Wenger Looks to Bolster Squad, Extend Coq

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The biggest news since our win at City is rumblings of a new contract for our in-house shit house, Francis Coquelin. Which is absolutely brilliant in every way.

Coquelin is a testament to Arsène’s trademark patience with his players. Looking at the names he’s taken from teenaged nobodies to household names is remarkable. I’m glad we’ve found an – albeit short term – fix to the dearth of defensive midfield options currently at the club. The fact that our solution was sourced internally is especially pleasing.

I suspect Arsène sees Coquelin’s resurgence as the perfect excuse for putting off chasing a DM this window; frankly, I don’t blame him. Whoever we can get into the team now probably won’t be good enough to continue on with, so why bother? It’s better to stick with what we have in central midfield. Between Ramsey, Coquelin, Rosicky and others, I think we’ve got the numbers to last the rest of the season.

Where we could use an addition is at the back. I’m still not convinced Laurent Koscielny or Calum Chambers are fully fit, and there is no way that Per Mertesacker isn’t at least a little battered and bruised. He hasn’t had a proper rest in years. Again, it is January, so getting what we’re after is no easy task.

Nonetheless, the papers have linked us with two defenders, both from La Liga: Villareal’s Gabriel Paulista, and Valencia’s Nicolas Otamendi.
I can’t admit to knowing much about either, but it’s nice to see us sniffing around in Spain some more. We haven’t put a foot wrong signing a player from there since, well, Sebastien Squillaci, but that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that there are deals to be had. Nacho Monreal being the most recent example.

If they’re good enough, sign one of them, and we come out of January looking tidy indeed. Our defensive core is looking rather tasty, with five up to five contracted full backs vying for two starting spots next season.

What interests me more than our defense is the impending midfield shake-up.

The contracts of Coquelin, Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta, and Mathieu Flamini all expire in the summer. This is a huge opportunity to free up a lot of cash to store forever and ever under Arsène’s mattress tied up in players who aren’t contributing enough to the team.

I’ll love Abou Diaby for ever and ever, but even on the alleged sporadic pay-as-you-go deal, it’s just not worth keeping him around. We’re never going to fix him, it’s best just to wish him well and send him on his way.

My sentiments are a little different towards Mathieu Flamini. His form from last season has taken one of the sharpest nose dives I’ve ever seen from an Arsenal player. No one has attempted explaining it either. Sadly, it’s probably because no one cares. Flamini’s re-hiring reeked of desperation at the time, so it comes as no surprise that we’ve stalled on giving him a bumper deal. I’ve enjoyed his enthusiasm and general calamity in his play, but turf-shredding tackles can only get you so far in this game. It’s probably time to say goodbye.

What this means for us is the possibility of a truly new-look, young Arsenal midfield. For once, the lack of an old guard would be welcome in my eyes. I think the best outcome in this contract situation would be getting Arteta to sign a player-coach contract, and letting the rest be byegones. We’re ever so close to having a complete squad, but there’s still some trimming to do yet.

Right now, I’m just happy that some of our problems are solving themselves. Cheers Francis.

I am @BergkampSpin

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Arsenal Win, Flamini Plays Right Wing, Good Times Had.

Arsenal won away from home against the English champions.

Not everyday you see that headline nowadays, which in itself is a bit of a shame, but the past shouldn’t put a damper on what this team is achieving here and now.

You seldom know what you’re going to get when you see Arsenal square up to a top side. Be it a continental juggernaut like Bayern Munich, or old foes Manchester United. With City, however, there’s always a glimmer of hope. You know you’re at least in for a spectacular game of football.

For some reason, it’s never a dull fixture. Part of me thinks it’s because City are the one team among the “elite” clubs that can’t seem to hide their soft underbelly. For every bit of brilliance produced by the Aguero’s and Touré’s of the team, you just know that Martin Demichelis has got a moment of madness or two in store for the 90 minutes.

I think the reason we’re so good at exposing City’s fatal flaws is because we share quite a few. On our day, we hog possession, and wait for the chances to present themselves. We often put too much emphasis on attacking, and leave ourselves unprepared for what runs the other way.

Yesterday though, we managed to put the shoe on the other foot. We soaked up pressure, and tried our luck on the counter, and it worked. While we weren’t living up to our usual standard of fluid attacking football – particularly in our passing accuracy, which left a lot to be desired – it was refreshing to see us perform so well against top opposition. Everything about the way we went about playing was carefully considered, and it showed.

It was a true team performance; we were compact, and well organized. Everyone had a job. In particular, I have to commend Alexis Sanchez and the Ox for their box to box performances. I maintain that the hardest positions to play in today’s game are the wide ones; you have to be elusive on the front foot, and dogged in your own end to be considered a top player. Even though neither were particularly effective in front of goal, they managed to give City’s flanks a tough test for 90 minutes, so good on them.

The real stars of the show were down our spine. Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, and Olivier Giroud were magnificent today. Coquelin managed to contain David Silva the entire match, not something to which many defenders can attest. You have to admire Le Coq’s reform since coming back from Charlton. You can see he’s worked on controlling his temper, although he’s still prone to the odd flare up. Not a bad thing, considering we do need a bit of steel in the middle of the park.

Olivier Giroud was also up for the contest today. His first touches were mostly excellent, and his sense of awareness is becoming better every game. His passes are connecting well, and overall, he’s finally showing that he’s ready to lead our line with confidence. He’s making his presence known in the big matches with increasing regularity. It’s been a treat to watch him grow into this role, despite it being a long and windy road.

Quick shout out to our entire back line, who, with Coquelin in front of them, looked absolutely stellar.

Lastly, Santi Cazorla. We’ve all said it before, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this match was his best in an Arsenal shirt. Once Ozil is at his sharpest, you’d imagine Arsène will have some headache trying to keep everyone happy, and playing in their optimal positions. I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

Despite having Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil fit, we left them on the bench. Arsène probably felt their lack of match sharpness and less than industrious work rates weren’t suited to a high tempo, end to end match; in the end, he was right. It just goes to show that piling on the big guns isn’t always the best plan. Hopefully it makes a case for more liberal rotation in the future, in the hopes that it keeps our players off the treatment table.

I don’t have anything bad to say about that match; sorry if you were expecting a little more analysis. Everyone was brilliant in their own little ways.

It’s nice to see Arsenal on the right side of a big result once in a while.

I am @BergkampSpin

 

The Show Must Go On Without Arteta

Mikel Arteta is injured again. The Guardian claim he is to be out for “many more weeks.” That’s unfortunate, but I think it’s indicative of our problems within the squad that we still rely on a 32-year-old with degrading legs to be our midfield lynchpin.

His transition from number 10 in his younger days to the quasi defensive mid role in our side was always a bit of a gamble, but it did pay off quite well in his first two seasons as the club.

Sure, Mikel is not perfect. But he did a damn good job in his time fit here. I think it’s fitting we keep him on as a player, as he’s still got a role to play in this team. As an experienced player who’s shown leadership qualities in the past, I’d have no qualms in giving him a contract that sees him well into his late thirties. Can you say player coach? We’ve managed to nab a few of the Invincibles to get their coaching badges at the Emirates, but it’s equally important we keep what few old heads we have now. You’d be forgiven in forgetting that a lot of our important players are still in their early to mid twenties.

I think it’s realistic that we won’t see Mikel play more than 10 games from here until the end of the season, if he plays at all. So, how do we cope with that?

The re-introduction of Francis Coquelin was a timely one, although I imagine Arsène did it out of bare necessity more than anything. That’s not a knock on Coquelin. He’s a player I’ve always said would eventually do well in this side, despite the fact that he could never quite nail down a starting place, supposedly due to attitude problems. He’s doing well now, and that’s what matters.

Beyond Coq, we’ve got the walking calamity that is Mathieu Flamini. I can wear rose-tinted specs with the best of them, but Flamini seems much, much worse than last season. Him and Aaron Ramsey were so complimentary last year. I really can’t figure out what changed. He is the wrong side of thirty now, but there’s something more to his sharp decline that we might have to put down to natural regression. I’m not going to cry about it; we got him for free. He’s put in a few entertaining tackles, and has enough red cards to make a home shirt out of. Let’s just leave him be.

This is where Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey will have to step up. Jack should be back in months, Ramsey in weeks or less. The lack of appealing options in the middle of the park goes in his favour, with Tomas Rosicky seemingly preferred next to Coquelin over the ailing Flamini.

Aside from making a signing in January (haha), that’s just about all we’ve got in the middle. One option that I’d love to see Wenger try in the long term is pushing Santi backwards, making him the deep lying playmaker; the role earmarked for Jack Wilshere, and potentially Oxlade-Chamberlain.

There would definitely be some growing pains with our daintiest playmaker next to an anchor man, but I think it could be useful against sides who are notoriously tough to break down, specifically all those shoddy Premier League outfits who show up to stack two banks of four against us for 90 minutes. It would mean fitting Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott and Giroud in the same side without using any of the aforementioned ineffectually.

Just food for thought. In any case, I think we can manage without Mikel for a while longer. The same way we’ve kicked on during Flamini’s stint on the bench. It’s time for a bit of a rethink, and it starts with the personnel we’ve already got at our disposal.

I am @BergkampSpin

Wenger’s Probably Not Arsed with January – Here’s Why

Look, If I had a fuck to give, I would give. You know that. If there is a fuck out there that I can get that will please you, I will get that fuck and give it.

Remember the great fullback crisis of 2011? Or was it 2010?

I honestly don’t remember what year. Sadly, that’s pretty indicative of how common massive injury plagues are on this club. How we manage to temporarily kill a third of our squad year after year is a notable accomplishment in itself, really. A salute to duncery in its purest art form.

I think our coaches and trainers took A-levels on ignoring “little bit niggles” that turn into “oh no my arm’s fallen off”, and, credit to them, it works.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this.

To me, that calamitous season sets precedent for Arsène’s behaviour in the January window. We were playing a back line of Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, and Johan Djourou, were we not? We had Sebastien Squillaci knocking around too, if memory serves. Honestly, I’m getting chills just thinking about it. That is just tragic, and cruel to the fans who endured that shambles. What did Wenger do to remedy that situation? Nothing!

We were linked with Chris Samba – the largest centre back in the known world – and nothing came of that. We were linked with Emilio Izaguirre. He still plays for Celtic. We went all the way through January, and nobody came in. We made fourth place, and the world reset. No sweat off Arsène’s neck.

Sure, it would have been easier for Arsène to go out and get in a few competent players to cover our positions, but then what would we have done with six full backs in the summer?

The situation is similar this year in defense, and to an extent, central midfield. For time’s sake, let’s just look at the back line.

Depending on how you classify Calum Chambers, we either have three centre backs and four full backs, or two centre backs and five full backs. Most say we need one more body in the centre of defense, and I’m inclined to agree.

However, we’ve been through this before. We’ve seen how hard it is to keep all of our defensive players happy. Remember Thomas Vermaelen? He is the microcosm of our current issue.

So, I put it to you. Make sure any player you have in mind to sign fills out “yes” to each of the following questions.

  1. Is he good enough?
  2. Is he willing to compete with two established starters?
  3. Is his transfer fee reasonable?
  4. Are his wages?
  5. Will his club let him leave?
  6. Does he want to leave?
  7. Can we strike a deal in two weeks’ time?

If you’ve found a player who ticks all those boxes, congratulations. You should send in your resume to Steve Rowley’s office. Rub elbows will Gilles Grimandi or something, because you’re damn good.

I am @BergkampSpin

Arsenal Close to signing Defensive Midfielder – Would You Bielik It!?

Full disclosure here. I have no idea how to pronounce Krystian Bielik’s last name correctly. I’m also not convinced he isn’t just some putty-faced generated player you get from simming your FIFA career to 2029. Honestly, even if his name doesn’t rhyme with the word “believe,” it should, because that would be a) make a damn good pin-up sign, and b) be some incredible speculative punnery from yours truly.

The rather large (he’s 6’2) Pole is apparently on his way to the Arsenal. In what capacity, I don’t know. We’ve been promised time and time again that these teenaged phenoms will magically break into the side and win our hearts within weeks. Though unsurprisingly, it rarely works out that way.

The most recent victim of this wunderkid label in our team is man of the world, Gedion Zelalem. This incredible tri-race species was touted as both physically and technically unrivalled in the academy. He’s apparently been training with the first team since his arrival.

At 16 years old, he was the feather in our cap. He’s 18 in two weeks, and I think he’s played about 8 seconds for us this season.

The same stories apply to the Barça boys, Hector Bellerin and Jon Toral. Sure, Bellerin is progressing nicely now, being afforded sporadic playing time in the side, but what of his compatriot? Toral is still buried in the academy somewhere; probably pulling on Nico Yennaris’s old boots, hacking at pimply porkers on a mud patch in Kent.

By no means am I suggesting that it’s a bad thing we’re not thrusting young players into the spotlight – much the opposite. I’m tired of hearing that X player is in Arsène Wenger’s first team plans prior to the end of the season, and 10 wacky reasons why they’re the best thing in the football universe since the dubbing of the Makelele role.

So, if we do end up signing this kid, I hope we don’t see him for at least three years. Send him on loan to some absolute hell hole in Serie C. Better yet, where’s Gennaro Gattuso managing these days? Send him wherever that mad bastard is. I want him to have had mud in orfices he didn’t know existed before he gets to know the privilege of stepping onto the Emirates’s manicured carpet with two minutes left in injury time.

If you think about it, that’s the background most of our successful homegrown players share, and they’re all better off for it.

I am @BergkampSpin

The January Window is for Fools.

Andrey Arshavin was our last good signing in the January transfer window. It took until February, and it almost didn’t happen in the end, but we got the little meerkat. We smashed our transfer record, and walked away happy.

So there is potential in the month of madness and mild annoyance. But you can’t seriously expect to conclude a deal, start to finish in 31 days. And you definitely don’t want to bank on knocking it out of the park with any form of consistency.

Signing a player, especially a high calibre one, takes multiple weeks to pull off at the best of times. It’s just how the business works. Since time is at such a premium in January, everything is accelerated and inflated. A centre back worth £5m in July becomes £17m in January. A player’s wage demands are likely to bump. Everybody gets greedy, because if you’re in a tight spot with only four weeks to do anything about it, you’re going to have to pay.

There’s a lot more to it than picking up a phone and rattling off some numbers.

Mesut Ozil signed on the summer deadline day. Alexis Sanchez’s transfer stretched late into August. Both took months to organize. These are our two best players, and Arsène Wenger personally moved mountains to get them both. Both superstars commanded large fees, and both required some convincing to come to North London.

Almost any player we do or don’t end up signing will have a price tag they simply don’t merit. Why do you think most of the biggest signings in football are in the summer? Manchester City paid just under £40m for Sergio Aguero in the summer of 2011. Imagine how much more they would have forked over to Atletico Madrid in the winter? Suddenly a four turns to a six, and you’re left wondering where your oil money has gone.

It’s just not good business.

This is why I want Dick Law locked up in Steve Bould’s trunk until February 1. Give him some twizzlers and a Skype account for tying up that Bielik kid, and let that be that. If we want to add one centre back, so be it. But you and I know that Arsène, Steve Rowley and co. are going to have one hell of a time finding and signing the the damn unicorn that is a world class, brick shit house with a sprinkle of Paddy Vieira defensive midfielder.

The simple reason is that they simply do not exist. Not for less than half a fortune. Nemanja Matic reportedly cost just north of £20m. Javi Martinez and Fernandinho both rang in around £30m. Not only are quality defensive players a dime a dozen and expensive, they’re hard to pry from the hands of their current clubs.

Another problem. Anybody who has decent tackling and possession stats can command north of £20m in today’s markets. You can thank YouTube for that. Not a good thing, considering we’ve only paid more than that for two of the world’s absolute best attacking talents, and no one else.

I don’t want a DM, because we’ll invariably end up paying £13m for Jeremy Toulalan’s corpse, or Flamini’s younger brother. January is a waste of time.

I am @BergkampSpin

We Don’t Have to Play Stoke Again, So That’s Good.

Thank fuck they’re gone for a bit eh 

When I order a 10-piece McNugget meal, I always count the pieces of chicken. There are never nine, and never 11. Just 10. I don’t deserve to be disappointed, because it’s exactly what I ordered. And yet, I still count the pieces every time.

It’s because, sometimes, I just expect a bit of undeserved dumb luck. Maybe I caught the fry cook in a good mood, or maybe because I was polite to the cashier, they pushed a special button on their console that said “make sure this one gets a little something something on the side” on my order. I don’t know.

That’s exactly how I felt about our result. At times, there was some level 4 Wengerball, and all was good at the Emirates. But then Debuchy hurt his shoulder. Not the end of the world I suppose, but it just tells you that nothing is sacred when you’re playing Stoke. We just got the boy back, and now he’s probably going to be in a sling for three weeks, stuck doing Arsenal Player segments on his favorite ice cream flavours. We were going to win that match without incident, so why did Debuchy have to get hurt? That’s a bit crap.

Still, it’s not all bad. After all, nothing makes me happier than seeing Geoff Cameron, Jonathan Walters, and the rest of those meandering knuckleheads absolutely miserable.

For the first time in a while, we made someone play our game, and it was beautiful. Forward passes fizzed between the lines, thanks to the industry and quick feet of Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla, and Alexis Sanchez.

Even Giroud looked up for the occasion, giving Ryan Shawcross what can only be described as a good ole “fuck off” shove right in the throat. Good stuff, Oli.

I think this is his breakthrough season. Not in the sense that he’ll hit 30 goals, but that he’s finally become a striker worthy of leading our line. When the ball reaches him, I know there’s a good chance he won’t waste it. Gone are the days where you groan at his every touch.

Giroud has reached the point in his career where his limitations have influenced other parts of his game positively. He now knows what he can and cannot do, within reason. I’ll give you an example: When was the last time you saw him try to take on his man? It’s little things like this that make us a better team, one that knows it’s strengths and weaknesses.

Much like Giroud’s new found groove, there was a general air of comfort and competence in the team’s performance that we haven’t seen in a while. Everything just worked. Coquelin and Rosicky were disciplined in the middle of the pitch, pressing and organizing the team well. Santi and Alexis ran rings around Stoke’s back line. The Ox was taking on men for fun. Laurent Koscielny showed his value as the team’s best defender, and Nacho Monreal went about the the game with a quiet effectiveness that naturally goes unnoticed.

Aside from the aforementioned positives, my favorite part of the match was the brief period of having Theo, Alexis and Ozil together on the pitch. How deflated would you be if you were three down away from home, only to see Mesut Ozil being introduced, and Aaron Ramsey finishing his stretches?

Overall, this is a team on the up. I just fear that we’re in for a rude awakening next week when we face Manchester City.

Anders

Hello Arsenal, My Old Friend.

2014 was a massive success for Arsène Wenger.

We signed Mesut Ozil. We won the FA Cup. We’re in the Champions League with a sight line past the first knockout round.

Somehow, Alexis Sanchez is still alive; considering he played over 70 competitive football matches, and is employed by Arsenal Football Club, I really think we’d be asking a little too much of the guy upstairs to ask for a centre back who can run faster than a pregnant koala, on top of it all.

Continuing with good news, Mesut Ozil is fit… to start against Stoke. They can hide behind their new found fluidity and pseudo tiki-taka rebirth all they like, this is still the club that sews hand towels in their jerseys just to have the leg up on long throws. I don’t like Mesut’s chances at emerging from the land of orcs and Rory Delap’s mum unscathed.

No amount of Barcelona rejects will convince me Stoke are in it for the football. Why would it? Steven N’Zonzi is still a starter for that pulsing abomination of an institution. If that doesn’t scream blatant fraudulence, I don’t know what does.

The only thing I hold interest in concerning Sunday’s match is the situation of our little chim-chimney, Wojciech Szczesny.

You’d hope the big lump would start against a side whose average height must still be at the top end of the Premier League. I’m all for giving David Ospina a chance between the sticks, but I don’t want to return to the dark days of fearing concession via set piece every time there’s a free kick within forty yards of our penalty spot.

Other interesting points will be the inclusion of two of these three: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis, and Theo Walcott. If I had to guess, it would be Theo dropping to the bench for Ox. Sanchez not starting a match for us? Not on your life. That man knows no pain.

Aside from that, I’m not interested in tactics. it doesn’t matter. We’ll be dancing around two banks of four for 90 minutes, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that.

Still, should be a Sunday funday up norf, or something. Shit, it’s at the Emirates. Can’t wait for Lee Cattermole’s 5th minute tap in then.

I have a Twitter account.

CFC 2 AFC 0 – What’s Our Problem?

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What do Chelsea have that we don’t?

Immediately, you think of money. Both clubs have it by the bucket load. Yes, Chelsea are owned by one of the richest men in the world, and yes, they spend recklessly at times. But, when you give Jose Mourinho a blank cheque and holes to fill, guess what? Those holes won’t be there at kickoff on Matchweek 1.

Inversely, Arsène Wenger is probably still considering getting his Chevette rust-proofed, not realizing Steven Gerrard’s cousin nicked his hub caps two years ago. We needed an attacking midfielder when Fabregas left. Arsène stuck with an ailing Aaron Ramsey. Robin van Persie left, and Giroud came in. Olivier Giroud.

And still, we lack a high calibre defensive midfielder. We have for many years. We lack a top striker. I love Danny Welbeck more than the average Arsenal fan, but it’s plain to see that he needs time to develop.

Let me take a step back. Fundamentally, Arsenal are inferior to the cream of the crop in almost every facet. The amount of times we’ve come close to challenging the best – Milan, Bayern and Barça come to mind – only to have a moment of calamity and fold in on ourselves, is maddening.

Couple those bittersweet European nights with huge losses suffered to English juggernauts, and you get a team who are famed for their comedy rather than their gusto. It makes you wonder why Arsène spends so much time wringing his hands. Everybody in the stadium knows how a match is going to play out.

Why does it have to be this way? Why do we go to Stamford Bridge expecting to be left humiliated? Is it because we’re a top side underachieving, or are we a patchwork side under the guise of what we once were? I think it’s time we realize that Arsenal are no longer a top side. We’re also-rans. That much is evident in taking maximum points from only two matches of the seven played. The fact that United’s trimmed fat is our first choice and only fit striker.

We’re not the Arsenal who win 1-0 at the Bernabeu, and Arsène Wenger is no longer the manager to make us so.

@BergkampSpin
@BergkampSpinCom

Check Your Grass for Arjen Robben Before You Mow it.

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Most probably roll their eyes when others jump to defend our shortcomings with tired sayings. I know I do.

“At least we’ve got class,” Bernie will say with a stiff upper lip, conviction in his voice. That may be so, you think, but when the chips are down, does reputation really matter? The answer is yes, more than you know.

You might not believe me, but sport is about more than the numbers that go up on a board. You don’t get the same feeling beating Spurs on FIFA as you do watching the North London derby, because you have no palpable effect on the game. Yes, you can scream your throat dry, that doesn’t always work. You can have the best line of eleven players to ever grace a football pitch, and lose. It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. No team wins all their games, it’s a fact of life. You can walk away crestfallen from a bad result, but return once more with the same passion, to the same ground, week in, week out. Why is that? It might be a release from the stress of a hard work week. It might be the prospect of catching up with friends you wouldn’t see otherwise. At the end of the day though, what really keeps you, the individual, routinely walking through that turnstile?

Pride.

I’m proud of Arsenal Football Club. I love everything they do. The history behind the club, the ties I have to the area, despite hailing from Canada, the ethos; Victory Through Harmony.  Class oozes from every pore of Arsenal, and i wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s part of the reason I don’t think we’ll see the Champions League struck off Arsène Wenger’s trophy hunt list any time soon. We don’t have what it takes to defeat the best of the best. Part of it is the talent we have at our disposal. On our day, we are comfortably one of the ten best sides in world football. Unfortunately, our day doesn’t come along often in the Champions League. Especially when you’re playing against sides who toss their morals out the window faster than Arjen Robben can go from a world record sprinting speed to a career threatening injury.

Wenger: Robben is very good at getting the maximum of nothing. He is a great player, but also a good diver.

I’m against cheating. I’m not saying we lost because we don’t cheat. That would be absurd. Bayern won because they cheat, and they’re brilliant. Everybody waxes lyrical about how fantastic they are for giving their fans cheap tickets and booze; it’s probably to offset how awfully backwards they are as a football team. Yes, they’re armored head to toe with a good part of the best and highest flying players in the world, a fantastic manager, and play in a league that they dominate. That doesn’t stop them from playing the ref and generally being among the most unsportsmanlike teams around. This is two years in a row I thought they’d turned into the 2006 Italian national team.

Still, for all their antics and general superiority, you may as well try to get something out of the tie, right? If your mindset going into the game is “we can’t” or “we won’t” then what’s the point of watching? This is the second year in a row that we’ve gone to the Allianz and refused to submit. How many teams can say they haven’t been defeated by Bayern in their own backyard recently? The fighting spirit, more so than the result, is what I’m proud of. We had it up against us. They scored first, so we went up the other end and hit them right back. How many teams can say that Bayern are genuinely scared of them?

I’d rather watch Giroud amble around, get pushed over and get back up, ready to go, than have Mario Mandzuckic flop around to waste time.

I’d rather be a specialist in failure than achieve victory through robbery.

 

Anders