"I prefer to lead from the front — definitely"

So, I show up at Doyle’s and I’m there long enough to get some coffee and watch the minute of silence for Phil O’Donnell (the Motherwell player who died of a heart attack) when Russ comes up and starts b.s.ing with me about something. We’re chit-chatting when I hear a roar from the Emirates crowd and look up to see Dudu celebrating a goal. WTF? 90 seconds in and Eduardo has expertly chested down a perfect right foot cross from Cesc on the left channel: right foot, lower right corner, 1-0 to the Arsenal. That’s the way to start a match! And that’s the way to endear yourself to the Arsenal fans. I said last year that Arsenal need a poacher. And now 5 goals in three starts and it’s stating to look like they have one.

For the next 16 minutes West Ham had a few chances and were clearly up for the match, they were scrapping and tackling hard and generally winning the ball in the midfield. I honestly thought their big striker, Carlton Cole, looked likely to score but it wasn’t to be. Instead, on one of those decent possesions Clichy got the ball, evaded Cole and played a beautiful ball forward to Adebayor who, to be fair, was perfectly slotted in between the two central defenders. The two defenders beaten, Ade used his pace and guile to head the ball past a hapless and ordinary looking Green and then somehow caused the earth to rotate just enough to get a ball that looked as if it was past the end line to spin into the goal. You can see the video of it here (which I found at Arseblog and who he credits to 101 great goals) — stunning, mystical, magical. I dunno, breathtaking maybe? How else to describe it?

Sigh — of course this was followed up by some kind of stupid celebration between he and Eboue (video by the Arsenalist, who is an awesome source for post match videos). Let me say this now and be very clear: Eboue is my least favorite player on the squad. His antics on the pitch are a disgrace to the club. If he was playing at the same level as Adebayor I might forgive him but he doesn’t. He’s shit more often than not. To be fair, Tuesday’s match he looked very bright and tackled well, passed well, and kept the ball well. And he has his moments. But more often than not he is a cheat and a faker and possesses no footballing intelligence. Norman Hubbard says it in a much nicer way but still calls him one of the worst players of the season so far (right up there with Jonathan Woodgate, yeesh, he’s not THAT bad!). This dance thing just adds to my dislike of the man. Applaud the fans, kiss the Arsenal badge, and get back on the pitch and play football.

Sorry about that. Eboue just chaps my ass.

The rest of the match looked good: Arsenal played the ball around, Cesc had a few shots on goal (good to see him looking to score again), Theo looked bright and had a poor shot, and basically they killed West Ham off. The sad moment of the match came when Freddy limped off at half time. What a drag it is getting old.

Speaking of Eboue, he’s one of three players we’ll be “missing” for the African Cup of Nations; Eboue, Song, and of course Toure. Song is the surprise of the three as I haven’t rated him too highly even though he had his best, albeit very shaky, performance in the Carling Cup last outing.

That leaves the squad with Senderos and Djourou (and I suppose Gilberto) to partner with Gallas at the back. Senderos looked fantastic in the Champion’s League last season so let’s all raise a pint in hopes that he can regain that form under the careful tutelage of Bill Gallas.

We’ll find out on Sunday when Arsenal take on Burnley in the FA cup. The match kicks off at 6 am PST on Fox Soccer Channel here in the states. If you don’t have Fox and you live in Sunny Tacoma, WA you can catch the match for free at Doyle’s Public House.

Finally, in the transfer market Arsenal are tipped to get Luke Freeman from some screaming, bald, toothless guy. Just what they need, another striker. Maybe Wenger can magic him into a center back?

Until tomorrow, here’s to you, all my non-existent readers! Happy New Year!

8:53am Update…

Arsenal Wallpaper is up on their website.