Invincibles: A beautiful past that should fuel a spectacular future

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I managed to pick up an invite to the premiere of the documentary Arsenal commissioned into the Invincibles. It was held at a very sweet little cinema in Hampstead. I approached the door, there was a cameraman. The sign on the door said ’50 Shades’… that panic moment when you think you’re going to watch football but realise you might have to watch a sex film about hardcore bondage.

Anyway, fears soon alleviated. Sol Campbell just inside the door looking smart and slightly glazed as usual. Paul Davies with his son or young lover. Bobby P standing next to me for one, sweet, sweet moment. All a bit weird. All a bit sexy. Then I saw Ray Parlour and thought, if he had his own culturally relevant documentary right now… it’d be called ’50 Shades of Ray’.

Anyway, as you can see, I’m writing this instead of mingling. I don’t really care much for famous people, but there’s something very grounding about standing next to your childhood heroes. You realise you’ve achieved nothing next to those guys and in some cases, you’re just never to be that damn handsome.

Those chaps blew my mind. So many beautiful moments. So many iconic memories. So much good feeling. To be in the same room as so many of them was embarrassingly scary.

The guy who led the charge on the documentary stepped up to say some words. I think it’s important to note that this documentary felt more like a brand introduction piece. Taking one of the greatest stories of modern football and introducing people to the Arsenal brand. It was put quite nicely…

‘Teaching the world what it is to be Arsenal’

I also think it’s worth mentioning it wasn’t heavily funded and it was created as a side project. This production is a labour of love, which I can’t help but admire, because documentary making is a slog.

The story was fronted by 6 people. Wenger, Sol, Jens, Keown, Parlour and Thierry. They talked through some entertaining moments. Wenger said the players ‘in their own way, blamed me for the collapse the seasons before’, because he put too much pressure on the players.

Jens was the star of the show. He has Mourinho like arrogance about him. I’m sure he’d either make a spectacularly bad manager or an absolute hero of one. There’d be no middle ground there. He was major banter from start to finish.

It was also notable that the club had all but expunged Ashley Cole from proceedings. Amazing really. A player who wouldn’t contribute to Amy Lawrence’s book, cut out of history. I’m sure he’ll stick a middle finger up at us with his Champions League medal, but ultimately, it’s a sad story for me. He’ll never be loved by anyone. But there you go, up to him.

Arsene Wenger was good fun. Very humble, very open. It all got a bit sycophantic at the end. The marketer in me kind of feels like the club go hardcore on things like that to remind fans that Wenger was once a magical wizard of a manager. His vision no doubt carried us through those years, it’s just a shame he can’t find it in himself to reignite that side of his game.

The best part about the documentary is the secret fist pumping every time we scored a goal. You relive it. Your heart starts pumping even though you know the score. The goals, the power, the pace, the skill… the tension, the fight, the passion… so much to enjoy about that team. A group of gladiators who went to war on the pitch, even in training. All driven by the goal of winning the leagye. All driven by the team, not the individual. Such a well spent hour…

A great story and well worth watching.

I guess the second part of the story we’ll get in years to come. I want to hear about the fights. I want to hear about grit. I want to know the inner workings of how that squad was built. I WANT IT ALL.

But hey, I’m a nerd of a fan. The documentary wasn’t about that side of things and I think the Arsenal Media team have done a terrific job condensing an incredible sporting achievement into a one hour special. They should all be proud and you should be too when you watch it this Wednesday.

My final point is this… I’m all for celebrating these achievements. But we need to move on from this. The club need to craft the next generation of ‘wow’. I don’t want to get into a situation where we’re 1966ing it because it’s all we have. We need to create the next chapter. The invincibles will never be forgotten, but if we want to be classed as a giant of a club, we have to build something that will eclipse that achievement… because here’s the thing, if you tell yourself that achievement can never be surpassed, you’ll always be chained to the past and you’ll always have an excuse for failing to hit the right standards.

We’re still fighting big money, but we have big money as well. If our only answer to big money is to give up, then we’re doomed from the start. Money doesn’t mean intelligence. It doesn’t mean drive. It doesn’t mean creativity. Arsenal need to reframe the battle. We need to work out where we can win. Where can we find those extra percentage points we’ve lost over the last ten years. We need to consider every single detail. Sport is littered with stories of teams who refused to accept the status quo. The invincibles didn’t accept the status quo which stated categorically no team could go invincible. We shouldn’t accept that money wins out… we need to go toe-to-toe in a different way.

We need to find a new path to greatness and use the Invincibles as a benchmark, not a distant unattainable pipedream.

Anyway, tune in below.

NBC: Sunday

Sky Sports: This Wednesday at 10.15pm

413 Responses to “Invincibles: A beautiful past that should fuel a spectacular future”

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  1. Romford Ozil Pele

    “Money doesn’t mean intelligence. It doesn’t mean drive. It doesn’t mean creativity. Arsenal need to reframe the battle.”

    Amen.

    I’ll have to record the documentary as I won’t be back from the game in time.

  2. Leedsgunner

    “Why would you be looking forward to the day one of our players is “exposed”
    He has been such an influential player since December and a big driving force behind our renaissance.
    Why not cheer the players in iur team and will them to succeed and improve??
    Instead you seeth behind your screen, willing our players to fail.”

    100% agreed.

    I’m not pointing any fingers at any one person but I as a Gooner, don’t understand this at all.

    It’s the same mentality that says I wishes us to lose so that Wenger is humiliated.

    I want Wenger out more than anything but I will never willingly wish the team to lose.

    When they are on the field, playing in the Red and White — they have my support all the way for 90+ minutes.

    Why?

    The team is more than Wenger. When we want the team or a player to fail because one’s distaste of Wenger, I would suggest that one fails into the same trap as the so- called AKBs thinking that the club stops with Wenger. It doesn’t. Long after Wenger goes Arsenal Football club will carry on.

    Therefore, one would only want people to fail because you want to be proved right more than wanting the team to succeed, I suspect. I’m firmly in the Wenger Out camp, but if the team won the EPL or the Champion’s League this year, there would be no one happier north of the M25! Why? At the end of the day I’m an Arsenal FC fan and I want the team to succeed more than to be proved right.

    I’ve had my doubts about Giroud, and have said so publicly on here, but I’m pleased he’s doing well. Same with Walcott.

    I’m pleased Coquelin is doing welll, he’s by no means the finished product but he’s the best we got and I’ll support him. Come the summer we must sign another DM to teach him to become WC.

    Likewise with Wilshere, if it was up to me he would be sold for the greater benefit of the team this summer. However, if he demonstrates for the rest of the season that he can stay fit, focussed and contribute to the team’s success I will hold up my hands and be happy to be proved wrong. He needs to prove he’s over his injury problems though.

    I mean where is the joy if you want your team to lose?

  3. Lee

    Leeds
    Good attitude
    Not sure I agree with selling wilshire.
    Gerrard didn’t step up until he was 23-24 and got over his youthful injury run.
    Wilshire can dominate out midfield with someone minding him.
    He could even add a petit esqe grit to his game.
    Give these boys a season without injury please and then let’s judge them

  4. Goondawg

    Good post Leeds,my sentiments exactly

    For 90 mins I will support the boys as long as they give it their all. I agree we need replacements for Arteta and Podolski, perhaps even a keeper. Would love us to try poach Lewandowski from Bayern since he has fallen out of favour with Pep

  5. Le Prof

    Bumford

    ‘but I do look forward to that moment in the future when Coquelin gets exposed for the average and inadequate player that he is: I’m going to have a field day with it.’

    Like I said just keep talking to expose what a clown you actually are.

    Please do us a favour and do as you said you would and stop ‘supporting’ and watching us.

    You’re nothing but a plastic fuck and we don’t need you.

  6. Blsany

    Lee
    Gerrard was never any good had the privilege of playing with Alonso.I say sell these english players while their stock is high.Foreigners win you titles the more the better.

  7. Leedsgunner

    Lee

    “Gerrard didn’t step up until he was 23-24 and got over his youthful injury run.”

    If that is true — all the more reason why Wilshere needs to pull his finger out and change his attitude. He could be such an awesome player if he had the right mentality to learn, the hunger to improve and the right work ethic. At the moment, he’s just living on fumes from that ONE night in 2011.

  8. shad

    @Goondawg,

    Not sure I agree on one of your fronts;

    Wilshere thriving next to Le Coq Blocker. Wilshere needs to go back to the basics, perfect the bursting past players and quick release passes. Right now he and Ramsey suffer the same problem. Clinging on to the ball, forcing play when it’s easier to let the ball run. He can be a deep lying DM – but again, that’s dependent on if his ankles will let him get stuck in. Probably not. As an AM, he is a bit too limited for my liking. He’d be ok, not great.

    Agree on Lewa. though. He’d be a perfect replacement for Giroud. And he’s world class.

  9. Dissenter

    We are not going to get a replacement for Podolski. He has only one year left on his mega transfer and he’ll be selfie-ing his way through it.
    Arteta is probably going to leave. The fact that Arsenal haven’t confirmed his contract extension says a lot. He’s permanently crocked and will be eased out.

  10. Leedsgunner

    “Poor Brooklyn.”

    Romford,

    Brooklyn, maybe many things but one thing he isn’t is poor. I mean you do realise who he’s parents are right? 😉 He probably has m ore money in his piggy bank than most UK families earn in a year…

    Poor, indeed 😉

  11. gambon

    “Gerrard didn’t step up until he was 23-24 and got over his youthful injury run.”

    Gerrard is a different level of player to Wilshere.

    Remember him bossing the game against Germany in 2001 at the age of 21.

    I was a huge fan of Jack and was talking about him before anyone else, but he hasnt progressed, in fact he’s a worse player now than he was at 18.

    Hes no different to Benik Afobe, well there is a difference, Jack keeps getting chances and Benik wasnt really given any.

  12. Dissenter

    Comparing Gerrard and Wilshere is a bid silly, ain’t it.

    They are on different planets. Wilshere has had how many ankle surgeries now? That’s changed the trajectory of his career. He’s never gone beyond potential. He’s all hype and bluster – the glass ankled gooner.

  13. shad

    @Dissenter,

    Agree. About damn time we start cutting off the dead wood. that’ll be 3 players off in the summer and a huge saving. Arteta, Diaby and Poldi off. Get in Pogba (echales and passes the peace pipe….)

    Oh and we can throw in Falmini there. Seems we will go hard for Schneiderlin though.

  14. Leedsgunner

    Romford

    I’m surprised Gazidas didn’t pull rank and “offer” Brooklyn a contract — can you imagine the shirt sales! 😉

  15. gambon

    Glad we didnt give Brooklyn a contract because of his name.

    No doubt he will be picked up by a team purely for this reason.

    He has a face you just want to punch as well.

  16. Leedsgunner

    *his parents — honestly I HATE autocorrect. Ironically installed to eliminate mistakes but it causes more errors…

  17. Dissenter

    I’ve never seen any one player change the course of a big game like Gerrard did at the 2005 CL final. Gerrard went beyond potential, that’s why scouters wil forgive him for falling on his bum at the worst possible moment.

    This just speaks the the level of hype that surrounds Jack…comparing him with Gerrard? Oh dear.

  18. Blsany

    karim
    All action B2B who couldnt be trusted to play through the middle by his own manager (Benitez) in his heyday.Was a good player.Still cant believe him Lampard forced Scholes into early retirement.Once his athleticism declined he is off to USA.Just look at his international record over 15 years.

  19. Dissenter

    You’ve got to feel sorry for Brooklyn though.
    How do you find motivation when you immersed in money and fame?
    How can he excell when he’s burdened with living in the shadow of a famous father.

  20. Romford Ozil Pele

    “You’ve got to feel sorry for Brooklyn though.
    How do you find motivation when you immersed in money and fame?”

    What makes you think it’s a case of motivation? My guess is that there are probably better 15-year-olds at Arsenal already.

  21. peanuts&monkeys

    Glory days, well they’ll pass you by.
    Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye.
    Glory days, glory days.

    This is exactly what i remember whenever i find Arsenal, its fans and few blog writers live on past glory.

    Shameless Arsenal.

  22. gambon

    Arsenals youth teams are terrible so that doesnt say a lot about Brooklyn.

    Im not sure its possible to become a top footballer if you have that level of money//fame as a kid.

  23. peanuts&monkeys

    All this shit about THE INVINCIBLES:

    Glory days, well they’ll pass you by.
    Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye.
    Glory days, glory days.

    This is exactly what i remember whenever i find Arsenal, its fans and few blog writers live on past glory.Shameless Arsenal.

  24. BCB25

    Wilshire was overplayed as a youngster Michael Owen style. However I think its harsh to write him off, it takes anyone a run of at least 5 games after an injury to start performing, and he has rarely had that in the last few years. And when he did earlier in the season he did start to play well ( vs City and United other than the sitter he missed). He was playing better than Ramsey until the injury.

  25. Wallace

    gambon

    i think any serious Arsenal fan was aware of Wilshere from about age 14 onwards.

    Gerrard suffered with injuries until 23/24 but he was brilliant from the start.

  26. Goondawg

    Problem with Wilshere is he is too injury prolific. And he falls down too much for my liking. And he’s an arrogant so-and-so that likes to get in to people’s faces which can be mistaken for passion, but more oft than not is just acting like a proper cunt. Plus he’s always caught having a smoke. So quite a few problems actually. I think it was Guardiola who said that wilshere was good, but nothing special. And that in Spain there is 100s of Wilshere but because he is English he is overhyped. To an extent I agree. He hasn’t lived up to his potential. Time is still on his side, and it will be good to assess him properly Injury-free next to a proper DM

  27. Romford Ozil Pele

    “Arsenals youth teams are terrible so that doesnt say a lot about Brooklyn.”

    True, but in the case of Brooklyn, you would’ve thought there’d be more fan fare around him if he was all that.

    Only players from the reserves that interest me are Crowley and Willock.

  28. Romford Ozil Pele

    “Why? What did he say?”

    Said that a lot of the Spanish players have told about how good English football is and that he’d love to try his hand over here. When you’ve already completed football at his age, it’s not really a surprise tbh.

  29. Goondawg

    Brooklyn only got boosted up because all the u18s and u16s went to the Al-ass cup or some shit. The coaches politely put him down, saying he is good, but frankly there are better kids in his age group who are developed further. Cruz is the one they will mould into an arsenal player.

  30. Leedsgunner

    “Arsenals youth teams are terrible so that doesnt say a lot about Brooklyn.”

    Agreed. With the financial muscle, scouting network and the facilities we supposedly have we should be doing much better.

    Respected Liam Brady as a player but to be honest, he didn’t do us any favours as Academy director has he?

    Didn’t we get knocked out of the FA Youth Cup last night vs. Crewe? Although to be fair Crewe does have an excellent record of bringing youth players through to the top level. Dario Gradi is a genius in developing youth players… We could learn a thing or two from him about spotting and developing young talent.

  31. Kane

    Pogba – 70m?!?!? hahahahaa gotta love those rag tops!

    does put it into perspective though – how much would Patrick Vieira in his prime be worth in today’s market?

  32. Bamford10

    Just so my position is not misrepresented, I will re-post.
    _______

    Apologies to Le Grove — but not to those I insulted — for my shrill tone last night. I will try to be nicer going forward. But people who think that Coquelin should be first-choice CDM next year — and not backup to a better player — are moronic.

    He is simply not good enough on either side of the ball, and even if he were a better pure defensive player than he is — he’s being overrated at moment on this front — we need someone who tackles AND who is polished on the ball.

    Coquelin is not that. Sorry.

    I’m tired of this argument, though, so I’m going to leave it, but I do look forward to that moment in the future when Coquelin gets exposed for the average and inadequate player that he is: I’m going to have a field day with it.

    I also look forward to seeing Giroud show us his mettle against United in the FA Cup. Guarantee he does nothing in that game.

    To a better Arsenal. To a better Le Grove. 😉
    _______

    Tone of voice aside, my position is no different from Leeds’ view above, or that of any reasonable observer: I appreciate what Coq has done for the team, but he is not good enough for our starting XI if we want to win a title.

    We need better.

  33. Le Prof

    gambon

    ‘Remember him bossing the game against Germany in 2001 at the age of 21.’

    Remember him coming on against the Gerries in Euro 2000 as well and in the space of 5 minutes had megged Hamann and absolutely smashed him.

    JW and SG both midfielders totally different animals, Wilshere will never have the pace, power or shot power Gerrard did in his prime that made him so effective.

    JW has other attributes like his dribbling, and technique that are better than Gerrard’s but if JW can become half as efficient as SG then we’ll have a decent player.

    It’s silly comparing the two though cos he literally is a modern day Roy of the Rovers.

  34. Romford Ozil Pele

    Nambian, it’s on the ESPN website, but he was talking in the build-up to the City game.

    Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has revealed his admiration for the Premier League, claiming that he would like the experience of playing in England one day.

    Busquets, 26, is one of the most coveted defensive midfielders in the game, having risen through the ranks at Barcelona to become among the best in the world in the position. He has always claimed he wants to stay at the Camp Nou, but admitted that a future move could be a possibility as he prepares to face Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday.

    “I envy everything. I admire the Premier League for the quality and style of football. Maybe after years playing the same style you tire of it, and football there is very different.

    “Stadiums are full, pitches are good, the press is different, people are different, the football culture is different. Everyone talks highly of England and I’d like to experience it one day. You see more space, more opportunity to enjoy your football.

    The Spain international has received plenty of praise over the years from the likes of Johan Cruyff, who said he was “a gift for any manager;” Pep Guardiola, who called him “priceless;” and current boss Luis Enrique has spoken about him as “almost perfect.”

    Indeed, he would not be short of suitors in England and Busquets thinks his style could suit the Premier League.

    “English football’s more about intensity; here it’s more tactical,” he explains. “The pivot is more about being tactically astute than physically dominant: thinking, calculating, offering solutions, defensively and offensively. Control everything.

    “Positioning is key. Barcelona’s style means that defensively you deal mainly with counter-attacks — not stopping them, preventing them. If you defend high, it’s a long way back towards your own goal, so you need to prevent those breaks.”

    Busquets also revealed that he very much enjoys the game he plays, and that he is happy for others in the Barcelona team to take the spotlight.

    “I don’t want people talking about me, for good or bad. I don’t do many interviews. I don’t have Twitter,” he added. “As kids we’d be forever shooting at dad [the then Barcelona goalkeeper, Carles] and I started as a striker. But I eventually became a pivote, the position I like most and best suits my characteristics.

    “Forwards get the plaudits and goals are football’s essence. But I’m not selfish like that, I don’t long for praise or the lead role.

    “I’d rather the strikers scored [than me]; they live off goals. I don’t care. If I did, I wouldn’t play in this position. I love my role, I love the job I do.”

  35. Willow Wilson

    Pedro
    “The sign on the door said ’50 Shades’… that panic moment when you think you’re going to watch football but realise you might have to watch a sex film about hardcore bondage”.

    A bit like turning up at Stoke when Pulis was the Manager.

  36. Romford Ozil Pele

    Just looking at Monaco’s defensive record, it’s really really good. Passing is going to have to be sharp and incisive tomorrow to open them up. Patience may be key too.

  37. bennydevito

    Morning/afternoon Grovers,

    Good post Pedro but you do yourself a disservice. I think co-foundling LeGrove but then taking it out of the back bedroom and making it one of the leading Arsenal blogs around with a global following is a massive achievement and something you should be proud of. I’m proud of LeGrove, love it, love you and love all the Grovers that make this what it is. Man love, not gay love. You know what I mean.

  38. Leedsgunner

    If you had a boy who was good enough to play pro football would you send him to Arsenal right now if you had a choice? It’s hard to speculate on a fantasy… as much as I would LOVE to see my wee lad in Arsenal colours, if I was in such a position, I don’t know I would at the moment.

    Southampton, Crewe are probably the best youth set ups in the country. I know at the moment even Leeds United are producing first teamers at more of a regular rate.

    What are they doing we are not doing? Ironically, Soton’s youth coaches, Jason Dodd and Paul Campbell(?) were fired a while back… we should have picked them up.

  39. Wallace

    Busquets would have to calm down the playacting if he does fancy a move to the PL. pretty hard to dislike any Barcelona player of the last 10yrs but Busquets in the games against us was always a bit of a dick.

  40. Romford Ozil Pele

    “If you had a boy who was good enough to play pro football would you send him to Arsenal right now if you had a choice?”

    Well look at this way, why do the likes of Beckham and Wise have their sons in Arsenal’s academy? It’s to improve their technical capacity. Generally speaking England are getting better at producing talents but it was lacking for a long while. While the Arsenal youth results aren’t always great, it’s about giving the children that foundation and education to grow. You teach the fundamentals first and the rest comes later. It’s the same reason Pires’ son is in the academy and until RVP left, pretty sure his son was also there. The academy isn’t perfect, of course but for improving technically, it’s great.

  41. Alfie

    “Just looking at Monaco’s defensive record, it’s really really good. Passing is going to have to be sharp and incisive tomorrow to open them up. Patience may be key too.”

    Not being funny but so was Middlesbrough’s.

    We should be rolling Monaco over no question. When you are relying on a 46 year old Berbatov than you know you don’t cut the mustard.

  42. london gunner

    “but I do look forward to that moment in the future when Coquelin gets exposed for the average and inadequate player that he is”

    Why do you want the negative to happen? I don’t think Giroud is good enough, but I don’t want him to fail to prove my point i’d rather he score for Arsenal.

    schneiderlin should be brought in the summer and Coq should be kept as a rotation option.

    Also think about when we need to play ultra defensive and park the bus Scneiderlin and Coq would be a very athletic tough tackling combo in the middle

  43. Le Prof

    Bumford

    ‘but I do look forward to that moment in the future when Coquelin gets exposed for the average and inadequate player that he is: I’m going to have a field day with it.’

    Your position wasn’t misrepresented the 1st time so just repeating it makes you sound like an even bigger twat.

    Outside of Santi you’re trying to mug off the two form players in the team for the last 2-3 months and are excelling, so you haven’t got a leg to stand on.

    You need to catch up with what’s actually happening in the real world.

    Bamford’s Bafoonery Scale needs tweaking pal….upgrade Giroud and Coquelin to top performing first teamers and downgrade Jonny Evans from world class to under performing squad player just for starters..

  44. Leedsgunner

    I wonder why when we purchased Alexis Sanchez did we not do a player + plus cash deal, with TV5 going the other way? Perhaps in the way the cash payments were structured?

  45. Romford Ozil Pele

    “Busquets would have to calm down the playacting if he does fancy a move to the PL. ”

    This doesn’t bother me too much as long as his quality shines on the pitch. Arsenal fans like to paint ourselves as squeaky clean but we have a bad bunch too, both on and off the pitch. I’ve been at games where we’ve chanted pretty distasteful stuff about Spurs… We all know about ex-players too. We don’t even pay staff the London living wage, and considering our finances, it’s pretty pathetic. We can’t try to paint ourselves as above board when we’re definitely not. Nothing wrong with characters anyway, too many flower boys in the team. Jens was great but if he didn’t play for my club I’d probably hate him. Our greatest eevr player cheated to get France to a World Cup. Remember Eduardo’s dive a few seasons back. We’re not perfect by any stretch.

  46. Leedsgunner

    Great points Romford @ 1246 as always… 😉

    Do you think the AFC youth set is as close as we can get to the La Masia model in England?

  47. Romford Ozil Pele

    “Not being funny but so was Middlesbrough’s.”

    You’re really comparing Monaco and ‘Boro. Monaco won their CL group conceding just one goal. I’d love for Arsenal to do this. Obviously we have better players than them, but matters squat in the grand scheme of things when teams like Bradford and Blackburn have knocked us out of cup competitions in recent years.

  48. Romford Ozil Pele

    “Do you think the AFC youth set is as close as we can get to the La Masia model in England?”

    Not really sure, don’t understand the inner workings of La Masia. But Gibbs, Le Coq, Jack have all come through in recent years. Bar Cole, Wenger was pretty much reluctant to dip into the reserves/youth team at all in his early years. Generally speaking, it’s hard for young players to come through at the top level. Think of the level we’re aspiring to. Unless you’re great, you won’t make it, that’s what made it all the more special when JW had the debut season that he did. Most Arsenal academy players end up having a decent career anyway, whether that be PL/Championship/League 1, so we’re not doing too badly in the grand scheme of things.

  49. WengerEagle

    It’s funny, Monaco have seemed to have gone the way of Malaga and Anzhi where the Sugar Daddy billionaire has woke up one day and thought ‘do you know what, this isn’t for me anymore’, something which potentially could happen at any of Man City, PSG or even Chelsea.

    Not that the latter 3 would be as impacted by it (City maybe because their squad is ageing) as they have already built up their squads.

    Fragile position to be in nonetheless.

    RE Monaco we should beat them at the Emirates but I’d definitely be wary of them as they are more than capable of grinding out a scoreless draw, they concede very few goals and have a few excellent midfielders in Moutinho, Toulalan and Kondogbia. Kurzawa the LB is an terrific footballer too.

    Berbatov is still dangerous too, never relied on pace so age won’t matter.

    If I were to predict a result however I’d say we’ll win 1-0 which would be a good result.

  50. Le Prof

    LG

    ‘schneiderlin should be brought in the summer and Coq should be kept as a rotation option.’

    Agreed it shouldn’t be either or, it should be both. Not necessarily even Scheiderlin but we know we need an extra body in MF to improve the squad.
    Now the calibre of players we bring in should be pushing for a starting spot, this in turn increasing competition and raising performance levels.

  51. Northbanker

    Romford

    agreed but everything is relative. Compared with Chelsea – players, manager and fans – we look pretty good. Anyone who’s been to an away game there or Tottenham will appreciate what we’ve got.

  52. Leedsgunner

    “It’s funny, Monaco have seemed to have gone the way of Malaga and Anzhi where the Sugar Daddy billionaire has woke up one day and thought ‘do you know what, this isn’t for me anymore’, something which potentially could happen at any of Man City, PSG or even Chelsea.”

    WengerEagle — when and if it does happen I’ll laugh, laugh, and laugh…. 😉

  53. Lee

    Leeds

    The comparison want based on their attributes as they are totally different. It’s based on potential at the same junction in their respective careers.
    At this age Gerrad was only just beginning to beat his injuries and stamp his authority on matches.
    Wilshire has promised So much already. If he stays for he can be our talisman

  54. Northbanker

    I also have major doubts over Jack but we need to persevere. Give him cameo roles on his return until he earns a place in his own right. Meanwhile the pursuit of WC marquee signings should continue.

    I think a Pogba deal could really be on – Ozil was inconceivable until it happened. We are moving slowly into the big boys league – esp now City and Chelsea are having to play ball with finances. New TV deal could also influence this in our favour.

  55. Alfie

    RP –

    Not comparing them per se, but this is the first time Monaco have qualified in 10 years. There best player is Kondogbia – we should be turning these teams over as standard.

    Not really bothered about previous defensive attributes, we are Arsenal FC aren’t we?? 😉

  56. WengerEagle

    It won’t happen at Chelsea because to be fair to Abramovich he does seem to genuinely love his football.

    I’d be amazed if the PSG owner wasn’t losing patience at this stage though, not even top of Ligue 1 having ploughed hundreds of millions of euros into the squad.

  57. Romford Ozil Pele

    “agreed but everything is relative. Compared with Chelsea – players, manager and fans – we look pretty good. Anyone who’s been to an away game there or Tottenham will appreciate what we’ve got.”

    Sorry, may have missed your point?

  58. Dream10

    Liverpool seem to be a doing good job of signing young players from other English clubs. Sterling, Ibay and Sinclair. Any of you who keep up with youth football familiar with Jerome Sinclair? Seems to be doing well as he as 21 goals in all youth competitions.

  59. Romford Ozil Pele

    “Not comparing them per se, but this is the first time Monaco have qualified in 10 years. There best player is Kondogbia – we should be turning these teams over as standard.”

    Kondogbia is up there but Moutinho is the best for me. They also have a cracking talent called Carrasco we’ll have to watch out for. In Kurzawa they have one of the best young FBs in the world so they’re definitely no chumps. Granted we should beat them, but we support Arsenal, we go from the sublime to the ridiculous very quickly so i’m wary!

    Like Eagle says, any clean sheet win is great. 2-0 would be perfect but even 1-0 is fine. Monaco are very capable of closing up shop. They did it to us in the Emirates Cup (I know it’s only pre-season) and they’ve lost one of their last 17 so their form is good too. Should win, yes. But it’s not guaranteed.

  60. Romford Ozil Pele

    I’ve always thought PSG had more money than sense. When you spend 50m euros on Luiz, there’s definitely a loose screw in there.

  61. WengerEagle

    ‘There best player is Kondogbia – we should be turning these teams over as standard.’

    It’s not, Moutinho is and he would start for us, quality footballer.

    These are no mugs, they topped a group with Benfica, Leverkusen and Zenit which was a tricky one as all 3 of these are good sides.

    It’s more than you can say for us, we finished 2nd in a group where 2 of the 4 teams are poor.

  62. Romford Ozil Pele

    Ibe is serious. Remember watching him at 17 and thinking he’d be better than Sterling. Hsan’t transpired that way. He’s a year younger than Raheem but till very god himself.

  63. underrated Coq

    Wallace

    “Busquets would have to calm down the playacting if he does fancy a move to the PL. ”

    Agreed. No doubting the quality of Busquets but he does have that bad side to his game. He is known to make a meal out of the slightest touches by opposition players isn’t he ?

    While that doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal in Spain, it doesn’t seem to be the case in in the PL. One of the reasons Suarez was hated was precisely that– he dived for minimal contacts and often tried conning the referee into sending off the opposition player.

    Also, I can’t help but feel the Barcelona system makes Busquets look even better than he is. We Arsenal fans have been marveling at Alexis Sanchez’s work rate but you gotta remember Alexis got that ingrained into him at Barca.

    The entire Barca team does what Alexis does at Arsenal. They defend as a unit from front to back and its probably safe to say that Barca’s system makes Busquets job a lot more easier.

  64. Blsany

    Arsene Weger
    “Born Winner, shame Arsenal cannot live up to his expectation. He should have been at a bigger club.”

  65. karim

    Eagle

    Qatar bought Psg for political reasons more than economical ones.
    They are a tiny country and they re trying to make a name geopolitically because they fear their neighbours might attack one day.

    buying the club and bidding for the WC was just part of a broader strategy.

  66. Dream10

    Eagle

    Moutinho is quality. Had a spectacular Euro 2012. Would be an excellent upgrade for us in the CM area.

    Bakayoko has good stats in midfield as well, but believe he is injured.

  67. Romford Ozil Pele

    “We Arsenal fans have been marveling at Alexis Sanchez’s work rate but you gotta remember Alexis got that ingrained into him at Barca.”

    Huh? He was doing that before Barca mate.

    “They defend as a unit from front to back and its probably safe to say that Barca’s system makes Busquets job a lot more easier.”

    Of course, and that’s how every team should be but to try and downplay the role of Busquets is silly. At 26 he’s already won everything in world football. The art of a DM is interception – Busquets is the best at that. The way you describe him, it seems like you don’t watch him much.

    And I hate the way people are like ‘over there in Spain’, as if we in England are squeaky clean. The likes of Gerrard/Rooney have been diving for years, but it’s only a foreign thing isn’t it?

  68. WengerEagle

    Over £120 million spent on Pastore, Lavezzi and Cavani too Romford, the former who deosn’t even always start and is riddled by inconsistency, the latter who’s a world class CF being played on the wing and Lavezzi who while dangerous on his day is largely inconsistent and a bit average.

    How much have they spent on their 3 Brazilian CB’s in total? Must be well over £100 million.

    Ironic that their best player was also by far their best deal, £15 million for Ibra really was a steal.

  69. Romford Ozil Pele

    Eagle, pretty much. There’s spending money and there’s spending it sensibly. They didn’t need Luiz. They need more creativity. For all the money they’ve spent, they’re not exactly an efficient entity. Look at what Lyon and Marseille have been doing on a 1/10th of the money.

  70. WengerEagle

    karim

    Thanks, explains a lot actually.

    I’ve read a couple of interviews with the owner and he seems like a very relaxed guy with a lot of patience.

    PSG were a sleeping giant as they are the only top football club in Paris so he saw the monster potential they had too.

  71. Relieable sauce

    Nice write up Pedro. I bet the invincibles smelled bloody lovely didnt they?

    Busquets is a dream of a player to have in your side. Great team ethic, tactically astute & he doesnt have a twitter account. Lets his football do the talking.

    lol at the commenter for FC’s new nickname “Le Coq blocker”.
    Was it inspired by Joey “cock knocker” Barton??

  72. WengerEagle

    Dream10

    Agree, am still scatching my head at why he’s at Monaco at 28 years of age when he should be in the prime of his career.

    Was obvious that Falcao and James were never going to hang around for long at Monaco, have to say that I’m very surprised Moutinho is still there.

    He’d easily start for us at CM.

  73. karim

    Romford

    They have unlimited resources and wanted the guy. Reminds of the Pastore deal at the beginning where they had to splash 42 million euros for a promising player. They needed a marquee signing.

  74. WengerEagle

    Funny that the witch-hunt for Di Maria is only now gathering pace in the press, they had the knives out on Ozil from the first whistle.

    And Di Maria cost nearly £20million more.

  75. underrated Coq

    Romford Ozil Pele

    QUOTE: “Of course, and that’s how every team should be but to try and downplay the role of Busquets is silly. ”

    Every player in Barca play a role in how they defend collectively. I did not try to downplay Busquets quality, I merely said the way Barca play helps him more than other DMs in other teams.

    He gets more protection, do you not agree..?

    QUOTE: “And I hate the way people are like ‘over there in Spain’, as if we in England are squeaky clean. The likes of Gerrard/Rooney have been diving for years, but it’s only a foreign thing isn’t it?”

    I’m not talking about the players, I’m talking more about the fans’, pundits’ perceptions. It appears antics like those are more frowned upon in England than in Spain. Wasn’t Suarez disliked for those reasons ?

  76. karim

    I hate the way Busquets acts sometimes but no doubt he s a mega talent.
    Wouldn’t be surprised if he likes Arsenal like most Barcelona players.

  77. WengerEagle

    West Ham have signed Nene?

    That lad was an absolute beast at PSG, best player in the league along with Hazard in his time there.

    Hope that someone signs Lisandro Lopez now, he’s a free agent after leaving his club in Qatar/UAE.

    Was one of my favourite players in Europe at Porto/Lyon.

  78. karim

    Eagle
    Think Lisandro just signed for a Brazilian team, can’t remember which.
    Agree about Nené, his only fault was that he wasn’t signed by Leonardo, and maybe his age.

    Used to score goals like Coutinho’s one on Sunday.

  79. Willow Wilson

    Leeds Gunner
    “If you had a boy who was good enough to play pro football would you send him to Arsenal right now if you had a choice?”

    Hell yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You really do like a moan.Now you say you wouldn’t want your son to play for our kids teams or be involved in the academy?

    I will let you in on a secret. Arsenal is one of the top clubs in Europe. Don’t tell everyone. Parents all over Europe would not be as unhappy as you to see their sons in the Arsenal youth set-up. They would be very proud. Even Spurs fans would appreciate what Arsenal are in terms of status and the facilities we offer.

    You ever been to an academy or are you just moaning because its your hobby?

    I go to Southend and West ham academies regularly, couple of times each month. I have also been to Orient, which is fantastic by the way. So too is Spurs to be fair. My Nephew is at West Ham and Southend, my best mate has his boy at Orient. I know a few people who work at Arsenal and I have been lucky to have been to the academy and spoken to a number of the coaches there. The tour I had of the facilities was breath taking, as too are the plans for Colney.

    The coaches speak very highly of a lot of the kids and the fact that so many have featured in the First team squad over the years. That’s an achievement. The club have a great reputation and are renowned for the fact that we give youngsters a chance. There are hopes for lots of the kids and youth team players. However, reality is that at all pro clubs, only a very small minority ever make it.

    The Arsenal academy is very impressive. The facilities, the quality of coaching and the way they treat the kids is exceptional. As an Arsenal fan, it means more to me of course, but that aside it is a place to be seen before you slate it.

    Personally, even if the academy was as bad as your imagination makes out; the pitches were worn and the goal posts covered in rust, I would still want my son at the club.

    I am also proud and pleased that TH14 is involved with the youth set-up. I am grateful that he does not feel as ashamed as you do about our great club.

  80. Le Prof

    WE

    ‘PSG were a sleeping giant as they are the only top football club in Paris so he saw the monster potential they had too.’

    I remember them the first time around when we played them en route to winning the CWC, i can vaguely remember the rest of the team but the 3 that stick in my mind were Rai, Ginola and Weah.

    Still don’t know how we beat those boys because they had a hell of team.

  81. The Postman

    Though I am sure it will be excellent, I wont be rushing to watch this invincibles documentary. For me there is no need to reminsce about past glories at this stage of the season. We are now at a point where we need to create new history.I have appreciated the 2003/04 team many many many time over the last decade through books and dvds so dont feel I need a sky documentary to show me how to appreciate it again.I don’t think any of us, fans and players, should be losing focus on the now though which is why I wish this documentary had waited till the Summer. We are at such an important part of the season. I personally believe the players don’t need to extra pressure of being reminded of how great the invincibles were when there are knockout games in the fa cup and ECL just around the corner. Inevitably, this documentary will once again lead to media and fans comparing this arsenal side to the 2004 team (as they have with past arsenal sides in the last ten years). “They lack this and they lack that” people will say. They don’t need to be told what they are not and how they don’t compare to the invicibles with such important games on the horizon. No team will be the invicibles. This side can achieve great things. They are arguably the best side we have had since 2004. I just feel they don’t they need reminding of what the invicibles did ten years ago. People who say what they did will spur the current team on, well did it spur on any of the other sides we have had in the last ten years? If anything it was a hindrance as they always had to deal with the mental aspects of knowing they were following the greatest team in EPL history. With this team however you can sense there is a clear identity to it (much in the way the 2004 team had one too) and we (fans and players) shouldn’t lose focus on that.

  82. SpanishDave

    Send Stan a copy of the Invinciples, he then can see what he has created, an unambitious, mediocre, second rate club, that should be at the top of the tree.
    He and Wenger have made us second string since then we never built on it sucess.

  83. shad

    @Reliable,

    LOL, that was the name that came to mind. It sounds mighty too, especially if you say it with a booming Lord of the Rings kind of voice, “LE COQ BLOCKERRRRR”

    Anyway, that and his interception/tackle stats are crazy.

  84. Dream10

    karim

    Ginola was one of my favourite footballers back in the day. Always thought he would play for us. He should have moved to a continental giant after he left PSG and then Newcastle.

  85. Blsany

    Arsene Wenger is one of the few men whose integrity I can never doubt.
    The only reason I got into football, the premier league and Arsenal.

  86. Romford Ozil Pele

    “He gets more protection, do you not agree..?”

    It’s debatable. Busquets has a huge amount of ground to cover considering how attacking Barca are and how high a defensive line they play. Obviously it’s always a help to have better players around you. But he helps Xavi/Iniesta just as much as they help him.

  87. Romford Ozil Pele

    “I’m not talking about the players, I’m talking more about the fans’, ”

    Honestly? I couldn’t care what other fans think. If we sign Busquets and helps us achieve our targets, I don’t care what he does. It’s not like he’s a Suarez personality either, he’s just a little snidey in the way he playacts. Plus i’ve been at games where Alexis is waving yellow cards at the ref, doesn’t make me love him any less.

  88. karim

    Dream

    Yeah, he was my favourite when I was 15. Remember them dismantling Real Bayern and Barcelona but Arsenal was too strong for them obviously lol.

    That volley vs Madrid in 93 is a great memory. They only got stopped by Baggio’s Juve and AC Milan on their road to glory.

    Good old days

  89. Nasri's Mouth

    RP: Plus i’ve been at games where Alexis is waving yellow cards at the ref, doesn’t make me love him any less.

    It does me. Just a little.

    One of my illogical pet hates

  90. Dream10

    The City backline and Fernando vs. Messi, Suarez and Neymar. A mismatch.
    Nasri needs to have a spectacular match tonight as Toure is suspended.

  91. Romford Ozil Pele

    Wenger and Dat guy in the press conference just now. Main points:

    Win without conceding
    Attack sensibly as Monaco are dangerous on the counter
    Patience may be needed
    Wilshere not playing tomorrow but will play on Sunday

    This team please:
    Ospina
    Bellerin Per Kos Monreal
    Coq
    Alexis Santi TR7 Ozil
    L’Oreal

    If 4-2-3-1 then Ozil in the middle, Rosicky as the auxillary playmaker. Welbz may start. Ox is fit too. Good to have options.

  92. kingHenry

    sh*t… just read about Strootman having an unsuccessful operation, which probably means the end of his career. Sad news really for him, Roma, and footie in general