Can Wenger win the Champions League at Arsenal? Understanding Arsène and Europe through the lens of AS Monaco vs. Werder Bremen Cup Winners’ Cup Final 1992

In the final installment of Wenger: The Beginnings we bring you a tale of heartbreak and mystery. The 1992 Cup Winners’ Cup Final.

European continental competition is club football’s greatest stage, the final frontier, a pinnacle of achievement. Millions of people around the globe watched Arsenal’s 2-1 Champions League triumph over Barcelona last Wednesday night. This was Arsenal’s first against the ‘best team in history’, and most of all this was a moment to savour for Arsène Wenger. Success in Europe has consistently evaded Wenger, arguably the greatest manager never to win a European trophy.

There is no doubting Wenger’s depth of experience in Europe. Even in his modest playing career he managed to appear at centre back in a UEFA Cup tie for RC Strasbourg in 1979. His selection there was out of desperation, the youth team coach called into the side against Duisberg, only to see his side lose 4-0. As a manager though, he is a veteran, playing teams in Europe since 1988, and leading Arsenal into the Champions League every year since 1998. However, the pain of those campaigns which never quite lived up to expectation still lingers.


Wenger and Jean Petit on the bench during Monaco’s 1992 Cup Winners’ Cup final in Lisbon.

Continue reading “Can Wenger win the Champions League at Arsenal? Understanding Arsène and Europe through the lens of AS Monaco vs. Werder Bremen Cup Winners’ Cup Final 1992”

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Arsenal Score Six: How they took Braga apart: Highlights of The Fab Four – Wilshere, Fabregas, Arshavin, Chamakh

As Marouane Chamakh left the field last night, his name reverberated around the stadium, and for good reason. The striker has been a breath of fresh air for an Arsenal side which has all too often struggled with injuries up front. Together with the passing of Wilshere and Fabregas, and the movement of Arshavin, Arsenal pulled a new Braga side apart last night, scoring six goals.

Technically Chamakh is gifted, but this is only one of his strong points. He has the ability to create space for others, in holding the ball up superbly with a mixture of balance, strength and exquisite control. His touch is good enough that he generally holds on to the ball, even in very difficult situations, and his aerial strength means he can win headers and make knock downs.

Continue reading “Arsenal Score Six: How they took Braga apart: Highlights of The Fab Four – Wilshere, Fabregas, Arshavin, Chamakh”

Braga’s Brazilian counter-attacking analysed: Champions League Scouting – Arsenal vs. Braga

Os Arsenalistas are about to face their namesakes, in a clash which sees Europe’s most consistent Champions League Qualifiers, Arsenal, take on S. C. Braga in their first campaign.

The 2009-2010 league season was excellent for Braga. Under Domingos Paciência they led the Portuguese league for much of the season, losing out to Benfica in what was a two horse race. Finishing second was still an unprecedented achievement for a club generally considered inferior to the ‘Big Three’ – Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon.


The 2009-10 Liga Table

Continue reading “Braga’s Brazilian counter-attacking analysed: Champions League Scouting – Arsenal vs. Braga”

Arsenal 5-0 Porto Highlights: a balanced side get it right on the night with a Nasri stunner

Bendtner 10, Bendtner 25, Nasri 63, Eboue 66, Bendtner (pen) 90+1

I’m still reeling from the fantastic performance Arsenal put in last night. Say what you want about Porto, winning 5-0 in the second round of the Champions League is some achievement -especially after being 2-1 down in humiliating fashion in the first leg.

Arshavin provided a lot of the key moments in the game, setting up three goals. Overall I think everyone put in a good performance, and gave a good account of the team.

Continue reading “Arsenal 5-0 Porto Highlights: a balanced side get it right on the night with a Nasri stunner”

Arsenal 3 – 1 Celtic: Highlights, talking point Eduardo

Arsenal dominated Celtic yesterday to reach the finals of the Champions League, with a good display of passing football. Sadly the headlines today focus solely on the dubious penalty Eduardo won for the first goal.

Highlights from the excellent Arsenalist.com:

There was little or no contact, and if it had been given against us I would be upset about it. The fact is though that this happens in football. As Wenger said Babel blatently dived in the CL QF at Anfield 2 years ago which knocked us out of the competition. I have no idea why Eduardo went down like that, but he isn’t the sort of player you expect that of, and it seems to be a one off.

The press seem to be having a field day over Eduardo’s actions, in a qualifier where we were always going to go through. Players like Drogba have a reputation for diving and never seem to get this sort of reaction. That is what I don’t understand. Eduardo wasn’t right, but there are much worse offenders in English football.

Aside from that the game was a straightforward affair, we passed the ball around neatly, and Eboue’s performance was a highlight! He made several nice turns and passes, and his goal topped it off. He was playing in the front three and often was playing as centre forward which was interesting.

Arshavin, Ramsey and Wilshere came on in the second half and all looked impressive. Arshavin showed why he is one of the best players in Europe at the moment, scoring a goal and making an impact within minutes of coming on. Denilson also performed well.

Most pleasingly the central defensive partnership of Vermaelen and Gallas was again solid last night. Vermaelen didn’t miss a header, and made several interceptions as did Gallas, and both made excellent forays going forward.

A good performance, now we need to see the draw this afternoon for the group stages. As well as that we have the small matter of a league tie at Old Trafford on saturday afternoon.

Arsenal vs. Celtic Second Leg: Fabregas out, expect rotation – Ramsey?

Fabregas is out for the CL Second Leg Qualifier tonight against Celtic with a hamstring problem. The injury is not serious according to Wenger though.

Fabregas was taken off at half time against Portsmouth, and went for a scan afterwards which showed that the muscle was not strained. I expect he will be back for the game at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, but if he needs more time then the club should allow him to recover.

Wenger said that he will be rotating the squad, as we saw in the Portsmouth game with several changes in defence and midfield. The players who need a rest will be rested but Wenger insisted that his selections will not be influenced by the Man Utd tie on Saturday.

“I will rest the players who need to rest. “Some players have played many, many games; if I feel they need to rest, I will do it. It is not as a result of that game [against Manchester United on Saturday], it’s just if you have a player tired, you play the player who is fresh. I will play the team who I think is most efficient to win the game considering the level of some players.”

Expect a 4-3-3 formation yet again, with Ramsey stepping up to replace Fabregas. He already has the passing quality to fit into the first team, and his goal on Saturday was well taken. What Ramsey lacks is experience so tonight will be a big test if he gets the chance.

Wenger knows that we will have to be on our game tonight, Celtic have spirit, but their awful European away record, and our 2 – 0 lead away from home definitely give Arsenal the advantage.

“I thought Celtic did well in Moscow, it makes us more on alert, we know they had a very good away performance. To be strong at the Emirates is vital for our season. Any time you show weakness at home can have consequences for the game and also your season.”

Highlights on Arsespeak after the game!

Messi gets very drunk

Messi and the Barca players seem to have had a few drinks too many when celebrating their amazing treble in Barcelona.

Depressing result but I’m still proud of the Arsenal

Last night was not a great experience for any Arsenal fan. Two early goals and the tie was most definitely over. It was disappointing to see so many fans leaving so early, but I have to say that for the first ten minutes the atmosphere was fantastic.

Nevertheless you have to look at things in perspective. We have been blighted by injuries this season and in November you wouldn’t have thought that we would have made two semi finals and managed to qualify for the Champions League next year. The way we were playing then was awful and the team has improved a lot.

There is still a lot of work to do on this team, but considering this is the hardest season Wenger has had at Arsenal I think we have come out of it well.

Tonight I’m supporting Barca, I would hate to see another Chelsea – Man U final, either winning it would be a disaster. I don’t want Chelsea to win it before Arsenal, and I don’t want Fergie to have back to back CL titles.

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Portsmouth 0 – 3 Arsenal Highlights: The second team gets a run out

Portsmouth 0 – 3 Arsenal: Bendtner 13, Bendtner 41 pen, Vela 56. Highlights from the Arsenalist

Comfortable is what you could call this result, and the 3 points have now secured 4th place in the league, and Champions League qualifiers next year. We are now unbeaten in 21 league games, and have equalled a club record scoring at least 3 goals in the last 5 away games.

Arsenal’s youngsters dominated for most of the game, although Portsmouth did have their chances to even the scores. Wenger rested most of the first team, including Almunia, opting for Djourou and Song in central defence – Vela and Ramsey also got starts, whilst Arshavin captained the side.

Wenger:

“We were sharp, composed and mobile with a great attitude.”

The changes were obviously made in order to give as many players as possible a rest before the crucial Champions League game on Tuesday. Walcott and Bendtner were both taken off in the second half – Sagna and Song were the only players from Wednesday’s team to play 90 minutes.

Randall, Bischoff and Merida got their chances in the second half as subs and the team looked impressive, by the end of the game we were in complete control.

Bendtner’s first goal was a header from Arshavin’s cross which David James dropped and let itno the back of the net. That will add more weight to the fans calling for Almunia to get his chance in the England squad.

Then Arshavin was brought down just before half time in the box, and a penalty was given although Arsh himself thought it was a clean tackle. Bendtner slotted home, and then in the second half Vela added another.

The only other event of note was Portsmouth’s red card – Arshavin was through on goal and Pamarot the last defender took him down. The resulting free kick came to nothing, but Pompey were down to 10 men with little chance of getting anything from this game.

The visiting Arsenal support was in high spirits, there is a little hope that we can beat Man Utd on Tuesday, and now that the league position is secured, the Champions League is what will make or break this season. It’s going to take a more composed performance than the first leg to go through, but we still have an outside chance of making it.

Arsenal Injuries ahead of Portsmouth and Man Utd

The Arsenal squad has been living under a plague of injuries this season and this week has been no exception.

Eduardo is out for the next three weeks with a groin problem, which means his season is basically over.

Silvestre, who I thought performed ok against Man Utd also has a groin injury as does Van Persie. Gael Clichy is still ruled out with a back problem too.

Central defence is now down to the bare bones – Toure and Djourou will have to start in central defence against Portsmouth, with Alex Song the next choice.

In midifled we are ok, but Wenger will rest some players ahead of the Man Utd game on Wednesday.

Fourth place is almost ours, and the Champions League is the biggest competition for us by far this season.

It is a huge challenge to go into this second leg 1-0 down. The strikeforce is also looking thin, although Arshavin can obviously play in the league.

Diaby can play against Portsmouth, but he shouldn’t play on Wednesday – he doesn’t contribute a great deal to the team, and until his attitude changes he will always be a liability in my eyes.

Expect changes this weekend, but I hope we have the quality to see off the Portsmouth team this weekend.