Arsenal vs Barcelona: how good are we?

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Arsenal's season if it were a fountain

Happy good morning to ya’ll! Today we have a special guest, Simone has been contributing to various Arsenal blogs around the web. This is her first installment for Le Grove. Enjoy!

Despite the loss to Swansea I feel good about the team going forward. I think that this squad, along with all the supporting staff, (medical/fitness especially) are ready to compete in the league. So it’s with this sense of optimism which has grown from recent results that I can say that next year I think we can challenge for the domestic title.

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this. I dare say that even without any ‘top class’ additions to the squad this summer we have enough to challenge Chelsea now that Shad Forsyth has bedded in and his methods are bearing fruit. If you’re sensing the word but looming you’re wrong, I’ll use however.

It’s been painfully obvious for a while that whilst the Premier League may be the most exciting league in the world, it isn’t currently producing the best teams. The days of having an English side in the Champions League final every year are over, (for now). So the questions is how far are we from being able to beat Europe’s best? The easiest way to look at this is by comparing line-ups. Before I start you must bear in mind that as an Arsenal supporter I’m biased, but if you’re reading this then you share my bias. Let’s embrace it and begin.
Who are the best? In my opinion Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Athletico Madrid and Real Madrid, but for the benefit of this exercise let’s use Barcelona. How many of our players would get into their team?
Ospina v Ter Stegen/Bravo
I don’t rate Ter Stegen too highly, but from what I’ve seen of Bravo he’s quality. He’s a good shot stopper, his positioning is great and as we saw on Monday, Ospina can sometimes lack in this department. Would Ospina get into their team? No. Would he get on the bench? Probably not.
Left Back:
Monreal v Alba/Adriano
I know that Alba is ahead of Monreal when it comes to the Spanish national team, but for me Nacho is every bit as good a defender if not more so. He’s certainly a better defender than Adriano. Going forward Alba is better, but I’d take Monreal over Alba, because I like my defenders to defend. I know we can point to how few goals Barca have conceded, but it’s Barcelona, they don’t concede possession let alone goals.
Centre Backs:
Koscielny/Mertesacker v Pique/Mascherano/Bartra (I’m not including Vermaelen because he never plays).
Koscielny is the best defender in this group and I think he would walk into their starting 11. Mertesacker would not, but he’s still a better centre half than Bartra and in my opinion Mascherano. Pique would keep his place.
Right Back:
Debuchy/Bellerin v Alves
Alves. He’s still one of the best right backs in the world. Bellerin may get there one day, but he’s not there yet. Debuchy is good but he’s not as potent going forward. Alves keeps his spot.
Defensive Midfield:
Coquelin v Busquets
A similar story to RB, Coquelin has lots of room to improve and may well be world class one day, but Busquets is the lynch-pin of the Barcelona side. Without him they’re a different animal, and he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because of the NSM axis up front. Busquets keeps his place, (for now).
Central Midfield:
Özil/Cazorla v Iniesta/Rakitic
Özil would walk into any team in the world, including Barcelona’s. Madrid made a huge mistake selling him, even if it was necessary to fund the Bale transfer. Iniesta loses out.
The Rakitic v Cazorla question is a bit more complicated. Rakitic has got quick feet and great vision, just like Santi. They a have similar goals and assists tally this season, and as we’re talking about getting into the Barcelona team now I’m going to forget about age and physical characteristics, which are slightly less important in Spain.
It’s a close call but I’m putting Santi in. (Yay for bias!)
Right Forward:
Ramsey/Theo v Messi
There’s literally no point in discussing this one.
Centre Forward:
Giroud v Suarez
While Giroud may be miles ahead when it comes to pure sexiness, he’s not in the same class as Suarez. I’ve watched THAT flick over and over. Footballgasm…
Left Forward:
Alexis v Neymar
I know it’s easy to dismiss this one because Barca sold Alexis, but they sold him to pay for Suarez, and there wasn’t room in the team for both him and Neymar. Neymar was also a marque signing…
He’s a better player now than when he played for Barca. He runs his socks off for the team and he scores goals. He’s also guaranteed to get better, which should scare the rest of the premier league, but Neymar is also top class, and also still improving. In the end Neymar keeps his place, but it’s not as simple as it first appears.
The final count gives us four players to their seven. I think in reality only Özil and Koscielny are dead certainties to get into the Barcelona team. I’m not saying that we need a complete squad overhaul, because we have a lot of close calls in there and lots of room for improvement, but we are still a fair way away from being able to beat them over two legs. Once we have five players who could get into their team I’ll be more confident of winning the Champions League. Until then I’ll spend my time praying that Wenger buys Cech, Pogba and Lacazette.
(Sorry for missing out the likes of Jack and the Ox, but we don’t have all day).

668 Responses to “Arsenal vs Barcelona: how good are we?”

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  1. Emiratesstroller


    You need really to shut up and stop being negative about everything related to Arsenal. Frankly your ‘pearls of wisdom’ and so-called ‘wit’ grates virtually everyone who reads this website.

    I suggest sincerely you go out in the real world and get a life.

  2. tunnygriffboy


    Very good post. We are indeed behind the clubs you mentioned in terms of purchasing power. We do however have more money than we ‘ve ever had so can get marquee signings. I would expect at least one every summer.

    We have to find ways of closing the gap in the PL. It has to be done through developing quality young players, buying potential and purchasing WC players to add to them. Closing the gap in the CL will take time and a large slice of luck.

    Worth noting that Abramovich’s loan to Chelsea has just topped the billion mark.

  3. tunnygriffboy


    Forgot to say , we need to keep our players fit so we can rotate through choice, not necessity. Signs are things are changing behind the scenes regarding this.

  4. Indelible Mark

    Redtruth / Joe and whatever legion of other aliases you post under, you really are a clueless tool . You claim that results haven’t changed from the beginning if the season and you use the most flimsy and specious examples of Swansea and Hull. Are you serious? We have racked up Faroese points, we have lost fewer games, our win ratio is far higher and our style of play is more fluid and balanced. What part of improvement do you not understand. You sneak into ultisols Arsenal fora and stink the place out with your bile and absence of Logic. No surprise that you’ve been run out of many of them. As for GG, what is your obsession with him? Clearly a mancrush of major proportions.he did v well in a all budget, but he was limited tactically and the team was awful to watch. I was at the two finals against Wednesday. They were dire. The culture astound the club was unprofessional – yes it reflected the general football culture, but GG did not address it. I have major problems with Wenger but I have never doubted that he is a transformational manager in multiple areas in the club culture- GG was not. Oh by the way if your going to ‘offer me out’ make sure you turn up next time. Enjoy flipping burgers at Burger King.

  5. Jim Lahey

    “Wenger says arsenal have three world class goalkeepers and won’t answer if he will move for Cech when asked “if” he available”

    Why haven’t we been playing any of these keepers???!!

  6. tunnygriffboy


    That’s typical Wenger. He always bigs up his players and dead bats any questions about transfers

    Last couple of days we have been linked to Cech, Schmical, Kurwaza, Neto, kondogbia, Gundogan, Schneiderlin, Firmino and I’m sure there’s others. It’s like football manager. I just hope that we get our signings in early so we can have a good pre season.

  7. Emiratesstroller

    Jim Lahey

    We don’t have three ‘world class goalkeepers’. We do have however three Premier League Standard Goalkeepers, which is an entirely different argument.


    The club can and should be able to buy high quality players as indeed both Sanchez and Ozil are.

    However, when it comes to mega stars such as Messi or Ronaldo or indeed any
    other player who is likely to fetch north of £50 million and command a salary
    above £200,000 pa it is highly unlikely that we are in the market.

    Realistically I think that our limit as I said yesterday is £50 million and wages of £150,000 pw. That buys you very good players, but not megastars who are
    finished article.

  8. Redtruth


    Given the choice between finishing 4th or winning the FA Cup, you’d both choose finishing 4th ahead of winning the FA Cup

  9. Jim Lahey

    @Tunny – Every year I hope for the same thing, get business done early and have the entire squad ready for a pre-season together, but Wenger does like to hold out to get bargain deals.

    @ES – Nothing “standard” is good enough for Arsenal, Ospina is fine for a No. 2, but we need a real world class goalkeeper.

  10. Emiratesstroller

    Jim Lahey

    Don’t disagree but sadly option available in market are very limited. Cech is a
    very good goalkeeper bordering on world class. However, if he is not available
    who else can we buy who will make a real difference?

    Bayern will not sell Neuer, Man Utd will maybe sell De Gea to Real if they pay a
    stratospheric price and Chelsea would never sell Courtois to us.

    Players like Casillas and Buffon are frankly past their best and not better than
    what we have already got.

  11. tunnygriffboy


    Yes we are not in that elite number of clubs that can have many players on 200k a week. I think 140/150k is our limited. We can get excellent players but not the very very best. We just have to be smart how we spend our money and develop what we have turning potential into quality

    I’ll use a Keyserism, we need to be more efficient than our competitors

  12. Emiratesstroller


    Arsenal are first and foremost a football club, but they are also a business as well. In contrast to you I ran a business and had responsibility not only to myself and my family, but also to people who worked there.

    In contrast to most football clubs Arsenal have always operated within their means and not gone out gungho in transfer market and landed up bust as
    almost every other major club in EPL has done including Man Utd, Chelsea,
    Man City and Liverpool. Fortunately for their supporters they have always found someone to bail them out. That is also incidentally the case with both
    Real Madrid and Barcelona as well.

  13. Redtruth

    Like i said money has taken over the game and i expect Arsenal who charge the highest ticket prices in World football to dominate or at the very least to compete at the highest level.

  14. tunnygriffboy

    Is the Ox available for Sunday ? He’s listed as fit on physio room. He was excellent in the cup game at OT, he gave Shaw nightmares. We certainly missed his dribbling ability against Swansea. Wasn’t the cup game the last match he played ?

    To be honest I hope any forward we sign can dribble. We have any number of players who like to pass the ball. We have Alexis, Ox and Wilshere who dribble. We could do with another one.

  15. tunnygriffboy

    We have a billionaire as an owner but he puts none of his money into the team. We have chosen the route of self sustainability and it is now bearing fruit but won’t be at the level of other clubs

    Man u have massive debts and as I posted earlier Abramovich’s loan to Chelsea has just hit the billion mark. They may be adhering to Ffp and breaking even on transfers but the still have this billion pound loan hanging over them. If Roman asks for it back they have 18months to repay it.

  16. Jim Lahey

    @Tunny – We have two billionaire owners, and neither of them have put a cent into the club except for buying up shares…

    Usmanov could easily make us the most dominant club on the planet.

  17. mysticleaves

    You expect Wenger to come out and say “If Cech Is available, I will buy him. We don’t have keepers that are good enough for the premier league. Ospina will make a good no 2 but is not world class and will never be. He is too short so he can’t claim crosses. Chesny has world class talent but is an idiot.”

    That’s what you want him to say right? So le grove will be vindicated?

  18. Jim Lahey

    @mysticleaves – How about “We are always looking to improve our squad”

    The guy looks like an idiot suggesting that he has 3 world class keepers. We know its not true, the media know, the players themselves know. So why say it? Its a silly statement, if he wants to motivate his players, filling their heads with lies isn’t going to work.

    I don’t expect him to come out and bash a player, that shouldn’t ever happen. But there is no need for nonsense like 3 world class keeps…

  19. MadeToLoveMagic


    Yeah and what did chelsea win all those trophies with?

    Dirty money stolen from the people of Russia.. The only reason Roman bought chavs was for political protection.

    Do some research about Usmanov and then ask yourself how much blood is on every single one of those Roubles

  20. tunnygriffboy

    Just read Ox done his hammy in training. Beyond a joke. How much football has he missed the last two seasons ? He’s a really good option with his pace and dribbling ability and has been playing really well. Need him for cup final even if a bench option

  21. daz

    The guy looks like an idiot suggesting that he has 3 world class keepers. We know its not true, the media know, the players themselves know. So why say it? “Its a silly statement, if he wants to motivate his players, filling their heads with lies isn’t going to work. I don’t expect him to come out and bash a player, that shouldn’t ever happen. But there is no need for nonsense like 3 world class keeps…”

    Yeah it sounds stupid but I would say its his way of avoiding talking about transfers

  22. Jim Lahey

    @MTLM – I don’t mean to sound insensitive but…. It doesn’t bother me where the money came from, its all above board, or each Chelsea would have been stripped of all their titles and they haven’t.

    I mean every year we don’t win it we can’t all sit around and say “we tired, we failed, but at least we didn’t do it with dirty money”. I mean we can have the morale high ground, but who will remember that in 20 years time?

  23. Dark Hei

    Cech is available, his agent said so. Nobody can stop him from going where he wants to as long as he forces the transfer through.

    In Suarez’s case, we triggered the clause but he did not push the issue through.

    For Cech, I think it is a big question mark. Will he turn his back on Chelsea’s fans and Jose Mourinho? Then again, Jose turned his back on Cech first.

  24. tunnygriffboy


    Have you ever read Craig Murray’s book ‘ Murder in Samarkand ‘ ? He was a diplomat in Uzbekistan around the time that Karimov became President. Usmanov was one of his cronies sweeping up all the country’s wealth and leaving the population in poverty. Opponents and people who voiced their concerns disappeared and tails of horrific torture like boiling people alive. It’s a fascinating read. Quite disturbing re our governments interaction with the regime. An interesting read.

  25. Marko

    Ruffier, Handanovic, Ulreich, Sommer, Keylor Navas, Kike Casillas, Ron Robert Ziegler, Adler, Sirigu, Marcos Lopez Lyonkeeper). To name but a few keepers we could target so the idea they’re isn’t any upgrades out there is crazy

  26. Dark Hei


    Yup, good news too. Honestly all rumors point at a new goalie. Wenger as usual says that we have 3 world class keepers. Including the one on loan in the 2nd division. Might as well ask him about the weather, you might get a straight answer.

  27. Dark Hei


    “Boil people alive?!!!”. Always knew that Usmanov is actually a Hutt. I still hope it is all rubbish though. I don’t want to think folks can be so evil.

  28. N5

    Eagle (if you see this). That would be great mate, keep me posted if you can get over and me, you, Benny and Pedro can meet up with Romford/Romford Snr for a game!

    Benny, nice one mate. Let me know if you need a hand with anything else other than the ticket.

    TYAG! The art of cocktails! lol lol NWA making Sex on the Beach!! 😀

  29. N5

    Jim, you should ask Chelsea fans if the “morals” worry them when they are celebrating cup after cup and watching some of the worlds best players! I know they’re a scum club, but if you could watch the Hazards, Cescs etc lifting titles each year, does it really matter?

    I get why people don’t like the idea, but the Emirates is already a souless bowl so who really cares anymore?

    Would Wenger buy a team of big players if he had unlimited money though? I don’t think so because expectation would be higher.

  30. Carts

    Olympique Lyonnais

    Emirates Cup ”

    Tricky fixtures them. It’ll be intersting to see, if any, new squad additions

  31. tunnygriffboy

    Dark Hei

    It’s all in this diplomats book. He was privy to it all. Told the foreign office about all was going on but it was tactically ignored as we needed their airports for our role in Afghanistan. Really is worth a read.

  32. Jim Lahey

    Here is the spending of the major English clubs since Abramovichs arrival to Chelsea (02/03).

    Chelsea: 923m
    City: 759m
    Liverpool: 608m
    United: 593m
    Arsenal: 375m

    There is one of the big reasons we haven’t won a league in 11 years.

  33. gambon

    The problem with the whole “buy one marquee player per year” approach is that it will take us 11 years to reach the level of Barca/Bayern/Madrid.

    Or 9 years if you consider us to have started this process 2 seasons back.

    I have said before, and i’ll keep saying, to win the CL we will need to pretty much replace the entire team.

    players like Ospina, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Giroud would not get into a top team.

    I would rather not wait 9-10 years for that.

    We need to correct 10 years of underinvestment, not slowly start upgrading the calibre of our players.

  34. N5

    gambon and that’s assuming the other marquee players are bought at a young age so that you’re not always having one leave each season or lose quality. In 9 years Ozil will be an old man (in football terms) so we’ll still be a million miles from a complete team.

  35. qna

    Gambon: Or 9 years if you consider us to have started this process 2 seasons back.

    In 9 years Ozil and Sanchez will be 35.

  36. karim

    Don’t know who we will be playing yet but sounds like it’s the runner- up Cup this year lol

    Good to see you back around town !

  37. gambon

    Exactly N5

    I would rather spend £200m this summer than £65m 3 summers in a row.

    When you build a house you dont build the bottom floor then wait 12 months to build the top floor.

    We should overinvest to get to the top. then underinvest to recoup the money.

    Some would say its risky, but it isnt. If we are gonna spend big money over the next few seasons why wait to spend some of it.

    Although CF is one position that is just really tricky, cos theres no-one good around. So I wouldnt buy someone for the sake of it.

  38. N5

    Cheers Karim mate, it’s been a bit mad a home, but I think it was good to have a break too. It’s given me a little clarity and I’m now zen! 😛

    I’m able to ignore the trolls and concentrate on 4th ha.

  39. Jim Lahey

    @N5 – Exactly, what went on after the fall of the soviet union was horrendous, with a few people stripping countries of their wealth and the atrocities that occurred were unimaginable.

    But history won’t remember Chelsea buying titles.

  40. N5

    Lol Jim that’s for sure! All countries have blood on their hands except the Swiss 🙂

    I don’t know why the UK considers that Russian money is always evil money, when we’ve invaded countries to make sure we still earn “an honest buck”.

  41. tunnygriffboy


    Hello mate. Not been on at same time as you for a while. Hear you’ve been through the mill last few weeks. Hope all is well and everyone is recovering. Best wishes to all.

  42. N5

    Jim the lol was because I thought you said Chelsea won’t be remembered for buying tickets! (a dig at our ticket prices) when I reread it, it seems like I’m LOLing at the blood money comment which would be really wrong.

    I thought I best clarify that I’m not pro-blood money

  43. N5

    Cheers tunny, it’s been a tough month mate, but we’re all the other side of it now. Thank you for your comment buddy. I’ve only been able to get on in the evening really once the wounded are all tucked up in bed.

  44. Carts

    “The problem with the whole “buy one marquee player per year” approach is that it will take us 11 years to reach the level of Barca/Bayern/Madrid.”

    Spot on.

    And this goes back to what I’ve been saying re: Welbeck, Theo et al, the belief that Wenger will one day conquer is delusional. Every year we improve by 1 step, yet everyone else is 2 steps. This give one a false sense of belief that we’re making orgress.

    The longer we persist with average players the longer we’ll fail to go beyond the last 16 and win the EPL.

    More frustratingly, is that we have the resources to potentially to put things right. Again, cynics will point to some shit about ‘signings won’t guarantee us anything’ but will make an attempt at explaining why we failed to beat Monaco and Swanse at home.

  45. Marko

    Plus you’re assuming every top team has 11 marquee players in their team. Not to compare them but for every Monreal and Ramsey and the like you have your Dani Alves, Rafinha, Marcelo. In my opinion we’d need to be properly competing for titles for a few years and not just improving for a couple seasons (which is what we’re doing) before we could challenge for a Champions league. People need to realize for many years we were underachieving and selling our best players and mentally it’ll take a few years to change that mentality into a winning one and certainly last and this season it’s changing. In closing are we miles away from a title challenge? If you call signing a top class forward, another DM and another Alexis type winger/AM as miles away. In my opinion add that and add upgrades on Gibbs, Mertesacker and the keeping position and we could challenge for champions league. But again it’d take a couple years getting to Semi finals or quarter finals to change our mindset

  46. tunnygriffboy

    How is anyone going to seriously compete with Barca. They have three of the best four forwards in the world and perhaps the greatest player ever

    Our first aim should be to seriously compete/win the PL.
    Should be lokking to get to last eight then last four of CL. That then allows us to attract better players
    Finally we’ll need a bit of luck to win it.

  47. Carts

    “I don’t know why the UK considers that Russian money is always evil money, when we’ve invaded countries to make sure we still earn “an honest buck”.”

    Someone had to say it 😉

  48. karim

    As for the Swiss, they may not have blood on their hands but they did accept all the German gold a few decades ago if you see what I mean…

  49. Marko

    Certainly this summer I’d build on the second half of the season we had and at least bring in a DM, a forward and a striker. Top tier buys. I’d seriously think about an upgrade on Gibbs rather than wait till Monreal turns over we should bring in someone like Kurzawa for me. And If a keeper leaves replace with someone to take the number one. I do agree with gambon there’s a serious lack of top quality strikers coming up which is why possibly missing out on Dybala could be a blow. I can honestly only think of him Vietto (still a year or two away for me), Paco Alcacer (Slight) and Lacazette (is he available?) As young class strikers coming through

  50. MadeToLoveMagic

    N5 there is nothing honest about the way that england has made its self a powerful nation that is true, but i like to think we have out grown torturing and boiling political opponents alive like the regime that Usmanov was so heavily affiliated with.

  51. gambon


    Are you comparing Dani Alves with Monreal.

    If so, you clearly have limited football knowledge, so your point is irrelevent.

    Also using Rafinha as an example if pretty shit cos hes started 12 games all season.

  52. gambon

    “How is anyone going to seriously compete with Barca. They have three of the best four forwards in the world and perhaps the greatest player ever”

    2 of them 3 strikers werent Barca players 2 years ago.

    Thats how we compete…..we make sure we start getting some of these playerrs