Post Match View – F.C. Bayern München v F.C. Internazionale Milano UEFA Champions League Final

First, Jose Mourinho is the dog’s balls. Many people have expressed their dislike for the man without acknowledging his prowess. The man gets it done. End of!

I salute Jose Mourinho. I hate Inter but I can salute Jose Mourinho. He will probably remind the entire world that he is “the special one” but he has the right to do so. He is amongst those with special abilities, those with license to be boastful if they wish to be.

A few notes on the match:

Samuel Eto’o deferred to the clinical Milito. Milito won Inter the cup. Take that Ibra!

Wesley Sneijder is a fantastic player. If Mr. Arsenal leaves…

Julio Cesar is the kind of keeper Arsenal MUST sign. Class!

Maicon was pretty quiet.

Van Buyten is rubbish.

Walter Samuel has been born again. He was quietly effective.

Demichelis and Samuel could be Diego’s answer at the back.

Bayern could have used Franck. Robben huffed and puffed but was not enough.

Possession was in Bayern’s favor by quite a bit but Inter play a very sound tactical game.

Zanetti deserves the medal more than anyone else.

Mark van Bommel is a dirty cunt.

I hate Real Madrid so much I almost wish Barcelona had reached the final and won at the Bernabeu. Too bad Marco Materazzi didn’t catch a rare disease days before the final. What a despicable human being!

It was nice to see Balotelli and Mourinho hug after the match. It was good to see Lucio win the cup. The pre-match program was well choreographed.

I want Arsenal to win something so baldy that it hurts to think about it.

Keep the Faith


Three C’s

– Chamakh. He’s now officially an Arsenal player. He’ll provided needed depth in our forward line. Chamakh was one of the best players in Ligue 1, and that’s not a backhanded compliment. From what I’ve seen, he’s a bit of a link player as well. Granted, his strength is his post play and his leap, but he can play a passing game as well. That may end up being very important for us. I thought one of our crucial flaws last season was the fact that we had nobody who could replace Robin van Persie in our system. I’m not suggesting that Chamakh is a false nine, but he’s probably a better fit for it than Arshavin was.

– Cesc. If Cesc wants to leave, fine. He can go. But as one of the biggest clubs in the world, we cannot settle for less than 45 million pounds in a summer where James Milner may be sold for 30 million pounds. I don’t know what kind of position Barcelona think they have, but it’s very weak. All they have is Cesc’s desire. It’s a good starting point, but they have nothing else. Xavi and Laporta can whine all they want to the press. They have no power. Cesc has four more years, and that’s really the bottom line. Barcelona are 400 million euros in debt. They spent nearly a fifth of that money on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, jettisoning Eto’o (a true warrior and winner) in the process, and Dimytro Chrygrynsky. Not very wise moves, you can conclude. They want to include Hleb as part of a swap deal? Are these jokers kidding?

This whole situation kinda reminds me of when Kobe demanded to be traded from the Lakers. Kobe had only a few teams he wanted to be traded to, and he could veto any trade. On the other hand, the Lakers were only going to trade him if they got a king’s ransom for him. Eventually, the Lakers front office held firm, a young player developed into a key player (Bynum), the team stepped up, and then traded for Pau Gasol. After a run to the NBA Finals, the trade demand was rescinded and it looks like Kobe will finish his career as a Laker. Looking at that, we can view Cesc’s desire in another way. It’s a wake up call. It’s time to see more consistency from our players. It’s time to see Wenger splash the cash he now says he has. Cesc will not take it as far as sulking on a bench if he doesn’t get his transfer to Barcelona. Wenger will have the opportunity to show Cesc that we will win trophies. But let’s make it clear, no player is bigger than the club.

– Champions League Final. I predicted that Inter would knock out Chelsea and Barcelona. I cannot confidently say that they’ll beat Bayern. In fact, I think Bayern will edge it on penalties after they finish 1-1. I just feel as though there’s not much between the two sides, and as Wenger has pointed out, Bayern is “scoring goals for fun”. Keep in mind that Howard Webb is the referee. That means English style refereeing, and that probably favors Mourinho.

Master vs. Pupil. Sneijder and Robben, the Real Madrid rejects. Eto’o’s redemption. The underrated Olic. The Black Italian. Wingers. This game is well worth watching.

Inter the Future

– The match between Arsenal and Manchester City has been unanimously called dull. Everybody is right. The only thing to take from the match was Robin van Persie’s tackle on Adebayor. The less said about the match the better.

– I don’t know why Manchester City are being allowed to bring in Fulop on emergency loan. Their reserve keeper was fielded against us. Could they not use a reserve goalkeeper to back up Gunnar Nielsen? I don’t get it.

– Who do we want to finish 4th? Truly a nightmare scenario. Do we actually want Sp*rs to finish 4th? Possibly so, if it means keeping Manchester City down. If Manchester City gets Champions League football, they’ll find it easier to sign world class players. They’ll sign good players regardless, but it would be a big step forward for them. If Sp*rs get 4th, it’ll be terrible for us, but imagine the humiliation when they’re knocked out by the champions of Czech Republic. Maybe we want Aston Villa to sneak it, knowing how mediocre a manager O’Neill is. We definitely do not want Liverpool to somehow get 4th, because that would mean they would have beaten Chelsea, and if that’s the case, Manchester United will have won the Premier League. That’s a true nightmare.

– Everybody assumed Inter Milan would be put to the sword by Messi. I knew better. If I’m being honest, we made Barcelona look great. Mourinho would do no such thing. And in the end, his plan was simple. Field two holding midfielders, use Sneijder to provide creativity through the middle, deploy quick wingers to make runs between the full-backs and centre-backs, and rely on the solid defense (with the inspirational Lucio as a pivot point). Furthermore, they kept the pitch dry. Can they hold on against to their lead? Barcelona may score two goals, but I think Inter will also score once. That means Barcelona need to score three or four to win the tie. Messi’s “ascension” to immortality continues here.

– You may not like him, but Jose Mourinho is a winner. He’s proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt. If he successfully prevents Barcelona from defending the Champions League at the Bernabeu, he’ll be the Real Madrid manager next year. Guaranteed.

– Following Inter’s blueprint, could we have done the same against Barcelona if we were fully fit? I think we could have, but I still don’t think we would have played that way against Barcelona. Wenger wants to outplay Barcelona, and to get there, we’re going to need to improve a lot.

– It was nice to hear George Boateng condemn Phil Brown for his embarrassing halftime pitch talk way back. English people wrote it off, but that is the kind of thing a megalomanic does. Humiliating your players often leads you nowhere. That’s why Almunia has a “wrist injury,” even though it’s plainly obvious he does not.

– Tony Pulis is furious that information about a fight between the players was leaked out to the public. He’s apparently preparing to ship out ten of the players. A harmonious ship, huh? I can hear him already, “we’re not that kind of team.” Sure.

– I hope Liverpool fields a team of reserves against Chelsea. I would love to see the look on Alex Ferguson’s face when he reads that Damien Plessis is playing instead of Gerrard. That won’t happen though. Regardless, you have to give some credit to Chelsea. They’ve scored an insane amount of goals and have had three games where they’ve scored seven goals. They don’t have much of a style, but they bang them in. You can’t ignore 93 goals in 36 games.

– Check out this goal by Sergio Canales. Stunning. I wish we signed him, but he’s off to Madrid. Bastards.

– To close with a quote by Wenger. “For a while, we were not investing maybe because we had built the stadium, but I think our financial situation is now becoming much stronger and we will be capable to buy the players we need to buy.” There are a few things to point out here. One, it reveals that Wenger was handcuffed by the stadium. Did he complain? No. Did fans still asked for his head. Two, he used the word “need”, which indicates that he sees clear areas that need to be improved. Last, it shows that Wenger understands that next year will be crucial to this team’s development. Another trophyless season will be a big problem, and he knows it. I would love to fast forward a few months and have next season start now. But first, let’s enjoy the Champions League and the World Cup.

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.

One Man Team Are Out

“The young boy (Rafael) showed a bit of inexperience but they got him sent off, everyone ran towards the referee – typical Germans.” Alex Ferguson speaking after Manchester United had been knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich.

“When an Italian tells me it’s pasta, I check under the sauce to make sure.” Alex Ferguson before Manchester United played Inter Milan in the Champions League quarter-final 1999.

Gary Neville lacks class but so does Alex Ferguson. The man is a sore loser and cannot admit that his team lost to the better team. Instead, he attacks officials or opposition players and coaches.

Manchester United have to win the Premier League this season, otherwise the Glazers will face a massive backlash from fans. Darron Gibson is not Cristiano Ronaldo and the 30 million spent on Berbatov could have kept Tevez at the club. I know which player I would rather have in my team.

United fans will point to Arsenal having won nothing for the past five seasons rather than the $77 million annual debt payment the Glazers have to pay. Ferguson cannot afford to sign an expensive big name flop. But the fans will demand a big name signing if they fail to win the Premier League, otherwise the Glazers will feel their anger.

Tensions are already high at Manchester United. Police are now using tactics at Old Trafford to suppress fans protests. Anti-Glazer banners have been confiscated, the official explanation being that they block the view of other supporters. There’s also an increased police presence at home games, with officers standing in the aisles of the Stretford End – where United’s most vociferous supporters sit – to dilute any potential trouble. There is no relationship between the Glazers and the fans. Instead, the atmosphere at Old Trafford is akin to that of a police state.

The Glazers are safe as long as Ferguson continues to win the major trophies. But when the trophies dry up, the campaign to drive the Glazers out will only intensify.

Arsenal also face off the field issues regarding it’s ownership. American Stan Kroenke has until Monday to decide what he’s going to do with his 40% stake in the St. Louis Rams American Football Team. Kroenke is 10 shares away from owning 30% of Arsenal Football Club – a threshold where he will have to make an offer for the remaining shares.

On Monday Kroenke can either:

1) Accept the $300 million buyout from pending new owner Shahid Khan.

2) Elect to keep his 40% stake

3) Exercise his right of first refusal and match Khan’s bid for the 60% shares of the Rams that he doesn’t own.

Option number 3 is highly unlikely since the NFL has rules banning the cross-ownership in other major sports in the same market they compete. Kroenke owns NBA and NHL franchises in the Denver Nuggets and Avalanche respectively.

Which leaves Kroenke with options one or two.

Kroenke’s decision on Monday will probably not affect his decision making with regards to his ownership issue of Arsenal. If he chooses option one, it does not mean that he is going to make a take-over bid just because he suddenly has $300 million. Likewise, taking option two, does not necessarily mean that he will refrain from a takeover bid either.

According to Forbes, Kroenke is worth $2.7 billion. He therefore has plenty of money and resources to buy Arsenal without being relieved of his stake in the Rams. Therefore, Kroenke’s decision on Monday may not have the domino effect that most people are predicting.

Keep It Arsenal


a sudden upsetting or surprising event or experience
a feeling of disturbed surprise resulting from such an event

I’ve gone on record stating my admiration for the footballer Wayne Rooney – I can’t stand the sight of him in United colors but the boy can play. Lionel Messi is beyond amazing though. I won’t bother describing his performance. His imprint on football is plain to see. Scary that he’s only 22.

I thought I could make a good argument as to why I favored Rooney but clearly Messi is like no other player I’ve seen since Zinedine Zidane. We had no chance as long as he was on the pitch. I can say Diaby and Rosicky were shyt until my mouth hurts but it really was never about Diaby or Rosicky.

I can tell you that Denilson was as effective as Theo was, which was not effective at all even for all the running they did. Saying it though wouldn’t mean a thing. Messi ruled the day. That’s all that really mattered.

There was a time when Thierry Henry was other worldly. He has embarrassed a few teams while wearing our uniform. Just how he felt watching Messi perform against us on that super human level is something I would love to know.

What now?

We certainly don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. Wipe the blood on Scum next Wednesday and chase down Chelsea. That’s the agenda for the rest of this season.

Will we hear the Arsene must go chorus if we fail to catch Chelsea? I would bet that we will. Human nature demands it.

The Negatives are warming up the band. I’m sure of it. They don’t want to hear about injuries. We should be deep enough to cope. We should stop being so frugal and pay top level players to fill our bench or play in the reserves while even higher level players comprise our first team. That’s how they see it.

It’s an argument we’ve heard before. What do you tell those people? I gave up arguing with them a long time ago. They are not important right now but I had to bring them up because they are just waiting in the background for us to finish empty handed so they can have another go at Arsene.

I’m more worried about finishing strong and lifting the EPL title.

Keep the Faith


– We’ve been left for dead many times. Here’s a small list: when van Persie was injured, when Chelsea beat us 3-0 at home, when United beat us at the Emirates, when Chelsea beat us at Stamford Bridge, when we went down 2-0 to the World Champions Barcelona one week ago, when we entered the 93rd minute against Wolves. We fought back from every single situation. There is a great spirit in this team. Wenger speaks about it routinely, and this year the team has been backing his words. We are not the complete package, but you can never count this team out.

– We needed a miracle after being down 2-0 to Barcelona, and we concocted a resurrection. Now, with Cesc, Arshavin, Gallas, Song, and van Persie all out, we need another titanic effort. Wenger has never seen such an injury list before, but it’s something we’ve been dealing with for the whole year.

– In the first leg, Barcelona rightly earned plaudits for their possession exhibition in the first half of the game. But, we did not possess the right mentality to start the game. We were in awe of Barcelona and it showed. We allowed Dani Alves to run amok on the right flank, which is where most of their dangerous play originated from. Noted as massive underdogs, we must come out as if we have nothing to lose, because that’s simply the truth. Lose, and nobody can knock us for it (except for people like Myles Palmer). Win, and everybody will single out the dogged determination that this team is increasingly becoming known for.

– At the same time, let’s not forget that Barcelona will be missing their two first choice centre-backs, Iniesta, and Ibrahimovic. They have their share of selection problems as well.

– It would be highly beneficial to us if Sol Campbell was passed fit for the match. Playing Silvestre would give us two left-footed centre-backs, something that may be a bigger disadvantage when having to face Lionel Messi. Messi had a subdued match (on his standards) in the first leg, but at the Nou Camp, he will be itching to deliver a vintage performance. If you look at the two goals that Barcelona did score, both came off of poor attempts to play offside traps, an error that came from Alex Song having to shift back into defense. Our keeper failed to cancel out those errors, but to his credit, he did pull off “a thousand saves” according to Guardiola.

– In the midfield, we should start Denilson, Diaby, and Nasri. As noted yesterday here on 1886, Denilson may thrive more in a European style fixture. He was one of our better players in the first leg, and his passing may help to absorb some of the pressure that Barcelona will definitely deliver. Diaby may be told to put in more of a defensive effort. We must contain Barcelona at all costs and play like an away side. A 0-0 halftime result would not be a bad thing for us. Nasri must become the talisman he was for Marseille. He is capable of big performances, and his cameo role at Wolves showed much of his class.

– Up top, I would play Walcott on the right wing. There has been debate about whether he should start or not, but with Rosicky being a 50-50 for the match, the team shouldn’t take the risk of having to make an early sub. We were forced to make two early subs in the first leg, which deprived Wenger of making game changing subs. Thankfully, Theo did make a big difference, and Barcelona are only talking about Theo. Abidal has talked about how it’s not how fast you are, but what you do with the ball. He said Walcott will have to go through four defenders. Frankly, that would be a huge boon if Walcott attracts that much attention. That would create space and take away defenders from Barcelona’s line. Whether he does anything with the ball or not, Theo should be fed balls in between the Barcelona’s centre-back and Abidal. Guardiola responded by stating that the way you stop Walcott is by not giving up the ball. He’s a smart man.

– On a quick note, what ridiculous statements by the English media and Karl Henry. During the match, there was a moment when they showed Rosicky’s calf and it had four stud marks with blood. So, after three leg breaks in four years, we’re already running out of “sympathy”? Our players crowded the ref and forced him to make a decision? What team doesn’t do this? An outrage? Give me a break.

– Bendtner is a given up top. He scores crucial goals and provides variety in our attack. On the left side, I would like to see Eboue start. That would help alleviate Clichy’s duties with Dani Alves. We must pay attention to that man. He is a dangerous, dangerous player.

– It’s been noted that the Nou Camp has a huge pitch, but it’s actually no bigger than the Emirates. That being said, it’s one tailor made for Barcelona and their style of play. Guardiola has already suggested that whoever keeps the ball will win. I can almost guarantee that Barcelona will keep the ball more, but actually, it’ll be who converts their chances which will be more decisive. For all of Barcelona’s devastating play, we could have equalized soon after Ibrahimovic’s first goal if Bendtner took his chance when he headed straight at Valdes.

– We have failed to keep a clean sheet away from home in the Champions League for 11 matches. That means that we may need to score two goals. That could lead to extra time. Anything could happen, but we must be the first ones to score.

– History is made when you seize an opportunity. This team has a chance to grab that opportunity by the throat. Everybody is ruling us out, and if Barcelona play the way they did in the first half of the first leg, we’ll be lucky to be in it. But could they really play much better? And could we really play much worse? That may be tempting fate, but we go into the match with confidence after staging two late shows. Whether we win a trophy this year, we’ll have to see. But I do know this much about this team, we’ve learned how to fight. That’s usually when talented players graduate to becoming champions.

– A great man once wrote that football is not predictable. Don’t ever forget those words.

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