Liveblogging Barnet v. Arsenal

Good morning!

Holy crap, I’m excited, and it’s just a pre-season match. I have the stream up, the commentators are already blah blahing about what they will talk about at half time and kickoff will be underway in 10 minutes, just time to fry an egg!

Back in a sec…

6:55am Latest on Adebayor is that he flew to Manchester for a medical. I reckon if he could fly to Manchester he’s fit enough, isn’t he? Also, why was he holding out on us, I mean we could have used someone who could fly to knock out some of those corners on defense.

6:57am Well in, MATT! Yes, “he’s (Rosicky) like a new signing innit?”

7am Well, already bad news… they’re wearing the Yankees away kit.

Here’s your starting XI: Almunia; Djourou, Gallas, Vermaelen, Silvestre; Wilshere, Randall, Frimpong, Rosicky; Arshavin, Watt.

Interesting.

7:06 — I can’t tell where Vermaelen is playing but Djourou is at RB and the announcers said that Silvestre is at LB, so CB partner with Gallas?

Must be, Frimpong is playing holding midfield.

7:09 — got it now, Rosicky is playing in Cesc’s role, Arshavin is up front, and Randall is mopping up in midfield. Doing a good job of it too, put in a good tackle a few moments ago.

7:12 — Sanchez Watt gets a great low cross on a counter from Arshavin knocks it down one time and clips in a left footer, nearly went in made the keeper work there!

One other thing to mention, Vermaelen is good in the air, he’s clearing most things — except that last corner there!

7:19 — Not much happening, a bit of back and forth, I will say that when they get the ball settled and Rosicky starts the counter, Arsenal look amazing. Rosicky made a great pass into space for the runner, who returned the ball to him and he was wide open, but the keeper smothered him. Too bad the end product wasn’t there, it would have been nice to see Thomas get a goal.

7:24 — I swear to the gods that I’m going to count the number of headers that Vermaelen wins, it’s pretty incredible. Not much going on at the moment, Arsenal’s attack keeps petering out because, well, because Arshavin’s being a bit lazy.

7:27 — Randall puts in a rash challenge, from behind, after getting dispossesd for being slow to move the ball on. Should have been booked there, doubly so for tackling a 40 year old!

7:31 — Still 0-0, Barnet’s holding a high line and we really should be picking them apart, but they are battling hard in the midfield and denying our midfield players time to create. Randall is having a bit of a rough stretch. As good as he looked at the start he looks terrible now.

Matt, there’s a button at the bottom, right of the screen that plays the video full size.

7:38 — Not much going on, 10 minutes left in the half and everyone’s looking a bit jaded. I think I saw Vermaelen miss a header…

And as for the players looking fat, I think it’s the new kit, Gallas looked preggers when he walked out. Now, maybe he’s been doing nothing but smoke cigs and drink lager for the last month but I doubt it.

7:44 — Wilshere makes a great run down the left flank, dribbles in and lays off to Arshavin, who switches to Rosicky wide right, one-two and his left footed shot is wide. Rosicky looks pretty strong, he’s had some good challenges (given and taken) but just rusty. That’s what pre-season is for, right?

43′ — Goal! Arshavin pokes home a good cross from Sanchez Watt after another run down the left flank. Clinical finish. The announcers are right to mention the movement of the other players to draw the defense apart.  Good play from Arsenal.

46′ — Goal Barnet. Randall gives up a stupid free kick and no one deals with the set play. Yakubu outjumps Gallas for the header and puts in a nice goal. This is a familiar refrain from the Arsenal…

Half Time…

Half-time analysis:

Vermaelen — The communication between he and Gallas isn’t quite there, but then they’ve only had a week to practice. He wins pretty much every header, except the one that Barnet put in to Gallas. His pace hasn’t been tested yet so we’ll have to see if he’s got the wheels. I think many people will be surprised by his size when they see him; he’s smaller than I expected.

Rosicky — The only effect I’ve seen from his injury is that his shots are off. He’s tackling well, he’s been tackled hard and gotten right back up, and he’s running just fine. I like him in the Cesc role.

Randall — He’s a crap.

Watt — good player, lots of movement, fun to watch and bagged the assist with a delightful cross.

There’s a whole ton of changes at the half, the announcers said that only Vermaelen will continue! I’ll have that lineup in a sec.

  • Sub: Emmanuel-Thomas on for Watt
  • Sub: Simpson on for Arshavin
  • Sub: Barazite on for Rosicky
  • Sub: Henderson on for Frimpong
  • Sub: Coquelin on for Randall
  • Sub: Sunu on for Wilshere
  • Sub: Cruise on for Silvestre
  • Sub: Ayling on for Gallas
  • Sub: Eastmond on for Djourou
  • Sub: Mannone on for Almunia
  • Vermaelen is captain.

    8:05 — Second half is underway, I’m excited to see JET in midfield. Barazite has a shot deflected and calls for handball. He likes scoring in this competition having done so in each of the last two.

    8:10 — HOLY CRAP… Barazite scores a magnificent goal, right footed curling into the side netting, unstoppable. The whole buildup was mouth watering. These kids were moving the ball around, basically at will, playing keep-away from the Barnet players.  Classic Arsenal.

    8:15 — 40 year old Paul Furlong is giving Arsenal’s defense nightmares in the air, this can’t be happening, can it?

    8:17 — Gianni, if you do run around the office with the shirt over your head, have someone take pictures. Barnet has stepped up the pressure and closed down space, Arsenal struggling to string together passes now.

    8:20 — 60′ Barnet subs 5, who cares?

    8:25 — Vermaelen plays a dangerous cross over the bar, bit of desperation there from the captain…

    8:30 — Yawn… Nothing going on, lots of passing from both clubs, no real teeth.

    8:35 — Come on boys, 15 minutes, put in some work here and get a third goal. Everyone is playing lazy right now, which plays into Barnet’s hands, they just need a free kick to score…

    8:40 — Coquelin wins the ball in midfield, passes to Jay E-T, who slots to Simpson. His early shot is blocked and the resulting corner dealth with by Barnet.

    8:42 — Arsenal defense is a shambles and Barnet get an ugly, ugly, ugly, goal. 7 minutes left and Arsenal come right back with a shot on goal… I guess the plan is to outscore our opponents.

    8:47 — Come on boys… 3 minutes, play hard for three fucking minutes.

    8:50 — That’s it, match ends 2-2, Arsenal have never allowed Barnet to score 2 on them. I know it’s only a pre-season friendly but the defense clearly needs some work, especially from set pieces. Hopefully, Wenger sees that.

    Right, see you lads tomorrow, we might have some news on the Adebayor situation, or maybe Arsene will buy 15 new players.

    1 would be nice…

    Barnet v. Arsenal Preview: it’s just a friendly but it’ll have to do

    He's not human. He's like a piece of iron.

    Whelp, here we are, the brink of another season and the Arsenal find themselves facing a familiar opponent to kick off the pre-season friendlies; Barnet. After that, Arsenal will string together a series of matches 3-4 days apart as Arsene Wenger puts his team through their paces and prods the players to see where they fit best. All the while bringing along a smattering of youth players to test their mettle against these, let’s face it, lesser teams.

    But first up, Barnet, those pesky bees. Well, they haven’t been all that pesky to be honest, more of like a cute little bumblebee bumbling along from clover to clover. But they are a gracious host and as evidenced by their web site, they love having Arsenal come out and play, even if they do lose pretty much every time.

    Leading up to the match, nearly every Arsenal player has been interviewed (Arshavin, via Gunnerblog) over the last few days and they are all really excited for the season and ready to kick this year off better than last (Almunia, via the dot com). That’s perfect, I think they lost focus at the start of last year and overlooked teams like Fulham so, making sure that they are all on the same page and up for the task from the onset is absolutely crucial if Arsene is going to see this youth project of his pay off. A good win tomorrow will send a very clear message that Arsenal are focused on the season.

    The club announced the squad today, and I’m excited for the opportunity to see Thomas Vermaelen in his first action for the club. There’s been a lot of speculation that he’s going to be Arsenal’s midfield hard man and given Arsene’s track record in transforming players I wouldn’t be surprised by that at all. Still, if he just plays at center back then that too will be just fine: top quality depth at that position was lacking at the end of last season with injuries forcing Wenger to use Silvestre in crucial matches and that proving fatal to Arsenal’s season. So, even if he’s just cover for Gallas and Toure and he’s half the quality that Wenger usually spots, then he will be a welcome addition indeed.

    The other player that everyone is talking about is Thomas Rosicky. Our little Mozart has been out for what seems like a dog’s year but he’s supposedly ready to go. Cesc gave an emotional interview in which he described Rosicky as a great footballer, a great friend, and a man with nearly unparalleled perseverance. I say “nearly” because I think Eduardo would give him a run for his money in that category. I am absolutely stoked to see Rosicky back in action, his width on the right, crosses, and ability to get by defenders was missed last year. Welcome back, Thomas, here’s to you being 100%.

    Also included is Andrei Arshavin and I’ll be expecting a cool dozen goals from him; William Gallas, and I’ll be expecting an on-camera chat up of the players from him; Manuel Almunia, and I’ll be expecting him to have a union jack tee-shirt on under his kit; Johan Djourou, and I’m expecting him to be tall; Jack Wilshere, who I’m expecting to be fast and stuff; and Nacer Barazite, who has scored in the last two of these friendlies so, I’m expecting that Arsene Wenger will switch him to holding midfielder or something equally bizzare.

    On a serious note, the squad is a bit odd, with no less than 6 youngsters named in the squad who the dot com says, or I have seen, play the holding midfield role: Randall, Cruise, Eastmond, Coquelin, Emmanuel-Thomas, and Frimpong. Admittedly, I don’t read the blogs about the youth teams because that seems just a little bit too obsessive. So, I have to go by what the dot com says. I do know that Wenger has spoken highly of Coquelin and Frimpong, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of those two start next to Wilshere in the center of the pitch.

    One cool thing about these pre-season matches is that I get to approach all these youngsters with “fresh eyes” having only seen a handful of them in Carling Cup matches so, it’s exciting for me to see the likes of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Jay Simpson on the list.

    That’s about it, the only other thing to mention here is that you can only watch the match on ArsenalTV, which, if you get for the rest of the month is only £4. I’m no shill for ArsenalTV but £4! That’s a pint! And for that you get to watch every one of this month’s pre-season matches, plus other incredibly cool videos, like Henry’s goal against Real Madrid, or Tony Adams’ goal against Everton, plus interviews, and old matches… Come on, it’s four quid well spent to get you excited for the season.

    DO IT.

    If you don’t get the video, you can tune in here, I will be liveblogging the match, and kickoff is at… 7am (PST).

    Finally, I’m not doing a gods damn transfer roundup this morning, I’m burnt out on all that shit. I will say this, Carlos Vela’s reported injury is not as bad as, erm, reported which is good. With Adebayor leaving for bluer pastures, we’ll need him healthy.

    See you tomorrow, first thing in the AM, here’s to Rosicky scoring 100 goals!

    Up the Arse!

    Confused Christiano Ronaldo Allows Woman to Sniff Him After Practice

    The "Ronaldo hair joke" the lowest hanging fruit of all jokes, hey I can't be full on red hot maximum at all times, can I?

    Yesterday, as £80m world record signing Christiano Ronaldo and his new Real Madrid teammates were put through their paces in Ireland, a woman stood among other people and waited for an opportunity to have her picture taken with any and/or all of Los Galacticos Dos.

    As practice wound down, a clearly confused Ronaldo wandered too near the cougar den and suddenly was accosted by Aoife Finneran who, with cell phone cam at the ready, thrust her head near the mega-super-star and screamed “SAY CHEESE!”

    Afterwards, Aoife, described the experience thus:

    As he neared me I could see his rippling muscles, his confident swagger, the swagger of a man who’s wallet is so thick you could club baby seals with it. As he approached I think he sensed the danger and flinched as if to flee but my cat-link instincts took over and I pounced. As I thrust my head into the frame of the photograph, I noticed that he smelled of lovemaking and raindrops. It was the most sublime experience of my life. I tried to bite his neck and go for the kill but he escaped by quickly falling over and clutching his ankle — dead animal pose stops a cougar every time.

    A clearly shaken Ronaldo was immediately whisked off to the first aid tent where he received some water, a hair cut, and a pedicure. He’s said to be recovering in hospital and should be fully recouperated in the morning, after a hot bath, with fresh flowers, and bubbles.

    Going once, going twice…

    Meanwhile, Arsenal super star and the world’s most wifi-enabled player, Emmanuel Adebayor was reportedly being offered by Arsenal to every other team on the planet, but most notably to Manchester United. Pundits believe the move by Arsene Wenger is in retaliation for Ferguson giving Arsenal Silvestre last year.

    The player, who is widely recognized as a “tender and considerate lover,” is currently mulling over his options in the Algave, sipping Sancerre. The sticking point seems to be that he loves Arsenal and Arsenal supporters so much that £170,000 a week, making him briefly the highest paid player in the EPL (until City sign Terry next week), is not enough to prise him from the warm embrace of his beloved Arsenal.

    Coincidentally, that the exact plot line from The Merchant of Venice, from whence this quote floweth

    What’s here? the portrait of a blinking idiot,
    Presenting me a schedule! I will read it.
    How much unlike art thou to Portia Adebayor!
    How much unlike my hopes and my deservings!
    “Who chooseth me shall have as much as he deserves”!
    Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head?
    Is that my prize? Are my deserts no better?

    It is, perhaps, one of The Bard’s finest tragedies.

    David Beckham Eats Dedication and Craps MLS Teams

    A clearly remorseful David Beckham was interviewed yesterday and when asked how he felt about leaving his teammates for six months while he pursued the dream of being part of the England World Cup squad, he responded with tears in his eyes:

    I think what you’ve seen is that I’ve been very dedicated to the Galaxy, dedicated to the fans. I’ve always been committed to every contract I’ve ever had, and that hasn’t changed. I’m a very committed person. If people want to question my commitment and my professionalism, the fact that I’m willing to travel thousands of miles to play for my country says it all.

    I hate to editorialize in the middle of such a serious column, but I have to agree with David here; nothing says “honoring your committments” and “dedication to the cause” like leaving your team on a loan and promising to return when your team’s season starts up again, and then negotiating a special loan deal to extend your stay at the other team, then when their season is over, reluctantly re-joining the team you are contracted to half way through their season.

    Beckham saves his most scathing criticism, however, for people who say he hasn’t helped American Soccer while on loan in Italy:

    What I’ve done for the league so far has been very successful, I’ve had a successful effect on the game here. You know, there are eight new franchises coming into the league, new stadiums going up (and) attendances, wherever we’ve played as a team. If you look at the attendances we have had throughout the seasons, there’s not many Premiership (teams) that get the average attendance that we’ve had, excluding Manchester United and Arsenal and teams like that.

    It’s true, in his brief stint in America, all 26 games, Beckham has been extremely effective. He has swept through the land and like a modern day Johnny Appleseed, crapping out stadiums and teams left and right. Moreover, excluding Arsenal and Man U, the Galaxy’s attendance is better than 7 of the 20 teams in the EPL; edging out West Bromwich Albion by just over 180 folks per game.

    It’s clearly a footballing revolution when the biggest name in world football can go to a city of 10million souls and draw nearly the same attendance as a Stoke-on-Trent with their massive population of 240,000.

    Another Shakespeare play comes to mind here, I don’t remember the name right now, but I think it’s the one about hubris.

    Thank you for bringing football to America, David!