Why bother with the Champions League?

We had a vibrant discussion recently based around Gooner In Exile’s suggestion that the CL should not be prioritized ahead of the Premiership. An interesting and unusual viewpoint but one which has occupied my mind ever since. (please correct me if I misunderstood!) The point being that we will neither win nor get near to winning the cup.

With Aston Villa away followed by Everton we have difficult games ahead, games in which we will need an injury free squad. So should Mr Wenger put out his best team tonight? In my opinion definitely, because Champions League games at home are the pinnacle of Arsenal watching. The opportunity to play the best foreign teams has always excited me and despite many, many seasons of failure to win Big Ears, it still does.

But I see GIE’s point, does anyone really believe we can win the thing?

Are we kidding ourselves?

Last season Man City went out pre-knockout and won the PL, Man Utd went out at the same time and were within 30 seconds of another championship. Could we have done better without playing those extra games? Would the team have been galvanised by the “humiliation” of not progressing further?

Ask Arsène. I believe he really enjoys these games and given the choice of Schalke or Sunderland away and I know which he will choose!

A win tonight puts us in the box seat for qualification with the tricky trip to Greece as our final game. We beat Montpelier away but quite frankly a draw would have been a fairer result with our defence standing firm against a tide of French attacks. Losing to Schalke was a shock, not so much the result but the manner of the loss – we were undone, stripped naked, spanked and left embarrassed. Pride was regained in the recent draw but anyone watching would be foolish to bet on Arsenal progressing very far in the CL.

Yet you have to be in it to win it and a win tonight is a must.

Montpelier are in average form and feeling the loss of our new Wonder-Striker. They are 14th in La Ligue and have drawn their last 3  games plus they lost away at Olimpiakos. We have seen the dangers of Belhanda and Camara is their top scorer but we really should beat them.

My team:

The return of GIbbs is timely, Tommy is not a left back – he doesn’t have the spatial awareness nor the attacking ability for the position but is Gibbs fit enough to play tonight and Saturday?  I hope so. Gervinho is also fit and could well play as Theo is out. I would prefer to see Ox start – he hasn’t played enough this season and needs a run of games.

Captain James Cook brought us a handsome victory at the weekend over the subterranean ghouls. Let us see if today’s hero can do the same.Thomas Blakiston 1832- 1891. This brave fellow spent much of his life tramping over the world in search of wealth, fame, animals and plants. He was the first Eurpopean to travel the length of the Yangtse in China and then spent many years in Japan. Prior to this Blakiston explored Wetsern Canada. He died in Columbus Ohio of pneumonia.

I discovered the Blakiston Fish Owl in Japan. What have you done? (& I do NOT look like Scott Parker)

An early goal to settle the nerves and a composed defensive display will set us up for the next round.

Written by Big Raddy

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178 Responses to Why bother with the Champions League?

  1. Big Raddy says:

    chas 9.12 Di Matteo “suck seed”. Top punning

  2. LB says:

    Good team choice BR

    I, like you, hope AW goes with the Ox out right and not the Gerv, although for me Gerv and Podolski are equaly effective on the left, Pod shaves it due to his ability to add something to the defence but Gerv brings a tad more danger to the attack.

    I am a, defence being more important than the attack, kind of guy.

  3. chas says:

    Excellent, BR.
    I doubt Gibbs will be ready for tonight but hope he is.

    Can we imagine an Arsenal season without CL football? It’s been so long now, it’s virtually impossible to remember a time before.

    A massive beard and short back and sides – what a fantastic combination. Come on Tommy Blakiston, you can do it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b10bhZkAm1M

  4. “Why bother with the Champions League?”
    a question roberto di matteo no doubt is asking himself this morning.
    Its paramount that we have our strongest team out tonight, we don’t want to leave it to get a result in Greece.
    Montpelier are a mid table club in league 1 and are in desperate form.
    No gung-ho defenders on rampage please, leave it to the MF and FWs and we’ll comfortably win it.

  5. henrychan says:

    BR.. I think UCL still the most favorite league of all..
    Just see what Chelsea got last season.. Only finished 5th.. but they got more pride than City as EPL winner..

    And you know that there are big money there.. And that’s why Wenger put UCL as the first priority.. Money and Pride..
    We already win almost all trophy.. but not UCL..
    If Arsenal win UCL.. then Arsenal will be in ‘the big clubs’ family.. Only big Clubs can win UCL.. MU, Liv, Chelsea already got it.. We must also..

    Vermaelen is better to subs Gibbs..
    Look what we got when we play BFG – Kos than BFG-Verm..??
    Maybe for tonight Gibbs is the subs for Verm..
    I like the idea to bring Jetro Willem from PSV.. This kid is awsome.. very powerfull LB.. and yet still cheap..

  6. richie says:

    @LB from last post thats common knowledge Abromovich contacted Benitez even before the Juve game, it’s why De Mateo went into the (game one loss away from the tin tack) looking over his shoulder :) since 03 that’s 9 managers in 9 seasons.

  7. Rasp says:

    Hi Henry, I agree we should be looking to reinforce our options at LB and Willem has all the credentials to push Gibbs for top spot and replace him if the injuries keep coming.

  8. Rasp says:

    Top notch prematch Raddy. Our best team could be any 11 from 16 depending on the opposition and the fitness/weariness of those available. I think you’ve got it spot on with your selection (in terms of predicting AW’s choice).

    Hopefully AA will get some time on the pitch as he may have to deputise for Gerv in Jan/Feb.

    I can’t choose betwen the prem and CL in terms of priority. We’ve yet to win the CL and that is a big hole in our list of achievements. The chavs proved last year that if the luck goes your way, anything is possible.

  9. Great post Raddy. You’ve got 3 d’s

  10. glic says:

    Top stuff as usual Rad`s.
    Budgie face will aparantly become the richest ever paid off manager, some estimate him to become a ” Trill ionaire” !.
    The Chavs only just recorded their first profit year of about £1.5m ? in trying to adhere to FFP……didn`t last long !. hahaha

  11. richie says:

    @Chas I’m with BR your 9:12 What’s a budgie have to do to “suck seed” magic mate!!

  12. Big Raddy says:

    GM !! Good to see your gravatar…

    Trust the Chavs to steal the thunder of our CL game :evil:

    How stupid is it to sack the manager ahead of a vital game on Saturday?

    It looks as though we have two fragile LB’s what with Santos out again.

  13. I was in Italy Raddy. Great to be back though!

  14. I said earlier we need to buy a left back Raddy.

  15. I’m about to watch the whole NLD :)

  16. richard says:

    I have not seen anywhere that Wenger has prioritised cl over premiership. What he said exactly is You’ve the premiership to go for then the champions league then a top four finish to ensure cl football the next season then the fa cup and capital one cup. The bottom line is that by getting into the second round of champions league football a team will pick up around 17 million pounds in revenue that is practically the same amount as finishing in the top fourth the league look at chelsea 48 million for winning the cl more than their combined revenue for their league and domestic cup runs. I agree that we have to balance the needs of the league with cl football but you gain confidence from winning games so the strongest squad should be played tonight with an eye to ensuring qualification as quickly as possible then resting key players for saturday. If anything rest Wilshere and cazorla give coquelin and chamberlain and ramsey starts and maybe even sagna but thats all just to protect from further injury in wilshere and sagnas case.

  17. @ Big Raddy

    If Villa is a difficult game, then practically every team is difficult (?).

  18. richie says:

    I don’t agree with GIE on 2 counts 1st in 06 we were 15 mins away from victory. After we scored with10 men TDH had 2 “one on one’s” with their keeper (If ever you had to put your house on someone scoring) you’d have backed Thierry to put one of them away. Next up we badly need CL because if we hope to keep bringing in top players we have to play CL. Would a player like Cazorla have come to us without looking at 1) the type of football we play 2) are we in the CL? – I believe our continued qualification for CL acts as a massive incentive to any player thinking of joining us. Same as yesterdays post “Who Dares Wins” great players tempted to come to N5 won’t think I’ll go to the Ems because Arsenal kept 10 clean sheets last season, but they’ll come because Arsene Wenger has made Arsenal synonymous with great attacking football.

  19. henrychan says:

    breaking news.. Di Matteo is fired..

  20. Arsedave says:

    Brigham posted that at 09:21 yesterday’s thread.

  21. richie says:

    @Henrychan Arsene Wenger doesn’t give priority to ECL over Premier League. AW said 1st) comes PL – 2nd) comes ECL – 3rd) comes qualification for next ECL (i.e.finishing 4th or above)
    4th) come FA Cup and 5th) comes league cup. All in that order.

  22. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    The Group games are great fun, but I’m happy enough with one knockout round with a valiant exit

    The games simply come too thick and too fast if you are still in it in March – ie a time when the CC Final is on, the FA cup is quite serious, and the small matter of finishing the PL season strongly.

    Love the group games, would have gone tonight but for my sons birthday. C’est la vie

  23. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    A bearded explorer always get my day off to a good start..cheers Randy

  24. richie says:

    @Herrychan you are a little late! News of Di matteo’s sacking broke on AA @ 9:08 London time nearly 2 hours ago we’ve been chating about it for 1H 50M

  25. Big Raddy says:

    I have not explained myself very well. I knew it when I re-read the post.

    What I meant was …. if we believe 4th is a minimum and we are unlikely to progress further in the CL why risk important players ahead of a difficult run of games?

    Do we have more chance of winning the PL than the CL?

    I did not say AW prioritises in this way. And I say he should definitely play his best team which gives an indication of my views on the matter.

  26. Red Arse says:

    Enjoyable Post Raddy, you are without doubt a true pre-match maven!! :-)

    I do not think I saw the ‘alleged’ GIE comment about not prioritizing the CL over the EPL, but if I had to comment I believe I would have said that they are not an either or choice.

    Chelsea obviously hoped they would win the EPL last year and with the money they had invested so they should. In fact they were crap.

    In the CL they seemed to teeter on the edge of being turfed out, but due to a chain of unexpected events, a shitty Chavs team kept stumbling through each round, and eventually won the cup against much fancied opponents.

    Neither set of circumstances could have been predicted, let alone ‘prioritized’ and that is always the way with football.

    Timing, luck, circumstances and resources are fickle, variable arbiters of eventual outcomes. Don’t mess with them!

    Ergo: you put out your best available team, and go hell for leather in EVERY competition.

    Trying to pick and choose which competition the club is going for makes it a hostage to fortune, and will almost certainly result in us being well and truly fooked! :-)

  27. Big Raddy says:

    GM. Italy.. I go for 10 days over Xmas – should be freezing.

  28. henrychan says:

    @richie.. Yeah.. little bit late.. hehehe..
    And who do you think will come to replace RDM..??

  29. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    “If Villa is a difficult game, then practically every team is difficult (?).”

    Henry, I don’t believe there any easy games in the PL.

    BOth us and Man U have found Norwich away a difficult fixture, Southampton led at the Etihad, Citeh drew a blank with WHam, we struggled against QPR, whilst not playing too badly.

    I could go on and on.

    My fave though…CIteh at home for the title, against QPR who’d been all but relegated for the previous 5-6 weeks. Looked a pretty straightfoward task…

  30. Big Raddy says:

    RA. I agree

    henry. An outside bet could be Steve Clarke at WBA, he is highly thought of at Chelsea – though Abra usually goes for a big name . They need a temporary man in charge unless Guardiola can be persuaded.

    Is Benitez an attractive proposition – he has been unsuccessful of late?

    Mourinho would be nuts to go back. Joachim Low is a possible.

  31. Red Arse says:

    Hi Sharkey, :-)

    I think that comment you referred to was from Big Al, sunning himself on the beach.

  32. GoonerB says:

    Richard, 10.40, your point about winning games breeding confidence and therefore we should play our strongest squad, I am in complete agreement with. Breeding good habits in all senses makes the winning mentality of the team much stronger which even, if we don’t get the immediate benefits of that mentality this year, it could benefit you in future seasons. I have often thought that we have too often allowed unnecessary negative and weaker mind sets to creep into our squad which causes problems when you really need the team to be strong.

    A point I made after Spurs was that we too often take our foot off the peddle and become too casual with reduced attacking intent, when we are ahead, and that causes us problems at times by inviting teams back into a game. I would like to see us adopt a positive and ruthless mentality and then when it is really needed against better sides it is already ingrained into the players. It is a bit like with the special forces where they want them to have an inbuilt mental strength at all times, and address this through their day to day training, because it is not something you can just switch on and off at will. I have often wondered how much the players minds are altered in a negative sense when we do things like publicly talking about areas such as players tiredness and fatigue. It often sounds a bit like pre-pared excuses to me and also do the players buy into that, so that it alters their mind-set and mental strength and they drop their performance levels as a result? Surely the correct psychology should be to breed players where they never entertain any negative thoughts and always feel ready and able to fight for a regular first team position, and if you do recognise that certain players need a breather, then deal with it but keep it to yourself rather than shout it out for the world to hear.

    Similarly Richie, 10.53, I completely agree with you that if we want to secure top players we have to be showing them we have the ambition to compete in the ECL. If we look like we are more writing it off by basically saying we don’t believe we are good enough then top players we are interested in with a choice of us or another top European club will be unlikely to choose us. Whether we can win it or not we need to be playing like we believe we can. We need to be saying we are the Arsenal, and we are one of the worlds top clubs, and we enter these big competitions playing as if we believe we can win it. If it doesn’t happen this year then we will try and win it next year. Sooner or later we may have the right personnel to win it and it would be criminal to not take advantage then purely because we are not mentally strong enough through having bred a weak mind-set.

    On a final point I would actually argue that it is easier to win the champions league than the premier league currently. Playing consistently across a whole season with very few blips is something we have struggled with in the last few seasons, and it seems the team that does this ends as the EPL champions. The ECL is a cup competition and underdogs traditionally always have more chance with that format. Think Birmingham with the Carling cup (unless you have had hypnotherapy to remove all lasting memories), Chelsea last year are also a good example, as were Mourinho’s Porto and to a lesser extent even his Inter side. Don’t even go there with Greece in the Euros. Every now and then a good side that is maybe further down the favourites list wins a cup competition but the league tends to require a very strong squad with few weaknesses and great consistency, so for me, even though it is still unlikely at least this season, we have more chance in the ECL this season than the EPL. It is not, however a point I would be concerned about and just play as if we mean to win both of them.

    Great post by the way Raddy.

  33. LB says:

    Richie

    I wrote the comment suggesting chavs may be stupid enough to consider appointing Benitez before I went for my morning coffee. When I did I saw the same idea plastered over the back of every single new paper.

    It’s not easy being at the vanguard every day.

  34. LB says:

    By the way GIE

    That was a superb debate starting suggestion.

  35. LB says:

    How about Di Mateo being QPR manager by Christmas …………………………. maybe not enough time to finalise his golden hand shake.

  36. GunnerN5 says:

    TH14 is “keeping fit” by training with the Arsenal team.
    What are the odds for him signing for us for a 3rd time in January?
    With Gervinho off to the annual African affair and the possible sale of Chamakh it would make a lot of sense – at least to me it would.

  37. glic says:

    Lets face it GN5, it`s a no brainer if we`re comparing TH14 to Chamakh !. I`d take Long John Silver compared to him ! arghhhhh !

  38. GunnerN5 says:

    GLIC,

    The answer would also be the same if we compared him to Gervinho.

  39. Rasp says:

    Benitez is the hot favourite to take over at chelski – I’ll give him less than a year :?

    I agree with RA, it is easier for us to win the CL this season than the Prem.

    Like the prem, the difference in quality between the top and bottom in the CL is narrowing and German football is definitely on the up.

  40. GoonerB says:

    Glic, you just reminded me of that Pete and Dud sketch where Dudley Moore, who only has one leg, is auditioning for the role of the runner across the Moors in the Hound of the Baskervilles. I think they also did the same sketch but where he was auditioning as Tarzan. Is Chas out there at the moment and if so does he know how to get hold of it and post it up?

  41. Rasp says:

    I am against signing TH14. Last season it was a lift for the players, this season I think not. With Pod, Giroud and Theo all wanting time up front? I can’t see them being impressed sitting on the bench or playing wide while TH14 is on the pitch.

  42. GoonerB says:

    RA, 11.09. Sorry I just realised you made the point I made after you and got it in there before me. I kept getting interupted with phone calls when posting so it took me a while before I finally clicked on post comment. Anyway yours is a much more succinct and to the point version than my 12.04 war and peace length variety.

  43. GunnerN5 says:

    Rasp,

    I disagree, I think TH14 would be welcomed by the other players, I see him as a back up alternative who would be used only as a substitute. His positive energy and uplifting personality would also be an asset.

    If we have room for Chamakh and Squibs in our squad then we surely have room for TH14.

  44. Rasp says:

    Hi GN5, I think having him around the players – on the practice pitch, in the dressing room etc as a plus, but replacing one of our strikers I’m not sure. Last season we had a choice of 1 striker, this season 3. Add to that TH14 will not come cheap and others are trying to negotiate more lucrative deals and may feel the money should come their way.

  45. richie says:

    @BR As you say I can’t imagine Steve Clark because he’s not a big enough name.
    Apparently Abra contacted Benitez pre- not post the Juve game to ask if Rafa would take the reins temporarily, which is Abra’s style. The question is does anyone know how much Abra knows about football?………………………………………………………………. Because there is no doubt in my mind that Roman would like to have Pep take over if he could get the Chav’s playing nice football. This is pertinent to the Guadiola question; does Abra think that that teams play in the style of their manager and if he appointed Pep the Chav’s would start to play like Barca?

    The first part of the equation is undoubtedly true teams do play in the style their manager wants them to play in, but in the case of the 2 Johan Cruijff inspired teams Ajax and Barca. The manager is less important than the education that the players receive in the school, the players leave the academy ready to play in a particular way, so if Pep became the Chav’s manager the only way he could have them playing like Barca is if he returned to Barca and or Ajax raided their academy’s extensively. It would take time and time is not a commodity that Roman Abromovich gives to managers, not even to those who recently brought home the Holy Grail in the form of the big ears cup.

  46. chas says:

    Haha Rasp, I’ve just looked at 6 different versions of the ‘one leg too few’ sketch, trying to work out which was the best only to find you’ve already posted. :)

  47. richie says:

    @LB12:05 :-)

  48. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Rasp,

    Who would you rather have subbing on the right wing Ramsey or TH14?
    How about the left wing AA or TH14?
    Or striker Theo or TH14?

  49. Rasp says:

    Haha GN5, like Gerv and Pod, TH was more effective from the left. Now his pace has left him, it is more about his positional play and timing of his runs. I’d probably rather see AA taking on players on the edge of the box than TH to be honest. We have many more options across the front than last year, I just don’t see that we need TH14 when our strikers are coming into good form.

  50. GoonerB says:

    Cheers for the clip Rasp. I was always a fan of those 2. Just to be cheeky can either you or Chas get the clip with Peter Cook on Clive Anderson where he plays a variety of different characters in the one show. All of them are hilarious but perhaps more pertinent would be the character of the Northern football manager.

  51. GunnerN5 says:

    From Arsenal.com

    It may be just me but I get more excited about the possibility of having him back then I do about the possible signing of “young potential”

    ……………………………………………………………………………………

    Wenger – I won’t rule out re-signing Henry

    By Rob Kelly

    Arsène Wenger admits that he could examine the possibility of re-signing Thierry Henry on loan in January.

    Arsenal’s record goalscorer made a hugely-successful return last winter, scoring against Leeds in the FA Cup before netting a last-minute winner at Sunderland.

    Wenger was delighted with Henry’s impact and believes he could be a valuable asset again if he were to come back for a third spell.

    “He has been practising with us,” the manager said. “Will I sign him again in January? I don’t know. I don’t rule it out. He is sharp.

    “Last year I did it because we lost Gervinho. It was a good connection. This year we lose Gervinho again as they are playing in the Africa Cup of Nations two years in a row.

    “So we will be confronted with a shortage. Particularly if Chamakh should go. I cannot stand in his way. Then we will be short.”

    Wenger hailed Henry’s influence both on and off the pitch, and admits there are major benefits to bringing him back into the fold.

    “You know what he gives you. He gives you hope, especially when he comes on. That is the most important thing,” he said.

    “He is a communicator. An extrovert. Very intelligent. He can only give good advice to players because he was in their position when he arrived here.

    “This team has exceptionally good character. There are not many flashy boys. What is the most important thing it is not whether you are an extrovert but what it means to you to do well, your job. Your will to win.”

  52. GunnerN5 says:

    I chuckle each time I am reminded about the scene from “10″ with Bo Derek where Dudley is skipping across the hot sand.

  53. Red Arse says:

    Rasp,

    That one legged skit is fantastic – I had not seen it before – but I will have to go and see how it finished.

    “I have nothing against your right leg, trouble is — neither have you!” absolutely brilliant. :D

    Incidentally, I was browsing NewsNow, as one does, looking for scraps of news regarding tonight’s game, when I happened upon Total’s blogsite, Bergkampesque, which has gone ‘live’ in record time!

    Holy Moly!! :-)

  54. Rasp
    Henry won’t be competing for a place with Theo unless he signed a contract while I was away

  55. richie says:

    @Rasper&GunnerN5 Firstly Thierry has been around the training ground over the past 10 days which would’ve given the players a lift already. Secondly I can’t imagine TDH being too costly as a temporary loan, thirdly I can’t imagine him taking up other players pitch time, and he’ll only be used as a sub when either we’ve already won to preserve our other forwards legs or Dennis forbid someone gets injured. I’m with Glic with players off and others off to the ACN. It’s a no brainer!

  56. Red Arse says:

    Actually, that skit about the missing leg is a propos the discussion regarding Thierry rejoining us on loan — haven’t his legs gone?

    Still he can play Tarzan if he fancies too! :D

    GN5, I think he would not go amiss coming on as an impact sub at the end of games, but that would be about all he should/could do.

    On the other hand I think he scored 4 goals for us last January, didn’t he?

  57. Red Arse says:

    GoonerB Good,

    Snap! :D

  58. Big Raddy says:

    The Tarzan sketch is brilliant

  59. It’s so funny about budgie face. If pep goes there he’ll last a year if he’s lucky

  60. Big Raddy says:

    Taking TH is a no-brainer. He is unlikely to ever start a game but having him on the bench would give the Emirates a huge fillip, though he is highly unlikely to repeat his feats of last year

  61. I used to have the album Derek and Clive come again. I loved that when I was young

  62. GunnerN5 says:

    Rasp,

    Thank you for the clip but I think it was another scene where he was trying to impress Bo but the sand was so hot on his bare feet that he had to skip like a penguin – really funny.

  63. GunnerN5 says:

    I agree with TH14 being used only as an impact sub but I also think, that in his case, lightening could strike yet again.

  64. Big Raddy says:

    RAsp. Am I right in thinking you didn’t want TH back last season?

  65. Rasp says:

    Ok so put TH on the bench, in the changing room, at the training ground, but don’t play him instead of Giroud, Podolski or Theo then :lol:

  66. Hi all

    Before all the Derek and Clive clips come out I’ll have my twopenneth.

    As someone – chas I think – said earlier Champions Lge football is part of our season. You do have to be in it to win so I feel that although we might not win it this season – although you never know – we do need to always start off the season having a hope of winning it. Tonight we need to win so play your best team, end of.

    On Thierry – I love the guy and remembering how the atmosphere was at the Leeds game, how we all stood and sang his name as he took to the pitch and how we roared the roof off when he scored and how there were fathers there that had brought their youngsters who had never seen him play. That night was magical and many cried with pure joy, to have even five more minutes of that or the hope that it might happen ………. sign him up Arsene, I want more ;)

  67. Leave Rasp to me …… I’ll sort him out ;)

  68. Bayonne Jean says:

    a) Which result would you fancy this evening — Schalke win or Schalke draw? Schalke win with Gooner win guarantees progression, but virtually makes Gooners runnerup. Schalke draw with Gooner win puts Gooners on top, but still have to win in Greece to claim top of the group. Would prefer the bird in the hand….

    b) With diMatteo sacking, means that Wenger has never beaten diMatteo as manager

    c) TH14? Wouldn’t that be TH12 this go round? Or are we already saying sayonara to TW14 in the window?

  69. Rasp says:

    No Raddy, I could see we needed him on the pitch last season and was lucky enough to be at 2 games when he scored – it was fantastic. I love TH14 but I want our current strikers to continue to grow. They are already getting the TH14 lift by virtue of the fact he is training with them.

  70. Rasp says:

    It’s a rare event peaches, but you are wrong about TH14 :oops:

  71. Rasp says:

    I think we should recall the nature of the goals TH12/14 scored last year. They weren’t ‘worldies’ curled into the top corner from outside the box or as the result of blistering runs. They were tap ins as a result of being in the right place at the right time.

  72. GunnerN5 says:

    Bayonne,

    Regardless of his current shirt number he will always be known as TH14.

  73. Rasp says:

    Now if we were to sign that other old boy A Hole as a fill in LB then I could see the need :lol:

  74. Wrong!!!!!!! Moi ;)

    I do think he should play for free though, he’s quite rich enough already and we need our shekels ………. he’ll be playing for love then and he’ll get plenty :)

  75. Rasp says:

    Thanks GN5, now if TW14 goes in January and we don’t bring in a replacement and with Gerv going to the ACN, then signing TH14 would make sense.

  76. Talking of LB’s ……. I heard yesterday that Leighton Baines had been given two own goals by the dubious goals panel. If we signed him, he and Kozzer could have an ‘own goal’ competition :(

  77. Rasp says:

    He got 10 mil out of us in his last full season, not bad for a club with a strict wage structure.

  78. No no no, we need TH (whatever number) to sort TW’s head out and duff up his agent too.

  79. GunnerN5 says:

    Agreed Rasp but it’s being in the right place at the right time and then being able to convert that makes the difference between legends and lesser beings.

    His goal against Leeds was a TH14 classic, coming in off of the left wing and curling the ball low and into the far corner.

  80. GunnerN5 says:

    Here in Canada the most popular coffee shop chain is Tim Horton’s (an ex Maple Leaf hockey player) the code number on the lid of their large coffee is, of course,TH14!

  81. Gooner In Exile says:

    Afternoon all, Raddy top pre match as ever, and can’t disagree with the selection.

    As for my comment, I think I might have been a bit miserable at the time, but the question is still in the air.

    Yes Chelsea proved last year that anyone can win it if every star aligns and two teams suffer the worst shooting return of their seasons. They fluked it. But their pursuit of the prize coupled with an increasingly stretched squad almost led to them being in the Europa League, anyone watching it, any real football watcher knows it was nothing to do with skill, or heroic defending, they were lucky end of.

    I was also questioning why so many moan about Arsene prioritising 4th over a League Cup or FA Cup, yet the comments above suggest we fans want CL football. So if we decide we want CL football we have to accept with the current squad something has to give, unfortunately recently it has been our league form.

    It was also a question aimed at our current squad/team, would we prefer not to qualify for the CL knockout and have a run at the league without having to worry about prospect of midweek games and injuries when preparing for QPR home (or similar).

    If we finish 3rd we get the £25m in the bank and to guarantee it the following season we need to make sure we finish 3rd again. The extra prize money from CL is probably never in our Budgets and Forecasts because it can’t be guaranteed.

  82. Gooner In Exile says:

    GN5 i love Hortons donuts, can you drop a card in their suggestion box next time you’re in there:

    “Expand to UK” :D

  83. Big Raddy says:

    I thought my head was going to explode when TH scored vs Leeds, you were so fortunate to be there.

    I recall arguing about the positives of TH’s arrival with someone on AA. I thought it was Rasp though it could have ben kelsey :-)

  84. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. It was after the Schalke and Norwich defeats!

  85. glic says:

    Ben Kelsey ?………not Obi Wan Kelsey !.

  86. Red Arse says:

    I broadly agree with that, GIE, :-)

    The truth is if we do not qualify for the next season’s CL, it means we would not have been good enough in the qualifying EPL season.

    So the following season there would be no CL games, and probably, unless we bought well in the summer, even less chance in the new season’s EPL of doing better, and so the downwards spiral would commence.

    Not a prediction based on fact, of course, but there would be a distinct possibility of that happening.

    No, we must qualify for the CL every season – it does matter!

  87. TT says:

    I think Rasp makes a good point about Henry. Last year we clearly needed another contributing striker, BSR being the only reliable one. In addition, it seems to me Henry was Wenger’s backup plan last year. It felt like he wanted to bring in someone else, perhaps even Podolski. It didn’t work out though, so we had the 2nd Coming.

    This years we have three players, all roughly as productive as one another, all vying for playing time. It doesn’t seem like the right message to send if Arsenal bring Henry back again.

    Have Henry as a coach/advisor/cheerleader; thats enough.

  88. TT says:

    Oops, i made a big assumption that Walcott will still be around :(

  89. Rasp says:

    So is Gibbs playing tonight or not? Seems unlikely, but he is no longer listed as injured on arsenal.com so maybe he’ll play some part.

  90. Brigham says:

    Right, nearly time to head for the train station and make my way to that there London. I should be in the Tavern for around 6 ish, so keep a look out for me those who know me.

  91. Rasp says:

    Hi Brigham, we should be there about 7

  92. Brigham says:

    Okay Rasp, will stand near the front entrance if I am able.

  93. Rasp says:

    Great stuff, see you later, we’ll be with Micky and Harry

  94. GoonerB says:

    Rasp, thanks for the Peter Cook clip. At work so only just had a moment to see it now. If anyone hasn’t seen that clip it is from the chat show hosted by Clive Anderson who normally hosts general celebrities, but in this show they had Peter Cook playing a spoof guest each time. Well worth a watch of the others if you can. From my recollection he also played a top judge, an ageing rock star and some fellow who had been abducted by aliens.
    The man was a comedy genius.

    Sorry to deviate from football matters, I will let you all get back to them while I resume work for a bit.

  95. Rasp says:

    No worries GoonerB.

    What’s the chances of Montpellier resting players and fielding a weakkened team since they cant qualify and their league form is quite poor?

  96. GunnerN5 says:

    From Skysports.

    This is one of the strangest and most drawn out contract negotiation that I can remember.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Re: Theo

    The England international will see his current deal at Emirates Stadium expire at the end of the season.

    With no extension agreed as yet, there is a fear that Walcott will become the latest high-profile figure to sever ties with the Gunners.

    Talk of a move in January has also been touted, with Arsenal reluctant to lose him for nothing if a parting of ways becomes the only option.

    Arsene Wenger has, however, attempted to play down such reports, with there a desire on his part to strike a deal, and Walcott has offered no indication that he is edging towards the exits.

    He told Arsenal’s official matchday programme for their UEFA Champions League clash with Montpellier on Wednesday: “I am leaving it all to my agents and you will be the first to hear when something happens.

    “It’s important for me that something gets sorted out, because I enjoy playing for this club.

    “I don’t think you can put a timeframe on when it will be resolved, though. When both parties are sure, it will happen when it happens.

    “My last contract took six or seven months, so we have to be patient, myself as well. But I’m enjoying my football at the moment, so it’s not affecting me at all on the pitch.”

  97. Hi all

    Just about to leave for the game. We would like a volunteer to write up either a match report or some player ratings for a post for tomorrow just to start off the days chat please.

    Someone who’s watching at home is probably better placed as those attending the game will get home quite late.

    Anyone up for it please???????

  98. RockyLives says:

    Splendid pre-match BR

    Personally I think we have a better chance of the CL than the EPL, so I definitely want us to qualify.

    I think we have a (outside) chance in the CL not just because it’s a cup competition and, as the Chavs showed last year and Porto showed in the past, anyone has a chance. But also because I don’t think we know yet how good this Arsenal team is.

    If they start to click a bit more and add more “thrisk” we could become a really effective outfit. We certainly have some top quality players throughout the squad.

    So, if we’re on hot form by March we could go far in the CL. But it is probably already too late to be realistic contenders for the EPL unless the Chavs, ManUre and Citeh all really go through bad runs.

  99. Big Raddy says:

    There are definitely going to be points lost by the top 3, just look at last weekend. If we can go on a good run we can get amongst them.

    We still have MU and MC to play at home.

    Someone called Moussa Sow has said that both AFC and L’pool bids for him and he chose to go to Fenerbahce! ROLF

  100. Big Raddy says:

    Here is another strange story.

    Talk about an ingrate. Who the hell does he think pays his wages? That said it is in the D Express

    http://www.express.co.uk/football/view/359639?

  101. kgooner says:

    Hey to all. I have quick question that only you who’ve been to the emirates may have a clue. Someone asked me this question “Are there any wifi hotspots at the Emirates Stadium? If so, are any free?” on quora here
    http://www.quora.com/Arsenal-F-C/Are-there-any-wifi-hotspots-at-the-Emirates-Stadium-If-so-are-any-free?__snids__=72083633&__nsrc__=1

    I’ll appreciate an answer. Thanks.

    As for the game, am a bit jittery given our history. But, the team seems amped from the weekend derby as per individual comments on Arsenal.com. Champions league football or die.
    COYG

  102. RockyLives says:

    Blimey kgooner, you’ve scared everyone off.

    I wish I could help you but I’ve got no idea.

  103. Big Raddy says:

    Mmmm It’s all gone quiet over here :-)

  104. Big Raddy says:

    Team as per above apart from TV for Gibbs who is on the bench ready for the weekend.

  105. RockyLives says:

    10/11 BR – well done.

    I’m pleased the Ox is starting.

  106. Big Raddy says:

    Looks like it is just the two of us Rocky.

    I am sloping off to finish cooking a fish stir-fry (top stuff – salmon, prawns, a bit of cod, peppers, etc etc).

    Back soon

  107. RockyLives says:

    I’m pretending to work BR.

    Your fish dish sounds delis :)

  108. benitez to the chavs has been confirmed.

  109. RockyLives says:

    Thanks GM
    What do you think of the news?
    I can’t see him doing well there. I thought he was pretty useless at the Dippers and lasted a couple of extra years purely on the back of having won the CL with Houllier’s team.

  110. here we go 4-1 to the good guys

  111. It’s just until they destroy pep’s reputation Rocky

  112. oz gunner says:

    big radish good as always! cheers

    Benitez will be laughing he’ll probably get 15 million for 6 months work

  113. Gooner In Exile says:

    Home for kick off. Not surprised by Budgies sacking, very surprised that Benitez is the successor.

    Listened to two ex Arsenal players on TalkShite today, Bob Wilson and Stewart Robson guess who spoke some sense.

  114. jnyc says:

    RASP, GN5, im loving the debate about thierry. My first thoughts were thae same as Rasp, i want pod, and theo to be happy and be rewarded with time at striker. Im hoping that whatever we do it doesnt preclude getting theos deal. Keep him happy, use the money to close the deal. – u see Rasp. I have changed my mind on theo generally. I think we look much better if we retain him, at least for a while. This revolving door with players must stop. If not for a guy who is in great form,
    very young, and not asking for oiler salary numbers. —-
    - i previously had thought he had made up his mind to
    go already— but his recent statements have really made me believe hes open to stay, not just cover for leaving.

  115. oz gunner says:

    Merts nearly with the goal of the year! I thought i entered the twilight zone for a second

  116. oz gunner says:

    god santi can’t buy a freekick so far

  117. RockyLives says:

    Dennis, Smudger is such a miserable bastard as a co-commentator. Haven’t heard him say a single positive thing about Arsenal yet.

  118. ces1ne says:

    Oh my, the fancy footwork from Per!!!!!

  119. oz gunner says:

    lulu not like him,probably should have passed it to giroud considering he was off balance and on his right

  120. Big Raddy says:

    We are knocking it about nicely. It’s coming

  121. RockyLives says:

    Pod scores one in three.
    He’s had two attempts…

    Russian commentary now on new stream. Much better than Smudger.

  122. Big Raddy says:

    Doesn’t Smith know there is no T in Wilshere?

  123. oz gunner says:

    I’m about ready to join you Rocky

    “that pass by Arsene is better than Wilshere has done all night”

    jesus!

  124. Big Raddy says:

    Hope Micky, Peaches, Rasp, Harry, chas and LB etc gets to see a better second half.

    COYRRG

  125. I think we’re doing ok.

  126. RockyLives says:

    When Szcz came out and made that fingertip block from the onrushing Montpelier forward, Smudger said something about how dangerous that could have been if he’d got it wrong.

    BUT HE DIDN’T you miserable Brummie twunt. It was a piece of a good play.

  127. RockyLives says:

    We are doing OK, but Montpelier are playing without fear (nothing to lose or gain) and the ref is pants. He’s missed half a dozen nasty little ankle fouls from them, and blown up against us every time one of theirs goes down.

  128. People on twitter are so miserable

  129. Big Raddy says:

    Ox has been very disappointing. Where is he playing? He needs to get wide

  130. Big Raddy says:

    Benitez + Chavs = Desperation

  131. Gooner In Exile says:

    Breakdowns between key partnerships and looking off each others wavelengths tonight. But we have the tools to break them down.

    The fickleness of Arsenal fans amuses me, Cazorla and Wilshire got applause tonight for turning and passing backwards to keep possession. I can think of at least one Arsenal player who’d get booed for that.

    Ox needs to hug touch line a bit more for me. I know he wants to be in the game but if he holds his shape he will get the ball more.

  132. Gooner In Exile says:

    Snap Raddy :)

    Agree with Rocky on the fouls….ref is overplaying the advantage rule too.

  133. Gooner In Exile says:

    Apparently Drogba asking for loan move away from China to stay fit for ACN….how much has Roman offered him?

  134. great knock down by Giroud

  135. Big Raddy says:

    Superb header from Giroud and a lovely finish

  136. oz gunner says:

    great team goal, well done my tommy v and good knock down by giroud

  137. oz gunner says:

    *by

  138. oz gunner says:

    what a goal!!!! brilliant volley

  139. Gooner In Exile says:

    Another cracking assist by Giroud, top finish too by the Pod.

  140. oz gunner says:

    2 assists by giroud, great great signing!

  141. Adrian says:

    What a clinical finish by Poldi, can’t help but think that his finishing quality is not being fully utilized on the left flank.

  142. oz gunner says:

    schalke 1-0 up, looks like we are going through.
    can’t say the same for city

  143. We’re through and winning the group isn’t that important this season

  144. Big Raddy says:

    Not the best performance but good enough against a poor Montpelier.

    I was concerned to see Ox go down holding his hip just prior to Pod’s goal. Hope all is well with him.

    Still, we are through with a game to go. Happy Days

  145. RockyLives says:

    I thought we looked pretty good BR.

    Santi’s got a spring in his step; Pod was as involved as I’ve seen him all season; OG – two assists and great leading of the line; Jack looked sharp as anything and I thought Kozzer was outstanding at the back.

  146. Gooner In Exile says:

    Job done

  147. RockyLives says:

    Are we theoretically able to finish top?

    (i’d rather we weren’t and could send a B team to Greece).

  148. RockyLives says:

    First clean sheet in a while.

  149. Adrian says:

    If we arent top of the group we’ll be m

  150. Adrian says:

    If we arent top of the group we’ll be more likely to be paired with much tougher teams during the knockout stages.

    Anyone reckon that Poldi should play as a CF for us too? His finishing has been sublime and I feel that to an extent its being wasted on the flanks. I know hes played a game for us early in the season in the CF position and didn’t score but what about playing him there for a couple more games? We all know he can score and that dare I say it, that volley had all the markings of RVP over it. Look at how clinical RVP has been for us ever since we played him in the CF position.

  151. Gooner In Exile says:

    Current 2nd place teams

    PSG
    AC Milan
    Madrid
    Juve
    Valencia
    Galatassary
    Benfica

    Current 1st place

    Porto
    Malaga
    Dortmund
    Shaktar
    Bayern Munich
    Barca
    United

    If you want to progress I’d say 3 of the 7 2nd place teams, 4 of 6 1st place teams (United not included as we can’t face English)

    As GM said 1st or 2nd won’t really make a difference it’ll be luck if the draw.

  152. Gooner In Exile says:

    As for Poldi up front I don’t see what you would do with Giroud, he brings another dimension to our game, 2 great assists tonight and a good hold up player, Podolski and whoever on the right should get lots of scoring opportunities if they feed off him.

  153. richie says:

    @BR1:47 I’m not so sure he scored 4 goals last time out and he’s already bagged 17 in the states (5 will be progress) and I wouldn’t bet against going one better.

  154. oz gunner says:

    agreed GiE. Podolski has to deal with it for Germany thanks to Gomez. Giroud and podolski are too good not to be playing. When Giroud needs a rest i’d like to see pod central though. Theo should stop whinging too, Giroud will give you service and you can cut in at any time

  155. RockyLives says:

    Peaches/ Rasp
    Quick report in drafts.

  156. kelsey says:

    Morning all

    As usual I have a few observations.
    Firstly regardless of what AW said post match we can put the CL to bed for now and hopefully bring in one or two in January primarily to strengthen the squad.

    Whoever we get in the knock out stage there has to be a concern in letting in away goals as I am far from convinced that Bould is doing a good job. It’s not the players but the system employed.

    yet again we fell out of the traps and appeared to be content to pass the ball sideways or backwards and the whole side looked flat.
    Did you notiice that Santi was visibly tired and it was the pysio who said to AW “shall we take him off” whilst Bould sat motionless.

    On the positive side Kos seemed to have his best game of the season and his bullet header deserved a goal.
    Giroud continues to impress with his work rate,assists and a menace in the box.he will only get better.

    Sublime goal by Podolski and generally our play improved dramatically in the second half,though better teams might have punished us in the first 20/25 minutes.

    pleased for Jack to score after a pretty awful first half by his standards,even allowing for the fact that he is slowly working his wy back, and it was not only him that made many a wayward p[ass in the first half..

    Personally i would have brought on Arshavin instead of gervinho who did absolutely nothing on the right flank.

    I worry why we just can’t start a game with all guns blazing but we are through and that is all that matters.

  157. Big Raddy says:

    Morning,

    I can only assume Arshavin has already been sold and AW doesn’t want to risk an injury.

    As you say kelsey. Koscielny was back to his best but who gets dropped for Gibbs?

  158. chas says:

    Great to see peaches, Rasp, Micky and Brigham last night.
    Shame I missed Harry.

    Poldi’s goal was worth the entrance money on its own. (though I thought the goalie should have saved it……well he might have done if he’d seen it) :)

    Off to work. Laters

  159. kelsey says:

    If we finish second possible opponents are

    Porto
    Malaga
    Dortmund
    Shaktar
    Valencia/Bayern Munich
    Barcelona

  160. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning all,
    Good to see everyone last night.
    Echo people’s comments about Pod out left. Just feel so sorry for him, and even when Gerv came on and Ollie off, he still got to stay out wide.
    Great to have qualified, and we do not need a result in Greece, so when the time comes, let’s get lucky with the draw for the next round.

  161. LB says:

    I may give you a hard time on very rare occasions Kelsey but I have always praised your assessments of matches and I do again this morning — it is very good.

    I do however share BR’s view about Gervinho and Arshavin; the former will be at the club in the New Year the latter is unlikely to be.

    My assessment of the game was that Montpelier were so bad and yet some how we managed to make them look like a team that deserved to be in the CL — which they shouldn’t.

  162. MickyDidIt89 says:

    ROLF LB,
    That is a very fair comment. Have you ever seen more average football than the first half?

  163. MickyDidIt89 says:

    There was (I think) one chance on goal in the first half.

  164. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. You clearly didn’t watch the WHU V Stoke game!

    LB. I agree Montpelier offered nothing. Watch the defence for JW’s goal to see how poor they were. JW entirely on his own with no defender within 5 yards of him

  165. Red Arse says:

    Morning Guys, :-)

    The Montpellier No 3, MBiwa, is a hell of a player in midfield, and we were heavily linked with him last summer – as a centre half. He is big, quick and a tough nut.

    So Manure will probably sign him then!

  166. Shard says:

    Morning everyone,

    While watching the game, I was thinking the Montpellier were what the Stokie orcs would aspire to be someday. A slightly better team technically, but still having the same orc essence.

    We started like we were overwrought. Too concerned about the situation rather than just playing the game (with the handbrake off) :)

    Giroud wasn’t having a particularly good game, and the midfield were struggling. The ref, it must be said, allowed the opposition a lot more licence to be physical than was accorded to us, and that too was a reason we struggled to find our rhythm.

    In the second half we came out more assured and passed the ball better. Once they fell behind, they didn’t look like they were really interested in fighting anymore.

    Highlight of the day was undoubtedly Podolski walloping the ball into the net. I know people thought Robin Van Persie, but I was reminded of Eduardo for some reason. Different sort of finish than the Dudu Burnley goal, but the same lethal finishing. I don’t agree with the thought that he’s being wasted on the left. He makes us more threatening from that side, as does Walcott from the right. They both have freedom to cut inside, and the fullbacks are the ones supposed to provide the width (Which is why Santos at LB doesn’t work. He likes cutting inside too) A front three of Giroud, Podolski and Walcott give us a very balanced attacking threat. Gervinho and Ox are capable backups for the flanks, but I think we need another striker to fill in for/compete with Giroud. If we play two strikers, anyone of Theo, Poldi, or Gervinho can play with Giroud.

  167. Gooner In Exile says:

    Morning all. Echo thoughts on Koscielny who showed some of last seasons form. He covers ground and snuffs out danger with minimum fuss. Guilty of overplaying towards the end.

    I did wonder whether our attitude in the first half was borne out of making sure qualification was still in our hands at the end of 90 minutes, rather than trying to get the job done on the night.

  168. kelsey says:

    Gervinho will be off for upto 6 weeks in ANC and there is no doubt we tried to sell Arshavin in the Summer and he is another on the higher end of the wage structure and he is suited to CL games as shown against barca. we will see if he goes in january.

  169. kelsey says:

    Don’t ell me NEW POST coming up :)

  170. kelsey says:

    Will someone give me their intrepation of the Santi sub. I heard it quite clearly on TV

  171. Morning all

    We have two match reports today, the first from GoonerB and the second from Rocky …………

    New Posts …… enjoy …………….

  172. Shard says:

    kelsey,

    It was right after he’d been kicked, and I got the impression Colin Lewin was asking Wenger if Santi was one of the players who he was planning to bring off, because I think we were preparing Gervinho and Coquelin to come on anyway. If not, he might have suggested it, or then he might have wanted to get on the field to attend to him.

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