Ramblings at the Nou Camp…

When the Champions League tie was announced, it was clear that Arsenal have drawn the hard route to the final… Most people think – hey Arsenal don’t have a chance, Barcelona – wow that’s tough… but people forget, we were the team that everyone didn’t want…

A certain Pep Guardiola said after the draw had been made:

“Arsenal were the very last team we wished to draw.”

And the reasons are obvious – Barcelona have excellent players going forward, in Messi, Henry and Ibra with two excellent supporting players in Xavi and Iniesta… but looking further back, the likes of Dani Alves, Eric Abidal as well as the middle two of Pique (who may be injured) and Puyol are very suspect in defence. Keita and Toure haven’t quite hit the heights – and we’ve seen just as recently as last weekend how fragile their defence is. They didn’t want us because they know we can play them and expose their defensive frailties…

Their sporting director is also quite worried – he has mentioned how he is worried about the home leg and hopes the away leg will prove useful to them

“It’s a great tie. We are two teams who don’t shut up shop and play long ball football, and this tie will be nice for the fans. It will be a good spectacle and we’ll see if we are a little stronger than them. In any case, the best news is knowing that we will be playing the return leg at home. We are strong at home and we’ve shown that.”

But in all honesty, looking at the team from the outside in… there are many questions that Barcelona will have…

How do we stop Cesc?

The scorer of 18 goals and the same number of assists this season – they’ll be focused on stopping the former Barcelona player from playing – but how do you stop Cesc? Man mark him? Kick him out of the game?

How do we control Arshavin?

Don’t forget we’ve got the wiley little Russian on our left… down at the Nou Camp, they’ll be wondering what they have to do to stop the Russian. He’s hitting some form (well, in the big games anyway) and he’ll be relishing

Who marks Theo Walcott?

A question that Eric Abidal, Yaya Toure and Puyol will have? Do you go close? Do you give him space? Theo’s pace will trouble their defence, no question about it. They will need to come up with a plan to stop Theo going forward. How?

How do we predict Bendtner?

Okay, maybe they won’t be thinking that… but it’s a question that I would like to know the answer to. Our finest Danish International is unpredictable and very bundly (is that a word?) things tend to bounce off him, but he has those golden moments of magic – can he pull one out against Barce?

We saw the Nasri goal against Porto? How do we stop that happening against us?

With so many Arsenal players capable of something out of nothing, a la Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Cesc and let’s not forget Diaby… after our recent thrashing of Porto and the devastating effect that Eboue, Arshavin and Nasri had on the end result, how do they mark everyone? If they let Nasri have space, they will get punished.

Whatever the outcome, whatever the result, the whole world is eagerly awaiting this one… Begiristain pointing out…

“Cesc returns to the Nou Camp but Thierry Henry will also face his former team and that makes it even more interesting…”

Indeed… I feel a classic coming on…

  • Lewis

    Think we have a chance to beat them but could it of been any worse for us. Barce, then it looks like Inter and to top it off we will be away side in final, not even that went for us. In contrast United get Munich, then an easy French club in semis followed by home side in final. Apart from this years group stages, how come they always seem to get an easier draw than everyone else.

  • Lewis

    The challenge will be whether we can outplay Barca up the middle. Their midfield hustle and harry for every ball, when out of posession they hassle people like Bolton hassle Arsenal. Arsenal’s midfield tend to sit back and wait for mistakes, but Barca won’t make those.

    Watch games where the underdogs turn over the favourites, it is all about the hard work, closing down and grafting. Arsenal need to graft their arses off for 180 minutes.

  • dampatti

    its a dream game for anyone lucky enough to have tickets for it. I am going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat to get there but am going to try. Onto the tie, we all know what Barca bring to the table, quick passing, expert ball retention and Lionel Messi. But we bring our own brand of slick passing and lightning counter attacks and with players like Arshavin and Fabregas, they can rip teams apart, the sheer size and strength of Diaby will put the frightners up most of their team and we will be allowed to play football, that should bring Nasri, Rosicky and touch a lot of wood, RvP into the frey. can we not concede? doubt it, can we score? definitely. My main concern is Messi up against someone like Campbell, he will get annialated by Messi or Iniesta so i hope Gallas is back to bring a bit more pace to the centre of defence. But lets just enjoy it, its not every day Barcelona come to town and this Barca team is the best its been for decades. This is the biggest test of our credentials and this could be a tie for the ages.

  • dampatti

    Lewis wrote:

    Think we have a chance to beat them but could it of been any worse for us. Barce, then it looks like Inter and to top it off we will be away side in final, not even that went for us. In contrast United get Munich, then an easy French club in semis followed by home side in final. Apart from this years group stages, how come they always seem to get an easier draw than everyone else.

  • parsi

    We all know that if Wenger wants to buy a player who shows great prospect he is willing to do something special.

    The story on how Wenger beat SAF when he signed Aaron Ramsey right under his nose is well known. Ramsey who had been shown round at United by Neville and who had not seen SAF in person on that occasion than was invited by Wenger. Wenger took Ramsey on the plane to Austria and talked with him in person on how he was seeing the future of Ramsey.

    United who had already mentioned the fact that Ramsey would sign for them as a 100 % sure had to eat their words as Ramsey was so impressed with the personal contact and attention that Wenger gave he decided to go to Arsenal. A great move from Aaron and from Wenger.

    But this was not the first time Wenger used this tactic, for there’s also the story of when he made a personal contact with the Cesc and his family. We can see that our manager really is a man who is not only interested in the player but also tryies to do his best to accommodate the family of the player as well.

    Certainly if you go to another country as Cesc did I think it is very important for the family of the player to know who you are dealing with. Well I, as a father, would take that in a account if I had to make such a decision.

    The story about Vermaelen is another example of how Wenger deals with players he absolutely wants to sign for Arsenal. The negotiations had been going on between Vermaelens’ manager and Arsenal for some time. And then Wenger decided to take his phone and talk direct to Vermaelen when he was on holiday to talk about the way Wenger was looking in to it and the fact that he really wanted Vermaelen to sign for Arsenal. Thomas admitted that to get a phone call from Wenger was really one of the biggest and most important things and played a major part in his decision.

    I really think that the fact that Vermaelen at first hesitated a bit on joining the Arsenal had everything to do with the fact that he could have stayed his whole career at Ajax, where he was already a captain at a young age. His bread was baked over there (as we say in Belgium).

    And maybe he feared a bit the fact that he maybe just wouldn’t be good enough. That old Flemish habit, (a bad habit it seems), of being modest about your own performances. But just the fact that Wenger found Vermaelen so important to give him a personal call was the last push he needed to take on the biggest challenge of his life. And how well did he do.

    So these are three things in which Wenger made a vital and final contribution on bringing in players that really have been great signings or will become in the future (in Aaron’s case).

    But now onto today’s issue.

    One of the hottest prospects in European football is another Belgian player and every transfer period, (well the last one anyway), he has been linked with moves to whatever club you can think of.

    His name is Eden Hazard and he plays for Lille, in France. He was chosen as best young player in last season in France.

    Real Madrid, Liverpool, Barcelona, Milan, and Arsenal all have been named as possible buyers of the biggest hope and prospect of Belgian football. Even this week media reports suggested that Liverpool has asked Lille how much he would cost and the put a price of 22 million euro on his young head.

    Hazard himself has recently signed a new contract with Lille, but this could have been a smokescreen so Lille can be sure they hold the cards when other teams come in to try to buy him away.

    And today the news got in the papers in Belgium that Eden Hazard, who is 19 by the way, has received a phone call from Wenger himself. The press reports don’t mention what was said exactly but they all point out that this looks like the Vermaelen transfer all over again. As with Vermaelen Arsenal has been sending scouts to almost every game he plays for the last season, to training session to see how he lives and to practice games. So yes it looks like Wenger is really interested in him like he did with Vermaelen.

    But Hazard was quoted as having said: “He had signed a contract with Lille but that he was very flattered with the interest in him and it could be a dream come true to play in the EPL at some stage in his career”. He also has said that one his dream teams was Arsenal.

    We will soon know if Wenger has done the trick once again. If he comes it will be another nail biting moment I must confess. When Vermaelen came I hoped and prayed he would be good enough. I would have been afraid to show up in London if Vermaelen would have done it all wrong. Instead Thomas did us fans from over here a big favour. If we now say we are from the same country as Vermaelen we only get extremely good reactions. Hope that if Hazard does come over he can do the same trick like Vermaelen did. And if he comes you will have known why and you have read it here first.

  • devday

    @ parsi:
    What has that got to do with Barcelona??

  • Kuka

    @Devday – I do think Persi’s post is on point. I totally enjoyed reading it. I just think it’s too early to say anything about Barca now. To be honest, am dying to know who will play in our defense at B/City .

  • devday

    @ Kuka:
    Based on the issues surrounding the defence and Song’s excellent display there last weekend, I think it makes sense to play Song & Campbell against Birmingham – leaving Denilson and Diaby ahead of them.

    Then against Barcelona, keep Song in and bring back Vermaelen.

    Rest Song against Wolves, playing Campbell and Vermaelen, and then put in Song again against Barcelona away…

    Kind of balances it out… Unless AW choose Silvestre…

  • Yemi

    Birmingham are away to blackburn today and we get a to rest. I hope that works in our favor.
    As for barca, i will predict the scores. We play 1:1 or 2:2 at camp nou, we win 3:2, 2:1 at the emirates. (I pray), Then csk will do us the favor of dumping inter out, then we in turn play 1:1 russia with them and 3:0 at the emirates. We meet one of the fench clubs in the finals. Bayern is takin out man u !!! trust me. I am praying about it.

  • kodjo

    Hello folks:

    i did enjoy parsi’s post and insight into wenger’s transfer dealings. Thanks for the post Dev…but as Kuka said i also think it’s too early to say anythong about Barca right now.

    It’s all about the next game which is B’ham and wenger’s permutations for the defense.

    Thanks Dev for your balance sheet work on the defense i guess no one thinks Silvestre is good enough for away games…

  • devday

    LOL, I think Arsene doesn’t rate Silvestre, – it was evident at home against West Ham when he put Song into defence. I think he think both Sol and Silvestre can’t play together – either one or the other.

    PS, the post today was meant to make you think about the other side of the coin…!

  • Kuka

    I know am fully drifting off, topic-wise, but just out of curiosity? Does Arshavin really say the things the media puts up or is he misquoted? With a huge game ahead, why would he say we are not good enough to win the title? Why does he fall to stupid media questions like this? I know he is Russian, but surely… Someone tell me he is misquoted?

  • vitus

    being russian myself i can assure you folks that not all of the russians are idiots
    i can’t beleive Arsh said dirty about his teammates
    (i know he is friendly with the most of the first team and Arsene praised him highly when talked to russian media)
    he can be a bit highflyer but never hypocrite

  • yemi

    @ devday:
    any mobile version of this website?

  • devday

    @ yemi:

    That’s right, we’re looking at various versions of the site, general improvements in the comments, posts, user interface… stay tuned…

  • yemi

    talking about b’ham, they have a tough game away at b’burn today. they should be tired for saturday and pose minimal attacking threat. so whatever defence arsene puts up should be safe enough

  • devday

    @ yemi:
    Very true, one eye will be on Sp*rs vs Fulham, one eye on Birmingham and one eye on Chelksi…

  • devday

    Barcelona are on SS3 now… Barce’s defence looks in shambles… Pique, Xavi and Abidal out for today and next week.

  • Pavan

    Arsenal Barcelona is no doubt the most enticing fixture of the CL season, but apparently the media takes pleasure in predicting oneMAN Roonited will make it to the finals and lo and behold, it will be against Barca. It is so pissing off to read those damn articles about SAF’s chance for a “revenge” and crap. Granted, Arsenal have the tougher run but noone seems to give Bayern even a glimmer of a chance. Assuming they do beat the German team, bear in mind the French teams are no push overs. Bordeaux haven’t lost in the CL this season, if I remember right and Lyon have a rock solid defence and players with great work ethic and oh yes, they did knock out Real Madrid and Liverpool can thank Lyon too for being in the Europa League this time. I just don’t understand how Roonited are just presumed to be in the final and nobody talks seriously about Arsenal!

    I really hope we make it to the finals to eventually win the damn thing and Roonited get knocked out without even making it to the finals! And yes shut the damn media for once about our frailties and their apparent invincibilty.

  • Josiah

    and i thought pompey were gonna do us a favour…

  • goonerman

    i know i shouldnt care becuase we are doing bette than them yet again BUT i cant help but hate spuds more and more by the day! they get amazing luck with everton beating man city and villa drawing with sunderland! they beat fulham and fair enough they deserved the win but after the game it hurts my ears to listen to that complete mug david bentley who actually thinks he is david beckham and gives footballers a bad name for just being a complete prick! And then the interviewer asks Gudjohnsen how the current tottenham team compares to chelsea and amazing barcelona! HAHA can a team be any more overrated! they spend over a hundred million to build a team fighting for a champions league place and we make money over the last year or so and we fight for the title!

    Chelsea done us no favours which was to be expected really so hopefully aston villa can nick a draw on the weekend!

  • Yemi

    Guys, what is this i hear about b52 ? i read somewhere that he might miss b’ham !!!!

  • Josiah

    theres always eduardo

  • Yemi

    @ Josiah:
    b’ham is a team with hefty players and remember edu broke his leg against b’ham so it might not be a good idea

  • dampatti

    This Arshavin interview is a month old and was originally done by a St Petersburg radio station,just old news the media are blowing all out of proportion.

  • vj

    god i have a bad feeling bout this weekend could be our trophy ending match again the team is lookinh
    alumina
    sagna song silvestre clichy
    fabregas denilson diaby/eboue
    arshavin eduardo/walcott nasri

    i think eduardo and eboue will start but eddie has not played a full game in a while, defense looks shaky, arshavin has been unimpressive do far (excluding that hull goal) denilson and clichy and hit and miss
    we are going to have a really tough match

  • Yemi

    @ vj:
    Be positive man, b’ham just had a tough game so we should have that over them

  • Sam

    Persie – when u cut & paste from another blog (untold arsenal in this case), please mention that you’re quoting and its source. Thanks!

  • Yemi

    Arsene wenger has said he is sticking with sol for next match (B’ham). B52 is also likely to be available.
    So who pairs sol ? Silvestre or song ? Both are not that mobile so i guess we’ll play a sol silvestre combo with song in front of them and ebuoe or diaby in midfield to

  • Yemi

    I guess we’ll go with a 4-5-1

    ———–Alumina———
    sagna—sol—silvestre—clichy

    eboue-diaby-cesc-song-arshavin

    ———–Bendtnar———

    or a 4-4-2

    ———–Alumina———
    sagna—sol—silvestre—clichy

    eboue/theo/rosisky/nasri—diaby—song—arshavin

    ——–cesc—Bendtnar———

  • devday
  • Kuka

    Was hoping Villa could do us a favor against Chelsea, till I read about Villa’s injuries and off course Mark Oneil promising to shuffle his squad…..How come teams never shuffle their squads against us?