Barcelona… AGAIN | Our last three games… a false sense of confidence? Or the real deal?

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URGHHRGHH!

I wake up, mixed messages of good and bad all over the place.

As it’s 1500 your time, we might as well crack into groundhog day news…

BARCELONA

I mean, come on, someone give us a helping hand here?

I feel like we’re either playing them, or playing Bayern Munich. It’s really depressing in the most spectacular way.

They are beyond outrageous this season. Messi, Neymar and Suarez are so dominant it’s scary to watch… can anyone beat them?

Well, actually, yes… yes they can. Being an absolute dominant beast rarely results in you winning the Champions League. Bayern should have trounced it last season. Barca should have won it every year under Pep Guardiola. Arsenal should have won it at least once with some of the crazy good teams we’ve had.

… and look, I sat in San Mamés and watched Bilbao beat them fairly easily at the start of the season. They were pony then.

Having an air of invincibility is a weakness. Arsenal have to work out a smart way of countering all the good bits they do. How do we stifle their game? How do we track the movement of the most fluid front line in the game? How do we use our pace? How do we hustle them psychologically? How does Per Mertesacker fit here?

It’s an exciting match up. It’s one we deserve after our horrendous opening run of CL games. It’s one that we need to deliver on. We can’t keep on making excuses that there are better teams than us, because we have the resource to be as good as any team in Europe but we chose not to.

A big night for Petr Cech…

In other news, we played Aston Villa yesterday and beat them pretty easily. As expected, the Villains lost a goal early on to a Giroud penalty and it was pretty garbage from there on in.

Arsenal didn’t play particularly well if I’m honest. I mean, we contained and controlled them. I think we played in second gear because we were invited to. There’s no need to play at 500mph if you’re not required to.

There were some positive performances from our boys. I thought Aaron Ramsey had a good game. He broke up play in our box and sprinted the length of the pitch to score! It was pretty spectacular. I mean, always layer it over the context that the attack went 4 on 4 and ended up 4 on 1 after a collection of Villa players gave up.

Giroud also had another very good game. There was one piece of control that was beyond beautiful, a ball over the shoulder on the left hand side of the pitch was stunned with Messi like precision. He looks up for it. His goal record is something else at the moment and he’s certainly not getting the Vardy like credit he deserves. Not even from most of his own fans (sorry babe).

If there was a concern from a victory to be had, my first would be that WENGER LEAVES ON OZIL WHEN THE GAME IS WON. My second is that fans then say, ‘but we have a 8 day rest’… the rest means nothing if he gets injured. Like Sanchez, Coquelin, Santi.

Anyway, it’s irrelevant because he didn’t get injured. But I do pray we preserve him, especially as there’s been injury scares with him recently. He is very key to the Barcelona game.

The in-game concern was that though Villa were terrible, there were a few times when their deflated players managed to steam through the middle of our team unchallenged. We’ve had two relatively easy games in a row, my concern is that our victories, though impressive given the context of pressure, are slightly masking how depleted our squad us.

A false sense of confidence going into City might be a good thing, it might be a bad thing. We can only beat who is put in front of us. City will expose those lapses in discipline way more clinically than Villa or Olympiacos.

Still, what we’re doing that’s magic is we’re surviving. We’re surviving comfortably as well. Sure the opposition has been favourable, but who cares. We’ve not been resolute in seasons past when we’ve had a crisis.

I mean, even if we lose to City, I’m still confident we can compete this year. I’m unsure as to whether we can win the title… but it’s looking positive right now. So no need to worry too hard.

Right, that’s me done… OVER TO YOU IN THE COMMENTS.

 

378 Responses to “Barcelona… AGAIN | Our last three games… a false sense of confidence? Or the real deal?”

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  1. boy dio

    @ sam

    I wouldn’t say cesc is shit, he just needs to be accounted for tactically imo.
    Barca were unwilling to do so, Terry and Matic having solid form allowed him the freedom he needs in his play to perform last season, not to mention Hazard was always the correct pass last season cause of his movement on and off the ball.
    He doesn’t have that this season so he’s being shown up, also a big part of the reason Arsene played a 4-3-3 to accommodate him partnered with a dm and box to box midfielder, and why Nasri and Arshavin had to learn to play outwide.
    Albeit this is just how i read Cesc’s career, apparently his international form is good but i couldn’t be arsed to watch international breaks to confirm he needs tactical allowances by his managers, although Spain are playing possession football so that’s less defending he has to do.
    Whatever, i like the player, made some shocking decisions career wise but he got that EPL medal he wanted, much like RVP

  2. Troy McClure

    Normally I’m on board with Le Grove’s point of view, but today the bit about why Arsenal never get a break in the CL: last season we did, with Monaco, and did absolutely fuck all with it. Totally shit ourselves in fact, didn’t respect our opponents, says Theo. Well no choice but to respect this years opponent! I’m not expecting a win but it’s possible if we click as a team – get some great performances from key big Money players, and get the defensive tactics right.

  3. Emiratesstroller

    As I said yesterday the games against Barcelona in January/February are not a
    disaster. Bluntly after our first four poule games there was no expectation to
    qualify for this stage of tournament.

    Arsenal’s current squad is simply not good enough to progress beyond this stage and it would be better to focus on trying to win EPL and maybe a third successive FA Cup.

    Let’s face it I would rather play in Barcelona than St Petersburg at this time of
    year.

  4. Emiratesstroller

    Leicester played very well last night and are most definitely a potential rival for a top four placing in this season’s EPL. They are playing with joie de vivre and absolutely no fear of losing.

    Their only concern must be the size of their squad and the potential loss of some key players.

    Chelsea on the other hand are a complete mess. Some of their players have
    gone to pot.

    Their defence apart from goalkeeper is awful. Midfielders like Hazard and Fabregas seem to be playing like they don’t want to be at Chelsea and Costa
    is at war with the World rather than focussing on his job of scoring goals.

    Their only decent result was against us and that was somewhat fortuitous due
    to referee’s game changing decisions.

    As matters stand they are now at serious risk of being relegated. That statement may seem laughable when you look at quality of their squad on paper,
    but when a team keeps on losing and morale is so low that can happen.

    Personally I cannot see them turning around their season under Mourinho.
    This is not a Manager who seems to handle losing very well.

  5. Wallace

    ‘He’s got to approach that game on Monday and think, “I might not get into the box ten times, I might just get there two or three times, but what I will do is protect my back four when I need to.”

    ‘Against the top teams you need to be more focused and more secure.

    ‘I love him as a player, he’s a very talented player. He’s very good on the ball, he’s very bright. At the moment he hasn’t quite got the discipline to play in a midfield two but I certainly think he has the capabilities.

    ‘I think this could be the making of him, if he manages to take on this responsibility, it will add more to his game and he could develop into an all-round midfielder.’

    – Lampard on Ramsey

  6. Dream10

    Wallace

    Lampard’s comments should give us more incentive to switch to a 4-3-3 next year.
    Playing Ramsey as the #8 in CM with two others is the way to go. Classify Mesut as a forward who can tuck in. It will give us better structure on European nights against top teams.

  7. Wallace

    Dream10

    yeah, it’s definitely one of the ways it could go. at the minute i’d prefer it if Ramsey could just curb his attacking game a little, as i like having two guys in the centre, when we tried Jack & Ramsey ahead of Arteta last season we didn’t look solid at all. sure it could be fine tuned though. and certainly i think an attacking three of Ozil/Alexis/Walcott is more than enough.

  8. GuNZ

    Busy busy busy today. Just heard the Barca news. I shall dust off my most potent grimoire from the chained library, the one bound in a virgin’s skin, and offer up spells to all sorts of unclean gods to put a syphilitic pox on Messi and co. Might be our only chance.

  9. GuNZ

    Just looked it up and it appears that Ted Drake holds the club most-goals-in-one-season record with a tally of 44 (all comps.) for the 1934-5 season.

    My boy Giroud is currently on 15. It’s not outside the realms of possibility is it? I mean, a goal in each of the remaining EPL games will take him up to 37, plus a couple of braces on a good FA cup run, and a hat trick a tie against Barca and he’s well in there. My dream may come true after all. I’m going to find the odds and bet on it.

  10. Louis Almeida

    Basically the front page new in Portuguese media is that Mou is cracking. Nobody has ever seen him consistently react like this. It definitely looks like he has lost the dressing room last night and he was happy to throw his players under the bus. What I didn’t like was how he said that he was behind the title win but now the players are playing at their real level. He never wants to take responsibility when things are not going well. For Chelsea’s sake, they need to get rid because the players aren’t playing for him so it will only get worse. This is tarnishing Mou’s reputation too. He will not receive a big job in England after this. May have to go back to Serie A or take over PSG.

  11. Wallace

    louis

    “What I didn’t like was how he said that he was behind the title win but now the players are playing at their real level. ”

    yeah, that was very small of him. the fact it’s Leicester under Ranieri who have ambushed Chelsea and taken their role as top dogs is just perfect.

  12. Louis Almeida

    Wallace, it looks to me like Mourinho wants to get sacked. I think he has caused a lot of his problems though. And in Portugal, they are now talking about the three year cycle which is now becoming more evident to a lot of people. Mourinho’s tactics don’t seem to work well in the long run. Either that or he runs out of ideas after a couple of seasons.

  13. Leedsgunner

    I forgot that 2-0 to Chelsea was the game when Costa got away with everything… and Gabs was unfairly sent off in my opinion, I don’t normally blame referees, but he really was poor that day…. shame though. We should have nicked a draw at least.

    I genuinely wonder how we will do in the return fixture…

  14. Louis Almeida

    Vicky, he played for my other team (Benfica) and he wasn’t good enough. He’s enjoying a bit of a purple patch right now, but at 29, it seems a pretty pointless signing to me. I think Welbeck is rubbish but at least he’s still young and acclimatised to the league. After seeing the way Pedro has gone at Chelsea, I don’t want to be buying weak Spaniards who are nearly 30. Sounds a bit pointless to me.

  15. leon

    I just feel that Barcelona are just way to much for this team to hands they have world class players in every department of the pitch they are far far sepierio to this team in midfield and this defence will have content with neimar surez and Messi

  16. Relieable Sauce

    Seems like Vardy might not move in Jan, makes the most sense with him pushing to make the Euro Squad.
    A relegation scrap with Mo wont be the most appealing…maybe Charlie Austin is still interested 🙂

  17. Wengaball

    Mourinho took what could have been the most exciting squad the PL – Mata, Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne, Schurrle, Cuadrado, Fabregas et al and turned them into relegation scrappers.

    The special one indeed.

    What has also become evident is the master tactician has only one set of tactics and in completely unable to adapt to players’ strengths and shortcomings.

    Wenger is slaughtered for tactical inflexibility bug how many times has he adjusted his system to fit whatever resources he has available.

    If Mourinho was managing Arsenal in the last decade, we probably would have been champions once and most certainly would have also faced relegation.

  18. Ustyno baba

    I usually have respect for Mou even with his antics and all that but with what is happening now,am beginning to think that ,Mou may not have sustained Arsenal in that period of no cash,I might be wrong but seeing how he is struggling with those galaxies at the bridge is worrying. His adviser should tell him to resign and save his face cos am not exactly sure he can do Wenger “top 4” magic

  19. Jamie

    Daily Express reporting Chelsea will go push hard for Stones again in Jan.

    Great young CB. Shame we didn’t assign Chambers the CDM role when we bought him, because that would’ve solved our current midfield issues had he developed well in that role. It would also have allowed us to be in the hunt for a new CB. I can’t think of many CBs in Europe who are Stones’ age and playing at his level.

    If I were Chambers, I’d be watching hours and hours of Viera, Makelele, and Gilberto after training every day to better understand the role of a CDM. He’s never had a better chance at solidifying a position in the starting 11.

  20. alexanderhenry

    Things are looking up. On the Barcelona draw: we’re the under dogs and we can relax- it’s not til February. We’ve beaten them before and would have knocked them out if rvp hadn’t been wrongly sent off. Also, I can’t recall us ever playing them with a full side. We can hit them on the counter and Walcott must be fit. The priority is the PL though. Players are coming back and Ramsay in particular is looking like he’s hitting form. If he starts scoring like a couple of years ago, we could finish very strongly. Must say great performance last night from Leicester and my favourite moment was vardy’s very late tackle on Costa.

  21. Relieable Sauce

    Mourinho has been making bad decisions right from the begining of his return.
    I thought starting Schurrle as #9/false #9 and completely disregarding Torres and Lukaku in the charity shield was a massive call. OK he sold them for good money, but it demonstrated inflexibility, unfairness and poor judgement imo. Replacing Lukaku with Remy!!

    There have been so many poor decisions since you have to think he and Abramovic are at loggerheads – possibly over FFP and the reluctance to use youth players??
    Makes no sense really

  22. Wengaball

    Oh yes – Lukaku too.

    He does not trust anyone who has not already delivered at a very high level does he?

    Somehow he has found a place for Zouma but that too under duress.

  23. Cesc Appeal

    Welbeck out until February, I can see that being another one who won’t play this season now.

    Knees are dodgy, crocked all summer long, surgery at the very end, now he’s been pushed back another 4 weeks.

    I do think we need to look at getting a forward as well as a CDM/CM in January.

    League is there for the taking for whoever wants it most.

  24. Alfie

    “Welbeck out until February, I can see that being another one who won’t play this season now.”

    Waste of money tbh.

    With the Chambers, Welbeck and Arteta/Rosicky wages – could have gone in hard for a top top player – maybe even a £60m punt for Lew

  25. Sam

    I’ll stay away from John stone
    Arsenal never really benefitted from English based, all struggled to make it from Jeffers to Chambers. all headache n expensive.

  26. Alfie

    “Yeah, guy hasn’t scored a single goal. ‘Flop of the season’ so far, undoubtedly.”

    Yeah in terms based against last year he has to be up there – this would be my top 5:

    Hazard
    Fabregas
    Rooney
    Depay
    Pedro

  27. Relieable Sauce

    Anyone seen much of Moussa Dembele the young Fulham striker?

    Spurs reported to be interested. 19(?) yo ex PSG prospect, broke into the Fulham 1st team and French U20 team this year. Two-footed, good in the air & intelligent, if the Fulham chairman is to be believed.

  28. Santos

    Hazard is going further south . Yesterday he was abysmal and Vardy kept getting him riled up. He needs to cut out all those predictable moves ✂

  29. Santos

    Sam

    Not surprising eh? That amount is preposterous. Top English clubs should start farming for players within their clubs, just like Bayern and Barça do, that way you spend less on this laughable English premium.

  30. DUIFG

    Hazard is obv a great player but i never put him in the top top bracket, the one below messi and ronaldo, im talking about the bale robben (neymar last year level) mainly because i always thought he was a bottler and a flat track bully.

    he looks a soft player, no matter how mour is behind the scnes he did not deserve hazard to flop as hard as this

  31. Santos

    DUIFG

    Hazard is a bottler just like Cesc. Doesn’t turn up when he’s needed. Likening him to Messi and Cristina was a folly move by José

  32. TheBayingMob

    Emiratesstroller December 15, 2015 06:29:30

    Leicester … Their only concern must be the size of their squad and the potential loss of some key players.”

    To be honest, that’s our only concern as well …

  33. Micheal

    Don’t sack Maureen, please. I want to watch him squirming his way through a relegation battle and blaming everyone else for fucking things up.

  34. DUIFG

    DUIFGHazard is a bottler just like Cesc. Doesn’t turn up when he’s needed. Likening him to Messi and Cristina was a folly move by José

    hes certainly weak, i would not clas cesc as one too, his problems are more personal in nature i think (heart broken by barca, mrs, couple of kids) he really cant be arsed with footy anymore, hes been playing since he was 16 odd at the top level

  35. Bamford10

    A few things:

    1. Mourinho is a very good manager and tactician, but his personality is toxic. At first his arrogance breeds confidence and self-belief within the team, but with time his arrogance and venomous tongue breed tension, hostility, division and bad blood. He is too arrogant to say and do the kinds of things necessary to repair the situation, so it simply gets worse and worse.

    Chelsea would be wise to dismiss him immediately.

    2. All the same, Mourinho broke up the team he inherited, signed new players and won the EPL at a canter. Those who remember the first few months of last season know also that Chelsea played some very good football en route to the title and know that the notion that M’s teams can’t play football is nonsense.

    3. For all his faults and flaws and classlessness, Mourinho has one thing over Wenger, namely, a genuine desire to win. Wenger prioritizes any number of things — frugality, free play, loyalty — over winning and this has made Arsenal perpetual also-rans. While I would never want Mourinho at Arsenal, he could easily have won a title at Arsenal had he managed Arsenal at some point in the past ten years. And he could have done so without spending all that much more than Wenger has done. He simply would have spent the money more intelligently, more ruthlessly.

    4. Hazard is a great player and would be fantastic in our system. We should put in a low-ball bid for him just to see what they might do, though I doubt they’d sell. His stock has fallen a bit, though. However, with Ronaldo aging, Madrid might be interested in Hazard playing wide left there.

  36. Wallace

    Bamford

    “Mourinho has one thing over Wenger, namely, a genuine desire to win. Wenger prioritizes any number of things — frugality, free play, loyalty — over winning and this has made Arsenal perpetual also-rans.”

    Wenger will also prioritize style. he wants to win by playing the better football. Mourinho justs wants to win. I’m with Wenger on this one, but can understand why some would side with Mourinho.

  37. Bamford10

    Wallace

    Complete nonsense. Aside from moments here or there, Arsenal haven’t played attractive football in years. This is a myth used to defend Wenger.

    Arsenal today are no more attractive than Chelsea today, they just get better results.

    Not to mention that playing attractive football and winning are not at odds with one another, so you’ve offered a false choice.

    No, what Wenger prioritizes, as I said, is frugality, free play and loyalty, and these principles have made Arsenal perennial also-rans.

  38. Bamford10

    Vicky

    Not trolling, and not deluded.

    Wallace

    Didn’t say we don’t have our moments. We do. But so do all teams. We are more effective today than we are attractive, flowing or beautiful. That’s fine, in a way. But please do not use Wenger’s commitment to beautiful football as an excuse for his failures. The commitment of his that has brought us failure is his commitment to free play — that is, tactics-free play — which is very different from a commitment to beautiful football. After all, Pep and Luis Enrique like beautiful football as well, but their teams don’t do “free play”.

  39. vicky

    Bamford

    You are. I bet nobody here on Le Grove or any football expert will testify your comment “Arsenal is no more attractive than Chelsea”………except Joe may be.

    No more attractive than City – may be
    No more attractive than Liverpool – May be
    No more attractive than Chelsea — LOL !!!!

  40. Wallace

    Bamford

    “But please do not use Wenger’s commitment to beautiful football as an excuse for his failures.”

    it wasn’t an excuse, just an observation. Mourinho’s side played some good attacking football at the beginning of last season, but if he ever felt like the result was in danger he would retreat and try and shut the game down. Wenger won’t do that, or won’t do it very often.

  41. Relieable Sauce

    Leicesters next 3 games – Everton (a), Liverpool (a), Man City (h)

    Bang in form atm so have every chance of some decent results. Terrific support from the fans at home as well, great atmosphere last night.

  42. daz

    Another difference between Mourinho and Wenger is for all his faults I don’t doubt Wenger loves arsenal and is doing what he feels is best for the club not only while he is here but for when he goes to, Mourinho only cares about winning for himself he wouldn’t care less what happens to the clubs he leaves behind in fact I would say he is happy to see them fail after he leaves so he can say they were good while I was there

  43. DUIFG

    Leicesters next 3 games – Everton (a), Liverpool (a), Man City (h)

    that man city ga,e is big for us, city were so lucky sat to not drop points v swans, we need them to drop some more points when aguero is out, once he and kompany are back its over

  44. Rhys Jaggar

    ‘SamDecember 15, 2015 11:36:35
    I’ll stay away from John stone
    Arsenal never really benefitted from English based, all struggled to make it from Jeffers to Chambers. all headache n expensive.’

    Every asked yourself whether this is due to Wenger? Never had a problem under George Graham.

    Why is it that Pocchettino can work with young English players? Why is it that Martinez can do it?

    It can only be due to the superior nature of the Everton and Spurs academies, can’t it? Unless it is due to Wenger’s inability, which should be a major failing in England. If the academy is inferior, Wenger has had 20 years to shape that. He can blame no-one but himself, because he has had 2 decades to sort it out. He simply hasn’t done it.

    Don’t tell me that none of the Spurs or Everton players would get into the Arsenal squad. Stones is better than Mertesacker right now. Barkley is as good as Ramsey right now. Dier would fit in as a CDM. Kane is the equal of Giroud. Alli would have good chances too. I bet you the majority would stagnate and then get blamed. It can’t all be due to English players, it has to be to do with Arsenal FC and how it is run.

    What it comes down to is Wenger always buying at the wrong time of the English players’ development, given the way he coaches and manages. He gets it wrong so often that you have to conclude that he wants to.

    Why would he do that? Most likely, because his priority is the French national side, not the English one.

    He always seems to get the French ones right, doesn’t he? He buys them at 20 – 24, grooms them and sells them on. Nasri, Henry, Vieira, PIres, Petit, Sagna, Koscielny, Flamini etc etc. It can’t be due to the special nature of French players, it has to be something to do with the way Arsenal FC is run. Why? Because English players have done well and do do well at other clubs, don’t they? Yes they do. So Arsenal has to be a club set up for the English players to fail. Has to be. Because otherwise, they would have succeeded the past 12 years (i.e. once the Graham era had been flushed out of the system), wouldn’t they?

    I think Arsenal FC should come clean and say this: ‘Arsenal FC: a club run for the benefit of French football, paid for by the suckers of the English fan crowd’.

    If you sell Rolls Royces, your customers don’t expect you to fund the R+D of Porsche, do they?? Well????

  45. Cesc Appeal

    Can’t remember who it was on here a couple of weeks back said, when talking about Leicester, that whilst Mahrez and Vardy are getting all the plaudits, quite rightfully, that Kante was unsung hero of that Leicester team.

    At the beginning of the game last night when I heard his name I thought, must pay attention to him then. Have to say, they were right, very Matuidi like in terms of being not the biggest, but full of running, constantly disrupting and breaking up play, on the edge of his own box one minute and then the oppositions the next.

    Very impressive.

  46. alexanderhenry

    The collapse of Chelsea will have ramifications far beyond this season. Behind the scenes, I think the’re is all sorts of scheming and plotting going on. Mourihno seems to be trying to get himself fired and half the squad seems to want out. Abramovich himself isn’t the most agreeable owner in world, and I don’t think the club as a whole is an appealing one for top players at the moment. I think mourihno will be off and there will be a large player exodus. Arsenal have got a few quid, so how about cesc to return home this summer?

  47. salparadisenyc

    This conspiracy talk that Wengers motivated by signing players to aid the French National side is bollocks.

    Perhaps the bigger question is why is there such a gap in quality between English and French players within that age bracket.

  48. alexanderhenry

    Jamie:- I disagree. I didn’t think badly of him for going back to barca. It was a mistake, but an understandable one. Also, I can understand him going to Chelsea. Barca wanted to sell him and Chelsea came up with the best offer and at that time they were a more attractive proposition than they are now. I’d take him back in a second.

  49. Jamie

    alexanderhenry –

    That’s the beauty of LG. We can agree to disagree. Once a player signs for a fierce rival in the same league (RVP to Utd, Fabregas to Chelsea), there’s no way back from that in my view.

    It works both ways, too. I fully appreciate the logic behind Spurs fans thinking Sol is an absolute cnut.

    Good footballers always have options, so they live and die by the decisions the make like the rest of us.

  50. Micheal

    Cesc ? Simple question to ask yourselves.

    Is Cesc Fabregas a better player than Rosicky, Arteta or Flamini ? Yeah, I thought so.

    It is not about personal issues. It is all about a player’s ability and desire. If he wants to come back and we don’t mind pissing off Rosicky, Arteta or Flamini, we should not hesitate to sgn him.