It’s all Arsenal. And we make no apology for that. We will vary it a little more this afternoon. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Flamini on for 44 seconds and concedes a penalty before even touching the ball. First thought…Mailbox will be fun in the morning.
Dave, AFC, Telford
So predictable this Arsenal fan didn’t watch…
Sorry, but how can something we all knew was going to happen dominate so much of your news?
I knew we were going to be beaten and didn’t bother even tuning in. I would have gone if I could have got a ticket but watching the inevitable on TV is not my idea of a great night’s entertainment.
It doesn’t even annoy me Barca beat us. They’ve done us a favour as the match in Barcelona is now a dead rubber so hopefully our manager will see sense and actually play a second string this time.
What really annoys me is everyone knew we were going to get done and yet Wenger chose to rest players on Saturday, giving us another game we don’t need.
Play all the players we’re looking to ship out against Barca but let’s play a settled first team in the cup and the league from now until the end of the season. We’re talking barely three months of football – surely our precious lambs can cope with that.
If you really want to play Barca and have a chance – don’t have a manager that concedes they’re better than us – George Graham told our players in 1989 they would win 2-0 at Anfield and they did. Unfortunately, I have as much faith in Wenger’s players as he does – that was never the case with Graham – we always believed.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Peak Arsenal at their peak
Barcelona’s second goal was a fitting microcosm of the blind faith Arsene Wenger has in players that shouldn’t be getting regular game-time for a side with designs on competing for the title. Per Mertesecker’s tired mistake and Flamini’s lazy, desperate tackle combined into one almighty brainfart for the Gunners. Messi’s converted penalty effectively sealed the contest in favour of Barcelona and afforded Enrique the opportunity to rest some of his stars in the return leg in three weeks time. It’s been mentioned on this website the sheer absurdity how often Flamini looks out of depth in midfield, and that was proven once again when he conceded possibly the quickest-ever penalty conceded by a sub. If anything though, you could see it coming. Well apart from Wenger of course. Mertesecker too lacks the pace needed against the top-bracket teams, never mind against probably the greatest attacking triumvirate the game has ever seen.
Also, Chamberlain’s miss in the first half is indicative of the lack of composure so ensconced in the Gunners now that it is almost second nature for them to fluff goal-scoring opportunities.
Brian (Peak Arsenal at their peak), Wexford
…The fact that Wenger has nobody better to bring on then Mathieu Flamini in a game of that magnitude, who promptly concedes a pen, says all it really has to. Better options in Wilshere, Cazorla (who would be out of position there I know) injured, the rest either worse in Arteta or untried in Elneny. How much longer can Wenger sit on this ‘massive warchest’ (giggidy) and escape censure for failing to strengthen this squad.
If they don’t win the league I think he should leave, they should have capitalised on the madness that has been this seson in January. Be ruthless and instead of saying “we could very well win with what we have”, buy a world class CDM and another forward, CB and sit back and watch the victory parade.
Einstein said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Seems to me Arsene lost his marbles a while back.
Merlin (Not even an Arsenal fan just getting bored of it now) Dublin
…Arsenal’s suicidal defending costing the team after the whole team gets caught upfield, leaving huge gaps for the opposition to exploit?
An exact repeat of the same defensive issue that plagued the team last year? Check.
Another masterful display of ineptitude by the “captain” plummeting new depths of stupidity? Check.
Another comically ridiculous “tactical substitution” by Wenger that hinders the team? Check.
Giroud strutting around with all the productivity of a morning turd? Check.
Another last-16 CL elimination? Check check.
Post-match media interview from manager and players claiming we “will learn from this”? Check.
Arsenal fans united in desperately wanting to experience the same exact purgatory next year by making Top 4? Check.
Stewie Griffin (Groundhog Day)
…82nd minute: Wenger brings on Flamini.
83rd minute: Flamini concedes a terrible penalty.
He wasn’t good enough last year. He sure as hell isn’t good enough this year. Wenger buys a defensive midfielder this January specifically to solve this problem. Wenger brings on Flamini instead.
If the first 70 minutes showed how all we needed was a world-class striker to actually trouble the best team in the world, the last 20 shows why we’re still miles away; tactically naive and carrying a lumber-yard’s worth of dead wood on our books.
Cech’s a f*****g boss though.
Tom (it’s deja vu all over again), West Hampstead
What’s the point of Arsenal?
Somehow finish in the top four, qualify for the Champions League, play like sh*t and come second in the group stages, face a big team, out of the tournament in Round of 16, Repeat. Sixth season running, possibly seventh.
Seriously, what’s the point of Arsenal as a football club?! All the money they have, all the players they can get and is this maximum they can achieve? If this isn’t carpet-chewingly frustrating for a football fan in general and Arsenal supporters in particular, then I don’t know what is.
Why are we surprised Arsenal got squashed by a Ferrari?
Arsenal were the underdogs heading into that game, right? I mean, this is the Barcelona side that the words ‘best’ and ‘ever’ frequently accompany, or did I miss something? Most media outlets predicted a sound gubbing, even at home, and yet here we are, post loss – talk about how disappointing Arsenal were. It’s like a crowd of people watching someone get run over by a Ferrari, and then cheering the car! What did everyone expect?! Since when did it become fashionable to give the underdog a good shoeing, once they lose a game that everyone expects them to lose. There are a lot of words like ‘naive’, ‘desperate’, ‘weak’ being bandied around (some by Arsenal supporters) – this is Arsenal we’re talking about – have you not seen them in the last 10 years?
And, AND, they were even quite good for most of the match! It’s like calling a four-year-old a piece of sh*t for misspelling ‘baccalaureate’. There’s schadenfreude and then there’s this, come on, people.
Richard Hell (cue a bunch of mails laying into Arsenal…)
Wenger cocked it up at half-time
Winty’s article regarding Arsenal’s second-half demise was a little wide of the mark. Rather than things going well until the 70-minute mark, I’d say Arsenal executed the right plan until around 43 minutes, half time if you accept that Suarez’s late first-half chances were a result of lapses of concentration. Arsenal lost yesterday and are 99% certain to be out of the tournament due to a classic Arsene Wenger brain fart at half-time.
In the first half Arsenal played perfectly. They sat deep in their own half and ceded possession to Barcelona. The threats of MSN were nullified by the lack of space behind Arsenal and the only snippets of chances we saw from Barca were created by magical footwork from Neymar or Messi. But once they had passed their man they then had to pass another. The only way they were going to score was if they got a screamer or Arsenal cocked it up. This situation also suited the creaking Mertesacker, who is, for all intents and purposes, an Ent. The way Arsenal were playing meant that the BFG didn’t have to worry about people going beyond him because that would basically mean they were running off the pitch and the set-up allowed him and Koscielny to attack and balls sent into the box. With the Ox on one side and Sanchez on the other, Arsenal had perfect outlets and would have led had The Ox not epically ballsed up his shot and had the final ball been better on occasions. Arsenal (with the exception of Giroud) were excellent and should have been leading at half-time. Even Ozil was tackling people – OZIL! They made Barcelona look like LVG’s Manchester United.
Whatever Wenger said to them at half-time it was completely and utterly wrong. Yes they got behind Barca a little for 25 minutes but their attacking intent also meant that Barcelona started to carve them open. The space behind Arsenal was there for Neymar et al to exploit and they did so on several occasions. I was actually scared for Bellerin every time Neymar was on the ball. The goal wasn’t a surprise when it came and it can be no surprise that it came 16 seconds after an Arsenal attack.
European football is all about the away goals. Had Arsenal kept a clean sheet they would have know they wouldn’t need to win in Barcelona to go through. Barca on the other hand would have had to attack making an Arsenal away goal likely. Now Arsenal need at least two goals you really fear for what might happen to them in the Nou Camp as they attack to try and get it. As it stands they are just about still in it but really should have been 4-5 down at full time. When you consider how good their first half was that is a damning indictment of the manager’s tactical change at half-time. He can’t blame The Ox’s injury though Walcott was anonymous in the second half. Welbeck would have been a better choice of replacement had Wenger stuck to the first-half game plan. Incidentally the old Welbz looked to be back when he controlled the ball well a couple of times and then ran it off the pitch. Ahh, classic Welbz.
So in a month where everyone at Arsenal is touting their immense mental strength, the manager displays his lack of it, again, and Arsenal are just about out of the Champions League at the same stage for the umpteenth (6th?) year running. Arsene, don’t you ever change.
Ash (as a bearded person myself, Giroud’s makes me want to shave) Metcalfe
Or cocked it up later…
Some say managers can’t be blamed for brain farts committed by players on the pitch. Once the manager has selected the team there’s not a lot they can do to stop them from making a horrible mistake, costing his team the match.
I reckon substituting players who aren’t good enough into a match when they’re not needed is fairly avoidable. Why Coquelin had to go off and Flamini on I will never know. None of us knows what the actual fuck goes through Arsene’s mind in high pressure situations like tonight’s game, 1-0 down against a team with ridiculous attacking talent but defensively there for the taking.
That managerial decision (as well as starting Oxlade over Walcott) has cost Arsenal the tie. Not injuries, not poor refereeing, not inaction in the transfer market… just shit decision-making.
If I were an Arsenal fan I’d be furious.
Some upbeat conclusions
* If we are honest, the top six teams in Europe (debatable for more) do not ply their trade in the Premier League. Barcelona are arguably the best team in Europe right now and there is no shame in losing to them. We can put the Wenger out banners away for now.
* For 60-odd minutes (probably not 70 as Winty suggested) we were at least the equal of them, if not the better team. Ultimately, Barcelona’s class showed as they maintained discipline in spite of this and their world-class players took advantage when the opportunity presented itself.
* The turning point in the game for me was when the Ox got taken off. He was having a solid, if unspectacular game but provided the intelligence needed to not bomb too far forward…
* Theo Walcott. You may want to be a striker but if your manager puts you on the wing, you have to perform all of your jobs, offensive and defensive. Unfortunately last night he did neither. When you have explosive pace, don’t drop deep to receive the pass try and run in behind your man. Couldn’t defend. Infuriating.
* This leads me to Giroud. I like Giroud, no he isn’t the greatest striker that ever lived, but he is a consistent performer in his duties. Last night he was a bit anonymous but he pressed continuously and had a decent game. I would have started Theo as our best chance was on counter with pace, not with collective passing.
* Sanchez had a fantastic first half, second half he got crowded out and looked tired. Can’t complain but maybe Wenger should have subbed him but then we don’t have anyone else to produce magic.
* Ozil was anonymous but playing against Barca he always was going to be. Our counters were always focused on the wings to take advantage of Barca’s full backs. He had an okay performance pressing and trying to build up play the few times he got the ball.
* Back six had a solid game (Cech+Coq). MSN who?
* Wenger’s tactics were solid but if you don’t score in the first 45 vs Barca they will tire you. I don’t think we can blame Wenger for this one (although you could argue we should have topped group…)
* As for Barca, I think there is a template to beat them. The problem is the 2-3 chances they get, they will score. Their front three almost guarantees a goal per game which is perfect for Champions League type tournaments with the away goal rule.
* The ref had a shocker. I am in no way blaming the ref (see above) but he made a lost of mistakes and that did cost us. Whether there is a Barca agenda or not I am not sure but he had a poor game generally
* The crowd were fantastic for 45 minutes, creating the best atmosphere I have ever taken part in at the Emirates. We were okay for the next 20 and died towards the end as the goals hit home but for the first 45 minutes we were definitely the “12th man”. If only that was week in, week out. On that note, I know London, transport etc., but dont leave at 90 minutes. You might miss a Welbeck and the team deserved better. Barca fans were silent…
* We paid the price again for not making it through top of the group. But Arsenal were not in a position to win the Champions League so I am ok with what happened and will happen at the Nou Camp. It’s just a shame really
* We now need to bounce back, win our next two games against Sp*urs and Mun Utd and push on and win the league.
Rob A (Flamini=sh*te) AFC
…So, I just thought I’d write in this morning with a few conclusions on the game last night (and no not the Juventus and Bayern thriller)
– Barcelona are f@@king good. Like really f@@king good. The movement, concise passing and interplay of the whole team and in particular the front three was a joy to behold. On the other hand some of our counter-attacking and interplay was real damn pretty as well. A victory for football aesthetes everywhere.
– Arsenal are not as good as Barcelona (I know, shock horror). Possible best football team in history beats not the best football team in history should not surprise nor infuriate anyone.
– That being said, for the large majority we kept it pretty tidy at the back, limited them to only a handful of clear-cut chances and looked good on the counter. In all honesty that’s all I was hoping to get from the game: A resolute and disciplined performance against the most dangerous team on the planet and for the most part I think the team did this to the best of their ability.
– The one thing I do have a gripe with was that our passing during certain counter-attacks was just sloppy. Especially in games like this where we are not the better team technically, we need to make our limited opportunities count.
– I’ve felt a bit sorry for Flamini this season. He was not meant to start so many games and honestly on the whole his performances have not warranted the level of vitriol aimed in his general direction. But dude, come on when your first involvement in the game is to give away a penalty (leading to the second away gaol for Barcelona and essentially shutting the door on any possible comeback in Barcelona) is quite infuriating. Next time take a step forward and kick the ball you wally. Don’t just stand there and lunge.
– Mertesacker overall I think was pretty good but again was involved for both the Barcelona goals. On the first he gets caught trying to intercept the ball way upfield and out of position forcing Nacho to have to come across leaving Messi open to be Messi. For the second he doesn’t clear the ball and puts Flamini in a position where he has to make a challenge in the box. # You seem a lovely chap Per but get back on the bench.
– Alexis was looking better than he has in weeks and long may it continue – we really need him firing if we are to stand a chance at the long-awaited Best league in the universe title.
– If we had taken our chances (Ox in the first half in particular) we could have got something out of the game. Calm down. That statement is hypothetical and thus ultimately meaningless as we did not win.
– The team looks far better balanced with Le Coq back. Whilst we are still missing the sweet feet and vision of Santi to offset le Coq’s defensive mindset, the team just looks far more resolute with him in the team (again, shock horror. Specialist defensive midfielder helps team defend better)
– I don’t want to be too critical but Ramsey’s decisio- making at times is woeful. The last thing you want to do against Barcelona is force the play, lose the ball cheaply and allow them to transition quickly. Just make the easy pass son.
– Honestly that was the first defeat I’ve enjoyed watching in a while. This Arsenal team and squad is of a higher quality and has better balance than any over the last ten years or even longer. Are we the bestest, most ultimate, badass, slayer mother f**ckers around? No. Do we still need a couple of world-class players to push the team to the next level. Yes. But we have a great chance to win the league, are still in the FA Cup with a chance to win three in a row and are (technically) still in Champions League.
– Please fellow Arsenal fans, as to my previous point. Let’s not embarrass ourselves over the next couple of days please. Be grateful for the fact that the team is getting better. Be grateful for the fact that we have a real shot at the title this year. Be grateful for the fact that we are the kind of club that can sign players like Alexis and Ozil (and also if you think that them signing has nothing to do with Wenger then you are an idiot) Be grateful for the fact that you get to watch your team have a go against the best sides in the world. Basically just don’t be a bunch of keyboard bashing, knuckle-dragging philistines who make the rest of us look like entitled, spoilt bitches.
Cheyne (please can we just beat ManU for once) Gooner, South Africa
…* You know you’re on to a loser with some journalists when you fire up the Twitter on the way home to discover Mark Ogden’s complaints that the necessarily orchestrated and pretty decent display before kick off “all feels a bit staged”. They must have heightened telepathy up in Manchester.
* Anyway, on to the football. You called it right, we created too much not to be unhappy that we didn’t at least get one before they took the tie away from us. It doesn’t help that Sanchez, our must explosive player, is in awful form, though there were signs in the first half that he was rediscovering at least a bit of his mojo.
* Giroud put in a great shift but was isolated by our tactics – not that I’m complaining about how we set out to play – and so much of what he is excellent at needs players around him to actually be that effective. Welbeck has looked sharp since his return and, with goals proving hard to come by again, I wouldn’t be surprised if he started at Old Trafford with an eye to a longer run in the first eleven. Giroud has shown himself to be an excellent sub, and Welbeck has the speed as well as the (admittedly lesser) physicality to complement us when we play defensively as well as the touch to complement our attacking play.
* That said, Wenger is the man who keeps on putting Mathieu Flamini on the pitch so all bets are off when it comes to selection. I don’t know whether Coquelin was nursing something but swapping him off with ten minutes to go was mad. I genuinely hardly had time to say that Flamini seemed likelier to cause a goal than prevent one before he conceded the penalty.
* I wouldn’t have been too annoyed with a 0-1 loss, but that isn’t to say the first goal wasn’t frustrating. Earlier in second half Bellerin got the ball in space in our half and would normally have broken forward but instead looked to play the ball so he didn’t need to travel too far past the halfway line. Safety first and all that. When they scored it was directly after one of our best spells where we overcommitted players, including the right back. It was a shame to see our discipline slip for that vital moment after what was an excellent, if understandably limited, performance to that point. And it was especially unfair on Nacho Monreal, who played with a yellow for 80 minutes against those attackers and gave barely an inch. I love him.
* Of course you have to credit Barcelona, they absolutely took advantage of that slip. When they weren’t acting like d*cks (taking minutes to get back for kick offs, the w*nkers), they played some great stuff but in the end it was the ruthlessness that made the difference.
* On to Old Trafford for a game that, for the purposes of our realistic ambitions, means so much more. Hopefully it’s the discipline of last night that we take into that game. If it is, and if a little of Barca’s dead-eyed mercilessness rubbed off on us, the pain of this defeat could and should be shrugged off quickly. If.
At least we had a chance
We didn’t get the breaks we needed (and we need all of them), but that game was competitive through 70 minutes. That’s all we ask for. Now let’s go to the Nou Camp and take our impending 5-1 mauling like men.
Nick, Boston Gunner
…After that result I hope fellow Arsenal fans don’t lose the plot. We were right in the game, we got caught on the counter. Flamini was Flamini. For large parts of the game we kept Barca at bay. With better finishing we could have got one or two goals back, though that could be said for Barca too. The tie is basically done but I don’t think this is a particularly depressing result with the performance. No-one expected us to go through and we can focus on the League and FA Cup now. This is a mile away from some of the depressing capitulations in recent seasons.
Please don’t fire through a bunch of ‘Wenger out’ mails, you’ll just look silly.
As an aside, I actually thought Messi played pretty averagely, though the headlines will call him a two-goal wizard.
George (what team do we send to the Nou Camp?) AFC, Wellington, NZ
Time to drop Alexis?
Surely Alexis can’t stay in this Arsenal side for much longer? He’s been abysmal since early 2015 bar a few decent performances here and there. Ozil had a similar spell for a while but he picked himself up and has been top class this season. Alexis has had a year to pick himself up and start putting in consistently great performances but has failed to do so. I can count the number of good performances in the last nine months on one hand. It’s embarrassing how bad he has been this season and the past year and two months as a whole really. The claims of an ‘amazing work rate’ are inaccurate, yes he runs about a lot but when it comes to marking his man nine times out of 10 Alexis will just let the full-back breeze past him without a care in the world (see Alves tonight, Joel Ward when he scored for Palace against us). Let’s not forget his passing, maybe once in a while he’ll pick out a truly brilliant pass that could split a defense in two. But the rest of the time his passing is simply atrocious. What sort of idiot sees Busquets/Mascherano and thinks they can just simply pass the ball through them to get the ball to a fellow Arsenal player. These guys are world-class interceptors and Alexis has the audacity to think that a simple pass with no power will bypass them? His arrogance is pathetic.
On the other hand Danny Welbeck, instead of running around like a headless chicken, ran when he needed to, made the smart pass every time and pressed when he needed to. These are things you would expect of any top footballer yet Alexis is incapable of even doing that at the moment. Of course Danny Welbeck isn’t as talented as Alexis and won’t be able to score goals even half as good as some of the ones Alexis has but I’d rather have a decent player who is smart on the ball than a luxury player who scores the odd screamer. Because that’s what Alexis has become. Whilst some morons may consider Ozil a luxury player, performances like tonight show that even when times are tough he will still be the main man, still create chances. Ozil is the hub of the team and Alexis is just a passenger at the moment. If Wenger really wanted to send a message then he would drop Alexis for the United match (which really if Ozil plays we should win without him) and see if his performances improve. I worry that if Wenger persists with him, he will only get worse and worse. Some may say he needs to play himself into form but he’s had a year to do that and he hasn’t had a sustained run of games where he has been top quality like Ozil has.
Matt, Arsenal fan
How bad can Elneny be?
I only have one thing to say. Either Elneny is unbelievably terrible or Flamini has promised Wenger some shares in his company based on number of appearances.
JazGooner (at least Suarez didn’t score. Phew)