Child please


After the first Champions League leg at The Emirates, some mature, educated Arsenal fans rushed to weigh in on the developments and stature of both clubs. So I decided to address some of the “arguments.” Here are a few tools to measure both clubs, and gauge how much common sense there is in the message that Arsenal fans and some British media are trying to convey.

The first leg

A shallow fan is the one that focuses solely on:

  1. Score
  2. Single game as a sample size

Take Rubin as an example. In 4 games played ‘we’ had won only 5 pts (1W 2D 1L). That single loss came in our house. Over the same number of games and roughly the same time period, albeit not at the knockout stage, the team won 7 pts (2W 1D 1L) against Arsenal. Now, since Rubin had about the same percentage of ball possesion as Arsenal did, I would like one of the numerous educated fans of Arsenal to tell me how big Rubin’s payroll is, and how much they spent on transfers.

The blame doesn’t lay solely with a delusional fan though. The media is playing an accomplice. Even Mr. Hunter, usually a fair observer.

“But Arsenal still possesses an outstanding depth of squad. Given how closely matched these two sides are, just one or two key players can be decisive in the outcome.”

Lets evaluate both sides:

  • Individual quality (stats and awards, number of high quality players)
  • Team quality (results, current form)
  • On field performance in the first leg. One team played mistake-free in front of their home fans while other, obviously, played away during the annual dip in form and commited an uncharacteristic number of mistakes (ex. Valdes). Even so, Barca created more high probability goal scoring opportunities and dominated ball possession
  • Benefits caused by referees’ mistakes

Once adjusted, how is this close to be evenly matched?

For a good laugh, lets look at some of the “arguments”:


“Arsenal made Cesc what he is now and Spain benefits greatly”

  1. Despite this supposedly great teaching he got, the fact remains he is still A SUB in the Spanish National Team
  2. He would not be able to start at Barca either
  3. At the time, he simply wasn’t good enough to start at Barca any time soon. The fact that he was able to do so at Arsenal speaks volumes about each team’s quality.

“Trying to develop identity of being an Arsenal player”

And what exactly is this identity you are talking about? Lack of trophies, looking at the ref as a sole reason for failure, easily pushed around by a more physical opposition and ball handling skills that pale in comparison to Barca’s? I tell ya, that is some identity to have.

“Not allowed to sign a kid if home falls outside a 90 mile radius”
“Wenger would have more foreign talent but visas”

I am asking 3 questions:

  1. What is stopping Arsenal from enticing such a youngster to change his residency, like they did with Cesc, or is it that the other clubs have a higher profile when it comes to recruiting local talent?
  2. How many young foreign talents have Barca relied on since Guardiola took over?
  3. I like how suddenly it doesn’t matter that there are very few English players starting for Arsenal, and that the Captain is a foreigner. All this talk about identity but the captain and, arguably, the best and most important player has DNA of some other club. I imagine this to be a painful fact to face if one is a fan of Arsenal.

Some others were trumpeting “Youth system and potential starters”

Let me remind you Barca has 7 La Massia graduates among starters. 3 of them just made a clean sweep in the Player of the Year award. Then there is a defender who is often being compared by knowledgable individuals to one Franz Beckenbauer and a starting DM for the World Cup-Winning team at the age of 22.

Another one became the first ever player to score in all 6 competitions during the single season. All these firmly anchored the 6 trophy winning team (an unprecedented feature). It just happens that they all, except Messi, are born in the same country as the one their team is originating from.

I ask now how many Arsenal youth players, if any, are of equal class (based on rationale and not what press is saying) and what is their level of contribution at the moment?


The fish stinks from the head

Wenger is French alright. His affinity to managed capitalism is of lesser importance here. What matters more is that he used to be a force and had some meaning, just like France (military power, trade and French as an official language), but not anymore. Time and environment had changed and brushed him aside. Failing to acknowledge new reality, he remains stubborn in spite of repeated failures. I find it entertaining.

Not at one point had Arsenal players mentioned their inferior skills or mental preparation as one of the significant factors in defeat. The referee emerged as a sole reason. A crucial detail.

It is also shortsighted. In the knockout rounds, what happens in the first leg has significant impact on the tie and can dramatically change the setting for the return. Case in point, had Inter not won by 2 in the first leg last year the return would be significantly different in terms of atmosphere and on-field developments.

Nobody is saying the referee’s decisions can not be assesed. They have an obvious impact. But one needs to be realistic when assessing it. Rarely is the referee’s decision(s) a sole reason for such a poor display and inferiority (possesion, passes completed, shots on goal).

Also, the Arsenal’s largest shareholder is Stan Kroenke. The man who, at the moment, owns Nuggets, Avalanche and St Louis Rams. Once called “The Greatest Show on Turf”, Rams haven’t seen the playoffs since 2005 and during the 07-09 period went on a 6-42 stretch. What these 3 have in common? Mediocre and trophy-less franchises. Now wonder then he took interest in Arsenal.

Stat of the day: Only once in the last 6 editions of EPL had Arsenal finished better than the 3rd place. The gap behind the leader was 15 points on average.


A. Trophies and results

B. Number of FIFA Player of the Year winners

C. Fact that Arsenal’s Captain and the best player wouldn’t be able to start at Barcelona

D. Cash flow, Income Statement (Revenue) and Balance Sheet (Total debt to Assets and ROA)

E. The general impression, almost every game Barcelona plays is entertaining and brings great amount of detail to learn from. Meanwhile, even after we account for the different characteristics of most EPL teams, Arsenal is fluent and able “to string three passes together” not nearly as often.

I rest my case.


The distorted reality people affiliated with Arsenal are experiencing is only a logical consequence of the general mindset in and around EPL. The most (over)hyped product I have witnessed in recent memory. Apple has nothing on these guys.

I look at two important metrics and a sufficient sample size to asses the quality:

  • Individual: How many FIFA Player of the Year award winners had came from EPL? Since award has been insituted back in 1991, a single winner came from an English team. That is 1 in 20. And where is he playing now? In Spain. Meanwhile, Barcelona alone had whopping 8 winners. Two of them back-to-back (not including Ronaldo) and a clean sweep this past year. Excluding winners, 9 other players made it to the Top 3. It adds a new meaning to the word “quality” doesn’t it?
  • Group: How many EPL teams won the Champions League and in what manner? Since the competition was introduced back in 92-93, three teams from England won it. In numbers, 3/18, less than 17% . As always, it is essential to put things in context. It took two extraordinary events, especially with Liverpool being totally inferior, and a penalty shoot out. Meanwhile, Barcelona alone has 2 Champions League Titles and a victory at Wembley in the 91-92 Season. 5 in total for Spain. Teams like Villareal and Deportivo La Coruna, of considerably smaller budgets, had reached the CL Semifinals. Valencia had played in two Finals.
  • Style: It is far more eye pleasing and entertaining to watch Barca play. While 3 points have the absolute priority, Barca’s players manage to entertain an average fan more often than not as opposed to their EPL counterparts. To win in a stylish manner is more difficult and as such worth more than to just win.

Now compare this to how much money, billions, were pumped into EPL and how loud they were, not just now but for years, in advertising themselves as the best league in the world. A tragi-comical endeavor.

Telling is the way EPL heavyweights performed at Camp Nou. These leaders in the, supposedly, best league in the World have opted for an ultra-defensive approach. I prefer the term “bunker.” If not for the jerseys, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the most recent Zaragoza performance at Camp Nou.

The worst part, and the thing that really puts everything into context, comes when you look at the payroll of these teams. Players earning millions of dollars a year can’t do better than desperately defend the whole game? Zero to little shots, star forwards acting as the extra LB? Aside from paying an ultimate compliment to Barcelona, it pains me greatly what had modern football came down to with so many people being supportive of such an approach.

In addition,

– There is this misconseption floating around how there are 4-6 high quality teams fighting for the title every year in England. First, since the EPL was introduced, 3 teams (manutd, chelsea and arsenal) won all but one title. For the sake of comparison, 5 different teams won La Liga during the same period. In addition, there were 11 different teams among top 3. Besides the usual suspects (Barca, Real, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna, Valencia, Sevilla, Villareal) such giants as Zaragoza, Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Real Mallorca fought its way to the top.

– People often make mistake when assesing the quality. While important, the competitiveness at the top is not the sole measure. It is the level of play from all 20 teams that counts. While there might be more balance near the top at the moment, mid to lower teams in La Liga have more quality overall then their EPL counterparts. Except for Stoke…on a rainy night. Commitment and physicality is not the most important characteristic to have. Far from it.

The games being close and “competitive” means absolutely nothing in terms of quality.

Barcelona  –  Arsenal  3  –  1

“The reality is that they did not string three passes together.”

  • The “Who’s the biggest book worm” contest saw some fierce competition. However, virtually everyone who had played the game at somewhat serious levels will tell you that once you get a yellow it is not all black and white afterwards. The tolerance is often stretched. Factors that come in play are home field, the stake a game carries, seriousness of the offense, behavior up to that point as well as personal animosity towards a player or a coach.
  • Another thing, a lot of time refs watch the tape during the halftime and if they realize they had “blew the call” they consent to do their best to “tip it the other way” in the second half.
  • It would be foolish to claim that the red card to Van Persie had no influence. It had. But we will never know to what degree. Everything else is just a speculation and can rightfully be labeled as being a ‘sore loser’ and delusional.
  • The decision to start Adriano was correct. The development that will, hopefully, speed up his progress and yield long-term benefits for the team.
  • I would like to see Iniesta at “false 9” position. The role Messi is playing now or in a 3-4-3 alignment. He has an extraordinary touch and dribbling, is so fluent with the ball and is now shooting more often from distance.


There are plenty of jealous fans out there trying to find the most minor of details to blow out of proportion and use for their “case” against Barca. An educated fan of The Club should use the aforementioned tools, and some others, to make a proper assesment. Upon reaching the conlusion, such fan should display calmness, confidence and know better than to respond in a pationate matter to the troll-like behavior and attacks that are not based on facts and have little to do with reality.

The only yard I prefer to look in is our own. It annoys me when a slightly above average entity, egged on by the mainstream media, is trying to force themselves into the same sentence with The Club.

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  1. outerspacedout
    March 16, 2011

    Cue the trolls.

  2. blitzen
    March 16, 2011

    I can see you put a lot of work into this post, so I don’t want to knock it, but…seriously?

    We won. We’re over it.

    • Jnice
      March 16, 2011


    • Eklavya
      March 16, 2011

      -Middleware Technology Evaluation?
      -Moving Target Exploitation?
      -Modular Threat Emitter?
      -Minimal Test Equipment?
      -Marine Traffic Engineering?

    • Sheena
      March 16, 2011

      My Thoughts Exactly?

    • Jnice
      March 16, 2011

      Sheena wins!

    • outerspacedout
      March 16, 2011

      Each of those could be a perfect name for a Big Bang Theory episode.

  3. Extreme barca fan
    March 16, 2011

    Good work Tom, Dick and Harry, this article almost sums up why i hate the EPL. Also Tom why did you chancge from Tom johnson to the current screen name?

  4. messi_fan
    March 16, 2011

    This post seems a bit harsh

  5. blitzen
    March 16, 2011


    UEFA forbids players of Madrid and Lyon – his former club – to wear shirts in support of Abidal before tonight’s CL game.


  6. Sheena
    March 16, 2011

    While I don’t exactly disagree with the post, it seems like we’re trying to stir a hornets’ nest here.

    The best team won. We know it, they know it, everyone else knows it. That’s really all that matters. We should leave this issue alone now.

  7. Eklavya
    March 16, 2011

    Good points, although some of them strike a bit harsh to me.

    I would like to see Iniesta at “false 9″ position. The role Messi is playing now or in a 3-4-3 alignment. He has an extraordinary touch and dribbling, is so fluent with the ball and is now shooting more often from distance.

    The “he” in the last sentence is Messi or Iniesta?

    • mega_tajh
      March 16, 2011

      Reffers to Iniesta I believe

  8. Lev
    March 16, 2011

    Idk T, D & H…

    I have a strong and open hatred when it comes to some of the EPL’s practices and I can’t stand Wenger in particular, but any troll coming on here to accuse us of arrogance would not be entirely wrong.

    Some of us get upset when some newspaper hack “dares” to write an article saying that Barça are not the best team ever, but here we are with a 2000 + column on why Arsenal and the EPL suck?

  9. Nik
    March 16, 2011

    Apologies, but I also don’t like this post. Pep and the rest have preached public humility. We’d do well to do the same.

    • Nik
      March 16, 2011

      Ok, that didn’t make exact sense. It should have read:

      “Pep and the rest have preached/practiced public humility. We’d do well to follow their example.”

  10. JohnnyWins
    March 16, 2011

    I don’t entirely agree with your post and often much is written in response to the whining few.
    Can i start by saying that the far majority of Arsenal fans consider Barcelona not to be the best footballing side in the world today but the best in the history of the game. When the draw came through we whistled through our teeth and reflected on Wengers decision to field weakened teams in a group that we were in control of not to avoid Barcelona because we all know that to win the ECL we need to beat the best but because not getting through to the QF stage cost us what should have been a straight forward £8million.

    Many Arsenal fans felt that Van Persie did hear the whistle. Why would a player of his quality take a shot AND miss the target when one on one with the keeper. But few can ignore that to book a player for time-wasting with 35 minutes to go is a poor decision. It’s a decision that wouldn’t be taken in the EPL and UEFA have to take responsibility for the level of inconsistent refereeing there is across Europe, including the EPL, and address the balance.

    Wenger backed up by a few fans will play on this decision out of pure embarrassment. The reasons are clear to Arsenal fans but i won’t go into that now albeit they have nothing to do with our performance on the night. Even with 10 men we had an excellent opportunity to win the tie and Bendtner fluffed his lines – further embarrassment for Wenger.

    I do agree entirely that Cesc will not get in your team but i expect him to leave in the summer anyway. Part of our problem is that Barcelona have the ability to woo any player in the world and on occasions we have developed a good side only to see a head turned and a piece of the jigsaw leave, set us back and sit on your bench. It pisses me off just a little. But regarding Cesc, you need to point the finger at your outgoing president at the time of the signing. He ensured Cescs departure out of pure spite and we were the benefactors.

    Finally, the English press despise Arsenal. They wallow in our failings and blame Wenger for everything that is wrong with our national side.

    I sincerely hope you win the ECL. Barcelona are pure class and i wish Arsenal would aspire to such dizzy heights.

    • barca96
      March 16, 2011

      Hey there.

      Why didn’t you come here earlier?
      I’m happy to hear that you do think that RvP did hear the whistle but every where else I go (online) they all seemed to disagree and they certainly don’t think that we were the better side.
      Anyways, that’s done.
      But why did you guys go from a quadruple to almost nothing?
      It’s been the same story for the past few years.
      I agree with you that everytime when it’s almost a finished project somebody leaves but surely they left because they know it ain’t going to happen next season.

      If you look at Pires, Wenger simply made a mistake by following his “one year only contract extension” for players over 30. Now, I find that pretty lame. He was really useful to you guys.

    • JohnnyWins
      March 16, 2011

      We have been working to grow as a club for the last 10 years beginning with the decision to build a new stadium whilst attempting to maintain our position in the EPL and Europe. That, in the days of big money owners has been a very difficult task and Wenger has done an exceptional job. Our team fielded in the first leg cost us £44million so we are doing something right.

      We have gone out of 3 competitions because none of these boys know how to cross a finishing line. They lack faith at the highest level that’s all and yet that’s everything. We can see which players do not have what it takes and can only assume Wengers pride prevents him from making the necessary corrections.

      The bottom line is we can’t compete financially and buying the finished article is beyond us at a sustainable level. Players don’t leave because they believe we are incapable of winning something its because they believe they are worthy of the biggest club in the world – Real Madrid, Barcelona because of history and Man City because of potential. Both Adebayor and Henry had very poor final seasons because in their minds they had already left us.
      Wengers decision to allow Pires to leave was a bad choice but there is some sense in his over 30 s policy which is an annual contract. There is no reason why a player cant be with us at 35 if he remains fit and a value on the field. Pires clearly didnt have that faith in himself.

      In some ways its unfortunate that we produced an exceptional team, domestically at least, in Wenger first 2 or 3 years when we were a ‘small’ club. We have had to change our financial model to move to the bigger stage and had we already been on that bigger stage when Wenger arrived i believe we would be considerably further forward than we are today. After all having a side containing at that time and in my opinion 4 of the best players in the world, Henry, Pires, Bergkamp and Viera we would have been in a position to build on that and secure the talents of other big players.

      To risk the wrath of other Arsenal fans we are not a big club. We are trying to become one and if the book balance and we have a little luck we may become one yet.

  11. Pete
    March 16, 2011

    Okay, I’ll bite.

    I’m not sure what Arsenal blogs you’ve been reading, or what Arsenal supporters you’ve been talking to, but I don’t know of any of us who have debated that a) you were the better side in both legs and b) in terms of stature and honours, you are presently and historically a bigger club than us.

    So starting at the beginning of your piece, where you say only a shallow fan assesses only the score. Well, if you mean as a reference of how to react, that isn’t shallow – that’s the whole point, after all. But I suspect that line is actually you following on from describing how to draw comparisons between the clubs? Again, I didn’t see anyone suggest that victory in one match makes us a bigger club than you.

    Up to this point, all I can gather is that you are reading the wrong Arsenal blogs. There are some really good (reasonable and respectful) ones out there, try switching to those rather than responding to an ugly portion of the internet (which is always asking for trouble – ask us about Stoke fans if you want an equivalent).

    Your criticism of Mr Hunter seems to stem from his assertion that one or two key players could have made all the difference. Odd that you would counter this – switch Messi from Barcelona to Arsenal and that could very well happen. I appreciate that you are more than the sum of your parts but exceptional talents can turn matches, no matter how unbalanced the play. I think this is what he is getting at and I consider it a little harsh to slam him so vigorously for it.

    As for the ‘identity of being an Arsenal player’, I would have thought this was something you could at least relate to. After all, as you point out, your kids are educated in the Barcelona way from an early age. Ours are schooled in the Arsenal way. It is about a style of play, a way of life, a behaviour off the pitch. It is not about nationalities. Frankly, and I say this openly as an Englishman, English kids are, by and large, not technically able to play the way we want to play. Too many are schooled in entirely the wrong way from an early age. This is our country’s failing, and a large reason why our national team performs so pathetically. It should not, however, be used as a slight against a club, surely, especially when the club cannot impact those crucial early years?

    Now on to your point about the referee. Again, I can only suggest that you are reading the wrong blogs, articles, commentators, or whatever. As far as I could see, every decent Arsenal writer out there acknowledged that you were passing us off the park, and that even with eleven men there was every chance you would eventually overrun us. And that you had a goal wrongly disallowed in the first leg.

    But you have to understand our frustration here, and it stems from the exact acknowledgement that you *are* a better side. We knew that we were heavy underdogs and it would take a remarkable couple of matches for us to progress. The point is that those extraordinary series of events (you missing chances, us taking ours and defending valiantly) were actually happening. Nine times out of ten you would knock us out. Our angst comes from the fact that this could well have been the one exception, given the way things were going (the own goal when we hadn’t even mustered a shot being the prime example). The agony comes from the realisation that we were so close to a massive result, and that is said with all due respect given to our opponents, who we recognise as a supreme team.

    The ire aimed at the referee was only enhanced because it wasn’t actually a mistake on his part, it was a conscious decision to become the centre of attention and make a decision that he could not be sure of and didn’t need to be made. No referee should do that, anywhere, especially not at that level.

    As an aside, I agree that our broadcasters overhype the Premiership – believe me it irritates us as well, but they are marketeers, of course they are going to overhype. The betting shops are a better marker, and they had us as rank outsiders, nigh on no-hopers. And have you ever seen a Barcelona game broadcast on British television? Seriously, even against English opposition, they could not praise you higher – it is almost vomit-worthy at times. But that is what they are – hype machines. Do not take that as a nation’s arrogance that we are superior – it is merely a television network doing their job.

    Few last things:

    Yes, Wenger is a bad loser. Most managers are. Don’t take that as an excuse to trash his record. He is the most successful manager in our history, and that we do not the same honours board as you does not diminish his achievement. You’re better than that.

    Also, I get the Cesc left you as a teenager, and hasn’t yet returned. But I see this from Barca people everywhere – since last summer, the constant need to bash him (he wouldn’t get in our team, etc etc). Just because you have the best midfield in the world doesn’t make Cesc crap. Again, you’re better than that.

    CL stats – understandably you have warped them slightly. The Liverpool win was freakish, yes, but to say the other English win in recent times (United a few years back) was extraordinary because it was won with a shoot out is misleading – it was two English teams in the final after all. Also, strange teams do make the semis, but English ones too – Leeds made it before tumbling to the third tier, and Spurs *shudder* might even this year.

    I’ve gone on too long, but basically what I wanted to say was a) drop the aggression, there’s just no need, b) switch to other Arsenal blogs if you don’t like the ones you are reading and c) if you draw Spurs in the next round, would you kindly give them the biggest hiding of their lives? Thank you.

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      c) if you draw Spurs in the next round, would you kindly give them the biggest hiding of their lives? Thank you.


    • Lev
      March 16, 2011

      Excellent points, Pete.

      Regarding Cesc – were he at Barça he would not be an automatic starter this or next season, but I daresay Guardiola would still find ways to play him a LOT. Either to rest Xavi / Iniesta or to play Iniesta up front for one of our MVP to make room for Cesc.

      Great player.

      Regarding RvP – I do understand why Arsenal fans are upset about that call. The thing that annoys us is that we had many big calls going against us during the two legs – especially at the Emirates – but a lot of EPL fans made it all about that red card.

      Interestingly enough in Holland, where we know RvP well, most people blamed the player, not the ref. Even his old coach Van Basten said it was his own fault.

    • Pete
      March 16, 2011

      I certainly agree that over the course of the tie, the refereeing decisions were not in our favour. Had your second goal at the Emirates been allowed, the tie could well have been over there and then.

      I guess with RVP – no-one actually knows whether he was deliberately time wasting or not. The trouble is, neither could the referee, so it really was a daft decision. It wasn’t like there had been any previous time-wasting to suggest it (after all, the own goal had only just happened).

      And as for Cesc, I’m sure he would play a lot, but like the Spanish national side, not be an automatic pick. It is also fair to say yours is probably the only midfield in the world where that would be the case. The guy is class and when he eventually does leave us, he’ll have my best wishes. He’s done everything he can to make us successful, I just hope he gets to lift a trophy before he goes.

    • Pete
      March 16, 2011

      I meant, not in *your* favour. Oops. I recognise the ref didn’t knock us out.

    • Lev
      March 16, 2011

      Well, some have argued that Sagna’s yellow card was for time-wasting although since hearing that argument I have not seen the match again.

      It is also possible that the ref had already warned Arsenal players verbally not to waste any more time (didn’t Koscielny kick the ball as far away as possible after Busi’s o.g.?) and we would not necessarily know about that.

      The card was harsh and I would also be upset about it. However, for Arsene “I deed not zee eet” Wenger to blame the loss on the ref is outrageous, and were I a Gooner I would be furious with him. Not only does it lack class, it is a lack of leadership of which ultimately his whole team is the victim.

      Thank God we have Pep.*

      Credit to Cesc for taking responsibility for the loss.

      *Some say Xavi would make a great Barça coach one day, and I hope that he will. But one thing I do not like about him is his whining after losses.

    • Artur
      March 16, 2011

      I logged in simply to comment on your post. Pure class.

      Gotta agree with majority here.. This is a pretty unnecesary post emitting too much anger.

  12. March 16, 2011

    Some good points in there, but this post could have been left unsaid. We’re more secure than this, right? Right?!

  13. barca96
    March 16, 2011

    Btw, Ezequiel posted in the previous post that Nate Dogg passed away.
    Another WestCoast heavyweight is gone.

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011


      that guy had hooks.

  14. footballfan
    March 16, 2011

    hi all, long time lurker here.

    Before I start let me just say that I’m an Arsenal fan and a Barcelona fan too. I’m not here to troll, just to put in my 2 cents.

    While I don’t disagree with the fact that Barcelona is superior to Arsenal *d’oh!* this article seems like a personal attack to Arsenal. Now, I know that maybe the writer is bugged because of all the reports on media saying that “Barcelona only wins because of the referee” and the like – in which Kari has elaborated this point in her post. What I don’t understand is why the attack?

    I usually read the articles and most of the comments. From what I gather, there is almost none Arsenal fan trolls here. So now the questions become: to whom is this article written to? All of the moderators here are – or at least try to be – unbiased and write objective (as objective as a fan can be) posts about any team. After the second leg, I was afraid of what I’m going to read about the post match analysis but to my surprise Kevin wrote the article in a very objective manner. He did not just trash Arsenal, but really provide analysis about it.

    Most of the commenters here also try to refrain from hurling insults to other teams (apart from the EE thing) and really my main point is that this article seems unnecessary. Second leg is over a week ago, Arsenal have – or try – to move on, La Liga has resumed, etc etc. It just seems unnecessary to start a fire again.

    Feel free to reply me, I’m not blaming BFB or everyone here, I’m just questioning the writer. Thanks.

  15. Jackieboy
    March 16, 2011

    Kinda harsh and a tad unnecessary IMHO, with some debatable claims out there. Ex. there are a lot, and I do mean a LOT of people who would rather watch any EPL game, with the constant running, wrestling etc. etc., than a “boring” Barcelona game, where the Blaugrana hog the ball for 75% of the time and just keep passing it around.

    We won. We owned them. No point rubbing it in their face.

  16. barca96
    March 16, 2011

    Off-topic (from this post but not in out hearts).
    The surgery is being brought forward to Thursday.
    Don’t know if it’s supposed to be good or bad.
    Sounds bad cause why would they rush it right?

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      Nah, I think he just wants to get it over with as soon as possible. This isn’t the sort of thing you want to sit around and wait on, and if there was a free surgery slot, why not just go ahead?

    • Lev
      March 16, 2011

      Not at all. It’s good to take care of it immediately. Being a Barça player he is not put on a waiting list than the rest of us(literally in this case) mortals.

    • Lev
      March 16, 2011

      read: LIKE, not THAN the rest of us. (obviously)

  17. Jackieboy
    March 16, 2011

    On a completely unrelated note: does anyone know what’s the longest La Liga unbeaten run? I know ours is 26 and we just matched it, but I couldn’t find any info if there’s ever been a longer one.

    • Jnice
      March 16, 2011

      Not 100% sure, but I think Real Sociedad holds the longest with 32 matches unbeaten.

  18. blitzen
    March 16, 2011

    Since we have the attention of a few Arsenal fans today, may I ask what you lot think of the prospect of Jens Lehmann coming back as a short-term solution for your GK woes? And more importantly, what does Almunia think of it? They didn’t exactly part on the best of terms, did they?

    Personally, I am rubbing my hands with glee, both as an Arsenal supporter and a fan of general craziness. Lehmann back again? What could possibly go wrong? 😀

    • Pete
      March 16, 2011

      It shouldn’t be a massive rivalry – Jens knows he is there purely as back up and will only play if Almunia is injured or has one of his abysmal spells (which is always possible).

      I quite like it, personally, but mainly for his dressing room presence. The guy has won things, and isn’t afraid to be exceptionally frank with people. I think we need that.

      Plus, he is entirely mental. It should be fun.

    • footballfan
      March 16, 2011

      I second Pete’s opinion. From what I’ve read Jens knows that he most probably won’t play and he says that he will support Almunia.

      Plus I think he can be a good influence for the “kids”, much like when Arsene signed Campbell last year.

    • JohnnyWins
      March 16, 2011

      Should be entertaining although reports are he has been on the scene for 2 weeks….say no more!

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      It’s not the “rivalry” that concerns me, it is the sheer personal hatred. I was reading this old (April 2008) interview with Almunia in the Guardian yesterday, and here are some choice quotes:

      He (Lehmann) has described himself sitting on the sidelines feeling “very angry” and having to “clench my fist in my pocket”. His words have been laced with contempt and, with a carefully planned sense of timing, he claimed this week that Arsenal would still be in the Champions League if he had been in goal. “To be sitting on the bench behind somebody who only started to play when he was 30 is not funny.”

      Almunia “The truth is I don’t want to talk to him. I came into training this morning and one of the press officers told me he had been saying bad things about me in the newspapers again. {snip} Why he doesn’t respect me, I don’t know. But I don’t want any relationship with him. I try not to let what he says enter my mind because it’s not important to me what he says or what he thinks.”

    • outerspacedout
      March 16, 2011

      Lehmann is a complete headcase.

  19. March 16, 2011

    Ugh, why have this post? I’ve never criticized blog posts before, particularly here in BFB, but this is just petty and unnecessary.

    • ade
      March 16, 2011

      I agree.

    • Roz
      March 16, 2011

      Forgive my ignorance Jose, but why is your named linked to a roman emperor?

    • March 16, 2011

      Joaquin Phoenix

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      ^ 😀

    • March 16, 2011


  20. outerspacedout
    March 16, 2011

    Agree with the above commenters- namely blitzen, Jackieboy, footballfan, bcurrie, Nik, Lev, Sheena, ciaran, messi_fan- who said this was unnecessary considering we already won and we’re over it.

    Fabregas would walk into any other midfield in the world except ours. Bayern? Madrid? Chelsea? United? Inter? He’d start and be a key player for any of those clubs.

    Also agree with the (very respectful, very awesome) Arsenal fans that posted here.

    On an unrelated note, am I the only one who finds Chiellini’s Bio on his Twitter account hilarious? ‘I’m a famous italian soccer player. I’m playing in Juventus FC and in Italian Team’

    • outerspacedout
      March 16, 2011

      Forgot to mention Jose as well.

      Barca96: Yeah I’m pretty sure that like blitzen and Lev said, its just cos of the fact that being a Barcelona player he got bumped up to the earliest available free slot, one probably opened up a day earlier than previously found.

      Jackieboy and Jnice: Yeah I’m almost certain its Sociedad and 32 matches. It was somewhere on Soccernet, dunno if it was in the comments, a Phil Ball article, or a Norman Hubbard football questions answered article. I think in the 70s or 80s?

    • Diego
      March 16, 2011

      Add me to the List 😀

  21. March 16, 2011

    Shocking news about Abidal. Just shocking. I hope it isnt as serious as it sounds.

    Not sure what is going to happen to our defense now with Puyi out as well and Milito beind so off form/unreliable. I guess Busi is going to have to get used to playing CB for a while.

  22. mega_tajh
    March 16, 2011

    Is it just me or does the remaing teams in the Champions League looks weak in comparsion to other years?? Us,Schalke, Shakhtar Donetsk, Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid or Lyon makes up this year’s quter-finals.

    On paper atleast we should have an easy runin as I strongly believe no team in Europe can hault us this season. I guess its seeing the new faces at this stage of the competition is blinding me as I really don’t know much about Shakhtar or Schalke.

    • Jnice
      March 16, 2011

      On paper atleast we should have an easy runin as I strongly believe no team in Europe can hault us this season.

      Key words being, on paper.

      I think we are the best team in Europe, but I don’t believe we’ll have an easy run in. This is a knockout tournament, any team is capable of getting lucky, catching us on an off day, or just flat out outplaying us.

    • beeeef
      March 16, 2011

      “… but I don’t believe we’ll have an easy run in. This is a knockout tournament, any team is capable of getting lucky, catching us on an off day, or just flat out outplaying us.”


      A quarter-final berth in the CL is no small feat, no matter what clubs end up getting that far. For example Shakhtar, while weaker on paper compared to other teams in the competition, has been immense in Europe this season. They topped Arsenal in their group, and swept aside Roma in the Round of 16. They’re actually one of the teams I’d most rather not go up against.

      Whoever we end up drawing, it would be nice for once to get a favorable draw away from home to make things easier at the Camp Nou. It’s curious that Pep’s Barca has such a horrible away record in the competition.

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      I see you have ruled out Copenhagen already, but their game isn’t until later. They could come back! 😉

      Of this lot, ManU and RM are definitely the strongest. In the next round I would like to meet either Tottenham (because it would be a great game), Schalke (because they shouldn’t be much trouble and we get to beat Raul), or Inter (because I want to pulverize them into the tiny motes of dust they are. Except Sneijder, I like him.).

  23. Lev
    March 16, 2011

    I would like to play Tottenham. I actually really want to play Inter, but I prefer for EE to draw the strongest teams (Man U, Chelski, Inter) because I want them OUT!

    Really don’t want to draw EE, especially since we will be without the roi.

  24. Jack Straw
    March 16, 2011

    To the fellow Arsenal supporters, especially Johnny Wins and Pete (from Arsenal Analysis?) – well done! For the first time in weeks I can relate to and take pride in something that a fellow supporter has written. Apparently the classy Arsenal supporters have been hanging out here, while our own blogs are filled with hateful, ignorant, entitled little children.

    To the Barca commenters – thank you for taking a more rational and respectful approach to the matches between these two teams. Despite the Fabregas issue, we are two clubs who have a lot in common. Even though we lost, and even though you employ Dani Alves (only joking), Barca is the only team besides Arsenal I enjoy watching and enjoy watching them succeed.

    To the author – so very, very bitter. And you won!

    • Pete
      March 16, 2011

      Thanks Jack. I have to say, the debate here has been excellent, so very very rare for blogs, particularly so soon after two teams have played each other. Well played both sides. And no, I’m not from Arsenal Analysis, I’m from here:

      If you look for posts from last week about the game, you won’t find any – I was on holiday in France. I wasn’t ignoring it….

    • Jack Straw
      March 16, 2011

      This is exactly the article I thought might be you – I just had the sites wrong. Found myself agreeing with you there as well. I must admit, I’m having a very hard time dealing with the negativity around the club at the moment.

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011

      awesome site!

      hope you guys win the league. cheers!

  25. mardia
    March 16, 2011

    Yeah, I have to agree with the majority of the commentators here–this post was really unnecessary. We won, we won’t be facing Arsenal again–at least not for this season, Lord only knows what’ll happen next year in the CL draw–and ranting about it now just seems very small-minded and petty.

    Frankly, I feel like both sets of fans have bigger concerns on their plates than hashing over this game. Arsenal still are trying to win the EPL, and we’ve got our own difficulties/competitions to work through. I’d much rather we focus on that than try and stir up the controversy again.

  26. Jnice
    March 16, 2011

    Fontas and Montoya trained with the team today. We’ll probably see one of these guys on the bench against Getafe.

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011

      so montoya’s ok?! alright!

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011

      “Our Imminent Failure in the Champions League Last Sixteen Stages for the Seventh Year Running is Your Failure Too!”

      -i peed myself a little. that was pretty good.

  27. March 16, 2011

    On the “good news” front, the BarcaClinic has rearranged all of its schedules, and Abidal will undergo his surgery Thursday, rather than Friday. Godspeed, and #animsabidal!

    There just ain’t a whole lot else that I am that concerned about right now.

  28. Roz
    March 16, 2011

    Im isolated from the world for 2 days and the first thing I read when I get back it that Abi has a tumor! Good grief.

    • Diego
      March 16, 2011

      Participating in the Protests ?

    • Roz
      March 16, 2011

      You know it.

    • Diego
      March 16, 2011

      Protests are awesome. 😀

    • Roz
      March 16, 2011

      You would know :P.

  29. Josep
    March 16, 2011

    The one team everyone should want to face is Schalke. Magath just got the sack, so ATM they have no coach. Crazy they could theoretically pull a cup double with a new manager, and will 90% win the German Cup (playing a second division side)

    Shahktar vs. Tottenham would make my mouth water. btw Shakhtar are, for my money, the second best team in Europe right now. I would NOT AT ALL be surprised to see them make the finals with a favorable draw.

    Srna is Alves-esque and not talked about.

  30. hammeronmessi
    March 16, 2011

    i thought this is a blog which is free from smug barca fans,now this post,seriously?

    A totally unnecessary post,the level of smugness is totally unacceptable.

    The game is over.get over it

  31. Diego
    March 16, 2011

    All the Arsenal fans I met agreed that RvP heard the whistle but they thought the red card was harsh.

    Secondly, They were mostly angry at their own team for losing 3 championships in 2 weeks.

    About this post, You can do that with any team in the world right now and find us winning the comparison, but that means absolutely nothing because any team with good tactics and enough luck can knock us out.

  32. y2k156
    March 16, 2011

    This is a rubbish post so i will not even going into details about why i find it so awful. I kind of expect things to be of better quality.

    I hope Abi recovers soon. It is a cruel blow and i feel for him more as a person.

  33. DontPanic
    March 16, 2011

    I’m long time lurker, but I rarely post here.
    I don’t want to sound disrespectful to the author of this piece, but was it truly necessary? The game is long gone, emotions are not as high as they were last week, so why stir the hornets nest again?

  34. hammeronmessi
    March 16, 2011

    on the QF opponent ,

    1.the spurs.
    2.raul kiss the finger gonzalej.
    3.samu the treble etoo
    4.paul the dirty tackle scholes.
    5.eduardo i was a gooner silva.
    6.ashley it wasnt me cheating cole.
    7.jose the special mouth mourinho.

    Reasons are
    spurs -weak defense,no pacy strikers,beating anothe club from the greatest league.

    Schalke-simple i think we will have a manita against them.

    Inter-weak defense,revenge and the tie of the season IMO

    Man U-no midfield,1 inexperienced CB

    Shakthar-something of a unknown quantity,the team has changed when the last time we met.

    Chelsea-historically always gave us trouble.

    EE-The 2nd best club.

    Actually apart from shakhtar amd EE,Any draw is welcome.

    Oops,if lyon goes through then they will be the desired draw.

    What are your thougts.guys nd gals?

  35. hammeronmessi
    March 16, 2011

    kindda like a barney roony article

  36. Louis
    March 16, 2011

    Speaking of Mr. Hunter.. anyone read his most recent article about EE? He heaps all kinds of praise on Ozil as if he’s the second coming. Of course, he forgets to mention how he was a ghost in the biggest game of the year up to this point and was subbed at half. Granted, he’s a great player, but journalists need to paint the whole picture.

    • Josep
      March 16, 2011

      Yeah but Ozil is still amazing. Don’t discredit him for one off game which particularly wasn’t his fault due to a certain someones choice of tactics.

  37. Miguel
    March 16, 2011

    “I was warned that it wouldn’t last. But now that big Z has hit his roughest patch yet with Milan, I hope I’m not bearing witness to a personal collapse that could have a major impact on the Rossoneri’s quest for a first league title since 2004.

    The striker has netted just once in all competitions since January. Despite kind words to the contrary from both his manager and club president, he was mostly kept in check during the Champions League tilt against Tottenham. He hasn’t been playing with same confidence and flair he brought to the table early in the season.”

    -sound familiar?

    • Lev
      March 16, 2011

      Hey man, I just hope we won’t be stuck with him after this season…

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011

      *genuflects & makes sign of the cross*

  38. blitzen
    March 16, 2011

    From the official site, interview with Messi:

    There’s no way to get you to rest. Pep asks you but gets nowhere. Wouldn’t it be good for you to rest for the odd game?

    “I feel good and I don’t like to miss games. I hate watching the games either from the bench or from the stands. If I’m fit to play, I want to play, and hope to play every game I can”.

    Sigh. The boy just wants to play.

  39. Josep
    March 16, 2011

    Is it just me or has ALL of Tom’s posts resulted in general dislike and all out chaos and burning at the stake?

    Guys, lets talk about FM2011. I’m trying to start a new game as Barca B, but Barcelona have called up all my players pretty much and I have like 9 players. In exchange they’ve given me Maxwell. So i’m 90k over the wage limit and can’t sign anyone 🙁

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      1. I wouldn’t go so far as “chaos”, but no, it’s not just you.

      2. I don’t know why, but I find your FM2011 scenario hilarious! Why don’t you see if you can call Hleb back from Birmingham? 😀

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      Or promote all the Juvenil A players?

  40. blaunero
    March 16, 2011

    This is getting ridiculous now. We won, they lost. End of story. Why are we going on about this? You’d think we’d won the CL already. Last I checked we’re only in the quarters and many a team, strong in defense and greatly keen on counterattacking, will rightly feel confident of taking us on and defeating us.
    The Arsenal game happened more than a week ago and it will be quickly forgotten. Let’s move on, guys. We haven’t won yet and gloating about a victory in the last 16 is hardly becoming of us.
    Take a team like Bayern. Like us they missed chance after chance to seal the qualification. Promptly Inter punished them, like Arsenal could and should have punished us.

    • Nik
      March 16, 2011

      Thankfully, it seems the majority of members of BFB feel the same way.

      And yeah. Like you’ve said, we’ve won nothing so far. Gloating in triumph is bad enough, but gloating when nothing is in your hands is even worse.

    • blaunero
      March 16, 2011

      Let us hope the players aren’t as ludicrous as some fans.

  41. mega_tajh
    March 16, 2011

    Honestly why is FSC so EPL oriented?? They would rather show a Chelsea game than the EE match vs Lyon, which would gather much more views IMO.

    Its also the same as yesterday when they didn’t even show the reigning champions of the tournament their covering.

  42. Jnice
    March 16, 2011

    Real to beat Lyon 3-1 today.

    • Nik
      March 16, 2011

      I can buy that. Real are on good form recently.

    • mega_tajh
      March 16, 2011

      I’m calling an upset….1-0 to Lyon.

    • March 16, 2011

      I wouldn’t mind if EE makes it past this round. Really, as long as they don’t actually win, I don’t care how far they go.

      But it’s about time they stopped being an embarrassment to La Liga in Europe…

  43. ooga aga
    March 16, 2011

    to be fair tom johnson aka tom dick and harry is a good writer, and i enjoy his posts, but i agree with others this is a tad too much and too late.

    still i think tom should not take the criticism too personally again, i like much of what he says on this blog especially when he chimes in on actual footballing analysis. i like some of his “moneyball” stuff too.

    i will say the current thread has created good conversation, so thats good.

    praying for abi, even though im an atheist…

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      Well, I’ll just go ahead and say it. It’s not so much the content of Tom’s posts that people object to, it is his tone. He seems to come in with the attitude that anyone who doesn’t agree with him is (and I am taking these words directly from today’s post) “shallow”, “delusional”, not “educated” and lacking “common sense”. No wonder people get their hackles up. It is insulting and on a personal level it makes me give less credence to what he is actually trying to say.

      Tom, if you are reading this, this is not a personal attack. You may honestly not be aware of how you come across in print. But I know I am not the only one who feels this way.

    • mega_tajh
      March 16, 2011

      Well ideally this is a blog where we as readers are provided with opinions from people/writers from all over. From Kevin to Isaiah,to Luke,to SoccerMOm,to Kari, to each his/her own.

      These varying styles is what makes this specific blog so interesting after so many continuous years.

      Tom, I assume is just more confident and demanding in his writing, a style we are not used to.

    • Nik
      March 16, 2011

      @Blitzen I completely agree.

    • outerspacedout
      March 16, 2011


  44. Miguel
    March 16, 2011

    here’s to chelito delgado’s magic unibrow coming good tonight. doubt it, though. 🙁

  45. mega_tajh
    March 16, 2011

    Also the criticism on Tom is a bit harsh IMO. Although his article generally discusses Arsenal, he also brings up the forever interesting EPL vs La Liga debate which he has nailed spot on. Many outside fans tend to call la liga weak, basing their judgement by just looking at the top teams of the current table.

    I always argue that La Liga contains both #1 and #2 best players in the world playing for Barca and Madrid respectively. These players grant their teams over 40+ goals a season, so its no wonder the top two always run away from the searching packs. I believe I also read somewhere that both Messi and CR7 has gifted the most number of points to their teams individual.

    Also to note is that if you looker lower in the table there is only a 9 point gap separating 10 place Socidedad with 20th place Malaga, with all 3 bottom clubs equally on 26 points. I for one am glad Tom has put this silly quality vs quantity/competitiveness notion to bed as his research is foolproof and there is no denying this.

  46. SoccerMom
    March 16, 2011

    It’s all good. Discussion is discussion.
    I, for one, would like to thank Tom (Dick and Harry) for his inclusion of a full-size Torrente image.

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011

      soccermilf 🙂

Comments are closed.