PGL: Morning Insiders. The hangover has subsided and I don’t think I’ll be wanting to remember the any of the 120 minutes of Wednesdays game but the facts remain, we’ll be in the draw this day next week and right now that’s all that’s important. With players finally getting off the treatment table and onto the training pitch, our side should be transformed over the next few weeks so by the next time the Champions League Circus rolls around again Cesc, our ring master, will hopefully have our side roaring like a lion.
PGL: We’re in the hat alongside three other English sides, a great achievement for the Premiership, and the cash will continue to drive the economy of the league. The debate raged here about the quality of our performance but that’s a matter for the bar stools of
your boozers at the end of the season. Right now we should all be delighted with the character shown by players like Denilson and Theo who stepped up and despatched their penalties in pressure cooker that was Rome on Wednesday. What pleased me greatly was seeing the players celebrate together and these are the type of moments that can steel a side’s character for the greater challenges that now lie
AH: Last 8 in Europe for the second year running, I don’t honestly see how people can quibble with that. When Georgie Graham was in charge I don’t remember people knocking the lads for scrapping through in the cups. Cup Winners Cup was a third rate competition that has been scraped now, but surely no true fan gives a flying hoot about that, or how we got to Copenhagen : that night was history and a heart warming memory. Perhaps people will say that the perception of this team is a victim of Wenger’s previous success (last 8 in Europe has never been the norm previously) but if you ask me, anyone who wants to pick the bones out of our performance Wednesday night, rather than enjoy – just watch the celebrations, beautiful stuff – are the ones who are missing out. We are still in the cup and our chances of going all the way will surely have increased now that our young side has been through that experience in Rome . Bear in mind that of the front 6 Eboue is the only holdover from the Milan game and 4 of them are U22. The future is bright and the club, management and players have dealt admirably in difficult circumstances, not all of it their own making, for far longer than anyone has given them credit for.
FTK: OK let me as always play devil’s advocate and put the case of the anti Wenger faction. They would perhaps have seen it like this… Arsene wenger stuck his neck on the line and went back to the failed lineup of earlier this season, Diaby apart. Bendtner up front, Eboue and Denilson in midfield. Their first reactions on seeing the lineup would have been “we’ve lost!” Why? Because lets be honest and accept that Denilson panics under pressure. Eboue lacks discipline and is often out of position. After such a disastrous beginning to the season, and with a fit Eduardo and Walcott on the bench, They would also say the only reason that Arsene Wenger risk disaster like this is because he has really lost the plot. Now whether we Wenger die hards like it all not. This alternative point of view is prevalent among a significant number of Gooners, and had we lost the shoot out, then their views would have been the main story today. So my take on it, is that it confirms the weakness of this squad compared to last years, and the only person responsible for over hyping players like Denilson, who have yet to deliver along side Diaby is Arsene Wenger. I am an inclusive editor when it comes to the Gooner family, and even though I do not like some of the negative comments, these fans have every right to air them…
PGL: Plenty of debate surround the clubs plans for next years ticketing and I really have to take my hat off to FTK for the great work he did in getting to the bottom of what seems like a bit of flip flopping by the club. Unfortunately, I think this is only the start of some financial squeezing’ all clubs will be forced to do.
Every business is looking at ways to beat the crunch and our beloved club is, like it or not, a business too. There will be a back lash, and people will spew hot air about not renewing season tickets but people will find a way, just like the way we all did in the 80’s.
The club have released statements saying plans don’t depend on Champions League football but I’m not sure any of us are believing it. With the Highbury development suffering it seems to me that being at the top table next year is critical for the next stage the journey that began when we left behind the marble halls and the North Bank.
AH: I am still struggling to find a chance to get online, with my home computer in the shop and a job spent standing up. So I would like to make a belated comment on FTK’s blog about early season ticket renewals. I would be inclined to agree that it sounds like a shabby way to treat the fans of a football club, just like the stupid text service and narky stewards harassing people to sit down…However, if you ask me booing your own team, getting shitty about standing, or imposing someone else’s definition of bad language on people is bollocks too.
The fans don’t show the team much slack when they are struggling, solid backbone at the Emirates as there is these days, so you can see why the club might think, “fuck ‘em!” It is a thought that occurs to me pretty regularly. It is a shame that honest fans get caught in the middle of this whole corporate mess, but when people whine about what the admission buys you – not always a guaranteed win or flawless display of world class brilliance – why shouldn’t the club treat them as what they are: nothing more than consumers, the loyalty runs no deeper than that. It is the same issue that I raised before in relation to the scapegoating of players, if you hold the club to higher standards of loyalty than we show it is hypocritical. I realize though that not everyone turns up to the Arsenal late, moans about the players, boo’s in adversity, chats through the games, then nips out early; but these are the people that are ruining it for everybody else sadly.
FTK: I was shocked to have to reveal the extent of delay and trying to recover from a position that the some at Arsenal Football club took over this issue. It was blatant hypocrisy, and a demonstration that some individuals who I could name, show nothing but contempt for the ordinary football fan. Well you know who you are, at the club, and if you think that FTK is going to be cowed by veiled threats that my stance will do this blog and myself no good in the long run, you have chosen the WRONG person to intimidate. I shall continue to support the cause of long suffering Gooners who deserve better on and off the field. The fact that the club is now having to air adverts to sell tickets for the Hull City FA cup fixture next Tuesday is proof alone that the so called buffer of 47,000 fans on the waiting list are just like everyone else. They are suffering financially too, and having to reassess their priorities. If after all this embarrassing advertising of our tickets, the Emirates is sold out to capacity, then perhaps these people will start to respect the fans more than they do at present. I am looking for Ivan Gazidis to nail these traitors to the “ Arsenal Way” of doing things very quickly!
“I am proud of the mental strength because that is something which has been questioned a lot in our team. You could see that we have improved tremendously on that front. After conceding a first early goal on a missed cross and missing the first penalty after 120 minutes, you need something special, mental strength to come back and win it.”
AH: Now all we need is a return to the flowing football of earlier this season. The games against Porto , Spurs, and Manure stand out in my mind as examples of top quality passing football. There is no reason that we can’t get back to that. As a silver lining to a tough season, we will have a group of very talented youngsters tough beyond their years.
PGL: Arsene Wenger always finds the words to demonstrate the positives to all doubting gooners. Some will have seen the Eduardo miss as a tragedy, but given the way that the Roma players all seem so assured when taking their penalties, I have to say that our ladds did good. My heart was in my mouth when Sagna strolled up to take his, but the mental strength of our full back was exactly what Arsene was referring to. He sent the keeper the wrong way and kept up the pressure on the Roma players.
FTK: I could hardly look during the shoot out and I have to be honest and say that I thought, no way will we win the shoot out, but hey! The boys did us proud!
PGL: My performance of the week goes to Sagna. A player who’s consistency seems to be flying under the radar of many of the game’s ‘commentators’. He has quietly gone about his business and has been a rock for us. He’s also stepped up on Wednesday and put away
his spot kick without batting an eyelid.
AH: I thought Denilson and Diaby were very good, our best players on Wednesday, and both stepped up when the pressure was on in the shoot-out. The whole team deserves credit though for coming through a really stern test in a hostile stadium (doesn’t do that bunch of savage lunatics justice really). Watching the boys celebrate at the end of the game was a joy, they earned that right and I am all the happier for it; simply overjoyed in fact.
FTK: The entire team from Eduardo, and Toure to Almunia and Walcott. The boys won ugly, and now people had better realise that with Fabregas and Adebayor coming back, there will be a real hunger to succeed!
PGL: My Friday finger goes to all those who thought our side would crumble under pressure. The truth, over the last few games, they seem to be dealing with the pressure in a way so many doubted they could. True some didn’t perform to well on Wednesday but the schedule of games right now is truly gruelling and the key is to keep concentrating and get through it.
AH: The neg-heads who snipe at everything the team achieves, especially anyone who says “but we will win nothing with…” It amazes me that people’s response to a game like Wednesday can be anything but extremely happy.
FTK: My finger goes to the entire Manc biased media , who think that the current Manchester United side are the best footballing team in football history. Well just because they keep airing the same old over hyped rubbish day in, day out does not hide the fact that when the Arsenal return to form, we will put this arrogant mugs back into perspective and show the world that they pretenders to OUR crown. When the Arsenal play the beautiful game as it is meant to be played, we will sweep all those fools before us. Do they really think that Man Utd will beat the current Barcelona team? Lets hope that this is the quarter final pairing! I would love it… really love it if Alex Ferguson drew Barcelona!!!
PGL: This week I’m thankful that we are putting a run of results together at the business end of the season. Villa will have been hoping our confidence would be dented again Wednesday instead we’re in the next round. Last season, at this stage, the cracks began to show, this year we’ve got through a very difficult period, still in striking distance of fourth, in the last 8 of Europe and still in the FA cup. Bobby Robson wrote somewhere recently that he thought we should have played our strongest side in the Carling Cup final two seasons ago because we needed a trophy, I’m not a trophy chaser but this season it feels like we do need some sort of success. Winning is a habit and it’s a habit we need if we are to challenge for the title next season.
AH: The champions league, we won’t always have this and each season we don’t will be a little worse for it. Lets hope we smash Blackburn and do our bit to send Fat Sam down to the championship in the process for getting back in the big league next year.
FTK: I am so pleased that we are still in contention for a top four finish, the FA and Champions league trophy, after the disastrous start to our season and having had to play without our supremo Fabregas for so long. This season will have accelerated the learning curve of experience for the likes of Vela and Merida, and these players will be so much stronger next season. Lets destroy Blackburn on Saturday, and continue the march forwards to Victory through Harmony!!!