Tag Archives: Euro

​CL Final Shows Gulf In Class

Posted on Goonersphere.

A Champions League Final is not normally a hive of frenetic action, sandwiched by thrilling passages of play.

No, European club football’s crowning glory is usually poster child for tedium and anti-football. Y’know the types of games I’m referring to – just picture a game involving a Jose Mourinho team in an important fixture and you’ll get the idea.

It is completely understandable though. Since the European Cup transformed itself in the early 90’s, the current format has gone from strength to strength and is now the pinnacle of all achievements for any club on the continent.

So for a team to play ultra-cautiously in fear of losing is just another effect of the Champions League gravity ensuring everything in its orbit is affected.

The latest Final though, in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, was markedly and pleasantly different.

Both finalists – eventual winners Real Madrid and beaten finalist Juventus – went at each other with vigorous enthusiasm, and the first half especially was a joy to watch. The ebb and flow of the game was akin to a tennis match, but don’t for one moment think that the defensive arts were maligned. With each attack, the defence for both teams were the craggy rocks which the marauding waves crashed upon.

Juventus’s almost mythical defence of Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini were eventually found wanting in the face of the Real forward line, but Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos also had a tough time tracking the movement of Paolo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

All parameters of skill in football were crammed into the ninety or so minutes, and what became increasingly apparent as the minutes whizzed by was that Arsenal – and the Premier League – are miles behind the level on show.

The Premier League’s biggest strength – it’s physicality and fizzing speed – is also its biggest flaw. It means that the technical ability that Real and Juventus possess and dole out on the pitch can slice through the crash and bang that PL sides bring to the table.

We have players in every PL team that can play in this manner. Some clubs have more than others, but the bottom line is that it isn’t just the Champions League finalists that have climbed above our best sides.

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, PSG, Monaco, Barcelona. These teams, if drawn against one of the big PL sides, could slice us to ribbons on demand. Of course, Dortmund have seen better days, and PSG haven’t been at their best, but five English sides making the Last 8 in the last SIX seasons pretty much underlines it.

There are matches when English teams can raise their game and occasions when their play is breathtaking. At their best, they can stand shoulder to shoulder with these Euro giants.

The problem is though, is that they are standing on tiptoes, and this can’t be maintained for long.

We have some of the best coaches. We have the most money. We have the platform to grow and become giants, like we once were. 

There are other factors. A lack of a winter break leaves English teams with less capacity than their Euro brethren, and the frenetic nature of our League means stamina becomes an issue.

These are not the main reason though, and that is why this summer will be a big one for the big boys of the Premier League. 

These clubs are now the richest on the continent, and despite this, they still don’t possess the best talent that money can buy. Suarez, Neymar, Dybala, Higuain, Bale, Ronaldo, Reus, Douglas Costa, Lewandowski. These men are at the very top, and none play in England.

Hell, Real Madrid couldn’t even fit James Rodriguez onto their bench!

We have Ozil, Sanchez, Hazard, Aguero, Pogba, Koscielny, Kane. These players can hold their head high amongst these esteemed names, but on the whole, we have a huge amount of catching up to do.

On the pitch, and off of it, we will see a big change. This summer will be the start, as silly money gets chucked around so City, United, Chelsea and hopefully Arsenal, attempt to claw back their shortcomings.

The CL Final may just serve as a wake up call for the Premier League big clubs. 

The Stick or The Carrot? Always the Stick.

Originally posted on Goonersphere

It appears as if every occurrence involving Premier League teams can now be tied to Arsenal. 

Our club, apparently, are intrinsically linked with the other 19 clubs that make up the Premiership, and their results are essentially barometers for us.

Even though there are a whole mess of variables which segregate every team in our league, we now see comparisons being bandied around every form of media whenever any of these teams play.

The latest set of ludicrous comparisons centre around Leicester City defeating Sevilla and getting to the Quarter-Final stage of the Champions League. This quite obviously spells out that Leicester are a far better side than us as they have effortlessly leaped over the Last16 stage – the same stage that Arsenal have stumbled on in the last seven years.

It was the Foxes first attempt in Europe’s finest competition, and they sailed through against a highly-rated opponent. They also did it with a manager who has never had a managerial position before. 

This only emboldens Arsenal’s failure in the Champions League, and Arsene Wenger’s errors on judgement. 

It cannot be simply celebrated. No, it must be brandished as a weapon of sorts to beat Arsenal with. It isn’t opposition fans peppering us all with ‘banter’ and memes. This comes with the territory of being a supporter. No, it is when supposed professionals in the media world actually use Leicester’s success – or any other team – to bash our club.

When we fail to beat a team and then a fellow Premiership club then does what we couldn’t do – it is held up as evidence of our failings rather than a positive result from that team.

It means that efforts and victories from teams loses all perspective, and instead it is twisted into some mawkish piece in which the Gunners failings can be scrutinised even more. 

That mess of variables I mentioned earlier? Well,  the precious details that are overlooked regarding comparisons between Arsenal’s Euro failings and Leicester’s success are found in the class of opponent. Aside from when Arsenal drew Monaco, six of the seven years we have been pitted against teams which are stronger than ours. We have been underdogs. Of course, Leicester have made their name from doing the same and against Sevilla they were odds on to be dumped out, but Sevilla are not Bayern Munich, they are not Barca.

And yet the berating and baiting of Arsenal continues. It is our fault really. Our online presence and vociferous protests in response to the bashing means that these blinkered ‘experts’ get exactly what they wanted. They cast the tempting worm into the waters of social media and wait for us to bite.

And we do. Every time. 

Turn on your radio and listen. Every day there is an item in which Arsenal is mentioned, even if we haven’t played for a week or two. The same with the plethora of websites there are out there. We are popular and we grab clicks, listeners and viewers. 

It will continue, but it is important we ourselves do not skew reality. We have failed in the Champions League, of this there can be no doubt. We should inspect the wreckage of our campaign with keen eyes.

We cannot compare Leicester’s success to ours. The same as we cannot compare United’s record to ours, and Liverpool’s. What we do is completely different as in every game, there are so many different parameters to measure. 

We have had a difficult season, we do not need to make it worse by subjecting ourselves to pointless comparisons. 

The Big-Man, Little-Man Combo Is Key For Giroud

There have been many partnerships where a difference in height has been at the fulcrum of their success.

Barker and Corbett. Owen and Heskey. Smith and Wright.

The aerial dominance of one is pure manna for the more diminutive other, who uses their pace and killer instinct to buzz around for sustenance.

With this in mind, could a partner up front be just what is needed for Giroud?

Continue reading The Big-Man, Little-Man Combo Is Key For Giroud

Flares, Fighting and Fantastic Tackling – The Euro’s so far….

The build-up to the European Championship saw talk centred on the heightened police presence that would be concentrated on events in France. The atrocities that unfolded in Paris the previous year meant that the likelihood of a repeat attack was elevated, and French forces would be en masse to ensure the safety of the crowds who would be attending.

There was no talk of how the potential fighting would be in the stands – and between rival fans.

Continue reading Flares, Fighting and Fantastic Tackling – The Euro’s so far….