Tired of It

– Barcelona deservedly advanced to the Champions League semi-final over us. Earlier in the year, I was watching Barcelona play and I openly wondered how somebody could tactically beat this team. Five months later, we brutally learned that this Arsenal team could not do that.

– When somebody pointed out the injured players for Arsenal, others quickly pointed to the fact that Barcelona had many key players missing as well. That is true, but the equivalents don’t really match up. If Barcelona were missing Ibrahimovic, Messi, Xavi, Puyol, then fine, but it wasn’t the same.

– Losing Alex Song was the final straw. Without him, we had to rely on Silvestre and Vermaelen as a pairing. That led to Vermaelen playing in the unfamiliar role as a right sided centre-back. Our whole team was virtually out of synch, and it showed. We were outpassed, outworked, and outclassed in the two legs.

– Most have conceded that Barcelona will win the Champions League again this year, but I’m not so sure. Frankly, playing against us suited them. We’re not the most tactically astute team. We try to outplay people with our football, and the emphasis is always on our own football. Rarely do we target specific players defensively. When we do target the opposition, it’s always a weakness in the opposition’s defense, something we can take advantage of offensively. That happened when Diaby released Theo up the right wing that led to our brief moment of giddiness. One minute later, we could have created another great chance, but Diaby failed to spot Theo’s run. After that, it was Messi, Messi, Messi, and Messi. Inter Milan is an entirely different animal. Mourinho will attempt to stifle Messi and Barcelona, and they possess the players to do it. They have numerous experienced professionals, and the tie promises to be tighter than most expect. What we learned was that this Arsenal team is not good enough to beat Barcelona yet. Not experienced enough, not astute enough, and we don’t work nearly as hard as they do. It’s a great lesson for this team to have to learn.

– With all that being said, I’m not overly down on the squad at the moment. We’re still in this title race, and while we need our opponents to drop points, we need to focus on winning our own matches. A fixture against Tottenham is the ideal tonic. If the boys can’t get up for this game, then our title hopes are as good as gone. But, if we win, it will put real pressure on Manchester United and Chelsea to win out.

– Manchester United have lost five games after Champions League fixtures. It’s too bad they’ll be playing Blackburn over the weekend. Allardyce is Ferguson’s lap dog, and his team will surely cave and allow Berbatov to bag a brace. Chelsea have Bolton midweek after the FA Cup semi. They’ll be tired as well, but Chelsea seem to be focused on the league.

– I’m getting a bit tired of reading about Lionel Messi. Yes, he’s the best player in the world. No, he’s not the best player of all time just yet. Yes, his performance against us was majestic. But enough already. While I was still cheering the boys on, even while 3-1 down, I couldn’t help but wonder how the Invincibles would have done against this Barcelona team. I’m not suggesting that they would have beaten this classy Barcelona side, but it would have been an intriguing contest for sure. Is this Barcelona side the best club side ever? They could be, but personally I’d still put Sacchi’s AC Milan ahead of them, but that could change.

– Tony Pulis really has a thing for Arsene Wenger. He’s hit out at him yet again for attacking McCarthy’s selection way back when he fielded a team of reserves against United. In his argument, he states that seven of the players are now enjoying an extended run in the side. That is true, but at the time, he made ten changes and clearly punted the game. Even McCarthy couldn’t deny that, and the fine amounted to a mere slap on the wrist. I wish Wenger really did have that much influence, then perhaps we wouldn’t get yellow cards after one foul every match. He also said that the Arsenal players got Karl Henry sent off. Karl Henry got Karl Henry sent off. Seeing the tackle in full speed, I thought it looked like an orange card bordering on red. Only the English would suggest that it wasn’t a sending off. Tomas Rosicky had four visible stud marks on his calf, and Pulis claims the fact that he could play against Barcelona is suggestion enough that it wasn’t a violent tackle. Think again. Maybe Pulis is just peeved that Aaron Ramsey himself didn’t let Ryan Shawcross off the hook for the tackle. Wenger makes a comment about it, Pulis dismisses it. Ramsey says Shawcross could have pulled out of the challenge, other parts of the statement are used to support the claim that it was an accident. Pulis was in contact with Mike Riley, the head of the referees, about how Mike Dean unfavorably refs games when Stoke City are involved. What is worse, players sticking up for their player when he was clearly hacked down (illegally or not) or a manager trying to gain a decisive advantage by not having a certain referee ref their games? Unbelievable. We are vilified for defending our players, while the tackler gets away with an England call up and a pep talk from Steven Gerrard.

– Arjen Robben’s goal against United was a beauty. At least Bayern knocking United out provided me with some entertainment this week.

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