Arsenal Week Arriveth


I hear the name and I think mainly, even after a couple of years of watching him in blaugrana, of Thierry Henry. It’s funny, when I first began to watch the game with any regularity, there was this Frenchman with his funny-shaped head who just kept scoring goals. He was a joy to watch, as was the rest of his team. I mean, who scores these goals? A genius surrounded by geniuses, that’s who scores 226 goals in 8 years.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t watch a massive amount of EPL, but I still think of Arsenal as one part Invincibles and one part 2006 Champions League finalists. Obviously the core of the team was similar, but they were very different teams and they were in very different situations, but they both had Thierry Henry leading the line and while the former didn’t intersect with Barça’s particular path (we weren’t in the Champions League that year) the latter season was something to watch and enjoy. I remember being two minds in the semis of the ’06 CL: do I root for Villarreal and Riquelme or Arsenal and Henry? I finally settled on letting it play out as it would, rooting for no one because I couldn’t choose (now I would root for Villarreal without batting an eye, but at the time I was interested in a Barça-Arsenal/Ronaldinho-Henry final as much as I was interested in the little guy making it farther and another Spain vs Spain matchup). That, I supposed, saved me a few fingernails or hurt feelings for Riquelme. I still feel bad for him, but we would have beaten them in the final too, right?

Anyway, it’s Arsenal week and I’ll be exploring the team over the next two days in as much detail as possible. But for now, enjoy the scenes from our last meeting:

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. inNYC
    March 29, 2010

    I don’t know what Run of Play has been up to lately, but here’s a fun one from the archives, in honor of Thierry.


  2. inNYC
    March 29, 2010

    Or for those who don’t like pasting links, an excerpt:

    For a whole year he was my favorite player in football. I loved his hesitations and would make comparisons to Thelonious Monk while he gathered himself over the ball and hovered over it, probingly, like a hummingbird, knowing exactly when to dart. Untouched by the smallest worry over anyone else’s intention, for mentally he was always ten seconds in the future and patient because so quick, he would count beats, drag the ball aside as if it were a remote control for moving the defender, then lean suddenly and sling it past him, laying out the centerback with a well-meaning, almost floral display of contempt. The furthest thing from his mind was the thought of causing hard feelings. If he left you on the ground it was simply in the enjoyment of his own exquisiteness.

    March 29, 2010

    Good luck. I look ahead to game with great anticipation and hope. Lets pray we get a footballing masterclass. … and of course.. a win for the Gooners!

  4. Tyler
    March 29, 2010

    I personally am not afraid of Arsenal. I’ve watched several matches and while they beat the snot out of minnows, when it comes to big, clutch matches, they seem unable to execute. And with Cesc being injured on Wednesday, I really don’t know who their playmaker is, Arshavin? Nasri? Song?

    Honestly I was more nervous about the Mallorca match than this first leg. We play well under pressure, and at all points in champions when we’ve needed to get the result we get it done. Although we will definitely be missing Ghostface.

    • Tyler
      March 29, 2010

      But I do respect the Gunners and they are my favorite EPL team by far. I hope we get an exciting match!

    • Hugo
      March 29, 2010

      You imply that we buckle under pressure in the big games, but that’s not the case. The reason we have lost twice to both united and the chavs this season is not pressure, but the way they set up. They are strong, solid teams who absorb our pressure (admittedly there wasn’t much to absorb for united at the Emirates) then hit us on the break. Barca are undoubtedly capable of hitting a side on the counter, but when it comes to standing firm and soaking up our attacks you’re not united and you’re certainly not chelsea. Like us, and unlike those two, you are not a team designed to hold out the opposition which is why the tie should be such an interesting one, provided we’re allowed 11 men this time round!

      Also we have developed a pattern in recent seasons of doing something special against the big European teams, espescially in their own grounds (for example: 1-0 at the Bernabeu, 2-0 against Milan and 5-1 against Inter, both at the San Siro). That’s why I’m predicting 1-1 at the Emirates and 2-0 to The Arsenal at the Camp Nou.

      On another note, about that picture in the article, I saw those very boots of Beletti’s on display in the Camp Nou a couple of months ago- it made me feel sick!

      • Tyler
        March 29, 2010

        I totally see what you’re saying, but I have to disagree with you on one point. We have only allowed about 25 goals in all competitions throughout this entire season which is less than Chelsea and ManUntd. I don’t think we are a “strong” defensive team, but we are smart and tactical. And last year we held chelsea and manutd to one goal combined in Champions. You’re right, we’re not built to hold out opposition, we are built to make sure they never get the ball, so hopefully we can impose that on Arsenal’s style of play. But it ain’t gonna be easy.

      • March 29, 2010

        Much as I would love to agree, I am afraid that I don’t. Something ‘special’ against big European teams? The 1-0 against AC Milan at San Siro was hardly special – they’ve been a pretty sucky side since 07,relying on basically pato and nesta for any success,supported by kaka and now ronaldinho. 5-1 against Inter Milan was YEARS ago – SEVEN to be exact!and the real madrid win was Emirates Cup-hardly ‘special’. Records will prove Tyler right over the past two years at least-when it comes to must-win games,Arsenal have lost far more than they have won.

        • Hugo
          March 30, 2010

          The Inter point is fair, it was years ago, but my point is that we do produce these results against big European teams and the manager and spirit of the team is still the same as it was then. HOWEVER:

          It was 2-0 against Milan at the San Siro, when they were reigning European champions- just like you lot are now. Are you a “sucky” team?

          1-0 against Real was NOT in the Emirates Cup. As I said it was at the Bernabeu- weirdly the Emirates Cup is played at the Emirates- and it was in the Champions League.

          Thanks for playing!

  5. Alan
    March 29, 2010

    Playing Barcelona will be easier than playing Birmingham.

    Barcelona are a superb team, but they play attacking football like Arsenal, but I don’t think they could cope with the Arsenal pace of the game.

    Birmingham offered an impossible pitch, and a corrupt Fergie henchman in shape of the referee Howard Webb, a good goal disallowed, a blatantly offside goal against allowed in injury time!

    Barcaa’s big hope; more than Messi; probably lie in fawlty Manuel; Almunia! He scored United’s first goal in the 1-3 game, gave them an unnecessary penalty in the 1-2 match, and is becoming a serial own goal scorer!

    • March 29, 2010

      “Playing Barcelona will be easier than playing Birmingham.”

      I’m sure Alex Ferguson thought the same thing, too, right? And lookidat, 2-0.

      I think, like YonArsenal above, that this has the potential to be an amazing couple of matches and no team can take the other lightly. If you honestly think that because we attack and control the ball with some of the best midfielders alive that we’re easier to beat than Birmingham, I am forced to think that the Birmingham match was the first you’ve ever seen in your life.

      Welcome to reality.

  6. Hlebby Hater
    March 29, 2010

    He didn’t say ‘easier to beat’ – he said ‘easier to play’. That’s because Barca won’t go out to kick and physically intimidate Arsenal the way poorer sides in the English league do.

  7. jose011
    March 29, 2010

    “Playing Barcelona will be easier than playing Birmingham.”

    implies that Barcelona will be easier to beat.

  8. aj
    March 29, 2010

    I look at that picture even now and I cannot believe that Almunia let that ball go in the goal. Like so many of Almunia’s gaffs, you would think it easier to keep the ball out than to let it in. Never mind Eto’o being offside for the first, neither of them should have ended up in the net.

  9. cliveee
    March 29, 2010

    really don’t know how to predict this game, i just want us an away win so that we can step one foot to the semi.

  10. Gooner
    March 29, 2010

    I hope both teams play attacking football, because if they do both sets of fans are in for an amazing couple of games. Whilst Barca are favourites, I have a feeling we might surprise people. I think away goals will be a big factor in this tie, if either side keeps a clean sheet in their home fixture they will have the advantage. My prediction for what it is worth is 1-0 to Arsenal in the first game and a 1-1 draw in the return. I don’t think there will be lots of goals, but that doesn’t mean the matches won’t be entertaining.

  11. March 29, 2010

    The only thing I’m hoping for is a lack of controversy. A clean game would be wonderful-no bullshit penalties,handballs,dives,red cards,injuries-nothing-please. As long as we can come out of this fixture discussing only football,I’ll even take a Barca loss (of course it’ll break my heart). But I value playing well over success-and if we play well,there’s no team in the world that beats us over 180 minutes.

    That’s arrogant,but that’s the way it is. Very hard to see Barcelona genuinely outplayed over 180 minutes IF they are playing to even 85% of their very best.

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