Posts Tagged ‘champions league’

Football

Arsenal fans – what would be a good result tonight? Can we scrape a win?

By Stefano on March 13th, 2013

There were a few brief moments a couple of days back when I saw a glimmer of hope. I looked at that Bayern team sheet and thought, well no Ribery, Robben or Schweinsteiger. Several of the players that inflicted so much damage at The Emirates are missing. If only Giroud could oblige us with an early goal, then maybe just maybe.

Sadly that brief flame of optimism was extinguished as soon as it became clear that Jack Wilshere would be sitting by the pool in his Dubai hotel not bursting through the Bavarian defence.

The enormity of the task facing the Gunners tonight has been emphasised by two key points.

1 Bayern Munich have won all three of their home games in the competition this season and scored an impressive 12 goals. they have let in three. Arsenal would need to double that figure were they to progress.

2 Not even Arsene Wenger believes that Arsenal have a prayer. He might have said ‘football is football and that anything is possible’ at his press conference. But choosing to bench so many of his star players Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott suggest that he isn’t banking on it.

So Gunners fans what would be a ‘result’ for Arsenal tonight?

Are you in the ‘anything as long as we don’t hammered’ camp? Or do you think that Arsenal could at least score and maybe even get a draw in the Allianz Arena?

Or is a win a possibility?

Let us know in the poll



Football

Arsenal update: Wilshere out, Podolski to Juve? And Raul Albiol targeted

By Stefano on March 12th, 2013

The big news today focuses on the upcoming Champions League game against Bayern on Wednesday. And what looked like just about possible for Arsenal, now looks like impossible. After a series of injuries dogged the German side, the Gunners now have to deal with the absence of their talismanic midfielder Jack Wilshere.

According to The Guardian Wilshere is still in Dubai nursing an ankle injury that he sustained in the game against Tottenham not training in the Allianz Arena.

Also not on the plane in Lukas Podoslki who also has injury problems. The Sun repotrs that the German forward is a target for both Juventus and Atletico Madrid.

Podoslki has netted thirteen goals for Arsenal this season and has shown flashes of brilliance, but has been criticised by his manager for at times not working hard enough.

The Sun reckons that £15 million could be enough to prise the player from Arsenal. Personally, I think that this is a non-starter if Arsenal qualify for the Champions League. However if Arsenal finish fifth – or even sixth – then the likeable German could be on his way.

Lastly a quick update on two key Arsenal targets. Firstly Arsenal are apparently keen on Real Madrid centre-half Raul Albiol. The player has been rather peripheral to Madrid in the last couple of seasons and has undoubted game reading and leadership qualities – which are sorely lacking at Arsenal.

Finally Arsenal target Stevan Jovetic has told the press that he won’t be sidetracked by questions about his future.

He told Sky Italia

“The transfer market? It has been talked about my contract and my future since the beginning of the season and I have to repeat myself: I just [think] about getting Fiorentina into Europe. I’m focused to score as many goals as possible and to make lots of assists for team-mates.

“In June we’ll see. I think only to the good of the team, of Florence and of our fans, the rest doesn’t interest me.”



Football

Five reasons why Arsenal fans shouldn’t be too down today

By Stefano on March 4th, 2013

Losing to Spurs is never easy and to be honest it is not something  that Arsenal fans have had to endure too may times in the Wenger era. And yes it does open up a seven point gap between the Gunners and their north London rivals. But if Spurs fans can hear the Fat Lady singing they are mistaken, she hasn’t even started clearing her throat yet.

Besides there are a few positives that Arsenal fans can dwell on this morning

1 Arsenal didn’t really deserve to lose – I think many neutrals would have said that a fair result was a draw. Apart from the minutes of madness in the first half the Gunners played well and were in control of significant parts of the game. In the moments before the goal they looked comfortable and in the second half, after the Mertessacker goal, if they had scored again they would have looked the better bet to win. Admittedly while they created fewer chances they actually had more possession  than Spurs. Ultimately the key Arsenal players had average games  - Walcott, Cazorla and Wilshere – and they will be put in better performances this season.

2 There are still 10 games to go – And if you look at the run in of the three London team the Arsenal one is the easiest of the three  Besides, Chelsea and Spurs have to play each other, so if the Gunners can get a run of wins they will make up some points automatically  Tottenham’s next few games includes trips to a newly rampant Liverpool, cup winners Swansea and Stamford Bridge. They also have two more tricky home games in Everton and Man City. They finish with what on looks like three winnable games, but by then it could be a lot closer. It has happened before…

3 Yesterday heaped more pressure on Arsene Wenger – In the short term this is not a bad thing for Arsenal. He will drive the players with renewed vigour. In the long term it underlines the folly of sticking with a squad that at best can achieve fourth place, when you have huge cash reserves in the bank. Even if Arsenal did qualify for the Champions League this season the pressure for change at the club - highlighted by the alleged offer yesterday – will be huge. There is clearly a mess that needs sorting.

4 Even if the nightmare happens – And Arsenal finish fifth for the first summer in a long time there is very unlikely to be any core Arsenal players leaving  the squad. Wilshere and Walcott are going nowhere. The only question mark could be over Cazorla, and that seems very unlikely.

5 Ramsey played well - On the positive side Aaron Ramsey had a good game and is showing that he is nearing the kind of form that won him a regular first team start. Ok, I am clutching at straws now…



Football

Arsenal vs Bayern Munich – Wilshere ok, but who will play left back?

By Stefano on February 12th, 2013

A week today Arsenal take on Bayern Munich in what is one of three classic Champions League encounters involving British sides this month. Having won their group, and also knocked Arsenal out before, the in-form Germans will start as clear favourites but Arsenal will hope to make things very tricky for them with a decent win at The Emirates.

On the injury front there’s good news and bad news for The Gunners. Jack Wilshere is apparently fine after only suffering a dead leg against Sunderland. He is in theory available for the game against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup this weekend, but I would be amazed if he didn’t start on the bench.

Meanwhile Laurent Koscielny has recovered from a minor calf injury and he is also expected to be available for the Blackburn game to play alongside Per Mertesacker.

So where though does this leave Arsenal’s other main injury doubt Thomas Vermaelen?

As you may recall Arsenal have a massive problem at left back against Bayern with Gibbs injured, Monreal cup tied and Santos now back in Brazil. Vermaelen has played at left back before and would be a dead cert to start. Goal reports that he is back in light training this week, but with the prospect of Arjen Robben bearing down on him it is a big ask to start back against Bayern.

Wenger could play Sagna at left back, with Jenkinson on the right, or alternatively use Spanish youngster Ignasi Miquel.

It is a really tough call for the Arsenal manager.



Football

Arsenal update: Good and bad news on the injury front

By Stefano on February 11th, 2013

So the nightmare didn’t happen. Rather than calling up Sebastian Squilacci Arsene Wenger chose Bacary Sagna as his makeshift centre half and played Carl Jenkinson at right back against Sunderland. And it kind of worked too. Sagna played well and Jenkinson looked comfortable until his second rather rash tackle that is.

Jenkinson’s misdemeanor means that at least Ignasi Miquel got a bit of a run out. Wenger clearly doesn’t feel that he is ready for first team action yet, which is a shame both for Arsenal and for him.

This weekend Arsenal host Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup in game that the team should feel fairly confident of winning. The good news for Arsenal fans too is that it looks like Laurent Koscielny will be back to partner Per Mertesacker at the back.

Wenger said of his injury

“It’s a calf problem. We think it’s a question of days [until he returns] because he had a positive scan.”

“He [came off for France] at half time [on Wednesday] and we decided to give him a trial in the warm up.

“He was not good enough. I don’t think it’s long-term.”

More of a worry, for The Mail at least, is the status of Thomas Vermaelen. The paper suggests that he will return to training this week, but will struggle to make the squad for the Bayern Munich Champions League a week on Tuesday.

He has had an anti-inflammatory injection in the hope of avoiding ankle surgery. An extended lay off for the captain would be disastrous for Arsenal as they look to close in on at least a fourth place finish in the Premiership.

As for Jack Wilshere, it seems like Arsenal’s talimsanic midfielder will be out for a week or so. Wenger has the choice of whether to play him against Blackburn on Saturday or give him a few more days to recover before starting him against Bayern.

Wenger has plenty of midfield options including Ramsey, who had another good game on Saturday, Diaby, who played for most of the second half, Rosicky and even Oxlade Chamberlain who can all play in the central midfield berth alongside Arteta and Cazorla.



Football

A Champions League games in England ‘was fixed.’ Which team was involved in that game?

By Stefano on February 4th, 2013

In case you haven’t heard yet shocking news from the BBC and others. Apparently a Champions League game in England has been implicated in a huge European match fixing investigation. Europol, who are the European Police agency, have fingered more than 380 dodgy games including a CL one played in England.

Admittedly most of the investigations are nothing to do with Premiership clubs. The biggest links appear to be between Asian betting syndicates and German clubs. However the Champions League accusation will send shock waves throughout the British footballing community.

As of yet we know nothing of the details. The BBC has this

Asked specifically about the allegations surrounding the Champions League tie held in England, Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, declined to identify the match because of “ongoing judicial proceedings”.

However he did say it happened in the last three to four years, adding: “The focus has been on other countries, not the United Kingdom. However we were surprised by the scale generally of the criminal enterprise and just how widespread it was.

“It would be naive and complacent of those in the UK to think such a criminal conspiracy does not involve the English game and all the football in Europe.”

However only six English teams have played Champions league games in the lasts few seasons: Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Also there’s no implication that an English club were involved in direct bribery. It could merely be that one of their opponents received a bribe and that the English team knew nothing of it.

Anyhow cast your mind back. Which Champions League games in the last few years struck you as a bit odd and why and let us know in the comments.



Football

Champions League draw; Arsenal face Bayern Munich and Man United tackle Real Madrid

By Stefano on December 20th, 2012

So here it is. Arsenal have been drawn against Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League while Man United will face Real Madrid in the plum tie of the round.

The draw means that Ronaldo will be returning to the stadium that made him famous. In 2000 and 2003 the two sides played with Real winning both ties.

At least Arsene Wenger will be cheered that he has managed to avoid Barcelona who have put the Gunners out twice in the last three years.  The last time Arsenal played the Germans, Bayern put them out of the Champions League in 2005 winning 3-2 on aggregate. Bayern are currently an ominous nine points clear in the Bundesliga.

The first legs of the Champions League last-16 ties will played on 12-13 and 19-20 February and the second legs are on 5-6 and 12-13 March.

The full draw is

Galatasaray v Schalke

Celtic v Juventus

Arsenal v Bayern Munich

Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund

AC Milan v Barcelona

Real Madrid v Manchester United

Valencia v Paris St Germain

Porto v Malaga

 



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Who are the main challengers for the Champions League?

By shinychris on September 4th, 2012

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With the qualifying rounds already well under way, the buzz for the return of the Champions League is starting to build and it won’t be long until the group stage draw is upon us. Last season’s victors
Chelsea will be keen to get going, as will clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United who failed to make much of an impact last time out.

Big money has been spent this summer and plenty of United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal transfer news is still on-going in an attempt to make them the strongest of the English challengers for the European trophy. Chelsea and Arsenal have made some big signings in the close season and exciting talent such as Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski will give them the confidence that they can make their mark on the competition when the draw is made. United and City started the season as favourites for the Premier League title and they will also be right up there in the betting when it comes to the Champions League. Having both been knocked out at the group stage last season, the competition will certainly be high on their priorities and you could do a lot worse than to predict that either one of these two Manchester clubs will make the final at Wembley, next May.

All four English clubs are expected to do well and it is the first time for years that all four will genuinely believe they can win the trophy. The main threat to the English teams will once again come from Spain, as Barcelona and Real Madrid will look to improve on their semi-final defeats last season. Barcelona have a new manager but very little will change for the Catalan club as Lionel Messi and co. will be the early favourites to take the cup. Real Madrid are already under pressure in the league and they may see the Champions League as a welcome distraction when the group stages start, but Mourinho will be desperate to win the trophy with a third different club.

Aside from the usual suspects you can’t ignore last season’s finalists Bayern Munich, who probably feel they deserved to win the trophy before losing on penalties on their own patch. The Germans will definitely be a threat, but surprised a few last season by making it to the final and would be some way down my pecking order when selecting a pre-tournament winner.

Big spending PSG would like to think they have a chance, but like Manchester City last season, it may not be the right time or place and their main success will be in years to come. It is certainly the closest Champions League to call for a while and any side who makes it through the group stage will fancy their chances.

 

 

 




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