Alright, got a couple of things that have got me thinking recently. Let me know your thoughts:
Many of our players are ones that were struggling or at least hadn?t achieved major success in Europe before they came to the Arsenal. Henry, Pires, Vieira and Ljungberg all come to mind. While they have all flourished in England, they still have trouble in one area: playing in Europe. What does this mean? I?m not sure. Maybe the EPL isn?t that good. Maybe players who would struggle in Europe can come to England and succeed. Personally I think the EPL is, at best, the third best league behind Serie A and La Liga. It is interesting to note that our guys have trouble playing in Europe now, just as they did when they played in Italy, Spain, France, etc.
So maybe in order to succeed in Europe we need to get players who have already succeeded in Europe (yes, Kanu won the Champs League with Ajax in ?95 and Lehmann won the UEFA Cup while in Germany). Just something to think about.
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The high school I went to in Los Angeles was excellent in boys? volleyball. We sent tons of kids to Division 1 schools on scholarship and we went to the City Championships something like five years in a row, including all three of my years. Yet we lost in the finals every time. The year after I graduated we won it all, even though we had, at best, one player of enough quality to play top level college volleyball. I tell you this story because I think there are some parallels to the current situation at Arsenal. Our current squad, let?s call it the ?Early Wenger Era? is very talented. Ridiculously so, in fact. But the accomplishments have been overshadowed by Man United who have been ever better. Just as my high school, very successful and filled with talented players, were always eclipsed by the beach punks from Pali and Uni (no, I?m not bitter).
But I think the Man U era is entering its twilight (though it would be foolish to write them off yet). But I can see that in four years an Arsenal side led by Aliadiere, Bentley, Cesc, Svard and Taylor could win two or three league titles in a row and maybe even a European trophy. Partly because they are very talented and will have a massive stadium to play in, partly because they won?t have to deal with Sir Alex and the current Man United team.
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Finally, I?m sure many of you are aware of World Soccer Weekly / BigSoccer Radio shows. The hosts, Steve and Nick are good guys who I speak to rather frequently. Steve is a big Chelsea fan and doesn?t try to hide it. That?s fine. They don?t pretend that they are professional journalists either, they are fans. Again, that?s fine. But I must say, I don?t appreciate receiving an email advertising their show that alerts me to the following topics that will be discussed:
Why Arsenal is so poor in Europe and ask what do Arsenal and a 3 pin plug have in common? We will answer it on the show.
Arsene Wenger finally gets a taste of his own medicine?and we laugh.
Ok, so they probably take the piss out of a lot of teams. Fine, fair enough. Though I didn?t see anything regarding the shame that Graeme Souness brought to the game with his teams? antics on the weekend. If they want to slag off the Gunners that?s their prerogative, but I?m not planning on going out of my way to listen to the show. On second thought maybe I will listen. Maybe I?ll call in and ask Steve to tell me all about the trophies Chelsea have won. Yes, they won the Cup Winners Cup in ?98 (we won it in ?94). Yes, they won the FA Cup in ?97 and 2000 (we won it in ?98, ?00, ?02). They won the English Insert Name Here Cup in ?98 (we won it in ?93). So they stack up pretty well with us. Eh, what?s that? Oh, we?ve won the league five times since 1971, and they HAVEN?T WON IT SINCE 1955. Then there is the little matter that they haven?t been us in head-to-head competition in their last 20 tries. The last time they beat us? September 30, 1995. So, to sum up, if you are a Chelsea fan you should strongly consider shutting your pie hole