Tag Archives: Europa League

Arsenal crash out of Europe with predictable performance

To lose 2-1 on aggregate against Atletico Madrid is not a disgrace.

Whilst they struggled in the Champions League this season, finishing 3rd in their group, they currently sit 2nd La Liga, above Real Madrid. They are one of the top 10 sides in Europe.

The tie was not lost yesterday.

Atletico Madrid are unbeaten at home in the league this year, conceding just 4 goals. They have not conceded a home goal since 21st January against Girona. Coming away from the Wanda Metropolitano was always going to be tough.

Diego Simeone has got his side well disciplined and organised. Whilst I would still not take him at Arsenal, in the last 7 years has to be praised. You do wonder, however, if he could repeat the act elsewhere.

To play his way, you need players with a certain skill set. Disciplined, tough, and buying into his methodology. There are not too many of those players in world football. Over 7 years at Atletico, the likes of Diego Godín, Juanfran, Filipe Luís, Gabi, Koke and Saúl Ñíguez have pretty much been ever presents. They have built their careers around the Simeone way of playing.

You have to question as to whether Simeone could come into an Arsenal, PSG, Bayern Munich, Manchester City or Juventus and get the buy in from the crop of players those clubs have. Or if he is flexible enough to change his style to suit those clubs? I digress.

When the draw took place, Arsenal knew that they would have to head out to Spain with something to defend. Beating Atletico in Madrid would be near impossible to beat if the Spanish side had something to defend.

Arsenal needed to go out their with something, to then draw Atletico out and hit them on the break. Instead, Arsenal went out there behind on away goals.

The tie was lost in Islington.

Down to 10 men after 9 minutes, Arsenal really should have left with a comfortable victory and a clean sheet. 76% possession and 28 shots on target produced just the single goal.

Some might point to Jan Oblak’s performance, but he only really had one hard save to make. The rest were fairly routine. The types of shots you would criticise the keeper if he let them in.

Arsenal were unable to break down the 10 men further, and eventually conceded the equaliser following a Laurent Koscielny error.

It was the story of Koscielny’s career. Kicking the ball into his own face trying to do “too much”. He could have passed the ball back to David Ospina, or smashed the ball out of play. Instead, under pressure, he made an error – the type of one which has plagued his career.

1-1 in the 82nd minute, and the entire complexion of the tie had changed.

You have to wonder if Koscielny will be seen again in an Arsenal shirt.

His long term Achilles problem reared its head last night, as he was forced off after just 12 minutes. It is likely that he is now set to miss the World Cup.

Koscielny  turns 33 in September, and with his injury record and mistakes, Arsenal might be tempted to cash in sooner rather than later.

The Frenchman has 2 years left on his contract. That will take him to 35. I would be surprised if he sees out both years. The likelihood is he will have 1 more year providing a cross over between the old guard and the new guard, but I would not bet against a new centre back coming in this summer and the new manager deciding to let him leave.

After so much pressure in the first leg, Arsenal managed just a single shot on target in the second. It was always going to be tough in Madrid, and the side will be left rueing the missed opportunity in London.

The fact just one substitute was used over 2 legs perhaps highlights how fragile the squad is.

Despite so many players having poor games, there were little options on the bench to change things.

Mesut Ozil has taken the brunt of the criticism, but the reality is no one can really hold their heads up high. From Ospina to the centre backs, Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin, through the midfield and up top, no one has performed over the two legs. And you do not beat a side like Atletico Madrid with everyone underperforming so much.

There is not point complaining too much. Arsene Wenger is leaving in 3 games. In 10 days time the new era will begin. Spending energy promoting negativity will only affect yourself. It will not change the club – as changes are already being made. We are out the Europa League and it is another opportunity missed for a trophy.

There are still plenty of positives to be taken from the season. Wenger is going, a new man is coming in, our U23s won the Premier League 2 and our U18s made the FA Youth Cup Final.

Rather than dwell on the past, or become angry with the present, let’s focus on the future.

There is plenty to be excited about.



Diego Simeone fails Arsenal interview

With 12 minutes on the clock, the interview was over. Diego Simeone got up, left the away dig out and left Ivan Gazidis without a decision to make.

Simeone would not even make the short list to replace Arsene Wenger, let alone be given the job.

As he left the pitch, snarling and swearing at all those around him, he showed why most top clubs would not consider employing him.

There is a huge difference between passion and abuse. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola show passion on the touch line. Simeone just abusing anyone and everyone.

Constantly arguing with the 4th official, abusing the referee, attempting to intimidate the opposition. He is not passionate, he is just abusive. And his back from staff and players take lead from him. Jumping up in unison at every tackle, demanding a yellow card.

Last nights performance by Simeone should not be a surprise. As a player he was cynical, a cheat. He was the type of player I truly despise. A fake hard man. Happy to rake his studs down an opponents Achilles, always leaving his foot in on a challenge, but you go near him, he would throw himself to the ground and cry, no matter how little contact there was.

We all remember David Beckham in 1998, sent off for a petulant kick against Argentina. Guess who the Argentinian was who went down like he was shot? Yes, your correct, Diego Simeone.

He was an expert in the dark arts, and his Atlético Madrid team have been built in the vision of himself as a player.

Now I know they were down to 10 men early doors yesterday, but the behaviour of their players is no different to if they had 11 men.

Simeone has set them up to be anti-football.

10 men behind the ball at all times, wasting time at every opportunity, and throwing themselves to the ground at the slightest of touches.

Some will say “but he wins things” but this is untrue. Atlético have not won a trophy since 2014. And even if they were more successful, there are ways to win things, and it is certainly not the Simeone way.

Look at Manchester City. The free flowing attacking football wining trophies. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger in the early years. Barcelona or Real Madrid now. These are winners, who do it the right way. That is what Arsenal need to aspire too. We should not be looking to dive and time waste our way to a Premier League trophy.

“But George Graham played defensive football” you cry.

That might be true, and Arsenal were often labelled “boring boring Arsenal” under Graham, but one thing he did do was uphold the class and tradition of the club. Simeone is happy to sacrifice who we are and what we represent to impose his own brand of “success” on the club.

Look around world football, Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Max Allegri are often considered defensive coaches. But in comparison to Simeone, they play attacking football, football in the right way.

There are ways of playing the game.

I have been highly critical of Klopp in the past. His lack of success in the last 4 or 5 years is similar to Simeone’s, but what he does is he upholds the dignity of the game.

Klopp plays an attacking brand of football, shows passion on the touch line, intelligence off the pitch, and is a gentleman to the press, media and opponents. He understands the history of Liverpool, the passion of the fans, and he has connected and revitalised them. Simeone is the polar opposite of Jurgen Klopp.

The likes of Allegri, Leonardo Jardim, Luis Enrique and Joachim Lowe are the types of men we should be going for. Men who are intelligent, respectful, and will uphold the traditions of the club. And men who are able to do all that whilst being successful.

I have never been a “success by any means possible” type of guy. I want us to win, but believe we are The Arsenal. That there is a right way to win and a wrong way. Simeone only cares about winning. He would happily drag the Arsenal name through the mud to win a game.

He is a man who lacks the class, lacks the integrity to be an Arsenal manager, and he showed it last night.

We are The Arsenal, we do not need to resort to employing someone like Simeone to make us challengers again.


10 reasons why Arsenal will beat Atletico Madrid + Starting XI

  1. Atletico Madrid come into the game in poor form – just 1 win in 5
  2. Meanwhile Arsenal have won there last 7 home games
  3. The only time Arsenal and Atletico Madrid have played each other was in the Emirates Cup back in 2009. Arsenal won 2-1
  4. Against West Ham at the weekend, Arsenal faced a well organised rigid defence. Perfect preparation for Atletico. Arsenal scored 4
  5. And that was done without the creative output of Mesut Ozil, who will return to the starting XI
  6. Arsenal have scored in each of their last ten in all competitions
  7. The Gunners are the Europa League’s top scorers with 29 goals this term
  8. Alexandre Lacazette has scored 6 goals in his last 6 games
  9. Atletico Madrid have dropped down from the Champions League, where they won just 1 game in the group stages
  10. The last time Diego Costa faced Arsenal, he was comfortably kept quiet by a back 3 of Holding, Mertesacker and Monreal

Predicted starting XI


Bellerin Mustafi Koscielny Monreal

Xhaka Ramsey


Iwobi Lacazette Welbeck