Champions’ League: Rosenborg 1 – Arsenal 1

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
September 30th, 2004 • 3:10 am

When it comes to the Gunners, there are bad news and there are good news. The bad news is that the team is obviously going through a somewhat rocky patch. After a thunderous first month of domestic football, there was a contentious 0-3 victory at Fulham, an unimpressive 1-0 victory against PSV in the first day of the Champions’ League first round, a draw against Bolton at Highbury, a subpar 0-1 victory against Manchester City, and now this draw against Rosenborg in Norway in the Champions’ League.

The good news is, of course, that the actual results are not bad at all. Arsenal is still leading the English Premier League and the team is also at the top of their Champions’ League group. They don’t have a huge lead in either case (2 points in the league and 1 point in the Champions’ League), but it wasn’t so long ago that Arsenal going through a rocky patch meant two or three defeats in a row… If this is the worst that Arsenal fans have to go through this year, it won’t be too bad.

I don’t know of any team that has ever been utterly dominant in all their games in all competitions throughout an extended period of time. Even in the EPL last year, Arsenal remained undefeated throughout the season, but there were dicy moments and relatively bad periods. The key for Arsène Wenger will be to make his players feel as if they have actually experienced defeat and to get them to snap out of it.

Due to rather poor TV coverage here in Canada, we didn’t get a chance to see any of these games except for the 2-2 draw against Bolton. But we did get to see some of the highlights, and I think it’s fair to say that, while the Gunners have been disappointing at times, they haven’t been really awful yet. And they are still undefeated…

Of course, the 1-1 draw at Rosenborg has inevitably tiggered a new downpour of “Arsenal still underperforming in Europe” headlines in the press. I honestly don’t think it means much. In the past few years, no team has utterly dominated the Champions’ League competition. I remember a couple of years ago, when Barcelona went through a series of successive (and impressive) victories in the competition, only to crash out at the first eliminating round. The Champions’ League is a long competition, and it’s all about building momentum. I don’t think that any conclusions can be seriously drawn from the results so far.

Real Madrid went 0-2 down against Roma on Tuesday, only to recover and win 4-2 in the end. But this doesn’t mean that they have suddenly recovered from their crisis situation. Their first two games in the competition and their first few games in the Spanish league are a clear indication that pretty much anyone can beat them. In truth, they needed some luck (i.e. huge deflections) and generous refereeing to get three of their four goals on Tuesday.

Similarly, while Manchester United’s 6-2 pounding of Fenerbahçe sounds impressive, it doesn’t really make up for the fact that they are way behind in the EPL and that Mikael Silvestre appears to be a danger in both penalty areas these days. (I am not sure what went through Raymond Domenech’s mind when he decided to call him back to the France team earlier this week.)

And Chelsea’s victory against Porto last night wasn’t particularly impressive either. At 2-1, it looked very much like Porto were back in the game and Chelsea were fortunate to get a third soon after on a set piece.

All this to say that there is still a long way to go for everyone involved and that, on the whole, Arsenal’s start this season is quite decent. Here’s hoping that Saturday’s game against Charlton will mark the end of the rocky patch and see the Gunners take things back to the next level.

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