BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery
« Previous | Main | Next »

Emirates experience leaves me jealous

Post categories:

Tim Vickery | 08:13 UK time, Thursday, 16 September 2010

Emirates Stadium

Before Arsenal's massacre of Braga, the last time I was at a Champions League game was when the tournament was still called the European Cup.

In 1992 - a couple of years before moving off to Brazil - I was lucky enough to be at the old Wembley for the final between Barcelona and Sampdoria. It is one of my happiest football memories. The sun shone, London turned into the Mediterranean for the occasion and two excellent sides served up an enthralling game, decided in Barcelona's favour with a goal in the last minute of extra time.

The British media were wowed by the technique and intelligence on show from the two teams. It was light years in advance of anything that was being played in England, where clubs were still feeling their way back after the ban from European competition.

Eighteen years later, Barcelona remain a benchmark and the reigning champions of the continent are from Italy. In the meantime, English football has gone through enormous changes. Arsenal fans still refer to the North Bank and the Clock End but little else from 2010 would make sense from a perspective of eighteen years ago.

In 1992, it would've been all but impossible to predict that English football would become so successful and that so many people would be prepared to pay so much to watch it.

I can only offer the following explanation: In its mass form, British football was the product of industrial society. In the space of a generation, the country seems to have turned into a post-industrial theme park.

And in a world where ever-developing technology allows people to lead more de-socialised lives, football continues to offer a great communal experience, the chance to get in touch with the collective values of the industrial age - in a sanitised environment.

Too sanitised, some would say - and they would cite the atmosphere in the Emirates as evidence. The new ground is magnificent in terms of sight lines and supporter comfort. But fans and journalists kept telling me that the crowd are too quiet nowadays.

Here, perhaps, the stadium is a victim of its own modernity - and not just in the sense that it is not old enough to have established its own tradition.

Less than half an hour before kick off, the place was almost empty. There was no buzz, no sense of occasion. I was baffled. "It will be full by the start," a colleague said. And he was right. In an all-seater stadium with numbered seats and excellent access, there is no need to be in the ground early - which changes the whole dynamic.

Marouane Chamakh celebrates scoring his goal with Jack Wilshere and Cesc FabregasMarouane Chamakh celebrates scoring his goal with Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas. Photo: AP

In South America, where I watch my football, the experience is more like pre-Taylor Report England. For big games, the fans are obliged to arrive in advance if they want a good view. The crowd then becomes part of the spectacle, with songs or mass displays. The supporters are an active part of an experience, which begins well before kick-off.

But at the Emirates, with the fans arriving in dribs and drabs, the pre-match entertainment is provided not on the terraces but via the big screen.

Sound quality is so good that an interview with a mumbling Arsene Wenger is clearly audible. The crowd, then, takes on a much more passive role. Little wonder that they are less noisy than before when then players eventually take the field.

But there is plenty to shout about. The tempo of the action can be breathtaking. The game is so much quicker than anything I'm used to in South America. And with the stands close to the pitch and the press box relatively low, it takes me a while to get my bearings. I'm as bemused as Braga's team of Brazilians.

Every time I go to a game in South America, I'm always hopeful of spotting some outstanding new talent, a youngster taking his first steps on the way to glory. To my surprise, the Emirates gives me this as well.

With his passing, forward movement and combination play, teenage midfielder Jack Wilshere makes a huge impression. Not since the emergence of Ever Banega in 2007 have I laid eyes on such a teenage central midfielder of such promise.

Wilshere benefits from something we cannot claim in South America - the chance to watch and learn from a master who is entering his peak years.

Cesc Fabregas scores from the spot against BragaCesc Fabregas scores from the spot against Braga. Photo: Reuters

The domestic game in my adopted continent can come up with exciting prospects and some top class veterans. But no one quite like Cesc Fabregas.

Football is about moving the ball with precision at pace - and Fabregas does that. His range of passing is superb, he has the calmness on the ball to select the right option and the physical dynamism to exert an influence on all phases of possession, from deep in his own half to deep in the opposing penalty area.

I've seen some fine performances from Juan Sebastian Veron of Estudiantes over the past couple of years but nothing of this calibre. Fabregas tore Braga to pieces. Back in 1992, it was inconceivable that a player like this would be playing football like this in a stadium like this in North London.

There may be fully justified gripes about ticket prices and lack of atmosphere. But - and I am not of the Arsenal persuasion - I left the Emirates more than a little jealous of those who are watching Arsene Wenger's team on a regular basis.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Top column yet again Tim, and great to hear your views on Cesc and Wilkshire, and the comparison to Veron and Banega is justified!

    It might be the optimist in me but I really do think we could be on for a special season at the Grove...

  • Comment number 2.

    good stuff,sumthing positive for once about arsenal on the bbc thanks very much.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am quite confident that we will win a trophy this season, the only worry is what happens if (or when) Almunia gets injured?

  • Comment number 4.

    Arsenal's result is all the more impressive when you consider how impressive Braga themselves were in qualifying for the group stages, particularly in overcoming Sevilla.

    Fabregas also deserves some credit. He's accepted he won't be going to Barcelona for the time being and seems focused on Arsenal.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 5.

    Fabregas just keeps getting better. His performance last night was not too unlike that of Messi's the other night. A pure joy to watch. (And I'm not an Arsenal fan!)

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting article with the main theme of course being the comparison of new and old part. Just to add to that, whilst I clearly have not been to a South American match, I guess another reason why people don't get to their seat early is that if they are sitting, they are not spending. Facilitate a way of keeping them in the retail areas for longer will surely give rise to more income. And we all know the prices that such captive audiences are charged as well!

    As for the match, well, I was watching Chelsea, but, if Arsenal are Arsenal, then what the history of this team tells me is that for all the style and technique, when they come up against the big boys, they are likely to be found out. Not meant to be negative, just my appraisal of what usually happens.

  • Comment number 7.

    thanks Tim, it was OK as that Koeman freekick still vivid in my memory.

    give Fabregas 3 years to stay here and Arsenal will be the new Barca. then he can go back home...

  • Comment number 8.

    A very good blog, was very refreshing to get some comparisons not only between different countries / continents but also time-line wise.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great article Tim! I went to watch the Emirates Cup this year which included Arsenal, Celtic, AC Milan and Lyon. There wasn't any real atmosphere at the stadium. The most noise and sense of occasion seemed to come from the Celtic area. So maybe it's not the case of the stadium or the technology, but maybe the Arsenal supporters who have got too used to cheering on only to be let down with the lack of trophies. But that's just my opinion.

  • Comment number 10.

    Great blog Tim! I was at the game last night and I admit the only disapointment from the evening was the lack of atmosphere and the amount of fans leaving early.

    I sit in the season ticket area above the tunnel and there appear to be different people sitting around me every game spare four guys who sit behind me and a couple in front. This unfortunate take over by corporate seats also detracts from the atmosphere and is an even bigger problem on Champions League nights. The stadium was only only about a third full, if that, by the full time whistle and this is something that needs to be addressed because I thought it was obvious that the players seemed a little annoyed by the lack of support despite delivering a fantastic performance.

    Nevertheless, it was still a magical game to go to and I have very high hopes for Wilshere and Chamakh this season. The key this season is whether we can beat the top teams; if we can then I think our long wait for silverware may finally be drawing to an end!

  • Comment number 11.

    great from tim but the big thing is referees should protect wilshere and fabregas from horror tackles like eduardo and ramsey

  • Comment number 12.

    Great article Tim, will you move back to the UK please?!

  • Comment number 13.

    #11 geta

    What do you mean 'protect'? Do you think referee's should apply the laws of the game differently when certain players are involved in a challenge?

  • Comment number 14.

    Great article Tim, a writer who knows and undrstands his football. Now can you take over the position held by Phil McNulty please!

  • Comment number 15.

    mrblueburns
    get a life trying to start a arguement on the internet is not very grown up.

  • Comment number 16.

    Braga? These are minnows! They last won a domestic trophy in 1966! Ah, and yes they also won the now abandoned UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2008.. So, Arsenal fans, stop crowing, bigger guys than these are just ahead.

  • Comment number 17.

    #15 cesc_is_magic

    Starting an argument? Not with you. I thought the blog was designed to prompt debate.

  • Comment number 18.

    Some really relevant views voiced from a predominantly 'South American' perspective regarding 'inadequate' stadium atmospheres here in England. Although Arsenal has always had one of the more 'quietest' fan reputations compared to the likes of Anfield's Kop etc you're so right in pointing out the 'obvious' reasons why it's the case.

    Plonking people down in front of giant TV screens pre-match where they are encouraged to listen to onscreen interviews is hardly going to set the place jumping is it - infact quite the opposite. New 'safety' design builds meaning grounds can empty and fill within minutes either side of kick-off and an over abundance of onsite facilities also creates empty stadium syndrome. I'm a strong dissenter regarding the 'Too sanitised' way football stadia design is heading and just pray the new stadia being created for the Brazilian World Cup doesn't detract from the pre-match atmosphere over there in the same way too?
    It should be a duty for clubs to encourage fans to arrive early with better class pre-match entertainment like they do in the States for gridiron. I love for example the arrival of the flying eagle 'mascot' in Benfica's stadium before big games..things like that.

    The product off the pitch needs to match that on it.

  • Comment number 19.

    Year after year after year Arsenal hammer inferior sides and everyone in football is subjected to hyperactive cries of how they are the greatest thing ever to appear on a football pitch.

    At the start of last season it was Everton they hammered (a far better team than last night's opponents). It did Arsenal very little good later in the season when they came up against top class opponents or lost just one or two players through injury.

    Well done on the good result last night, but please keep things in perspective. These matches are not going to be the one that have any influence on how your season goes.

  • Comment number 20.

    Just a little point as to why the emirates was empty right up until the start of the match. Yes you can get in quickly but you cant buy a beer inside the ground on Champions league matches. All the fans stay in the pub until the last minute!

  • Comment number 21.

    #20 arthurhutch

    Which is ironic given that it is sponsored by Heineken.

  • Comment number 22.

    An excellent read tim.I belive if we won the title fab would stay he loves the club he has just been frustrated with zero silverware. Mr wenger on the other hand should have solved this problem with at least a couple of additions to ths squad the keeper and the essisn type midfielder then we would be competing for not only the title but also the champions league

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm sick and tired of hearing this lack of atmosphere at Emirates angle. OK, I admit we don't sing before the match but when the match gets going you do have the Family Enclosure and REDaction singing their hearts out and the rest of the stadium are the boring non-atmosphere makers and as one who sits in the family enclosure, I don't like that all Arsenal fans are being tarred with the same brush just because the Upper Tier (or should I say Red member area) don't know how to sing. But on the plus side, we got the first proper "We're the North Bank/Clock End" going at an Arsenal match since 2006 at the Braga game!

  • Comment number 24.

    Yet again the Arsenal loving media make the fatal mistake of thinking Arsenal are great after a flat track bully performance against the weaker teams

    Arsenal are overrated and they prove this by always coming up short against proper opposition like Barca, Man U and Chelsea

    Arsene Knows How Not To Win Trophies With His Own Team

  • Comment number 25.

    I am very pleased you have seen some great performances from Juan Sebastian Veron because nobody in this country did when he was playing for Man U & Chelsea. What an enigma. Perhaps the pace of the Premier League had something to do with his abject performances here.

  • Comment number 26.

    Great column. Barca must have been watching that game last night and their anger and not getting Fabregas this season must have been immense! What a player

  • Comment number 27.

    Great piece Tim. I totally agree, great to see some positive articles about English football.
    I'm an avid follower of EPL as I am from Northern Ireland, which if your not aware of has not a very entertaining league to follow.
    I have been very impressed with Jack Wilshere even at Bolton he was impressing regularly.
    Also just to comment on the 'atmosphere' issue. I follow Northern Ireland regularly and attend their games. Windsor Park is our home and it holds roughly 15,000 and the atmoshpere is electric at games.
    But i think thats more to do with the passionate supporters.
    I have been to Emirates and Old trafford and the atmosphere is stagnant at times, but it feels 'special' in the sense you are watching modern day artists of the game playing football the way it should be played. Sam Allardyce should take notes. lol

  • Comment number 28.

    This 'weaker team', Braga, dumped out Sevilla (who have started better in their domestic league than Barca) in the qualifying rounds. All expectations before kick-off were that it would be a close game.

    I guess 'proper opposition' is what Chelsea have been up against so far this season? Still hasnt stopped the press rave about how great thir goalscoring is. I also guess Everton are now 'proper opposition' for Man Utd? After all who lets a 2 goal lead slip in injury time?

    You can only beat what's put in front of you, and the manner in which Arsenal did it to Braga last night deserves praise, purely for its entertainment value.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think Tim hit the nail on the head with the 'post industrial theme park' comment. English football is a sanatised version of something that used to be great.

    The fact that people pay huge sums, turn up for ridiculous kick-off times, tolerate (for most teams) the fact that they have 0% chance of success and then go and buy an overpriced tv subscription is something to be hugely embarassed about.

    I would even question the 'community' aspect - I see lots of guys going on their own or with their families ie, its a leisure activity and you dont actually speak to anyone else so no community bonding!!

    As for Arsenal, great performance and they do play fantastically at times. But like Spain, they are not that entertaining for the neutral. This is because these teams' games are heavily weighted toward passing whereas I think entertainment is driven from defensive risk taking and dribbling past people.

    Fabregas a genius though, no question. the only pay-to-watch in the Gunners team.


  • Comment number 30.

    #21 Mrblueburns


    It's for all Champions league games bruv, something about european laws or something stupid. Don't understand the heineken advertising though

  • Comment number 31.

    I think our true test will come against chealsea, but for now we are just doing what we know best, that is play good football. fabregas is just a master, too bad we might loose him next season but trust Wenger he always has a replacement. up gunners.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nice comments Tim . Its a shame Ramsey is out , he is also growing into a fine player.
    The problem Arsenal have is as pitches get slower in the colder weather , the games pace is slower allowing defenders time.
    The defence does look stronger this year but they still lack a top quality keeper.
    I was there last night and the evening atmosphere is always better , even with the crazy UEFA ban on alcohol

  • Comment number 33.

    #30 thehandofhenry

    I'm quite sure it started life as a UEFA rule. It may have spread to, say, an EPL rule. Really not sure it is a European 'law' though. To my knowledge, drinking at, say, Twickenham for rugby is positively encouraged from what I hear!

  • Comment number 34.

    I am the opposite to you Tim! All my football watching has been in this country apart from one game. I am an Arsenal fan, and admit the Emirates can be a bit quiet sometimes, and as if the fans react to what is happening rather than building the atmosphere. But I strongly believe the Gunners play the best football in England, and possibly second only to Barcelona in Europe in terms of aesthetic merit. I took in my first South American live game in May this year, River Plate's astonishing 5-1 home defeat to Tigre on the last day of the Argentinian season. I have to say the atmosphere was incredible pre-kick off, during the game and after- flares, ticker tape, fans bouncing up and down with the el monumental stadium literally rocking its foundations- and an awful River side were 3-0 down in 10 or so minutes! (The worst River side in a long time, Tim?) The fans were incredible in supporting their team despite the awful performance. I would definetly like to go again, maybe to the 'chocolate box' to see Boca play

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm going to be very honest here and say that Tim....you're the one person who can actually write a good logical article on and about our sport of football.

    No-one else seems to be ables to put together an article like you and I've been reading your produce for a long time now.

    There are some who can claim to be good but never get any better, this is where you easily cross the line of advancing to the next level.

    I shall keep reading your work especially on British and Brazilian football, this includes keeping us informed on the up and coming stars of tomorrow.

    Excellent job Tim!

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Tim, great article as usual.

    I watched the game last night on ITV and thought to myself how lucky the spectators would have been watching what was on offer. It really was like watching the master (Cesc) and pupil (Jack).

    Outstanding team performance on the whole, I know it's early days yet in the compition but, as long as Arsenal can avoid Barca this time round!, I just can't see anyone stopping them in this kind of form from going to Wembley come May.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ Tipperary_Red is this the same media that are saying how chelsea are blowing the league away by scoring loads of goals against inferior sides . Love the way we see the 2 face ness of Chelsea and Man U fans when they blow away inferior sides, and we also got a draw with Barca last year and reached the Quarter-finals where did chelsea get ? ..

  • Comment number 38.

    Good blog as usual, Tim. However, your memory has let you down slightly. Koeman's winner in the 1992 final definitely wasn't in the last minute of extra time. Maybe you just got swept up in all the celebrations of the historic moment, and missed the last 9 minutes of the match.

  • Comment number 39.

    Atmosphere?
    If you want atmosphere go to an under 12s. game in Australia.
    Any game, any sport.
    Does't cost anything to get in.
    Just take along your own kid!
    You just dont know what you are missing.
    Ces who?

  • Comment number 40.

    #37 k1p1

    I think you are missing two points:-

    1) Chelsea are getting plaudits for their play and Arsenal are getting plaudits for their play. The difference is, people are being cautious about Arsenal because recent history shows us that for all their good play, it hasn't got them a trophy. Last season, Chelsea took teams apart AND won trophies. The current Arsenal team have yet to show that they can do both.

    2) Last season, Chelsea, as in the majority of recent seasons, were beaten by the eventual winners which goes some way to invalidate what I think you are arguing in that further progression is the sign of a better team. In this example, it is not.

    Ok?

  • Comment number 41.

    Premiership football is sterile, soulless and over priced

  • Comment number 42.

    Great blog as usual Tim. So are you moving back to England to take over from Phil McNulty. Please say you are.

    While Arsenal were superb last night, that is usually the case with Arsenal against weaker teams; especially teams that try to play attractive football and don't pack the defence like Rangers did against Man U for example. However they always come up short against stronger teams.

    @ #11. Nothing needs to be done to 'protect' players. Those two, especially Ramsey, were horror injuries, not horror tackles. Roy Keane vs. Alfe Inge Haaland was a horror tackle. Maybe the Arsenal players should do some more strength training to avoid injuries like this. Or maybe even just drink some more milk. Calcium is great for preventing bone breaks.

  • Comment number 43.

    Oh dear, and over 2 legs last season against Barca, CF was very, very ordinary. Vic please consider the opposition, who were only at the Emirates because Platini said so. Otherwise the likes of Braga had no business in the Europa let alone the Champion's League

  • Comment number 44.

    Great work as always Tim, love the weekly blog so I enjoyed this bonus.
    Arsenal played some lovely football, albeit against a surprisingly poor Braga team who offered little resistance and even less of an attacking threat. Chamakh looks a decent player, Wilshere can be anything he wants and Fabregas absolutely runs the show. I'm a Bolton fan so would love Wilshere back on loan but he's in the best place, providing he plays.
    Arsenal are actually my tip for the Champions League this year, perhaps they and maybe even another English team can put on a Wembley final comparable with the 1992 European Cup Final... Showcasing how English club football has progressed over the past two decades.
    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 45.

    Well written and balanced article I thought. well done.

    The comments about the lack of atmosphere could be aimed at any stadium in the country if compared with pre all seater stadium. The stadiums that are converted from terrace to seats do a lot better than the purpose built ones, mainly because the seating was crammed in so the ticket sales loss would be minimal, which made the seating so uncomfortable that most people in the traditional singing areas stand anyway.

  • Comment number 46.

    I've been watching Arsenal for nearly forty years now. Over the last few days and years I have watched some fantastic football - Vela's goals in the Bolton and Braga matches were brilliant. When you contrast that with what I experienced at times in the seventies and eighties you can understand why I am not particularly bothered whether we go on to win the league. We all know that money talks these days. Nobby Stiles is selling his WC winners medal for probably less than what Adebayor earns in a fortnight. We know it's not right, and we know that only a few clubs can afford the cost of winning the big prizes. At present Arsenal are not one of those clubs - so I am delighted just to watch this team. Absolutely delighted! It's a game to be enjoyed - winning trophies is the icing on the cake - nothing more. Thanks for a great article.

  • Comment number 47.

    Decent write up Tim! Last nights game was great to watch, fluid football and a desire to get goals which was summed up by Cesc in the pre-match interview being dissapointed he couldn't get a hat trick. Full respect for him as everyone knows he wants to go but last night he showed he is commited to Arsenal for one more season at least.

    One criticism I do have is of Jacks comparison to Banega, I would hope that Wilshere could go on to be a much better player than the one Valencia are desperate to offload due to his bad attitude and poor footballing displays.

  • Comment number 48.

    Interesting piece Tim!! Surprisingly it took you that long to watch a UCL again. What is the type of soccer that Arsenal play and the Brazilian contingent at Braga the reason why you opted to go to a place to Emirates and not Old Trafford where Rangers to play and have been accused by Messi once of playing negative football or was it the location in London or just pure coincidence?

  • Comment number 49.

    Are the boys becoming men? Is something special about to happen? Am I seeing trophies at the end of the tunnel, and are we at the very end of that tunnel? Is "five years and still counting.." finally going to stop? I wonder, but I hope so!

  • Comment number 50.

    Tim
    I like that you give context and reasonable analysis. One thing football teams need to do, and Arsenal have done this to a large extent is to brand their football with a particular style. That's what makes great teams memorable, one thinks of Samba football of Brazil of the 1960s, Total Football of Holland in the 1970s. If you were to characterize Arsenal and a few others different styles what teams and how would you characterize their styles of play

  • Comment number 51.

    I remember many people commenting how Stamford Bridge and Chelsea fans were so quiet on match days in previous seasons, so it's interesting to see people saying this about Arsenal too. A sign of the times in a successful Premier League outfit when you get part-time fans who expect to see 6-0 drubbings every time?! I think clubs have always done a pretty good job with pre-match entertainment. At the Bridge they've brought ex-stars onto the pitch to take a bow in the past, charity stuff, competitions, etc. It's still nothing like in the States with American sports. When you pay up to £60 for a ticket you're looking to be entertained. Of course I would rather see the kind of footie we've been playing this season than have cheerleaders before a game, but it does beg the question why do we pay so much and what are we getting for our money? If I was watching Wolves players hack bits off other teams I would feel more hard done by! Chelsea and other clubs are cottoning on to the recession by offering much-reduced ticket prices for cup games which goes some way, but think more should be done for fans. However, football clubs are businesses and costs need to be cut! Go figure...

  • Comment number 52.

    Thanks Tim, that was great.

    I particularly like the observation about the pre match atmosphere. I find the whole experienced a bit too sanitised for my liking. It was the same at the Bolton game on Saturday. Half empty 30 mins - even 15 mins - before the start and suddenly full for kick off. I also wonder if the modern stadium design, though comfortable and modern (as you say), doesn't transmit the sound as well so it just seems quiet even though some fans are singing their hearts out. Having said that, the noise at the derby game against Spurs last season was thunderous during the first half.

    Do you have a view on the potential impact the World Cup might have on the atmosphere in domestic Brazilian games?

  • Comment number 53.

    @34
    Arsenal play the best looking attacking football in the Prem, but obviously the team who wins the league plays the best overall football. Annoys me when people belittle teams that defend well, you can score all the goals you want but if you have a weak defence and/or a bad goalkeeper you will never win a thing. Like Arsenal of recent years. Do play some flippin' lovely attacking footy though, they make it look so easy.

  • Comment number 54.

    #26

    Im sure they would have liked fabregas, but they have 4 players who are better at least, with 2 in Xavi and iniesta who are playmakers.

    Yes hes good, and like nothing else in this country (I give u micheal carrick, or Jenas, or fletcher), but he wouldnt be as special at barca.

  • Comment number 55.

    Excellent article Tim, as a neutral i was blown away by Arsenal at times. I was able to watch both the arsenal and chelsea games and the gulf in class between the two sides and their opponents was huge. But as someone already pointed out, you can only beat what's in front of you. I really hope Arsenal progress as along with Barcelona the football they play is quite breathtaking at times.

  • Comment number 56.

    43 Redlion
    How ordinary was CF in the second leg against Barca? RVP didn't do too well that day either did he? Check your facts.

  • Comment number 57.

    "This 'weaker team', Braga, dumped out Sevilla (who have started better in their domestic league than Barca)"

    Wow, they beat a team who have started better than Barca after... 2 games? That must prove how amazing a team they are. I suppose the start to the EPL season also proves what European heavyweights Blackpool now are, seeing as how they've started better than both Spurs and Liverpool...

    ___________________

    "@ Tipperary_Red is this the same media that are saying how chelsea are blowing the league away by scoring loads of goals against inferior sides"

    Yes, this is exactly the same media. I don't recall saying anything about Chelsea in my post but, now that you ask, I believe they are being overhyped just as much as Arsenal for their start to the season. Does this news make you happy? And yes, you are right, you did get a draw with Barca last year. Right before they tore you apart in the second leg.

  • Comment number 58.

    #50 Peter D

    What about

    Spain 'ticcy taccy'

    Italy 'il tenaccio'

    Wimbledon 'long ball'

  • Comment number 59.

    The problem with the Emirates is the iPhone generation...

    Last season I was sat in club level (rather reluctantly) behind a teen playing a game on his iPhone. Meanwhile, Arsenal vs. Chelsea is playing out on the pitch!

    Fastforward to last weekend vs. Bolton, I was in the East Stand Upper Tier behind main camera...about 5 people were in the row in front of me viewed/recorded the ENTIRE match through their iPhones!

  • Comment number 60.

    Hi Tim, good article as always!

    You mention Ever Banega. I'm a big fan too and thought he was the best non-Barca-player in La Liga last term. In my view, he should be the midfield hub of Argentina's NT over the coming decade.

    However, I have a theory which goes like this: the key to Argentine success (ie winning the 2014 World Cup) will be whether they can find a way of incorporating Banega and Javi Pastore (another great talent) into the same line-up (In the 90s, I felt Argentina often failed because they couldn't find a way of accomodating Veron and Fernando Redondo): do you think playing both realistic within the context of modern football, given that Leo Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and one from Sergio Aguero/Angel di Maria/Diego Perotti would also be in the side(why/why not?)?

    Also, with all due respect to Barca's Dream Team, Samp should've won that 92 Final: with Vialli, Mancini and - most of all! - Attilio Lombardo, they were a great side to watch and high on my list of Italian all-time favourites. (I really envy you the experience of having been present at that Final.)

    W.

  • Comment number 61.

    @Yo Diamond. You wrote: "As for Arsenal, great performance and they do play fantastically at times. But like Spain, they are not that entertaining for the neutral. This is because these teams' games are heavily weighted toward passing whereas I think entertainment is driven from defensive risk taking and dribbling past people."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    I can't agree with that. I may be biased because I support Arsenal, so let's keep it to Spain. Watching their passing game is an absolute pleasure (except when England are their victims) and (of course) I believe the same can be said of Arsenal.

  • Comment number 62.

    Having followed my team (Sunderland) around the country, I feel I can safely say the atmosphere at Arsenal is the worst, not just at the Emirates but at Highbury as well. Chelsea isn't much better either, places like the SOL, Fratton Park, Goodison Park, Anfield, Upton Park and I hate to say it St James rock with atmosphere regardless of who their teams are playing. I remember walking out of Highbury at full time after we were 3-0 down inside ten minutes and the Arsenal fans were walking away, no singing, no passion despite having just taken us apart, I just don't get that.

  • Comment number 63.

    hey mr blueburns,

    how long have you supported chelsea for? just the last couple of years? yea i thought so. do you know who zola or di mateo are?
    enough said about your glory hunting team.
    as for the game last night I was there and I agree the atmosphere can be a bit dead sometimes against the lesser teams, but against teams like man u, tottenham, liverpool etc the emirates is always rocking. fabregas is pure genius and hopefully wilshere will manage to be the same. still think we need a goalkeeper but I am certain we will end our trophy drought this year

  • Comment number 64.

    There's no question for me now that Cesc Fabregas is the most gifted footballer plying his trade in our domestic league. No wonder Barcelona are so desperate to get him. With him in their ranks, they would be absolutely unstoppable.

    I really hope that Arsenal at last manage to win the trophies again to go along with their wonderful football. I've always thought that they have a soft mentality and were too suspect at the back in comparison to Chelsea and Manchester United but the quiet signings of Koscielny and Squillaci seem to have gone a long way to correct that.

    Arsenal are playing wonderful football and looking more solid at the back too. They deserve to win a title or reach another Champions League final soon, and although I'm not an Arsenal fan I genuinely wish them well. I admire Wenger's principles and currently find them a more likeable club and likeable group of players ahead of Chelsea and Man Utd.

  • Comment number 65.

    43, red lion

    Fabregas broke his foot/leg scoring against Barca in the first leg and couldn't play in the second leg. You don't know what you're talking about.

  • Comment number 66.

    A good article Tim. A times last night I saw signs of a team which played beyond even what Arsenal fans have become used to. Wilshere was a revelation in my opinion. Braga did not offer much by way of opposition though.
    Re the ground being two thirds empty by the end of the game - how much is down to the poor public transport connections for the stadium - there always appears to be big queues for Arsenal tube so perhaps people dip out early to avoid a protracted queue. A bit of an oversight for what is a fantastic stadium otherwise.

  • Comment number 67.

    Arsenal are the essence of a 'flat-track' side. Cricketer who score shed-loads of runs against meagre medium pace opposition on flat wickets where the ball does nothing are their benchmark. Arsenal are the footballing equivalent who can slaugter meagre opposition but struggle when their oponents have worked out how to counter their Plan A. Save the plaudits therefore until they come up against someone of class.

  • Comment number 68.

    Jimbosami wrote: "@ #11. Nothing needs to be done to 'protect' players. Those two, especially Ramsey, were horror injuries, not horror tackles. Roy Keane vs. Alfe Inge Haaland was a horror tackle. Maybe the Arsenal players should do some more strength training to avoid injuries like this. Or maybe even just drink some more milk. Calcium is great for preventing bone breaks."

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Is it just coincidence that Arsenal have suffered broken legs to four players in recent years. When teams try to play good attacking football (and are very good at it) other teams decide to "go in hard" etc.... That's fine so long as they don't become reckless. It's a fine line soemtimes. ALso this kind of culture means at the younger levels of the game players are deemd to small to be any good, and the stronger "enforcers" proliferate. Will we ever be blessed with a Messi? Probably not, because anyone with his growth problems would be overlooked in favour of the more robust Gerrard/Lampard.

  • Comment number 69.

    I’ve been fortunate to be in the Maracana stadium to see Flamingo FC play a derby. I have to say it was the most enthusiastic and lively crowd I’ve been in, in my life!, but the play on the pitch, maybe a one off, was not as special as the atmosphere in the stadium.
    Not to brag, I’ve also been in Emirates stadium and seen the best football in my life but the atmosphere wasn’t as special as the play on the pitch.
    On my conclusion, I’m always jealous of one or the other because unfortunately I’ve never had the luck of having the football and the atmosphere at the same time.
    I just imagine if Arsenal played and had something similar to what I saw at Maracana. To many rules over here compared to others.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    #61 jcb211

    I have some sympathy for Yo Diamond's point of view that endless passing without really attacking is not all that entertaining for the neutral. Sometimes with Arsenal, Spain and Barcelona (though to a lesser extent) I sometimes think to myself 'are they going to try for a goal anytime soon?'

    #62 Andy1508

    I can report that Stamford Bridge has become noticeably quieter in recent years. Two reasons of course (i) the win is taken for granted compared to the examples you give ( Everton, Newcastle etc) where the result is much less predictable. and, (ii) noisy fans are less likely to be able to afford a ticket but can afford a tv subscription and so with different fans at the stadium, we're almost not comparing like with like.

  • Comment number 72.

    Good article Tim, refreshing to see something positive written about Arsenal for a change instead of reading McNulty's pro Chelsea and Liverpool drivel week in week out.

    Braga looked good in the qualifiers so it was no easy game on paper, I wonder if the return game in Portugal will be different, I certainly think so.

  • Comment number 73.

    There's a slight contradiction made by those who complain about a lack of atmosphere at a ground. If you're there, then you're surely able to try to do something about it. If you're not, you're hardly in a position to complain.

  • Comment number 74.

    Very interesting article

    Massive win for Arsenal last night!
    But lets see how Arsenal will play against the big European clubs like AC Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid. I think Arsenal will still struggle to win against them!

  • Comment number 75.

    67. At 12:40pm on 16 Sep 2010, John wrote:
    Arsenal are the essence of a 'flat-track' side. Cricketer who score shed-loads of runs against meagre medium pace opposition on flat wickets where the ball does nothing are their benchmark. Arsenal are the footballing equivalent who can slaugter meagre opposition but struggle when their oponents have worked out how to counter their Plan A. Save the plaudits therefore until they come up against someone of class.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not so sure about this now, John. I think that Chamakh has given them a different dimension in attack, and the likes of Arshavin and Fabregas have a real class target man to play off, no disrespect to Niklas Bendtner but it's an improvement. I also think the quiet defensive signings of Koscielny and Squillaci are excellent. I've seen Arsenal play a few times this season now and I think they're a much more solid side, and they still play excellent football. Definite contenders for the title and the Champions League. I think they're in better shape than Utd, City and Liverpool and the title may even be between them and Chelsea this year. 7 or 8 sides can win the Champions League.

  • Comment number 76.

    24. At 11:25am on 16 Sep 2010, Webb of Deceit wrote:
    Yet again the Arsenal loving media make the fatal mistake of thinking Arsenal are great after a flat track bully performance against the weaker teams

    Arsenal are overrated and they prove this by always coming up short against proper opposition like Barca, Man U and Chelsea

    Arsene Knows How Not To Win Trophies With His Own Team

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    I have an idea...Maybe go to a game and not "Use" comments made by the ITV "Pundits".....

  • Comment number 77.

    #63 james_gooner wrote:

    hey mr blueburns,

    how long have you supported chelsea for? just the last couple of years? yea i thought so. do you know who zola or di mateo are?
    enough said about your glory hunting team.
    ------------------------------------------------------
    ?

    Anyway, to other posters:-

    #68 jcb211 - Gerrard did have growth problems, with his legs from memory

    #70 deebal - you're right of course. It reminds me of that Roy Evans quote 'Roy, do you think you have to finish above Man U to win the league?' Roy 'You have to finish above everyone to win the league Richard'.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think part of the reason for the relatively lacklustre atmosphere at the Emirates is due to the changing demographics of football supporters, especially at Arsenal. The club has decided to target the middle classes, and unfortunately many working class Arsenals supporters are not able to afford to go. The new stadium is in Islington, and while certain areas of Islington has a large population of middle class, relatively affluent Arsenal fans, there are other relatively deprived areas, and the working class fans in those areas can't afford to go. As an Arsenal fan, I find that quite sad.

  • Comment number 79.

    #68 jcb211

    Its either coincidence, or something wrong with the training regime at Arsenal. I watch a lot of Premier League football and the tackles that are put in on Arsenal players are no worse than any other in the league. Strength is a major part of the game as Football is still a contact sport. Arsenal players consistently seem to get impact injuries, season after season. For me that indicates something wrong with the conditioning of these players.

  • Comment number 80.

    One more thing, by the end of the season, I (and I assume many other Arsenal fans) won't be at all suprised if Wilshere, Walcott and Gibbs become regular players. Three young, English players. Moreover, we have some very promising players like Jay Thomas, Lansbury, Afobe, Aneke, Bartley and Cruise who may make a similar breakthrough next season (some of them are on loan at Championship clubs this season). So we are investing in young, English players, and we're starting to reap the benefits of that, which is good. I would like to see more English players at Arsenal, not because of any petty jingoism ala The Sun, but because it's nice to see local players who are developed by your academy ending up representing your club. On more narrow economic terms, it also shows how the academy is getting a return from its investment.

  • Comment number 81.

    Mr BlueBurns. I never read articles about Chelsea - they (Chelsea) bore me rigid. Why are you so fascinated with the comments on here? I detest the behaviour of some of Chelsea's players and find the manner in which they have achieved their success of late risible. Chelsea and their fans are like the rich kid down the road who's Dad bought him the new Beamer, while everybody else is busy tinkering with their old Fords. Yes the car goes fast, but for many the greatest pleasure is in the work that goes into it. You may have some great players and some trophies, but I don't care. Really. Anyway, I think your lunchtime may be over - please get back to work and stop winding me up.

  • Comment number 82.

    I'm sick and tired of hearing this lack of atmosphere at Emirates angle. OK, I admit we don't sing before the match but when the match gets going you do have the Family Enclosure and REDaction singing their hearts out and the rest of the stadium are the boring non-atmosphere makers and as one who sits in the family enclosure, I don't like that all Gooners are being tarred with the same brush just because the Upper Tier (or should I say Red member area) don't know how to sing. But on the plus side, we got the first proper "We're the North Bank/Clock End" going at an Arsenal match since 2006 at the Braga game!

  • Comment number 83.

    I agree with others' comments - a good article. However I don't actually think the game really told us whether the Gunners have actually made any progress at all from the previous few seasons. Against weaker opponents they have for some while now consistently looked impressive. But whether the team is a bettre one now can only really be judged when they are pitted against the likes of Barca, Inter, Chelsea and Man Utd. Till then nothing much can be proven.

  • Comment number 84.

    oh look its pulpgrape

    never has anything constructive to say about anything. just comes on here with his bitter jobless soul, spouting rubbish about chelsea.

    he has no sensible reason for his vendetta against terry and lampard.

    you can always guarantee that if pulpgrape writes a post, it will inevitable contain the words lampard and/or terry. bordering on obsession i think

  • Comment number 85.

    Um...Is everyone getting a bit carried away here. Yes Arsenal played some delightful football last night and I can't begrudge them that, nor an emphatic victory but as good as Arsenal's forward play was, Braga's defensive play was almost non-existant.
    The 4th and 6th goals were finished well and they were nicely opened up by some slick passing, but to even call the the defending "school boy" level would have been an insult to school boy defenders the world over!
    Don't forget this is practically the same team that was taken apart by Barcelona barely 6 months ago.
    There were similar noises coming out of the Media 3 years ago when Arsenal thumped 7 past Sparta Prague and yet, here they are without a trophy or genuine title push in the subsequent years.
    Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, and as a team they are growing in maturity, but there is still that undeniable flaw in the Wenger's current ethos...a lack of hard men. As the great Bill Paisley once said "Football is like a giant piano, you need 8 men to move it and 3 men to play it". You don't need every player on the pitch to be skillful witht the ball at their feet. With the likes of Arshavin, Wilshere and Fabregas you don't need a cultured centre half and not everyone of your Central midfielders need to be able to hit "that" defence splitting pass.

  • Comment number 86.

    Great column Tim.
    I was at the match last night and totally agree with your comments about the sanitised 21st century football experience. Lower league games can be more exciting - fans still stand, the experience is less manufactured and you can still get in for £15 or less.
    Last year I saw Flamengo v Corinthians at the Maracana in Rio. A pretty plodding game with no Cesc Fabregas or Jake Wilshire to lift it's quality. The excitement was provided by the fans...they were there long before kick off and no one ducked out before the final whistle.



  • Comment number 87.

    84. At 1:00pm on 16 Sep 2010, Bruce Buck Is A Legend wrote:

    oh look its pulpgrape

    never has anything constructive to say about anything. just comes on here with his bitter jobless soul, spouting rubbish about chelsea.

    he has no sensible reason for his vendetta against terry and lampard.

    you can always guarantee that if pulpgrape writes a post, it will inevitable contain the words lampard and/or terry. bordering on obsession i think

    ----------------------------------

    Funny that I never mentioned Lampard or Terry once. Shouldn't you be in school?

  • Comment number 88.

    And in a world where ever-developing technology allows people to lead more de-socialised lives
    --------------

    Sorry but this just marks you as yet another who doesn't understand anything about technology.

    Most of the "desocialising" technology was present in 1992 and for decades before. TV, consoles, radios, audio players, VCRs and satellite broadcast were all around then.

    Most of the technology since that time has actually been socially enabling rather than constricting. The Internet in particular has driven collaboration adn socialising to a new level and given oppertunity for even the most unusual charachter types to find and mix with others who share their interests; a sharp constrast to the 1980's where those who did not conform to local stereotypes were cast aside alone.

    In future keep your opinions to the game itself.

  • Comment number 89.

    Every year the same, arsenal play tremendous football all through the tournament but as soon as they come to someone with a bit of steel thats it, they are out, barca outplayed them last year, united out muscled them the year before that, the football they play is great to watch but its not as good as barcas and teams like united and liverpool have knocked them out through power the last few seasons, it will no doubt be the same this year.

  • Comment number 90.

    @jcb211

    The passing games can be great sure but many of Spain's games at the World Cup did become pretty turgid. And you can't blame the oppo for everything, especially as Spain were in such good form .

    Nonetheless I totally back that style play over Chelsea's dismal percentage game, a style which blighted the World Cup.

    Champions League dismally uncompetitive though, can't believe poeple still pay in big numbers to watch it, even in a so-called recession.

  • Comment number 91.

    87. At 1:02pm on 16 Sep 2010, PulpGrape wrote
    ------------------------------------------------------

    wow. for the first time in 700 million posts, u manage not to bring up chelsea.

    well done.

    serious your obsession with chelsea is getting boring.

  • Comment number 92.

    #3, I'd be more worried about what happens if Almunia doesn't get injured! I'm pretty sure that he will cost you points this season. With an injury to your senior keeper, then there is the possibility (though no guarantee) that Wenger may be allowed to sign an alternative outside of the transfer window, esp. if there are fitness concerns over one of the back-ups in the squad. This would give him an opportunity to make good what in my opinion - and that of most Gooners I've spoken to - was his biggest mistake over the summer in not signing a new keeper.

  • Comment number 93.

    With his passing, forward movement and combination play, teenage midfielder Jack Wilshere makes a huge impression. Not since the emergence of Ever Banega in 2007 have I laid eyes on such a teenage central midfielder of such promise.
    -------------

    Sadly this shows how little you see of the English Game as the Aaron Ramsey (the man who would be occupying Wilshires place right now but for the leg break) is just as good a talent and has better decision making to go along with it.

  • Comment number 94.

    I'm sick and tired of hearing this lack of atmosphere at Emirates angle. OK, I admit we don't sing before the match but when the match gets going you do have the Family Enclosure and REDaction singing their hearts out and the rest of the stadium are the boring non-atmosphere makers and as one who sits in the family enclosure, I don't like that all Arsenal fans are being tarred with the same brush just because the Upper Tier (or should I say Red member area) don't know how to sing. But on the plus side, we got the first proper "We're the North Bank/Clock End" going at an Arsenal match since 2006 at the Braga game!

  • Comment number 95.

    Regarding the atmosphere at the Emirates. I haven't been this season but its the closest Premier League ground to where I live so I went quite a lot last year.

    The atmosphere is undoubtedly poor due to a combination of a large stadium and the fans themselves. Might offend a few here but I find Arsenal fans to be extremely fickle, for example they will boo a player one week and laud him the next. Wenger seems to be on the receiving end of this treatment too. Whoever mentioned that its down to the fans being "middle class" thats absolute rubbish. Some of the people I've sat around there are definitely not middle class.

  • Comment number 96.

    Royal_Gooner, those who are trying to create an atmosphere should be commended on their efforts. And to be fair, in certain games last season the atmosphere was electric. In fact, thinking back to the 08-09 season, the home match against Man Utd at home in the semi final of the UCL had a brilliant atmosphere for the first 10-15 minutes, unfortunately then United tore us apart and the game became flat for the remaining 75-80 minutes. And that fractious game against Hull (when Phil Brown went off on a rant) had a really potent (some may say hostile) atmosphere.

    Of course, you can't criticise our away fans, who do give the team great support (as do all away supporters of all clubs to be fair)

  • Comment number 97.

    Back in 1992, it was inconceivable that a player like this would be playing football like this in a stadium like this in North London.

    ----------

    You didn't watch Matthew Le Tissier or Paul Gascoigne then?

  • Comment number 98.

    Top blog Tim.

    That is all!

  • Comment number 99.

    #41, as a fan of a Premier League club, I'd be inclined to agree with you. Out of darkness comes light though, there's still good football to be had in spite of the predictable and stoic nature of the game now.

  • Comment number 100.

    Well PulpGrape. I like to think of myself as middle class but I still sing my heart out at every game. As for that fickle claim, apart from 1 the Eboue thing (who is now cheered loudest) I don't think I know of this recent fickleness you speak of

 

Page 1 of 3

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.