… Bayern Munich, the champions of Europe, the inheritors of the Barca legacy, the architects of a beautiful game, the Bavarian Brigade, now managed by one Pep Guardiola, who we all remember only too painfully well. And the competition is … the Champions League, of course.
Yes, Bayern Munich is our true competitor, and not any of the minnows that populate the English Premier League, basking in the vain glory of wasting a lot of money on ordinary players, and without any serious intent or ambition of building a team that plays a beautiful game. Some of them we saw in action yesterday, and what a poor show it was as well. Well, Chelsea did well this week, it has to be said. But never mind, we can deal with them. One other numpty, coming from somewhere down there in N17, will be seen in action tomorrow. Probably will be an equally poor show as well.
Compare their games to the fantastic football on show from Arsenal on Wednesday, and marvel at the huge difference in quality. Yes, quality, style and beauty of the beautiful game that Arsenal produced. Well, the show this time was only against Napoli, who had hardly anything to show at all. And before that, there were the men from across the Channel in Marseille, and they were ordinary as well. So, let us not bask in the glory of victories against weak teams. Let us look to the future.
And yes, our true competitor is the Bavarian Brigade – Bayern Munich. What a fantastic game they produced as well. Drove Man City out of the ground from the first minute, a total domination if there was ever one, almost as good as Arsenal’s domination over Napoli. Except that, Bayern’s frailties were exposed by the end, as soon as changes from the benches came in to replace the leaders on the pitch – IRN Robben, Franck(enstein) Ribery, and Schweinsteiger (the strange hybrid between, well, just forget about it!). Much as the first team played a fantastic brand of football, the weaknesses of the replacements were plain and clear. I am sure Arsene saw, noted and approved!
So, friends, We Are Top of the League, but it is not only the Premier League I am talking about, it is Champions League as well. Yes, we can win the Premier League, and even if we do not win it this year, we will certainly be in the mix. But, even if the Premier League matters, and matters not quite a flying fig, it does not quite matter as much as the Champions League. We have won the Premiership in the past, and know what it means to win the League. But if there is one trophy we want to lay our hands on, and now is the time like no other, it is the Champions League. And, yes, now is our time.
The Champions League is really our stage. There is a method to the madness that, despite all limitations that the doomsday brigade would point towards, we have qualified for the CL continuously over a decade and a half, progressed to the knockout stages umpteen times, and have more than a fair share of QFs/SFs and a Final. But, despite our consistent performance in the Champions League, despite our top seeding (for whatever it is worth), we have never laid our hands on the trophy. And it hurts. And we deserve it more than anyone else. And we deserve it now, more than any time in the recent past.
There are several things that work to our advantage in Europe this time round. First, we have a fantastic team now, despite the injuries, the thin squad and the kids! The mixture of youth and experience was always there. But the two were always embodied in different players. Some players were young, and others were experienced. Now we have a unique combination of youth and experience combined in the same players: Özil, Rambo, Giroud, Wilshere, Theo, Szcz, the list goes on. Plus, we have experience in good measure (BFG, Arteta, Flamster, Rosicky, and so on) and we have some fantastic and exciting kids coming up (The Ox, Gnabry, Jenks, Monreal, et al.). Most importantly, we have one Mesut Özil, who is just tailor-made for the European stage. And for the doubters, just watch the replay of the game on Wednesday! He knows what it takes to perform at the top level in Europe, and has both the experience and the ability to do so! In plenty, as well. And he is settling in really nicely with the fantastic talent in Arsenal. What a fantastic sight so far! And, what a fantastic prospect for much greater things for the future!
Second, we have the fans and the management of the club fully behind the players. For the first time in many years, there is a buzz around the club. Remember the happy evening of European football on Wednesday? The chants, the songs, the cheers! Ah, what an experience! Forgotten is the anger and vitriol spewed all around in the summer. The faithless have scurried into their holes. The fans are great every match, home and away. Even the journos have started putting in a good word or two for the good guys. Surprise, surprise!
Third, the playing environment in the European stage is fantastic. The grounds in Europe are good, and promote our brand of the beautiful passing and dribbling game. Our kids enjoy better protection from the refs, unlike in England, and there is good enough opposition so that the boys don’t fall asleep midway through the game.
Fourth, much as we are having a good time in Arsenal, and reaping the benefits of good financial and player management over a very long period of time, our major opposition in Europe are looking shaky. In England, the plight of ManUre, Chelski and Shitty are plain for all to see. Indeed, we are better than all of them, We Are Top of the League! In Spain, Barca are not quite the same team they were a few years back, and Real Madrid are struggling with a new management and a new look team. In Germany, Dortmund is doing well. But they lost to Napoli, remember, and wait till they meet Arsenal! Bayern are looking good, and they are our true competitors. All in all, the time is perfect for us. Arsenal is capable of beating any team in Europe on the day!! So, this is our stage, and this is our time!
We have started well, winning our first two games. But these were only two games, and against pitiful opposition as well. The men from the marshes down in Marseille, and the knobbly knees from Naples. Next comes the double-header against dodgy Dortmund. They have done reasonably well so far, but managed to engineer a loss against Napoli. Yes, the same Napoli whom Arsenal played out of the park at the Emirates the other day.
Its game on, friends. On with the show! There’s silverware looming in the horizon, and it is the right shape and texture! It is the Champions League!
Written by Arnie