Showing posts with label knockout stage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label knockout stage. Show all posts

07 December 2016

Arsenal win Group A only to face...Real Madrid? Bayern Munich?

Courtesy of a swash-buckling demolition of FC Basel coupled with PSG's craven capitulation to Ludogorets Razgrad, Arsenal have won their Champions League group. Ordinarily, this might earn us a chance at facing a somewhat-weaker opponent. However, Arsenal being Arsenal, the opponent we're most likely to face is Real Madrid, who finished second in their group after drawing at home to Borussia Dortmund. So it goes. Of the other second-place finishers, we might also draw once again to none other than Bayern Munich. Drop down below the fold to assess our odds and rate our chances of advancing past the round of 16 for the first time since 2010...

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!

15 March 2016

Brace yourselves for a Barça-battering—of the best kind!

Look, I know that we're all battered and bruised and bereft of hope ahead of a fixture that looked likely to result in an historic hiding even at the best of times. To go into the Camp Nou having lost four in a row at home for the first time since 2002 hardly inspires anything remotely resembling hope. If you're anything at all like me, the last few days have been defined by a numbing feeling of disbelief alternating with white-hot flashes of indescribable rage. It's an existential crisis deep enough to belittle any abyss, enough to make one reconsider continuing to be a Gooner or, worse, to start agreeing with Piers Morgan. Despite all of that, however, I believe in something even if it's so ineffable that I can't quite put it into words. Whatever it is—call it naïveté, stupidity, or worse—I think we're going to shock a few folks on Wednesday.

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.

09 December 2015

Campbell's work is mmm, mmm, good!

I told you. Didn't I tell you? I told Giroud to go out and have a big game, and did he ever. He delivered his first-ever hat-trick for Arsenal, nodding home at the near post, slotting home on a perfectly timed run, and smashing home a spot-kick for good measure. On a night when we had to win 0-2 or score three goals to win, Giroud decided to obey me for once and tick both boxes.

Okay, so I don't quite have those powers of prognostication. However, I can't help but pat myself on the back when, even if by dumb luck, my predictions pan out. I called on Giroud to lead us into the knockout stage, and he did that in spades. Less predictable, however, was the play of Joel Campbell, who scintillated and tantalized by turns in his best stint to date, one good enough to suggest he's ready.

Olympiakos 0-3 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

Olivier Giroud's first-ever hat-trick for Arsenal powered the Gunners past our Greek hosts and into the Champions
League knockout stage in fine fashion. Giroud was assisted by Aaron Ramsey for the first (a near-post header) and Joel Campbell (who danced niftily over the ball before threading a pass into the six-yard box for Giroud's second. Giroud then picked up his third on a spot-kick awarded after defender Elabdellaoui committed a handball infraction in the penalty area. We'll advance to the knockout stage for a sixteenth consecutive season in glorious fashion. Without further ado, then, get down to the poll and rate our lads' efforts!

15 March 2015

West Ham: the 3-0 Dress-Rehearsal. 99% Bayern-free!

If you had watched Saturday's thrashing of West Ham, you might assume that we were top of the league, through to the  FA Cup semi-finals, and punching our tickets to the Champions League quarter-finals. Of course, you'd be only one-third right, but the form we've been in since we last faced AS Monaco has been pretty convincing—especially the last two, winning a bum-clencher at Old Trafford in the FA Cup's Sixth Round Proper and then tearing up West Ham like they were Kleenex™ at a snot-convention. Surely, we rue the routing we endured at the Emirates a few weeks ago, but, as history shows us, we're quite good when we decide to be.

15 December 2014

Man U's done us a solid in the Champions League draw...

After several years of tough draws—Bayern the last two years—we might be forgiven for celebrating a bit when this year's draw pits us against AS Monaco, arguably the weakest team we might have faced after Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico, and Porto. Not only are Monaco the least-intimidating of the group-winners, their group was itself one of the weakest—and the Monaco squad that earned an appearance in the group-stage is hardly the one that we'll face off against. This is not to suggest that they'll roll over and play dead, nor can we underestimate them. There's nothing wrong in admitting, however, that our chance at advancing is just a bit better than it would be against Bayern.

26 November 2014

Arsenal 2-0 Dortmund: at last, a dominant performance!

Yaya Sanogo opened his Arsenal account in stunning style, scoring 70 seconds in, Alexis scored his 13th goal in 20 matches, and Arsenal dominated in long stretches on its way to the 2-0 win. It sends us through to the knockout stage and keeps alive a slender hope that we could still win the group. If we beat Galatasaray in Turkey and Anderlecht beat Dortmund in Germany, we'd finish on 13 points, one above Dortmund. There are other scenarios which we can examine later. For now, savor a strong performance from top to bottom, marred though it may be by a light knock suffered by Arteta. Everyone seems to have turned a in solid performance, with some stellar ones from Gibbs, Ramsey (yes, Ramsey), Chambers, and Cazorla. I'm not omitting Alexis on the assumption that it's safe to assume that, yes, he again scintillated. We're through to the knockout stage for the 15th time in a row. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the highlights!