Category Archives: UEFA
In consecutive seasons of the UEFA Champions League, the favourites will not be in the finals! Like last year, the draws from the semi-finals pointed to the possibility of Real Madrid squaring up to Barcelona to enact the much loved ‘el Classico’ at the topmost level of European club football. However, Chelsea and Bayern Munich ‘connived to deny us that dream.
This season up till about nine days ago looked promising again for the ‘dream’ finals at Wembley. The wheels came unstuck for Barcelona first at the Allianz Arena in Munich when they uncharacteristically shipped four goals against a dominating and well drilled Bavarian side. As if that was not tough enough to take, Bayern completed the rout at Camp Nou by putting the Messi less Catalans to the sword.
My last post on this blog was about Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Since then, they lost the CL match at home to Bayern Munich, struggled to beat Aston Villa and conceded two ‘silly goals’ in three minutes to red hot Tottenham at White Hat Lane to drop off the pace for Champions League qualification. It is not that loss that’s annoying but the manner of it. For 30 minutes or so, Arsenal stood strong against the powerful strike force of Bale, Adebayor and Lennon but without any clear-cut offensive play.
In over half an hour of play, Arsenal could not muster any solid shot at goal against an average Spurs defense. If this does not cut a pathetic picture, I wonder what would. Tottenham were organized in the middle of the pack and very, very quick in counter attack. With Bale and Lennon running riot both centrally and on the wings, Arsenal had no answer to the quick fire counter attacks that resulted in the two goals that downed them within a space of three minutes.
The saying that the only constant thing in life is change is quite apt when viewed from the background of Arsenal particularly with the most recent in their series of debacles. With all likely routes to silverware almost closed (except a miracle happens and Arsenal wins the European Cup), Wenger and his team face the toughest challenge of explaining away what happened on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger is obviously a very determined man. His determination could be seen from the level of his commitment to his ideas and visions. To him, the new standard to measure success at the top level, at least in the Premiership is qualification for the Champions League. And he has always managed to achieve this for the past 14 seasons.
If wishes were horses, I would have had Arsene Wenger sacked as the manager of Arsenal. As hard and controversial as this statement may sound, the truth of the matter is that were the Frenchman managing other teams, he would have been asked to go or forthrightly sacked all these while.
Theo Walcott’s eventual decision to sign a new contract after a very prolonged negotiation reveals the flaw in Wenger’s carefully nurtured image as a master in club management. Two questions to be asked.
What were they looking at or doing until Theo Walcott’s contract dragged till the last one year before commencing new contract negotiation? Why is the wage structure at Arsenal set up in such a way that average players earns as much as top performers?
Over the past two years, I found myself writing more about Arsenal than any other football club. Sometimes I ask myself why this is so. The answer lays in the fact that I have consistently followed the club since the mid-1990s and the transformation from a hard kick forward type of football to the exciting continental flair brought to prominence by Wenger cemented my love for the team.
Initially, I was enthralled by the pure confidence and elegance of Tony Adams. Add to this the raw power of Martin Keown and the impregnability of David Seaman; you had a team both rich in character and winning mentality.