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Arsenal Versus Bayern

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A rubber match isn’t, as the casual reader might suppose, an extremely poorly designed item for lighting one’s pipe. It is in fact (according to Wiktionary) “A sporting event at the end of a series in which the opponents are tied in terms of events won and lost.”

Hence we have the term ‘dead rubber’ coined to indicate the antithesis of this phenomenon. This, many would argue, is the appropriate term to apply to tonight’s fixture between Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

With the first half of the tie so effectively settled in favour of the German side there appears little point in getting overly excited about the return leg. It’s an argument with which it’s difficult to argue. Especially when one factors in the awful run of form Arsenal is trying its best to overcome.

I’m not going to attempt to sugar coat it, the side is shorn of confidence, making poor decisions all over the pitch and playing as if they expect to lose. It is never a particularly edifying sight watching your favourite team struggling like this, and I’m not interested in any of the excuses I’m sure are being bandied around.

The current malaise is almost certainly temporary, the players are not suddenly incapable merely because collectively they cannot find their feet. The amount of poor decisions on the pitch against Liverpool had me shaking my head and tutting in a manner seldom seen in Wesley Avenue on a match day. I know this comes as a shock to you, but yes, even the most positive among us is capable of sighing heavily from time to time.

I think what upset me most was not so much the hurried wayward passing as the amount of times the poorly executed pass was played directly into the danger zone, precisely where Liverpool would have wanted it, usually to a man heavily marked or on the back foot and without support. This was as much the fault of the players off the ball not moving to decent positions as it was the hapless attempts to find them with a bad pass.

Taken together it added up to a shaky, panicked display from a bunch of bewildered sportsmen struggling to understand why that which they usually find comes as second nature was suddenly so difficult.

How can the squad possibly do the improbable against one of the best teams in Europe? How indeed. Perhaps it would be more realistic to hope they begin to turn the tide. Put in a more coherent display, gradually turn the ship around and get themselves in the frame of mind to make a decent fist of the run in and the remaining FA Cup fixtures.

I had a sense that this was the plan at Anfield. Sit back and defend, draw if necessary but hope to hit on the break. Build a run of unbeaten results to get the engine running smoothly again. That would have made sense but of course team sport is a capricious beast and one cannot always steer it the way one might hope. The opposition, for example, will have a part to play in proceedings.

So what is left? Well, might I suggest that perhaps the only thing left tonight is the only thing that ever really mattered anyway? A game of football. An hour and a half of entertainment for the devotee both in the stadium and on the couch. Strip away the hyperbole and false analogies with armed conflict, remove the ridiculous media fuelled scandal and razzmatazz and what you have left is a football match.

Dead rubber or not if you are genuinely a fan of the sport you ought to able to enjoy the contest, the individual moments of improvisation and skill and the occasion itself. If not, if the match in and of itself isn’t enough for you and results are really all that matters then the final league table is widely published every May, you could spare yourself the weekly anguish and just glance at that.

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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223 comments on “Arsenal Versus Bayern

  1. mandy would better defensive drilling have stopped the award of the penalty for that dive, or the clearly offside 4th, and maybe even the 5th too.
    the biggest problem with the goals we let in tonight, was our poor passing that gave away possession, two of them in awful dangerous positions, and one of them with nearly all our team in attack, and the other goal came from a poor shot by bellerin and they went full length of field, with hector out of position.

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  2. Maybe Ed, but an amusing concept nonetheless.
    Lots of rumours as to who they have spoken to, but it seems the clear preference from the board at least is for Wenger staying on. I will admire him immensely if he takes that on, but looking a hard sell at the moment, he cannot easily claim progress this year, though a good finish to the season could help immensely.
    On a positive note, think Owen Colye is actually available, as is Pardew…..names mentioned in the past by some of our fans, and bloggers

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  3. sorry mandy, but of course you are right about us looking like we need more defensive drilling and work doing.
    You know the old saying that a team resembles its manager, well for me this Arsenal team mirrors wenger in that he is the ultimate optimist, he expects the team will play well, mistake won’t be made, and the officials will do their job, not only well, but unbiased, and our team are optimists in that they always think that it will be alright, someone else will cover for me if I join the attack, someone else will cover that runner, no need to block that shot as he wont score from there

    manager and players are just far too bloody optimistic and they have done this to me

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  4. Agree on the goals Ed, but we are letting in too many at the moment and are suffering horrendous collapses….even the Bournemouth game.
    A team who aspires to challenge just cannot operate like, even though we clearly have problems in MF, and being down to ten men doesn’t help. Our defence looked quite solid a year or two back….but we just seem to have reverted to some bad habits.
    Just think some horrible momentum is relentlessly building to a conclusion of some sort

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  5. mandy I think that with what happened at utd after red nose, it will mean that there will be no up and coming manager, no Howe or Tuchel replacing Wenger, it will be a proven winner, Alegri fits the bill, but would not be surprised to see Benitez,
    the nearest we might see to a manager with something to prove at the moment would be Rodgers on the back of his runaway success in Scotland and his near thing with lfc.

    I also expect that Robert Pires might very well get his wish, and be made a Director of Football

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  6. See your point, nice photo, yes, in the game at the moment, it seems cynicism trumps optimism, cheating beats the Corinthian spirit, guile overcomes nativity, the sugar daddies overcome the self sufficient, cheats do prosper and the media ,with its agendas holds court
    Sorry, Depressing scenario, but what is to be expected from a game run by Havelanche , Blatter and Infantino for decades.
    But for all that, still love watching Arsenal at their best though , and hopefully always will

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  7. well mandy, on the goals, anicol won’t like this, but we conceded 3 in 8 minutes, that is the 5th time this season, and we let in 2 in 3 minutes for the 4th times this season. No defense wobbles quite like Arsenal’s defense once we let in a goal. Fragile confidence and as Wenger likes to say, “confidence is slow to build, but quick to lose”

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  8. Why are we playing the ‘Wenger should leave for the best of the club’ game here? It just goes to show how the media narrative is gaining traction. Wenger out will not lead to a sudden change in how Arsenal is viewed by the powers that be, all that will happen is a slide out of the top 4, which is what they want. We cannot pay the salaries of the top teams, it is only Wenger that can attract top talent on less than top wages. Once he goes, we will not have that pull, especially if we don’t end up with CL football. Manure could still attract top players outside of the top 4 because they can afford to pay the going rate for mercenaries. Unless the owner changes his whole approach (which I don’t see happening) we should be hoping that we get out of this bad patch and that the best manager we have ever had or could currently hope for decides to stick it out for a bit longer. It would be different if he wanted to give up and we had no choice, but the man has made it clear that he is not ready to quit managing and personally I would be gutted to see him managing another team when he could still be at Arsenal. I would be happy for him to manage a team that has all the money and none of the media led agenda that he has to contend with.

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  9. Mandy I know a few(non Arsenal) fans who have given up on the game over the last year due to the what the have seen from the officials. They think the game is corrupt to the core and more and more I’m am edging nearer the end game too. When not a pundit, journo or anyone in the game is willing to highlight the cheating from players, and the inept refs influence on the game, in fact not only do they not highlight it, but they dismiss it, or excuse it, as “part of the game”, the “dark arts”, and best of all “clever play”, my love for the game is severely tested. I nearly gave up after the Everton game.

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  10. Gotta be honest, I don’t understand what would be the purpose of shutting up shop in this game? Surely attacking was our only option? You’re out if you don’t, goal difference doesn’t matter, who cares if it’s 5-1 or 10-1? And I’d say that’s what the plan was, too, or we’d have brought on a CB instead of two different attackers. I just don’t think you can draw too many conclusions about our defensive play from this game. The first leg, yes. This one, not so much.

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  11. passenal I’m not sure anyone here is saying wenger should go for the good of Arsenal, I think it is more for the good of Wenger, he does not deserve the treatment he is getting, not only from the media, journos and pundits, but from Arsenal fans and blogs.
    I would say all here want Wenger to stay and get us playing at our best again, and add to the squad in the summer and give us a better season next year.

    AFC can not afford any long term absence from european football, we as you rightly point out do not have man utd’s money, we don’t come remotely close to their finances. Many like to spout the soundbite that AFC is all about the business side, but it fucking is a business, its why there is prize money,its why tv pay massive sponsorship money for the rights to it, its why the players get the obscene wages, its why ticket prices are so high, and its why those that spend the most normally have the best chance of winning stuff. Without Arsenal’s revenue streams or call it what it is, BUSINESS, we could be Leyton Orient,

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  12. alabama the point is that we were out once it went 2-1 to them, that is when we should have shut up shop, we were not coming back from that, ten men, needing 6 goals to 0. So you shut up shop at that point to stop suffering the biggest european defeat in our history, you stop the biggest defeat at the emirates, you stop the bashing our confidence will have taken, you stop the media frenzy that is incoming for the next few days at least.

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  13. Thank you passenal @1:03,
    Hitting our man when he’s down will not lead to a sacking by “the board”.
    AW must not leave this club on the back of this vile, deceitful, public-bashing/ pseudo-fiasco playing out at the moment. Kind of reminds me of “the weapons of mass destruction” cartel @ the UN some 15 years ago. Way way too much bs is being slung at our manager, our team, our board and what we’ve stood for for the past 20+ years.

    Yes, he needs to make adjustments to his team (doesn’t every manager?) but my gawd, the envy-crazed shysters & pea-brained fans need to take a chill pill!

    I would love AW to shut the doubters up in the next 7 days with a, “yes, after careful consideration, me and my lil’ alsatian middle finger have decided to stay for another TWO years, with or without any player who’s up for the challenge”.

    Tonight’s ref epitomised some of the corruption in today’s football.
    I rest my case.
    I support ARSENAL.

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  14. also alabama, the reason for the reaction to the 5-1 tonight is partly due to the 5-1 only 3 weeks ago, to this being our 5th defeat in 7, to this being another game, big game, where we have collapsed.
    Yes we should not forget how well we were playing till the ref stepped in, but this team badly needs some wins in the big games. We have Man City, Man utd, Spurs, to play yet this season, we need 90 minutes at the level of our first half today, in all of those games. Maybe even better than those 45, as we have to take into consideration that the PGMOL will have been encouraged by what the seen from UEFA’s finest tonight.

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  15. yes Aman, I would be fine with Wenger announcing tomorrow that he had signed a new two year contract. but I do think it is more likely that he will not be here next season. In the past he delayed a new contract, but it felt different, it was usually more of when not if. Wenger is more and more talking about it in a way that distances himself from it, he has already gone from “a decision in march or april”, to “i don’t know, maybe end of the season”, and he has gone from “I will decide”, to “its up to Arsenal”

    For me Wenger came out fighting in his post match presser tonight, and I want to see more of that from him, for the rest of the season, take them all on, call out every inept ref, every agenda driven journo question. if he is to go out, then go out swinging.

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  16. this wasn’t even a yellow

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  17. I get what you’re saying, Eddy, but I don’t necessarily think it’s as big a hit to team confidence as you might think if the plan was to go for it. A team that always thinks it can score is much preferable, for me anyway, than one that curls up in a ball to limit damage. And as far as what the pundits and others think…well screw them.

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  18. Very happy to see the boys put in a very good effort. I am sure they are playing for the shirt and the club. We cud have won the match atleast if not the tie but the ref spoilt the game

    Also happy that Wenger came up will all guns blazing to shut up the press.

    Hope the team plays like they did today in the first half.

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  19. Arséne Wenger is an amazing man. Exemplary conduct during his post-match press conference. Firm, strong, lucid and in total control. After such a defeat to be like that is extraordinary.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. My feelings too, Georgaki. Spot on.

    The strain is immense, tho’, and he has not looked well for some time.

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  21. The foul on Alexis is not even a serious talking to , but Kos is a red card?
    The administering of Football rules is at times it seems, is more for opposition fan banter.
    If the video ref is of the same mindset what difference will it make, when that is implemented.
    I say now it will not benefit Arsenal, maybe except in absolute cases i.e ball over the line.
    The pen given last night would not be overturned in Arsenal favor on appeal.

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  22. I certainly don’t want Wenger to go…at all, just wonder how much more of this he can put up with.
    There will be more this season as well, can you imagine the officiating they are going to face in the Spurs and Utd game as the media PGMOL and probably EPL try and endure their favourites get in the top four.
    Fair play to Wenger for saying what he did lost night…..just a shame the silent brigade at the club are so passive. What is going on this season if being done with the aim of costing the club money, Stan , Josh and Ivan…..might want to look into things a little

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  23. New post up

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