And bite us they did

:(:(:(:(

Almost can’t bring myself to write about this but maybe it’ll be good therapy. Liverpool, or more appropriately Crouch( what an apt last name for a guy who’s 6 ft. 7.)  just put the nails in Arsenal’s coffin for this one. 4-1 the score and I wonder if it’s going to get worse against Man U and Chelsea. Our guys never looked in control save for a few brief displays from Adebayor. Addy did do his best but one of his curled grounders struck post and his superb header was turned away. All credit to him, but then we never had a chance once Crouch got his third in.

Crouch was the deciding factor all the way through. Sure, the deliveries and midfield work was great but it was his’s height and his dogged pursuit of ball.  Arsenal’s defense simply could not cope and for a few moments after the 4-1 I even felt there was going to be a fifth. Our defense has been pathetic; without Gilberto in the back shoring them up, our guys just went to babe-in-the-woods mode. Crouch in particular was their holy terror, and his hat-trick was well deserved.

And among the not-so-deserving, Baptista needs to go, now. What else can you say to a guy who can’t even put in a straight strike on goal? A beauty of a pass, with him unmarked , facing the goal, and the guy freaking misses. By a mile. A pug-ugly attempt to curl the ball into the far corner. I mean, all he had to was slot it away…just put it in the damn goal! Why was he even there anyway? They should have played around Addy with him in the centre front and Baptista having to pass it to him. It would have given us the lifeline we sorely needed. We pulled one back when we forced corners twice, and there was a glimmer of hope. Even the relentless Arsenal hater Andy Gray said so. But no, we want to gift Crouch his hat-trick. Muy pathetico.

Liverpool deserved this victory as they played for it from the start. The pressure they piled up was really a thing to watch and Arsenal’s cool and calculating posse was dozing and paid for it, and even after that they couldn’t muster the famous Arsenal come-from-behind goal. Inept is the sole word and Wenger will have some stern words for our defense and hopefully the pink slip for Baptista. It’s time to get Real, and give Baptista back.

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Bite me!

So says Arsenal as Adebayor is back and he’s the first of the Gunner’s lost front teeth to be replaced. Finally some football excitement in this ho-hum fortnight as they face Liverpool tomorrow at Anfield, after the internationals sucked for the most part. I’m hoping for a great game, and that is something Arsenal have not denied us so far. The rest of our striker triplet are not going to play this season; RVP has been ruled out for the rest of the season as well. Sad, but a fractured metatarsal is not something to take lightly( I’m getting the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it) and I wish our Dutch gunner a speedy recovery.

Meanwhile Addy has the limelight to himself as he will be the target guy upfront. With his speed he should be able to capitalize on the through balls ; he would’ve blasted the through ball that won us the game at Reading. (I’m looking at you, Diaby! Hell, Lampard called it the best deflection goal he’d ever seen). He’ll also bring some much-needed confidence to our wavering midfielders who’ve had to play as strikers till now.

A lot of matches tomorrow and it’s not surprising given the two weeks off, but Sunday is curiously devoid of any; just three matches. Man U and Chelsea have cakewalks for breakfast tomorrow but given their position Man U is not going to slack off here. And as for Arsenal, this game will go mightily towards deciding third spot. Let’s hope Addy will be spot on( I’m punny today) and Liverpool, bite us if you dare. 🙂

P.S. can you spot the football deprivation in this post?

Will Ribery

show up at Arsenal this season? I sure hope so! The French TGV seems to be the most likely of the French players to be added to Arsenal’s roster this time around. He stuck to playing for Marseille last time around, but reports of his growing interest in a Premiership club abound. I say that it would be a great move for him, acclimatize him to some really fast football, and his legs would agree. Pace with control is always welcome, and Arsenal’s midfield would benefit greatly from his threat of being able to take off every time he got the ball.

With other speed stars like Walcott and Clichy, Arsenal could add a dimension of high-speed breaks which I feel they need sorely. The mere notion of Ribery breaking through and carrying the ball all the way and then tapping it to RVP, Walcott et al for a simple slot into the goal is mouth-watering.

Plus he would get to play with a  French coach and the French god Henry, which would make any young midfielder’s day. Look forward to seeing him this season.

Baptista not the right fit for Arsenal…

…and it’s clear as day after his dismal performance so far. I think where we erred in bringing him was in just going by his great form at Real Madrid, and not projecting his play over to Arsenal which is a totally different ballgame. Arsenal are the foremost proponents of the beautiful game, and their idea of fun is kicking the ball around the opposition’s one third, slowly heaping on the pressure, and striking at the first cave-in.

Baptista, however, looks totally out of place. His attributes are strength, strength, strength. Decent speed as well. But finesse does not rank high on his resume – he’s the charging bull looking to tear down the gates; not the hawk looking to make a sudden swift strike. He does attract defenders’s attention with his charging-up-the-middle runs leaving the others some leeway. Consequently, he’s at his best when he’s making the break; but once he reaches the wall, Arsenal’s wait-and-watch game begins,and he looks plenty uncomfy. He’s not possessed of the turn-and-gun strikes of Henry or Van Persie and ends up losing the ball, and we all cry about how Arsenal don’t score any goals.

I don’t think for a moment that he alone is to blame for the troubles Arsenal are having; but surely a striker of his caliber should have contributed when Henry and Van Persie were off the field. It was a great chance to cement his place in the side, but he hasn’t showed anything for so many starts, more like Julio ‘I’m Beat’ Baptista. With his loan period coming to a close and nothing tangible apart from the brief period of brilliance vs Liverpool, Arsene will be looking to offload him. He looks keen to stay on in the Premiership, though, and if he manages to stick he could be one of the topmost players out there. For Arsenal, though, that will be too little too late. They need results soon, and the Beast from Sevilla is too tame.

No action this week…

…and I’m bored. There’s not much to do to fill the weekend, and the lack of matches doesn’t help. Got home too late last night to watch the Italy England U21 match though from what I read it was a pretty good one. Nor can I get my usual Bundesliga fix because Neo Sports along with all the other local channels is fully focused on the cricket World Cup. I don’t understand why they’d bother:

India have all but crashed out. Even if Bermuda were to pull off a miracle and beat Bangladesh to take India into the Super 8 ( then again, the prayer power of India is not to be underestimated )  the level of cricket that India have shown is certainly not top-class. Their opening defeat to Bangladesh still rankles. This is a team born of a fractured mandate; they’re not playing with the hunger that characterized the 2003 team which went all the way till the finals. Dravid unfortunately has never been captain material; he’s smart, cool, collected, but doesn’t show the requisite aura of leadership. His own performance has been so-so and his captaincy awkward. His mule-headed decision to stick to Sehwag paid off poorly vs Bangladesh, and we’re ruing that to this day and possibly the next four years. Loyalty towards your player is admirable but only till so far; your loyalty towards the team should be far more.

Anyways on to our favorite boys and they should be taking advantage of the relative lull in action. Some still have to play in the upcoming internationals like Rosicky, Senderos etc. They should use this downtime to figure out their tactics against Liverpool. The Reds have looked pretty strong and I don’t think that with our own gaps we’re gonna be repeating that 6-2 result. Baptista scorched them pretty badly then, but with his current inability to score the Reds should be focusing on the other playmaker. That’s right, Adebayoooooooor’s back! I’m looking forward to his pacey runs. Finally we have back a striker capable of scoring, of actually shooting a rocket into the goal. Fabregas & Co. have played beautiful football no doubt, but Adebayor should put the exclamation mark on that pretty prose. Dare we say 3-2?

A game worth watching

Yup, a long time since I posted. I plead the Job Amendment; it’s been hectic and I was too tired to do anything but play games and surf. With a long weekend and a Monday holiday ‘coz of Gudi Padwa, I can now get down to some soccer blogging finally.

Today’s matchup is Arsenal vs Everton. I like Everton’s play and feel that it’s gonna be a good match, prediction for a Arsenal win, 3-2. We can’t afford to let up here and Wenger will be looking to make this one count. Chelsea and Man U march on towards the Premiership and if we want to secure second we’ll need to be at our best every match from here on out. We’re currently in third , but Liverpool will definitely switch with us when they beat Aston Villa tonight. Of course our subsequent win should catapult us right back.

The reason I’m so optimistic is because Rosicky and Toure are coming back. Henry’s being out for the season is no doubt a big blow, but van Persie’s progress is encouraging, and with Rosicky in the box and Toure at back, I’m sure both offense and defense will benefit. Gilberto Silva should be moved up to midfield where he’ll be more effective. Baptista will be surely watched on out to see if he can offer any last-gasp miracles, saving which he won’t be at Arsenal next season as sure as little green apples.

As for our midweek game against Villa, I wasn’t too pleased with how it came about: surely one of the easiest goals in history. Diaby had just to do a touch on the through ball by Baptista for it to wrongfoot the keeper. Baptista must’ve been wishing he should’ve been on the wing there; he badly needs the goals. Anyways, it’s the win that counts and I wouldn’t mind trading in some of the beautiful-flowery-losing-football for some ugly wins. I badly want van Persie back in the box and Adebayor doing his runs. Baptista just doesn’t cut it for me; he looks lost out there.

Well that’s all the Arsenalysis I have today…more tomorrow on the Everton and Arsenal match. It kicks off on ESPN at 9.25 PM IST. Golspeed!

random post-post gripe: Why can’t I SMS ESPN the final scores for their game contests? I’m composing everything correctly yet it refuses to be sent; ordinary messages go through but 3776 seems to be guarded like Fort Knox. I’ve been right more than 3 times now; that too predictions made before kickoff! Am not happy 😦

Long time no post

It’s been some time since I posted; credit it to my starting a new job. It’s been 3 days now, and it’s a fairly good job as well. Got some lee time here, so might as well post my thoughts.

Arsenal finally won a match against Reading at home. With the squad being depleted, it was not going to be an easy game, but fortunately Arsenal managed to control the match throughout. The youngsters showed off their energy, if not their skill. The first half was full of chances, but they were too shaky in front of goal as usual; Fabregas missed probably the easiest goal of all time when Baptista passed the ball to him in front of goal with the keeper beaten. Not the best of performances for him as he went off with slunk head at the first half whistle.

Second half showed some more promise, and Clichy finally got the one Arsenal wanted when he made a superb Energizer-bunny ( hey Duracell, here’s your mascot! ) run into the box all the way from his half, and was tripped up. Clear penalty, and Gilberto made his captain’s strike true. You could hear the collective sigh of relief. The drama was not over yet though.

More chances by Arsenal, and Baptista got his first, if a sight ungainly, goal of the season when he managed to scuttle past his man by chance and the resulting shot just sneaked past the keeper. He deserved it though, from his earlier attempt when tripped up by the keeper, but the clear penalty was denied.

Arsenal then grew rather complacent later, giving the ball away rather easily, and Reading took them up on the offer with several good chances. A corner gave them one goal back with Fabregas reflexively touching the ball into his own net; you can tell he’s not going to be happy. Lehmann followed up with some saves though; he was screaming at the incompetence of Toure and Hleb, the latter making a lazy back pass which could have easily led to goal.

Arsenal did manage to hang on till the end and beat Reading, 2-1. The win should be a tonic against PSV, where we have to win 2-0.