Joel on a roll and Flame still burning as Arsene learns new tricks

humble pie



I have waited until some of the euphoria following the Olympiakos match has died down before composing a suitable comment.

In a previous comment I criticised AW and I included a comment that Arteta should not be considered as a player any longer. I also said that Flamini and Campbell were not good enough. Since that comment, Arteta is injured yet again but even when he was on the pitch he clearly was not up to the mark. I wish that he and Arsene would realise that a distinguished and dignified career is over and let him retire gracefully.
On the other hand, no sooner had the comment been published than Flamini scored two goals against Spurs and has subsequently played with distinction to cover the absence of Le Coq. I have also learned that he is to become a billionaire businessman so he is not playing for the money. Moreover he wears his heart on his sleeve and clearly loves playing for Arsenal.
Young Campbell has put his head down and ground out ever improving performances without complaint about criticism from pundits and fans alike (me included). This culminated in a landmark game for him on Wednesday night. He ran, he fought, he passed and he set up Giroud brilliantly in one of the most hostile stadiums in the world. It was significant that even the Greek supporters applauded him when he went off. That was a mark of the esteem they had for him for his performances for Olympiakos when we loaned him out to them.
Joel Campbell 2
I sit here quite happily eating humble pie and admitting that I was wrong. Any club would be happy to have two such loyal and capable players on their books. Neither of them will ever be first choice but they have both shown that they can step up to the mark if necessary. As a fan, I thank them for proving me wrong.
The fact that we have now extended our unbroken history to sixteen consecutive years is a further accolade for Arsene but I would like to put it into perspective. Andrea has recently written a very good article in which he confirms the global reputation for Arsenal despite not having the criteria that Bayern, Barcelona, Real, even Man Utd. have. Milan, Chelsea, Juventus and even Ajax have all achieved fame by winning the Champions League. That is something we have not yet achieved and until we do, we will not be among the elite 4.
We have achieved a lesser degree of fame because we are a familiar face among the qualifiers. Kids from foreign lands who watch football on TV know who we are and that we are always one of the top 16 clubs in Europe. We consider that our history and tradition makes us an elite club but until we make the breakthrough by winning the Champions League, the world will not see us in that light. That means that commercially, we are not as marketable as the top 4. Had we added to our squad last year and this: we would have had a decent chance to change our status from a B list club, to one of those in the A List. The difference would be huge. We shall already be a wealthy club because of the increased television revenue but we shall still be in the B List.

We need to finish what we started in Paris

This is a viciously competitive market. The rewards for sitting at the top table are immense and there are very few Clubs who can penetrate it. In order to do so a big club like Arsenal has to perform at the same level which for instance PSG has not, so that they will be on the same level as those who have. That means that the CEO (Arsene Wenger) cannot make mistakes which cost us the opportunity which all his previous good work should have produced. Those mistakes will cost him personally because he will never be remembered as an ultimate winner when he has been an exceptional manager for almost two decades.
In fairness, he appears to be learning from some of his mistakes. He did not play Ospina in any of the remaining Champions League games and he also appears to have accepted that Cech is essential to our premiership ambitions. I hope that the January transfer window will provide further evidence that he has learned from his mistakes. Wednesday night confirmed that with the proper attitude and even with a depleted squad we can still produce top grade football. What could we achieve with a full squad and a more manageable sick bay?

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