It’s a Mailbox full of Arsenal lauding, but also some realism. There’s also some love for Sakho and plenty for Batigol.
If you have anything to add on any subject, you know what to do – mail email@example.com
Did Arsenal win or something?
1. People will email in saying “bayern were all over us” and we were “chasing shadows” but we had more shots on target and, I thought, looked generally a little bit more dangerous.
2. Having a back 5 playing their best football allows the rest of the team to play with confidence. Bayern without a pacey forward, Mert proved why he has a world cup winners medal. Cech makes a big big difference to that solidity
3. Bellerin showed he had a lot to learn defensively vs Costa but going forward he was something else. This is why Wenger plays Ramsey ahead of him as he can bomb past him regularly and widen our play
4. Costa was magnificent to watch. Great skill, pace. With a better final ball we would have been 3 or 4 down by halftime
5. We still have to get a point at the Allianz. I suspect we will get hammered and end up in the Europa, which might taint last night’s win.
6. Wengers tactics were spot on. Risky, but perfect for the game and long may the mentality of countering the opposition set up continue
This was the best team in Europe right now. You can’t not get optimistic about this group of players
Hopefully we carry this form to Christmas before the injuries start hitting.
Rob A (warming to Walcott over Giroud..) AFC
No question Bayern dominated possession, but according to Sarah Winterburn’s report we parked the bus…
Now I watched Chelsea’s win over Liverpool (Gerard’s slip) and the players made no attempt to play football that day, even Mourinho was filmed holding a ball for a throw in to slow down play. The rolling around antics and plain reluctance to attack or even leave their half – basically they killed the game as a spectacle and scored goals in both injury times.
We obviously have different opinions on bus parking.
Arsenal parked the bus last year vs City when we had two shots and two goals, this year we kept the best team in Europe – who have won their last 12 games – to largely long shots (21 chances vs our 13 overall) but Lewandowski and co only had 3 prime area shots and 2 big chances whereas Arsenal had 7 prime area shots with 4 big chances. (Courtesy of the ever excellent Arseblog).
Arsenal wanted to attack, we didn’t time-waste, we didn’t feign injury and it certainly wasn’t backs-to wall defending. We weren’t ever really under immense pressure (those moments where you can feel a goal coming didn’t really occur).
The superior ball retention of Bayern meant we couldn’t always get the ball and we knew that going in so we let them pass it from side to side and instead had Cazorla and Ozil leading in ball recoveries (surprisingly) and hitting them on the break with the pace of Theo and Alexis as you quite rightly pointed out.
Bayern were/are bloody brilliant but Arsenal were too, it was a very interesting/fun game so to say we parked the bus is wrong.
We played some excellent counter attacking football at times and showed great character to bounce back from two poor results. Also, tactically bringing on Giroud for a tiring Walcott was spot-on and should be a blueprint for all our games this season. Theo’s pace brings the best out in Ozil so he should start most of the games up top.
Arsenal are a team in fine defensive form recently and the balance is looking really good from front to back. We need to keep this going against Everton in the league as it’s still going to be hard to qualify in Europe after Olympiakos beat Zagreb. But after a shambles vs Olympiakos it’s now 8 goals scored none conceded and the mood is very different at Arsenal, Wenger and the players deserve great credit for that.
Strevs, Afc, Canada (What a difference playing your #1 keeper makes).
That’s United Twice, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Bayern Munich all beaten in the last 9 months.
Maybe Wengers not so hopeless/tactically inept after all.
Seriously The Ox is gonna explode one day. Just hope it’s soon.
Scott (Even Happier Gooner)
What a game. Immensely proud to be a Gooner today! Fantastic commitment and Wenger’s tactics were spot on and, although, Costa was lively and looked dangerous, Bayern’s domination was sterile. My man of the match was Hector Bellerin. What a kid. And to think all I could do at his age was worry about an exam. The only dampener was Olympiacos getting a win. This group could go down to the wire. Onthe evidence of today’s performance, we’re more than capable of getting a draw in Munich. Come on you Gooners!
Deepak Bhaskar (That’s why you play Cech)
Joseph (()) Weggoro, Tanzania
As everybody knows, at Arsenal we don’t tend to make things easy for ourselves.
We look completely dead and buried in Europe after losing to Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb, only to go and beat Bayern Bloody Munich when they are in absolutely unstoppable form and at this moment the best side in Europe.
Now Arsenal fans are filled with joy and a ridiculous level of renewed optimism.
That, my friends, is peak Arsenal
Jakey (yes I’ve had a few) South East London
Like an ever expanding universe, the limits of peak Arsenal continue to extend and defy all sage pronouncements.
And so, a question. If Arsenal beat Bayern Munich twice and still don’t qualify, is there anywhere else for them to go on their quest for ultimate Arsenal?
Ladies and Gentleman we are now flying at peak Arsenal. If you look out your left window you will see a stunning victory over one of Europe’s top teams, while out of your right is a minor knock turned season ending injury to a key player and a momentum sapping 1-0 loss to Everton.
Stu (cech tho…) AFC
Wenger v Mourinho
After seeing Mourinho wriggle Wenger into one of his statements for the umpteenth time, doesn’t it feel like he has gone from bully (tormentor) to obsessive to finally completing his journey and becoming a “voyeur”?
Ahad (Wenger should sneak “voyeur” into one of this statements. That would be delicious)
Park the bus
“This was textbook bus-parking from a man who has been sat in his sports car impatiently beeping at a whole fleet of buses.“
Thats a great line.
Greg Boston, USA
You know, it was really odd last night. I noticed that a team, playing at home in a big game, set out to contain and counter (some might call it parking the bus) against a very good team. They ended up with 30% possession, at home!
All of that sounds like a normal big game for me being a Chelsea fan, but the really odd thing about it for me was that I didn’t hear any Arsenal fans complaining about it!
Credit to Arsene and the players for that though, that is exactly the approach needed in the big games. Either that or somehow catch them cold like they did against United, but that was never going to happen against Bayern.
Nick, CFC, (What happens if they play like that against Chelsea? Everyone will be standing watching the ball laying motionless in the centre circle) Inverness
We all know the mailbox will be filled with delusional Goons today claiming the second coming, but, when Chelsea do it its called parking the bus.
Steve (Cant wait until January) Coatsworth
I want to be a Nacho man
I know most of the plaudits will go to Petr Cech for his superb performance but for me, the man of the match last night was Nacho Monreal. If people are picking Smalling as the best centre-back in the new-look “best in the league” team, then I’m putting forward Monreal as the best left back.
Last night he was was up against one of the best forwards in Europe but was excellent both defensively and going forwards. Muller is one of the best, if not the best, at finding space in dangerous areas but Nacho was switched on all game to make sure that didn’t happen. He is excellent on the ball, doesn’t panic and his distribution is as good as anyone’s. Then going forward he put in the cross that Walcott should have scored form and was a threat every time he we went forwards on the left. And to cap it all off, the sumptuous Ozilesque flick on the touchline. From a left-back!
Plus, this wasn’t a one-off performance. He has been doing this kind of thing on a pretty consistent basis.
Adonis (Poor Kieran Gibbs) Stevenson, AFC
Kos he’s worth it
As good as the mailboxers said Smalling is, he’s still got some way to go before he’s better than Koscielny. That said he’s still got time to score an own goal or two this season…
Flippancy aside it’s a pretty impressive defensive turnaround for both Arsenal and Spurs who a few years ago shipped goals for fun (particularly when Spurs had Redknapp and Arsenal had Vermaelan + Squillaci). Both teams now have solid defensive midfielders (Coquelin & Dier) and excellent central defenders (Kos & Mert; Vert & Ald). Also the full back situation isn’t too bad either with the Spanish duo of Monreal and Bellerin being amongst the best in the league (Bellerin’s rise being particularly impressive given his age – he’ll be a star and an ideal replacement for Dani Alves…). Maybe Jose should be looking towards North London for ideas how to fix his Chelsea team this season?
James Jones, STFC (Leeds fans complaining about Steve Evans should be thankful Cellino hasn’t copied our managerial situation…)
Last night sums up why being an Arsenal fan is so infuriating. As John Nicholson tweeted last night, I hate them. But then I love them like some hostage with Stockholm Syndrome. When you look at that team, you know they are capable. And then on nights like last night, they show they can play to a system, concentrate, and be professional. And then you watch them against Manchester United, and they destroy them and you think maybe, just maybe, they are good enough. But then they’ll lose to West Ham at home – not that lots of teams haven’t had this experience, and we slap our foreheads and run to twitter / the mailbox to spill our bile. I imagine for other fans it may sound like we’re being spoilt and we don’t appreciate it, and maybe they’re right, but for us Arsenal fans, we can take the despair and the beatings, it’s the hope we can’t stand.
John Matrix AFC
Even beating Bayern doesn’t satisfy him…
First off, credit where it’s due, a superb performance from Arsenal. Most shocking of all was that there seemed to be an actual tactical plan!
In true Pep style, his team had 98% possession, completed 1,794 passes and had 92% pass accuracy. That led to zero goal. Stuff it stat-bods.
Before we get the open top bus out, all this victory served to highlight is how arrogant Wenger was in his managerial approach to 2 very winnable games against Zagreb and Olympiakos. He obviously didn’t bother taking them seriously, meaning Arsenal remain bottom of an average group. The less said about Ospina, the better.
Stewie Griffin (Will Wenger moan about one team “only defending” and “never coming out to play”? Thought not.)
Back down to Earth
Before all the Arsenal fans get all giddy at last night’s shock result, might I remind them this occasionally happens. A proper European heavyweight travels to a European minnow, plays them off the park for an hour only for a small mistake to allow the home side to take the lead against the run of play. Bouyed by a reasonably raucous home support (having been quiet as the grave for an hour) the minnow sees the game out to celebrations as if they’ve won the European Cup itself.
Still, last night can go down in history as as great a night as… Well this is difficult, it can rightly go alongside…erm. Can any Gooners fans help me out here. As memorable a night a Nayim lobbing Unsafe Hands?
They’ll get a paddling in the reverse fixture. And that’s a Rafa fact.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
I’m sure this morning’s mailbox will be full of fellow Arsenal fans full of praise for the team’s performance last night. And rightly so as it was a great victory against one of the best teams in the world at the moment.
However, last nights victory will count for nothing if we don’t go on to beat Everton on Saturday. It is exactly the type of game that Arsenal will approach with an air of arrogance after beating Bayern, thinking that they just have to turn up and take the three points while completely abandoning the defensive discipline and aptitude that stood them so well last night.
I really hope I’m wrong but after ten years of watching one step forward, two steps backwards and a stubborn refusal to learn lessons, I very much doubt it…
This is going to sound a bit weird but I kind of wanted Arsenal to lose twice against Bayern because I wanted them to have no hope of qualifying so they actually binned it and put all their eggs into the league.
Now they’ll play their best team in all the group games and probably qualify so we will never find out if perhaps this team could compete for the league. I don’t rate their chances of being able to fight on two fronts since no English team has made a good go of that for a few years now.
It’s a shame because games like this show they can beat anyone in world football on their day but I think the squad probably isn’t the best in the league which means they struggle to play the big European nights and then also cope with the tougher league fixtures.
I don’t harbour much hope of Liverpool winning the league and would prefer to see Arsenal or Man City win it, the latter because I don’t know any City fans, the former because I do like the way they play and it’s been ages since they won it.
I missed all of the arsenal game tonight as I was out! Just managed to catch the final whistle being blown. I assume from the wild celebrations that UEFA have discarded all of their rules and regulations and handed Arsenal the Champions League trophy for this single win? Must’ve happened during the game.
I’ll wait for the ceremony now.
A couple of quick responses to Guy S’s nonsense: yes, Lewondowski is much better than Kane and Vardy. That’s nothing against those two very good players but he is world class. I could use stats to back that up but I think some things are so transparently obvious it doesn’t need to come to that.
The other thing is this tiresome argument that, apart from the big team(s) the German league is rubbish and ‘our league’ would wipe the floor with it. This seems to be a relatively popular opinion (and is also applied to the Spanish league) and it drives me up the wall because it’s usually spouted by someone whose football viewing is 99% restricted to the premiership. What are these people basing their opinions on? The premiership must be better because I watch it? It’s ridiculous. I’m not saying the German league is better than the premiership, that’s a very difficult debate to even have. But these one-eyed ill-informed opinions are exasperating.
Bonus point: your very good article on Lewondowski said he was ‘slight and wispy’. Eh, he’s a tank. His nickname is ‘the body’.
Love for Sakho
It’s actually refreshing to see Matt Stead actually GETS Sakho in his Top 10 Misused Players. I have grown weary of the standard “looks gangly & awkward” line trotted out by those who don’t watch him (and by some Liverpool fans who seemingly don’t want to trust their eyes). Hell, I’m gonna say it, if you’ve described his as being like Djimi Traore then that’s lazy and, let’s be real here, borderline racist.
He is a very competent centre half who is good on the ball and is clearly our best centre half. He’s probably the best French centre half to boot (that should wind up those Koscielny enthusiasts). But please don’t misunderstand me, I‘m not saying he’s by any means the best in the league but he doesn’t deserve to have these lazy generalisations thrown his way. He was PSG captain at like 17, isn’t afraid to take the ball to feet and will try to be positive in his passing (so when you use his pass completion stats, you can be assured they were mostly into midfield not sideways). The lad’s a good ‘un.
Hopefully he stays fit and we can actually build a defence around him.
Kris, LFC, Manchester
So good they named him twice
in her article “West Ham: Sexy again after all these years” Sarah winterburn gets a dig in at Big Sam, writing, “Imagine for a second Allardyce signing anybody that could even vaguely be compared with Silva”
Does she forget about the man so good they named him twice – Jay-Jay Okocha! what a sexy footballer…
Thank you for a wonderful piece on a player who seems to have been overlooked by many. In his pomp, he was at least the equal of Marco van Basten, possibly not far from Ronaldo.
He was always my favourite player, scoring some wonderful goals and ensuring the Viola were always my Italian team. From bullet headers from 18 yards against England (replete with double ponytail dodgyness) through to a rocket against Seaman at in the CL at Wembley (in the Arsenal end (£11 since you ask) trying desperately not to celebrate.
The complete centre forward. There were riots in Florence when he was sold and the general manager’s office was set alight. He certainly inspired passion in the fans and seemed to passionately love Fiorentina – that team with Rui Costa, Toldo and him was just wonderful.
Yes. Great article on Batistuta and great reference to the other legend he is synonymous with for me, Peter Brackley.
I am insanely jealous of anyone with that Fiorentina/Nintendo shirt with 9 on the back.
Matt, EFC, London
Daniel Storey the Gabriel Batistuta of football journalism, that article brought a tear to my eye.
I remember back in the day tuning in every week to Football Italia as he got ever closer to breaking the Serie A record for consecutive games scored, 9, 10, 11 or 12. Can’t remember now exactly how many it was, it’s almost 20 years ago, but I think 11. Legendary.
Brian L, Brussels