Wayne to go, Rooney

Credit is due to Man U for keeping it together despite their back four being more like the back door. Kaka (i’m too lazy for the accents, pardon)  showed his stuff with two goals , one fed by the ever dangerous Seedorf, as usual. I like Seedorf as a player in that he’s the sneaky passer and playmaker, setting up the others with splenderiferous assists. Ronaldo gave Man U the starting whinny by making Dida back the ball into his net, and his twin awards  have done him good( three he says actually, one for the Most Beautiful Diving that reached him the same night ), but Milan was never to be denied their share.

Leave it up to Rooney, then, who doesn’t have Ronaldo’s ball gymnastics but can make the easiest of shots with ease…Boom, Boom  just like that. That too in injury time, followed by the inevitable Rooney-love. He’s the player to watch out for.

Now Man U simply have to not lose to progress, so say the English media. Err…it’s an away game for Man U next, so the ‘just’ isn’t as easy in San Siro. Milan are going to lay it on thick, and Man U will be happy to get a draw. And score at least 2 goals.

Chelsea and Liv’pool go head-to-head and that’s one been of the trash-talkiest matches with Rafa and Jose going at it…you can hear the hmphs ring.

All’s quiet on the Arsenal front. Cesc says he’d like to go to Spain once he finishes his contract with us. Madrid have some interest in him, but again all smokey speculation. Go Arsenal…zzzz.

Good boye Lehmann?

More than a week since I wrote the last post and so I figured I’d fire up ye olde blogge while I download some manga. Can’t say I was too happy with the Spurs draw a few days ago, but considering the way we were going in the first half, a 2-2 was beyond my expectations. Arsenal played beautifully for the most part – it was again a number of chances for us vs a few less for Spurs. Difference was, and a really great difference, that we scored off free kicks. Normally Arsenal free kicks have me heading to the kitchen for refills but this was different. Two free kicks, two goals – one cleverly snuck in by Toure, who deserves it after all his ceaseless running, and a header by Adebayor who finally got the ball under control to beat Robinson comprehensively.

Fabregas was magic as usual, although why Ljungberg played with his hamstring was a mystery and Arsene admitted his error after the match. We did come away with the draw, though we could have had the win but for our misses once again. What irks me is not the speculative attempts, but the goalmouth debacles. Eboue made a beautiful dribbling Sunday morning walk into the Spurs goal, tried to put it in at the far post, and the ball rebounds, and all Addy has to do is administer the tap o’love but he skies it from 10 yards out. Baptista of course has made a career out of missing and he managed to put a header wide with Robinson nowhere near. Was he attacked by a goal as a kid?

4-2 anyone? That’s the main issue; even if our defense concedes a few, our guys miss chances like Woods misses the three-inch putt. If our offense is firing on all cylinders, I would be willing to overlook the defense; with that many goals we could bring the keeper to tears. Speaking of defenses, Lehmann was pure lousy. I’ve been giving him the benefit of the doubt so far, but his keeping has undoubtedly deteriorated and he’s not the mad genius he was, just mad it seems. His antics at the corner were instrumental in the first goal, and what was up with the charge during the Spurs end rush? I don’t fault him too much for the second goal, that was pure Genas. Damn, I want Arsenal to score goals like that!

Anyways, it seems Arsene too didn’t like his performance much; for him to say it publicly means he’s really pissed. It’s a sign, I think, that Lehmann is not going to be with us any longer; a lot of names are being bandied about but we’ll have to wait for the dust to settle. Solid keeping at the back would give our squirrelly back four some confidence.

The title race is still hot, and it’s going to be entertaining all the way. Man U must win the next three games to clinch the title on goal difference, and Chelsea has tough games, one of them against us. We’re firmly in 4th spot with a 9-point lead over Bolton and Everton. Liverpool are 4 points ahead and look to be coasting for the remaining matches. Our only chance at 3rd spot is for us to win two more games than they do, so they need to lose two and we need to win all. Tough prospects, but it’s never over till Baptista sings.

And it’s on again!!!

as Arsenal got their mojo working yesterday. I’m still heady from the victory, so forgive me if this post sucks. It’s weird actually, after all that missing in front of goal, we managed to turn the corner and find the back of the net, not once, but twice. The hex has been broken, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re five points clear of Bolton, with a game in hand. We go up against Man City on Tuesday; but with this victory our guys have found their shooting boots and regained some much-needed confidence. They held Liv’pool to a draw yesterday; good news in that Liv’pool are now only 2 points ahead, so we could draw them if Middlesbourough hold them this Wednesday. The 4th place spot is fairly secure, while the 3rd spot is up for grabs if Liverpool stumble. Not a bad situation for us to be in; with their Champions League aspirations Liverpool aren’t going to have a smooth ride. No silverware for sure this season but with this young squad we can’t expect the world yet.

Maybe in a few years though. Fabregas finally showed his caliber with a level-headed strike yesterday; a cutting pass from Gilberto found him perfectly. His marker slipped and Cesc was almost through. A defender caught up immediately, but Cesc paused and waited for an eternity before shooting into the left corner… a clinical strike, which shows how much he’s matured. After all those heart-breaking misses, he finally found the mark and the crucial go-ahead goal. I think what made the difference was the willingness to charge, to be selfish and take it on ahead.

Soccer is a team game, but you need to have the courage to blaze ahead if you’ve got the opening. All of our guys were making those runs, and that made all the difference. It was a radical change; instead of passing the ball around and giving it up or missing, we made several incisive strikes. Again,it’s disappointing that we didn’t win by a larger margin; Diaby had a hat-trick of three missed opportunities. Yesterday, we showed that we’re dangerous ; nervy, but dangerous. Rosicky must be given full credit for his goal; he read the play and surprised Nicky Hunt, who had been defending perfectly so far, and booted it past Jaaskelainen for the equaliser. You could hear the sigh of relief as Arsenal ended the drought.

We did tend to give away the game towards the end; what was with the long clearances out of the box? Our defense had gone panicky; instead of trying to control the pace and bide our time the defense was praying for fulltime. It’s the same stuff that got us the loss at Everton; to the degree that Arsenal is routinely called weak on corners; at taking and giving. We really need to train heavily on set pieces.

All in all, an excellent performance. The defense was a bit weak; but our midfield has excelled and shown itself to be a chance-churning machine; if we had Henry or RVP we could have tramped on our opposition. Baptista is surely out by summer, and Cesc has silenced his detractors. Anelka is making overtures towards Arsenal. Ribery is still a possibility. Can’t wait for next season.

Ahh, life is good.

Some respite, but a long way to go

Well, we at least broke the hex that’s been dogging us. Not the never-score-a-goal hex, but its close twin never-score-a-goal-and-concede-one. I haven’t seen the game myself so this is going to be a short post. What I gather from the A.B.C. ( Arsenal Blogging Community) is that the game was rather lacklustre with neither side really going for it. So we didn’t play our trademark beautiful losing soccer, just some ugly drawing soccer. I have the suspicion that Arsenal badly wanted a draw rather than go for a win. Can’t argue with that, but thank Everton for drawing Bolton thanks to Vaughan’s strike in the second half, thanks to sloppy defending by Bolton. I’m thankful, as you can see, and so is Arsenal.

Our Champions League spot is still in the balance, and we’re scheduled for a home Bolton and an away Spurs game. Now I’m the optimistic, walk-on-clouds sort of Arsenal fan, but I’m not too enthused for the next two weeks…how are we gonna score goals? At this point I’ll even take Diaby’s lampard and Gallas’s groin push. How ’bout we give the Beast a pair of horns and make him head?

COME ON ARSENAL!!

We need a win bad

We need a win really bad. But it’s not just meant to be, it seems. I could blame Arsenal all I want, but in the end it’s just the same tired rhetoric over and over and over! The 1-0 loss to West Ham, a team that’s struggling to get out of relegation, was the pits. As usual, Arsenal played beautifully. I thought a 3-0 was not too inconceivable given the way we were playing. 5 shots on goal within the first five minutes, and even after that we kept testing and probing them. And they just had to get that one shot on goal in extra time of the first half to score, and held on to that to win. This is called winning, and Arsenal need to recall that feeling.

Adebayor is clearly not enough now because he can’t just convert. He can’t hit home…it doesn’t matter how good you running up to the box, if you don’t score all that time was wasted. Granted that Green played like King of Keepers today; but if you can’t put one in after so many runs, you deserve to lose. You can rely on your defense only so far; it’s the offense that has to work!! We’re a team that all others know how to deal with; defend like crazy in the first half as we attack, then play the long ball up the field and hope the striker beats Gallas or Toure or anyone, to put it into our net. Then hang back and stifle the counterattacks.

I know now that we only have a prayer of scoring if we break. Any built-up play is damn near useless; none of the midfielders can test the keeper with any long range strikes, nor can Addy or Baptista or Ljungberg put one in. Cesc came damn close several times but we don’t want to hear how the ball missed by inches anymore. Our strikes are either aimed at the keeper or at some spectator in the background. When was the last long shot that went anywhere near goal? Please, please however ugly it might be, we need some winning goals! Then again, not something as ugly as Gallas ushering in the ball at Liverpool with his groin.

I would be normally praising Arsenal for really beautiful soccer; the build-ups were poetry and for a moment it was like the Arsenal of old; a fast, hungry pack of predators running wild over the pitch. Ah, good times. I guess I have to thank our guys for showing me that. I think I’ll have to wait for the next season for all the clouds to pass.

Somebody remarked on Arseblog that our season died when RVP struck against Man U. Post-RVP, Season RIP. Heh. Couldn’t resist that.

Lots of news…

We have ho-hum weeks and then we have dynamite weeks, it seems. The Champions League has heated up with mixed results. Liverpool beat PSV Eindhoven as was expected, but 3-0? They just went to town on them and it’s as good as settled unless Alex manages to conjure up some miracle quartet of goals at Anfield. They’re on a roll at the moment and that promises good fights soon. Man U & Chelsea though got a few hiccups in their European adventure. AS Roma, always a strong side, beat Man U 2-1. If not for Rooney getting that all-important away goal, we could have safely ruled them out – as it stands, Roma need to score at least one and hold Man U to one, and it’s not gonna be easy. But against Man U it never is.

Chelsea too didn’t have the best of performances with Valencia scoring their away goal and Didier Drogba, as usual, saving Chelsea’s ass. He should get a medal for ass-saving at the end of the season. Maybe Mourinho could gift him one when he leaves? Now Chelsea has to score 2 aways to seal the tie. Would love to see them bite the dust but it’s Chelsea. They come through at the last moment so Valencia won’t be letting up till the whistle blows. Whoever wins, though, it’s gonna be fun.

As for us, it just doesn’t let up, does it? The Mirror and the Sun are all trumpeting Henry’s impending release to Barcelona in return for Eto’o. I don’t put much stock in rumors( last year, if you believed the papers, he had signed his soul over to Barca) so till Henry says he’s gone, it’s life as usual. As for the trade, if it actually occurred, I would be sad to see Henry go, but Eto’o would fit over with Addy nicely. So now on to the game against West Ham, and Arsenal have to win this. Eboue is out; no probs there, and Gilberto is back in; that’s a big relief. We sorely missed his presence at Liverpool and I don’t want to see Lehmann diving this way and that now that Gil’s here.  I’ve given up making predictions but as always, hoping for the Arsenal redemption.

Baptista to stay on for 10 years

In what is acknowledged as a great move by Arsenal manager Wenger, Baptista has been signed for a 10-year contract. Apparently, the fact that the Beast could miss from point-blank range against Liverpool yesterday convinced him that Julio deserves to stay at Arsenal. Arsenalysis caught up with the squad for this all-exclusive interview.

“That was the greatest miss I have ever seen. Only Fabregas’s miss comes anywhere near that! And it was Baptista who even gave him that chance to miss when he could have missed the goal himself! That shows me he’s the most unselfish of all the strikers.” raved Arsene.

Most of the players had no comments on this development. Gallas was not interviewed for want of time.

“He faltered a bit at the start when he scored those goals at Anfield earlier but now he’s adjusted to the Premiership and has started missing regularly. Having a player like him in the squad could benefit our young ones a lot! Among all our guns, he’s our cannon. No wonder he’s called the Beast. He’s so wild with his strikes!”

“Real can have Reyes forever. Look forward to hearing him roar throughout our next 10 seasons!”.

Any comments from the Beast himself? “Meow.”