Arsenal Bashing

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
March 2nd, 2003 • 1:36 am

Strange feeling after reading some reader feedback on following the mid-week Champions’ League games (Man U beat Juventus 3-0 in Italy, Arsenal drew 0-0 with Ajax in Amsterdam).

I know it’s just a couple of readers, probably biased. But I couldn’t help thinking about the criticism… I didn’t see the Arsenal game (wasn’t shown here), but I saw the Man U game. I honestly fail to see what was so great about Man U’s performance. At least two of the goals were purely gifts by the Juventus defense. What’s so remarkable about scoring those? Ruud van Nistelrooy is obviously a poacher, an opportunist, and he doesn’t even have the decency not to celebrate too ostensibly after HAVING been gifted a goal by the Juventus defence.

How does this make Man U a great European team? Sure, they have a good track record, which Arsenal doesn’t have — but give Arsenal a chance. Wenger has only been around for 5 years. He’s built a whole new approach, a whole new culture. Obviously not everything is going to click right away.

So what if Man City let in 5 goals last week because they decided to play offensive football? What is so great about football based on defence and counterattack, as is so common in other European leagues? It makes for boring stuff. At least Man City are trying to play real, attacking football. If what it takes to win in Europe is to play defensive football, then that might EXPLAIN why the Champions’ League competition has been so freaking boring in the past few years, with the exception of, oh, about 5 minutes in the final that Man U won a few years back.

The reason the English Premier League is so popular is because the teams are not stuck in defence mode. They try to create stuff. (OK, that doesn’t include Liverpool these days, but every body can have an off season.) I watch French games and Italian games from time to time and it’s mostly dreadful stuff.

All that being said, it would be good if Arsenal could win their last two GROUP games in the Champions’ League… :)

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