Arsenal v. Villareal (1-1 agg)

Before we get started, please take a moment, close your eyes, head down.

Ok, that was for the 96 people who died at Hillsborough in 1989, certainly the most important moment in recent football history. A day that changed the way we all watch the game.

There’s no good way to segue from that so, let’s just get stuck in here with the football news.

First, did you happen to catch the insanity yesterday? 4-4 draw in the Chelsea v. Liverpool match? 7-5 on aggregate? No one could have predicted 12 goals over two legs, no one. I was able to watch some of it at work, where it just so happens that I can get ESPN 360, and honestly that match terrified me because it’s the exact type of game that Wenger is saying Arsenal will play today.

What’s scary about that is that as I was watching, first Liverpool scores 2 in a row and I start thinking “ok, so that makes them 3-3 on aggregate, but Chelsea has the away goals advantage” and then it hit me: a win puts Arsenal through, irregardless of the score line. 11-10? No problem, as long as Arsenal get the 11. But any draw above 1-1 puts them through and, of course, a loss by Arsenal puts them through as well. So, if Villareal score a goal, and especially an early goal, say a Pires goal in the 10th minute, then this match could turn into a goal fest.

I’m not saying this to freak you out, rather, well, rather because I’m already freaked out! and I need to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening.

So, we just have to win. Right? That’s all there is to it. My prediction is a 1-1 draw in regulation and that Arsenal win in the extra period 3-1. Also that Eduardo will nab a goal in there, somewhere.

As for lineups, I was fully prepared to predict that Song would start in defense, Diaby next to Cesc, and Silvestre would play at left wing-back but the boss squished that idea, specifically.

You don’t need a manager to pick the defence, Gibbs has no experience and Alex Song has not played a lot at centre back. But at least we can have someone close to Gibbs who has experience [in Silvestre].

So, Arsenal are playing a 19 year old at left back and a United reject at center back. OK, offensive lineup it is.

In that respect though we are in good shape; Eduardo is fit, Vela and Bendtner are on the bench, Adebayor is starting no matter what formation we use, Cesc is back, Theo has no knocks, Nasri has recovered from the flu, and Diaby is ready to go. The only question mark is Robin van Persie, who the boss (in the same link above) says is still suffering from a groin pull and will require a fitness test today to see if he can play.

The crucial thing about that is that I can’t predict the lineup without knowing if van Persie is fit.  I can give two options, though:

van Persie  Adebayor

Nasri   Song   Cesc   Theo

DEFENSE

or…

Adebayor

Diaby   Nasri   Theo

Song   Cesc

DEFENSE

Either way I can’t see Cesc playing in the hole since he isn’t match fit, we’ll need all the cover we can get for the defense, and when he played more forward this weekend it was nearly a disaster. I also think Wenger will favor Diaby on the left since it gives extra cover to Gibbs.

I’m sure you all disagree, please post alternate lineups to your heart’s content. One thing to consider in doing so is that Denilson has played every minute of the Champions League campaign. I considered it and still chose the lineups I chose.

Also, if Song, Nasri, Robin or Diaby pick up a yellow, they will miss the next game.

So, that’s pretty much it. There’s no word on van Persie and nothing on Senna either so what you have above is what we got. Kickoff’s at 11:45am and I managed to move my meeting so, I can be at Doyle’s. See you there, if you’re in town. If not?

UP THE ARSE!

Quickie

I have to take the ladies to the airport this morning so this is going to be a quick blog. I suppose you could just read my google reader links (see the toolbar on the side) but this is so much more fun!

First up, Marcos Senna — who is supposedly NOT playing tomorrow, has decided to take a swipe at Arsenal and Adebayor.

Adebayor didn’t impress me. I have scored more beautiful goals that that one. At my age and with everything I have seen in football, it is difficult to find a player who impresses me. Adebayor is a good player but you cannot say he is a superstar yet – he still has a long way to go before he reaches what Henry did for Arsenal.

No argument about comparing Ade to Henry from me. They aren’t the same player at all. The only thing I would say is that if Marcos Senna is underwhelmed by Ade, he should check out a match with Bendtner leading the line.

Also, I love the idea of Senna saying he’s scored a goal of Adebayor’s equal.

Not wanting to leave the rest of the Arsenal team without scrutiny Senna went on to say:

Arsenal have a very good, strong team, but they have not peaked yet, they are going to be better next year and better still the year after next, and will have a very strong team who could dominate in England or in Europe. It is not that they are easy to play now. You can see the potential, the talent and the quality they possess, but they are still growing. They lack a bit of experience, which is why they are behind Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

F5ck You, SENNA!!!>?!&&! How dare you talk about Arsenal in such an even handed and intelligent way???!?!?!

Wenger, meanwhile, is still a true believer having never lost his faith in this team. More details from Wenger’s were released on the dot com and I especially like the quote where he supposedly spoke to a fan.

I remember winning at Chelsea this year. When I left the stadium, this bloke came to me at the end and said ‘I am an Arsenal fan, good game, but I don’t think we are going to win the league with such a team!’ I told him: ‘You are not an Arsenal fan. You have just seen some 20-21-year-old kids in midfield beating the likes of Ballack, Lampard, Drogba and Anelka! Haven’t you got anything less negative to say?’ It is unbelievable that, nowadays, you can’t cheat people on the quality of football but you can manipulate their opinion.

Hey, I’ve heard that comeback “you’re not a real Arsenal fan” before. I wonder what it feels like to be a “true” Arsenal supporter? I guess I’ll never know.

Anyway, that’s your lot, time to take the girls to the airport. See you tomorrow for the surprise news that Senna is fully fit.

Bring 'em on

My whole family has been sick now for, what, two months? UGH… Now we have some sore throat thing which I have caught and the whole house is either on antibiotics or just suffering. Coincidentally, Arsenal’s luck of late has been exactly the opposite.

Anyway, there’s an article about Andrei Arshavin that’s being touted as “ARSHAVIN HATES ENGLAND” but it’s really not.  He complains a bit about life in England but who wouldn’t complain if they were taken from their family and living in a strange country with strange customs? My favorite bit is where he admits that all the laws in England get him down, because in Russia he’d just bribe someone and get stuff done. It’s a pretty remarkable bit of honesty and just makes me like the guy even more.

Meanwhile, Wenger is practicing honesty too and basically has gone about spilling his guts over this season. You can read several articles on the dot com (why they didn’t just make one big article, I don’t know) or read the News of the World article I linked to yesterday, which my friend Alex says is actually an interview with L’Equipe. I couldn’t find a link to the original but some web site called Bleacher Report had a link to a page image.

Ok, well, Arsenal face Villareal on Wednesday and the match is only on ESPN Deportes or Setanta. I have a meeting at noon on Wednesday, so I will only be able to watch the second half, if any at all. Villareal are still claiming that Senna is injured but I’m skeptical about it. Basically, I’m not believing any injury news until I see the lineup on Wednesday. I know, I know, it’s a bit paranoid of me, so?

That’s it for today, I’m going to get some sleep and write some code, then some sleep, and then some code. See you tomorrow.