Champions League reaction

Gunners provide the excitement in clean sweep

September 16, 2009
By Harry Harris
(Archive)

Ossie Ardiles made it plain over lunch that he believes English football is still by far the best league in the world and that very evening, just to prove the point, Arsenal and Liverpool ensured a clean sweep of wins for all four Premier League clubs.

Eduardo Da Silva
GettyImagesThe man who wasn't there: Eduardo - who else? - seized centre stage

• Is English football deluding itself?
• Carter: A tale of two strikers

Ardiles joined the debate begun on ESPNsoccernet on Tuesday about whether we are all deluding ourselves about the supremacy of English football

Ardiles told me: "Sevilla are absolutely brilliant this season, so its not just the usual two clubs Real and Barca, but it doesn't compare with the English game, where there are so many more tough games. Yes, of course Spain has so many brilliant individuals, but England has the better teams in depth, and the more exciting football."

Just to underline the point, Liverpool and Arsenal both won, even though neither were very convincing, much like Manchester Untied and Chelsea.

But it how you finish rather than how you start, and Ardiles added: "I still believe that come the semi-finals there will be more English teams than any other country."

Well, he has a point, even though he had previously rattled off some of the world's greatest talents from Ronaldo, Kaka, and Messi, that any genuine football fan would love to see each week.

For me, although the Gunners were desperately trying to self destruct, you couldn't take your eyes of their comeback in Liege, after going two quick goals down. Eduardo clinched a flukish winner off his left knee, celebrating with a kiss to the lucky part of his anatomy.

This is the very same Eduardo who shouldn't have been on the pitch, because he had originally been banned for two games by UEFA for diving. It has certainly been a traumatic week for Arsene Wenger, his club and their fans, so in a way they deserved whatever luck was going their way.

I am a huge admirer of Wenger, and the fact that his team continue to play the game with such emphasis on the aesthetic values. Whatever fate might have in mind for Arsenal this season, they are sure to be the great entertainers; scoring plenty of goals, and also letting in nearly as many with such a shaky defence.

The volume of goals they have scored show that one player they are not missing is Emmanuel Adeybayor. My information is that Wenger has long suspected that The togo striker has little to no concept of the offside rule; notice how many times he is flagged by the linesman for the offence. How much store one can place in such a rumour, you never quite know.

But knowing Wenger well, I would suspect there is some truth in it. And that did not suit Arsenal's carefully manicured passing game, and on balance Wenger felt it was worth taking the huge amount Manchester City offered for him.

Of all the four teams in Europe, I would say that Arsenal's win was the best, coming back with after going two goals down.

It still amazes me that Arsenal are a club without a single European Cup or Champions League, but this is nowhere near the best team with which Wenger has attempted to address that deficiency. And, in Eduardo, the North London club have a gifted striker yet he cannot keep out of the headlines.

The truth is that Eduardo dived against Celtic, and failed the "arched back" test, if you ask me. So, should he have been allowed to be on the pitch to rescue Arsenal? The answer still has to be no.