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Thursday, May 18, 2006


Whining, whining Arsenal

Already I'm fed up with whining Arsenal fans. The most grating statement being "the best team lost". No, the best team didn't lose, the best team won. How can Arsenal possibly be the best team? They struggled to finish fourth in the Premiership this year and had to rely on a mysterious stomach virus to achieve that on the last day of the season. Barcelona had already sewn up the La Liga title for the second year running and with three games to spare.

What about the match itself then? Gunners fans lament the referee but whilst I agree that he was by and large hopeless, biased he was not. The sending off of Jens Lehman was completely justified, it was a blatant foul denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, yet strangely, it is this decision that Arsenal fans are claiming "ruined the match". The options available to the referee were to let play continue and allow the ensuing goal then book Lehman or to stop play, send off Lehman and give Barcelona the free kick. Seeing as the whistle had been blown before the ball went in, the decision was already made. Of course, the other alternative would be to have allowed the goal and then gone back and sent him off, that wouldn't have been completely untoward either. I can't help but feel that there was some karma involved in the incident; Lehman has spent most of the season getting away with shoving over and swearing at opposition players who have the audacity to stand in his vicinity so it was fitting that he should be sent off in the biggest game of his career.

Following the sending off, Eboue 'tackled' a Barca player with his studs at stomach height, he was lucky to escape with a booking. Eboue was then a part of the 'forgotten moment' of the match when he dived outrageously to win the free kick that Sol Campbell consequently scored from. Wenger was, as usual, looking elsewhere for that instant.

Arsenal fans should look to their own ranks before blaming the referee (the Barcelona equalizer wasn't offside either), the opposition and UEFA. Lehman has enough experience to know you can't do that in topflight football and expect to get away with it, Henry missed two chances that he would have slotted in for fun against a midtable Premiership side and Wenger's tactics could be called in to question (why leave bringing on Reyes so late?).

Thankfully, the best team in Europe has actually won the Champions League for once rather than the fifth best team in England last season and so nearly this season as well. A victory for football.


to arsenal players+fans:
bottom line, your team lost. dont put the blame on others

Though I am only paraphrasing, the stupidity is for all to see…

Pr0lix: I wan't Barcelona to win!
Me: Why?

*Long period of silence*
Followed by...
*No just reason other than Pr0lix is an Everton supporter*

Toward the end of the match, after the game had swung in Barcelona's favour...

Pr0lix: I didn't want them to win like that.

I don't get it.

And, for the record, Arsenal could have won that game by two or three clear goals. It wasn't to be. The task was made almost impossible by the sending off (which was obviously a just decision).

The ref was horribly biased all evening, though. How Van Bommel wasn't yellow carded, or even sent off for two bookings, is beyond me!

Arsenal deserve a lot of praise for their performance last night - I thought they were superb.

But over the last two seasons, you'd have to say that Barcelona deserve to be crowned champions of Europe. But on this season's European performances alone, I thought Arsenal deserved to be celebrating in the streets of London today.

We'll leave the whole... "Arsenal finished fifth, even if they had won... they're not the best team in Europe" debate for another day.

(Liverpool were the best team in Europe last season...whoops!)

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Barcelona could also have won by two or three clear goals, so what? If the sending off was a just decision then it was fair enough, he shouldn't have done it and Arsenal were punished for that. I don't see the issue.

I don't think the ref was biased either, Barcelona players were taking dives but then so were Arsenal players (hell, it's not as if that's new on us, we see them do it every week in the Premiership!) Van Bommel deserved a booking though, no doubt about that.

I don't deny that Arsenal put in a good performance, Henry might have missed a few chances but he held the line well and got back effectively, Fabregas was quietly effective and Sol Campbell didn't do too much wrong (great header as well).

As for your last few paragraphs, I'm glad we can agree that Barcelona are the best team in Europe, you can't judge that title JUST on the Champions League though, you have to take in to account domestic performance and that is where Arsenal fell down this season.

As for Liverpool, I think any sane football fan knew that they weren't the best team in Europe last season. This year they are undeniably a much improved side yet they were nowhere near the Champions League final.

Eboue could have gone for two yellows, if that dive had been correctly officiated - indeed, he was a bit lucky the yellow he did get wasn't a straight red. Poor little lamb Henry was guilty of a very nasty foul, too, again just a yellow.
All in all... the best team in Europe won the top prize in Europe, the referee was a little uneven but certainly not at Arsenal's expense... and it was all very entertaining.

"Whatever the result of the match, everybody, except the most diehard anti-Arsenal people, will be congratulating them for their spirit and determination."
Really - Tony Blair just can't keep himself from lying, can he... It's a sickness!

Sol’s performance was, in all honesty, sensational! There were a couple of times, to be fair, where I thought he was trying to be too clever, but he was never punished. He had a lot of composure in such a big match. Sol is very much a big game player. And this was just the test to come through on the eve of the World Cup.

The header was just wonderful. The marking was pretty tight, I thought, but he worked his space well, rose brilliantly and powered it in. No keeper would have got close to that.

And it was actually nice to see him score what could have been, and what was for such a long period of the game, such a vital goal. I’ve always liked him, because I believe him to be a very honest player. The only criticism you could really level at Sol, especially these days, is he loves to tug a player. That aside, I rate him quite highly still.

Having spurted out all that gushing praise… Terry and Ferdinand for England by a mile.

Moving on to something that hasn’t yet been discussed… Robert Pires. I really hope and pray that last night’s twenty-five minute cameo isn’t his final contribution for Arsenal. As you rightly pointed out, he looked a dejected figure as he traipsed off the pitch so early on. It looks clear that he is moving on, and that only made things worse as he left the field I suspect.

Pires has been an absolutely immense figure in the Premiership season after season. The quantity and quality of goals he has scored from, what is essentially a midfield position, is unbelievable. And then there are the bag full of assists he gets too! For a time, Arsenal relied on Pires as much as they do on Henry now. He was key. Reyes, if he is to be deployed in much the same manner in the coming seasons, has a lot to live up to.

Moving on to something that we haven't discussed yet... Robert Pires. I really hope this is not how we remember him... as a dejected figure trapsing off the pitch before the half-hour mark because of a mistake somebody else made.

Heading back to the match finally… Jens, for all the criticism he has received – and none more so on this blog – I thought he was very respectful as he left the pitch last night. He really did take the decision like a man. He didn’t berate the ref, and he even offered Manuel Almunia a goodluck gesture as he came on. His comments after the match also appear to be well intended.

Even though he made a mistake, I can’t help but feel sorry for him. He is a professional, and all he wants to do is play well for his club. He has had such a damn good season, and I hope he bounces back.

Robbo has his say... brilliant, as usual - especially the closing comment!

You *know* I'd pick up on that last comment if I weren't busy watching Question Time.

Can we pretend we had an argument in which neither backed down, yet both felt we'd sufficiently argued our case?


I don't know whose comment in particular you refer to Sars but I am also enjoying Question Time and the mutually-satisfying compromise sounds a wonderful idea!

Feel free to come back and speak your mind in the light of tomorrow though!

Haha, uncanny Jon, I can't help but disagree strongly with almost everything there...! ;)
Campbell... "sensational"? "honest"? Yer 'avin' a giraffe, schurely...?
Pity about Pires? Nope, that diving petulent poseur being dragged kicking and screaming off, early doors, was hardly a trial to sit through...
And Lehmann, I admit he took his inevitable, entirely-deserved red card pretty calmly - but then again, why should that be turned into something admirable...?
Sorry, I am admittedly biased... But I am frankly astonished at how much the A*senal anti-ref whinges are still being allowed to dominate, especially with the Eboue double-somersault-with-pike going virtually unmentioned.
Decent-ish team performance. But then, Wenger has them training 10 v 11. Sensible, you might say. But also loosening inhibitions and discipline in another way, perhaps... A*senal are the best team around at playing with ten men.
But they didn't quite manage it this time.
And, overall, nor should they have done...

Oh, and Pr0lix, I'm working on your meme...!

Spot on Prolix.

Since May 1989 we've all quite 'liked' Arsenal, mainly because of the football they play and the fact that they stop dirty red teams winning stuff.

But Wenger has just got out of hand and Henry quite rightly has taken some shit in the press for his comments. It was embarrassing to be able to guess exactly what Wenger would say in his interviews afterwards.

Shame it wasn't Everton in the final and to make it even worse ITV showed the 1986 final. But let's not get started down that road

Heh Pro, surely you realised I was talking about Thankfully, the best team in Europe has actually won the Champions League for once rather than the fifth best team in England last season and so nearly this season as well. A victory for football.


I did have my suspicions! ;¬)

Off-topic... Phil Ball (that's Phil Ball, and not Phil Babb) offers his thoughts on this season's La Liga over on ESPN Soccernet (a web site that Pr0lix himself recommends).

Interestingly... his team of the year features just two Barcelona players, one of which is Rafa Marquéz - and he didn't exactly cut the mustard against Arsenal, did he?

Two more Barcelona players make the bench.

Also, apparently Beckham created - and I quote - "93 goal attempts all season with his passes". Which is exactly why I believe he should start for England. With 27 assists and 16 goals for England, I believe he has every right to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Though I'm willing to discuss the whole captaincy thing a little more... perhaps it is time we hand it over to Terry or Gerrard.

Man, I'm bored.

Oh, and this is one for Pr0lix: Y'know Piss Toni? Well, she only used to live above the guy who doubled for Phil in EastEnders!

The Piss Toni saga continues! More, next week!

Wednesday's Telegraph suggests the England B midfield against Belarus will start off like this:
Lennon, Jenas, Carrick, Downing.

Three out of four ain't bad... and that whole midfield set-up would do me just fine for the new season...!

Also, some papers suggesting a Huth for Yobo swap - can understand getting a little something out of that... and not meaning to disparage Yobo, but would he really add much to Chelsea other than another (relatively-insignificant) dent in the Abramovich bank balance? Hardly worth the ivory-backscratcher, is it...?

Jon, When did I ever recommend Soccernet!? Is that not the site that wrote the awful article (unfairly) comparing Duncan Ferguson to Bergkamp and Shearer? I haven't see his team of the year but will certainly have a look, it would be unfair to comment without having seen it though.

Beckham's stat of having created 93 goal attempts is meaningless without similar figures for other players, as for his right to an England starting place, that's something I intend to blog about before the World Cup. Watch this space! As for the captaincy, I would be fully behind making Gerrard or Terry captain instead of the golden one, they have better leadership qualities and it makes it easier to drop Beckham ;).

The Piss Toni updates are fequently the highlight of my week, I simply cannot believe this latest development! The stories that woman can tell. The stories!

Akr, replace Jenas with Gerrard and I think that could be a fantastic midfield for the future! I'm a little bemused as to why Jenas is in the squad at all (ahead of Nolan for example) but seeing as he is and we don't want to over exert and risk injury to Gerrard and Lampard, I guess that starting foursome is the only way to go, it's not like we need to test out and evaluate the qualities of Hargreaves now is it...

Yobo is the future of Everton and should undoubtedly be one of the first names on the teamsheet but Moyes seems to prefer the Weir and Stubbs partnership and has offered both new deals AGAIN. I've heard the Huth rumours and wouldn't mind him at the club, he's a Moyes type player but I wouldn't want him at the expense of losing Yobo. That said, Yobo only has one more year on his contract and has been stalling on signing a new one so it might be a case of getting something now rather than nothing next summer...

Initally I thought 'Everton in Huth move' was a reference to our route one tendencies...

Pete: Back in the days of throwing up in Computing, you used to be a big follower of ESPN. I regret to confirm that the web site was very much your recommendation once upon a time. You used to love it. What became of your love?

In regards to Beckham’s stat… he was top, so why would you need to know how everyone else ranked?

Piss Toni column on the Prolix blog? Something to consider. "THIS WOULD BE BEST DISCUSSED AT THE PUB", to coin a phrase. A phrase, to clarify, that did not originate from this poster. A phrase, to be specific, that most likely still resides on Prolix’s clipboard as we speak. A phrase, to be truthful, that rubs me the wrong way.

“Initally I thought 'Everton in Huth move' was a reference to our route one tendencies...”
Ignoring the fact that you spelt ‘initially’ wrong, that was a damn funny comment!

Lastly, I just want to publicly say goodbye to Shebaz. I loved you, and now I have lost you. It could have been worse; the whole world could have lost you had you fulfilled your threat of doing away with yourself. Big Brother, I am pleased to inform you that you are now officially off Suicide Watch.

21 years on the dole… I don’t know what is worse: that, or not making your own bed for 21 years. I’ll leave that to the courts to decide.

Signing off.

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