Braga vs Arsenal – Match Preview

As I write this preview for tonight’s Champions League game against Braga, I write as a man with no soul, no mojo – for on Saturday at 4.50pm, it had been truly and drastically ripped out of myself. The illusion of an Arsenal side finally turning the corner and becoming a team capable of winning the league for the first time in 6 years, 7 years was blown to it’s reality – we simply do not have the mentally to win the league. Why win? You get paid £60k a week for playing your game, and when the prize that the club wants doesn’t come, you don’t get a penalty.

As a salesman, if someone said to you – come to work on time and I’ll give you £1000 every day – you would go to work. If they said that you’d get a £10 bonus if sold a car – what would you be good at? Getting to work on time or selling cars? These kids of ours are paid top top dollar, wages that even some of the best players in the world would not get paid. The lack of disparity in achieving something and merely turning up is obvious. Theo Walcott is on £60,000 a week and Cesc Fabregas is on £90,000 a week – at their ages, with no club honours to their name. Whether we win, lose or draw, these players get loads of money, whether they performance or not, contracts are rewarded on their potential. What has Walcott done to deserve such a figure? God knows.

And the problem of rewarding players for mediocracy is that they will deliver you mediocracy.

But, life goes on, lessons must be learnt. Yes, we’ve lost 3 out of the last 4 games, yes, we’ve lost at home to our most dearest rivals… but with the league being a different league this season, we could still come out on top…

Time to focus on tonight’s game – an away trip to Braga – a win against the team third in the CL group table would see us through to the next round – but a loss would see us drop to third in the group. We have to understand what an important game this is for us – if we don’t come away with a result, we’ll be in serious trouble, with only one game left in the group to survive.

Arsene has given us some team news ahead of the game and Clichy, Van Persie and Arshavin have not travelled to Portugal:

“I left Clichy behind because he has a small back problem and we will take the opportunity to clear that out. Arshavin [is not in the squad] because I want to give him a rest, he has played every single game recently and played for Russia on Tuesday night. And Van Persie [will not travel] so he can improve his fitness because he is back in the squad but is not 100 per cent fit at the moment – I mean his physical condition to fight in a top-level game. I think that [working hard on the training ground] is what he needs at the moment. If I take him to Braga and he is not 100 per cent and is on the bench and doesn’t come on then it is a waste of time and for three days, so I leave him behind and he will take the opportunity to work.”

Arsene comments raise the question why Van Persie hasn’t been playing reserve games for the last week or so, but I’m not the manager and I probably don’t know how these things work – but all I can say is that in other clubs, after long lay offs, all players play reserve games… Just saying…

Okie dokie, predicted team for tonight…

Fabianski

Eboue – Squillaci – Djourou – Gibbs

Wilshere – Song

Walcott – Cesc – Rosicky

Chamakh

With a bench of Szcznesy, Sagna, Koscielny, Denilson, Nasri, Bendtner and Vela

With Nasri looking tired after a lot of games, Arshavin rested and Wilshere recovered somewhat, the above team makes sense in my eyes – Koscielny was terrible on Saturday and has been all season and Eboue needs to play…

I don’t blame the manager for his side’s inability to hold onto the lead – I genuinely feel like he is trying his utmost best – but something is not quite right. Arsene spoke about his desire:

“I want this team to win so much that I am giving every drop of my blood to make sure this team wins. I want them to be successful because they deserve it, so of course it hurts when you get so close as we did on Saturday and you do not manage to do it. I just feel we have had two or three opportunities to be top of the league and we did not take it for different reasons.”

And you have to wonder when the penny will drop with this team. A side capable of beating Man City at their ground, knocking six past Braga on home soil, but at the same time losing to their rivals after being 2-0 up at HT and losing at Wigan being 2-0 with ten minutes to go. No one can say the Premier League is boring, that’s for sure…

Anyway, Champions League tonight… come on the Arsenal…!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    I would agree with your team and would expect to see Bendtner for Chamakh at some point.

    I hear that Ramsey is back in the reserves soon and also we have bought the new Christiano Ronaldo a young Japanese player called Ryo Miryashi (sorry about the spelling)There is a video and more info on the young guns blog for those interested.

  • theusualsuspect

    We have Braga to night but really does it change the price of fish in Ghana? Before now I would have said let’s finish it off today and qualify so as to let other younger players have a thirst of CL footie but I do not care that much any more because the result today will never wipe away the defeat by Spudz. What can wipe away this shame is a consistence performance by this team that will ensure that we reach the summit of the EPL and sustain the top spot to the end of the season. The least AFC fan or supporter deserves this.

  • theusualsuspect

    Have been 5000 miles away for two weeks so have seen no games, just the goals and am still seething after the Spurs result. Arseblog is a balanced blog, more pro than anti- Wenger and its Sunday’s edition was spot on. It blamed Wenger for the Spurs fiasco, not the players. Whatever he said at half- time (or didn’t more likely), the players thought the match was won. It’s pointless blaming individual players, even though the defence was,as usual, panicking whenever anyone ran at them and there was negligible protection from Denilson with Song thinking he’s the new goalscoring hero. Not respecting the opposition, complacency, carelessness, lacking focus and commitment, if these cannot be sorted out, what hope is there? I still remember two years ago when subs Song and Diaby came strolling onto the pitch all smiles and high- fives and we threw away two goals in injury time to Spurs in the 4-4 disgrace. That hurt really badly, as did the reuslt when I heard it.To have witnessed the match should have been sickening yet a few are saying “it’s only another defeat and Chelsea lost/ we’ll win tonight and it’ll be forgotten/ Spurs are no longer pushovers etc “. Wrong! We might well string some results together, but it seems there’s another disaster waiting to happen any time and as Wenger cannot fathom how to stop this ( “I don’t know why we lost”) after years of similar occurrences, who at the club will sort this continuing mess out?

  • Kodjo

    @ theusualsuspect

    How much is the price of fish in Ghana? curious??? since arsenal cannot satisfy my curiosity…

    If Wenger does not know how to arrest the problem then we are in deep ****.

    Personally, arsenal have become something of jekyll and hyde…i do not know which team will turn up today.

    I wish someone will call in Martin Keown to give the players a dressing down. Players like Keown did not earn the amount that walcott and co are commanding yet even with a loss their commitment to the game was unquestionable.

  • Fo

    Excellent post – you & me on the same wavelength!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    I actually watched the Spuds game in 3D so I saw us throw away the game in ultra-realism. Ps I recommend finding a 3D pub near you as it is actually pretty good.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    I am taking my wife to the Stoke game on the 18th Dec and will be hoping to see a revitalised home performance as it will be her first time at The Grove I am praying for a good result.

  • GLONDON

    Is this the worst in a long time?

    This is the History Site, and so of course I am going to look back in history – but not very far. Consider this set of results in consecutive matches.

    18 Oct, Crystal Palace, Away. Drew, 0-0
    26 Oct, Aston Villa, Home. Drew, 0-0
    1 Nov, Derby County, Away. Lost, 0-3
    9 Nov, Manchester U, Home. Won 3-2
    22 Nov, Sheffield W, Away. Lost 0-2
    30 Nov, Liverpool, Home. Lost 0-1
    6 Dec, Newcastle U, Away. Won 1-0
    13 Dec. Blackburn R, Home. Lost 1-3
    Just in case that stretch of results is a bit numbing here’s the summary. We won 2, drew 2, lost four.

    You might already know when this was, but in case not, here’s another hint. In the third round of the FA Cup we got Port Vale. Our full first team was playing, and we drew 0-0. In the replay we went out on penalties after extra time.

    Have you got it yet?

    The season was 1997/98, and if you know your history you will know that that was a year in which we really didn’t do much, except that we… well… won the double.

    That season we played 38, won 23, lost six and drew nine. We won the league by five points. An in case you don’t believe me about the Port Vale thing, our team in the 0-0 draw was Seaman, Grimandi, Keown, Bould, Winterburn, Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Anelka, Bergkamp.

    Shall I just do a bit of that again? Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Anelka, Bergkamp.

    I have to admit that team took me by surprise. I idolise those players, their genius, their ability, the joys they gave me, their everything. And they drew 0-0 with Port Vale, and just managed to win the replay on penalties.

    Now there is a point in this, apart from trying to point out the silliness of the comments on Untold today. If you are calling for the evaporation of the manager it is not a bad idea to have some real live facts ready.

    In fact if we go back to 2000-1 Man U won the league losing 8 games. Go back to the 1950s and 1960s (significant as the last era in which Tottenham won the league) and losing up to 11 games a season was not unusual for the winning team.

    My point here is twofold. One is that just because we have lived through an era of a small number of defeats (an era that started with George Graham’s 1990/1 team losing just one game in a season – and of course getting no special recognition for the media) it doesn’t mean that it is always like this. Indeed after the one-defeat season (“you’ll never see that again” said the media “that was a fluke”), we went back to the norm.

    The other is that to claim that one is a long term supporter but this is the worst team ever, is either to suffer from terminal amnesia or to be a complete moron.

    Consider if you will, 1994/5 in which we played 42, won 13, drew 12 and lost 17, letting in 49 goals en route to coming 12th. A fairly awful defence you might say. Yup – a team that regularly lined up at the back as Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Bould, Keown.

    Now I will be fair and say that Adams and Campbell who might have been expected to play a lot were injured for some of the season, but they knocked up 27 and 23 appearances between them, so it wasn’t all useless – and those fellows Bould and Keown could play a bit too.

    And we came 12th.

    So when people now start writing that Wenger is lucky to have had such a wonderful defence given to him, and that the only reason he won the early trophies was because of this don’t believe a word of it.

    The following season we came fifth, under Rioch, and that was another dreadful year – not because we clawed our way up the league but rather because of the style of play and the fact that players like Ian Wright were demanding a transfer. If you don’t believe me, go and watch the videos of that year. It was TERRIBLE.

    Oh and in case you were thinking that I am being unreasonable in my analysis I will do the FA Cup for those two years too.

    1994/5 Millwall, 3rd round, lost 0-2 at home

    1995/6 Sheffield United, 3rd round, lost 0-1 away after a draw at home.

    And let me tell you something else, if you think it is bad news to lose once in something like 17 home games to the Tiny Totts, try losing at home to Millwall.

    My point therefore is simple – we readily forget the past, and make up all sorts of excuses and reasons to explain something we don’t like in the present. What is happening in 2010/11 is not (at least so far) very different from what has happened much of the time in the not too distant past.

    For Tottenham, the win in November 2010 however was a matter of great excitement. They have not won the league in 50 years, while we have been winning it again and again. They have, during the Wengarian era, played Arsenal 35 times. We have won 16, there have been 15 draws and 4 defeats. It is the best era ever for this fixture.

    Let’s try another comparison. On 3 January 1933 Arsenal went to Walsall of the Third Division North in the 3rd round of the cup. Arsenal lost 0-2, which was something of a surprise, because Arsenal were top of the league at the time and went on to win the title under Herbert Chapman. The previous season we had come second and lost in the final of the FA Cup. The season before that in 1930/31 we had won the league.

    The reason for the defeat was simple – the team selection was all wrong. Black, Warnes and Walsh are not names that survive as part of the 30s mythology – but they all played in that game.

    I have no idea if there were idiots around calling for the head of Herbert Chapman at the time. If there were then tragically the following season they got their way as Herbert Chapman died midseason – but Arsenal still went on to retain the league.

    So to those screaming on Untold Arsenal’s comments section today – a quick word. Try checking history first.

  • Kodjo

    @ GLONDON

    Thanks for the circumspection and a look back into history.

    Having said that…i believe the beef fans have with the players is the manner of capitulation. Throwing away a lead in a commanding position!!!

    And yes any team can have a off day. What fans want to see is the team fighting even when they are going down.

    The warning signs have always been there…we are only assured of victory when we score 3+ goals.

    I do not buy the argument that Wenger shd go…i guess what fans want to see is him arresting the situation during games.

  • Sam

    @ Glondon: Pls do not cut & paste other people’s articles, at least without mentioning the source.

    Who said this loss was so bad? Chelsea have lost 3 out of last 4 games.

    Any way time for redemption tonight. Go Gunners, please Go!

  • fgd
  • http://worldofarsenal.co.uk Josiah

    Happy with starting line up, players rested for villa park.

  • yemi

    what the ………!!!!!!!

  • yemi

    Any justifications ?

  • Sam

    Too poor.

  • Arseneknows

    That is utterly rediculous

  • Shawn

    that ref got soo many decisions wrong, hope someone was counting . . . he should never be allowed to ref again!

  • Goonerman

    I’m hoping that this is going to be our lowest point of the season!! I have to say that was the worst refereeing display I have seen, I’m starting to lose a bit of faith in some players I am one of the biggest supporters of this club and I have been sticking up for us through the losses but if that is what you call a response after tottengam then I’m fucking worried!!

  • arseneknows

    Worst thing about tonight?

    Fabrigas is out ………..

  • edison

    that game was appalling. I think everyone on the pitch looked like they didnt want to be there.

    by far the most embarrassing moment = the 2nd goal. THREE defenders (squillaci, djourou and gibbs) all on ONE attacker and he still managed to score.

    Shit game.

    after beating them 6-0 at home? somethings wrong.

  • goonerman

    I actually cant believe we have to win our final game just to guarntee qualification. i gotta admit im not actually that bothered by the defeat though, the feeling of losing to spurs was painfull so it makes this not seem to bad! Aston villa is a huge game them players need to show us some respect! as far as cesc goes he has not come back fully fit and this injury looked as if it was going to happen for the last few weeks, we have van persie read to come back and rosicky or nasri can slot into his position!