Awesome Arsenal restore faith in beautiful game

October 24, 2007

Walcott celebrates

There’s an awful lot of rubbish served up in the name of good football and a lot of hype is shovelled out by self-interested media types desperate to promote “the product”.

One TV anchor man was so desperate to sell the sport he regularly described tedious goalless draws televised live on his show as “fabulous”, “amazing”, “what a great advert for the game,” when everyone watching knew they were absolute dross.

In total contrast anyone watching Arsenal’s 7-0 demolition of Slavia Prague in the Champions League on Tuesday knew they were watching something so special they will speak about it for years to come.

It was one of those performances that can define a season, define a team or even define an era in a club’s history, although the way Arsenal are playing right now, it might not be the last time they demolish their opponents in such awesome fashion.

Sports journalists, if they are lucky enough to stick around for long enough, periodically get lucky and see these defining moments unfold before their very eyes.

I can reel off a few personal favourites.

Greatest game: the 1982 World Cup semi-final between West Germany and France which the Germans won on penalties after Harald Schumacher sent Patrick Battiston off to hospital with an elbow in the face.

Greatest goal? A toss-up between Ricky Villa’s slalom through the Manchester City defence for Spurs to win the 1981 FA Cup final replay OR Zinedine Zidane’s thunderous volley which gave Real Madrid their ninth European Cup final success in Glasgow in 2002.

Greatest devastating seven minutes of attacking football which produced three goals to renew your faith in the beautiful game? Arsenal on Tuesday night at the Emirates Stadium.

My pick of the three was the one Aleksandr Hleb scored after the most amazing pass from Cesc Fabregas. Or perhaps it was Fabregas’s which rounded off a sweeping Arsenal move from one end of the field to the other, or perhaps it was Theo Walcott’s with the outside of his right foot. I’m not sure yet, each one was as good, if not better than the other.

Don’t worry if you missed them. They will be shown repeatedly on TV for a while yet.

Arsenal were simply awesome on Tuesday. Their passing was spot on, their teamwork almost telepathic. Ahead 3-0 by the interval they could have rested on their laurels, but that is not coach Arsene Wenger’s way. He told them to score more if they could — and they did.

In essence, there was very little to fault in their display. But as I left the press box I overheard one fan say to his mate: “Shame about that Rosicky shot that hit the bar. He should have scored that.”

Some people are just never satisfied. Arsenal had just scored seven goals to equal their own European winning margin, and equal the all-time record established in the Champions League when Juventus beat Olympiakos Pireaus in 2003.

Perfection is rarely achieved in football, but Arsenal came as close to anything I have seen for a long while on Tuesday.

Mike Collett, Reuters Soccer Correspondent, London

PHOTO: Arsenal’s Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring against Slavia Prague during their Champions League Group H soccer match at Emirates Stadium in London, October 23, 2007. REUTERS/Toby Melville


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Sounds like you were quite impressed. The European Cup has always produced results like this, though. Weren’t people raving about Man Utd against Roma a few months ago?

Posted by Elena | Report as abusive

Agree completely.
I’m so gutted I did not tape this game as I normally do. I watched it for sure, but i didn’t tape it. Anyway, I enjoyed this better than the Game between Barca and Real Madrid a couple of years ago when Real won, the score was 5-3 or someting.

Posted by mr-b | Report as abusive

This performance just shows how well the young gunners have groomed this season.
Surely after tuesday’s match, one can say, the boys have matured into men. And the beautiful game that Arsenal has championed over the years, is there for everyone to see.
Many people including me have said, that it is only the start of the season, and will need to be seen how well they cope in this long hard season. Yes that is still a big doubt, but this performance is just another way the Gunners want to prove they gun down any opposition.

Posted by Nachiket Kelkar | Report as abusive

[…] Mike Collett placed an interesting blog post on Awesome Arsenal restore faith in beautiful game.Here’s a brief overview:PHOTO: Arsenal’s Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring against Slavia Prague during their Champions League Group H soccer match at Emirates Stadium in London, October 23, 2007. REUTERS/Toby Melville. […]

Posted by » Awesome Arsenal restore faith in beautiful game | Report as abusive

Arsenal are the best team in he world at the moment. They have finally found the finishing touch they needed

Posted by conor | Report as abusive

Impressive stuff from Arsenal indeed, but what about Slavia Prague ? They looked a very poor team to me. At least when Arsenal played, and struggled a bit, against Sparta Prague in the qualifiers they got some tackles in and let the young guns know they were there. It was almost like watching the Harlem Globerotters on Tuesday – playing the team who always used to let them make them look like wallies – the Washington Generals. By the way, I am in no way suggesting the match was fixed!

Posted by Sport Blogger | Report as abusive

It was so good while it was happening that I held back my emotions in disbelief. Then afterward as I replayed the game back in my mind and through all of the analyses I read the next day I realized that I had witnessed something truly special. While you hear it a lot these days, I never really lose belief in the beautiful game. It is always out there, eternal. You just have to wait for it to shine its light. And if you are one of the Arsenal faithful these days, you are frequently rewarded. I can’t wait for the Arsenal-United match, for those two are the most beautiful teams in the world just now…

Posted by Johnny Centreback | Report as abusive

Arsenal is truly going to be a tough match for anyone this year. Arsene Wenger has a magnificent mind when it comes to the sport of soccer and I can’t believe that anyone ever doubted his authority. Of coarse, everyone thought he was bogus when he let go the likes of Patrick Veira, Sol Campbell, Robert Pires, the up and coming Antonio Reyes, and most recently a soccer god figure in Thierry Henry. Looking back at all of his decisions, we realize what great transfers they truly were. There has not been much news from Veira, Campbell, Pires, and Reyes and Henry is just now finding his form in a Barca uniform. Yet, all the while, the gunners are soaring at the top of the English premiership and look unbeatable in the UEFA Champions League. The young “guns” that Arsene invested and set his team around are truly coming of age. Cesc Fagregas has to be considered as one of the best midfielders in the world, Theo Walcott has showed trmemendous promise that he could be lethal from the wing, and Robin van Persie and Adebayor have made goal scoring look easy. The team though has what alot of teams lack and that is cohesiveness. They play as a team and no one wants to be a star. This is hard to come by, and it can safely be said that Arsenal are better off without Henry. The gunners have a chance to become a soccer dynasty like the Bayer Munich’s and Ajax of the past but only time will tell.

Posted by Arsenal soccer fan | Report as abusive