"coulda been a contender"
Zenit 3 v 2 Benfica
Milan 4 v 0Arsenal
CSKA v Real Madrid
Marseille v Internazionale
The EUFA Champions League now has a combination of fifteen teams standing in Arsenal’s way. That’s technically true but realistically stupidity to suggest. A first leg loss of 4-0 is insurmountable, pure and simple.
Was I being realistic when I said I thought we could win the tournament that has eluded us? I think I was. I believed that this Competition was there for any number of teams to win, so why not us?
Barca, based on last year and the quality of certain team members are favourites, but what of Real Madrid who currently lead La Liga under Morinho. Bayern are a club who have European triumph entrenched in their roots. The French Italian clash has two teams both of whom are capable as does, perhaps, the tie between the light blue and dark. With the spread of teams that were left, and crucially, only one English team in the pot I felt it not unfeasible that we could go all the way.
I believed that our spine looked better than it’s been with Szczesny, Vermaelan, Koscielny, Arteta, Song and RVP. The return of Sagna at right back would only be a good thing and the pace offered by Oxlade-Chamberlaine & Walcott might have proved effective. Add to this mix the experience of Rosicky, Benayoun and the unpredictability of Arshavin and there may have been potential for a fair amount of uncertainty in our opponents. This was an acknowledgement of what we have player wise, not what we should have as a top club.
We are a top Club, just a top club with an average playing staff.
I was wrong though wasn’t I? I was wrong because I didn’t predict that this set of players charged with representing the Arsenal, would not turn up at The San Siro. I didn’t predict the schoolboy errors, lack of desire, inability to vary the play. I didn’t bargain for players not wanting to shine on one of the worlds great footballing stages. Let’s not kid ourselves; AC Milan were a pretty good team last night, no more than that, made to look like Brazil 1970 by our abysmal performance.
A performance lacking character, and that is something that has been absent for a number of years.
Arsene Wenger and the board receive criticism on a regular basis with each disappointment and I am not going to go into that here. However, there comes a point when you have to be critical of the players themselves. Tonight was one of those points.
Regular readers know of my opinion that this squad is simply not good enough and ultimately the reason that this squad has been assembled is out of those players' control, but they are supposed to show more than they did last night. Time and again Arsenal have been found wanting on the pitch, this has been a regular pattern for over a year now and we are currently where we deserve to be; not where we think we should be. This is a crucial truth; we are where we are because that's how good we are, that's where this squad are at.
The rhetoric that we left Highbury in order to give us the ability to "Compete with the top teams in Europe" looks more and more like bullshit.
Before our humiliation last night I felt that it really could be ‘up for grabs’ for a team outside the usual suspects to win the Champions League; I still do, but it won’t be us, not ever with this current version of the Arsenal.