Showing posts with label Barcelona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barcelona. Show all posts

23 February 2023

Man U do Arsenal a massive Europa League favour!

Okay, so "massive" oversells it ever so slightly. A truly massive favour would have been to let the match go to extra time while also seeing at least one of Casemiro, de Gea or Fernandes getting a straight red and three-match ban for violent conduct (how Fernandes escaped a red card for blasting the ball straight in de Jong's gut as he went to ground is beyond me. Oh, right. Old Trafford. It's de Jong who escaped seeing red for rudely blocking the blast). At any rate, by knocking out Man U, those lucky devils eased our path into the quarterfinals ever so slightly. We can't draw Man U in the round of 16, of course, but there are still some tricksy ties on the offing.

21 November 2022

Time to swoop for de Jong, I guess...if we must...

Normally, you think of the world's biggest clubs as being, for the most past sane. Prudent. Responsible, if a little profligate with the spending. All in all, though, we expect them to be sober. By and large, all of them are. Well, almost all of them There's always that one outlier, the one at the end of the bar at last call who can offer you the night of your life or the one who will boil your pet rabbit on the stove. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I introduce you to FC Barcelona, sometimes known as Barça, sometimes known as mes que un club. For those out of the loop, they're also known to be....well, what is the colloquialism I'm looking for? Ah, yes. Bat-sh*t. How else to explain the driving out of a club legend and scorer of 672 goals in 778 appearances? 

20 November 2022

Poor Pep clutches his pearls as Arteta considers poaching more players...

Okay, so it's an unsourced report, but Football Insider claims that "it is now believed that Guardiola’s side will reject any potential further offers from Arsenal for players who would go straight into their team." It has all of the outward appearances of being complete common sense dressed up as a scoop, but it does conjure up some delicious images of Guardiola furrowing his brow as he wonders who among his current squad see the playing time their former teammates are getting at Arsenal and might start to feel a bit restless at being accessories rather than actual players. Whatever Guardiola and others at Man City have or haven't said, it would be more than a bit rich for either to whinge about Arsenal poaching their players.

02 November 2022

The Bizarre Sado-machism of the Europa League...

We're through the looking-glass, people. With a chance to win our Europa League group on Thursday against FC Zürich, we're getting a clearer sense of just what we've gotten ourselves into here. Over the last five years or so, we've learned a lot more about Europa League and what it all entails. The more that we learn, the more that we realise that it's all an exercise of sado-masochism, replete with its delights and its devilries. On on hand, we get a chance to batter lesser opponents. On the other, we look forward to the arrival to the knockout stage of various Champions League cast-offs, many of them quite content just to get kits with a special patch on the shoulder, some of them also-rans resentful to have slumped to this admittedly less-glorious competition. While it would be fun to continue to feast on the former, the latter group pose exquisite challenges that tiptoe the line between inflicting and incurring punishment beyond one's wildest dreams.

16 March 2016

Why the #&%£@$ can't Arsenal play like that against anyone else?

3-1, the final scoreline. 5-1, the aggregate. On its face, we had our arses handed to us. However, looking past that, we did far better than expected, regardless of form going into each leg. Against one of the most-fearsome three-headed hydras the world has yet seen and may ever seen, we more than held our own for the lion's share of three hours of football. In fact, in this and in the previous encounter, all that separated us, really, was a handful of glitches at our end and just as many moments of brilliance at theirs,  Yes, on paper, there's a massive, yawning chasm in class between us and them. No real shame in that, to be honest. On the pitch, however, we showed that we can bridge that chasm. Why, then, can we not play to that level more often?

Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MotM Poll

An early goal from Neymar looked to kill off all of Arsenal's chances just 18 minutes in, but courageous attacks and a goal from Elneny revived some hope of a second-leg fight-back. Cartoon super-villain Luis Suárez found a second goal and, unfortunately, ter Stegen came up with numerous vital saves from there, perhaps none so vital as three in the space of seconds after a free-kick from Alexis in the 80th minute. Messi did what he seems to always do to make it 3-1 in the waning minutes. Despite bowing out, we'll have to wonder whether we can summon this level of play on a more-regular basis against less-intimidating opponents. It wasn't quite as inspirational as other second-legs we've seen, but it offered a glimmer of hope that, in the remaining nine Prem matches, we can put up more of a fight than we'd seen previously. At any rate, get down to the poll to give our lads what they deserve!

23 February 2016

Barça are bootless, boil-brained canker-blossomed bullies. Say "boo" and they buckle. Pity we lost to that lot.

I don't know if I've ever seen a chintzier, cheaper display from such a massive, monolithic behemoth as I did when I watched Barça, they of the half-billion pound squad, dive and flop about the pitch on Tuesday, doing their best impression of one who has simultaneously had a rug yanked from under him while also being shot by a sniper and also uppercutted by Lennox Lewis. The only pity is that they wasted the performances so close to this year's Oscars, when their theatrics will be ineligible for any awards this time through and likely all but forgotten by this time next year. For a squad that boasts no fewer than a half-dozen world-class starters in its XI and could probably field a second-choice XI that might still win La Liga, it was more than a bit pathetic to see them resort to such desperate measures. Still, they're atop their little league and have an inside track on winning the Champions League, so maybe it's my own priorities that are all bass-ackwards.

Arsenal 0-2 Barca—Vote for Player Ratings and MotM!

For seventy minutes, for more than an hour, Arsenal gave as good as they got against one of the most-expensive, deepest squads in Europe. For stretches, it even looked as if it would be Arsenal who would come away with a very famous victory. Instead, it was Barça who hit on a counter to score first.  As the game got more and more ragged with Arsenal chasing an equaliser, Messi found a second from the spot after Flamini did what Flamini does. I guess we can call it a moral victory after weeks of interminable predictions of a thrashing the likes of which the world has never seen. Still, a loss is a loss, and we've have to lick a few wounds and regroup before the weekend. Let's get down to the poll to rate the lads...

22 February 2016

The Turkish Trickster who will turn back the tide against Barça...

Yes, we sleep-walked through a draw against Hull this weekend, but—let's face it—we did so without the wonderful workings of a Turkish talisman on whom we've come to depend in our hour of need. Without him, we seem pedestrian, ordinary, banal; we lack any real insight into the inner workings of the match. Against Barça in this first leg, though, the restoration of this erstwhile Ottoman magician, umlaut and all, will be in full pomp. With him on the pitch, Arsenal's ambitions are restored. His efforts might not be quite enough to turn away the juggernaut that is Barça's three-headed hydra, but Cüneyt Çakır has done just enough to earn a special spot in Gooners' hearts.

21 February 2016

Messi and Suárez and Neymar, oh my! Here's how Arsenal trump that triumvirate...

After struggling to see off Hull City this weekend, enquiring minds will wonder just how badly we'll get beaten by Barcelona, a squad that hasn't lost in 32 matches and which boasts the prowess of Messi, Suárez, and Neymar, not to mention various others who lurk in the long shadows that trio casts. Even before that dour draw in the FA Cup, there was fear of the depths of devastation the Blaugrana would wreak—at a risk of overdoing the alliteration, blitzkrieg comes to mind. Calm yourselves. You can only play the opponent in front of you.

29 May 2015

Ramsey quashes rumors of a £50m Barça move

Despite the yoke of a transfer ban until 2016, Barcelona have been sniffing around like a stray dog in heat, apparently unsated by last summer's signing of Luis Suárez (and Neymar the summer before...) and the fact that they've already decimated La Liga to the tune of a +89 goal difference. Yes, Real are nipping at their heels, having finished just two points behind. We'll find out on Saturday if Barça will finish the season with yet another Champions League title. Their reported interest in Aaron Ramsey, though appears for now to have been quashed the Welsh Jesus.

10 January 2015

Tale of the Tactical Tape: Bojan vs. Alexis

Sunday brings us one the of the Prem's sharpest contrasts in style, with Arsenal offering flittery, ballerina-esque, elvish dancers who can dance with the ball as if their shoelaces are interlaced with the ball's stitches and seams, and with Stoke lumbering about with Cro-Magnon men hoofing it forward to Golem-like, moai-esque attackers, hoping that the ball will somehow find its way to the back of the net. It worked well enough in early December when Stoke pummeled Arsenal into oblivion, scoring three times in the first 45 minutes, and a shell-shocked Arsenal very nearly crumbled to dust. As both sides prepare for Sunday's clash, then, it's only natural to assume that we'll see a similar clash between Elves and Orcs. It's the script each side has been handed, isn't it? And yet...

08 August 2014

It looks like Vermaelen is off to Barça. £10m? Works for me.

Official confirmation is still in the offing, but a saga that has dragged on since the middle of last season looks to be entering its final chapter as Thomas Vermaelen looks ready to finalize a move to Barcelona, continuing a trend of Gunners leaving for the sunnier climes of Spain. There was a time when such moves would lead us to gnash teeth and rend garments, but this move feels quite a bit different. At the risk of slighting Vermaelen, the Camp Nou Express is no longer carrying coveted players but settling for second-choicers. Some may quibble with the reported transfer-fee, but I'd much prefer selling Vermaelen out of the Prem than to a rival like Man U. He may not be quite good enough to crack our starting XI, but if Barça need him, so be it.

01 August 2014

Vermaelen to Vanchester continues to vex Wenger...

As we prepare to face Benfica in the Emirates Cup, there's a lot of talk of who we will and won't see. We won't see Mertesacker, Podolski, or Özil, who are resting; nor will we see Walcott, Ospina, or Sanogo, who are injured. We may or may not see Alexis, Debuchy, or Chambers. Another Gunner is listed as injured, but this might be a gambit of sorts related to a potential transfer. We won't see Thomas Vermaelen, our nominal captain, because he apparently has picked up an injury. He's not in any pictures of the squad training, for what that's worth. Has the time come for Tom to be gone?

06 July 2014

Amid Sánchez rumors, Barça have a Monday press conference...

It's getting harder and harder to resist the temptation to feel like something special is about to happen around Alexis Sánchez, what with odds around him joining Arsenal going from 8/15 just two days ago to climbing to 1/2 Sunday. Even more mouth-watering is the news that  Barça have scheduled a press conference for Monday at 11am, London time, to discuss who knows what? It's tantalizing to think that the presser might relate to Sánchez's potential departure, although it more-likely has something to do with some other player arriving. It's unlikely for a club to schedule a press conference to announce a player departing. Still, 'round these parts, hope springs eternal, even if that means rational thought takes a back seat.

03 July 2014

Liverpool look to go full-Tottenham with sale of Suarez...

Apologies, first of all, for the dearth of postings. I'm camping in the Maine woods where internet is spotty. It's been hard to stay abreast of, much analyze or respond to, goings-on other than the whereabouts of bear-defecations. So that's one rumor confirmed. Still open but feeling tantalizingly close is the idea that Alexis Sánchez might be on his way away from Barcelona—with Arsenal touted as his most-likely destination—paving the way for Suarez to leave Liverpool. Have the Liverputians learnt nothing from Spuds? It was a summer ago that saw our London "rivals" sell their talismanic goal-scorer to Spain to finance the purchase of a raft of new players only to stumble along to a sixth-place finish. Could Liverpool be set to reprise the role?

26 June 2014

On the transfer merry-go-round, will Suárez's ban ruin the fun?

It's official: FIFA has banned Luis Racist McBitesAlot Suárez for four months and nine international matches for Uruguay, and this also includes nine Prem matches and three Champions League matches for Liverpool, which all but dooms Uruguay's chances this time through and does the same to Liverpool—although it must be noted that Liverpool did quite well to start the 2013-14 season when Suárez was banned for ten games—wait for it—biting an opponent, winning seven, drawing two, and losing once. They're hardly toothless without him, I'll say that. While his suspension may seem harsh to some, I'm not sure it goes far enough. After all, he bit an opponent. For the third time. However, these antics and the fact that Suárez won't even be available until the end of October, has apparently not deterred Real Madrid or Barcelona from pursuing him. Fine. If we can ride the transfer merry-go-round again, let's give it a spin, shall we?

12 June 2014

Cesc, I'm sorry for this whole sordid saga.

> So the unthinkable has come to pass. True, it's not quite the direct betrayal of seeing van Persie cross over to Man U, but seeing Cesc end up at Chelsea by way of Barcelona hurts on a different level. Over the next few days, not to mention during the upcoming season, we're going to wrestle with some bitter feelings—a sense of betrayal, of despair, of jealousy—and these may eventually subside somewhat, but they'll never cease. To lose such a talismanic player, not once, but twice, is almost too much to bear. The pain it's inspired is going to linger for some time. In in the interim, there will be some harsh words hurled at the man, and, on behalf of as many Gooners as I dare claim to speak for: Cesc, I'm sorry.

01 June 2014

Més que un club? A pox on that.

I used to feel an affinity for Barcelona, as if they and Arsenal were kindred clubs bonded by a shared commitment to a different approach to football, an approach defined by a belief in attractive, stylish football built from a foundation of development from within, nurturing young talent, and noble ideals. Our mottos espouse similar beliefs—their més que un club and our Victoria Concordia Crescit each proclaim something loftier than merely winning matches or hoisting trophies, as is each victory heralds some kind of milestone, not just for football, but for humanity itself. The risk of painting oneself in such colors, of course, is that it invites ridicule. And so it is ridicule that I offer.

23 May 2014

Bring back Cesc—as a striker!

The worm has turned. It is Arsenal that have silverware in hand, and Barcelona that have gone begging. As such, it is only natural that the exodus of Gunners to Camp Nou reverse. Instead seeing the departures of Hleb and Overmars, Petit and Song and Van Bronckhorst, Henry and Fàbregas, we could see the return of a son so prodigal that many of us seem willing to any price, financial or strategic, to bring him back. Do we need him? After all, we have a glut of creative, attack-minded midfielders, and our most-pressing need is at striker. Then again, Fàbregas has shown that he has the chops to lead the line. Why not?