Well, El Classico was hardly the game we were all expecting. Interesting viewing is about as far as I can stretch when describing Barcelona’s 2-0 win. Madrid never really found top gear, Barca found it when they needed to. The game was won on finishing. Xavi somehow finding Messi with a sublime chip, the Argentine bringing it down with almost zero space, finding the bottom corner with his shot. Then Pedro finishing things off in the second half. Madrid used 2 holding midfielders and broke up Barca’s play well at times, but when all was said and done, even e200million couldn’t threaten Barcelona’s dominance.
That tells you something. When you get into the elite of world football, it comes down to how well you piece your jigsaw together. It comes down to how well the coach trains the team. It comes down to how much hunger the players have. Barcelona play like a team starved of success for a century, truly a pleasure to watch.
I’ve just been traipsing around newsnow to find something to write about. I’ve seen about 4 headlines with ‘Doom and Gloom’ in them. What is it with people and their insistence on telling Gooners how to think? Talking about the reality of what’s going on at Arsenal seems to be a cardinal sin in some peoples book of blogging. Sure there have been positives this season but ignoring the negatives is a bit like burying your head in the sand. It’s pointless because when you eventually raise your head… they’ll still be there, staring back at your menacingly.
Sol Campbell has it bang on in his latest interview.
Everyone has to look at himself after the Barcelona match and say, ‘This is the level you have to get to’.
You can’t think you’re OK when you’re not. This is the level you have to be at.
You have to say, ‘This is the level I want to get to and surpass’. You have to be honest with yourself and say, “I have to work harder, I have to understand the game better” and realise that it’s a big world out there and that there are a lot of good players at big clubs.
“Arsenal haven’t been in this situation for a few years with the league, and this is another area you can learn from and listen to people who have been there and be aware that every time you go out, every point is precious.
All the players who walked out on that pitch against Barca have to have a long hard look at their game and ask whether that was good enough. They have to find that extra bit of hunger in training to take their game to the next level. If they can’t do that, then it’s time to move on. I’m not comforted by that Barcelona game. I’m not proud that we played them at their own game and got thumped. What will make me proud is if we learn from that and make sure the same thing doesn’t happen next season.
We’ve made great improvements in the league this season, but things could be better again. We’ve cost ourselves many points with sloppy defending. If that can be addressed and our defence can match our attack for efficiency, we could be a terrifying outfit next year.
Justifying second best makes being second best seem acceptable. That attitude in itself isn’t an acceptable mindset in top class sport. You need a winning culture at a football club. Players like Sol have that.
Onto a slightly sad subject. The plight of Eduardo. After recovering from that horrific challenge at St Andrews, many of us, rightly or wrongly, presumed that Eduardo would come back to top class football and recover his form. Sadly, after almost 18months, he still hasn’t managed to. He seems to have lost what little pace he had and more importantly, that psychological edge he had when he was in the box. He fears a challenge and opposing defenders seem to pick up on that.
Wenger has used him sparingly this season and when he has gained minutes, Eduardo hasn’t looked half the player he once was. The troubling question is this. How long do you give a player before you cut your loses? We’re not a charity, he’s been paid the whole way through the recovery period… and he’s still not ready. We’re a team pushing for major honours on 2 fronts most seasons. When the annual injury crisis hits, we should be have better options than Arshavin in the middle.
Will Wenger cut his losses this summer? Was Eduardo the sad news Andy Abrahams was talking about? I’d say there was a 60% chance of that being the case…
Another interesting problem that seems to have arisen is the Carlos Vela one. Last season he lit up our screens with some dazzling displays of outrageous skill and clinical finishing. Many fans, myself included, thought this would be his break through year. Especially when Wenger told us at Christmas Carlos was the reason he didn’t recruit when he sold Ade… because our Mexican was the new Robbie Fowler. Well, that was either one big fat lie or Carlos Vela was caught taking a dump in the manager’s office.
He’s been given hardly any chances at all this season. I find it staggering that a player with undeniable talent doesn’t seem to get a look in? He really has fallen foul of Wenger for some reason? People point to his exploits with Mexico… well, we knew he was Mexican when we signed him didn’t we?
It came to a head last week when Carlos was omitted from the Nou Camp squad after forgetting his passport. A bit dim you have to say, probably the type of oversight you’d expect to signal the end of your Arsenal career. That’s a great shame… he’s a real talent, I’m sure he’ll do well in La Liga. Just like Merida will. Another player who has had minimum playing time compared to some of the Marmite compatriots.
Anyway, I’m off down south today. Enjoy watching the mighty Pompey take apart our most repugnant neighbours from down the road!
That’d make my weekend!