29 October 2007

Liverpool 1 - 1 Arsenal

Francesc Fabregas (80)

Coming off our 7 - 0 rout of a 'shell shocked' Slavia Prague and given Liverpool's current form ( a 2 - 1 loss to Besiktas on the 24th, 1 - 2 win against Everton on the 20th, 2 - 2 draw with Tottenham on the 7th and 0 - 1 loss to Marseille at home) I was rather confident The Arsenal would be able to clinch all 3 pts up for grabs in this fixture. Forget that our away record at Anfield is not the best; the last time we had a victory at Anfield in the PL was October '03 and our most recent defeat (4 - 1) was in March of this year ( I can still hear my friend all the way from Nigeria enthusiastically screaming down the phone ... ) I was encouraged by our current form. The lads seemed to finally be getting the hang of playing great football and (most importantly) getting the results. Its not one or the other.

No internet streaming for me today, FSC showed the game live. Yippee! 5 mins to kickoff and I noticed that Lehman made the sub list. After all that smack he has been talking? Theo 'Okada' Walcott was on the bench as where Bendtner, Gilberto and Diarra AW decided to play Adebayor upfront with Cesc, Flamini, Hleb and Rosicky in the middle and Clichy, Eboue, Gallas, Sagna and Toure in the defence. The 'Nordic' Spaniard was in goal. Why play Adebayor alone upfront? I wondered. It soon became clear. Rafa had Alonso, Gerrard and Cesc's Shadow Mascherano in the midfield all of whom are quite adept at breaking up attacks hence no room for our usual 50 passes en route to scoring. With those 3 behind Kuyt, Torres and Voronin, I see Rafa planned to keep us occupied at the wrong end of the field. 7 mins into the match, Fabregas fouled Alonso at the edge of the box and a free-kick was awarded. Captain 'G' delivered a blistering volley, so hot it cleared a space in the wall (Flamini! Irregardless, though contract renewal please) just large enough for the ball to pass through and end up in the net. We where a goal down, (there goes my 3 pts for this match on FaceBook, of course I called a win with a clean sheet) My friend with whom I was watching the match had to comment on how calm I was, all cross legged on the couch (see he had previously observed me watching an Arsenal game, the Fulham game I believe it was, I was on my feet in front of the tv the whole time and by the end of the first half I was in need of Tylenol) "This is what the 2007/08 Arsenal side has elevated me to" I replied. "We have consistently been able to come from behind to win our fixtures this season" I inform him, "I am not worried see I am as confident as a turkey that the 3 pts are in the bag". Yeye boy just had to throw sand in my garri, "Not against the rest of the 'Big 4', you have no such record against them." [Picture me sulking for like 30 secs] This is our first 'Big' game in the PL this season true, and the outcome of this game is oh so crucial yeah we need to maintain our unbeaten record but also irregardless of the advantage of a game in hand, Man U are snipping at our heels and they are next up for a trip to the Emirates, next weekend to be precise. The high of a win coupled with the advantage of our home turf (fans and all) is really much needed. Its early yet, I believed the lads would come through and get the result. I had to wait 63 mins before The Arsenal drew level. Hleb's pass on the left arrived just in time in Cesc' path and he tucked it away in the net behind Reina to make the scores 1 - 1. The win eluded us with Cesc finding the lower post and Bendtner blazing the ricochet over the bar. Sigh. I was a little disappointed when the referee blew the final whistle. I believe we could and should have taken all 3 pts from the game. I have seen the team as a whole play much better and although they still managed to dominate the game (especially in the 2nd half) this fact worries me, are we peaking a whole month ahead of the Christmas break? I don't think so. Anyway you look at it that was some quality footy at Anfield on Sunday. Eboue was up to his apparently usual 'gamesmanship' (word of he day) antics. I am thinking perhaps AW should have started Walcott instead of Rosicky ... the Professor knows best, and Cesc was quite quiet, I guess its not easy lugging around such a 'heavy' shadow. Anyways, the 1 point was sufficient to put us back on top of the table ahead of Man U, that and a better goals scored tally. We face Sheffield on Wednesday in the Carling Cup at Bramall Lane and then Man U on Saturday at The Emirates. I expect to see a really confident side against Man U on Saturday, and I hope the lads will make a better job of capitalising on their chances, we won't have the luxury of squandering them. I am sipping on my Coke, no ice ...

22 October 2007

Arsenal 2 - 0 Bolton

Ore darlin', this one is for you.

Kolo Toure (68)
Tomas Rosicky (80)

Again, I had to content myself with monitoring the match on MatchCast from Soccernet.com. Aargh! I am this close to junking my TWC service and signing up with DirecTv.

I was just releasing my breath (held over the duration of the international week), thankful that we managed to come through unscathed as per injuries (save for Senderos, but Gallas was back so we had that covered) when I saw this pix and later read that RvP would be out for a month. Damn. After I calmed down I realised that RvP's absence was not necessarily a bad thing what with Adebayor, Eduardo, Hleb, Bendtner and of course Walcott. This is not the Arsenal of two seasons ago, the fact that RvP is out really means nothing, we have several pple capable of scoring goals in the attack, midfield, even defence ;) (we all know Lehman can assist, even score goals, now if we can only get him to understand that he needs to go across the field, avoid 11 players from the opposing team and put the ball net ...) Speaking of Lehman, it would be a shame if he is going to end his career in goal for The Arsenal on this note. Wenger refused to list him for the Bolton game after he declared him fit and match ready ( he was in goal for Germany) He has been talking a lot of smack lately and its not like his injury, time out wasn't legitimate. He really should keep his flapper closed and concentrate on getting his 1st place jersey back the right way - proving he is worthy to the coach. Almunia has served well in goal due in part to the excellent work the defense is doing in front of him, and by defence I mean Flamini (1 contract renewal coming up).

Bolton had earlier sacked little Sam (of the orange crate in the Bolton dressing room fame). I was not surprised to hear this, I was not pleased though. It seemed little Sam's desire to actually play football was the reason Bolton seems to have wandered into the bottom 3 and apparently made camp next to the site they had broken ground on to erect a magnificent edifice. Little Sams departure could only mean that for sure Bolton would revert to their old way of doing things, being a pack of dirty, time wasting shitkickers with 11 men behind the ball as often as possible. (according to arseblog.com)

The stats on Matchcast were like astounding; 19 shots (with 9 on goal), Bolton managed 1 shot (none on goal); 65% possession for Arsenal while Bolton had 35%. They did make good use of their possession with 20 (14 for us) fouls and 5 yellow cards (1 for us). Going by these stats I must say I am disappointed that we only scored 2 goals (and to read about Adebayor's theatrical collapse right in front of goal does little to quash it.)

Toure opened scoring in the 68th minute form a freekick 25 yards out (many thanks to Ivan Campo for fouling Cesc). Hleb fed Walcott who by the way is making Wenger teary eyed with his performance in recent weeks, who made a cross across the area for a fit again Rosicky to turn in at close range in the 80th minute. 90 mins and its 2 -0 to The Arsenal! 3 points in the bag, still sitting pretty at the top of the table. Go Gunners!

We have a busy week ahead; we play Slavia Prague at home on Tuesday in the CL, Liverpool on Sunday at Anfield and Sheffield Utd on Wednesday at Bramall Lane on Wednesday.

07 October 2007

Arsenal 3 - 2 Sunderland

Robin Van Persie (7)
Philippe Senderos (14)
Robin Van Persie (80)

We are doing well this season, coming from behind and getting the result. My loyalty to the team astounds me. I had had a late night and (maybe too many screwdrivers) went to bed at like 3 AM and the match was to start 4 AM my time. I set my alarm and hoped for the best. I did wake up but alas the good fortune I had last week with my internet stream/feed eluded me. I had to content myself with MatchCast on Soccernet.com to monitor the scores, and the highlights on FSC later in the day. I just saw the highlights. Great freekick by RvP in the 7th minute. Senderos scored his 3rd goal for The Arsenal (in 92 appearances) off a failed backheel attempt from Diaby. In the 19th minute it would have been 3 - 0, Hleb (oh how I love thee) made a cross from the right which Fabregas missed but Diaby was on hand to bury beautifully. Imagine my surprise to see the linesman's flag up, offside?! Omo I look de replay well well, nothing like dat, Fabregas was onside as was Diaby when the Hleb crossed the ball, abi the linesman mistake Sunderland defender for Arsenal attacker? God dey. We looked set for a walk through the park at this point and then Sunderland begin to come back from the dead. A long ball forward from Dwight York ( I was just reminiscing about his ManU days and fantastic partnership with Andy Cole the other day) was controlled by Jones who beat Clichy but was denied by Almunia. The loose ball bounced back and was controlled by Wallace who easily found the back of the net since Almunia was not on his line. Jones leveled the score with a brilliant header just at the beginning of the second half. Arsene subbed out the right side (Theo Walcott in for Diaby, Eboue for Sagna) and Hleb switched flanks. Time to grind out the result. In the 80th minute, RvP scored off an effort from Walcott who perhaps redeemed himself on the howler he had had a couple of minutes before.

Apparently this match was no walk in the park for Arsenal, kudos to Roy Keane and the lads from Sunderland, The Arsenal still rules though ;-)

Next up we face Bolton at home on the 20th

03 October 2007

Steaua Bucuresti 0 - 1 Arsenal

Does anyone know how these cable channels decide which matches to show? Espn is yet to show an Arsenal game in the current CL champaign! Well thats not exactly true, they did show our first game albeit delayed on ESPN Deportes ... is there somebody I can petition so I can watch more Arsenal games legitimately?

From all reports we played okay, the most important thing being we secured the 3 pts at stake. This seems to me to be our biggest achievement this season thus far, getting the result. I am happy.

I saw the second half of the ManU vs Roma game. Of course Roma was determined to not succumb to another 6-1 routing, while ManU were determined for a repeat performance. They eventually succeeded in securing the 3 pts at stake in the 70th minute with a really good strike from Rooney.

I was on the phone with Princess on Saturday after the Arsenal match. She asked what I had been up to and I was like I watched the game, we won etc etc. 'O which reminds me' she says, 'I have been seeing boys hawking football club stickers, I want to buy Arsenal sticker for my car.' Why? I asked, 'To support the team I know you love and also to remember you' How sweet! I am thinking and I actually begin to blush when it occurs to me, you mean there is a time in the day when this woman is not thinking about me? You mean she actually needs something to jog her memory!?

01 October 2007

West Ham 0 - 1 Arsenal

Robie Van Persie (13)

I was up at 6:30 am, helpless cos FSC was not showing the Arsenal match, delayed or otherwise (they showed the Chelsea - Fulham and the Man U - Birmingham matches instead, wankers!) Logged on to my computer and was pleased to see that Man City was winning 2 - 1 against Newcastle in the 83rd minute. Correct I called a 2-1 win so my 3 pts were practically in the bag (I was very pissed when Elano scored, 2-1 is afterall a win, why did he feel the need to score another goal? did he not know I also had 3 pts at stake? Over-eager son-of-a- ....) For some reason I started messing about with the streaming application I installed last month or so (God bless U Chxta) and lo and behold I heard the in studio commentator ask viewers to hang on for the live broadcast of the Arsenal match! Yes!!! I quickly got my head phones out.

We don't exactly have a stellar record against West Ham, certainly not away to them, and we did lose to them twice last year so Understandably I was quite nervous. The fact that we have been playing quite well, winning two of our matches so far coming from behind (truly indicative that our goal and fold attitude was surely a thing of the past) did calm my nerves a bit, but then again this IS football.

You could tell that West Ham came to this match secure in the knowledge that the 3 pts were theirs for the taking. The first 10 mins was quite hectic, and Adebayor's failed attempt at goal in the 3/4th minute had me clutching my pillow. 8/9 mins later Adebayor held on to the ball and made a quick pass to Hleb on the right who crossed it across goal. Van Persie intercepted it with his head and we where a goal up. That seemed to calm down the Hammers a bit. Although they did take their revenge via a rather scary tackle on Hleb by Noble which left Hleb clutching his knee howling for his mummy (slight exaggeration). He had to be stretchered off and Arsene not wanting to take any chances (the guy just came back from a knee injury) broke the 70 min rule and subbed Hleb out for Eboue in the 31st min. Van Persie would have made it 2-0 soon after but for the interception Greens fingers provided. I think the goal line would have been very different if not for Robert Green who made many an impressive save during the course of the game. He was really the man of the match for the Hammers.

I was quite impressed with Flamini (contract renewal please), he effectively choked supply to Ashton and Camara. This is not to say the English man didn't have one or two impressive shots on goal, I am happy to report that Almunia was on hand to receive everything he had to dish out.

Freddie Ljunberg was on the prowl to score against us and 9 mins into the second half he did manage to slot one in although (thankfully) it was ruled offside, why? I don't know perhaps the Big G was a Gunner on Saturday? I like Freddie and all that, even after all the smack he was talking about the club about the time he left, and I want him to score against us, just not when said goal woulll mean us sharing the points or worse leaving empty handed! I was amused at the 83 minute substitution for the Hammers (L Boa Morte for L Bowyer) perhaps flooding the pitch with ex-Arsenal players would do the trick? Na final whistle signalled the 3 pts in the bag, We still reign at the top of the tables. Of course we have Man u and Man City (interesting) nipping at our heels, but I think we have everything under control.

We will be away to Steaua Bucharest tomorrow as per our CL champaign and we will be meeting Roy Keane and his lads on Sunday.

How could I forget to mention the rugby
, basketball, volleyball, handball, american-football … amazing score line that Portsmouth achieved against Reading? I was as usual multi-tasking (watching the Arsenal game on my laptop, watching the Chelsea game on on mute on tv, keeping tabs on the score lines for all the other games via soccernet) I didn't really pay much attention to the scores from the Portsmouth/Reading game until like the 81st minute when my jaw promptly dropped at the scores (at that time it was 6-3). Only for me to blink and see 7-4, wonderful! Apparently that game set a new record for number of goals scored in a premiership match (the prior record was 10 goals)

Also all I can say re: the 2nd yellow card against Drogba is, haba! The guy seems not to realise he is not in the chorus line for a broadway show. That was a very high kick, if for nothing else for the sake of the 'family jewels' he shouldn't be kicking like that o!