Arsenal 5-1 Celtic; the Good, Bad, and the Dive Heard Round the World

Match Reports

The Telegraph: Short of borrowing Roman Abramovich’s yacht, David Niven’s wardrobe and Jenson Button’s girlfriend, Arsenal could not have arrived in Monaco in more style. In reaching this afternoon’s Champions League group stage draw in the land of Rolls-Royces and Rainiers, Arsène Wenger’s side were elegance personified, barring an ugly act of deception by Eduardo.

ESPNSoccernet: Eduardo’s controversial penalty helped Arsenal secure another shot at the £30m jackpot of the Champions League with a comfortable 3-1 win on the night – 5-1 on aggregate – over Celtic at Emirates Stadium.

Match Video

You can watch the whole match, a two minute highlight, or an extended 12 minute highlight package over at the dot com, if you’re an ATVO subscriber.

You can watch the Dive Heard Round the World and subsequent expertly taken penalty here.

Man of the Match

I’m giving man of the match to Eboue. His goal was excellent and his overall level of play was very high. Yes, the midfield worked very hard and looked very good and bossed Celtic off the pitch, but still Eboue’s pulsating counters and well taken goal sealed the match far more than Eduardo’s controversial penalty. Le Boss hailed Eboue’s character and I have to admit, the guy has done pretty much everything that Arsene has ever asked, all while simply keeping his nose clean, working hard, and playing hard.

The Good

Yay, we’re into the group stage where we could face real Scottish powerhouse Rangers, which would be a tricky test for sure. We’ll find out about that around 9am PST.

All around, I think Arsenal played their game for 90 minutes last night. Song and Denilson were magnificent in the middle of the park, Eduardo and Bendtner were scintillating up front, and the back four were assured and solid for 92 of the 93 minutes. Arsenal limited Celtic to just 2 shots and only one shot on goal in 90 minutes last night, that’s pretty much all you need to know about the game. We were just that good.

The Bad

There is a little hand-wringing out there about the fact that we conceded another late goal but I just want to point out that Arsenal were up 5-0 on aggregate at that point, it was literally the last seconds, and the goal required a left-footed volley off the far post to beat Arsenal.

Sure, we don’t want to get in the habit of conceding goals at the end of games but we also don’t want to see Sagna come up with a hamstring pull because he’s straining to get to a meaningless cross.

The Dive

Holy Christ, you’d think this was the first time anyone’s ever dived. As if Eduardo came up with this unique way to trick the referee into awarding a penalty. It was a dive, no one will argue that. The ref should have awarded a yellow card to Eduardo. The referee got it dead wrong and if I was a Celtic supporter I’d… well I’d be pissed that 60,000 of my compatriots support a team week in and week out which lacks the ability to get more than 2 shots on goal in 180 minutes of play. That’s what I’d be pissed about.

Maybe UEFA will give a two match ban, fair enough, I suppose. They’ve done it before and though I might argue that UEFA handing out two match bans for diving and three match (suspended) bans for acting like an utter crybaby cunt after you lose strains the boundaries of logic. But if that’s the rule, hey, then that’s the rule. And if that IS the rule and Dudu is banned for what Wenger calls “risk aversion” then I want that same rule applied next time Ryan Babel goes to ground and Arsenal are wrongly kicked out of the Champions League. Or how about a lifetime ban on Ronaldo, or Drogba, or any of the other serial divers out there who have cost Arsenal games?

I’ve written about this before,when Hleb viciously skull-f*cked Murty and then pooped on his head as he lie writhing on the ground with a compound fracture to his whole body, there are two types of dives: obvious and make a meal of contact.

They are divided by a single factor: did the opponent make contact? If so, then most fans seem to not have a problem with fakery. But if not? ZOMG HE IS A DIVORZ!!!1!1!!ONE!!!

It’s pretty strange to me that I never heard a single Scouser talk about banning Mascherano for his dive on Aliadiere. Or how about Manure supporters decrying the 4 match ban awarded because of Aliadiere’s love tap? Which, incidentally, came after JM slapped Ali in the face. Funny how  Javier Mascherano, one of the world’s most prolific divers, on a team captained by one of England’s finest divers, goes down writhing as if he’d been shot by Lee Harvey Oswald’s magic bullet and it’s Aliadiere who’s appeal is considered “frivolous” and earns him a 4th match ban. Was that fair? No, but for some reason, I don’t recall people suggesting that Mascherano receive a European ban for his part in that disgrace.

In a time when the press can’t even be arsed to use an active tense verb when describing Taylor’s horrific tackle on Eduardo. Or at a time when the apoplectic reaction by English managers up and down the coast is to describe what a good boy Taylor is and how he’s been destroyed by the criticism — while Eduardo’s leg has LITERALLY been destroyed. Or at at time when Taylor’s manager receives no opprobrium for his part in telling the lads to go out and get stuck in, which directly leads to Eduardo’s leg being broken by Taylor. Or at a time when a player can break a man’s leg and receive a lesser ban than the man who touches another man’s face and sees his “victim” (a serial diver) go down as if shot. At times like that, you’ll pardon me if I’m not going to get in an uproar because of Eduardo’s dive.

It’s a dive, the ref got it wrong, Dudu should have gotten a yellow and the penalty not given. It was a dive, no more or less than Mascherano, Ronaldo, Drogba, Gerrard, or Klinsmann did before him. I don’t remember the Manure’s calling for Their Boy Ronaldo to be banned from the game for his constant diving. So, you’ll pardon me if I don’t take their criticisms too seriously. As it says in the bible: pull the Drog out of your own eye before you start looking at the Dudu in others’.

Was it the kind of terrible action that deserved Glen Loovens’ racism at the end of the match? Where the Celtic player said “I don’t think he even speaks English so there was no point talking to him?” Is that appropriate behavior at the end of a match?

But more importantly, did the dive win the tie for Arsenal? Tony Mowbray didn’t think so

The referee has given it, but if the TV pictures show it should not have been given, then so be it. All the boys thought there was no contact, but we have to accept it and move on. However, you cannot deny that over the two legs, Arsenal had more quality and deserved to go through.

End of.

Arsenal v. Celtic; liveblogging the Champions League second leg (2-0 agg)

All right, folks, I’m in. I got a half a turkey sandwich in me and my Eduardo strip on, so I’m ready. Heard any good news today?

Oh hey, I figured out why all the Celtic fans threadshiat all over yesterday’s post; it turns out one of our regular readers accidentally mentioned Bougherra as a Celtic player, which was then repeated on a Hoops message board. That’s why they were saying things like “Rooney will come on and score” etc. It’s all in good fun, I’m sure we’d do the same if they mixed our players up.

Anyway,  that’s all past us now, let’s be friends!

Bobby MacMahon v. Warren Barton:

WB: ZOMG THERE ARE NO ENGLISHMEN AT ARSENAL!!!

BM: (something unintelligible, likely in Scottish)

I’m going 1-0 to BM in that exchange, yes, sure it was unintelligible but at least it wasn’t the cringe-inducing “Englishmen at Arsenal” chestnut vomited up by WB.

Oh hey, well in Seannn, Matt, and WC.

Oh hey, it’s the GEICO caveman commercial. I was hoping that after the abortion that was “The Cavemans” that that series would die, but if anything they seem to have picked up in frequency.

I just looked at the lineup:

No. NAME POS
1 Manuel Almunia (G)
10 William Gallas (D)
27 Emmanuel Eboue (D)
22 Gaël Clichy (D)
3 Bacary Sagna (D)
5 Thomas Vermaelen (D)
17 Alexandre Song Billong (M)
2 Abou Diaby (M)
15 Denilson (M)
9 Eduardo (ST)
52 Nicklas Bendtner (ST)

Tell me that’s not a 4-4-2? I mean I know that FSC just claimed it was a 4-3-3, but there’s no way that Song is playing in Chesk’s slot.

11:45 — We’re off

5 min: Arsenal have picked up where they left off at Parkhead; pressing defense and precise passing. Dudu nearly picked off a pitiful Celtic back pass but was called back due to a Celtic foul on Sagna at the back.

6 — Denilson gives away a cheap foul in a dangerous area… Maloney into the wall

8 — SHOT! Clichy breaks down the left, passes to Eboue who slices to Bendtner who one touches off the outside of his foot, GREAT save and Eduardo can’t get on the end of the rebound.

11 — Corner to Arsenal, taken right side by Eduard… Bendtner fluffs the header under considerable pressure.

13 — Gooners are in great voice as Denilson makes a surge forward and is shoved out of a decent shot by tough Celtic defending.  The action is coming super fast now, Arsenal winning every ball in midfield and getting shots left and right!

18 — THIS IS CRAZY, there’s too much, too fast to even report, for the next three minutes imagine this: Arsenal break down Celtic’s midfield, move the ball outside and get in a good cross which is desperately defended by Celtic. You have to think one of these is going to end in a goal!

22 — Diaby is driving some people mad with his turnovers in poor positions. I don’t care about that, I just want him to move a bit more.

24 — Eboue puts a little air under the ball and has a crack at goal, not a bad shot really. Wish it had bothered the keeper though!

27 — Penalty: Eduardo goes down under what looks like the slightest of contact. Dudu converts and the tie looks pretty much over.  I do want to mention that Arsenal deserved a goal with their play so far and that Celtic never looked to score.

30 — McGeedy confronts Dudu after the ref blows for an obvious foul. Celtic feel harshly done by here and I’m just hoping that Celtic players don’t take it upon themselves to get revenge.

33 — Bougherra hauls down Eboue and gets a yellow card, this is followed by a hard foul on Sagna. It’s getting TETCHY.

39 — William Gallas, Arsenal’s leading scorer, goes on a mazy run and caps it with a thunderous shot which is blocked for a corner. Oh, and Dudu is taking all the right sided free kicks because he is the only left-footer on the pitch except Vermy.

40 — Goal for Celtic ruled offside, rightly.

45 — Eboue and Diaby both are acting like the game is over, not tracking back, not keeping their head in the game. 45 more minutes boys.

45 — Evidently Eboue has been saving his energy to play as striker as he carries 50 yards at high speed then dumps to Eduardo who’s brilliant curler is parried by Boruc. The resulting corner leads to a wide open header by Bendtner, who nods the ball wide and immediately grasps his head in shame.

Half Time: I haven’t seen much from Celtic to indicate that they are going to drag a goal back in this match though I feel like if they do it might prompt some of the coasters out there to kick back into high gear.

I disagree with the halftime pundits, Eduardo had the ball at feet and Boruc did clip Eduardo’s right leg. Maybe Dudu made a meal of the contact, but there was contact, AND the ball doesn’t go out until Eddy knocks it out on the way down.

And yes, I hate diving.

3rd half kickoff — And we’re under way, no changes for the Arsenal

48 — McGreedy has a shot, I can’t tell you how important it is to not let this Celtic team back into this with an early goal.

49 — Scuffed shot from Eduardo there, he had a wide open counter, beat the last man and then scuffed the shot. Too bad, that would have ended this.

52 — The midfield goal scoring glut continues, Bendtner back heels to Diaby who, instead of taking the shot scoots it to Eboue who dribbles right and powers in a right footer, low, left corner. THAT is Arsenal football.

57 — Matt asked “how much money does the group stage actually generate for a club?” It depends on the club, some clubs get more television revenue than others, and it depends on the wins. £20m for Arsenal, even if they didn’t qualify, would be a conservative estimate.

60 — I’m calling it, Arsenal are now playing a 4-5-1 with Bendtner and Eboue wide and Dudu the lone target.

61 — Diaby off, Rambo on.

65 — Vermaelen follows Gallas forward on a rampaging run and Wenger’s transformation into an all out attacking team is complete. Not only do we have wing-backs, we’ve now got forward minded center backs.

70 — UNOFFICIAL POSSESSION STATS: Arsenal 63%, Referee 7%, Celtic 30%

72 — Dudu/Eboue off, Arshavin/Wilshere on. Is Wilshere our youngest ever Champions League player?  Just a sec…

74 — Had to watch the replay there as Arshavin makes it 3-0 with an absolute class goal: he just dips and turns his marker and puts the goal away.

78 — At 17 years 238 days Wilshere misses out on youngest Arsenal player in Europe by 109 days. That honor goes to Theo Walcott at 17 years 129 days. Oh well, he can’t beat Cesc at youngest goalscorer either. Cesc did it at 17 years 217 days.  DRAT!

86 — Just under 60,000 in attendance, red level members could certainly have gotten tickets. Oh uhh, football, little jack Wilshere took the ball away from some big Celtic bully and then Rambo NEARLY picked out Arshavin for what easily could have been an Arsenal 4th.

90 — With the match all but over, Sagna sags off Donati who puts in Celtic’s only shot of the match, a left-footed volley from the left side, off the post, 3-1 to Arsenal. It took an absolute perfect goal to break Arsenal’s defense.

All right you cocksandwiches, Arsenal got the win and are through to the next stage. Don’t get too down about the PK and the goal conceded, we won! We’ll do a full analysis tomorrow.

See you then!

Caption this photo to wile away the time before kickoff

Wait, what division is Notts County in?

I lied when I said that I wouldn’t do a post this morning. Sol Campbell has gone and signed with Notts County and well, it’s too rich a chance to pass up for some user-generated yuks.

So, think carefully, be creative, and keep the comments somewhat clean (racism, for example, will not be tolerated) but otherwise have fun in 7amkickoff’s very first, user caption “contest.”*

Oh and hey, it looks like Arsenal great Amaury Bischoff has landed feet up at, erm, Academica Coimbra. See you all around 11am (PST) for the liveblog.

*The winner gets the love and admiration of the billions who read this blog every day.