Archive for March 9th, 2009

09
Mar
09

Song 3-0 Burnley; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Arsenal cruised into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over Championship side Burnley at Emirates Stadium.

Setanta.com: Arsenal v. Burnley stats and ratings (linked for the fact they gave Eduardo the highest rating and all the comments are pro-Song!)

Telegraph: Try telling Eduardo the FA Cup has lost its romance. Even the swathes of empty seats at the Emirates Stadium could not detract from one of the season’s most emotive plot-lines: the road to Wembley has become a highway of healing for Eduardo.

Match Video

The Arsenalist has all the goals and highlights of Song v. Burnley — please click his sponsors or he will relapse.

Also, the Telegraph somehow put up a YouTube video of just Eduardo’s salsa/beach/stunner/cheeky goal it’s decent quality and I’m sure it will be taken down almost as soon as I link to it.

Falstaff of the Match

Eboue… no wait… Gallas… no wait… Song. Yes, it has to be Song. How well did he do? Pretty damn well actually. He hit 87% of his passes, had two assists, and even tracked back a couple times to make important saves.

It was a job well done and now he gets to take a couple weeks off.

Romeo and Ethel, the pirate’s daughter

Arsenal have now gone 17 in a row without a loss, have only allowed 1 goal in the last 8 matches, and scored 11 goals in those same 8; I think it’s safe to say that Arsenal are on a run.

More importantly, they are doing this without some of their biggest names, scrapping out 0-0 draws and banging in 3-0 wins is no mean feat when a team is missing key people like Cesc and Adebayor. In retrospect, some of us bloggers could have been a bit more circumspect in our criticism of the squad. They are gelling nicely and now that some key players like Eduardo and Theo are making their way back into the squad we are doing more than just holding on; Arsenal are scoring goals and finishing off their opponents with aplomb.

When Arsene signed Arshavin, most of us were clamoring to get a serious defensive midfielder and get rid of this on the job training program for Song and Denilson. But it turns out that creativity up front is exactly what Arsenal needed because that’s exactly what is opening opponents up, getting us out front, and from then on the game comes easy.

It was no surprise to me that Arshavin was the player who provided the ball for the opening goal. While he clearly lacks match fitness (fingers crossed this doesn’t lead to injury) this kid has vision, awareness, creativity, and the talent to put in the right ball. And though I think he’s leaning on his touch and creativity to make up for the fact that he’s running on one lung, it’s working and that’s all that matters. Arshavin, it turns out, was probably the perfect signing for this team.

This isn’t to take anything away from Carlos Vela! What a goal off that Arshavin pass! The youngster had blown a couple of chances in previous games and that goal was exactly what he needed to regain some confidence.

That said, I would expect a player like Vela to score audacious goals when he’s got a guy like Eduardo on the squad who is showing him the way. I mean, how does Eduardo even conceive to score a goal like yesterday’s stunner much less have the body control and touch to pull it off? Lots of people think that the reason Arsenal didn’t win the league last year was because we missed Eduardo. On the basis of yesterday’s goal, I’d have to agree.

And finally, Eboue (who’s name is no longer a curse) what can I say but good job, and keep up the hard work. After the match Arsene said “Usually when he (Eboue) gets in front of goal he loses his composure. I believe he needed that.” I would say that what makes Eboue frustrating is that he loses his composure all over the pitch, not just in front of goal. Maybe a goal is what he needed to gain some composure all over the pitch?

My own private Idaho

In the next round, Arsenal get to face Hull at home on the 17th, which if they win, sends us in to Wembley to face Chelsea for the semi-final.  We don’t want to look too far ahead, one game at a time and all that, but I am excited by the thought of this young team getting Cesc back and exacting some revenge on Chelsea for, I dunno, the Carling Cup final two years ago? Uhhh…. The fact that we beat them already this year? I dunno, but I want some revenge!

Also, if you’re planning a trip over to see Arsenal, check the fixtures list first, there’s a ton of matches coming up and some of the league play matches will be moved to accommodate the FA Cup and Champions League.

10 things I hate about Song

Slow, sideways passing, lazy, lacks vision, doesn’t close down opponents, lacks defensive awareness, one footed, can’t tackle, poor in the air, and not a team player.

Song has played 33 matches in all competitions for Arsenal this season and many of those matches have featured this player performing spectacularly poor. His performance in the North London derby will always be a black mark for me. Introduced in the 87th minute, in order to bolster the midfield, he instead lumbered around the pitch lost for two minutes as his marker (Jenas) dribbles around him and scores the goal that gave them belief. Fucking Jenas… outplayed by a polished turd like Jenas.

So, pardon me while I don’t jump on the bandwagon here quite yet. I’ve watched him very closely for 33 matches and while he’s had some decent performances, by and large he’s stunk the joint up and one good match against a Championship team that seemed to have given up after the first goal can’t erase the memory of 20 some odd real stinkers.

And yes, for the record, I am aware of the fact that he’s 1 inch taller than Denilson.

The Tempest

I’m only sorta kidding about the whole “now you get to take a couple weeks off thing.” It seems like every time I speak well of one of either Denilson or Song they come back in the next few matches and put in the kind of gormless performance that drives us all crazy. I’m really hoping this doesn’t happen because up next is Roma, in Rome, for the right to move on in the Champions League. Even if Totti, de Rossi, Perrotta, Cicinho, and Pizzaro are all out, Arsenal need a strong midfield pair to control the match.

I’m picking Diaby and Denilson as the strongest midfield pairing right now. In fact, I’m picking anyone plus Diaby as the strongest midfield pairing. Just look at the last 4 matches. Each time Diaby is either included from the start or introduced Arsenal look brighter on offense and stronger in defense. Against W.B.A. when he was introduced at half-time (and the Song/Denilson pair broken up) though they didn’t score, Arsenal looked real quality in attack and defense and went on to win 3-1.

That match happens on Wednesday and is currently not scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN here in the states, which means Setanta and Doyle’s.

Kickoff for that match is 12:45 PST and I’ll have a fuller match preview on Tuesday.

For now, we get to bask in the glory of a 3-0 win, Arsenal showing some real class, and several key Arsenal players coming back in to the squad providing fresh legs for what Wenger calls “the sprint” here at the end of the season. Arsenal are still alive in the Champions League, doing very well in the FA Cup, and just 3 points off 4th place Villa. So, despite some negative feelings hanging over about the team and our performances up till this point Arsenal are in a really good position to win a trophy for the first time in 4 years and silence many of us critics.

Hang on to your hats, kickers, it’s going to be a crazy run in.

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