Archive for March, 2008



24
Mar
08

the middle road

I’m neither a wide eyed optimist (though, you can’t spell optimist without “tim”) nor am I pessimist (which you can’t spell without “piss”). I am a realist. And in reality, Arsenal got beat yesterday, fair and square.

Yes, I know Dogbag was offside. So what? They had been lobbing balls into our box all day and the defense had failed to deal with them time and again. Yes, I know that Chelsea are a bunch of dirty scum who played the ball back “accidentally” into the Arsenal corner for a throw in — and then defended it. Yeah, that’s what Chelsea do. Hell, I thought they were on good behavior yesterday. None of that changes the fact that this Arsenal defense was not good enough in the air, nor really on the ground.

What Arsenal were very good at was the midfield. Whenever Chelsea tried to build up — Flamini and Co. was there to win the ball back, harass, and run circles around Chelsea’s fat old men. In fact, when the game started I commented that Arsenal looked very assured in the midfield.

While Arsenal’s midfield defense was solid the midfield attack never seemed able to slip past a very organized Chelsea defense. Too often Cesc’s passes fizzled, or he turned the ball over carelessly. In fact, the whole midfield attack looked completely lost.

Which leads me to “up front.” That must have been the most frustrated I have ever been with Adebayor. When the ball came to him he looked lost or maybe scared. His touch was poor, his passing was poor, and he seemed to always be facing the wrong goal. Make a run for god’s sake. And I don’t think he won a single ball in the air, wait, no he did; at the end of the match when Gallas was streaking in behind the defense and Cesc lobbed him the ball and Gallas had what looked to be the tying goal all wrapped up… Adebayor won that header and looped it softly to the keeper.

John Terry beat Adebayor in the air.

Really?

Really.

And if van Persie getting “healthy” is like a January signing then I think we should demand our transfer fee back. He needs a run of about 10 games to knock the rust off. Too bad there’s not 10 games to get him in shape.

On the other wing (van Persie was playing in Eduardo’s slot on the left wing) was Football’s equivalent to George W. Bush; an affable guy with no discernible talent, shit for brains and a penchant for getting his team into trouble. Eboue is a cunt’s cunt. He could easily have been sent off a half dozen times. His early yellow was completely deserved and he compounded that early yellow with a temper tantrum direct at the ref. Given the events earlier, I assumed he would be tossed. But nope. He kept right on motoring, doing nothing with the ball once he got it and pretending to be mortally wounded at every opportunity. Like when he crashed into Toure causing the big Ivorian to actually go down hurt, he too went down with a mystery injury. If they didn’t already have Jokehole, he’d fit right in at Chelsea.

Why didn’t Theo play yesterday?  I know that technically he substituted in on the 76th minute but I don’t remember him getting the ball even once.   What happened, tactically, that prevented him from getting the ball?

But all this is to say that yesterday teams were handed a blueprint on how to beat Arsenal: organized defense, forget the midfield, lob the ball to strikers, and wait for the inevitable defensive collapse. This is going to be a true test of Wenger’s tactical, team building, and training genius.  Make no mistake, Wenger is a genius: that goal by Sagna was a prime example of that.  Wenger caught Chelsea out by playing in a man who normally defends the counter attacks on corners.  It was great stuff to see The Beaded One get on goal.  But with the loss and the exposure of Arsenal’s weaknesses, the pessimist might say “yes, and that means the season is over, time to start buying some players!” The optimist might say “yes, and now Wenger can get to work shoring up the defense!” And the realist might say “the only way they are winning the Premier league now would be if their opponents slip up, so let’s see what Wenger has them do in the Champions League — it is a different type of tournament after all.”

And with that I bid you a really good day.

23
Mar
08

SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!

T-minus 1 hour and 45 minutes and it’s time to put away all the profiles of Flamini, the hand wringing over Gallas, the pontificating about what the two teams’ relative strengths are, and how much Avram Grant loves Arsenal’s style. We need to put aside the Eduardo incident, the attacks on refs, Flamini’s contract talks, Rosicky’s permanent injury, and just play our game.

If you’re looking for a good break down of player by player matchups and the like, click on over to Yogi’s blog at A Cultured Left Foot. He breaks it all down for you, including probable starting lineups.

But what’s needed now, is the team to perform and the supporters to support. This is it. This is the big one Elizabeth. Arsenal must win and so all the talk is pointless, right now.

I have to admit, I’m very nervous. I can’t imagine what the Arsenal players feel like.

Update: I’ve been listening to the Man U v. Liverpool match and it looks like Mascherano has been sent off for dissent. This is simply crazy. You can’t change the rules in the middle of the season. Much less change the rules on the day of the matches that will decide the outcome of the season. Disgraceful.

22
Mar
08

Calm before the storm

There’s not much going on this morning save that Chelsea have apologized and called for calm ahead of the match on Sunday…

HA! Just kidding. Avram Grant accused Eboue of a worse tackle than Cole’s rash lunge on Hutton. When I read that, I fucking laughed out loud. Either Grant literally has shit for brains or he’s intentionally being a cunt. I’m going with the latter. I mean, fucking John Terry shouldn’t even have been on the pitch after his two footed lunge into the body of a prone Cesc Fabregas. THAT tackle was the worst of the match. And yes, before you mention it, I do remember Fabregas’ tackle on Ashcole. It was a cheap shot and he deserved a card for it. But let’s face facts: Terry and Joke-ole should have both been sent off for their tackles, Cesc should have been sent off for his tackle, Ashcole should have gotten a red (Aliadiere style) for putting hands on Cesc’s face in retaliation, and Eboue should have gotten a yellow card at most.

It was an ugly match, which by my count should have seen 4 reds. But what’s needed now, ahead of a very tense match tomorrow, is a measure of calm and professionalism. Instead, Abramovich’s lapdog goes on to accuse the FA of a conspiracy against Chelsea, even claiming that the two times they have been charged with failing to control their players were part of that conspiracy.

W.T.F.???

I can only guess that what he’s trying to do is win his team some calls tomorrow. Good luck with that. Seems to me as if these kinds of comments, coming as they are on the heels of a display of utter disrespect for officials and the rules of the game at the mid-week, would only serve to set the referee against you on Sunday. We’ll have to see. It is Mark Clattenburg who will be in charge of the match, so predicting his behavior is impossible.

One of the outcomes of this whole re-flap over Eboue is the possible insertion of Walcott into the starting lineup. Grant’s comments about Chelsea still waiting for an Eboue apology are ominous. Chelsea sounds as if they really think Eboue intentionally did John Terry. Wenger has to be aware of that and may want to diffuse the situation by starting Walcott instead. Add in that the press are all about hyping the 19 year old and you can see why I might think he’ll get the starting nod.

Maybe not, after all, Arsenal may need their “hard man” Eboue..

I just laughed even writing that and I’ll probably have a good chuckle when I read the column out loud.

That’s about it for today, I just want to ask you all one favor: on this Easter Sunday, pray for poor John Terry to come through the match unscathed.

21
Mar
08

Drogba stirs the cauldron of shiat

Late blog today, I partially tore my Achilles tendon last Sunday and to accommodate my need to get a ride from my girlfriend I’ve changed my work schedule to four 10 hour shifts. Yes, I have Friday’s off and so I got to sleep in this morning and thus the late blog.

A late blog though isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, the late blog let’s me write about the story that Drogba’s stirring up the Chelsea supporters. First off, there isn’t a single dirty trick for Chelsea to pull that would surprise me in the least. But inciting the Chelsea supporters to be even worse than they already are is pretty low.

During the Carling Cup final, Cesc was pelted with celery every time he went to take a corner kick. At first it was just rib of celery or two and then they started chucking whole hearts of celery. Which culminated in this famous image:

I understand the celery thing, I really do. And I remember remarking last year that tossing the odd rib of celery at a player isn’t really that big of a deal. The problem only happens when things start to escalate, as they did in the photo above. Once fans start tossing out hearts of celery, or even whole celery plants, the only possible outcome is escalation. And the Arsenal supporters did promise to escalate this war of veggies by promising to hit Ashcole with whole fruit and veg on his return to Arsenal.

Fortunately, Wenger called for calm, the stadium stepped up searches and Cole wasn’t hit with vegetables. Because we all know that if Arsenal supporters were given the same leeway that Chelsea supporters seem to get and allowed to throw veggies at Cole, the next escalation would be peas… wrapped in a can. It was a very classy move by Arsenal to defuse the situation.

And now we’ve come full circle. Chelsea are in a serious shambles right now conceding 4 goals to bottom of the table Tottenham and with Avram Grant’s tactics being openly questioned by his players. Not only that, but Ashcole’s tackle and the squad’s subsequent ugly remonstration of Riley’s let off of a yellow card shows that there is a deep, deep trouble at Chelsea. And so, it’s natural for the players to grasp at straws and say things like:

William knows he is coming to the cauldron of Stamford Bridge, like with Ashley Cole [at Arsenal], he will be booed. But they are top players and I will need help from the crowd to unsettle William

I would think that Chelsea as a club would, right now, with all that is going on, want the players to bring a measure of calm and professionalism and workman attitude to the game. If the club wanted to do that, they might make a statement like this:

I want our fans to be behind our team and not to especially have resentment… He did well for the club for as long as he was here and ideally you want everybody who has played for you to be respected. What is over is over and you have to take a distance with that.

Those were the words of Arsene Wenger ahead of Cole’s return to Arsenal. He’s a classy guy that Wenger.

I would hope that Avram Grant would say something similar but Chelsea just don’t have the history of being a classy club. Chelsea are the kind of club that always puts winning ahead of everything else. They are the Floyd Landis of English football.

Sunday has all the potential to be the ugliest football match we have seen all season. I expect trouble in this match, Arsenal have seen a serious drop in form since Milan and will not be above hard tackles to regain that form. Chelsea, as I already mentioned, are in an absolute free fall and with the personalities on that team it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” they will start the pushing, shoving, yelling at the ref, dirty tackles, shirt pulling and all the other tactics they employ when they can’t win a match by playing football. If you add in that the FA, in a moment of sheer insanity, placed Mark Clattenburg (who has been disciplined publicly this season…TWICE) in charge of the match this thing is ready to explode.

Which makes Drogba stirring up the fans that much more reprehensible. The last thing this match needs is the supporters egging on the bad conduct — literally.
So, shame on you Drogba, and shame on you Chelsea for not calling for calm ahead of the storm.

Until tomorrow.

20
Mar
08

Christianochester Ronaldoted goes top

As expected, The Ronaldo’s went 3 points clear at the top of the table. I guess Bolton can only give anyone a good game when they’re named Arsenal.

Not expected was a 4-4 draw at White Hart Lane. I didn’t see the game and so I can’t comment on too many things, but I was reading the BBC text commentary of the match when the Ashcole incident happened. I think they said something about the Chelsea players “protesting” the yellow card and I immediately texted a friend of mine (who is a Chelsea supporter) and said “Chelsea players protest the call, I can imagine it now: Drogba is waving his hand in the ref’s face while Lampard and Terry are remonstrating the ref. When the card is given the Chelsea players make exaggerated faces and dismiss the ref’s decision with hand waving and head shaking.” And then I woke up this morning to this picture:

protest

It’s laughable how predictable Chelsea are. Especially when it comes to the way they treat the refs. Arsenal should expect to see this scene half a dozen times on Sunday. Prepare for it boys, this is what you’re up against.

I don’t know how much the Chelsea player’s actions influenced the ref but he did only give a yellow card for what most observers thought should have been a red. The FA are promising to crack down on players charging at the ref and acting like they play for Chelsea by only allowing the captain to speak to the ref, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t hold my breath waiting for a huge change. This is the same FA that supposedly cracked down on diving and Ronaldo is still using the pitch as his personal Olympic swimming pool.

The other weird picture from the match is the tackle that sparked the row. Here:

cole

So, what I don’t get (and I didn’t see the tackle) is that Cole’s tackle is widely seen as a red card and yet Taylor’s tackle is widely seen as “barely a yellow.” Cole must have come in from further away and the tackle must have been in response to something Hutton did. Those are the only ways that the tackle above is an automatic red card: there must have been malicious intent.

Now, frankly, I’m getting to the saturation point with the whole Taylor incident. I’m pretty much ready to quit talking about it and just move on with the season and the inevitable off season rumor mill about who Arsenal are going to buy.  But of course, as soon as I’m ready to give up FIFA sticks it’s nose in and tells the FA that Taylor deserves a bigger ban. Ok Sepp, listen up, this is not a “one bad apple” problem. This is a cultural problem. This will not be solved by simply banning Taylor for 5, 10, or 20 matches. This problem will only be solved when the managers who tell their players to attack their opponents in order to “send a message” are dealt with by hitting them in the pocket book or docking their team points.

Which, as we all know, has about as much chance of happening as the FA does of reviewing the Cole tackle. Which is to say, none. Since Riley gave him a yellow, the FA claims it is powerless to act. Pathetic.

And now for some good news! Theo got himself a call up to play against France based on his performance against AC Milan. Good for him. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to make that a regular thing. Keep it up young man.

There’s some talk about Arsenal going after a replacement for Flamini. I’ll believe it when I see it. There’s no doubt that Flamini could use some cover and competition in his role as holding midfielder so, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Wenger does buy another. Especially with Gilberto essentially gone. However, as we have seen time and again, Arsenal are linked with one player and buy someone completely different. So don’t count your Perrin’s before they slip on the number 16 shirt.

And finally, U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! has agreed to play a friendly against England at Wembley on May 28th. Cool, I guess. I mean if you’re into all that international stuff. Personally, I follow France, if anyone, and so I couldn’t care less about the USA team or the England team. I just thought I’d mention it for my two American readers.

Until tomorrow

19
Mar
08

“Taylor backed to recover from Eduardo tackle.”

In what has to be the most egregious example of either lazy reporting or intentional misleading of the public, ESPN’s flagship football page, the aptly named “soccernet,” is running with the headline Taylor backed to recover from Eduardo tackle.

I thought that reporting of the tackle was bad enough when they were simply being lazy about sentence construction and saying things like “Eduardo broke his leg.” That little snippet shifts the active verb from the aggressor, Taylor, who, and I have video evidence if you need to see it, actually did the breaking to the passive receiver. Thus, it’s a way of absolving Taylor of his part in this. It’s a very human thing to do too. We don’t like saying “Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg” or “Martin raped the nun.” Some of us feel much more comfortable saying “Eduardo’s leg was broken” or “The nun was raped.”

But here let me show you.

On the left in this picture (wearing the BLUE uniform) is Martin Taylor. On the right (wearing the RED uniform) is Eduardo. Now, see how Martin Taylor is off the ground, studs up, slightly below the knee, and lunging at Eduardo (remember Eduardo is on the right and wearing RED)? Good. Please also note that the man in BLUE is in an unnatural position and the man in RED is simply running along. OK!

Now, remember that the guy in BLUE was the guy who LUNGED at the guy in RED. See how the guy wearing the BLUE socks is BREAKING the guy in RED’s leg? Can you see that? Can you see that “Taylor is breaking Eduardo’s leg?”

And finally:

See how the guy in BLUE is perfectly fine, both legs are intact and he’s sliding through the tackle? Now see how the guy in RED has that little dangly bit (it’s called a foot) hanging down? That guy in BLUE is Martin Taylor. That guy in RED is Eduardo. The guy in RED has now had his leg broken.. by the guy in BLUE. Therefore, in English we say (using active voice) “Martin Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg.” Say it again, you shit-for-brains-reporter, “Martin Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg!” YES! Just like that. It’s called “active voice” and look into using it you might want to do.

So, when we say things like “Taylor backed to recover from Eduardo tackle” or “Eduardo broke his leg” can you can see how those two statements might look as if Eduardo was the man in BLUE and Taylor was the man in RED? Yes? Good, now fuck off back to ESPN “soccernet” or the Daily Mail, you fucking cunts.

18
Mar
08

I’ll be praying for Martin Taylor on Sunday against Chelsea

Before I start, I ask that all my readers pray for me and Martin Taylor during this holy week. For me because I had to go to the doctor yesterday because my Achilles was killing me and I found out that I have a “partial tear” of the Achilles tendon. I guess it’s extremely rare to partially tear the tendon, but hey, I guess I’m just a special guy… This means 6 weeks in a brace before I can even start to rehab my left leg. The doctor said that 95% of the time, if I don’t heal it properly, I’ll fully tear the tendon. Which he described as “excruciating” and “like being hit in the heel with a 4 wood.” So, pray for me to heal.

Excruciating is also the word to describe the psychic pain that Martin Taylor is feeling right now. At least that’s what Birmingham’s chairman is saying. He then goes on to try to disparage Cesc Fabregas for his emotional comments about the Taylor tackle. Let me remind everyone of exactly what Cesc said:

Taylor did it and he knows why he did it. Of course he is not going to say he did it on purpose. A good player gets injured for a year and the player who makes the free-kick gets suspended for three little games. It is very unfair. This type of tackle shouldn’t be allowed. It doesn’t help football.

Honestly, there’s not much wrong with this statement. I think that chairman Gold is overreacting in order to “protect” Taylor. Which is fine. But let’s not pretend for a second that Gold is being objective or fair. Because if he was being fair, he’d put Alex McLeish up on the podium and have him clear the air. Did McLeish tell the players to “get stuck in right away?” Did McLeish tell the players that they needed to put a “physical stamp on the match right off?” Because for me, that’s the only issue here. And that’s how I interpret Cesc’s remark about how only Taylor “knows why he did it.”

Taylor too could come out and admit that the manager told the team to rough Arsenal up and that his tackle was meant to do that. Of course I don’t think Taylor went in to break Eduardo’s leg, but I do think Taylor was following orders. That tackle, at that time in the match, only has one purpose: send a message to the opposing team that says “if you try to dribble around us, we’re going to tackle you… hard.”

Teams who come out to “put a physical stamp” on matches are a problem. Those teams and their managers should be punished. That’s the whole issue for me: I want to know what Allie McLeish told the Birmingham players in the locker room before the match. Until we have a statement about that, then the rest of this is just handbags.

So shut the fuck up, Gold.

Sunday at Chelsea is a huge match. A season defining match, in fact. On Wednesday, Man U plays Bolton and Chelsea plays Tottenham which means that Arsenal supporters have to be rooting for Tottenham for one day. I don’t have any hangup about doing that. Let’s go you Spurs! You can certainly be bigger cunts than Chelsea! And you notloB cunts! Come on! “Put a physical stamp on the match” like you do against Arsenal.  That should make SA’s head assplode!
On Sunday, Arsenal could drop as far as 3rd place, but we have to wait and see what happens on Wednesday. There are too many points at stake and the race is too close to get too excited about Arsenal dropping to 3rd just yet.

Make no mistake, Sunday is the big showdown — Chelsea will be looking for revenge for what they perceived as an overly physical match that Arsenal took 1-0 back in December. Everyone expects this to be a very tense and physical encounter between two teams who have a history of tense, physical encounters.

Chelsea tend to get away with being a pack of cheating cunts like they did at the League Cup final where Mikel (one of the worst offenders on a team of criminals) started the whole thing with a dangerous tackle on Toure, who took exception, and then Lampard decided to ramp up the bullshit by attacking Toure.

Wait… I meant to say: “Lampard was protecting his teammate.”

Fights like that are more of a probability than a rarity on Sunday, sadly. Chelsea are like the Detroit Pistons of the EPL: they are a dirty team who knows full well that the instigator is rarely blamed. So, they like to come out and push Arsenal around hoping to get a reaction.  At the very least, pushing Arsenal’s buttons will make them lose concentration on their game.  At the very best (for Chelsea) Arsenal will have two main players sent off for one role player.

In a situation like that the Referee’s Association would want to put their best ref on the job.

You would think.

But NO!

In a shock move, Mark Clattenburg has been put in charge.

…This should end well.

What I find truly mind boggling is that referees’ chief Keith Hackett, who has TWICE punished Clattenburg this season for his poor handling of the Liverpool/Everton match and then for the Blackburn/Wigan debacle, is calling on Clattenburg for the one match this season which will probably be the most tense. I’m all for giving a guy a second or third chance, but I just don’t think this is the match to let him shine through. I would love to hear what special instructions they give him: like “whatever you do, don’t give too many cards.”

Ugh.

I have a bad feeling about Sunday.

And that’s going to have to do for today.  Until tomorrow.




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