After a delightful Arsenal comeback last week, I will admit that I was proud to support them against Barcelona (I say that as a Tottenham fan).
As people continually talk up the quality of Spanish football, and (Sepp Blatter included) talk down the English game, I am getting annoyed with Barcelona. Furthermore, having discovered about the inequality of distribution of TV money in Spain I no longer reserve the same respect for them as I once did (https://www.footballfancast.com/2011/02/football-blogs/a-model-that-the-premier-leagues-big-boys-will-be-forced-to-follow).
This year I want all English clubs to prove to the rest of Europe just how good we still are. Can you imagine an all-English final at Wembley?
But, when I read last week that “Arsenal proceeded to take Spurs’ feat and raise it”, (this view seemed to be echoed around all forms of social media), I couldn’t help but laugh. Am I alone in disagreeing?
Arsenal’s victory last week simply does not compare to Tottenham’s victory at the San Siro. I am tempted to say that whose performance was better is not important, since the fact that English sides are doing well is what matters. But I feel this attitude from some Arsenal fans is just wrong, and needs to be addressed.
Before I get carried away, I must admit, AC Milan are not the side they once were (last year they lost at home to Zurich and Manchester United), especially when compared to the best side in the world, Barcelona.
They may not be as good as Barcelona, but Milan are still a top side. After a few years in which they went off the rails, they are back on top of their game this year. As it stands, they have a healthy lead at the top of the Serie A. Confidence is high again. In Robihno, Ibrahimovic and Pato they have a formidable strike force. People may bemoan the standard of Italian domestic football, but the current Champions League holders, Inter, are in 4th position. It can’t be that bad.
For someone to suggest that Arsenal’s performance was better than Tottenham’s is just not true. I admit it was a great result at the Emirates, but surely Arsenal fans are getting carried away?
Arsenal played a good game of football. I think people get overly romantic with the philosophy of the two sides but I have to admit it was a great game and very entertaining. Regardless, the fact still remains that for 75 minutes they were not the better side.
First of all, Messi uncharacteristically missed shots on target. He put a cute chip wide, then aimed his shot at the near post, and missed, while he had men queuing up in front of an open goal to his right. Arsenal could have been 3-0 down, dead and buried.
Secondly, Van Persie’s goal was entirely down to poor positioning by Victor Valdes. To be beaten at the near post from that angle is unforgivable for a keeper of his standard, even if it was a great strike. This gave Arsenal the confidence to go and get a second goal, which to be fair was a great team effort.
Tottenham on the other hand, dominated AC Milan from the off, until a nervous last ten minutes. They pressed hard, and didn’t let Milan play. Spurs could have been awarded a (contentious) penalty in the first minute, and scored twice more in the next 15.
Barcelona came out of last week’s tie in a strong position. Before last week’s game, Pep Guardiola’s target was to get an away goal. They got their away goal, and still have to play Arsenal at the Nou Camp where they will be confident of a result. Barcelona remained true to their passing game until the end and kept their composure. The same cannot be said of AC Milan, who completely lost the plot.
This was a testament to the Spurs performance. Regardless of if Flamini won the ball or not, he went in two footed and with both feet off the ground. To get up, after injuring Corluka and attempt to cheer the crowd on, shows just how rattled Milan must have been. Like I said, they are a confident side at the moment and expected to win. Milan’s attitude was epitomised by Guttuso’s constant niggling over the the whole game, at one stage he almost begged Crouch to fight him; he clearly boiled over at the final whistle when he head-butted Joe Jordan.
But Spurs resisted to be drawn into it, they played their football and came out on top in an heroic away leg. Barcelona might be a bit deflated, but Milan were blown away.
So, I think it is clear whose result was better. Tottenham went to Milan, with a hugely intimidating crowd, and won while keeping their head, and earned a clean sheet to boot.
Arsenal achieved a remarkable 20-minute-salvo. But they were at home, and for 75 minutes, although they had competed, were not been the better side.
Arsenal fans I await your feedback….
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