Archive for the 'Injuries' Category

20
May
09

He loves us, he really, really loves us!

I'm thinking of a mineral.

Arsene Wenger IS NOT leaving.

As I was perusing the morning news stories, feeling smug in my knowledge that Wenger was going no where, I tried to imagine what it would have been like if I woke up this morning and read a headline like… Wenger Releases Statement: I Need to Fulfil My Real Dream! and I could only come up with one word: Football Apocalypse.

Now, I realize that technically that’s two words but if you squash them together real close using negative kerning you get something like ‘footballapocalypse’ which pretty much sums up how I felt. I wondered if I’d even bother carrying on as an Arsenal blogger, I mean, what would be the point? Arsene Wenger is all I’ve known as an Arsenal supporter and to have him leave like that would be devastating.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about this until next year when some prat stands up at the shareholder’s meeting and suddenly thinks he’s talking to one of his mates at the pub and lets out some stream of stupidity. Then we get to do this all over again.

Just to recap what Arsene Wenger has done:

3 EPL Titles — the same number that Chelsea has had in their entire history
4 FA Cups — the same number that Chelsea has had in their entire history
4 Community Shields — one more than Chelsea has had in their entire history
Champions League Runners-up
UEFA Cup Runners-up

And this year he took a team of rag tag youths and half legged geriatric Suburbans and got them to the semi-final of the FA Cup and the Champions league. All the while spending about as much money as it would cost to feed the team at Denny’s.

Let’s face it, Arsene Wenger is the best thing that has ever happened to this club. Someone should throw a parade.

Eduardo Setback

The club released an official statement that Eduardo has had to have “simple revision surgery” on the ankle that Martin Taylor tried to destroy. Follow up surgeries are routine and I’m thinking this is a great time to do this. Yes, he’ll miss scoring a dozen world class goals for Croatia, but it means he’ll be back and 100% just in time for pre-season.

On to the important stuff

Thierry Henry is racing to be fit to face Man U in the finals and I’m rooting for him to be so well rested that he comes in, scores a hat trick, and finishes the game with a shot so thunderous that when it ricochets off the post it decapitates Rayne Looney, kneecaps Cronolda, and finds its final resting place in Sir Alex Ferguson’s nutsack.

I’ll be at Doyle’s, wearing my Thierry Henry Arsenal strip.

And one final little bit of news. It turns out some new fangled news aggregator has picked up the blog and I’m now getting 3 times the number of hits per day. I basically jumped from 1000 hits a day to 3000 hits a day. This means, of course, that my loyal readers will be seeing a lot of new comments in the comment jar from people who don’t really understand my sense of humor and haven’t been reading the blog very long.

Let’s all try to get along as best we can and remember that I love you all like children — which means that I love some of you more than others but I would never say which ones, publicly.

Advertisements
09
May
09

Arsenal v. Chelsea preview

I'm sure there's something about swine plague in this message!

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge back in November, a win which kicked off Arsenal’s 21 match unbeaten run. Some folks say Arsenal were given a bit of good fortune as Robin van Persie’s first goal was widely seen as offside, but sometimes good luck is exactly what a team needs to kick off a winning run.

That said, these are not the same two teams that lined up against each other. Arsenal have added some serious quality in Andrei Arshavin (who will be out with the “flu” tomorrow) and Chelsea have abandoned the Scolari/Deco experiment in favor of the more direct approach of Hiddink/Essien. Both clubs are in good form now and both clubs have something to play for: 3rd place in the Premier League.

The absolute gulf in class between the two clubs is evident not on the pitch, where Chelsea have spent “magic money” as Wenger put it to win exactly zero trophies in two years, but in the board room, where Arsenal fined Bendtner for his off field actions but Hiddink is asking Roman to go easy on Drogba after his disgusting on-field actions after their crash out of the Champions League. It’s always been that way, though, and we should expect no less from the world’s most classless club.

Drogba may miss tomorrow’s game as Hiddink thinks he’s not mentally stable enough to get involved in a huge clash like this, which begs the question, is he ever mentally stable?

Meanwhile, the tin-foil-hatters will be in full tin-foil-hat mode over the fact that Arshavin is being left out of the clash having come down with the flu. Add in that Arsene left Andrei off the starting XI during the Chelsea/Arsenal FA Cup clash and there is some strong circumstantial “evidence” that Arsene is afraid to play Andrei against Hiddink. The theory goes that Hiddink knows some weakness in his Russian star’s game and would exploit that weakness and show the EPL how to beat Arshavin. Personally, I think it’s just coincidence.

First, why would Hiddink expose his star player’s weakness?  Wouldn’t doing that also hurt his Russian team too? Second, I think the FA Cup match can be explained simply as a tactical mistake by the boss. He probably figured that Arshavin would have more impact as a super sub, exploiting tired Chelsea legs at the end of a hard fought FA Cup match. And third, it is possible that Arshavin is just sick, in fact, it’s more than possible, it’s the most likely answer!

One player that Arsenal will absolutely use tomorrow is Gibbs; owing to the fact that Clichy is out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his back and Silvestre is shit. I think this is a wonderful inclusion, if Arsene project is to bring along youth players then we might as well use some of them. Plus, he made a mistake, yes, but nothing will help his confidence more than the manager putting him right back in to the starting XI… in a London derby… which may well decide the title… and which will certainly decide the all important 3rd place.

NO PRESSURE

Right, that’s pretty much it, if you want to read Arsene talk about “magic money” or “bringing in one or two players” or hear him talk about what will almost certainly be a heated and prolonged summer transfer period, head on over to the dot com. There are more articles on that topic than Carter has little liver pills.

01
May
09

Friday Pre(i)sser

Bit of a different format today, owing to the deluge of news that always happens on a Friday so let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Injury Update

Eduardo and Silvestre are both out for Saturday. Dudu is being rumored to be out for the rest of the season with his  groin strain while Silvestre will be a late test for Tuesday. I had wondered why Eduardo was such a late sub on Wednesday and I think now it’s clear: he’s never really been fully fit since ‘recovering’ from Martin Taylor’s horrific tackle. And that makes sense. He needs time to get the tendons and muscles back into shape. More rehab, more light practice, rest, recovery, etc. I don’t know a single Gunner who isn’t proud of the courage that Dudu has shown this year and would gladly wait to see him fully fit at the start of next year. Get better Eduardo, we’ll wait.

Robin van Persie is another who’s going to have a late fitness test to see if he can play on Tuesday.  Either way, I doubt he’ll start and instead will need to reprise the super-sub role he played against Cardiff. I know, Man U are not Cardiff, but I mean get a goal, like he did against Cardiff.

Gallas and Rosicky remain out for the season, and the boss is now saying Clichy will be out for three weeks as well. That basically means that Arsenal are without Eduardo, Clichy, Gallas, and Rosicky for the rest of the season.

Fabregate

Cesc has spoken out about the FA charges against him saying that if he should be suspended then 8 others who came on the pitch should be similarly suspended. The FA responded by basically saying, it’s not that you came on the pitch it’s how you acted.

With that said, I am now confident that Fabregas will get a 3 match ban here, the same amount that Martin Taylor got for intentionally breaking Eduardo’s leg.

Because those two things are equivalent.

Maybe next time he should come out and break a player’s leg. At least then he’d deserve the ban.

Transfer News? In April?

The papers are all reporting that Wenger will sell Adebayor and buy Roque Santa Cruz.  The selling point in this story?

Wenger has been an admirer of the 27-year-old for some time. He had Santa Cruz scouted and is particularly impressed by the player’s work-rate after studying his ProZone statistics.

Well, Wenger is a lover of hard work, how do you think Bendtner keeps getting a shot?

Speak of the Devil

Bendtner is featured in this week’s free video on the dot com. A word of warning: clicking that link caused my browser (Firefox) to crash. Actually, that’s about what I’d expect, even Bendtner’s videos suck.

Almunia for England

And finally, the big story of the day is that Fabio Capello would not rule out Almunia should he get an English passport when he becomes eligible in July.  Legally and morally, I don’t see how he could exclude him.

First off, my name is Tim. I’m an American, and I’m a Gooner. I’ve been a Gooner now for 10 years. I’ve seen matches at Highbury and the Emirates and I fly every year to see my beloved Arsenal. I also support France in world competitions, rather than the U.S. team, because, well, because I want to. And so I think I have a bit of a unique perspective on this Almunia situation.

Whether Almunia wants to become an English citizen or not is about choices and not about birthplace. That’s just the way the world is today. The old days of nationalism are dying slowly and people now have more freedom than ever before to choose the country they want to naturalize in. Personally, I’d like to see it be even more open. I have never understood why capital could move freely from one country to another but people were restrained by quaint old notions of borders. So, if Almunia wants to become an English citizen and renounce his eligibility to play for Spain, knowing the stick he’s going to get from xenophobes and nationalists, then I say more power to him.

Moreover, the old notions of “identity” that surrounded certain things, like being a Gooner meant that you were probably from North London, have changed radically as well. Now, you have millions of Americans, Indians, Chinese, Africans, and Spanish devoted to following English teams and thus the identity of English clubs are no longer associated with place. When you have millions of Africans wearing Liverpool shirts and identifying with Steven Gerrard it both takes a bit away from that old identity as “scouser” and adds something new to their identity. Again, you can wring your hands about this, you can jump on the Platini xenophobe bandwagon, and you can scream about how your identity is being taken over by Yanks and the Africans. But unless you are willing to stop broadcasting English games around the globe and shrink the English game back into something provincial and small (something that will never win a world championship) then you’re going to have to deal with the fact that football is a global sport with a global following. And that means that clubs now have global identities. And more radically, that national teams now have global identities.

Other countries have already accepted this change and I have no doubt that Croatian fans love their Brazilian born striker.  It’s time for England to let go of the old, small way of looking at football and join the modern world. And time for fans to embrace their future England Number 1; Manuel Almunia.

Tomorrow’s Match

Right, so that’s it for today. Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 7am (PST) is being broadcast on FSC. I’ll try to do a quick update before kickoff and then do a liveblog of the match. If you’re into that sort of thing, join us here at about 6:30.

See you then!

30
Apr
09

Man U 1-0 Arsenal; Wenger Still Has Faith

Match Reports

The Telegraph.co.uk: John O’Shea gives Manchester United the advantage

ESPNSoccernet: blah blah blah O’Shea.

Man of the Match

I will be the first to admit that I’m a horrible judge of goal keepers, but even a Dumb American like me could tell that England’s Future #1 had a monster game last night. I mean, even the guys at the Telegraph saw him step up into the rarefied air of a “top four” keeper last night.

So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m giving Man of the Match to England’s Future #1, Manuel Almunia.

The Good

Don’t listen to them, they don’t know what they are talking about: Arsenal were not just lucky to escape that match 1-0 down, they played their asses off and several key players stepped up huge to keep that scoreline down to 1-0. Moreover, 1-0 is a good result for United but it’s not a devastating result for Arsenal. 2-0? 3-0? The game could have easily gone that way and those results would have been devastating.

United played one of the best games I’ve ever seen them play and they only managed a 1-0 score line. This is a completely surmountable obstacle: 1-0 and penalties or a 2-0 win and we go through. Now that I’ve seen what a fully actualized Man U looks like, I can say that we were always going to have to win a game. So, I like our odds of winning at home in the return leg. Wenger too has confidence

It will be a good opportunity to show our character and our mental strength. I am confident you will see it so I invite you to a press conference next Tuesday after the game, and then you would have seen it.

There is a Final at stake. Don’t worry, when you play at home knowing you could reach a Final, we will be up for it. I am confident because I believe we will be on top next Tuesday and you will see a different Arsenal team.

The one thing I can say for sure about Arsene Wenger is that he is full of faith. Hell, this man has more faith than a priest.

I also want to give a shout out to both Gibbs and Song who both had monster games last night. Gibbs in particular was simply spectacular against what seemed like 18 attacking United players. But in particular, aside from that one shot that rattled the cross-bar, Ronaldo basically was handed a nightmare by the 19 year old.

Unlike Gibbs, who has basically been thrust into the fire and has performed magnificently, Song has grown slowly in his position and is now a nearly complete holding midfielder. Last night he had a great game defending and shielding the midfield, though he looked kind of jaded at the end of the match and I have to wonder if the long haul of the season plus the massive workrate he put in against a hard working Man U hasn’t taken it’s toll. I know that sounds strange because he’s had a good break but I’m struggling to explain why he was so good in the first 70 minutes and so listless in the last 20.

The Bad

OK, so we’re down 1-0 and that’s bad. Draws won’t put us through, even one goal wins don’t put us through. We need a 2 goal win to go into the finals and if United play as hard as they did last night, Arsenal will need to be the Arsenal that beat AC Milan 2-0 to get that win. Which is a tall order because while I think Arsenal played their hearts out yesterday (with some exceptions) they are going to need to both play their hearts out and have the game of their lives.

Ouch.

Now, about those guys who didn’t play hard…. Diaby, I’m looking at you. If you don’t want to play in a Champions League semi-final why don’t you F*CK OFF? More than once Song had to come in and clean up and shield Gibbs after Diaby was seen strolling back up the pitch behind Ronaldo. Ronaldo for f*ck’s sake. Diaby and Walcott both just looked lost in their defensive responsibilities and more than once were dispossessed by Man U while they tried to dribble out of the back 3rd. That shiat needs to be squashed right now: if those two want to play on Tuesday they need to defend from the front for 90 minutes.

And as for Silvestre, well, he had a good game last night and made a few really key defensive plays. So, it’s unfortunate that it was his poorly cleared ball that fell to O’Shea who stuck it home. Frankly, I give the blame for that goal to Toure who both ran toward the ball, rather than marking the back post, and failed to organize his defense properly, because even if he’d have stayed back, it still would have been 3 on 1. Blown defensive plays like that are not going to cut the mustard on Tuesday.

The Ugly

Ok, Wenger, we get it, you have faith. You believe in using Cesc in the support roll in the 4-2-3-1 despite the fact that this plays to all of Cesc’s weaknesses. You believe in using Nasri as a holding midfielder, despite the fact that this plays to all of Nasri’s weaknesses. You believe in playing Bendtner, despite the fact that this plays to all of his weaknesses. We get it, you have faith.

I’m afraid if you don’t switch up some of these roles and play to these player’s strengths rather than playing them out of position, faith is all we’re going to have left at the end of the season. 4th place and a whole lotta faith. We’ll all fill our cups with your faith and sup deep from the well.

Basically, like Spurs fans do every year.

Me?  I’d rather have a bit more rational approach to the game on Tuesday and see Cesc paired with Song in the middle — where Cesc’s vision and defensive awareness can control the game more, Nasri on the left and Theo on the right — where their speed and ball control can cause havoc in United’s wings, Adebayor and van Persie (or Eduardo if van Persie is still out, or Vela if Eduardo is out, or the Tea Lady if Vela is out) up front — where, erm, they can score goals and stuff, and the rest of the team picks itself.

That said, I don’t feel confident that Wenger can switch things up because he’s got more faith than the Pope.

Conclusion

We’ve got Pompey on Saturday and I’m looking at that match as a bit of a break, honestly. 4th place is all but secure (a win secures it outright) and third place is looking a little less likely each week, though a win on Saturday and a loss for Chelsea at Fulham would put us 3 points off of 3rd ahead of the Arsenal v. Chelsea clash in 2 weeks. Still, while 3rd place matters, it just doesn’t seem to matter as much. I’d rather win the Champions League or at least get a hell of a game in the return leg than take 3rd place.

Irregardless (you KNEW I was going to say that!) of all that, I think Arsenal fans and players need a bit of an emotional break and Pompey can provide that. The game is being televised live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7am and I’ll be providing the liveblogging for the first time in what seems like a year. I think I might just get some dry smoked bacon from Costco and have a nice little breakfast and watch the game.

Right, that’s it for today, I’m going to leave you dreaming of bacon. See you tomorrow for a match preview.

28
Apr
09

Everyone Agrees – Defense Wins Championships

This week Vidic has said it, Cesc said it, Adebayor is saying it 24/7 on ESPN’s annoying automatic video load crapola, I’ve said it countless times, and it’s probably the  most over used and least understood phrase in all of sports: “defense wins championships.” But it’s true.

There have been quite a few comments in the blog and elsewhere about the state of Arsenal’s defense of late and much has been made of Silvestre and Gibbs at the back and the prospect of Arsenal facing United with such a “depleted” squad, but I just want to point out a few things.

Gibbs is not better than Clichy, I’m not even going to try to make that argument. Gibbs is slightly faster than Clichy and Gibb’s attacking ability is far superior (he already has 2 assists this season) but where he lacks is in experience defending. So, yes, I am a bit nervous about Gibbs facing Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney, and Bobblekopf.

Silvestre is… well… batshit crazy. His defensive style is best described as desperate: he doesn’t just get a foot stuck in and clear the ball, it’s always, and I mean ALWAYS, some kind of acrobatic, falling down, desperation clearance. I like a player who plays “110%” like that and normally I would forgive him and let him play his own style. Except there’s the batshit crazy part. The part where, for some ungodly reason, he feels it’s ok to backpass the ball and give up a free kick to United. For a defender with his vast experience, at the level he’s played at, to make such mental errors is unthinkable. I would think his body would break down, not his mind, but it just seems like he’s not in the game, or maybe he doesn’t remember how to play football having had his mind erased by Sir Alex Ferguson’s technicians in the Old Trafford dollhouse.

But I want you all to take heart: Arsenal beat United 2-1 back in November. Granted, Arsenal we’re up for that game and United were in a bit of a slump at that point — having let Hull City get up their noses a bit when United eked out a 4-3 win which they followed by a 1-1 draw to Celtic. In fact, United might look at that period and see that as on of their low points of the season. So, you could blame that.

But, while United might look at that as a low period, for Arsenal there is no doubt that the month of November was nearly catastrophic — this was a team coming off a devastating 4-4 draw to Spuds, not to mention the 2-1 loss to Stoke, followed by the 0-0 draw at home to Fener. The dressing room was a disaster, any belief that team had in their own ability was being trampled by infighting between Gallas and half the team.

But worse than the state of Arsenal’s dressing room was the state of the injury room. Arsenal went into that match missing Adebayor through injury, van Persie through insanity, and Toure through “injury.” The state of the squad was so bad that Arsenal fielded Bendtner up front with Diaby, Cesc with Denilson in the middle, and paired William Gallas with Silvestre at the back. If I told you that Wenger was going to field that lineup tomorrow, you’d shit yourself. And the funny thing is that that team damn near did shit themselves: Denilson could have been called for a penalty, Silvestre had the back pass, and Clichy had a hand ball, any of which could have spelled disaster.

So, under those circumstances, for them to come out and get a 2-1 win, even if at home and even if United were a bit down, is pretty amazing. Arsenal fans the world over should look at that day and remember that on our day, no matter who we field and no matter how we line up it just takes a moment or two of brilliance to get a win. Brilliance which Samir Nasri provided on that day and which I expect will be provided by at least one player tomorrow.

As for the defense, this is not just a league game at home in November. This is a game against the defending champions and our last chance for any silverware this season. Man U are going to be up for this game and there are going to be multiple serious challenges of our defense tomorrow. So, as much as I’d like to bring them along slowly, there’s no chance of that and it’s time for Djourou and Gibbs to show the world what they got. What sent Eboue from mediocre defender to “great” defender were his performances against Ronaldo and there is no doubt that SAF will be sending the entire Man U attack in to batter and deep fry Arsenal’s two young defenders. This is their chance to shine.

I think they have the talent to do it and I think Wenger will get the tactics right to help support them the best he can. But if they cannot do it, we all need to have realistic expectations and not get too down on them: Gibbs is only 19, Djourou is only 22, and both have a lot to learn before we can jump on them or abandon them and start calling for their heads. If we lose badly, then so be it, they have done an amazing job and defied all expectations to get us this far. If we win, or get a famous pulsating draw like everyone expects, well… then…

Well, there’s only an upside then, isn’t there?

24
Apr
09

All charged up and ready to go!

When it rains, it pours, and as soon as we get a bit of sunshine, we get doused again: that’s the life of an Arsenal supporter.

You’ve no doubt seen the reports that Our Fair Captain, Cesc Fabregas, has been formally charged on two counts of improper conduct by the Football Association. These charges are for spitting and for coming on to the pitch after the match. The FA have also charged Phil Brown with bringing the game into disrepute for the comments he made about Mike Riley after the game. Both people have until May 12th to respond to the charges.

At the Friday press conference, Arsene Wenger spoke about the charges and seemed incredulous that his player would even be charged

I personally looked at the reports, at the video evidence and there is nothing in there against Cesc.

I have personally looked through as much of the FA records as I can find and I cannot find a single incidence where a player was charged for “ his behavior in coming onto the pitch after the final whistle.” This is the Arsenal captain, coming back after a long layoff with injury, congratulating his team after a hard fought victory over a pack of lying, cheating, overly orange scumbags. In my mind, the captain of the team has every right to be on the pitch to celebrate with his team after the final whistle has blown.In the history of exceptional charges brought against Arsenal players, and that is a long history indeed, this first charge is the most preposterous charge I have ever seen. In addition, when you consider the behavior you have seen this year, the racism that players have suffered, homophobia, xenophobia, the drink driving charges, betting scandals and all of the other ills in football for the FA to take a captain of his team to the bar for “coming onto the pitch” is ludicrous. These ass-clowns can’t even get the pitch right at their centerpiece stadium, and they’re going to charge the Arsenal captain for being on the pitch after the game?

And the worst part? He can’t deny that he was on the pitch. I think this charge will stick and Cesc gets a 3 match ban. Just think about that. Could you imagine for a second Ryan Giggs getting a ban for coming on to the pitch after a game?

Exactly.

As for the second charge, that he spat at or near or on or in the general vicinity of and in the direction of which toward could be described as “at” the Assistant to the Loser (depending on the day and how many drinks Phil Brown’s had before the interview) everyone keeps saying that there is no video evidence. Which means that it’s Cesc’s word against their word.

He’ll probably get a month ban for that, after all, he’s an Arsenal player and foreign to boot.

And what will come of the indisputable fact that Phil Brown by word and deed has brought the game into disrepute? You could color me surprised if he got off on that charge, because the evidence is overwhelming. That said, if there’s any wiggle room here, the FA will find it and give him a lighter punishment.

Incidentally, the May 12th deadline for submitting the facts is after the Chelsea league game and before the Man U league game — Arsenal’s penultimate game. Now, if I was a paranoid man, I might say “hmmm… that’s pretty fcuking convenient, for Man U, that Arsenal’s Captain will be, in all likelihood, suspended for what could be the title-deciding match of the season. Pretty fcuking convenient.” Thankfully I’m not a paranoid man!

This whole sordid tale has been one disgraceful minute after another and I will be glad to see the back of it. If Fabregas is found guilty we all know what his real crime is: being a foreigner on an Arsenal team. And if he’s found guilty we will no doubt hear the highly ironic charge of “Arsenal’s Indiscipline” from quarters such as Chelsea. In other words, same stuff different day, and who cares?

What I actually care about is the fact that Arsenal might have Djourou, Almunia, and Adebayor back for the ‘Boro game on Sunday which, if true,  is huge boost to our back line and to our attack (if Adebayor actually gives a rat’s ass). And like I said at the outset, as soon as the sun shines on us we get a deluge: the boss has confirmed that Thomas Rosicky will be out for the rest of the season. At this point, Rosicky has been in and out (mostly out) of the team for over a year and a half and Wenger faces a decision: cut our losses or stay in for the long term. Wenger is very loyal so I wouldn’t be surprised if Rosicky got another year to try to recover. What else can I say but get well soon little fella.

More damaging are the reports that Robin van Persie is going to be out now for what looks like two weeks, missing the first leg of the Man U Champions League semi-final. This is a huge blow for a team who’s only other real options at striker are a chronic grifter, a dofus with the touch of a defender, and then a bunch of children. Ugh.

There is a match directly in front of us and from a distance, I really hope ‘Boro find a way to stay up this year. I like the team and what Gareth Southgate has done with the club is nothing short of amazing. Moreover, I am actively rooting for Newcastle and Blackburn to make the drop so, I really want ‘Boro to get some points between now and the end of the season. Just not on Sunday!

The match on Sunday will be tape delayed here in Tacoma and Doyle’s is showing it at 8am. Perfect time to have a cup of coffee, some breakfast, and get in an Arsenal match before the Sunday kickaround. For the rest of you, the game kicks off at 5:30 am (PST) and is exclusively on Setanta (and/or some illegal video stream). So, if you’re in town, come on down and join the fun.

And finally, I just love this quote from Nicolas Anelka

Arsenal are composed of young players, aiming for third or fourth place, but we do not really speak about them for the title. Chelsea are like Real Madrid – the pressure here is huge.

Yes, the pressure at Chelsea is huge, because the owner has paid $1bn to raise his Johnny Come Lately supporter’s expectations only to have them dashed on the rocks of 2+ years without any silverware and a put together a team that, frankly, looks ripe for Arsenal to overtake at 3rd place. But, really, the thing that make me laugh the most is the delicious, delicious, irony of a player on a team that is in 3rd place calling out another team for being a “3rd place team.”

Maybe that can be our ray of sunshine for the day, we’ll need something to protect us from the deluge of know-it-all pundits who are about to hit the papers with column feet of know-it-all punditry about how much spit Cesc could have possibly spit and what this means for the future of English football and how we need an immediate return to the good old days — when teams were mostly English (read “British”) and the only thing you had to worry about was a barroom brawl afters.

Ugh, it’s going to be a long weekend.

04
Apr
09

Arsenal 2-0 Man City; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPN Soccernet: Captain Cesc Fabregas returned to help inspire Arsenal as two goals from Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor secured victory over Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.

Telegraph.co.uk: Villarreal and Chelsea be warned. Arsenal may be running out of games to win the Premier League but, as displayed in domineering fashion in the sunshine of North London, their returning players are back and they are greedy for success in two cup competitions.

Match Video

The Arsenalist, like fresh baked bread, best to get it while it’s hot, slather some butter on it and down it with a pint of bitter.

Man of the Match

Easy peasy today, Adebayor scored two goals and despite his chronic, maddening habit of being offside showed why he is the envy of some Italian clubs and being linked to a summer move.

Before the match I questioned which Adebayor would show up: the one who works hard or the one who can’t be arsed. Today we had the pleasure of watching the Adebayor who works hard. Savor the moment because we never know which one will show up on Tuesday at the Estadio El Madrigal.

I’m sure some people will point out the slack defending that let Ade put in a flat footed header but there can be no doubt about the pure class that was the second goal. Cesc played in a beautiful ball, Adebayor was accidentally onside, and when Given came out to stop the ball, Ade dribbled once, stepped over a prostrate Given, and side footed into the net. I realize this is a divisive thing to say and I like Bendtner, but I’m sorry, I’ve never seen Bendtner score a goal like that.

The Good

It was great to see Arsenal’s captain back on the pitch. He looked a bit sluggish in his 76 minute debut but that’s to be expected when a player doesn’t play for 3 1/2 months. Moreover it looked like he and Arshavin were having a bit of trouble adjusting to each other. But even after a long layoff and playing with new players around him all he did was notch an assist for each of the two goals that Adebayor scored. Amazing. It’s great to have him back.

I also want to credit Song and Denilson for their industry in the midfield. At the start they looked a bit shaky but they settled in and bossed the middle for the rest of the match. You could point to the fact that City was missing their midfield engine in Stephen Ireland and you’d be right, but they had a job to do regardless who was in front of them and they did it.

And finally, the defense kept a clean sheet, their 9th of the 17 game unbeaten run and I want to credit them with that. There were a couple moments where the two weeks off showed as the back four couldn’t keep their shape and nearly let in two goals, but City couldn’t crack them open and they deserve credit for their hard work. Mooney especially gets credit for his save on SWP’s deflected shot, his quick reflexes saved him on his nearly poor positioning. Nearly poor.

The Bad

Kolo and Gallas do need to work on their communication at the back, because Villareal will punish them if they leave players wide open in the middle — why was Toure covering right back and center? — or if Clichy plays people on side again.  It’s not an insurmountable problem and they did keep a clean sheet, but it’s just something that needs to be worked on.

Similarly, the formation was a bit strange and Arshavin looked a bit lost (could have been that he was tired) again, not the end of the world, just something that they need to work on in practice. Arshavin is an incredible player and he has nearly won me over from my Winter of discontent. Now, if we can get him and Cesc clicking at the same time we’ll have something really special.

Finally, Bentdner needs to work on… well… everything: his positioning was terrible, his touch was terrible, and his finishing was comical. Moreover, with Eboue playing so damn well lately Bendtner has taken the lead as Arsenal whipping boy. I’d like to see him be a star and maybe it’ll just take a word in the ear from Arsene. “Calm, down lad, picture what you want to do and just do it.”

The Ugly

If I never see Howard Webb referee an Arsenal match again, it will be too soon. I’ve been trying to lay off the word “cunt” but in this case the moniker fits. Howard Webb is a massive cunt. For example, Toure picked up a yellow card and Webb explained to him that it was for two bad tackles (one of which was a clear dive by Robin-ho). Webb gesticulated toward both spots, told Toure to clam up, and then showed him the yellow. Fair enough, he’s the ref and if two infractions are enough to earn a yellow, then that’s how it will be. The only thing I don’t understand is how Toure gets a yellow for two infractions and yet Zabaleta fouls the living shit out of Walcott half a dozen times before he gets a yellow? How many times was Theo pulled off the pitch and scanned by the medical staff? 6? And after the match, he was icing his knee, like an aging Michael Jordan.

The fact is that Webb basically let City walk all over, push Arsenal players to the ground, and intentionally foul Theo’s knee multiple times and just waved play on.

Huge cunt.

And speaking of huge cunts, it turns out that Phil Brown’s accusations of Cesc spitting and verbally abusing Hull’s assistant manager were not caught on tape. SHOCKING!!! That means that this is going to be a case of he said she said which means that the FA will probably suspend Cesc because, after all, a known lying cunt is more reliable than a foreigner.

But most bizarre is that Cesc is now defending himself against a YouTube video from when he was 17 years old. But he does so with aplomb:

It was four years ago and I lent over to Michael Ballack who was playing for Bayern Munich at the time and I shouted at him because I felt like I did not make a bad tackle and I felt that the contact was minimal. I did not spit at him. It happens during matches that sometimes you have heated exchanges with your opponents.

I am not proud of it but I was 17 years old. The referee saw it and gave me a yellow card. People can try to find as many video clips as they like from when I was 17 years old or when I was 12 playing for my school team but this does not change anything. The simple fact is that I did not spit at the assistant manager of Hull City.

Fuck Phil Brown and fuck Hull City. I actually hope they stay up in the Premier league, Arsenal need someone to run off the pitch. We haven’t had someone like that in the EPL since Charlton made the drop a few years ago. Honestly, I hope Phil Brown has a very long career in the EPL, getting his ass handed to him bi-annually by Arsene Wenger.

Conclusion

Arsenal next travel to Villareal, Spain to play the Yellow Submarine in the Champions League. That happens on Tuesday which gives us 2 days to sort out some of the kinks that showed today. Plenty of time. I trust that the Arsenal will be in top form for that game.

We don’t know if RvP (doubtful), Eduardo (doubtful), Diaby (doubtful), Nasri (flu), and Theo (iced his knee after the match) will be available for the Villareal match and I’m guessing Wenger won’t tip his hand until Tuesday morning.

Anyway, it was a great win and I don’t want to go on too much so instead, let me just leave you with this quote from Arsene Wenger

We had a strongly balanced performance, offensively and defensively against a good Man City side, especially in the first half. In the second half we completely took over and maybe should have scored more goals. Overall I am pleased because there is a lightness back in the team and the way we play. Everybody looks to enjoy, and play without the handbrake or any restriction. That is good to see.

Yes indeed, Arsene, yes indeed.

Oh, and hey, Newcuntsle lost to Chelsea, puuting them one step closer to relegation. Now, we just need a draw between Villa and Man U tomorrow to cap off a great weekend!




RSS My Google Reader

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Flickr Photos

Twits

Arsenal Community

Arsenal News

Arsenal News

e-soccer
September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930