Champions League or Premier League. Which is more important to Arsenal?

by & filed under Match Preview.

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So Manchester City wanted to prove that they too could take down the mighty Bayern in their own back yard. Bravo I say. Germany not looking quite as strong this year is it? As Simon Kuper said on our failed podcast, two teams from the same country in the final of the Champions League does not signal a power shift in world football.

Anyway, slightly scary that we’ll be playing them in fine form with a days extra rest. Not to mention that they rested a whole heap of their key players. Oh well, you gots to beat them all, right?

We head to Naples this evening with the remit of not losing by 3 goals. Now, I don’t like that. City didn’t go to Bayern hoping not to lose by a set amount. They, in fact, believed incorrectly they has to chase 5 goals. We should be heading to the Italian capital of Mafia fun times with the intention of smashing Napoli.

The great news from where I’m sitting is that they have to go for the jugular from the off. Our game this season has been geared around soaking up pressure and snapping back on the counter attack (well, away from home at least). We have a defence capable of standing up to pressure and we have a team goal confident. I’d imagine we’ll start Theo to put the fear of life in them… and to make sure they think twice about bombarding our back line.

If Jenkinson starts, expect them to pressure down his side. He is the weak link in the back four, but hopefully he can take inspiration from his form last season when Sagna was out. He’s more than capable of having a blinding, well disciplined game. On the left, I have to say, I might be tempted to go with Monreal. He’s the more stable of the two left backs when it comes to rigid defensive discipline. So if locking down the game is the plan, we should play him. It also frees Gibbs to play a fresh game against City.

Up top, we need Giroud to play like a demon. He needs to hold the ball up, bring the midfield into the game and cause a nuisance. He also needs to get his shooting boots on. Arsenal fans have slumped into this Alex Song type forgiveness… like Giroud is the special kid at school because he works hard. He’s paid to score goals. The other bits that he does are important as well, but fundamentally, if he wants to avoid us buying a mega striker this summer, he has to start taking more chances. There’s not reason he can’t start banging them in… he did for Montpellier.

3 points would be lovely this evening. Winning the group is imperative if we want to progress beyond the next game. Madrid, PSG, Bayern, Athletico and Barca await if we fail to make the grade. We need to finish this group with a flourish and show the world we mean business.

Trouble is… losing to City, will ultimately harm us more than losing 1-0 to Napoli with a rested team. It’s going to be interesting to see how much Arsene trusts his squad tonight. Well, actually, it’ll be hard to know what he’s thinking… if he goes for a full team… he might really want top spot and he might think that dropping points away at City is no shame.

It’s a tough call… I’m excited to see what he does. Good luck to all the fans out in Italy, stay safe, and if someone asks you the time on a scooter… run off, they’re going to stab you in the arse (my uncle used to tell me that about Italian away days).

HAVE A SUPER DAY THAT IS MADE EVEN MORE SUPER BECAUSE WE WON THE FOOTBALL X X X

950 Responses to “Champions League or Premier League. Which is more important to Arsenal?”

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  1. Sam

    We lost because of wenger dickless tactics.
    He hates rotation n still wants to manage a big team
    This wingless tactic is a total failure we will be slaughtered on Saturday if he insists on it.
    It’s time to deploy Walcott, podolski/ Gnabry

  2. Sam

    Just like everton game,
    Their wing backs were roaming free tonight
    Why Is wenger so blind?

    We made that shit Napoli left back look like Roberto Carlos

  3. Bamford13

    Sam

    You’re just angry because you said Higuain was crap about ten minutes before he scored a goal against us that Giroud isn’t capable of scoring.

    Admit facts. Higuain is a better striker than we have at present. We’d be a better side with him than we are with Giroud. Giroud is average and has too many limitations. None of this is to say that Higuain is the world’s greatest striker, but he’s better than Giroud. No question about it.

  4. Bamford13

    Sam

    I do agree that Wenger’s tactics are partly to blame. He insists on playing slow squat CMs as outside mids and as a result we have no real wide play. If we dominate possession or if the other team is not strong on the wings, this weakness can be covered up. If not, however, we get overrun.

    So I”m with you on that, though I doubt I place as much faith in our current genuine wide players as you do.

  5. Ulstersaysarse

    We made the quarter finals. Stop bitch moaning about this & that & be grateful of what position we’re in. Real fans stay behind their team. Top of the league by 5 points & ready for the CL draw Mon at 11 come what may. Gooner til i die!

  6. Ilerioluwa

    Our problem isnt that we lack mental strength. Its that we lack quality players across the pitch.

    Giroud is s substitutes substitutes as i said earlier.
    Podolski should be sold. Walcott a sub. Flaming and arteta are nt good enough. Jenkins shouldn be on the team.
    Ramsey should be able to rest some more games..
    What an appalling squad.

  7. Ilerioluwa

    Yet some fans won’t see that we have just been lucky so far thats ramsey has been doing the job of a striker for us..
    They really expect us to challenge with this squad and bring out some useless stats to prove we are now more organised, more mobile or some other such tripe.
    Arsenal team is overrated even by many critics. Its just nt good enough.
    Its nt a matter of mental Strength.

  8. Emiratesstroller

    This is the second time this season that I have watched Arsenal play in ‘defensive’ mode and it does not suit our game.

    Frankly I am concerned now when we play Arteta alongside Flamini. He played poorly on Saturday against Everton. He is now rather slow and needs too much time on the ball.

    The real issue for me was the lack of pace in our team. Napoli have been conceding goals in several games not least the three over weekend. We should
    have been attacking them and providing them with problems to solve.

    If we play this way against Man City or Chelsea then we will certainly lose.

    My real concern is that we will now receive unnecessarily a tough draw in next round of Champions League, because we finished in second place in Group. The options to play are mainly German or Spanish teams such as Bayern,Real and Barcelona. On yesterday’s performance I doubt that we will win.

    If there is any lessons to learn we need urgently to secure contract with Sagna
    since Jenkinson lacks real quality at right full back, buy a top quality defensive
    midfielder to replace Arteta and of course a more mobile and clinical striker
    to provide us with options up front.

  9. Leedsgunner

    I was advocating getting behind the lads before the game. Shame that the lads couldn’t get behind us with a worthy product on the pitch.

    Wenger reverting to type – talking about hand brakes luck. It’s like his taken 3 steps forward in the EPL only to take 2 steps back in the Champion’s League. Plus in his post match press confidence he alluded to the fact we’ve qualified for the knockout stages 14 times… whoopee. I know it makes a financial difference but in my mind we’re in it to make the numbers up. We won’t win it with this lot.

    For all his talk of “rotation” he doesn’t make the right ones. We looked like the defensive team tonight. Plus, as I predicted the Flam/Arteta axis came apart… literally. Walcott should have started to give the squad width and pace… Napoli defenders were slow and clumsy… they probably would have conceded a penalty with amount of fouls and free kicks they were giving away in the first have.

    Having beaten Napoli so comprehensively at home what changed? What was the point of defeating Dortmund now? Pointless.

    Banging head against a brick wall.

  10. shad

    Woeful performance. We are lucky that there was no time for a 3rd.

    My fear of Wenger’s lack of rotation and failing to adjust tactics tonullify the opponent is biting us. I seriously don’t understand why Gnabry isn’t getting game time. He offers so much more going forward and was tracking back well under Flamini’s guidance.
    This loss is purely on Wenger’s head. I’ll be damned if we fail to play with wingers against City because we’ll get spanked good.

    Lastly people here wishing for a draw against Atletico like it is a sure win are having a laugh. There are no easy games from now going forward and January cannot come soon enough.

    I am partly glad we got spanked by the way, and in that manner in the hope some of the glaring deficiencies are addressed in early January. Key is a striker and RB.

  11. tunnygriffboy

    It wasn’t a grate performance and very disappointing not to be top seed. However in the cold light of day finishing 2nd in that group would have seemed acceptable to people when the draw was made especially on 12pts. There are some stinking teams in the bottom half of the 16.

    We need to inject some pace in the team. I dont understand why Walcott didnt play yest to push their defence back and stop yhem compressing the game in our half like they did 2nd half.

    No more Arteta and Flamini. We need someone more physical and athletic in there

  12. Charlie Boy

    @Shad

    I couldn’t agree more mate!

    Last night was almost like the end of last season when coming 4th became a coveted trophy. Arsene Wenger smirking as he walked off the pitch, like he somehow set his team up for that very result, didn’t quash such feelings. That group was there for the taking and it would have sent a clear message to the world – Arsenal top of the group of death, are real contenders.

    Champion’s League winners do not play for a draw, they play to win – always. They play to humiliate their opponents, to boss them, to leave the world in no doubt that they are the best.

    Arsenal’s task progressing is now huge and I fear the team may lose a little confidence going into two huge domestic games. I hope I’m wrong!

  13. Ilerioluwa

    See, arsenal fans talking like they support everton
    ”finishing second will have been acceptable to some”
    who says?. WEll, I’ll guess that depends on the definition of the word ”some”.
    Why should finishing second in any group be acceptable to anyone. And even if it was initially acceptable, we went into the final day just needing a draw to top the group and we managed to lose 2 0 to a napoli side thats nt very good.
    Thats unacceptable…

  14. Jeff

    If we lose at City, and we lose badly like 3:0 or more, it will send our confidence in a downward direction. It will already have been dented after Everton and Napoli. Then comes Chelsea, and we’ll be easy pickings. Wenger has to do something to change it and prevent it from happening.

  15. unhappy gunner

    At the beginning of the season I gave wenger praise in finally getting rid of the deadwood. Flamini and ozil have
    have been good signing compared to last few years of ineptitude. He has to be given credit for that. But 2 questions need asking of gazidis and wenger or whoever’s responsible.
    1) Why did we go into the 2013-2014 campaign with only 1 recognised striker.
    2) Why was their not a new RB bought in when its plain to even wengers staunchest supporter that jenkinsons not up to the job yet.

  16. tunnygriffboy

    2nd placed teams :

    City 15pts
    Leverkusen 10pts
    Olympiakos 10pts
    Schalke 10pts
    Milan 9pts
    Galatasary 7pts
    Zenit 6pts

    Fancied our chances against any of them as we wouldnt have drawn City.

  17. Charlie Boy

    Furthermore… If Sagna goes, we definitely need a WC Right Back!

    I’ve tried to stick up for Jenkinson in the past, feeling there may be a turning point for him, but I have to say that looks highly unlikely given last night’s performance – totally out of his depth.

    Giroud’s a centre forward, not a striker and Arteta is a regular red card contender, given the amount of times he’s beaten easily, then attempts to hack down the opposing player from behind.

    I have been a massive Giroud advocate in the past, but I fear my loyalty may have been unjustified. As many have said on Le Grove, he’s simply not good enough for that role – I have to bow to such wisdom!

  18. Charlie Boy

    @Ilerioluwa

    Absolutely right!

    If we’d have played for the win, we would have won or at the very least drawn.

    1 point – top of the group – straightforward chance of progressing to the next stage. As it stands, highly unlikely unless we buy big in January.

  19. tunnygriffboy

    As you say Arteta 2 red cards this seaon due to lack of pace and mobility. 3 positions need addressing nxt month, a striker, DM and a right back, either Sagna signsor we get in a replacement

  20. tunnygriffboy

    CBoy

    Agree. Per and Koz have been immense so far. Gibbs and Jenks were poor last night. Imagine if Bender was giving them protection as well. It was reported we looking at him in summer so it appears Wenger wants to strengthen there.
    Would give Monreal a bit of a run now and rest Gibbs, he’s had 2 poor games on trot now

  21. rickybel

    And to think every team had scored against napoli even marseille scored in naples FFS,I insist 1 goal from us last night would have made the match a draw,our players were getting tired 2nd half,Theo would have pushed their LB back.Let’s be frank Wenger is very bad @ rotation,with the match at 0-0 he shud have seized the initiative.

  22. ArseneWengerNose

    I didn’t like the fact that Ozil played almost all of our last three league games before Napoli (He was subbed against Cardiff, but that took place in injury time!). For that reason I thought he shouldn’t have started. And needless to say I think Wenger dropped the ball by not giving Theo a start. It was the perfect game for him, as many have indicated.

    After two shakey results, I think a point from City would be more than acceptable. But I think it’s fair to say that that was always the case regardless of recent results.

    It’s clear we need a top striker in January. Giroud should be a sub, not the go to guy. Adebayor in 2008 was far better. Jenkinson I can live with. Our defense is solid, and our midfield has options. But half-assing it without a top striker is criminal really. And if Wenger passes on the chance to get one this winter, you can bet your ass this’ll be another trophy-less season. Which is a shame, because with Chelsea defending the way they are, ManC being inconsistent, and ManU having a stinker, the league is for the taking, just like it was in 2011, and we all know how that one ended.

    The only thing that’s good and positive about this tough patch is that Wenger and the board won’t go into Jan thinking what they have is good enough, at least I hope they don’t. We’ll surely drop points from here until new year, and that could force them into bringing in the quality we need. Sorta like what happened after losing 8-2 to ManU, SOB didn’t appear as though he’ll sign anybody until we got our asses handed to us that day. I’m not saying it’s anywhere near as bad as then, I’m just saying Wenger sometimes needs to be pushed into bringing quality, otherwise he’ll just play with what he has.

  23. unhappy gunner

    The city game now is a massive one. If we lose on saturday I think it could break us for the rest of the season, physcologically. People asking for transfers in January but realistically who the hell are we going to get who’ll improve the team? Any striker anygood will more then likely still be in CL with their current team so I think january transfer window for us is a busted flush.

  24. Ilerioluwa

    IF IMMEDIATELY after the aston villa debacle, a lot of arsenal fans will have been happy with a 2nd place final position at that point.
    Does that mean if we go to the final game at everton needing only a point to win the league, a 2 0 loss to them is acceptable

  25. tunnygriffboy

    Arteta 33/34, Rosicky 33/34, Flamini 29/30. All 3 together in midfield? We missed driving play of Rambo and Wilshere in centre. Also no one to push them back on the flanks. As someone said we made their LB look like Roberto Carlos

  26. Thorough

    Wont we be better off trying Vermaelen as our defensive midfielder if these stories about Bender in the summer have legs? We try Flamini and Arteta because we need their collective qualities in the team but we actually shoudl be looking for all of those qualities in a single player, not two. Ideally a WC defensive midfielder should tackle well (Flamini) and walk the ball up the field fairly well (Arteta). Wiser teams have this in one player, Arturo Vidal a prime example. If we must get that player in the summer then Vermaelen could be a great stop gap: hard as nails, deals well with aerial threats, not the worst passer of the ball and shoots well whenever he forays. No?

  27. tunnygriffboy

    Ilerioluwa

    I see your point. We had got ourselves into great position and should have secured a point. The performance dis appointed me and the set up of the team. We created so little.

    However we are in the hat and at least we have an opportunity to go through. Also we may have 1 or 2 additions by then ( he says hopefully ). I’d love to get some pace and power somewhere.

  28. Thorough

    Unhappy Gunner. It is not difficult for a rich club to get a striker better than Giroud in January. If we cant pull that off then we shouldn’t be in business.

  29. rickybel

    Top of the group from matchday 1
    Surrendered it late on matchday 6
    Hope our league position doesn’t mirror this come may 2014

  30. Uchmangunnernaija

    Does that mean if we go to the final game at everton needing only a point to win the league, a 2 0 loss to them is acceptable

    This! I’m beginning to question if those people spouting this crap are real Arsenal fans. The fact that we weren’t expected to go through doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to lose the game yesterday when we had our fate in our own hands. We just needed a draw to top. Some Arsenal fans just have this losers mentality

  31. tunnygriffboy

    Just seen Lewandowskis goal from last night. Giroud wouldnt have scored it as his pace wouldnt have got him to the ball

    City in the same boat as us re the draw but they dont appear to be getting as much stick as us!

  32. TheBayingMob

    We could face … Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona. I’d take Barca this time round actually, we are due a win and a bit of luck, but that looks a really tough draw whoever we get.

  33. gazzap

    Arteta’s sending off was not bad luck. It was waiting to happen. no coincidence that he was sent off against Palace as well. I think his legs have gone a bit and it is making him more reckless. He doesn’t feel he can recover if a player goes past him so he is getting too close and physical. Flamini is head and shoulders above Arteta.

  34. gambon

    “We made the quarter finals. Stop bitch moaning about this & that & be grateful of what position we’re in.”

    Erm no we didnt you silly wanker.

    We made the second round, where we will routinely be beaten as we always are!

  35. Jeff

    Arteta should have been substituted in the second half before he had a chance to do any more damage but Wenger stuck to his plan (whatever that was) and left him on. Instead he brought on Ramsey for Cazorla. Now Cazorla wasn’t playing particularly well but at least he wasn’t an immediate liability like Arteta. We went into that game with a disposition to defend in order to secure a draw and it was going well till the final third of the game when we started making mistakes and slowly but surely broke down big time and very nearly put ourselves out of the competition altogether.

    I think we have to put most of the blame on Wenger’s lack of tactics to do the right thing according to how the game is going rather than stick to a predetermined script no matter what. Last night was a classic example of what not to do as a manager when it is obvious the game is slipping from your hands.

    I hope this isn’t the start of a collapse – the ugly signs are there though.

  36. peanuts&monkeys

    Per Mert is right. But, he has said half of what is the truth. Arsene’s weak squad has been largely lucky so far. As Ilerioluwa wrote so correctly, Ramsey has been doing the striker’s role and he has played his bit. I fear that Wenger’s luck has run out now.

  37. peanuts&monkeys

    Nobody can justify buying a player for 42 Mill and not backing him up with strikers of even half that price. I wonder what was the story behind it all. Let Sagna not sign if Wenger doesn’t buy a WC striker this January.

    But, whom will he buy…does he know?

  38. peanuts&monkeys

    @Jeff,

    Lack of tactics from a manager of EPL leaders is unpardonable. And, who doesnt know that Wenger has been tactless for the last 5 seasons. He has simply run out of time to produce brilliant ideas. Years of mid-table performance, and surrender and sacrifoce of ambition has not allowed Wenger to grow beyond what he was in 2005.

    The best way to substitute a dumb manager is to have a tactful leader on the pitch…which Vieira pointed. I think he was correct.

  39. peanuts&monkeys

    Why rely on players’ mental strength when you can pep them up with prospects of winning atrophy thise year. An ambitious and buoyant spirit is always better than the mental strength required to be pulled out of the brain’s wrong places. And, Wenger can genuinely allow the players to play with spirit rather than pushing their nerves. Only if he assures them with actions that winners will join the team in January. The current thin squad is nearing a stage of fatigue.

  40. Wengers Plastic Bottle

    How can most of us fans see that red coming

    except Wenger?

    Mourinho says in training even a dummy could score against their defence

    Wenger knows he facked up!

    and doesn’t even say well Arteta really should of been careful , whether it was a dive or not

  41. Musketeer

    @Bamford13

    So I”m with you on that, though I doubt I place as much faith in our current genuine wide players as you do.

    What is Arsene hiding? We have had to put up with a player groomed since the age of 16 instead of purchasing a true wide player, if Wenger does not trust a man who score 21 goals and assisted 15 last season, how does he expect anyone else to, that is why there will always be criticism.

    Wenger preaches we will always try stick to our philosophy and play the Arsenal way, which is attacking football by the way, yet bottles a 3 goal lead and won’t even attempt to come out against a team shipping goals.

    He says what he wants when it suits him and always contradicts it later, falsifying it altogether.

    We cannot hide against City, question is can we punch above weight all season long? City at least with defensive errors can be beaten if Wenger picks the right team and fatigue has not ravished those that were at least performing previously, the second half will be very interesting indeed.