Arsenal v. Villareal (1-1 agg)

Before we get started, please take a moment, close your eyes, head down.

Ok, that was for the 96 people who died at Hillsborough in 1989, certainly the most important moment in recent football history. A day that changed the way we all watch the game.

There’s no good way to segue from that so, let’s just get stuck in here with the football news.

First, did you happen to catch the insanity yesterday? 4-4 draw in the Chelsea v. Liverpool match? 7-5 on aggregate? No one could have predicted 12 goals over two legs, no one. I was able to watch some of it at work, where it just so happens that I can get ESPN 360, and honestly that match terrified me because it’s the exact type of game that Wenger is saying Arsenal will play today.

What’s scary about that is that as I was watching, first Liverpool scores 2 in a row and I start thinking “ok, so that makes them 3-3 on aggregate, but Chelsea has the away goals advantage” and then it hit me: a win puts Arsenal through, irregardless of the score line. 11-10? No problem, as long as Arsenal get the 11. But any draw above 1-1 puts them through and, of course, a loss by Arsenal puts them through as well. So, if Villareal score a goal, and especially an early goal, say a Pires goal in the 10th minute, then this match could turn into a goal fest.

I’m not saying this to freak you out, rather, well, rather because I’m already freaked out! and I need to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening.

So, we just have to win. Right? That’s all there is to it. My prediction is a 1-1 draw in regulation and that Arsenal win in the extra period 3-1. Also that Eduardo will nab a goal in there, somewhere.

As for lineups, I was fully prepared to predict that Song would start in defense, Diaby next to Cesc, and Silvestre would play at left wing-back but the boss squished that idea, specifically.

You don’t need a manager to pick the defence, Gibbs has no experience and Alex Song has not played a lot at centre back. But at least we can have someone close to Gibbs who has experience [in Silvestre].

So, Arsenal are playing a 19 year old at left back and a United reject at center back. OK, offensive lineup it is.

In that respect though we are in good shape; Eduardo is fit, Vela and Bendtner are on the bench, Adebayor is starting no matter what formation we use, Cesc is back, Theo has no knocks, Nasri has recovered from the flu, and Diaby is ready to go. The only question mark is Robin van Persie, who the boss (in the same link above) says is still suffering from a groin pull and will require a fitness test today to see if he can play.

The crucial thing about that is that I can’t predict the lineup without knowing if van Persie is fit.  I can give two options, though:

van Persie  Adebayor

Nasri   Song   Cesc   Theo




Diaby   Nasri   Theo

Song   Cesc


Either way I can’t see Cesc playing in the hole since he isn’t match fit, we’ll need all the cover we can get for the defense, and when he played more forward this weekend it was nearly a disaster. I also think Wenger will favor Diaby on the left since it gives extra cover to Gibbs.

I’m sure you all disagree, please post alternate lineups to your heart’s content. One thing to consider in doing so is that Denilson has played every minute of the Champions League campaign. I considered it and still chose the lineups I chose.

Also, if Song, Nasri, Robin or Diaby pick up a yellow, they will miss the next game.

So, that’s pretty much it. There’s no word on van Persie and nothing on Senna either so what you have above is what we got. Kickoff’s at 11:45am and I managed to move my meeting so, I can be at Doyle’s. See you there, if you’re in town. If not?



26 Responses to “Arsenal v. Villareal (1-1 agg)”

  1. 1 JROCK
    April 15, 2009 at 8:02 am

    My heart is pounding..just the thought of the match today makes me wana go to th loo….seriously i am a believer and i know these boys are going to fight to the end but yesterday’s match has disorganised me so much.I have a feeling that chevs vs liver match gave villareal belief that they can also do the same.I hope our players don’t think about it that much and just conccentrate on our match….

    Nice blog though.

    I am going to start bloging, from next week, what advice can give me bro!!

  2. 2 matt
    April 15, 2009 at 8:02 am


    If we go through, I think this season can be deemed a success.

  3. 3 Tim
    April 15, 2009 at 8:09 am


    You going to write an Arsenal blog?

    My advice is the same no matter what you blog about: read and write every day.

  4. 4 Darkhail
    April 15, 2009 at 8:16 am

    My predicted Arsenal lineup, its not what I would pick, but in my eyes its what Le Boss will…


    Nasri Cesc Theo

    Song Denilson

    Gibbs Silvestre Toure Sagna


  5. 5 Darkhail
    April 15, 2009 at 8:16 am

    :( My centering didnt work.

  6. 6 Alex
    April 15, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Darkhail: use < instead of [

    So nobody thinks we might get to see Dudu up front with Ade?

  7. 7 WC
    April 15, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Not sure why the English tie unsettled you yesterday in relation to our game today. Liverpool HAD to press in order to overcome the deficit – we don’t have to. We won’t sit back and play for 0-0 for 90 minutes, however I don’t see us trying to score 4 goals on the trot either. The Chelsea/Liverpool game had far different psychology and tactics than ours because of the situation Liverpool were in. We are not in the same boat and we’ll play as we have been, no more, no less so I think being nervous because of yesterday’s game has no feasible rationale. With Senna missing and possibly Cani trying to pass a late fitness (or so I’ve read from a few sources) and Villareal coming off a loss to Malaga I think we’re in good shape.

  8. 8 nycgunner
    April 15, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I guess I’m the only gunner on planet earth who thinks Eboue should start today on the right instead of Walcott. I think for today’s game, we need to protect the wing backs and Eboue will do a better job than Walcott. Eboue hasn’t been bad going forward either while Walcott (except for the goal he scored against Wigan thanks to Arshavin) has done absolutely nothing.

    I would like to see us line up in a 4-4-2 formation this morning with either RVP or Nasri playing behind Ade. I think an open game would be better for us since Senna will be missing and we need to exploit that weakness. 4-5-1 clutters the midfield and pushes Cesc too far up front limiting his game. It also makes it easier for opponents to mark him. We need him lying slightly deeper so he can control the tempo of the game and use his passing range to the fullest extent. So even without RVP I would stick to the 4-4-2 formation using Nasri to play behind Ade and Diaby on the left. I am betting on Nasri to have a big game today. C’mon Arsenal!

  9. 9 Travis The Septopus
    April 15, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I dont know about you guys but I feel good about today. I think we will see Hard working Ade with a couple goals and a big game from Fabianski because he thinks he has something to prove.
    2-1 to the arsenal

  10. 10 WC
    April 15, 2009 at 10:26 am


    I’m not sure how you can say Walcott does nothing because his speed alone makes the opponents on the left side tired and tired legs contribute to a team’s decline in performance. He’s not top scorer or even top assists but he does make the opponents work and that in turn depletes their energy over 90 minutes. He creates many chnaces from crosses and pulls defenders out of position. Statistics alone are a poor way to evaluate someone because his contribution is more psychological. His pace and technical ability always puts him in the minds of the defenders and that alone can open up space for the rest of the team. In the Man City game he was fouled on various occasions by different Citeh players, some even got booked and being a booked player alwyays makes you more unstable and prone to either a straight sending off for frustration or allowing an opponent to pass you because you don’t want another yellow to turn into a red card. This is a part of Theo’s game and while Eboue has been getting better his reputation to dive and whine still follow him – a reputation which Theo doesn’t have and which doesn’t play on the minds of referees when awarding free kicks or cards.

  11. 11 CaribKid
    April 15, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Alex makes a good point about Dudu. If RVP fails the late fitness test we may well see Dudu paired with Ade.

    Not sure I like that pairing however, as Dudu seems to prefer playing more up front than RVP and it could compromise our defensive capabilities.

  12. 12 Alex
    April 15, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Little tip for Comcast subscribers. ESPN Deportes is broadcasting the game. You can add the Latino package for $10 a month plus $2 signup fee. You also get FSE (Fox Sports Espanol) and GolTV.

  13. 13 nycgunner
    April 15, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I dont think Walcott does nothing, I just think he hasn’t done anything as of late – specifically – since coming back from injury. He has speed but what good is speed if there is no final product? I am yet to see one decent final ball from Theo since he’s been back. He doesn’t do a very good job at covering Sagna either and with our back line depleted as it is, it’s important for us not to concede early today. You can not possibly put Theo in as a starter simply because he may or may not get one of the villareal players in foul trouble – that’s absurd. He was pretty useless in the last game against Capdevila and I dont recall Capdevila getting a yellow either. I know Eboue is not the most graceful of all players and he does have that occasional moment when I am embarrassed that he is in our team but I think based on recent performances he does deserve a start tonight specially since it makes sense tactically.

  14. April 15, 2009 at 11:05 am


    I believe Theo’s final product bulged the auld onion bag on Saturday.

  15. 15 nycgunner
    April 15, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Hey now Tim – I already qualified my statement in my original post saying “except for the goal against Wigan”. But really.. that goal is as much Arshavin’s as it is Theo’s.

    Guys – its not that I dont like Theo. I really like the kid and I think he’s got a lot of potential. I just think for this game it makes more sense for him to come off the bench. Eboue will give us a better balance with our crocked up defense. However should Theo start, I would love to be proved wrong.

  16. 16 nycgunner
    April 15, 2009 at 11:40 am

    hmm wenger threw a curve ball by starting both eboue and theo. guess he is resting sagna. makes sense..

  17. 17 CaribKid
    April 15, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Sagna has a virus and Theo has been MOTM so far with Song a close second.

  18. 18 Keith Barham
    April 15, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Villareal has completely lost control. I thought we were going to see two reds there, but no matter.

  19. 19 nycgunner
    April 15, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Wow! I dont think I am ever picking Eboue over Walcott. Talk about proving someone wrong. I have to give man of the match to RVP though. Each and every one of his touches was brilliant!

  20. 20 WC
    April 15, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Game. Set. Match. Without Senna, Villareal have little bite as perhaps only Cani really made an impression, even worse their away record is spotty. Excellent display all around, solid scoreline, how the hell can Porto not score just one goal at their own stadium………

    All English affair next CL outing with the Mancs being put to the sword. Let us hope we can break their spirits before then in the league tie.

  21. April 15, 2009 at 3:18 pm




  22. April 15, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Tim, that is the nicest cheer in the whole Arsenal song book. And we do love the Arsenal, we do.

  23. April 15, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    April 15, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Guys – its not that I dont like Theo. I really like the kid and I think he’s got a lot of potential. I just think for this game it makes more sense for him to come off the bench. Eboue will give us a better balance with our crocked up defense. However should Theo start, I would love to be proved wrong.

    We’re all loving that you were proved wrong, nyc.

  24. 24 Matt
    April 15, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Sweet sigh of happiness.

  25. 25 Jet Pinoy Gooner
    April 15, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    @ nycgunner

    I guess Theo read your comment. Never doubt the wonder kid again.

  26. 26 nycgunner
    April 16, 2009 at 6:27 am

    I am happy to have been proved wrong by Theo. What a game! If Ade’s equalizer in the first leg was spectacular, Theo’s chip was simply sublime. I watched the game for a second time yesterday after I went home and its just incredible how good almost all our players were. Song stood out in particular in the middle of the park while RVP was producing magic with every touch. There was a moment when RVP took the ball on in his stride near the half line and gently nutmegged Iguren completely bamboozling him and making him lose his balance. That moment summed up the game RVP was having. A lot of us has been saying that we need a physical presence in central midfield and now we do! Alex Song was tremendous yesterday – not just defensively but pretty good going forward as well. There were occassions when he just bullied Iguren and Cani off the ball. The best part is Song still looks a bit rough around the edges so you know he is going to get even better.

    I am still giddy with excitement from yesterday. We do love the Arsenal, we do!

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