Song 3-0 Burnley; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Arsenal cruised into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over Championship side Burnley at Emirates Stadium.

Setanta.com: Arsenal v. Burnley stats and ratings (linked for the fact they gave Eduardo the highest rating and all the comments are pro-Song!)

Telegraph: Try telling Eduardo the FA Cup has lost its romance. Even the swathes of empty seats at the Emirates Stadium could not detract from one of the season’s most emotive plot-lines: the road to Wembley has become a highway of healing for Eduardo.

Match Video

The Arsenalist has all the goals and highlights of Song v. Burnley — please click his sponsors or he will relapse.

Also, the Telegraph somehow put up a YouTube video of just Eduardo’s salsa/beach/stunner/cheeky goal it’s decent quality and I’m sure it will be taken down almost as soon as I link to it.

Falstaff of the Match

Eboue… no wait… Gallas… no wait… Song. Yes, it has to be Song. How well did he do? Pretty damn well actually. He hit 87% of his passes, had two assists, and even tracked back a couple times to make important saves.

It was a job well done and now he gets to take a couple weeks off.

Romeo and Ethel, the pirate’s daughter

Arsenal have now gone 17 in a row without a loss, have only allowed 1 goal in the last 8 matches, and scored 11 goals in those same 8; I think it’s safe to say that Arsenal are on a run.

More importantly, they are doing this without some of their biggest names, scrapping out 0-0 draws and banging in 3-0 wins is no mean feat when a team is missing key people like Cesc and Adebayor. In retrospect, some of us bloggers could have been a bit more circumspect in our criticism of the squad. They are gelling nicely and now that some key players like Eduardo and Theo are making their way back into the squad we are doing more than just holding on; Arsenal are scoring goals and finishing off their opponents with aplomb.

When Arsene signed Arshavin, most of us were clamoring to get a serious defensive midfielder and get rid of this on the job training program for Song and Denilson. But it turns out that creativity up front is exactly what Arsenal needed because that’s exactly what is opening opponents up, getting us out front, and from then on the game comes easy.

It was no surprise to me that Arshavin was the player who provided the ball for the opening goal. While he clearly lacks match fitness (fingers crossed this doesn’t lead to injury) this kid has vision, awareness, creativity, and the talent to put in the right ball. And though I think he’s leaning on his touch and creativity to make up for the fact that he’s running on one lung, it’s working and that’s all that matters. Arshavin, it turns out, was probably the perfect signing for this team.

This isn’t to take anything away from Carlos Vela! What a goal off that Arshavin pass! The youngster had blown a couple of chances in previous games and that goal was exactly what he needed to regain some confidence.

That said, I would expect a player like Vela to score audacious goals when he’s got a guy like Eduardo on the squad who is showing him the way. I mean, how does Eduardo even conceive to score a goal like yesterday’s stunner much less have the body control and touch to pull it off? Lots of people think that the reason Arsenal didn’t win the league last year was because we missed Eduardo. On the basis of yesterday’s goal, I’d have to agree.

And finally, Eboue (who’s name is no longer a curse) what can I say but good job, and keep up the hard work. After the match Arsene said “Usually when he (Eboue) gets in front of goal he loses his composure. I believe he needed that.” I would say that what makes Eboue frustrating is that he loses his composure all over the pitch, not just in front of goal. Maybe a goal is what he needed to gain some composure all over the pitch?

My own private Idaho

In the next round, Arsenal get to face Hull at home on the 17th, which if they win, sends us in to Wembley to face Chelsea for the semi-final.  We don’t want to look too far ahead, one game at a time and all that, but I am excited by the thought of this young team getting Cesc back and exacting some revenge on Chelsea for, I dunno, the Carling Cup final two years ago? Uhhh…. The fact that we beat them already this year? I dunno, but I want some revenge!

Also, if you’re planning a trip over to see Arsenal, check the fixtures list first, there’s a ton of matches coming up and some of the league play matches will be moved to accommodate the FA Cup and Champions League.

10 things I hate about Song

Slow, sideways passing, lazy, lacks vision, doesn’t close down opponents, lacks defensive awareness, one footed, can’t tackle, poor in the air, and not a team player.

Song has played 33 matches in all competitions for Arsenal this season and many of those matches have featured this player performing spectacularly poor. His performance in the North London derby will always be a black mark for me. Introduced in the 87th minute, in order to bolster the midfield, he instead lumbered around the pitch lost for two minutes as his marker (Jenas) dribbles around him and scores the goal that gave them belief. Fucking Jenas… outplayed by a polished turd like Jenas.

So, pardon me while I don’t jump on the bandwagon here quite yet. I’ve watched him very closely for 33 matches and while he’s had some decent performances, by and large he’s stunk the joint up and one good match against a Championship team that seemed to have given up after the first goal can’t erase the memory of 20 some odd real stinkers.

And yes, for the record, I am aware of the fact that he’s 1 inch taller than Denilson.

The Tempest

I’m only sorta kidding about the whole “now you get to take a couple weeks off thing.” It seems like every time I speak well of one of either Denilson or Song they come back in the next few matches and put in the kind of gormless performance that drives us all crazy. I’m really hoping this doesn’t happen because up next is Roma, in Rome, for the right to move on in the Champions League. Even if Totti, de Rossi, Perrotta, Cicinho, and Pizzaro are all out, Arsenal need a strong midfield pair to control the match.

I’m picking Diaby and Denilson as the strongest midfield pairing right now. In fact, I’m picking anyone plus Diaby as the strongest midfield pairing. Just look at the last 4 matches. Each time Diaby is either included from the start or introduced Arsenal look brighter on offense and stronger in defense. Against W.B.A. when he was introduced at half-time (and the Song/Denilson pair broken up) though they didn’t score, Arsenal looked real quality in attack and defense and went on to win 3-1.

That match happens on Wednesday and is currently not scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN here in the states, which means Setanta and Doyle’s.

Kickoff for that match is 12:45 PST and I’ll have a fuller match preview on Tuesday.

For now, we get to bask in the glory of a 3-0 win, Arsenal showing some real class, and several key Arsenal players coming back in to the squad providing fresh legs for what Wenger calls “the sprint” here at the end of the season. Arsenal are still alive in the Champions League, doing very well in the FA Cup, and just 3 points off 4th place Villa. So, despite some negative feelings hanging over about the team and our performances up till this point Arsenal are in a really good position to win a trophy for the first time in 4 years and silence many of us critics.

Hang on to your hats, kickers, it’s going to be a crazy run in.

Arsenal v. Burnley; liveblogging the FA Cup 5th round

bertie-bee

Good morning kickers, t-minus 10 minutes until kickoff and nothing to report. Just sitting here watching footballing fraud Gordon Ramsey take the piss out of a bunch of butchers.

More coffee needed!

Uhhhh, strange lineup: Eduardo up front (YAY!) and Diaby and Song partner in the middle.

Oh and Eb*ue on the right.

How much you want to bet Eb*ue gets a straight red?

2′ — Chris Eagles put’s in a nice cross defended sufficiently by Arsenal.

4′ — The camera pans to the Boss and I have to say Wenger looks tired, and old. This season seems to have taken a lot out of the man.

6′ — !!! Song makes a critical tackle as Burnley nearly break into the box. It was a stab at the ball, lazy tackling, and I thought for sure it was going to be a penalty but Song got the tackle 100% right. WHEW

9′ — Sagna has an audacious shot on goal, though to hear the announcers it was a cross. I’m giving benefit of the doubt to Sagna there.

12′ — Eb*ue earns a free kick and Captain Dudu puts in a decent effort from long range, just needed a touch from Vela and that was a goal.

13′ — Another important save by Song, man, he’d be great in the League Championship.

20′ — Arshavin dribbles from shoulder to shoulder and plays in a ball to Vela. I was hoping he saw just a glimmer of space and had a shot but as it turns out, Vela was wide open but the ball was played too hard and the attack fizzles out. Grumblings in the stands…. hmmm…

24′ — Just as the announcers were blowing smoke rings up Burnley’s ass, the Burnley defense makes a mistake, Arshavin latches on to it and plays a good ball in for Vela who nutmegs the defender and chips in a beauty over the sprawling keeper. Brilliant “Arsenal” goal.

30′ — The announcers mention the condition of the pitch, did you know that Arsenal lost thier head groundsman to Real Madrid? It’s true.

32′ — Am I the only one who thinks Diaby is putting in one of his typically lazy performances?

36′ — Loads of possession for Arsenal which was starting to lul me to sleep before Eduardo put in a good ball that nearly fell to Vela for his second. I wouldn’t have thought that the Vela/Dudu combo would be particularly effective but they seem to compliment each other nicely.

40′ — the stands clear out as everyone goes for a beer. I hadn’t noticed that about Eb*ue, Darkhail, I’ll have to watch. Arshavin with a third poor corner. Gods, Arsenal suck at corners, even Arsaviour cannot get them right all the sudden.

44′ — Burnley misses a golden chance as Fabianski comes for the ball and makes a hash of it. Every corner is aimed at Eduardo. A little bit more creativity there would probably result in another goal.

End of the first half and I do have to give credit to Burnley, they are attacking a bit more that I expected, clearly Arsenal’s latest results left the Burnley boss thinking they could come in to Emirates and get a result. Frankly, though, Arsenal don’t look likely to conceed unless they make another huge gaffe.

All right, 10 minutes of Hooters commercials and we’ll resume this.

Gorm, it’s not Eb*ue’s heart, it’s his head. He’d certainly be one of the fan favorites if he wasn’t clearly mental.

46′ — Second half kicks off and I choose Adebayor over Drogba. Because Adebayor is crazy but I could never see him giving fans the finger and tossing coins back into the crowd.

48′ — Beer and a “brat” is £7 and I’m pretty sure that it’s a no-drinks-zone in the stands.

49′ — THEO THEO THEO! The supporters are staying on the concourse and I don’t really blame them, it’s snowing.

51′ — I was just sitting here thinking, “Song has at least been trying to get the ball forward for once” when he suddenly plays a ball in to Eduardo who puts in one of the prettiest finishes I’ve ever seen from an Arsenal player, cheeky little volley. Lovely stuff.

Pure class.

Dudu is the shit.

55′ — 5 minutes for Arsaviour to get a goal. He hasn’t really looked threatening but still, comeonandreicomeonandreicomeonandrei

60′ — Burnley makes some subs, yawn. Which team are you going to see Matt?

63′ — Yeah, Matt, I’m not too excited that Wenger is leaving Eduardo, Diaby, and Arshavin on, all of them are struggling at the moment. Diaby in particular looks like he’s about to collapse. Either that or he’s back to just not caring.

67′ — words, eaten, as Diaby makes an important run back to stop the Burley counter after Gibbs gives the ball away. Theo and Rambo set to come on. Matt, Citeh, ‘Boro, and Stoke, those are the choices.

72′ — THEO THEO THEO!

78′ — Uhhh, the commentators are giving Theo shit for not being a good finisher. Come on, this is his first game back after the injury.

83′ — Poor decision from the linesman there… LOL EBOUE!!!

85′ — Aveline is crying, I gotta help out, I’ll remark if something good happens.

All right ladies and gents, good win, fun match to watch and next up in the FA Cup is Revenge of the Hull. More importantly it’s a great way to kick off Wednesday’s match against Roma.

I’ve got to get ready for 5 a side so I’m out of here.  Have fun out there today kids!

Arsenal v. Burnley Preview; Pesky Bees Want to Sting Arsenal Again

I've only got one thing on my mind

I've only got one thing on my mind

Arsenal are privileged to host a Burnley side who have harassed and kicked their way past Chelsea, Fulham, West Brom, Tottenham and (as we already know) Arsenal in cup ties this season. Burnley is a club that plays traditional English football which means that they takes cup runs very, very seriously play solid at the back, tackle hard, take their chances efficiently, and harass the midfield. Arsenal will need some steel to pry this match from their cold Lancashire hands.

When the Bees hosted a mostly first team Chelsea back in November, tempers flared and boiled to the point that Drogba lost his mind (it’s a small thing so it’s easy to lose) and not only gave Burnley supporters the finger, but even tossed a coin back into the crowd. It was a moment of madness, obviously, but indicative of how Burnley frustrate their opponents. Arsenal’s midfield will need to show composure and maturity if they are going to get past this club.

Against Chelsea, the Burnley defense weathered 22 shots while their offense managed just 4, but 4 was all they needed as they converted those few shots into the one goal that got them into extra time. Similarly against Arsenal in December, Burnley allowed Arsenal the lion’s share of possession and when presented with 7 chances converted them into 2 goals.

Compact, efficient, harassing, these will be some pesky bees indeed.

In December, Wenger had the excuse of playing children but he’ll have no such luxury this time out. Apart from first choice players Fabregas, Toure, and Adebayor, Arsenal have to be considered to have a full compliment of players. Wenger has already indicated that he will do some rotating; Fabianski will come in for Almunia and possibly seeking revenge for the 2-0 drubbing he took back in December. Arshavin is gaining match fitness and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t start since he is ineligible to play against Roma when Arsenal continue their Champions League campaign on Wednesday in Rome. Walcott is back and raring to go, look for him to come on in the 60th minute, possibly for Arshavin. Eduardo too has recovered from his hamstring injury but given Burnley’s style of play I’d be surprised if he gets a start — memories of the Taylor tackle will still be raw for the Crozillian and seeing the Burnley bullies bearing down on him might be too much. Wenger has to be aware of this and will more likely bring him on for van Persie if we need a goal late.

Of course that’s all guess work and one of the things that’s been “fun” about this season is waking up and seeing who Wenger will include in the lineup. I fully expect all of my logic to be upended and see some nutty lineup tomorrow.

Either way, Burnley are ready, with their boss Owen Coyle already plotting the post match handshake.

As hurtful as it would have been for him to lose in the Carling Cup Arsene Wenger was very complimentary and wished us well. I don’t think he will be wishing us well before the game on Sunday but I hope he is wishing us well after it. We are well aware Arsenal will have the bulk of possession and put us under pressure but I’m confident we can stand up to that. It is a different game on Sunday in that we are at the Emirates and they will have 55,000 behind them and we will have 5,000 but what a marvellous occasion to go and show you can play a bit.

I’m hoping that Arsenal show that they can play a bit as well.

Right, 6:30am (PST) kickoff and I’m going to be starting the live blog at 6:15am, so stop on by. See you tomorrow.