Who would have thought, hey?

Who would have thought, Bayern Munich vs Chelsea in the Champions League final… Everyone thought it would be a Real Madrid vs Barcelona final, but perhaps that was their downfall. It’s weird. I’m British. Chelsea are an English club, so shouldn’t be obvious who I support? Well, I ain’t supporting Chelsea, that’s for sure. Hell no, I don’t want Chelsea to become the first London club to win the Champions League… definitely not.

It looks like I’ll throw away my country loyalty and become German for the day. Ribery, Robben, Schweinstiger… I’m in. Send me a shirt.

So right now, the emergence of Di Matteo has re-energized Chelsea and it looks like it is having a similar effect to when Guardiola took over at Barcelona a few years back. The enthusiasm shown by  the management rubs off on the players. I look at my beloved Arsenal and wonder where the raw enthusiasm is. We had a lot more fire in our belly when Thierry was around, that’s for sure – but then again, it makes me think, do players need these types of people, or moments to lift them. Especially with the Arsenal – our players are at a certain level, and what Arsene does, and does well is make players better than they are. In reality, would Walcott get ahead of Ozil, Ronaldo, Robben, Ribery, etc, etc? If not, how would a team like us ever get past the “big boys”.

It’s strange to see Chelsea in the Champions League final, especially considering how badly their form has been. But as much as you hate Chelsea, one thing you can’t deny is the quality of players is there. Not exactly dynamic or exciting, but there are a group of players who can play. Pre-madonna’s maybe, but they do have ability. And with ability, you can achieve anything.

Looking at our squad, we have a few key players who we’ve missed this season in Wilshere and Diaby, and unfortunately for us, we never got going after the summer exodus. If I were Arsene, I would be trying my darn best to sort it out this summer. To look at the players that we need and recruit early. One thing United do and do well is buy early, embed in their team and train, so by the time the season starts, they have a solid team who all know each other. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

But down at the Grove, we always seem to start the season without the right players, without the right signings, without half a team due to injury or to pre-season tournaments. And this Summer sounds like it could similar with the Olympics and Euros… I’d really like us to buy early, train early and have a group of players fit and raring to go come August the 8th.

We’ve got a good spine in Szcznesy, Vermaelen, Wilshere & Van Persie and great players in Sagna, Koscielny and Areta – but we are are missing the world class winger, the world class central midfielder and a real partner for Vermaelen. We are missing the strength in depth that allows us to rest players. Our current XI is good, could be better, but it’s good, but if we lose Van Persie or Vermaelen, then the people coming in are not good enough.

Szcznesy spoke about the rest of the season and the ambition for next:

“When you play for this Club you want to win trophies. This Club deserves trophies and we didn’t get any this year so it’s always disappointing. I think the quality is there. We all know it – we have the quality to fight for trophies in Europe and this country. It’s just consistency that has been a bit of a problem for us this year. But the team’s getting more experienced and hopefully we’ve got the experience to win trophies next year. I think if you look over the last couple of months we’re probably one of the best teams in the Premier League. So we’ve got three games to go and we need to win all three and we’ll finish third.”

We will be back in action on Saturday and Stoke away is probably the hardest game we’ve had for a while (strange I say that considering the recent two results), but we will really really really need to be on top of our game if we want to get the three points on the weekend. The team news should be out tomorrow, let’s see who’s fit and available…

Til tomorrow…

  • Greeze

    I am glad that it’s not Real Madrid vs Barcelona
    I have watched too many of those this season and last
    And to be honest, they’ve lost their appeal.
    Too much falling over, feigning injury and dirty tactics

    Come on Bayern!

  • sazs

    I disagree with you coz Vermalen has already got his partner. Kos has been good and will become better next season.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    you are too pessimistic about our players Devday…..Wilshere is the new great hope for England,Kos is Vermaelen’s best partner, OAC is the most dynamic midfielder/striker we’ve seen in ages, Ryo will slot into the team and terrorize defenses, Arteta is in a class of his own, Rosicky is a man this season, Sagna is a rock and Song is one of the best holding midfielders in the EPL when he decides to do his job, Szcesny is the heart of the team’s defense and RVP is the King of the EPL so maybe lauding Chelsea and Bayern is worthwhile but not at the expense of praising our excellent squad.

  • ChrisC

    Yes…AND Arsenal could still finish 4th which means it is vital that Chelsea are beaten otherwise they will be there next season and we wont! Makes finishing 3rd more important than just finishing ahead of Tottenham!

  • http://www.google.co.uk Rohan Leslie

    Looks like Podolski’s in the bag. If we could add M’vila, Yanga-Mbiwa and one of either Gotze or Hazard, I reckon we’d have a good chance of competing for the title. We’ve got the money allegedly- let’s see if Wenger will spend this time- surely he must!!!

  • gareth

    I think Wenger’s unflinching faith towards players who have let him down at times has also been his undoing. Philippe Senderos was mauled by Drogba in two Chelsea v Arsenal encounters in August, 2005. From then on, with Senderos it was inconsistency. The penny finally dropped on Wenger after Senderos endured a torrid time against Liverpool in a European Cup encounter at Anfield in April, 2008. Some of the greatest managers know when to move players on, even if they are great players. When Bob Paisley (more on him later) masterminded Liverpool’s first European Cup win in Rome against German champions Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1977, two of the players he started with that night were long-time Anfield stalwarts, Ian Callaghan, Liverpool’s record appearance-holder, and one-time title-winning skipper, Tommy Smith, scorer of Liverpool’s second goal that night in 3-1 win. But when they retained the trophy a year later against Belgian club FC Bruges at Wembley, Messrs Callaghan and Smith were replaced with Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen, both of whom would go on to forge successful Liverpool careers themselves, especially as captains. Sir Alex Ferguson has never shown sentiment to any of his players too, no matter how great they were. Just ask the likes of McGrath, Ince, Beckham and even Roy Keane.

    Trophy-wise and to his credit, Wenger has been successful. But, compared to the truly great managers, not as successful. Certainly his failure so far to win a UEFA trophy is a horrible black mark on his career, and the fact that he is the only manager to have lost all three UEFA finals is a stain he doesn’t deserve. Would you really put Wenger in the same bracket as European Cup-winning managers such as Ferguson, Paisley, Clough, Stein et al? Some great managers have gone lengthy periods without trophies, but there are valid reasons for this. At Liverpool, Bill Shankly didn’t see any trophies at all for seven years between the title-win of 1966 and the title (at our expense) and UEFA Cup double of 1973. But this was because of his rebuilding process. A shock FA Cup Third Round exit at the hands of Second Division Watford in 1970 prompted Shankly belatedly to break up his great 1960s side. His assistant at the time, Bob Paisley, thought it should have been done two years earlier.

    Sir Matt Busby and Brian Clough had similar droughts too, though with Busby he could be excused. So far, Wenger is seven years and counting without a trophy, not for the want of trying (sometimes). It’s the Arsenal’s longest lean spell without silverware since 1979-87 and is the longest that any manager of the club has overseen. And there have been too many excuses to boot. Injuries, bad refereeing-decisions, petro-dollar-filled clubs to name but a few. The 2007/08 Premier League title was ours for the taking but a poor reaction to Eduardo’s injury saw that challenge collapse. And what excuses were there for losing the 2011 League Cup final to relegation-fodder Birmingham City? Wenger’s apologists would argue that he is overseeing a transitional period. But do they really last at least five years? One reason for his constant rebuilding of ‘new’ teams is that he constantly loses players for a variety of reasons. Some of them some lose faith in him. And could you blame them? The truly great managers successfully evolve one great team to another.

    Wenger’s defenders will claim the Double triumphs, the unbeaten title and consistently finishing in the top four make him a great manager. Greater than Brian Clough, who took not one but two medium-sized East Midlands clubs from Second Division obscurity to English champions and, in the case of Nottingham Forest, back-to-back European champions? Or Sir Matt Busby, who in the ten years after losing half of a great team to an aviation disaster in 1958, won the FA Cup, two First Division titles and, ultimately, the European Cup on English soil with three of the world’s greatest-ever players in Best, Law and Charlton? What about Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements at Aberdeen? He ruled his own homeland, landed the European Cup-Winners Cup against Real Madrid and put the frighteners on the Old Firm, especially former club Rangers.

    My favourite manager ever is Bob Paisley. Criminally never knighted, in nine seasons as Liverpool manager between 1974-83, Paisley could point to six league titles (three times back-to-back) and three European Cups, including back-to-back triumphs in 1977 and 1978, in an era when to be champions of Europe, you HAD to win your league, and when European draws were random, unlike the seeding and country-protection you get today. Wenger’s consistent ability to finish in the top four would look better if there were a couple of trophies along the way. Finishing second, third or fourth to qualify for the European Cup should never ever be recognised as a ‘trophy’. Wenger’s European Cup record is not as great as some would make out either. True, he has reached a final and another semi-final (in which we completely embarrassed ourselves). However, in fourteen consecutive seasons of European Cup football, Wenger has overseen four group-stage exits (one of which led to a UEFA Cup final defeat to Galatasaray, the only Turkish club to have won a UEFA trophy) and has been knocked out of the round of sixteen four times. Not exactly the hallmark of greatness here.

    Arsène Wenger can still achieve true greatness if he learns to adapt and evolve. If recent history has taught us anything, he is reluctant to do this. Personally I don’t think he will, because he is too stubborn in his ways, but I hope I’m wrong. Failure to do this could lead to a few regrets, and those who are critical of him would make their opinions known with greater aggression. Certainly, Wenger’s overall managerial record makes a mockery of media darlings such as Allardyce, Pulis and especially Redknapp, who between them have won one major trophy and have finished no higher than fourth in the top flight. Up The Arsenal!

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Gareth…..why do you think Wenger has been ¨undone¨? He is, alongaside SAF and Mourinho considered by anyone who knows professional football, including EUFA and FIFA, to be the manager of the decade. You compare him to many great managers but it is impossible to fairly judge him against those men as he never managed when they were dominant. Arguably one of the greats,SAF is the only currently active manager who we can compare him to and SAF has had the resources and the support, some say from the FA,the EPL and the referees to achieve while AW supposedly hasn’t. None of the famous men you name had to arrange their teams with a limited budget because they were building a new stadium and the Board wanted a cut price team, which Aw provided. None of them had an unbeaten EPL season, nor have they developed so many talents and discovered so many future stars as he has.
    I know you’re a member of the AAA and Wenger-out brigade but in all fairness, your blinkered prejudice against Wenger is based on your version of ¨success¨ and your spurious comparisons to legends, who I am very sure would appreciate what Aw has achieved far more fairly and intelligently than you.