Despite everything that has happened, I’m going to enjoy this week

Despite a fierce love of Arsenal, I am first and foremost a football supporter.

With two superb Champions League semi-finals on the agenda, that means I’m looking forward to a superb week of football.

There is something to like about all the teams remaining in the tournament and to be perfectly honest, I’d be happy to see any one of the four of them lift the trophy.

Barcelona because they are the best team in the world and deserve to be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.

Internazionale because they are lead by one of the true entertainers in the sport in Jose Mourinho and have the technical brilliance of Wesley Sneijder within their ranks.

Lyon because they are one of the best-run clubs in Europe, a superb example of how success can be achieved with a patient approach and with the right people.

Bayern Munich because they knocked Manchester United out and possess two of the best genuine wingers in the game in Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

It will be refreshing to watch both games this week as a neutral, not having to worry about the results influencing Arsenal or cheering against one team over another because they are so repulsive. I will be able to watch this games with a clear mind, able to enjoy the technical and tactical skills of the teams on display.

One player who will draw my attention more than most is Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. I have been following his progress since France’s World Cup play-off against Ireland and he has impressed me as a brave, decisive goalkeeper capable of making match-winning interventions.

Arsenal’s goalkeeper problems have been evident this season and I believe this is one area of the pitch that will see changes made. I believe Lloris is a strong candidate to fill that role next season and I am excited to see how he performs on the grand stage that is a Champions League semi-final.

Despite Arsenal’s absence from the final stages of this tournament I’m going to enjoy the football this week.

I suggest you do too.

Thoughts?

Have your say on the Champions League semi-finals by leaving a comment.

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38 Responses to “Despite everything that has happened, I’m going to enjoy this week”

  1. paul murphy
    April 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    Good shot stopper! but then so is Almunia but didn’t see how he deals with corners which is Almunia’s weakness, is he going to be same old?

  2. senior citizen
    April 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    Lucky you! As for me, I will never enjoy anything any more, until may be next season and World cup. 5 years is a very long period of time. You can imagine how long a day is! Wenger should better quit by himself and some of his French friends. We don’t need all of them.

  3. DJ RC
    April 20, 2010 at 8:23 pm #

    I guess United is also chasing this guy…….he is France’s first choice now!!…Looks good but will be very costly as LYON is a rich club!!

  4. billi
    April 20, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    yeah, that’s just the way I am feeling too
    my personnnel mood is also becoming better, so that you can see the future with more positivity again, in which respects ever but of course I am looking forward to a promising good play by Bayern Munich, and I hope I can see Barcelona as well, the other teams don’t say much to me, so I am curious about them, they are in cl- semi-final, so there must be something interesting about them :mrgreen:
    I have seen the knockout of Manu live on TV of course, it was such a great feeling when you are fevering and fevering and then you turn around a seemingly hopelessly, desperate situation, at first you were totally shocked and nearly torrified with the beginning, Manu seemed to smash them of the field, three goals in a row, something like that, and they could find an answer, that was psychological enormously, first a goal by Olic with his last force and willingness and desperate, and at the end, I think it was in stoppage time, this Robben-Wondergoal, my god , that’s just the opposite feeling of the one of last sunday, pure joy :mrgreen:
    of course I will favorisite Bayern Munich though I wasn’t a fan of them in recent years, but at the moment I really like them, Ribery is just such an exceptional person, not only with his talent but with his personnel mentality too, and I really like the netherland players, I think Netherland could play a great role in South Africa, I will tip many games in their favour I guess,
    so it remains an exciting week and I become more confident for next sunday too :wink:

  5. Gooner4Life
    April 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    There was some dude called Croyance on the Arsenal facebook site, and he doesn’t think that Lloris is the best French keeper, that accolade goes to Frey. He said that Arsenal have absolutely no chance of buying Lloris as Lyon have no alternative for Lloris, unless they can buy a replacement, and the other two keepers are at Bordeaux and Marseilles already, they will not sell, so we should probably forget about Lloris.

    My own take, he is still developing, and does make some good saves, but is young and not mature enough, didn’t Fabianski look the business for Poland before he came to us? I’ve also seen him rushing off his line too quickly (his defence is very slow and poor so he has to make quick decisions) and it has cost them a lot of times, the same as the Arsenal defence that is very poor as well. He won’t make Fabianski/Almunia clangers of punching into the net, but we need an experienced keeper.

  6. ML
    April 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I agree with Gooner4Life that we should probably forget about Lloris, for a number of reasons. Wenger himself has said he doesn’t think Lloris will be available.
    - Lyon have no replacement
    - Lyon are doing better than Arsenal at the moment (semi-final CL) so why would he come to Arsenal?
    - Lyon are a rich club and he is the most highly rated goal-keeper in France, he will be really expensive!

    Maybe Frey is a better option for us… Almunia could stay for half a season while the new guy gets used to the club/team and EPL.

  7. ML
    April 20, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    Good old Edwin van der Sar still number one in the world!

    Lloris is number 2 and Frey number 35, a few places behind our beloved Almunia, obviously the Fiorentina defence doesn’t really compare to Arsenal’s (being 9th in the Serie A).

    http://www.castrolfootball.com/rankings/rankings/?position=4&nation=&team=&comp=#label

  8. Gooner4Life
    April 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Those same Castrol ratings put Henry among the best in the world, something only Stevie Wonder would think is right……

  9. GunnerBoss
    April 20, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

    Andy, you write beautifully, just saw ur yesterday write-up and i wonder how u keep writing and somehow managing to hide ur raw passion. I really really admire this.

    I don’t know why people would feel Wenger should go, but what I do know is that we definitely need atleast 4 new above average players to cope this term.

  10. ALGunner
    April 20, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    Me to going to enjoy the game. I would support Barca all over till the final. Best team in the world hope Barca win against Inter and win the final in Madrid. As Far Arsenal now they need to win the game against M-City by anyways. I am already waiting for the season to get over and watch the world cup. Hope all the injured player will be there in the world cup for all the respective country. Now there is nothing to say about arsenal but i would support AW I know i don’t have statics (For the last 5 years) to support my comment. But still i will support him.

  11. Ianinja
    April 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    Hope Bayern win although I like this Inter with Sneidjer. Lloris looks good but didn’t Wenger said he’s not buying him. Oh well….Holland to lift the world cup if they don’t fight against each other first.

  12. Robert
    April 20, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    Nice Andrew. These games should be a good distraction for me as well. At least now rivals in the champs league.

  13. colin gooner
    April 20, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    we wont get Lloris, we will only get excuses, have supported wenger from day one, but its time for him to go his passing game is 5 years out of date,but who do we replace him with, looking around most of the managers are taking money on false pretences, i pray we dont get that nob mourinio, he can only manage to the level we need with a blank cheque book,at one point chelsea had the best players in all positions in the world under mourinio and all they won was a couple of poxy cups,they should have cleaned up, you could have put a chimp in charge with that team and you would still of got the same results.the supporters were as happy as a pig in dung, after all they were on the verge of going down/bancrupt and no chance of silverware until the russian come on the scene, why wont people wake up with him and stop putting him in the frame for our new manager, next thing you will say is that j.terry is not a donkey!!!!!

  14. RipRoaringRed
    April 21, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    Well said about Mourinho, Colin. Even at the height of their money, like now, they were an uninspiring and uninspired side but one that was is brilliantly organised, pragmatic and physically strong. As for Fergie, he could never have done in footballing terms what Wenger has done, but a Fergie team would not have lost to Wigan having been 2 nil up with 10 minutes left. Benitez’s football theories are too intrusive and complicated for footballers to understand. It’s still hard to believe that Liverpool didn’t win EPL last season and are nowhere near this year. Martin O’Neil is a pest. Maybe Twitching Harry is the answer; he doesn’t mind switching to rival clubs at the drop of a brown envelope. My fave would be to bring back George Graham as No. 2 to AW. Or possibly as a replacement for Almunia.

  15. TOM
    April 21, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    I’m also looking forward to seeing Lloris but i hope he wont play too well as that will mean we cant afford him and other teams will be in for him. I’d also like to see how inters defence can do against barcelona as i think they have a great defence, Lucio,Maicon,samual,chivu and cesar are world class but will be tested tonight. Also looking forward to seeing sneijder and cambiasso compete against xavi and iniesta in midfield. Heard yesterday that wenger wants to sign Arteta from everton,anyone know if this could be true?

  16. billi
    April 21, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    besides @andy will you organize a kind of tip competition for the world cup in here? I mean without money betting of course, just for fun, who has the best anticipation for the matches? I would like something like that, of course in web there will be some others too ………… :?:

  17. dave
    April 21, 2010 at 4:02 am #

    anxious to watch the 2 Champ League semis coming up. Lloris can be very good for Arsenal if we get him sign up , however I’m more worry about Chamakh if he does join. Problem is who do we have to execute the precision pass for his header ? Not such a rosy prospect as most fans envision.

  18. Gooner4Life
    April 21, 2010 at 6:42 am #

    That game just now shows how much ofan amateur Wenger is with tactics, Inter played a perfect game today, pressed hard, ensured Xavi and Busquets got no ball at all, had tight markers onto Messi as soon as he got the ball and cover behind that marker, they played down the left with accuracy. Compare that to our plan, ‘lets play our game and see where it gets us’, 6-3 is what it got us. Wenger should buy a tactics book, so angry to see a team totally shut Barca down and not hinder their own style of play.

  19. Anonymous
    April 21, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    inter just showed what can be acheived by a team whos manager can employ the right tactics and who can motivate his team into playing for 90 minutes!
    mourinho and inter made a show of arsenal fc tonight and exposed the lack of professionlism and determination in the squad…..diaby,denilson,nasri compared to snjeider,cambiasso and motta…..wot a laugh that is!!!

  20. SRP
    April 21, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    Very good quality video! The only worry i have is that the video didnt contain any clips of his ability defending against corners.

  21. RGJ
    April 21, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Would like to see Barca win but after the 1st leg result it may not happen and that ‘nob’ as Colin put it may yet win it! Say what you like but he is successful. Doesn’t mean I would want him as Arsenal manager – his sides play mean spirited defensive, spoiling football. You’d think with the money he had thrown at him at Chelski that they would play some exciting football.

    What about a topic on possible goalkeepers Andrew? That’s seems to be our number one issue. Lloris keeps getting mentioned but then discounted. What about the Russian – Akinfeev is it at CSKA? Don’t know much about him but he seems to get a good wrap. Buffon has the experience that we need, and as an Aussie I could never understand why Schwarzer never got linked to a top club. I never see him have a bad game for Fulham or the Aussies. The other one I quite like is Joe Hart but maybe he is still too green.

    Any thoughts?

  22. Andrew Weber
    April 21, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    @ Gooner4Life / Anonymous – You make some good points but you’ve completely ignored the fact that we were SIGNIFICANTLY understrength in both games.

  23. Gooner4Life
    April 21, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    In the first leg, we only had RvP missing, the second we had a few missing. Even though, Andrew, can you tell me what was our tactic to beat Barcelona? From where I saw it, over 180mins it was let us try our game for 90mins, the second was let us hope Maxwell is crap and try find Walcott. Where was our defensive tactic? And also I don’t to use injuries as an excuse, Wenger bought all the players, they are his players, they should be at least good enough, not scared and have no tactics. Mourinho said he studied Barca and utilised a plan, I bet Wenger uses youtube clips.

  24. Shane
    April 21, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Lloris is a class player who will achieve great things. He dominates and has a lot of positional sense. That would be a great signing. As would Joe hart. Top player. Like lloris. Young. Either if these two will be welcommed. I am looking forward to defensive and attacking reinforcements

  25. Shane
    April 21, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Ps anonymous. Look at the money spent on the squad and compare it with the massive difference in age of the team. Coupled with the depth of their squad to start with. Let alone our injury crisis.

  26. Ianinja
    April 21, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    I thought our Barca game was over, why still discussing. Barca owned us big time, get over it. Inter are a totally different side so give them props for being ruthless. Hopefully the Bayern/Lyon will demonstrate old school wing play since both teams adopt wingers. Bayern to edge it by a goal unless Luis Suarez has a big game momment again.

  27. Mimi Wenu
    April 21, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    I had no doubt in my kind that Inter were going to annihilate Barca. Infact it would have been 5 or 6-1 had Inter taken all its chances. Barca’s main undoing just like Arsenal in my opinion is consistently playing deep as a team and thereby remaining vulnerable to counter attacks. All it takes is a team that is physical and able to disrupt their shot passing game to shut them out. Just like Arsenal, Barca only have one dangerous approach: Alves/Abidal/Maxwell running down the wing and Xavi putting the ball in the spaces for Messi. In last night’s game, only the former was witnessed though to a limited extent only.
    I see them leaking more goals at camp nou.
    Back to Arsenal business, I last made my contribution in October 2009 or there about though I have been visiting the blog. And this is what I said back then: that I will watch Arsenal’s matches to be entertained. I knew putting too much emotions in this team would only lead to disappointment as it has happened year in year out either in February, March or Mid April every season. And this is bound to continue because of doing things the same way and hoping by some miracle for different results. Every serious Arsenal fan saw it coming at the back of their minds. You bear me witness that we have been struggling against the small teams (Hull, Birmingham, Wigan) and it was just a matter of time.
    Someone put forward a very interesting argument as to why Arsenal suffers from so many injuries at this time more than the other big clubs: too much emphasis is placed on techniques in training than physical fitness yet the two ought to go hand in hand. Probably that is why a good number of our players are often seen strolling on the pitch every so often instead of hassling the opposition whenever we lose the ball.Barca displayed this strength against Arsenal quite well.

  28. Mimi Wenu
    April 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    A contentious quote from Arsenal News Review “Arsenal made Barca look good, Inter made Barca look average”

  29. Shard
    April 21, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    To those who think Mourinho got his tactics right or ‘spot on’.

    I mean no disrespect but I for one couldn’t see what Mourinho did that was so brilliant tactically or for that matter even much different from the way we played them. I would like to know if you saw something I didn’t. Or is it just a case of the result determining the brilliance of the tactics?

  30. Baxter
    April 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Its time 2 startt making big signings & Lloris should be one of them!

  31. Anonymous
    April 21, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    @shard.
    for one thing he had them squeeze the ball and pressurise right up to the last minute….you could see the frustration in the barce player on the ball having to pass backways,do you want me to list the several other ways mourinho used his head??? like the way he used substitutions to interrupt the game second half??take off the blinkers pal.

  32. Filipino Dan
    April 21, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    Craig Gordon is the keeper that I’d like to see come in. He has been on Arsenal’s radar for some time and now that he has performed exceptionally in the EPL he is ready to move to a top club.

  33. Shard
    April 22, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    @anonymous

    no blinkers on dude. chill.. I watched the game carefully paying attention to the tactics Inter applied because I was interested to see that from the start. Just wanted to know what I’d missed.

    In my opinion the defensive patterns and shapes weren’t all that different. Yes the pressing was better but I think thats more down to the execution rather than the tactics itself.
    Of course it may have been a tactical decision to stand off them because pressing unless its done as a team can hold its own risks too as a team can get pulled out of shape.. I’m not hiding from our team’s flaws. Just interested in a detailed tactical discussion.

  34. flyin dutchman
    April 22, 2010 at 2:44 am #

    gooner4life-I like your comments, wenger looking at youtube clips for barca game tactics, it was “the special one” night,that’s the one thing that wenger don’t seem to get right with game plans,it seem so different to the game against arsenal,as barca had similiar position of ball but couldn’t do anything with it, does remind of a team that plays in the epl, if you go by history of wenger buying players,only seaman come to mind,but did wenger exactly buy seaman or was he already in the squad before wenger came in;1996.Well after that wenger hasn’t bought a great or a van der sar type of keeper,don’t know how to judge lehman becoz he does make silly errors,but wenger willn’t buy a establish name player rather someone like joe hart.

  35. Shard
    April 22, 2010 at 2:44 am #

    Also.. as regards the substitutions to interrupt the flow of the game.. Firstly.he could afford to do that cos his team were in the lead. Secondly Mourinho has always played as a spoiler. I know you’ll point to trophies but for me the Arsenal style of play counts for something as well. not discounting that we need to defend much better of course.

  36. Andrew Weber
    April 22, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    There is a significant factor in this result (Inter 3-1 Barca) that I think a lot of people are missing: the fatigue associated with Barcelona’s train travel.

    Barca are the best team in the world and the home tie gives them an opportunity to prove themselves as one of the best ever.

  37. Andrew Weber
    April 22, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    It was of course, bus travel.

  38. guyfrmars
    April 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    jose’s initial tactic saw his team 1-0 down, and what did he do? the same tactic wenger applied at Emirates to earn the 2-2 draw.

    its really funny when 2 coaches apply the same tactics, the difference being the other coach is blessed with a mature and experienced team while the other coach has at his disposal young, still inexperienced players and ppl complain bout Wenger not being a good tactician.

    don’t believe me? watch the 2-2 draw and compare the midfield shape, pressing play with Inter’s win.

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