Champions League Preview: On A Wing And A Piraeus

Well, if it’s good enough for Arsène to talk about philosophers… I missed the press conferences. Did he mention anything about Greeks and gifts or that the hotel was a bit spartan? Enough.

Tonight’s encounter was probably the least attractive fixture in the group from ITVs point of view but the combination of Manchester City’s hopeless failure – we can laugh having been through the same problems – and the malaise which is seeping through the squad have focussed the broadcasting minds wonderfully. How long before Keane, Chiles and whomever else is involved mention club in crisis? I’m going for inside 2 minutes into the programme. Late to the party following their failure to have any sort of broadcasting rights to Premier League football, I am sure that they will want to make the most of this opportunity.

Arsène touched on this yesterday. To an extent, he is right, it is fashionable to knock Arsenal in the media because it gets page views, sell copy, brings in advertising pounds. There is nothing new in that, it will be the same whether Arsenal win or lose again. To apply that to supporters is not correct, in either sense. Yes, Arsène people are emotional but that is the real world, it’s nothing new save for your reign. This is without a shadow of a doubt the most testing season because previously there has always been a strong sense of hope, that things could be turned around. Now I sense that is not there, so you must too.

Just because people are questioning you and your methods doesn’t mean that they want you to fail, I’ve never seen a situation like this at a top flight club where despite the failings, few actually want the manager to leave.

A lot of the questioning is borne of frustration, the same feelings that the manager has, feelings betrayed by the manager’s demeanour and body language. Whilst nervousness from the stands can transmit to the pitch, a brooding, prowling, scowling touchline presence is going to feed negatively to the stands; it’s a vicious circle. More than anything though, I don’t think that a genuine belief exists in the squad. We agree they are a talented group of players but no-one is stepping forward to take responsibility for performances. Yes, there is an element of new players but we are now in the fourth month of the season, they have to have gelled by now; something is very wrong if a lack of understanding is the problem. It’s an excuse that I’ve heard which just does not bear scrutiny. If that is true, tonight’s match is doomed before it starts.

The manager noted that everything about the club is in fine fettle, the structure, the financials, the tea ladies. Which is all well and good except the most important thing isn’t; the results, the performances. Up to now, Arsenal have got away with it. To be tenth and within two wins of the top four is testament to that. But it can’t go on, it just can’t. As fortuitous as the five point gap is, that can quickly turn to double figures so whilst the manager is right to downplay the sense of doom, it is deflecting attention away from genuine concerns. To be honest, you don’t expect the manager to do anything less, to divert pressure onto himself. What you do expect is a response, from himself and the players on the pitch. This is supposedly a fairly smooth run of games, nothing too strenuous and perhaps four of the next five games being away from home will help somewhat, but the intensity of feelings is only going to get stronger if they are not four wins.

Starting tonight would be good. It is reminiscent of previous trips to Greece, certainly in the Champions League where rarely is anything of note dependent upon the outcome. Looking at this season’s competition, there is little to choose between finishing top or second. Finish first and the joys of Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid, or Valencia await, tricky fixtures all. Finish second and trips to Shaktar, Dortmund or Barcelona await. Both positions in the group offer tough and relatively easier draws in the next round. It doesn’t matter at this stage of the season either, the domestic form is of more importance long before that.

The team I expect tonight is

Szczesny; Jenkinson, Squillaci, Vermaelen, Meade; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Coquelin, Arshavin, Rosicky; Chamakh

A little bit stronger than a League Cup side but not by much. Arsenal’s result travels to Greece have been poor yet they were, I think, the first English club to beat Panathinaikos on their own ground with arguably a much weaker team than tonights. Maybe history will repeat itself or we’ll be third time lucky having lost the last two visits to Piraeus.

Enjoy the match wherever you watch it. ’til Tomorrow.



475 thoughts on “Champions League Preview: On A Wing And A Piraeus

  1. Besides the fact that almost none of these players will be starting vs. West Brom, I don’t really understand the celebrations of the performance. It wasn’t all that encouraging and doesn’t do much for us except set us up for the League Cup match midweek next.

  2. @Limestonegunner then you have seen more positives than me from our first team over the last months.
    Cos i have just found us dull and boring to watch.

    Boring i think is the best way to describe it…just really really dull and boring. We may have wone some matchs but they have still been boring to watch. no swagger, no style no noting…

  3. it doesnt matter who we get now..
    its all the big boys isnt it
    weve got til february to find our game though..

    cant see another trophy being won by crap football..chelsea used that voucher up last year.

  4. Gervinho very often takes players on Duke

    What he need to sharpen up on is having a bash at it while he has the ball under control

    And keeping it under control

    Otherwise it is a waste of time and the ball

    Ditto Theo

  5. @Limestonegunner its not a celebration of the preformance, its the shere joy of actually watching something that is not boring and dull.

    Something happend, we played more fowarard and dared to pass..

    We were suddely interesting to watch, one was thinking, “hum this ball may end up somwhere exciting”, and “wow that pass was really nice” and “wow that was a nice triangle”.

    I actually smiled during the game. SMILED!!! i cant remember last time i smiled during an arsenal game….
    that atlest is what im celebrating.
    they did put the joy back in the game, atlest for the first half….
    vintage? no but they made me smile…

    You seen that in the first team latley?

  6. honestly has arsenal put a smile on anyones lips latley? is that not what footy is about? enjoying your club? even if they loose, if they put a smile on your face cos they play exciting then youve had a good game of footy no?

    Swansea may not win anything,but i bet their supporters are having a blast on 75%of all the games they watch…

  7. No idea what you mean, anicoll. I guess you can’t think of anyone besides them in the knockouts whom we have beaten recently either.

    I agree, Poodle, that City should be deeply humiliated by their second straight failure to get out of their CL group. Pathetic. However, I don’t think we would have made it out of that group either, necessarily, this season. Luckily, we aren’t faced with that situation because we are a Pot 1 team thanks to years of consistent qualification to the knockout stages.

    However, we haven’t done anything especially exciting in the knockout stages for 4 years. Hopefully this year we will put together a strong run to the semis or beyond. That would be a wonderful boost to the manager, players and gooners.

  8. Tonight wasn’t great but Olympiakos are no mugs. I thought Meade had a great game as did Mozart when he was on. Coquelin, Squis, Veermaleen and Jenkinson put a lot of effort in. We weren’t disgraced. It would have been sweet to win but we didn’t deserve it.

  9. Are you serious Poodle ?
    Don’t you realize that modern football is about self flagellation, intense self examination, knocking a million words out per game on the Internet and developing an encyclopedic knowledge of the accounts ?
    Smile ?

    Bloody maniac

  10. Gervinho is on a par with Helder but Helder didnt cost £12m

    Before tonight some were saying give Chamakh a game in the league.You got your answer tonight.He’s shite

    Only Rosicky and Meade played well

  11. poodle,
    its can’t always get what you want (no Cacofinix!)
    many belittle AW for bringing smiles without winning while they big up Utd, Chelski & Shitty for winning w/o bright smiles…
    its difficult “these days” to have both…
    money’s too tight to…(oh, shut it Cacofonix)

  12. LG it took a dodgy sending off to put us out and not knock Barca out
    the other year . Stop moaning will you ?

  13. Poodle, I can’t argue with your characterization of our first team performances this last month. They have been excruciatingly dull, dispiriting affairs. I think I have mentioned that I find it troubling that our style of play has deteriorated and we don’t display the quick and precise passing and attacking play of vintage Wengerball.

    And if you enjoyed tonight’s match more, well, that’s a matter of taste–and there is no accounting for that! :)–no honestly, I don’t mean to bring the mood down. Just giving my assessments and quite puzzled by how buoyant others seemed to be (apart from the usual predictable ones who slag off various targeted players…).

    Ultimately, how relevant this match is for Saturday is disputable given how few players will be starting–but some will be on the bench, like Rosicky, Arshavin, the Ox, Coquelin, Jenks, Gervinho.

  14. i wouldnt say gervinho and theo were the same..

    gervinho doesnt know what hes trying to do, hes just that unpredictible he confuses himself…
    and theo knows what hes trying to do but cant do it..

    the real difference is though that theos more deadly..

    gervinhos a strange one, the only player i can remember who loses confidence after scoring and can take 5 players of his own team out of the game with one pass..

    hes a good player but the only thing thats consistent about him is that hes consistently shit..

  15. Can’t think of anyone in the knock outs we have beaten ?


    Ooh ? Scratches head









    Can I have another go tomorrow night when the final set of opponents are up ?

  16. PG, unless you think our luck has changed, there really isn’t any reason to believe we’ll do any better this year from your perspective, is there?

    Observing that it has been a very long time since we did anything serious in this competition while expressing the hope that we might be able to put in a good run (particularly if the draw is favourable) is hardly moaning.

    But then anything that isn’t happy happy Prozac prosaic super duper supportive gets labeled moaning, of course!

  17. LG,
    “how relevant this match is for Saturday?”

    its called we gave a good account for ourselves AND RESTED SEVEN!

  18. about JonJon,
    “hes a good ACLF-player but the only thing thats consistent about him is that hes consistently shit..!

  19. Pretty ridiculous list since none of those date from after 2008 or are major European powers (Shakhtar?! ) I am the one who mentioned Milan, btw. And when did we play Malaga–I honestly don’t remember playing them (another major European power in their first CL group campaign, I thought).

  20. Porto

    I have to say my slight concern would be Barcelona or Bayern

    Mind you I blame Arsene for that cos we should be streets ahead of both given what Gazidis earns

  21. Purple Verve

    Oh come on Aman! I know for pride’s sake you think we could have beaten Spurs without the need for a man down that day.

    But seriously, you think we could have beaten them if they had 11 players on the pitch? Be realistic, in attack we are now as blunt as Alan Hansen’s intelligence!

  22. I agree Aman that the rest was very needed. Arteta, Cazorla, Mertesacker, and Wilshere could all really use the rest.

  23. Bit harsh on Eboue as he was a fair right back

    I have never seen Gervinho in the position

    A thought though, in the insane lock me up and chuck away the key grouping

  24. “F**kin Arsene, when are we going to fire this lame-o?”
    “Fire the damn manager & his Gazidis!!!!!!!!!!”


    “Oh where is our leader from Karachi?”

  25. I’ll give you Porto since they qualify regularly and have won the CL in the last 15 years, unlike us. But they are really much like Roma or Villareal, wouldn’t you say? Not exactly a big scalp though it was indeed quite a scalping. That was a genuinely enjoyable destruction of a team.

    When did we defeat Juventus? 2006? Again, since 2008, not that much to get excited about in the knock outs.

    It would be delightful to do some damage this year, but I think we need a reasonable opening tie to build some confidence and get past what has been a stumbling block the last two seasons.

  26. Moe,
    I ALWAYS think we can beat the Spuds, even with 2 (of our) men down.
    and thats being “realistic”..

  27. Good god you are right about Malaga


    Clear up the point though please

    Why should Arsenal be terrified of Malaga ?

  28. i guess im very old fashion. but i dont do things if they are not enriching my life. As in if i dont get any positives back from it. I want to be entertained and “wined and dined” by my footy team. I wnt to have a breather from normal life and just enjoy a nice couple hours of footy art. Thats what i wanna do every weekend. Tune into Arsenal, be able to do my “oohs” and “aahs”, admire qick intelligent passing and a goal now and then.
    And thats what i did until this autumn :p

    I will always follow arsenal, though if we continiue to be very very dull to watch, i will prolly watch less and read the sumup in the paper instead.

    Cos what happens when you watch a game where you team sucks? Well it ruins your weekend and you become a grumpy ass…
    Is it worth it in the long run? To always be a moody cow in the weekens cos your team(which btw you cannot influence anway) played crap??

    If you know you gonna play shite anyway you might aswell read about it. Dont need to watch 90m of shite to confirm it.

    But each man to his own. I can but admire those that can sit day in and day out and watch us ruin ourselvs, i cant..

  29. I know, PG. You are a far better and more positively wonderful supporter than negative old me. Thanks for reminding me. Though as a conversationalist there might be room for improvement :)!

    Aman, he’s in Gulshan having a gulab jamun in celebration of our exciting performance!

  30. Are we going anywhere with this ?

    You say Areenal should be terrified of our fellow qualifiers

    I point out that we have beaten plenty of them – and you correctly point out we have not played some of them for a while

    On the other hand some of those we have played we have beaten, and if we having played the others well – thee we are

  31. poodle,
    seems you’ve become rather high-maintenance in ya old age…
    tiddlywinks with no red & whites loometh…

  32. I thought Eboue was a very decent RB as well. As a midfielder a bit too undisciplined but a very good RB.

  33. It’s going nowhere as you have wandered into a conversation and obviously didn’t read earlier comments very carefully. It’s ok. No harm done. We can make common cause defending Ramsey (and apparently Eboue!).

  34. anicoll5

    In our current stagnant attack in the first team and current dross of performance we turn out week in week out then i would say our fellow qualifiers will beat us.

    I wish i could say otherwise but until we improve our play, they will beat us. SImple as that.

    You rightly say we have beaten them before, but not now and not with this team playing this way.

    I think Dortmund would piss on us worse than Swansea did….

  35. eboue was a fair right back..
    for a season
    then we bought sagna and eboue became a winger..

    i spent years on here telling everyone eboue was a decent right back and backup to sagna was all he was but apparently he was our best dribbler of the ball and thats why wenger used him as an attacker..wide right wide left front three middle three..
    rarely saw him in defence after we bought sagna but eboue couldnt defend all that good so thats why we bought sagna..

    the only winger i know who played 30 games a season for 5 years but created fuck all..spent most of it falling over and acting a pratt..

  36. “the disadvantage we have is we play the second game away, but it’s not statistically proven it’s a disadvantage”
    lol that is so typical Wenger….

  37. AW:
    ““People don’t understand tiredness very well in England sometimes,” he said. “They think you can only be tired at end of the season.

    “For me it’s a lack of freshness and you recover with a few days’ rest. If I take you out now, I can make you tired in 10 minutes. But tomorrow you will have recovered and won’t be tired for two months. It can happen with repetition of games with the Champions League. But it is part of the job and I don’t want to complain.

    “I believe Swansea are a good team. They played well, while we were not at our best. If you are like that in this league this can happen.

    “It is not an excuse. It doesn’t stop me feeling completely responsible for losing the Swansea game but I believe as well that has happened before and I try to be as objective as possible after a defeat. That little bit of freshness [we lack] is only part of the explanation. Some players didn’t play on Wednesday night at Everton, so they were not tired.

    “At the moment it is fashionable to be against Arsenal, so every single word you say people turn it against you. It doesn’t stop me saying what I believe.

    sorry, i just saw this.

  38. There are moments of entertaiment Poodle but to entirely honest I do not enjoy watching Arsenal either live or on the box

    I enjoy the build up, I enjoy the aftermath – win, lose or draw – I enjoy the rare and really good flashes of genius – occasional – very occasional ecstacty

    But my support is a scourging of my soul

    And will be

  39. LG ,Did I say I was a better anything than you?
    No ,I did not.
    I likely am .but I didn’t say it.

  40. Probably something like that, Aman! And definitely all AW’s fault, for sure… Or the board’s. It’s not clear whose responsibility exactly, but surely someone is to blame!

    I was just responding to your Karachi comment before. Perhaps it should have been crabbing near Clifton?…

  41. “improve ya rotations so JJ & tha doomers can go back to paying homage to ya testes Arsene!”

    (bragging rights…its what they’re really crying out for)

  42. Hey, Aman, Pashtuns have fun too (I think!) At least the sufis among them must experience mystical ecstasy…

  43. Eboue had a long and entirely unsuccessful period on the wlng

    You may also recall he was then slotted into midfield in the centre

    I remember a game against Spam with Eboue as Zidane

    Bizarrely he was better there than on the wlng

  44. Listened to Robson last night talking about ho defence wasn’t a topic at Arsenal and how Bould is basically gagged. I didn’t want to believe it but, watching tonight and seeing Squil shutting his eyes and clutching his body when the goal shot came towards him. It’s very difficult for me to see how this guy is a professional player and more fucked up is that our scouting network brought him here.

    Gervinho, apart from the drag back and assist what the fuck was he doing out there and where has the player we thought was going to kick on gone? At one point it looked like he got blown over when he should of powering towards goal. Ramsey, Coq, Veminator, all played like strangers. Couldn’t believe it when I seen him running out to the edge of our box without leaving everybody else behind him. Bould really having a say in all this. Sad fucking sate our club is in at the moment. Something has to change.

  45. people dont understand squad depth and selling your best players can be detrimental to your squad very well in france sometimes..

    people dont understand trophies very well in france sometimes either..
    they think you can only win a trophy if you finish 4th or make a huge profit..

    for me, its a lack of investment and you recover if you stop spunking the money on trying to polish a bunch of turds..if i give my best players now 150k a week, in 10 minutes the bank account feels it, but tomorrow we still have our best players and wont be shit for two can happen if you keep your best players, but i dont want to complain..

    at the moment its fashionable to be a selling club and blame everyone else, for every single pound we make the results will go against us, it doesnt stop me saying what i beleive..

  46. I agree anicoll5,
    methinks Eboue might have been a really good DM
    most definitely NOT a winger!

    I blame the gaffer!!!!!!!

  47. damn JJ,
    got off the mono-headed one and jumped right on the stereo one…
    hope you don’t have ’em in surround?

  48. I am rooting for Celtic tomorrow.

    Btw, where’s Irishgray? Are you around Dec. 26 and planning to watch Arsenal v. West Ham? Looks like I will be in NYC this time and eager to watch at the Pig.

Comments are closed.