested me a lot.

    Where the jury is still out on Ozil, and always will be, is if your conception of a good footballer is one who will make at least some strong challenges. Someone who, in the position Lovren was in with Gardener yesterday, wouldn’t get the hell out of the way.

    Increasingly, I am admiring Ozil more and more for that quality. He senses the most dangerous, literally, moments. There might only be one in a match, there might be 5 or more. He’ll try avoid being in danger with clever movement and positioning first, but if he can’t and the ball breaks in such a way as to leave him vulnerable to a bad challenge from a fellow professional who has no thought whatsoever about his opponents health, when he absolutely must he’ll perform an action which is likely to lose the ball, or just stand off.

    Imagine losing Ozil for 6 months in an incident like that. What it would deny us as fans and how it would harm the teams chances! Get even better at recognising those moments of great danger and avoiding them, Mesut, I say.

    Completely protecting yourself is an impossibility, as shown by Mason’s challenge on him last year, but in general the only chance he gives them to foul him is by grabbing him from behind or pushing and kicking him as he releases the ball. Crucially, these fouls do not tend to occur at speed, which is when the real damage is usually done.

    I think it shows great intelligence. Moreover, if he trusts the opponent (and the referee) more, this is less likely to happen, which is why he tends to play slightly differently in the CL or for the national team. We are denied the chance to see the absolute full expression of his powers, which would include more dribbling past opponents at speed, as he did on a memorable run against a relatively safe Southampton side two years ago, but we get the best possible chance of him avoiding injury and continuing to make immense contributions to the team. A good deal in an imperfect world.

    However, to the ‘traditionalists’ here such actions are the cardinal sin of football. Add to that the fact that the less ability you have with the ball, the less justifiable it is not to compete strongly for the ball on every occasion, chase back and make tackles, fight for everything.

    Well, Moyes and co made their way in the game using players with a lot less ability on the ball than Ozil. So that’s what they are used to. In their souls even when they do have a talent like Ross Barkley to work with, they still find it tremendously hard to go with the talent instead of being put off by, say, the occasional losses of the ball when that player attempts ambitious passes, etc.

    They were players of the battling variety themselves, their teammates were, the teams they create are. The players they get to work with who possess remotely similar qualities to Ozil will not be as skilful, and will be working within a framework which prioritises aggression and fight, with the end result that these managers distrust of these players receives a top up and becomes further entrenched. Think Ben Arfa- not good enough for relegated Hull, absolutely dazzling in Ligue 1 this year.

    The result being that their minds are calibrated to find it a big deal when they see a player who ever commits that sin of not competing ferociously for the ball, not diving in when there’s a chance to dispossess the opposition, or if ever they see a player pushed off the ball fairly easily. Even if that only happens a couple of times in a game, it sticks in their mind and shapes their opinion of that player. That is how the jury can still be out on Ozil.

    As well as all the delight Ozil is providing and all the good he is doing for the team, he has probably provided me with more food for thought about the game than any other player I’ve seen. Tony uses a fantastic phrase there, ‘the remorseless focus on the immediate’.

    For me, it’s not an easy thing to avoid, but if you want to see the game properly it is essential you rise to the task of doing so. Ozil is the best possible player to do this with.

    Stare at the fact there might be,say, five or ten moments or situations in a game where you’d be better off with James Mclean or Steven Naismith haring back after the ball or flying into a crunching tackle, yet 20 or 50 moments, often the most decisive ones, where you would be much better off with Ozil in your team. Now try work out what that amounts to over ten games, or over a season. Then the final task of calculating that- the weaknesses and the strengths of that player- within a particular team in a particular league.

    Moyes evidently can’t work that out very well. He deserves some understanding,though, maybe. It’s not easy to go against the work of a lifetime. Had he been able to do so, he would quite likely be in charge still of a Man Utd entertaining at the top of the league.

  • Nonny

    Arsenal just drew Barca. Not my dream draw

  • Jambug

    Could be tricky 🙂

  • Pete

    Rich – a very thought-provoking comment. Thank you.

    Unfortunately drowned out at our infernal misfortune – again – in the last 16 draw.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I know last year was an exception, but why is it so often Barca / Bayern?

  • proudkev

    Good Morning all.

    We are top of the league and well deserved too. In fact, no team has a better record this calendar year, so it’s no fluke.

    It has come as a shock to the journos and the AAA though who seem unable to recognise this for what it is.

    We were told by the media and the AAA team that the greatest manager of all time would win the Premier League this season – yet they seem unable to understand how they could have got this so very wrong. After all, they are the experts. So how on earth are Chelsea and that multi million pound squad sitting one point off relegation? Well, unable to wield his favourite weapon of choice, the cheque book, Mourinho has been found wanting.

    We were also told by the same group of experts that we should sell Olivier Giroud because he’s ‘rubbish'(well he only cost £12m) and sign the World Class Christian Benteke (must be great for £35m). Giroud has just got to 50 goals faster than Didier Drogba and Benteke has been found wanting.

    Hilarious stuff.

    These journalists and the AAA just keep giving, utterly clueless. The sheer arrogance of criticising Arsene Wenger because he doesn’t do what they would do is a sign of utter incompetence. Stick to your day jobs boys this is professional football not some game for kids on the Xbox.

    In fact, a section of the aaa have been criticising Sanchez. Apparently he’s too greedy and isn’t really a team player. Slows down our play and should be used as an impact player. Aaron Ramsey should play centrally and Mesut Ozil should be moved out to play wide to accomodate him. I kid you not, these idiots exist and criticise Arsene Wenger because he doesn’t share their wierd view of football. Its all a bit surreal, it’s like the local village idiot criticising the local parish professor because he hasn’t tried smothering his testicles in doggy treats and yelled ‘hear boy’ to the neighbours Rotweiller.

    As Tony has alredy said the Daily Mail article claiming Mesut Ozil was ‘nicking a living’ just exposes the lack of knowledge in our media. That piece was actually written by Palace fan Neil Ashton (@neilashton_)who also chairs the embarrassing Sunday Supplement show on Sky. Sunday supplement is where three well know football journos are invited to chew the fat with Neil Ashton. I stopped listening because the anti Wenger/anti-arsenal feeling on there was just ridiculous.

    What you have to understand about the journalists is they are desperate for self promotion and page views. They dont have time to conduct proper research and rarely check their facts. They just recycle and repeat untruths. Newspaper sales are on the floor due to the huge amount of online content. Negativity sells and it is widely accepted that they trawl wenger out blogs like LeGrove. They dont bother to acknowledge just what a tiny % of fans they represent or the fact that 50% of them arent even Arsenal fans but mischief making rival fans.

    So what you end up with is poorly researched stories, with their headline writers creating the sensationalism.

    What we have to understand is that Arsene Wenger is judged against what the journalists and ignorant fans ‘say’ he should do. Because Arsene does not buy Benteke, Balotelli, Schneirderlein or whoever they say he should buy, he gets slaughtered. Because he doesnt play the traditional English way of hoof ball or kick players to stop them perfroming, he is seen as being a ‘smart continental’ snubbing his nose at the English game. How many times are we accused of not being able to play in the North on cold evenings? How many times are we accused of playing tikki takka football with no end product?

    Wenger came to England and basically laughed at or approach to the game. The drinking culture. Night clubbbing. Poor diet. The rubbish pitches. Long ball football. He will never be forgiven for that.

    It’s ironic that when we don’t spend big on players we get crucuified. When we do, Mesut Ozil gets shot down by the ignoramous’s from the Jurassic elements of the media.

    Evidence based journalism does not exist, it is about following an agenda and not letting anything divert them from that goal. This is why the miniscule Wenger Out movement appeals to them. You only have to go onto the Wenger Out blog today to see the amount of criticism our team and our players are getting for beating Villa 2-0 away. Instead of celebrating obtaining more points than our rivals, they prefer to round on the manager and some of the players. Apparently we played poor, were lucky it was only Villa and Theo and Giroud were rubbish. I half expect the media to pick this theme up and run with it. Watch this space.

    Thin squad – spend some money
    This ‘thin’ squad has proved to be the opposite and the long list of injuries has not weakened us as much as they predicted. In fact, Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea have outspent us by hundereds of millions, yet they have been affected far more than us with injuries and out of form players. Have Chelsea got two top players for every position? Man City? So why do Arsenal get that accusation rammed down our throats at every occassion whenever we get an injury?

    Its all bollocks. Don’t expect Arsenal or Wenger to get any praise because everything we achieve is done because of a failure of the other team or their manager. What they should be saying is that Arsenal are where we are despite spending a helluva lot less than our rivals because Arsene Wenger kniws what he is doing. He has a lot more knowledge of building teams, improving players than some click baiting journalist. He definielty knows far more than the abusive student trying to pass his Media Studies course, while navigating his fantasy football team through the FIFA15 football league.

    Two FA Cups on the spin after a period of austerity, 16 consecutive qualifications from the Champions League, yet still Arsene Wenger and our great football club is criticised like no other.

    If we have a very successful season, who says teh Double is beyond us, this could get messy.

  • proudkev

    We can beat Barca.

    What a great game! These are the nights you want – not playing some team nobodys ever heard of in the Europa League.

    Bring it on!!

  • Pete

    I expect Wenger will be criticised now by the hindsight Henrys for “not winning the group”… Just that we will be playing the two form teams in the world 4 times in our first 8 matches in the competition.

    The only way to have avoided drawing Bayern would have been to have won the League last season…. Not good enarf… Venger ahhhht!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Admire your optimism Kev, but all the same, I would have taken Ghent or Zenit.
    Yes, we could beat Barca. We could be great over the two legs, we could get very lucky , or they could get injuries…..ok I know that doesn’t often happen.
    We could have knocked them out fairly recently, until a certain ref , who is now hear of European refs……intervened.
    But, it is what it is, I am sure whatever happens, they will give it a real go. We can certainly beat them at home.

  • Jambug

    From the 2 possibilities:

    1) Playing in the Europa Cup on Thursdays with a realistic chance of even winning the thing?

    2) Playing in the Champions League against probably the best team on the planet, with possibly the best attacking trident in the history of football ?

    Even given the very real chance of winning one, versus the very real chance of exiting the other in the next round, I know what option I would take every time.

    On the Barcelona match, it’s going to be tough, very tough, but it’s what you have to face in the CL. If not now then in the next round, or the next round.

    Honestly, I don’t EXPECT to go through but I can dream. If we don’t, so be it, no shame in that. But if we do !!!!!

  • proudkev


    Pretty much. They’ve already written us off because they that’s what they do.

    What people need to realise is that you have to play these teams at some stage – so it doesnt really matter when. FFM’s are great at predicting what are easy and what are difficult games but the truth is, none of these games are easy. If we can get our best players out there, I am confident that witha bit of luck we can beat UEFA’s team, Barca. We’ve beaten Bayern in Germany, losing on away goals when they were winning it so it’s possible.

    Mesut will be right up for that game and Sanchez/Bellerin won’t need any motivating.

    Can’t wait, great draw and a great game to win on the way to winning it.

  • Gouresh

    We have a good squad and if we play like we played against BM, we win. I know it will be difficult but where is our belief? How can we be so defeatist.

  • Pete

    Looking at dates, first leg is on Tues 23rd and second on Weds 16th. Good that it is later than earlier – and extra week for the wounded to get back.

    Weekend before 1st leg we have FA Cup 5th round (if still in)… and weekend after is MU (away). Likely to be a Sunday if they are still in Europa League!

    We then have Swansea at home the following midweek – so guess likely to be the Wednesday? And then the Totts the weekend following – hopefully also knackered by their Europa exertions…

    Then a blank midweek followed by FA Cup(6) (or WBA at home). Away leg on the Wednesday after, and finally Everton (away) at the weekend. Hopefully on the Sunday otherwise very dicey!

    Quite fortunate to have MU and Totts when they are both in EL action – see MU have Midthylland and the Totts have Fiorentina in their next round.

    Must hope for some soft FA cup draws as otherwise very dangerous if trying to rotate players…

  • Jambug

    This from Wiki:

    Gent v Wolfsburg 16/17/23/24 Feb 8/9/15/16 Mar

    Roma v Real Madrid 16/17/23/24 Feb 8/9/15/16 Mar

    Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea 16/17/23/24 Feb 8/9/15/16 Mar

    Arsenal v Barcelona 16/17/23/24 Feb 8/9/15/16 Mar

    Juventus v Bayern Munich 16/17/23/24 Feb 8/9/15/16 Mar

    PSV Eindhoven v Atlético Madrid 16/17/23/24 Feb 8/9/15/16 Mar

    Benfica v Zenit Saint Petersburg 16/17/23/24 Feb 8/9/15/16 Mar

    Dynamo Kyiv v Manchester City 16/17/23/24 Feb 8/9/15/16 Mar

    This from

    Arsenal will face Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

    The Catalan giants will travel to Emirates Stadium for the first leg on February 23, with the second leg in Barcelona on March 16.


    Which is correct?

  • Jambug


    My mistake. My own diary confused me as I had the later dates down as QF for some reason.

    So it’s home on Feb 23, away March 16.

    Either way it seems a long way away. Lets hope this gives us enough time to get a few of the injuries back.

  • Al

    Pete 11:55
    Just my thoughts as well. They’re already lining up to criticise Wenger for not winning that group, but truth is, even if we had won home and away against the Croats and the Greeks, Bayern would still have won that group (on our head-to-head). Somehow I suspect this will escape the hindsight managers’ minds.

    Anyway, how can you want to be called the best in the world if you’re going to run and duck from facing the best? You won’t be a true world champion then if you do every trick in the book to avoid coming up against the best, only hoping for some smash and grab in the final stages of the tournament (Chelsea? :)). That’s a defeatist attitude, and champions aren’t made of that. We are the underdogs in this so nothing to lose. Will enjoy both legs, whatever the outcome.

  • Al

    Having said that I have long had a suspicion the CL draw is fixed. How come certain teams always seem set to play against certain teams? It’s rare to see certain teams play each other, I wonder why. Anyway you can’t have faith in anything rub by those mobs at Uefa/Fifa.

  • Al

    …anything run by….

  • proudkev

    I take your point of course but look at least if we go out to barca, instead of say Ghent, we wont get the usual shit storm of losing to an ‘easy’ team, like we did Monaco. There are no easy teams but there are harder teams, I admit!!

    Sometimes players are better able to switch on and become highly motivated for those bigger challenges, thats what I hope happens against Barca. In the Champions League this season I felt the players looked a bit complacent in the early games. There is no question that the players will be motivated for Barca.

    But what a night at the Emirates for us supportrs, a magic night and thats what the Champions League is all about. I would rather watch us play Barcelona and go out then play Ghent and go out. I bet Liverpool, Spurs and Man Utd fans would donate their left arm to be in that position.

    We can beat Barcelona and when we do it will be extra special!!

  • Al

    Spot on. I would rather we play Barcelona for many reasons; for football purists this should be a spectacle, it’s unlikely any of our players will have their limbs hacked… I’ll be hoping we go toe to toe with Barca, not the defensive approach that worked against Bayern once. If we go out the final I would hope is Barcelona v Bayern. I don’t want to see a team playing park-the-bus in the final, that’d be just wrong (sending the wrong message that negative football can be rewarding).

  • proudkev

    with you on that.

  • Rich

    Glad I waited a while to digest Barca news. Was disappointed at first but feel differently now.

    There is a chance we can do it. We’ll need the luck of having nearly all our best players available and the even bigger luck of their top players not having a great night and/or being unlucky in the final third, plus we’ll need to play brilliantly ourselves, be clinical with our chances and have some luck with our own finishing.

    A tall order, but not impossible. It’s a chance for probably our greatest ever achievement in Europe. Messi, Suarez and Neymar, in an exceptional team, is simply extraordinary.

    I’d speed up any contract negotiations for key players if I were the club. Winning that contest will require performances so good from some or all of our key men- Ozil, Ramsay, Kos, Sanchez- as to make Real and Barca push hard for those players this summer. Price worth paying, no doubt.

  • Barry L

    Three points:
    1. Playing Barca is what the CL is all about. Betting odds say they’ll beat us over 2 legs. So we have nothing to lose. We beat Bayern at Emirates, why not Barca; return leg whole different game, but what great experience for some of our key players.
    2. By time we play Barca, end Feb, we could be top of EPL facing 12 games with only MU, MC and Tiny Tots as major opponents. The buzz of beating Barca at home will propel us to EPL title(and possibly a double)
    3. Piers Morgan is a waste of space (like his lovechild Adrian Durham). They know sweet FA about football, and are just gutter journalists. Morgan professes to be a Gooner, but he only supports the team when we win, he neither the style or gut commitment to support the team n things don’t go right all the time

  • Menace

    Well there are always the truths that can catch up & give us a handicap. The Spanish courts & taxmen could have a Messi time in a prison cell & the rabid footballer might just bite on a new bait. It is all a possibility but even if they are all present, there is only one ball in play on the football field. Arsenal have shown quality & were beating Barca a couple of times when we were robbed. Let’s see if these corrupt bastards have the courage to do it again.

    I’m backing Alisher to get his cronies in to ensure an even match.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The rain was pouring down. And there standing in front of a big puddle outside the pub, was an old Irishman, drenched, holding a stick, with a piece of string dangling in the water.

    A passer-by stopped and asked, “What are you doing?”

    “Fishing” replied the old man.

    Feeling sorry for the old man, the gent says, “Come in out of the rain and have a drink with me.”

    In the warmth of the pub, as they sip their whiskies, the gentleman cannot resist asking, “So how many have you caught today?”

    “You’re the eighth” says the old man.?