Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Champions League Quarter Finalists ranked in order of least preference for Arsenal

By 1970’s Gooner

Should Arsene Wenger have a preference for the Quarter Final draw of the Champions League? There are various ways of arriving at an answer.

One can argue that Wenger and his merry young men should not fear any of the other seven remaining aspirants to Europe’s Holy Grail.

For if you are a team that aims to be the best then whoever you meet, at whichever stage of a knock out competition, should be considered as another welcomed test of your superiority.

Yet in football, as in many things in life, timing and the process of continuous evolvement can prove pivotal in determining the amount of success or failure.

Unlike Manchester United, Arsenal is a relatively young side that is improving all round at a fast pace even from game to game. Especially with Robin Van Persie to come back into the side.

This implies that Arsenal’s peak could be reached in the latter stages of the competition and therefore avoiding a tough opponent now is even more important for Arsenal.

What is more obvious of course and this goes for Manchester United too, since Arsenal are involved in a tight run in for the title it goes without saying that as easy a draw as possible should be the wish of every Arsenal fan.

Let manchester United slug it out against a Liverpool or a Chelsea....

So I think that, unlike Benitez, yes we do mind who we get for the Quarter finals. And I would go one step further. I would prefer that we face foreign competition.

The reason? The Arsenal style of play is allowed to express itself much more on the continent than on home soil.

English teams press hard, squeezing the space out and not allowing time on the ball especially for the midfielders who are so important in the Arsenal set up.

Look at how Seville found it so difficult to keep up during their demolition at the Emirates.

Look at how Milan allowed the little maestro the space and the time to dictate the play which eventually was their undoing.

I don’t think that your Liverpool’s and Chelsea’s of this world would adopt the same tactics. And there is the fact that English teams know you so well so the element of surprise is factored out.

Here is my list of the seven teams in order of my least preference. You may have a different point of view of course:

1. Manchester United

I would least prefer Manchester United as I consider them to be the strongest of the other seven. No more than that.

2. Chelsea

Chelsea have the most complete squad of all the Premiership teams and this will allow them to rest players for the crucial games of the Champions League especially if they are still behind in the race for the title.

3. Liverpool

Liverpool have this knack of doing well in the Champions League and also a manager who knows the European style of play and is well adept at getting results on the European arena.

4. Barcelona

After the English teams the strongest of the rest is Barcelona. They have the pedigree and the players to do damage. They have been off the boil recently with their stars underperforming and with Messi probably out of the quarters.

Yet of all the rest they still pose a threat but they would also play a more open game against Arsenal.

5. Roma

Roma currently lie second in Serie A, six points behind Inter. Totti and Vucinic provide their attacking threat which was enough to kick Real Madrid out of the competition winning both games home and away 2-1.

This should not be underestimated. Yet they are Italian and Arsenal have shown that they can turn the style on against such teams.

6. Fenerbahce

I have put Fenerbahce ahead of Schalke due to the momentum they have built up by their fantastic and unexpected win at Sevilla as well as due to their very strong home support which usually intimidates visiting teams.

They also have a Brazilian flair in Zico their famous manager, Roberto Carlos and their goal scorer Deivid who impressed me with his display at Sevilla.

7. Schalke 04

Schalke have reached the Champions League knockout stages for the first time. They knocked Porto out on penalties after winning the home leg 1-0 and losing the away leg by the same score of course.

They are currently 5th in the German league 12 points short of top spot. I am not that impressed with their strikers (they have former Rangers player Lovenkrands along with Kuranyi and Asamoah) and in my estimation they pose the least threat for Arsenal.

We have set up a poll on the issue on which you can indicate your preference and can also leave a comment.

Interesting fact

If drawn against either Manchester United or Liverpool then Arsenal will have to play against their Quarter Final opponent three times in the space of 14 days.

This is because Arsenal have a league game scheduled against Liverpool right after the first leg and against Manchester United right after the second leg!

Rosicky blames injuries on busy English schedule but reveals his expected return


Anonymous said...

I agree for the most part. The only teams I really don't want to play are ManU and Chelsea. Not so much because I don't think we can beat them, but more because the media circus and anti-arsenal punditry would be too much to take. The team I would most like to play is Roma. I think it would be an entertaining encounter of two attacking sides and I believe we would beat them. We seem to get more motivated when we play better teams.

Anonymous said...

I also think that avoiding the English teams would be ideal. I would however prefer to play Barcelona as they are not at their best at the moment and as you say timing is important...

Anonymous said...

Chelsea is the team I don't want to play. We have to beat them in the league, and having to beat them in the Champions League might be too hard to do. If we lost to Manchester United in League or Champions, it'd give us an advantage in the other. With Chelsea that is not the case.

Anonymous said...

I rather play roma as well. For football reasons more than anything else. Whoever wins it would still be a fantastic game. Same with Fenerbahce. The other teams would play cagey football which is not as much fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

actually we would be playing liverpool 3 times in 7 days but Man U 3 times in 12 days. but I take your point that its a lot of games against 1 team in quick succession. thats why I feel we are bound to draw one of these 2 teams.

Anonymous said...

Schalke is the best draw of the lot. We would have an easier game than our opponents which could prove decisive for the title race.

Anonymous said...

with our bad luck we'll draw Man Utd.

Anonymous said...

Ideally, we'd get Roma and face ther winner of Fener/Schalke in the semi and Barca in the final.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need to draw Man Utd so that we can get the FA cup disaster out our system. I think this explains our underlying nervousness in drawing them and why the Man Utd friends I know would LIKE to draw us.

Taking on Man Utd over two legs with commitment unlike in the FA cup may therefore be just the tonic we need to get our full confidence back.


Anonymous said...

Liverpool are crap. I would play them at anfield in a one off game with us starting with 9 men.

Anonymous said...

Another good post 1970's. lol at anon. 8:13. I agree with him to an extent. I mean I saw enough of them when we played them at Anfield to suggest that they are just behind Schalke and Fernabache in the list.
They play very poor counter-attacking football, which is most likely a reflection of Xabi Alonso's loss of form, but has improved recently due to the rapid adaptation of Fernando Torres, possibly the best counter attacking striker in the premiership. He can receive the ball over the top, on the ground or from crosses and produce an adequate shot quickly under pressure in all cases. But they are seriously bad, just because they have two dangerous players and a talented substitute does in no way make them a great team.
I would love Schalke but I already had a prayer answered this week so i don't see much of a chance.
By the way, Juve are front runners at the moment for Van der Vaart, apparently the wages they are willing to pay him are north of 110,000 and offering a first team place. We on the other hand are offering around 60,000 and no first team guarantee. [looks like Wenger learnt his lesson after Diarra]

Wrighty7 said...

Great post. I'd prefer a foreign side as we play English sides week in week out and thats what European football's all about. Pitting yourself against the cream of Europe and showing your abilities on a wider scale. Plus I wanna go Barcelona with my fellow Gooners!

Anonymous said...

I actually meant just above Schalke and Fernabache.

Anonymous said...

How can Arsenal be improving and Manchester United not be improving? United are nearly as young as us. Stop being ignorant and over-exaggerating our youth compared to other teams. I'm an Arsenal fan and all this young team bollocks does my head in.

BTW, I want Roma. Piece of piss.

georgesydaust said...

I disagree. We need to play the big guns to progress. I'm not worried about manure, chelski or barca. Its the 'lesser' teams we seem to struggle against. If we go into a 2-leg game against manure with the same mentality we did against AC and not to mention JUVE & REAL, we eat em alive. Food for thought

Anonymous said...

The last team I want to face is Fenerbahce! Any of you been to a game in Turkey?? NOT NICE!

Anonymous said...

I prefer ROMA, they aren't great and our record against Italian teams is fantastic. We don't do well against German teams and the only English team I wouldn't mind getting is Liverpool. If we get Chelsea, Moan U or Barca, we're in trouble!!

Anonymous said...

It's Liverpool