Diarra of the Mouth/ St. Totteringham's Day

Good day to you! I don’t know why my opening sentence is so chipper, but there it is. Wenger gave his Friday “press conference” but I haven’t had a chance to watch it because I spent all afternoon yesterday taking care of a 1 year old with an ear infection. Owing to that I’ve had about 5 hours sleep and I have to get to work so it’s a short blog for you, I’m sure you’ll survive.

I’m not Lassana Diarra’s psychologist but judging by the constant swipes he takes at Arsenal, there is obviously something deeply disturbed about this guy. This month’s bon mot has Diarra saying that Wenger basically destroyed his self confidence. This guy really has nothing to complain about as far as Arsenal. He was NEVER going to get a game in the Chelsea system as he was 4th on the list behind Maka, Essien, and Obi. So, he bitched and moaned until he got transferred for dirt cheap to Arsenal. Once he got to Arsenal, he seems to be under the impression that he should have jumped straight into the first team and been best buds with Wenger who would give him a daily Dutch Rudder before massaging his ego.

Yes, he’s technically more proficient than Flamini but the problem is that Flamini had put in 3 years of hard work to EARN his spot and was a crucial part of that Arsenal team’s psyche. Wait… why the fuck am I explaining this? He was given a chance at the Arsenal and he fucked it up because he is a huge pussy who refused to put in the requisite work to EARN a spot on one of the greatest clubs in the world. Now he’s taking a swipe at Arsenal because, basically, he needs a scape goat for his own actions and knows that the Brit Press will run with this story.

I am very happy he’s gone and even more happy that he’s over in Spain ruining the dressing room for Real Madrid. Anyone who would act this unprofessionally, after three English clubs gave him everything he asked for, in such a brief stint, is a cancer and will eventually turn on his current employers and teammates. This is a man who has no character, who cannot overcome even the smallest obstacle, so no matter how technically good he seems, in my estimation Real Madrid were jobbed in that transfer.

On to the real news: Wenger talked about Gallas today and while Gallas is going to be out for the rest of the year, Wenger does not see him moving on in the summer and I’d like to think, took a swipe at Diarrhea:

He has a year left on his contract. I envisage him to be here next year.  He had a challenging season but I believe he had to cope with a major disappointment. You have to give him a lot of credit because he came back with great performances so he dealt well with the situation.

Totally, tons of credit to Gallas. If he does move on, I’d be surprised if it was anywhere near as acrimonious as the Diarrhea transfer has been: and Gallas is a man who was publicly taken down by the boss, ravaged in the press, and stripped of his captaincy.

So, tomorrow, there will be an early blog, and then some work around the house, and the game, and some beer, and hopefully a win for the Arsenal. More on that tomorrow.

UPDATE

I meant to look this up first thing before I wrote the blog so I apologize for having an “update” but I have great news! With only 7 games left (and a possible 21 points) and Arsenal on 58 points while Spuds are on 38 points, tomorrow could very well be St. Totteringham’s day!

For those who don’t know, St. Totteringham’s day is the annual event marking the day after which it is mathematically impossible for Spuds to finish above the Arsenal. With just 21 points to go and 20 points between the two any combination in which Arsenal win makes Saturday April 11th, 2009 St. Totteringham’s day.

We are young, heartache to heartache we stand

Football’s a battlefield and Arsenal are warriors.

Think about it: Arsenal lost their most important defender and their first choice keeper and went on to keep a clean sheet after. Not bad.

I didn’t give Djourou any credit yesterday, it was hard to give credit to him because Senna and Adebayor overshadowed everything else. But to come on, in a Champions League quarter final, under fire, hostile territory, down 1-0, and to just put in a solid performance would normally deserve at least a mention.  Same for Fabianski, all he did was come on for an injured keeper, without warm-up,  down 1-0, and promptly make two key saves. No wonder then that he thinks he should be a first choice keeper.

You’ll forgive me I’m sure, my oversight, especially now that they have been duly recognized for their contributions. Maybe Arsenal are warriors?

Cesc too, deserves some credit. He’s out there, playing in a CL 1/4 final, not 100% fit. It certainly shows the requisite desire for him to be out there, even if it does leave us vulnerable to the types of goals Senna scored.

The answer there is for the team to take a good look at the tapes and say “ok, the Captain needs our help, and we need his brilliance, we all need to step up.” Certainly Titus Bramble and Lee Cattermole aren’t going to take it easy on Cesc this weekend. They’ll be looking to exploit just this kind of weakness. So, while I don’t count the Wigan game as that important in the race for 4th place, I do see it as important for solving some of the tactical weaknesses that Chelsea and Villareal will try to exploit over the next two weeks.

Throw in that Gallas is out for the rest of the season, England’s Future Number One is out for 3 weeks with an ankle injury and now it’s being revealed that Clichy picked up a back injury and more than ever the team will need to circle the wagons and plump up our team work. Will Kieran Gibbs feature against Chelsea and Villareal or will Wenger put in Silvestre? Tough choice there and I suspect we’ll get a preview into Wenger’s thinking against Wigan.

Wigan Wigan Wigan… Maybe Wigan will be important after all. It’s an away game, against a tough team that can’t be taken lightly. It’s a real shame that we can’t catch the game live here in the States: FSC has the rights to the game and have decided to replay it… at Midnight Eastern Time.  I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why: it’s not a retardedly early kickoff and there aren’t other, better, games on at 7am. I mean, come on, Chelsea v. Bolton over Wigan v. Arsenal?

Sigh

Honestly, I think us American Gooners are just a bit spoiled by the veritable cornucopia of games we get to watch.  Just a bit. We have so many options as Gooners that when one or two weekends a year aren’t broadcast we get a bit… uppity.

Imagine if you were a Spuds fan? Ok, besides spending a lifetime commemorating that one win over Arsenal, the only time you’d ever get to watch your team live would be when they play Arsenal.

That would suck.

So, Arsenal face Wigan on Saturday at 9pm local time (tape delay) and I guess I’ll have to do something else with my Saturday until I can watch the match. It’s supposed to be nice, I  think I’ll mow the lawn and get a jump on the garden.

See? It’s good that Arsenal are on tape delay!

Villareal 1-1 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

Goal.com: Adebayor Wonder Goal Gives Arsenal Draw In Villarreal

The Independent: Adebayor scores wonder goal as young Gunners come of age

ESPNSoccernet: Adebayor stunner secures draw

Man of the Match – Marcos Senna

By every measure the most important player on the pitch was Marcos Senna. Yes, Adebayor scored one of the best goals I’ve ever seen in the Champions League (my favorite is still Thierry Henry’s mazy run at the Bernabeu) but overall Adebayor had the kind of game that makes people hate him (officially he was only caught offside 5 times but it sure seemed like a lot more than that). I certainly cannot give man of the match to Adebayor for just one brilliant moment.

I must give credit where credit is due, Senna was brilliant throughout.

I’m not sure if Senna has some kind of freakish ability to find space — and not just any space, but the exact right space. Or if maybe Wenger was like, “don’t bother marking him.” Or if Senna has some kind of wormhole generator in his pocket and is able to warp space and time. But somehow he was always open, always there to keep the ball in the attacking half, always there to put in the tackle, available to break up play, and constantly putting in the exact right pass that freed Villareal’s attackers.

Oh yeah, and the crown jewel was that he also scored an incredible goal.

In short, it was a master class in the holding midfield position. Don’t even try to emulate it, just sit back and watch in awe: which is pretty much what Cesc and Denilson did all night.

The Good

What can you say about Adebayor’s goal that hasn’t already been said?

It was a great goal, but it was a great game as well. [The goal] was unexpected. At the start his body was a bit in the wrong position to score, but he managed to turn that into an advantage for him. — Arsene Wenger

It was probably one of the best goals I have seen in the Champions League, a special goal from a special player.  — Theo Walcott

I don’t even know how I scored, but the most important thing is the ball went in the back of the net! — Emmanuel Adebayor

It was all that. If you haven’t seen it yet (because you live in a cave?) you must click through to the Arsenalist and watch it again.

The Bad

When Senna scored, I got that sick feeling, in fact, for most of the first half I had that sick feeling. Arsenal looked like dog shiat in the first half. Villareal were playing these beautiful little passes, they were moving brilliantly with and without the ball, and they were slicing Arsenal’s defense open almost at will. Wenger credited their two wide players, and I couldn’t agree with him more. In that first half, Nasri and Walcott were criminal in their lack of gdtting back to defend those attacking positions. It seems like Nasri is allergic to defending and there are games (like yesterday) where he needs a half time kick to the balls to get him to track back. Which happened yesterday and, surprise, the second half was better for Arsenal.

The point is in that first half  I kinda suddenly knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of the Arsenal treatment. They were passing us to death, running us ragged, and the players looked like they were chasing ghosts. They even had the whole “pass you to death but not score” thing down pat!

As for the Senna goal, Song gets the blame in all the papers, but if you watch the beginning of the video over at the Arsenalist, Song is busy covering Rossi who dribbles in toward goal. Senna then sees that both Denilson and Cesc stop running, so he makes himself available, Rossi passes him the ball and at that moment 2/3 of Arsenal’s central midfield just stop moving. Song is the only one covering anything and does his best to get to Senna (nearly gets there) while Denilson and Cesc shamelessly are standing stock still.

We’ll need better from those two in the next leg.

The Ugly

It looks like we might have lost two players from that match: Almunia and Gallas. Mooney suffered what Wenger calls “a recurrence of an ankle” which I believe means that he is growing a third ankle.  They’ve tried to use ankle remover on it, but it just keeps recurring. He’ll be out for two weeks while they burn it off with liquid hydrogen.

Gallas, on the other hand, may have a partial tear of his medial collateral ligament and be out for the rest of the season. Which is a huge loss if that’s true.

We’ll know more about that in the days ahead.

Conclusion

In some areas Arsenal could have played better and I don’t like relying on absolutely amazing goals from Adebayor in order to win competitions. I’d rather we marked out Senna and dominated the midfield, but if we must play poorly and have a moment of brilliance well then, so be it.  After all, a 1-1 draw away is exactly what I predicted and a good away result at this stage in the competition.

I’m also heartened by the team’s second half performance. Wenger went in, kicked some arses, and the club came out and looked much better.  More performances like that second half and these kids will certainly be lifting some silverware in May.