Arsenal v Chelsea in Champions League final? I predicted that in 2009…

Back in April 2009, the old beatnik thought that could happen.

But it didn’t. 

However, the Champions League is usually fun .

It’s very exciting when the best teams in the world play each other.

Sometimes the games are very tight

In March 2009 Arsenal lost 1-0 at Roma but went through 7-6 on penalties AET.

Juventus drew 2-2 with Chelsea and Liverpool beat Real Madrid 4-0.

In April, Villarreal v Arsenal was a 1-1 draw and Man Utd 2 Porto 2 was another draw and Chelsea 4 Liverpool 4 was a third draw.

In the second legs Man Utd won 1-0 in Porto and Arsenal beat Villarreal 3-0 in London and Chelsea got a 0-0 in  the Nou Camp and then Man Utd beat Arsenal 1-0 and 3-0 at Old Trafford.

==============From ANR in 2009=====================

I had been looking forward to the Manchester United-Arsenal clash for weeks.

But I didn’t enjoy it because Ronaldo, Tevez, Fabregas, Adebayor and Walcott all played badly.

By contrast, I loved Tuesday night’s game.

I thought the Chelsea game was compelling, absorbing, fascinating, electric. The way they marked spaces AND men was brilliant.

Barcelona 0 Chelsea 0 was the most exciting 0-0 draw I’ve seen for about five years.

On Wednesday morning I woke up and thought : Chelsea will win it. Chelsea will win the Champions League.

But many people thought the Chelsea game was boring. My son Michael thought they were boring.

Rob Hughes called and he thought it was boring. Rob has known Guus Hiddink well for fifteen years and was surprised by how negatively they played in that game.

Rob said Guus took Lampard off because at 70 minutes in a 0-0 game, Lampard’s instinct is to get forward and win it.

On Tuesday night at seven I put the telly on ITV and put Sky+ on but I was not watching the build-up. I was in my office upstairs and online. I had a phone call and when that call finished, I wondered : What are the teams?

Then at 7.25 the phone rang again and it was Doug , my best friend for 39 years.

“Are you set?”
“Yes but I don’t know the teams.”

While we were talking I punched up NewsNow Chelsea and clicked on the line-ups to see if it was Anelka or Kalou.

“Christ! He’s dropped Nicolas Kalou!”
“He’s dropped Anelka and Kalou and played Mikel and Essien!
“Would you start Anelka in a game like this?”
“No. I thought he’d play Kalou for his work-rate.”

On Monday Doug and I had been talking about Arsenal.

“If Arsenal win the European Cup, I’ll be the most surprised man in the western hemisphere,” I said.

“If Arsenal win the European Cup,  you’ll have to write a letter of apology to Mr Wenger. And I’ll help you write it.”

Last night I had a call about 7.15 from my Polish friend Kaz, a doctor, who had just left his West London hospital and was looking for a pub showing the game.

“What’s your prediction? 2-1 or 3-1?”
“We won’t score,” I said.

The first email I sent on Wednesday morning was to Tony, my gambling guru, whose La Liga tips are 80% correct.

Tony is financial and a big Manchester United fan and his email asked me if I could get him a ticket for the second leg.

My reply was not a wind-up.

My reply was this :

That performance was ruthless, pragmatic, intelligent, realistic, measured, a finely calibrated collective performance that no other team in the last decade could have produced, including Man United when they played at the Nou Camp.

Total disinformation by Hiddick before the game. 

” It’s going to be an open game. Both sides will attack.”

You could tell by his voice he didn’t mean it !

Without Puyol and Marquez, with Ashley Cole back, Chelsea will grind them and squeeze them and kick them and win it on set-pieces and flick-ons.

Barcelona will lose at Real Madrid on Saturday, too.
That 0-0 smashes them.
The Catalan maestros who always score 4 goals were restricted to shots from 25 yards all night.

That was a colossal performance and the most interesting 0-0 draw I’ve seen for five years 
Tonight is irrelevant.
Doesn’t matter who wins tonight.

Both United and Arsenal are flawed, dysfunctional outfits.
Neither of them can beat Chelsea in a one-off game.
On your advice, I had a bet Monday on Over 2.5 tonight.
If tonight’s game is cagey, like last night, I should lay that off.
But it’s irrelevant.
The oligarch’s money has brought the European Cup to London for the first time ever.
That’s horrible, I know.
But it’s history.

At 8.10 this morning I walked round the corner with Michael as he went off to work.

I bought The Guardian. Builder pal Tony grinned when he saw me from the other side of the street and came over.

“What’s Diaby doing in the team?” he asked.
“I don’t know, he’s hopeless.”
Tony is Irish and a Gooner.
“Where is Denilson now? Is he a leper?” I said.
“He hasn’t done too much wrong. I used to watch him in the reserves and thought he was good.”
“Maybe he’s burned out.”
“What d’you think in the return?” he asked.
“I think United will do what they did in Porto. Win 1-0 again.”

Excellent Champions League draw/But Barcelona have Messi and Suarez