Despite contracting an illness that is nigh unspeakable and even a trip to the hospital to get a shot in the ass which staved off the nausea long enough to get some fluids in and watch the tape of Arsenals’ 6-1 win over Everton, I had a wonderful day yesterday. Such is the sickness of being an Arsenal fan.
The day started as inauspiciously as possible, I was awoken with a rumbling in my stomach and immediately went to the bathroom to empty the contents — that was 3:30 am. 6 hours before The Arsenal played Everton, ugh, what’s going on?
I sat on the couch with a glass of water and switched the television on to ESPN2 in high def, to check the listings to see if the Chelsea v. Hull match was listed; nope, huntin’ and fishin’ as far as the eye could see. Crap.
So, I waited and watched a turkey hunting show, well it was some kind of cross between huntin’ and NASCAR, very strange, but hey, I found out that Bass Pro Shops have a kick ass camo shotgun on sale for $1000! I need that, for, erm, turkey huntin’.
So, I waited, drank some water and waited until 4:30am, watching various huntin’ shows, when suddenly coverage switched from huntin’ to EPL… in High Definition. WOW. Yeah, I was watching Chelsea and Hull and no one wants to do that, but the high definition broadcast was as cool as it gets. For us Arsenal fans in North America this means that we’re going to get to see the first North London Derby (on October 31st) for free on ESPN2 in high definition. Very cool, I may even get up early every weekend and watch their broadcast, hell, the commercials for bass fishin’ and shotguns are a change of pace from the Upgrade and Wallbangers commercials.
The coverage was good too, I know a lot of fans were worried that the usual ESPN crews would be covering the color and play by play but it sounded like the Sky Sports guys to me, if anyone wants to clarify who was covering the match I’d be much obliged.
Anyway, that’s all just icing, the cake itself would happen at 9:30am.
As I’ve said before, I don’t do match reports, other folks do that better than me and if you want a match report you should click on over to ESPN where they’re saying “Gunners Crush Tottenham” or over to the Telegraph where the lead is “A summer of whispering doubt, silenced.”
And if, for some crazy reason, you missed the match, you can head over to the Arsenalist who always has the highlights.
What I usually do is a Good, Bad, and Ugly and a man of the match. Why break with tradition now?
Man of the Match
Sometimes this can be a controversial pick, but I’d be shocked if today’s MotM was anything less than unanimous: Cesc Fabregas. All he did was have a hand in 4 of the 6 goals scored while doing a fine job captaining the team. It’s only the first game and I’m not trying to get too high on anyone just yet, but Cesc looked like he had a good spring in his step and seemed to be organizing the boys very well. Obviously, the true test of a captain is when he’s faced with adversity but the young man has done well here.
There were so many goods yesterday it’s hard to pick out just one or two, so I’m going to limit it to just three: Vermaelen, Song, and Bendtner.
In Vermaelen (TV5 from now on) Arsene has found his dominant aerial player and actually his heading seems to be contagious. I have to wonder if the squad’s lack of heading ability the last few years hasn’t been down to just not being brave enough. Vermaelen doesn’t seem to suffer that affliction and gets his head in in places that normal guys wouldn’t dare. Maybe it’s just a perception on my part but it seems like everyone was getting “head in” on every play. Maybe Wenger worked on it? Maybe Vermaelen is an inspiration at 4’11″ or whatever he’s supposed to be? But whatever the case the whole team was amazing in the air. His goal was just a bonus.
Song seems to have picked up another aspect of his game, man marking. Ok, well, maybe Wenger’s the one who picked that up, but whatever the case Song simply marked Felliani out of the game. Song didn’t win every header, you can’t expect him to, but he did fight and tussle, and basically took Felliani out of the game. Moyes didn’t seem to know what to do. It was as if he came with one plan, “Arsenal aren’t good in the air,” and when Song and Vermaelen neutralized that attack, Everton didn’t know what to do. Meanwhile, Song simply did his job, broke up plays, and then started the attack with a neat pass to the captain. It was the kind of performance that he was putting in regularly at the end of last season and there’s no reason why we can’t expect more from him this year.
Bendtner had a lot of question marks hanging over him this year, especially about his ability to score goals. But I think we saw what we should expect from the big fella this year; he’ll be some kind of wing-ish, attacker, hold up player. Seriously. It’s strange to see a big man on the wings, receiving a long ball, holding up play, and then moving it on to a marauding midfielder. The commentators noted that they’d never seen a big man deployed on the wings and I’d have to agree with them. It was strange but it worked and it worked because, unlike some other tall feller I could name Bendtner put in a massive work rate yesterday. More than once, Everton tried to exploit space behind Sagna by passing a long diagonal there and then bringing in their own player into the space that opens in midfield, only to be thwarted by Bendtner patrolling the midfield. If he can do all that AND be a target man I think a lot of folks will be very happy with him this year.
I really wanted that clean sheet. I wanted it so bad that I started getting nervous at the end ofg the match, kind of like I was watching a 1-0 lead in the FA Cup or something. Not quite, but still you get the point.
Plus I hate messy, scrambling, goals. Unless we score them.
The only ugly yesterday was the fluids coming out of all my orifices (HA HA POOP THREAD). But I did wonder why the Everton folks were booing Cesc?
As much as anything, this game was a signal to the league. It’s pretty clear that this team felt like they had something to prove yesterday, from their defense in the air, to their slick passing, and shots from distance they took every criticism that Arsenal have suffered these last two years and turned it into a strength. How well they’ll be able keep that up will be the tale of the season.
I haven’t seen Arsenal beat Everton this badly since the 7-0 win that immediately preceded the FA Cup which marked Arsenal’s last piece of silverware. On that day, it was a masterful 34 year old Dennis Bergkamp who won man of the match, today it was the 22 year old Cesc Fabregas. One has to wonder if the torch of the old invincibles hasn’t been finally extinguished with the departure of Toure, and a new torch lit yesterday. 37 more games will tell, for now, I’m basking in this one glorious victory, the day when Arsenal’s season started perfectly.