Roma 1-0 Arsenal; kids go through on penalties

this-image-is-everywhere, at least I'm trying to do something original with it

Match Video

As always, the Arsenalist has the video.  I had to actually download the file from the link he provides since either my script blocker is preventing the inline video from playing or the inline video is just broken. Either way, it’s totally worth it.

Man of the Match

I wanted to give Man of the Match to Almunia because, I reasoned, keepers get to shine during penalty shootouts and since we won on penalties you have to give the nod to Almunia. If you add in that he made a game saving finger-tip save, it seemed a lock for the big fella to get the champagne.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the whole team shined in that shootout last night. Eduardo had missed the first penalty and, like a foil for the game itself, the team had to overcome that let down and just put in a solid bit of work. Which they did, one after the other, 7 in a row.

7 in a row!

These are kids! I mean, Theo has never taken a penalty before and yet he stuck it like a pro. But even singling Theo out is unfair because each one of these players, down the line, stood up for each other, and just did what they were asked.

In the end, it took 7 teammates to win that match, so I’m giving the whole team Man of the Match.

Match Reports

All the match reports I’ve read tell it like it was, which is to say, a rather shitty game. After Roma scored both teams seemed to have let off the gas a bit and the match became 120 minutes of not allowing the opponent to score.

That said, as I sat there watching Roma play defense and Arsenal try to play offense the one thing that stood out was Roma was wasting time — at the 60th minute. I can’t remember their names but there were several times that an Arsenal player would put in a good tackle and the Roma player would go to ground, and start rolling around feigning injury. Then the f*cking stretcher would come out and take this guy off the pitch only to have him pop right back up and be ready to come on right away.

I know that the carrot colored c*nt Spalletti said they were going to have a “cautious” approach but I didn’t expect them to be playing for penalties at the 60th minute. Was that really the game plan? Get a goal and then sit back and go to penalties?  Strange.

And the goal… *sigh* Totti plays in a cross, Gallas pokes and misses, Toure pokes and misses and the ball rolls through 7 more pairs of legs and slowly  comes to Juan, who is sitting on the edge of the box, skimming through his copy of Ivanhoe. Juan kind of looks around, saves his place in the book, takes a little touch, and calmly puts the ball in the net. Gross. Infuriating. Sickening.

In the end, that goal didn’t matter though.

Hell, in the end, nothing mattered; not Roma’s “game plan” (whatever that was), not Arsenal’s poor performance, not the one squandered chance that Eboue played in to Bendtner, not Totti’s leg brace, not the dive in the box, and not even Eduardo’s soft penalty kick… nothing mattered.

Because in the end, a collection of kids stood shoulder to shoulder and calmly put in 7 penalties in a row.

That’s all that mattered.


It almost doesn’t matter who we get paired with in the next round (who wants to bet that we get Barcelona?), or that Arsenal host Blackburn on Saturday, and Hull Shitty on Tuesday. Because as I watched the boys celebrate it occurred to me that they may have reached a moment in this most difficult of seasons that the team came together and gutted out a performance, as a team.

So, whatever happens from here on out, I’m hopeful that they can take that moment where they stood shoulder to shoulder and put 7 penalties in as a team, take that forward and build on it. No matter what else happens this season, they will always have Rome and I’d love to see them capitalize on that.


22 Responses to “Roma 1-0 Arsenal; kids go through on penalties”

  1. 1 pete
    March 12, 2009 at 6:49 am

    the season is ours now its in our grasp we didnt play well last night neither did roma but on penalties and we do that i cant praise the boys enough, when the whole worlds watching, wenger talked about destiny before the game, i dont care who we get in the quarters because no one is going to want to face us with eddy walcott, fab ade and rosicky all coming back and match fit, no ones going to want to face us, amazing from the boys yesterday, with this kind of attitude and belief we can make the final again i know we can do it, i hope they believe they now can do it. oooooooooooooooooooooh 2 b a gooner

  2. 2 NYGunner
    March 12, 2009 at 7:05 am

    it was a good win. lord wenger’s been talking about our mental attitude the entire season which sounded like a load of hogwash to me – except last night. last night, we showed a tremendous amount of mental stregnth. i’ll admit it – when denilson came to take the penalty, i closed my eyes and hid my face. but its almost as if we willed our way through the penalty shoot out. we have some good players coming back but i think they will need to time to get completey match fit and also flow together as a team. so, i am really hoping for a relatively easier draw cos we are still playing lke sh8.

  3. March 12, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Every time I look at that picture it makes me break into a huge grin.
    The pure unadulterated joy on their little faces.

  4. 4 matt
    March 12, 2009 at 7:37 am

    When’s the draw?

  5. 5 T-Town Alex
    March 12, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Pete – did you say Rosicky coming back? Is that true? I completely missed that news, and have not heard anything about Rosicky for a long time! If it happens, it will be another emotional lift for the team.

  6. 6 NYGunner
    March 12, 2009 at 7:45 am

    two weeks from this friday

  7. 7 Jet Pinoy Gooner
    March 12, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Honestly the entire time I was watching the game I was saying “Please don’t let it end in a shoot out!” I was so nervous that the kids won’t handle the pressure. Boy! I was soooo dead wrong and I am very happy that they have proven me wrong. I will never doubt their mental strength again.

  8. 8 gooner sems
    March 12, 2009 at 7:50 am

    draw friday 20 march only 2 easy teams left(consedidring)porto& villareal any of those teams will do
    glad to see us scuffing out a match for a change c’mon arsenal

  9. 9 WC
    March 12, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Tim I’m going to disagree that Roma were playing defensively. As a matter of fact they probably had more chances than us if not for Baptista being horrible we could have lost after 90 minutes. It really was a crappy game almost as bad as the 2005 FA Cup final against the Mancs. We were admittedly poor for 120 minutes; giving up alot of possession for no reason, creating little chances and the first goal was just a joke – did the entire backline really allow the ball to just roll past them and through their legs?

    It was an ugly win which I’ll take over a loss and the most commendable feature was the team’s togetherness in the face of the missed penalty by Eddie. I would have banked my house on him making that first penalty too.

    We looked really tired, but then again the Italians looked worse. They have poor conditioning as exemplified by a Roma player falling asleep on the grass every other minute. We really missed Arshavin’s invention and diligence – he’s looking like money well spent more each week, though I still don’t think he’s worth the reported amount we paid.

    I will gladly take Porto or Villareal in the quarters though I think we could take just about anyone. Imagine the internal conflict of the fans if we draw Barca and Henry makes a return to the club. In any case I hope we can draw some mental strength from this game and continue on our run to a trophy and a CL spot.

  10. 10 Alex
    March 12, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Alex –
    According to the Arsenal site(pops), Rosicky should be back in training at the end of this month.

  11. 11 Teekay
    March 12, 2009 at 8:42 am

    i must thank the level at which those boys played …they were impressive i must confess …but i must make a comment based on the first leg played at the magnificient Emirate Stadium.
    We could have taken all our chances and it would have been an easy run for us instead of going true pains and blood to qualify …..its would have been a formalty match if we had won comfortably at home then …anyway i bet we have to take that into consideration when we know our next opponent …..i wish us all lucks.

  12. 12 caribkid
    March 12, 2009 at 8:47 am

    For once the Football Gods smiled on us.

    – A sure fire penalty is waved off after Clichy fouls Motta in the box. We would never get that call in the EPL.

    – God favors Babtista by offering him an open goal from 6 yards out. Alas, Baptista doesn’t like Baptista and scuffs the ball straight at Almunia.

    – Eduardo has missed his penalty, Vucinic (an experienced and excellent striker) steps to the plate, Almunia gets faked out and is laying on the ground with no chance of saving the shot. Vucinic, who could have chipped it, tapped it, placed it, powered it almost anywhere in the open goal dribbles a shot straight into Almunia’s prostrate groin.

    The rest is history and for today it’s celebration time. We move on to the final 8, add 8-10M to the coffers, and get a chance to atone for our dismal but lucky performance yesterday.

    Today I am a cheer leader.


  13. 13 T-Town Alex
    March 12, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I hope we get either Bayern (so we get to see Ribery) or Villareal (so we get to see Pires back)

  14. March 12, 2009 at 9:12 am

    We all know it will be Porto or Barca.

  15. 15 barnaby
    March 12, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Motm – the supporters for having to endure watching the match. Clichy let out of jail and Baptista who put four past pool misses a sitter, whew. Have to agree with wc, roma were more offensive minded than us, or was it more offensive capable, in the second half. Other than the result a match best forgotten.

  16. 16 asmelash Yohannes teklu
    March 12, 2009 at 9:34 am

    what a wondeful article! all the news i read after the match were pile of shits. they seemed to suggest that the gunners were lucky. but i would say Roma was lucky to servive at emirates. it could have been 4-0 or more. But in italy, they got one chance and scored it. does this make arsenal lucky? no

  17. 17 Keith Barham
    March 12, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for posting that photo. When the penalties ended, Setanta bailed out as if they were late showing an infomercial for the Slap Chop or something. It was nice to see this image after the game, so thank you again.

    Ball sails over net. Almunia pumps fists. Screen goes to the choir singing, “THE CHAMPIONNNNS!” Great.

  18. 18 mansfield
    March 12, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    slap chop, nice!

    the pic is good thanks. at this point in the season a win is a win

    go gunners

  19. March 12, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Tim, I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic or not. Pizza and ice-cream? Surely it’ll melt once in the oven.

  20. March 12, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Connoly, pizza and ice cream, it’s what the little league coach takes his team out for after a big win.

  21. March 12, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    did anyone notice the little banter between almunia and baptista during the shoot-out. and after baptista scored, he shot a crazy stare at almunia’s direction.

  22. March 13, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Yeah, it looked like Mooney tried to psych The Beast out with something “you missed your chance to win this earlier” or something.

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