Et tu Gooner? Watch your back Arsene! and Arsenal/World XIs

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The Dr Jeckyl version of Arsenal showed up at the Grove against Villa on Saturday. Oh how were hoping for Mr Hyde after our good performance against Yoonited.
No doubt the knives are being unsheathed again for Arsčne. Judging my some of the columns and letters in the latest edition of The Gooner, on sale at Saturday’s dissident factions within the Gooner Nation are already lined up behind Le Boss. Ready to stab him in the back.
Much I was comprehensively hacked off by our lacklustre performance against the claret and blue Brummies (or whatever the interior decorators call their repulsive change strip. Why is it that football strip manufacturers seem to employ textile designers from the lower decile of design school graduates?), I still think it would be madness to ditch Arsčne now or any time in the near future.
Too many Gooners for my taste were prepared to put the blame on referee Mike Riley. True he had his normal performance which could politely be described as “mercurial”. The fact is however we were responsible for our own downfall. We got what we deserved. Nothing. Again. Let’s also give some credit to Villa and their manager Martin O’Neill. There were very well organised tactically and were “switched on” throughout the game.
He’s done an excellent job at Villa Park, as he did with Wycombe Wanderers, Leicester City and Celtic. Villa kept us down to two attempts on target. Emmanuel Adebayor produced an excellent save from Brad Friedel, from a header, pushing the ball onto the post and out for a corner.  For my money, Friedel is an outstanding and underrated veteran international class goalie who I would have liked to have seen us sign in the summer. Although the Lev Yashin Award for best goalie at World Cup 2002 went to Germany’s Oliver Kahn, Friedel should have won it in my view for his part in the USA’s run to the quarter-finals. Another fairly tame shot produced a comfortable save. That was it for Friedel’s afternoon, apart from getting himself booked, correctly, for time-wasting in the first half.
So it’s back to the drawing board in the League prior to our visit to Manchester City next Saturday. We’re REALLY going to have to buck up in the League, or we might well find ourselves without Champions League football next season.
In the Carling Cup, Saturday’s draw saw us come out of the hat away to Burnley. We shouldn’t take this tie for granted but we have to be in with an excellent shout of our fourth successive semi-final in this competition. If the yoof do see us through at Turf Moor and Spuds successfully negotiate their tie at Vicarage Road you sort of know who we’d get in the semi-final draw, don’t you?
Now, my shortlists, accompanied by the traditional drum-roll, for left-back in my Greatest Arsenal and World XIs. Remember, I’m selecting only from players I’ve personally seen play. They’re in alphabetical surname order as usual.
For Arsenal:
Ashley COLE ( England)
Gael CLICHY ( France)
Bob McNAB ( England)
Kenny SANSOM ( England)
Nigel WINTERBURN ( England)
For the World XI
Paul BREITNER (Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Eintracht Braunschweig & West Germany)
Roberto CARLOS (União São João, Palmeiras, Internazionale, Real Madrid, Fenerbahçe & Brazil)
Giacinto FACCHETTI (Internazionale & Italy)
Ruud KROL ( Ajax, Vancouver Whitecaps, Napoli, AS Cannes & the Netherlands
Paolo MALDINI (Milan & Italy)
Next blog, my selections from these shortlists.
Keep the faith, my fellow citizens of the Gooner Republic!

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