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Arsenal Versus Građanski nogometni klub Dinamo Zagreb: Flights Of Fancy

Please accept my apologies if my by now customary flights of fancy are a little more fanciful than usual but yesterday I awoke with a migraine. The only efficacious pain medication I’ve found in these circumstances sends me a little, not to put too fine a point on it, doolally. I’ve been returning slowly to planet earth but it’s been a circuitous route and bits of me may still be out there somewhere.

Imagine my surprise therefore on throwing back the curtains, sipping my coffee and opening the sports pages of Večernji List to find renowned Croatian football correspondent Robert Junaci in a lather over the anticipated visit of Arsène Wenger and his Arsenal team. We have a match today? This calls for decisive action. I resolved then and there that I’d better put down my Croatian phrase book ( Where is the nearest philatelist? : Gdje je najbliža filatelista? ) and get straight on with the job in hand, viz. producing a knowledgeable and above all relevant pre match piece for Positively A.

Before I pushed my favourite Zagreb based daily aside however, my eye fell to an interview with Marko Rog wherein the young midfielder’s views were solicited upon the prospect of facing the North London giants in the Champions League. He was asked a series of penetrating and incisive questions of the ‘What is your favourite colour?’ variety so beloved of Smash Hits journalists but did  reveal that he rated Mesut Özil the most dangerous of the Arsenal players. Sounds like a sensible young man to me. He deftly deflected the question as to whether he’d like to play for Arsène Wenger by protesting that, having only just arrived in Zagreb, now wasn’t the time to talk about leaving. Given that almost all the best players at the Emirates are only there for the opportunity to work under the great man we could all have answered the question for him.

Before heading to the old Smith Corona and spooling in a fresh sheet of foolscap to write this piece, another snippet caught my eye. Per Mertesacker will be missing tonight after making an unscheduled stop on the way home from training. His car apparently came to rest in the remnants of what had been, only moments before, a roadside fence. The unfortunate incident itself wasn’t news but what amused me was the opening sentence which loosely translated read “High guard Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker, who avoided military service in Germany because it does not fit in the tank,” It does not fit in a tank? Really? Wow. BFG indeed. One wonders whether the Deutsches Heer couldn’t have found him some other employment where he’d be less inhibited by his generous dimensions. I’m guessing being the peaceable, gentle soul that he is Per didn’t mind not being squashed inside a 43 tonne Schützenpanzer Puma death machine.

With Hector and Aaron not travelling, and if my Croatian paper is to be believed, then those two and Per join the short but acute injury list as non travellers. This leads me, Sherlock Holmes like, to assume the team sheet will feature M. Debuchy among the back four and an attacking midfield berth filled by A. M. D. Oxlade-Chamberlain. I am as you know averse to team selection predictions. One had just as well predict the likelihood of snow at Christmas 2022 for all the good it does any of us but I wonder if those left waving their pals off on the runway at Heathrow haven’t made the changes more obvious. One doesn’t want too many alterations to a winning team and with a few enforced ones already in place there is less room to chop and change elsewhere.

All shall be revealed in good time but whichever side the manager selects will need to be on its mettle against a very confident team who are super excited to be playing in the Champions League and are acutely aware how easy it can be to slip through the cracks of the group stage. My Adriatic sources assure me that the Zagreb players have woken every morning for months now thinking only of the Champions League. These guys are motivated. They have a fantastic home record and would love to add such a prodigious scalp as Arsenal’s to their collection. Now one can only assume that my sources spoke metaphorically when using such bloodthirsty imagery. This may be a club who’s CEO and manager are awaiting trail on bribery and corruption charges and who’s fans have a reputation for fiercely partisan loyalty to their team but for goodness sake they aren’t Stoke City.

So, while we should be safe from losing our heads, or any part thereof, we still need to put in a good shift to come home with the points. I expect the experience of Captain Arteta to be crucial in negotiating the rapids of the Sava. With his steadying influence and Theo’s pace on the counter we ought to be able to get the job done. Certainly if the enthusiasm of the home team overcomes their cautious instincts then our first goal against Stoke at the weekend may make a tasty template for tonight.

Tell me, can you experience an anti climax in advance of an event? Does the concept even exist and if so what does one call it? The Germans probably have a long convoluted word comprising several shorter ones to describe what I’m getting at. A sort of ‘looking forward to something even though you know it will leave you strangely unsatisfied’ feeling. Something like freutsichaufetwasobwohlsiewisseneswirdihnenseltsamunbefriedigtverlassen sounds about right.

In any event this is how I feel in the run up to these matches. I am quite naturally excited beyond words at the prospect of my club competing at the highest level of European football, as every fan must be. I am equally conscious of the debt we owe Arsène Wenger for getting us there yet again. It really has been a phenomenal achievement and we should be eternally grateful. However the group stages, and to an extent any competition where there are two legs to a tie, leave me knowing that whatever the outcome I cannot cheer too loudly nor sink too far into despair because nothing will have actually been decided. Unlike a straightforward knock-out tournament the early games in a group stage or the first leg of a knock-out match leave one playing all sorts of future possibilities out in one’s mind. Did we do enough? Can we overcome the deficit?  Maybe someone else will slip up, maybe we made a great start but could stumble later. The thing is so nebulous, the outcome so equivocal it leaves me feeling all freutsichaufetwasobwohlsiewisseneswirdihnenseltsamunbefriedigtverlassen in the build up to tonight’s match.

So what to do? Well, I think the only think we can do is hope for ninety minutes of entertainment. Either a nail biter that goes to the wire leaving us panting and weak like an ageing and unwisely over athletic lover, or a beautifully constructed performance of control and goals eaten slowly and with relish over the course of the evening. I think we should just enjoy the game as a one off and let the future arrive in its own good time. It’s going to anyway so why try to second guess it? Win, lose or draw all we can wish for is a good game, no injuries, nobody bribing the referee and the spectators all getting home safely. Not, you understand, that I’d be averse to a thumping great win. Theo is overdue a Croatian hat trick, after all, it’s been seven years since his last one in Zagreb. Now that’s a nice thought to savour as we all count down the minutes to kick off isn’t it?

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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67 comments on “Arsenal Versus Građanski nogometni klub Dinamo Zagreb: Flights Of Fancy

  1. Messi would’ve been proud of Ospina’s dribble

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  2. I did say that Zagreb were harder opponents then the Maccabians or something like that
    IBSF

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  3. Liam Brady seems to be disgusted by the performance tonight, said many of the players put in an unprofessional performance, attitude all wrong and that its unacceptable. He felt that a lot of the players did not show Dynamo Zagreb the required respect, and that they played as if they expected to win without bothering.

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  4. They took the lead with a ricochet OG and then AFC went down to ten.

    Not sure the marking on the second goal came about from ‘lack of respect’. Nope. Not for me. Started well as usual of late etc etc etc

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  5. I don’t agree fins that we started well, we really created little, Giroud had a good header at a corner, other than that did we test their keeper. Even before going behind we were not at full speed. Cazorla, Ozil and Alexis were no where near top gear. For me Ox did what he does too often, flatters to deceive, has a run or two where he beats a few men but creates so little, then switches off in defense and costing us a goal. He has vast potential, but his concentration levels are not what they need to be.

    As for the first goal fins , yes the ball ricocheted in off OX, but the lack of professionalism Brady talked about was that Ox had not tracked the attacker in time, he looked at the guy but for some reason did not look to track him, and by the time he did it was too little too late.
    The lack of professionalism Brady talked about on the second goal was firstly how the ball was given away sloppy to allow the attack, and then at the corner itself Gibbs ducks allowing a clear header for the attacker.

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  6. by the way for anyone who has not seen Brady on Irish TV down the years, covering AFC games, he is very much a club man, he very seldom is down on the team or manager, and tonight you really could see how upset he was with the performance and with the reasons for said poor performance, as he seen it.
    Johnny Giles actually said he was disgusted by the Arsenal performance, felt it was unacceptable how the players seemed to be so unprofessional, and he said it happens too often, especially against lesser teams who the players seem to think they will beat easy. Says he expects Arsenal to perform well for four or fives games, then drop points against a poor team, like tonight and West Ham on first game of season, raise performance after that, then do the whole thing again.

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  7. OH bloody fuck.
    5 games to go now..we can’t stop at this point in the season..its long and still holds much promise..not the time for blame games.

    Giroud must watch that whole interview where he talks about getting on with it instead of complaining. Man up.

    Ox needs to use this experience to improve himself. Gibbs as well.

    Ozil pure class..I applaud the genius.

    Chelsea coming up..

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  8. anicoll5 at 1:03 pm Edit
    “Business is slow stew – couple of draws or a defeat and it will be like New Years Eve on here.”
    How prescient.

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  9. Eds I’m commenting on the game Of football I just saw and not others’ comments and yes i have heard Brady talk.

    Start was fine minus the finish to open the scoring. Lots of good play down the right (and left) a shame the goal came from Chambo and Debuchy’s side again.

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  10. The boss on defeat, Giroud and Zagreb
    Arsène Wenger faced the media after Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday. You can read a full transcript of the press conference below:

    on the result…
    It’s difficult because we had a lot of the ball and we had early chances. We were a bit unlucky tonight. I believe the first goal was offside and then afterwards the sending off was very harsh. We have to look at ourselves as well because the second goal killed our game. We are good enough to defend corners like that well. Apart from that we had a lot of the ball when it was 10 against 11. They were committed, they defended well and sometimes I felt that they stopped us from gaining an advantage without being punished by the referee, especially on counter-attacks where we had to play 10 against 11 in one half. We were not at our best but neither was the referee tonight.

    on Olivier Giroud’s sending off…
    The first yellow card was Giroud’s fault because he protested, even if there was no foul against him. After that he should have not protested to the referee. His second yellow card was completely unlucky to touch the guy. I do not understand the referee.

    on whether Giroud should have been more careful…
    I don’t think he saw the guy. It was completely accidental. It happened and I think at that moment it was not a second yellow. It has to be a foul on purpose and it was not on purpose. The referee should have given several yellows tonight based on that.

    on the Champions League…
    Mathematically we can qualify without any problem if we can produce our performances that we want at home. We have had problems starting in every competition this season. We were slow starting the Premier League and now the Champions League. I’m confident that we can put that right in the next five games.

    on three English clubs losing…
    It’s too early. It’s the first game. Let’s see where we stand after six games. It’s too early to get any conclusion. Tonight was a special circumstance. We had a lot of the ball, Zagreb gave absolutely everything and once we went 2-0 down it was a very difficult game with 10 against 11. Let’s see where we stand after six games. Then we can draw conclusions.

    on making changes to the side…
    You know that when you don’t win the game you have to look at yourself and think, ‘I didn’t get it right’. I personally don’t believe that the players who came in had a bad game. It just didn’t work. We know we have to do that again. We were maybe a bit unlucky and maybe lacked cohesion or some competition in some situations. I have to analyse that. It’s very difficult to give you a definite answer straight after the game.

    on David Ospina…
    Ospina is a very, very good goalkeeper and he has shown that again tonight. Cech has not played a full season so I am trying to give him some rest mentally because for goalkeepers it’s the same as outfield players.

    Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

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  11. Positively Arsenal ‏@Blackburngeorge 23m23 minutes ago
    Btw, does anyone still think AOC should be starting ahead of Ramsey?

    no George, not for me, Ramsey all day long, at the moment Ox is still little other than potential, there is so little end product from him and always likely he will feck up costing us a goal too. As one gooner said tonight, Ox is the English Gervinho.

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  12. Really tough game.
    Giroud unlucky to have been sent off.
    Ox needs to stay more focused defensively.
    Gabriel & Kos really stood tall.
    Debuchy, Campbell & Gibbs need more game time
    Arteta playing depends on the CM/AM quality of opponent. Speed kills!
    Ozil was everywhere!…deserved a goal.
    All in all a firm-smack-2d-testes intro to the CL this year…(like the EPL)

    “Its not how you start but how you finish”, someone once said.
    We move on….

    PS. I expect a 4-0 drubbing for D.Zagreb @ the Emirates in november.
    Its the least we can do for their insubordination.

    RASERS!

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  13. morning all.
    i agree with aman totally.
    i am with goerge on ramsey but not the bit about ox. we cant behave like others who use every misfortune of the club to prove their points about any of our players. alse we can also say that about coq over artata or monreal over gibbs, or walcott over giroud, or bellerinho over debuchy or even say cazorla without coq is a disaster waiting to happen. no, they all are wrong as only arsene knows!

    brady and giles can say all they like. talk is cheap! the irony is that they are the one who expect us to go there and get all the points.if not they would have acknowledged the fact that its hard playing 10 vs 11 away and get all the points just because you play well. if have won with the same performance, their naratives would have been different.

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  14. I was in Porto on business. There was nowhere that woul screen the Arsenal match. Not surprising since Porto was playing at the same time. Listened to the match on Arsenal Player. Sounded like we were dominant and should have been at least two up in the first 20 minutes or so…..oh well…..shit happens

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  15. Just watched the bites ice highlights on Arsenal player… The first goal was off side…..clearly off side….

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  16. at least the youths did well

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  17. New post is up ladies and gentlemen

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