Liveblogging Sunderland v. Arsenal

Two weeks gone bye and finally, back to football!

Looks like Arsene Wenger didn’t choose my “dream” lineup and instead opted for:

Almunia

Sagna Vermaelen Gallas Traore

Song  Ramsey Fabregas

Rosicky Eduardo Nasri

Song? Really? Come on big fella, don’t get a yellow.

Just finished Liverpool v. Man City, meh another draw for City. My daily complaint about ESPN2′s coverage is that for some unknown reason they replaced the somewhat attractive woman who they started the season with, with the hideous retard Tommy Smyth… who just said “bulges the old onion bag.” WHY??? I’m emailing them, what was the name of the chick? Does anyone remember?

Tommy Smyth just claimed to have played football when he was a youth, that can’t possibly be true, football wasn’t invented until the 19th century.

OH GODS… Tommy Smyth is going to talk about the handball, I was going to switch to FSC but I really need a little outrage to kick the Arsenal game off right. Switch over to ESPN2 if you need a little shot yourself.

Matt, you mean they actually put us in a 4-3-3?

Kevin wins the day: Georgie Bingham.

Kickoff — Sunderland gets us started

4′ — Neither team looks their best quite yet. Did I miss something, is Darren Bent not playing?

6′ — Rosicky with his patented half volley, saved well. How many times has Rosicky hit a volley this season?

8′ — Kevin, you are not allowed to be funnier than me.

11′ – Arsenal really getting everything they want. Sunderland’s game plan is laid bare, all the pre-match gum-bumping about Sunderland “attacking” is clearly not coming true. They are sitting back, in their own park, and isolating Bent.

Cesc has a great crack at goal. High.

17′– Kevin, Subs are Mannone, Vela, Walcott, Denilson, Silvestre, Arshavin, Eboue.  I guess Wenger didn’t forget about Vela for once.

19′ — Rambo ponderous with the ball is easily dispossessed by Richardson who leads a quick break. Song was working hard to get back but no one was covering Steed Malbranque at the back post. Fortunately, he’s a bit shit and his shot was seriously poor.

23′ — Sunderland waking up here, and Song puts in a really important tackle to break up play. Come on Arsenal, get the ball to Eduardo, let him work some magic.

25′ — Finally, someone gets the ball to Eduardo and things look very dangerous. Cleared by Sunderland. BTW: the fans booing Gallas for the Ireland game is pretty much the dumbest thing I’ve heard all week. Boo Gallas? Really?

29′ — DMC or Darren Bent?

30′ — I’ve been holding this one back, but Shay Given totally looks like Eddie Munster, I’ll post it at half time.

33′ — Song with a great move, as he dribbles around all of Sunderland and lays off a delicious 1-2 with Eduardo who, to be fair, really fucked that up. That pretty much should put to bed any notion that Song sucks.

37′ — The Sunderland fans should just boo everyone on Arsenal. WHOA — Traore like a rocket breaks for Arsenal, makes a fool of their center-back, and puts in a delicious cross for Eduardo who was crowded out. Wow, I really like this kid Traore going forward, but can he defend?

43′ — Give him a chance Kevin, Eduardo is pure class.

45′ — Arsenal really deserved a goal in this first half but the best chance went to Eduardo who tried to chip and just didn’t quite have the right touch. Oh well, Arsenal scoring 3+ goals a match, I have faith that they will get some goals today.

Back in a minute.

A brace from Essien has Chelsea 3-0 up at half, oh well, there went that pipe dream of Wolves getting something from Chelsea. According to ESPN, Arsenal have 8 (2) shots to Sunderland’s 2 (0), and are enjoying 66% of the possession. I love when the announcers talk about everything going according to plan for Sunderland. What plan is that? Let Arsenal dominate?

Here it is, your Shay Given looks like Eddie Munster mash up:

Shay Given looks like Eddie Munster!

1 corner each, Kevin.

Second Half — Shot of Arshavin on the bench.

48′ — I was just going to say that Sunderland played a clean first half and then Darren Bent hauls down Gallas and Richardson fouls and now they put in a third consecutive foul. I think I get it, play the first half clean, kick them in the second?

53′ — Sunderland now pushing Fabregas around, we need him to stop complaining to the ref and just win the ball back.

56′ — I’d like to see subs for Rambo and Nasri.

58′ — Great bit of action there as Rambo sees he’s about to get subbed and puts in some really good work. Good change by the boss, Rambo has been off tonight.

61′ — Jimbo, you keep talking about how “we” aren’t going to score, your team, Tottenham, is playing tomorrow., so yes, you aren’t going to score. WE, The Arsenal, are certainly going to score.

67′ — Sagna looking jaded, Eboue will be the next sub.

71′ — Arsenal concede on Sunderland’s 5th shot, and their first shot on goal. The boss pulls out all the stops, Vela and Walcott on.

76′ — Jimbo 2 on the ban list, Jimbo 1, Arsenal have scored 55 goals this season, a “realist” would expect them to score. You, aren’t a realist, you’re a whiner. Support the squad or fuck off to Arsenal News Review.

80′ — Jimbo 1: the only “Arsenal” fan who cheers when the opposition scores. Welcome to the ban list, fucktard.

85′ — We love the Arsenal, we do. We love the Arsenal, we do. We love the Arsenal, we do. OHHHH ARSENAL WE LOVE YOU.

87′ — Arsenal knocking, Wenger twirling, Arsenal scoring? Come on boys.

90′ — 4 minutes is awfully generous, for Sunderland. There have been 6 subs and Fulop was down for at least two minutes.

93′ — Appeal for a penalty, denied, Traore lucky not to get a straight red card for a dangerous challenge. The match slipping away.

FT — Shocking, looked like the hangover from the international break there. Song was tremendous, but the rest of the team just looked out of sorts. Vela was uninspired, Sagna was obviously jaded, Rambo had a terrible night, Nasri had a stinker, and Eduardo squandered the best chance. Credit to Sunderland, they played their game and took their one chance.

Stop by tomorrow for The Good, Bad, and Ugly.

Roy Keane, straight shooter or jilted lover?

Desperately searching for a new angle on the Thierry Henry handball incident, some reporters (and their cell phones) came up with the brilliant idea to interview Roy Keane. The result is as follows:

Here’s the video of Ireland’s penalty that Keane is talking about:

So, what do you think? Is Keano telling it like it is or still butt-hurt over the way Ireland treated him?

[poll id="4"]

Sunderland v. Arsenal preview: are you ready for some football?

Wankers, the lot of them

Oh Gods this has been one of the worst Nationalism breaks I can remember and it’s finally over. Surely as the rain will fall in Ireland, the Hand of God II, Celtic Boogaloo will rage for months with pundits falling over themselves to one up each other as to what level of hell Thierry Henry has fallen to but for the time being we can put that, mostly, aside and focus on the giant(s) task ahead: getting three points against a hard-nosed and hungry Sunderland team on their home patch.

This isn’t the Sunderland of last year who were more than happy to come in to Emirates stadium and play to a 0-0 draw. This is a Sunderland team which has spent very heavily in the last few years and really added some spine to this team. Lorik Cana in particular has added an absolute boatload of fouls to Sunderland’s league leading tally, and he’ll be back after serving his one match suspension for 5 yellow cards. Cana will be tasked with keeping Arsenal’s skipper, Fabregas, from extending the torrid scoring streak that he is on from midfield. For many Arsenal fans, this will be the first time that we get to see supposed Summer target, Lorik Cana up close. Will we regret not buying him this Summer? Tomorrow will tell.

Darren Bent, up front, is a huge handful and has proven that with 8 league goals and having scored against top class competition in Chelsea (in a loss), Man U (in a draw), and Liverpool (in a win). Though he has also notably missed a penalty against Tottenham, he is a dangerous striker and Arsenal will do well to keep his chances at a minimum.

Fortunately some of the parts of Sunderland’s notorious spine are missing for tomorrow’s match: Bent’s huge strike partner, Kenwynne Jones, is out with suspension for a stupid red card and Michael Turner is similarly out suspended due to persistent fouling (are you seeing a pattern yet?).  Some of Sunderland’s players are not out due to suspension for fouls but rather out because they are actually injured: Lee Cattermole, who I thought looked brilliant this season, will surely be missed along with ace stopper Craig Gordon, who suffered a broken arm in a collision with Jermaine Defoe.

Steve Bruce’s teams always play Arsenal hard and work doubly hard to deny them space in the midfield which usually means persistent, niggling, little fouls in the midfield area. A lot of Arsenal fans tend to agree with Wenger that persistent fouling is as much a form of cheating as going over too easily and if you’re one of those, maybe you shouldn’t watch. Sunderland are going to kick Arsenal tomorrow I have no doubt, how we and referee Alan Wiley respond to that will decide the points I’m afraid.

The Arsenal team news is a bit cloudy at the moment owing to the playoff match that France won against Ireland. Both Sagna and Gallas have just played 210 minutes for France in a high intensity, highly charged, very emotional win over Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers. So, while Wenger is reticent to break up what has been a magnificent central partnership between Gallas and Vermaelen he certainly has a choice to make there given Gallas’ playing time. As for right back, Arsenal have cover for Sagna in Emmanuel Eboue and I would not be at all surprised to see the Ivorian come in for the Frenchman on the right.

Despite the good news that Gibbs’ metatarsals are only bruised, the question of Arsenal’s left-back is still open since Gibbs is out for tomorrow. Will Wenger go with the slower, more experienced left back in Silvestre or opt for Traore or even Vermaelen (as predicted here the other day) instead? Frankly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a back line of Eboue, Senderos, Silvestre, and Vermaelen. It’s a physical, experienced, back line that should be able to handle the threat of Campbell and Bent.

More good news in the middle for the Diaby haters as he is out with his usual calf/thigh/Iplayedmorethanonegameinarow injury while Arsene Wenger has called Denilson fit and said that he “will be in the squad.” Denilson’s been out for so long that a start tomorrow seems far off. Wenger does need to do something, though, because if Song gets a fifth yellow tomorrow he’ll be suspended for the Chelsea clash on the 29th. I have noticed that Wenger loves to throw Ramsey into these physical clashes so I’m predicting Rambo to start. Don’t be surprised to see a midfield of Rambo, Denilson, and Fabregas.

Up front, all the news is focused on who will replace Robin van Persie and his placenta leg. Odds are with Bendtner out three more weeks that we’re looking at Eduardo in the lone striker role. Dudu has just signed a new, long term contract, and has publicly stated that he is physically ready to play 90 minutes every three days to help Arsenal win the League. I do worry about how Eduardo will handle the physical nature of tomorrow’s match. Of course, Eduardo for his part is obviously mentally very strong to overcome the injury he suffered but you still have to wonder. Steve Bruce will instruct his team not to pussy-foot around with Eduardo and I can see Lorik Cana flying in on a hard challenge. This match will surely be Eduardo’s first real test of how well he handles the more physical teams in the Premier League; let’s hope his response is a brace of brilliant goals that only the Crozillian can deliver.

Who Wenger will choose as Eduardo’s partners is also a bit interesting. Vela is now healthy and a lot of folks are calling for him to be included in tomorrow’s action. That said, I suspect Wenger will pick Nasri on the left and Rosicky on the right to start, with what’s his name, uhhh, you know the Mexican striker, I forget, coming in off the bench.

The match is being played live on Fox Soccer Channel tomorrow in The States. Kickoff is 7am local time and given the fact that the match is being played live on FSC I’ll be doing a liveblog. Stop by tomorrow at 6:30am PST when the festivities start.

See you then!