The Champions League: UEFA’s Church of the Poisoned Minds

There’s not much going on in the aftermath of drawing Napoli in the quarter-final. Some people continue to witter on about that mask; just get over yourselves. The bloke was having a bit of fun and we’ve frankly moved on from a handshake, accompanied by a swift pat on the back from the chaps.

Even the tumbleweed is bored, rattling around town with nothing to do but mourn the apparent loss of Monchi to Sevilla. According to the Spanish media and subsequent reports here, he’s returning to Sevilla leaving us either back at Square One or not troubled at all as we’re appointing Marc Overmars anyway. He’s bringing Matthijs de Ligt with him which is a headline-writers dream.

It’s a trifling issue, to be honest. We are purely focused on reaching the Champions League, by one means or another. The top four is the likeliest route provided we keep our heads. Our away form isn’t fantastic and while they are emminently winnable games, timing is everything.

Some might argue the Premier League could help. Playing Watford on the Monday between the two legs of the Napoli tie has been deemed “unhelpful” by some in the media. When did that become an issue? For five decades, clubs managed two games a week and never suffered unduly. Of course, postponing games gives plenty of rest but then causes a fixture pile-up at the end of the season. Bravo, you’ve solved a small problem by causing a bigger one. We still don’t know when we’re playing Wolves yet.

No disrespect but why are people worrying about the semi-final? We haven’t reached and face tough opponents in the last eight. Let’s crack on with that and enjoy a decent football match or two; don’t worry, just be.

Funny Money ‘Cept No-one’s Laughing

Finishing in the top four lands us in the Champions League. It’s a competition which is utterly contemptuous. There’s no sporting grounds; the competition is loaded in the elite clubs favour. Seedings and placings corrupt the sporting ethos. Money men don’t like the underdog. The little clubs succeeding signal an elite marketing tool failing which is not good for sponsorship deals.

Therein is the point of the Champions League and its’ nefarious design: money. Can’t help but not want to be in it because we need the money. We’ll always need the money; we’re too honest. Others aren’t.

“You’re too cynical, too scathing on the competition”, I hear you say. “A dinosaur who wants to go back to the ways things were.”

Well, you carry on worshipping at the Champions League altar and you’ll get exactly what you deserve. This year, one of the favourites is Manchester City. They have a tough route to the final in Madrid with no certainty of making it.

They are, however, under investigation for FFP breaches. Most think they are guilty as well. Not only that, UEFA are investigating whether the Premier League champions deliberately lied to them in emails during a previous investigation.

This is the point we have reached. UEFA’s premier competition invites clubs to cheat to win. Make no mistake, others will look at City’s punishment before deciding whether it is worth the risk. Here’s a hint: it will be.

Too much money invites corruption and a complete perversion of the sporting ethos.

Don’t even get me started in FIFA’s stoopid Club World Cup revamp. It’s only adds an extra five games over a four-year period, they claimed. That’s an extra five games in one season, just for clarity.

Weathering the Storm

Chelsea can catch us on points with a win today and nobody would raise an eyebrow if Everton conceded the six Chelsea need to climb to fourth. It’s a result which ought to focus our minds wonderfully as the squad suns themselves in Dubai.

It’s in our hands until someone changes that.

’til Tomorrow.

33 thoughts on “The Champions League: UEFA’s Church of the Poisoned Minds

  1. Saa says:

    I remember there were fingers pointed at us being seeded although we never win the competition before… I don’t know what they were complaining about considering we always were knocked out at 2nd hurdle 🤷‍♂️

  2. C says:

    Napoli will be tough but not unbeatable and we have an opportunity whether its Europa or top 4 to get in the CL we just have to take it.

    Overmara wouldn’t be a bad hire at all, I would gladly have a couple of those Ajax players too.

  3. gooner73 says:

    C,

    Read an interview with some ajax fans. They are not happy with overmars as director of football. They are hoping that we do take him off their hands. If that monchi bloke doesn’t arrive and we get overmars instead, we could be in trouble. The way the ajax fans described it, it sounds like he’s a fifa 19 director. his recommendations are either out of their league and the cheap signings haven’t made an impact

  4. C says:

    gooner73,

    Thats madness, you look at the players he has bought to the club, sold and then replaced at all levels and his CV at Ajax is prettt damn impressive not to mention he is at the heart of building the current Ajax team that is in the CL. Part of Ajax’s problem is that they can’t realistically spend loads but they are a selling club in modern futbol and even then I read somewhere he has generated something like 374m from player sells sincr 2016. Many Ajax supporters, from what I have read, see their club as it was not as it is and because of that they feel he is doing a shitty job but I would gladly have him especially if he brought Tagliafico and some of those other players with him.

  5. MikeSA says:

    Just a note: Ozil is once again proving the old adage that class is permanent.

    He does struggle at times, as does virtually every player out there.

    As Chezny stated, he’s not lazy as is fondly trotted out by pundits and fans who actually have no idea whatsoever and, like Song, judge him on his running style and “body language” (personally I think that’s one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard about evaluating a football player – anyone who punts that line should actually just fuck off and go and watch bowls).

    His skill and vision are not as hampered by age in the same manner as a pocket rocket who relies on pace and headless chicken stuff like Walcott for example, but then understanding what he does and how he does is perhaps a bit too subtle for some.

    Its funny how the performances are starting to return now he’s back in the mix.

    Personally, my reading of that is that Emery is not quite as stubborn as Wenger, and has been forced to realise he was shooting himself in the foot.

    The stories from those not in the know about him not pitching for training and how Emery’s “man management” has been “proven correct” are just excuses and bluster to cover the blushes imo.

    Ramsey was good against ManU, because he played the role allocated to him and kept his discipline.

    Against Rennes in the second leg we saw exactly why we weren’t prepared to give him the money he wanted: he was back to charging upfield (Oil had to drop deep to cover for him – something apparently Ozil is completely incapable of if we’re to believe some pundits), and again insisted on his possession-losing tricks and flicks.

    The sum total is he kept discipline for one game but only partly held it for the next.

    I suspect by the next game he’ll be back to his full hollywood.

    I’m glad he’s putting the effort in, but the only regret I have about his departure is that he wasn’t sold when we could have got good money for him.

  6. Arsetralian says:

    MikeSA,

    Strange
    Not sure whether you are putting brave face on him leaving or trolling
    Ramsey has been excellent
    Either way plenty to look forward to but equally Wolves away instantly looks tough!

  7. MikeSA says:

    Arsetralian,

    If you look back at my comments I have never been a fan of Ramsey.

    I think he’s a playing version of Brendan Rogers, and I was wanting him gone long before it was decided he would leave.

    I certainly wouldn’t call him “excellent” by any stretch of the imagination.

    He was good against ManU because he actually displayed some positional discipline for once.

    Against Rennes, he was showing signs of his showboating and positional indiscipline again – against a better team we would have paid dearly.

    Whenever Ramsey has one good moment, one flick or trick out of 20 + comes off, or one good game then he’s suddenly Messi’s double or Frank Lampard reincarnated.

    He’s a reasonably good footballer, nowhere near a great one.

    Chezny stated in is interviews that Ramsey doesn’t see football as a tactical game, i.e. he just runs around like a kindergarten kid and doesn’t adhere to positional discipline.

    So no, I’m not “putting a brave face on it”, nor am I “trolling”, I really do not think he’s anywhere near as good as he and his fans think he is.

    It pisses me off that we have mullets who climb all over Ozil for perceived issues (and a complete lack of understanding of his role and what he does), but pay absolutely no attention to Ramsey’s fuck ups and failings.

  8. Bill says:

    MikeSA

    I am not going to debate with you about how good Ramsey is. I think you underrate him but I also think he will be underwhelming playing for Juve and their expectations are over too high and they will be disappointed that he won’t live up to his weekly wage. However, the one thing no one can argue about is his attitude and work ethic. He has several million reasons to find a nice beach somewhere and stay healthy so he will be ready for next year and phone is sick for the rest of this season. Despite that he is working as hard as he ever. He deserves immense respect for his integrity.

  9. Wailesy says:

    Mike’s right.

    Ozil is world class and I’m happy to put the boot into him when he’s off but what world class player doesn’t have off patches.

    Ramsey has a big heart and has been a “big game player” for us through his career at the club. He can be proud of that I’m proud of him as an Arsenal fan.

    Arsetralian,
    It’s a bit rich to throw the trolling word around. MikeSA has been around for many years now and never shown any form.

  10. andy1886 says:

    Mike, how on earth do Juve win all of those titles when they are such a poor judge of a player?

  11. Bill says:

    MikeSA

    After all of those years of wengerian overindulgence I would think we should be ecstatic that we finally have a manager with the cojones to do what he needs to do in order to bring and underperforming or undermotivated player back on line.

  12. MikeSA says:

    Bill:
    MikeSA

    After all of those years of wengerian overindulgence I would think we should be ecstatic that we finally have a manager with the cojones to do what he needs to do in order to bring and underperforming or undermotivated player back on line.

    Except maybe one or more of us don’t quite see it exactly that way.

  13. Bill says:

    MikeSA: Except maybe one or more of us don’t quite see it exactly that way.

    Mike

    I never said that everyone did see it that way. Differences of opinion is what makes blogging interesting. It would not be much fun if everyone agreed on everything

  14. Bill says:

    Mike

    I would be interested to know what you think Ozil’s role is or should be. 3-5 years ago his role was to be the genius in the attacking 1/3 and create the moments of magic and to be a threat to create an assist whenever he had the ball. The steadily decreasing assists over the last 3 years suggest that is no longer his role. I find it hard to imagine that he voluntarily changed his role and I doubt Wenger/emery/Low have all asked him to change. I suspect that all 3 managers would love to have the former Ozil back.

  15. MikeSA says:

    Bill:
    Mike

    I would be interested to know what you think Ozil’s role is or should be.3-5 years ago his role was to be thegenius in the attacking 1/3 and create the moments of magic and to be a threat to create an assist whenever he had the ball. The steadily decreasing assists over the last 3 years suggest that is no longer his role. I find it hard to imagine that he voluntarily changed his role and I doubt Wenger/emery/Low have all asked him to change. I suspect that all 3 managers would love to have the former Ozil back.

    The point is that what you think it suggests and what I think it suggests are radically different.

  16. MikeSA says:

    Some concerning news coming out about Ospina getting a harsh blow to the head and being stretchered off to hospital.

    I hope the dude’s ok and it’s not too serious.

  17. MikeSA says:

    Bill: Mike

    I never said that everyone did see it that way. Differences of opinion is what makes blogging interesting. It would not be much fun if everyone agreed on everything

    I’m quite happy to entertain and discuss differing perspectives and views.

    What I’m not happy to entertain are conclusions being drawn and offered as facts supporting further hypothesis.

  18. Bill says:

    Mike

    I recognize that stats don’t tell the entire story but there has to be some explanation for why ozils assist totals have dropped significantly for both club and country. My own theory is that his ability to see and to execute the passes he used to make has faded. It happens to all players in history at some point in their careers. I would be interested to know why you think his productivity numbers have dropped so dramatically in the last 3 years.

  19. Bill says:

    It looks like Chelsea is going to be putting all its hope for returning to the CL on winning the Europa league.

  20. MikeSA says:

    Bill,

    Limited stats tell a limited story.

    If I played up front in his team Ozil’s stats in terms of assists would look even worse, would that say something about him or me?

    What everyone continually ignores regarding Germany is that he created more chances at the last World Cup per game than any other player in the tournament, so Germany’s failure wasn’t down to him.

    Bayern and the German media don’t want to concede that their strikers couldn’t finish and then climbed on the anti-Ozil bandwagon following the Erdogan thing as a distraction. That was totally political.

    If the Bayern players had taken the chances he gave them, then A Germany would have gone further in the tournament, and B, his assists stats would have looked vey pry different.v

    I regularly see posts from people who think that because he’s paid what he is, he should suddenly conform to what they think he should be, I.e. what they will describe as a “game changing” player (which he actually is), but which in their minds is some sort of Roy of the Rovers, Charge of the Light Brigade, fantasy headless chicken., which he has never been, and he ends up getting judged by know-nothing’s on completely unrealistic and made up rubbish.

    Understanding the sublteties of football and tactical movement would be a really good start. Influencing play is not only about when you have the ball, a great deal of it is also what you do and where you place yourself when you don’t have the ball.

    When you do have the ball it’s about vision, movement, sensing when and where to pass or when to hold. We see way too many one trick ponies who always do the same thing (try and dribble, charge upfield instead of passing, stop and look around), and who lack the understanding and vision to know when to pass quickly, to see the movement and pass into the space instead of straight at the player.

    Remember what Kolasinac said: “when I saw Mesut had the ball I knew he would find me, so I made the run”.

    That’s the point.

    It’s not only about goals and assists.

    Games are 90 minutes long, with a fairly low number of goals per minute played, I.e. a shithouse full of other stuff goes on other than assists and goals.

    I see way too many commentators conveniently ignoring stats that don’t suit their argument and punting isolated stats that do.

    Yes, goals win games, but there’s a lot more that leads up to goals being scored and preventing goals being scored.

    If football was only about assists and goals, games would last about 5 minutes max.

  21. Bill says:

    Mike

    None of that explains why a player who almost set the all time record for assists in the PL in 15/16 when he was passing the ball to Giroud and Sanchez has seen his numbers steadily decrease since then and has only created 3 total PL assists in the last 14 months when he is playing with better goal scorers. Something about the way he plays has changed. He has gone from a player who was one of the worlds best at making the “final pass” to someone who almost never makes passes that directly lead to a goal being scored. It seems unlikely to me that he would make that change in his game by choice.

  22. Blue Yonder says:

    Whether it’s Napoli, Chelsea or someone else, we have to beat the best to be the best.
    Chelsea’s loss to Everton has put them level on games played but with only one point gained from the two make-up games. Things do seem to be falling into place for Arsenal but I expect the race will go down to the final weekend. Perhaps that’s why alcohol was invented.

  23. Arsetralian says:

    Some interesting tweets today suggesting 4th may be no good after all! If Chelsea win Europa, manu CL, Liverpool the league and wolves fa cup say. Man city and spurs join them if we are not third…or something like that

  24. ferkov says:

    Arsetralian,

    The only one there to concern us are the Spuds, or the Scum winning CL and being outside top 4. Papers got fuck all to write about for next fortnight so batten down the hatches , there’s a hail of bullshit approaching.
    Bit of dirt on Ozil from the Dubai trip is top of my list. Odds on.

  25. C says:

    ferkov,

    O you already know dirt is set to be dumped on Ozil, its just when the English media like to do.

  26. ferkov says:

    C,

    Sadly the Arsenal online fan base is easy pickings for them.
    If it’s online the more fake it is , the more people like to believe it.
    Media version of homeopathy

  27. C says:

    ferkov,

    Exactly, its almost as though the media and many Gooners go:

    “What should talk about: Leno showing why he was so highly rated but needed a move, nope…

    What about Sead showing his quality up and down the flanks, nope….

    How about Lacazette being the most underrated CF in Europe and Aubameyang banging in goals, nope…..

    Has to be the fact that we could realistically win the Europa AND finish 3rd, hell no!, lets pile on Ozil again despite him and the team playing well.”

  28. C says:

    O and the English FA again show how fucking stupid they are. In the Quarterfinals of the FA Cup, they used VAR in PL grounds and NOT USE IT in non-PL grounds.

    I mean FFS, how the fuck do you justify in some matches using technology AND IN THE EXACT SAME COMPETITION IN THE EXACT SAME WEEKEND, in other matches you don’t.

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