Arsene’s bit of luck was overdue

By Myles Palmer


Elber 10 min.

I have seen dozens of boring Champions League games, so it would be an exaggeration to say that last night was the most boring Champions League game I have ever seen.

But it was the most disappointing.

Arsene Wenger has been unlucky for years in Europe.

Having to play at Wembley for TWO YEARS, late goals, dodgy penalties and free-kicks against him, Keown missing an open goal from four yards to beat Galatasaray.

So he was due a bit of luck some time.

Frustratingly, it came from Moscow and not in his own game.

A tale of two penalties, Spartak 1 Lyon 1, Sonny Anderson missed a sitter to win the the game and put Wenger, his old manager, out of Europe.

What a dire Arsenal performance!

Kanu was jetlagged,Grimandi cannot play centreback at this level, Pires was the wrong man to mark Lizarazu, Ljungberg had a nightmare, and Wiltord played like a Muppet when he came on.

Of all the dozens of games Arsenal have ever played without Bergkamp, this was the most shapeless, brainless and clueless, a night of stumbling, stuttering incompetence.

It was worse than PAOK, where they played quite well for an hour.

Only Cole, Adams, Vieira, Lauren and Seaman emerged with any credit.Henry was enterprising but had no service and no support.

I heard somebody on Radio 5 say that Lauren had a poor game. Rubbish! He was excellent, even if he did lose the ball a few times. They would have crashed 3-0 without him.

But it was just too, too weird to sit there and watch, knowing that Bayern could have scored another five goals, and it did not matter, as long as Lyon did not score again in Moscow.

What a fool I was to think that Arsenal could bring a bit of pulsating entertainment into my thrill-starved Wednesday evening.

Wenger, who always accentuates the positive, will not be pinning up today’s back page headlines at the training ground.

GUARDIAN : Lucky Arsenal limp into last eight

TELEGRAPH : Arsenal ride luck to squeeze into quarter-finals

MIRROR : The Great Escape-Arsenal lose in Germany but qualify

MAIL; Red faces all round but shoddy Arsenal make it

SUN : From Russia With Luck

PA : Wenger hails success of English clubs.

I love that last one. What a spin-doctor! Great stuff !


Bayern Munich (4-4-2): Kahn; Kuffour, Andersson, Linke, Lizarazu;Salihamidzic, Jeremies, Fink, Scholl (Weisinger, 90min); Jancker, Elber(Tarnat, 90). Booked: Lizarazu.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Grimandi, Adams, Cole; Pires (Silvinho, 76min), Lauren, Vieira, Ljungberg (Parlour, 60); Kanu(Wiltord, 60), Henry. Booked: Vieira, Dixon.

15th March 2001.