Villareal v. Arsenal; a Preview Full of Question Marks

Injuries

Arsenal will release more information this afternoon on injured trio Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, and Samir Nasri but Wenger spoke very hopefully about all three yesterday. Wenger said that van Persie was 50:50 to pass fitness, that Samir Nasri’s tests looked good, and that “Theo Walcott should be all right.”

I look forward to this afternoon’s press release and I will update this section when that’s made public. No news will be forthcoming on Diaby, Eduardo and Rosicky as they are all 100% ruled out for the trip to the Spanish coast.

Update: Nasri and Walcott are in, van Persie out.

On the other side, Marcos Senna is being included in the team but is a question mark to make the game. I’m going to say that he’ll be fit and that Villareal’s manager is just trying to keep Arsenal guessing.

As I said yesterday, Cazorla is out for the season, suffering a broken leg in Villareal’s complete loss to Almeria. How complete a loss? They finished the last 30 minutes with 9 men after Cazorla was injured and Pires was sent off. Fingers crossed that they have heavy legs tomorrow!

Contracts

There’s a lot of column inches being devoted to the two or three supposed¬† contract/transfer stories swirling around the club. Is Cesc leaving? Adebayor? Robin van Persie? Will there be a wholesale clear out?

I don’t know.

No one knows. What we do know is that if Arsenal lose this match and the one against Chelsea on Saturday then our hopes for any kind of trophy this season will be severely diminished. So it’s best to stay focused on these two matches rather than a bunch of shit stirring.

I also know that this “five years without a trophy” story is seriously getting on my nerves. If van Persie leaves because he wants to win a trophy, good luck to him. I don’t know where he thinks he’ll go where he will be guaranteed to win something: as far as I can tell Man U don’t need another perpetually injured striker. But irregardless, have fun in Italy or Spain or wherever will have you, Robin, oh and you’re welcome for the years that Arsenal stood by you while you spent months upon months in the infirmary. Honestly, if Robin leaves it will particularly chap my ass, but if he leaves then f*ck him.

I also know that, like Wenger, all this speculation and chitter chatter about stuff we have no control over just serves to get people amped up over nothing. Moreover, talking about contracts and Cesc leaving, despite the fact that he has been unequivocal about his future every year (including this one) that he has been at the club, distracts the players from what’s important: Tuesday’s Champions League match against Villareal and Saturday’s FA Cup Semi-Final against Chelsea.

So, that’s my final word on this speculation. I’m not devoting any more column inches to bullshit rumors and shit stirring by cunts like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter, etc. etc. No one is leaving the club this week so speculating about what might happen this summer is pointless.

Good bye yellow brick Pires

Robert Pires has admitted that this Champions League match up is very emotional for him, and that especially the return leg to the Emirates will be like the testimonial he never had.

I agree, and I will be very sad to see Pires, at 63 years old, limp around the pitch and get dumped out of the competition by a very hungry, young, and fit Arsenal. I will be sad for a moment… then I will be happy!

The first leg kicks off at 11:45am (PST) and unless you’re going to watch the match alone at home on ESPN Deportes I’m inviting all locals to join us for Setanta’s broadcast at Doyle’s Public House. I can’t have a pint because I will be caring for my lovely daughter after the match but I will have one of their state of the art sarnies. They are delicious.

See you there and remember: UP THE ARSE!

Lazy Sunday

Finally, some peace.

The girls are all either at church or at their friend’s house and I have the TV and the computer to myself. Plus, there’s very little, no… there’s no Arsenal news. Fox Soccer Channel is playing the Man U/A. Villa match and it’s looking like a pretty good match; 1-1 at the 30th minute.

Here in a bit, I’ve got a 10:30 kick around, I have new boots (the $20 Telstar’s arrived), and it’s supposed to get to 65F in Tacoma today.

I think I’m going to take it easy today, play a couple hours of football and have a pint after!

There is a bit of Villareal news ahead of the match Tuesday. I might as well get that over to you. First, I was reading this article about Robert Pires and how he still hasn’t gotten over being subbed in the 18th minute of Arsenal’s Champions League final loss to Barcelona. Anyway, Robert is being classy about it all but you can tell that something’s seething in there about the way the whole thing played out: subbed out in the final, offered just the 1 year contract that all 30 year-olds are offered at Arsenal, and never really recapturing the glory he had at Arsenal. It’s sure to be hard.

Anyway, uhhh, oh yeah… in that article, Wenger talks up the attacking threat of Pires on one wing and Cazorla on the other. Which is true, when healthy they are a threat. Too bad Cazorla is out for the rest of the season. Villareal are going to have Senna back, though, and that is a pretty big boost, but I liked the coincidence of Wenger talking up one of Villareal’s players and having him come up injured.

I like having Senna back in their team, who better to really test the mettle of our burgeoning midfield duo than a true craftsman like Senna?

Right, that’s all I’m writing today. I’ll hang out in the comments until about 10am (local time) if you want to chat about something.

See you tomorrow for a full Villareal preview.

CHEERS!

Arsenal 2-0 Man City; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPN Soccernet: Captain Cesc Fabregas returned to help inspire Arsenal as two goals from Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor secured victory over Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.

Telegraph.co.uk: Villarreal and Chelsea be warned. Arsenal may be running out of games to win the Premier League but, as displayed in domineering fashion in the sunshine of North London, their returning players are back and they are greedy for success in two cup competitions.

Match Video

The Arsenalist, like fresh baked bread, best to get it while it’s hot, slather some butter on it and down it with a pint of bitter.

Man of the Match

Easy peasy today, Adebayor scored two goals and despite his chronic, maddening habit of being offside showed why he is the envy of some Italian clubs and being linked to a summer move.

Before the match I questioned which Adebayor would show up: the one who works hard or the one who can’t be arsed. Today we had the pleasure of watching the Adebayor who works hard. Savor the moment because we never know which one will show up on Tuesday at the Estadio El Madrigal.

I’m sure some people will point out the slack defending that let Ade put in a flat footed header but there can be no doubt about the pure class that was the second goal. Cesc played in a beautiful ball, Adebayor was accidentally onside, and when Given came out to stop the ball, Ade dribbled once, stepped over a prostrate Given, and side footed into the net. I realize this is a divisive thing to say and I like Bendtner, but I’m sorry, I’ve never seen Bendtner score a goal like that.

The Good

It was great to see Arsenal’s captain back on the pitch. He looked a bit sluggish in his 76 minute debut but that’s to be expected when a player doesn’t play for 3 1/2 months. Moreover it looked like he and Arshavin were having a bit of trouble adjusting to each other. But even after a long layoff and playing with new players around him all he did was notch an assist for each of the two goals that Adebayor scored. Amazing. It’s great to have him back.

I also want to credit Song and Denilson for their industry in the midfield. At the start they looked a bit shaky but they settled in and bossed the middle for the rest of the match. You could point to the fact that City was missing their midfield engine in Stephen Ireland and you’d be right, but they had a job to do regardless who was in front of them and they did it.

And finally, the defense kept a clean sheet, their 9th of the 17 game unbeaten run and I want to credit them with that. There were a couple moments where the two weeks off showed as the back four couldn’t keep their shape and nearly let in two goals, but City couldn’t crack them open and they deserve credit for their hard work. Mooney especially gets credit for his save on SWP’s deflected shot, his quick reflexes saved him on his nearly poor positioning. Nearly poor.

The Bad

Kolo and Gallas do need to work on their communication at the back, because Villareal will punish them if they leave players wide open in the middle — why was Toure covering right back and center? — or if Clichy plays people on side again.¬† It’s not an insurmountable problem and they did keep a clean sheet, but it’s just something that needs to be worked on.

Similarly, the formation was a bit strange and Arshavin looked a bit lost (could have been that he was tired) again, not the end of the world, just something that they need to work on in practice. Arshavin is an incredible player and he has nearly won me over from my Winter of discontent. Now, if we can get him and Cesc clicking at the same time we’ll have something really special.

Finally, Bentdner needs to work on… well… everything: his positioning was terrible, his touch was terrible, and his finishing was comical. Moreover, with Eboue playing so damn well lately Bendtner has taken the lead as Arsenal whipping boy. I’d like to see him be a star and maybe it’ll just take a word in the ear from Arsene. “Calm, down lad, picture what you want to do and just do it.”

The Ugly

If I never see Howard Webb referee an Arsenal match again, it will be too soon. I’ve been trying to lay off the word “cunt” but in this case the moniker fits. Howard Webb is a massive cunt. For example, Toure picked up a yellow card and Webb explained to him that it was for two bad tackles (one of which was a clear dive by Robin-ho). Webb gesticulated toward both spots, told Toure to clam up, and then showed him the yellow. Fair enough, he’s the ref and if two infractions are enough to earn a yellow, then that’s how it will be. The only thing I don’t understand is how Toure gets a yellow for two infractions and yet Zabaleta fouls the living shit out of Walcott half a dozen times before he gets a yellow? How many times was Theo pulled off the pitch and scanned by the medical staff? 6? And after the match, he was icing his knee, like an aging Michael Jordan.

The fact is that Webb basically let City walk all over, push Arsenal players to the ground, and intentionally foul Theo’s knee multiple times and just waved play on.

Huge cunt.

And speaking of huge cunts, it turns out that Phil Brown’s accusations of Cesc spitting and verbally abusing Hull’s assistant manager were not caught on tape. SHOCKING!!! That means that this is going to be a case of he said she said which means that the FA will probably suspend Cesc because, after all, a known lying cunt is more reliable than a foreigner.

But most bizarre is that Cesc is now defending himself against a YouTube video from when he was 17 years old. But he does so with aplomb:

It was four years ago and I lent over to Michael Ballack who was playing for Bayern Munich at the time and I shouted at him because I felt like I did not make a bad tackle and I felt that the contact was minimal. I did not spit at him. It happens during matches that sometimes you have heated exchanges with your opponents.

I am not proud of it but I was 17 years old. The referee saw it and gave me a yellow card. People can try to find as many video clips as they like from when I was 17 years old or when I was 12 playing for my school team but this does not change anything. The simple fact is that I did not spit at the assistant manager of Hull City.

Fuck Phil Brown and fuck Hull City. I actually hope they stay up in the Premier league, Arsenal need someone to run off the pitch. We haven’t had someone like that in the EPL since Charlton made the drop a few years ago. Honestly, I hope Phil Brown has a very long career in the EPL, getting his ass handed to him bi-annually by Arsene Wenger.

Conclusion

Arsenal next travel to Villareal, Spain to play the Yellow Submarine in the Champions League. That happens on Tuesday which gives us 2 days to sort out some of the kinks that showed today. Plenty of time. I trust that the Arsenal will be in top form for that game.

We don’t know if RvP (doubtful), Eduardo (doubtful), Diaby (doubtful), Nasri (flu), and Theo (iced his knee after the match) will be available for the Villareal match and I’m guessing Wenger won’t tip his hand until Tuesday morning.

Anyway, it was a great win and I don’t want to go on too much so instead, let me just leave you with this quote from Arsene Wenger

We had a strongly balanced performance, offensively and defensively against a good Man City side, especially in the first half. In the second half we completely took over and maybe should have scored more goals. Overall I am pleased because there is a lightness back in the team and the way we play. Everybody looks to enjoy, and play without the handbrake or any restriction. That is good to see.

Yes indeed, Arsene, yes indeed.

Oh, and hey, Newcuntsle lost to Chelsea, puuting them one step closer to relegation. Now, we just need a draw between Villa and Man U tomorrow to cap off a great weekend!