Arsenal v. Wigan; liveblogging the second half.

Welcome the second half. There will be three “upgrade” breaks before we resume with my syphilis induced fever where I’m watching a clearly superior Arsenal team beat a bunch of hacks but everyone else is watching a hugely superior Wigan team get unlucky to a bunch of wussies. In fact, according to the announcers, Arsenal don’t actually have a back line, Wigan have had 36 shots on goal and Arsenal have been saved only by dint of a corrupt referee who is calling “unfortunate” offsides against Wigan.

Wigan is winning 1-0 since their real goal seems to be injure players by tackling from behind.

47′  – Heskey wins his 18,000th header which leads to… NOTHING. But the announcers make sure you know he’s totally dominating Arsenal at the moment.

50′ – Palacios tackles Denilson from behind and… wins a throw. The laws of physics no longer apply to Wigan.

51′ – HESKEY DOMINATES THE AIR!!!

52′ – a lucky escape for Arsenal as van Persie just misses a goal. If they had scored a second, Wigan would certainly be dominating this game even more than they already are.

58′ – Heskey is totally dominating Arsenal at the moment and van Persie has a great shot on goal to prove it. Plus Arsenal are having to pass the ball around and basically have shots at will, it’s such a dominating performance by Wigan.

60′ – I feel like Wigan should tie a tether to Heskey and fly him around the Emirates like an airship; he’s that good in the air.

64′ – Cattermole fouls van Persie and Figeuroa gets a yellow. The normal laws of football no longer apply.

70′ – Arsenal are lucky again, despite some great defense by Almunia and a handball by Melchiot they manage to scrap out a save.

76′ – It’s true Matt, if you see this game from a Wigan perspective Zaki is totally dominating.

82′ — van Persie booked for a “Wigan” style challenge, in which he wins the ball. I thought that was a throw in to the tackler. This “soccer” thing is hard to understand.

87′ – Great pass by Eboue, right to Zaki.  There was someone who commented that “no one on this team is shit” the other day. I present for your examination: Emmanuel Eboue.

90′ – WoW… Wenger pulls Eboue and puts in Silvestre, owch, the crowd cheers.  “Panic from the Arsenal” say the announcers. Sorry, I just don’t see it.

92′ – Preview of the weekend op-eds as the announcers take turns going after the fans, the boss, and anyone else for having a go at Eboue. Look, the kid is not very good and the last thing you do is leave him on when he’s making such a hash of the game. He literally didn’t know where he was on the pitch when he nipped the ball off Toure and passed it to the Wigan midfield.

Fin – 1-0 to the Arsenal and the talking heads are calling the Arsenal performance “lucky” and “panicky” and “blah blah.”

Huh… 1-0, Arsenal dominated possession, they kept a clean sheet, they had the clearest shots on goal, and they put the game away at the end despite Eboue’s shakiest game I’ve ever seen him play.

The symbol of the game is when Silvestre put his arm around Eboue as he was coming off — it’s not that I hate Eboue, I feel compassion for him, but he was having a nightmare. Do you leave him on in and lose the match in order to stroke his ego? No. You pull him off and help rebuild him in practice. Jesus, you’d think the announcers never played football.

Ok, The Good, Bad and Ugly tomorrow.  I’m going to get in the tub and get ready for Bright Lights Big Costco!

Arsenal v. Wigan; liveblogging first half

Before the Match

Wenger gave his press conference yesterday and had to spend a lot of time quashing rumors. First, he is saying that Gallas is Arsenal quality and can stay as long as he likes. Pshhhs — sure, he’s a decent player, I just doubt he can keep his head. Whatever, so long as he doesn’t get in the way of Arsenal’s progress that’s fine, keep him on. Now, if Citeh comes knocking and offers millions, I say take it.

Second, Wenger spoke about the Cesc to Milan/Citeh/Barca/blah blah rumors and said that Cesc is committed. I’ve never believed a single rumor of Cesc moving, probably because he’s always been quick to shoot them down and unequivocal about denying them. So yes, he’s obviously committed. Just so long as he’s not Robbie Savage committed we’ll be fine.

Finally, Wenger reiterated his desire for video replay and basically said that he’d rather not beat Chelsea with an offside goal. But as he points out, there have been several ocassions that come to mind where Arsenal have been the recipient of a bad call which led to a goal. So, either you institute video replay or shut up.

Team News

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Clichy, Denilson, Fabregas, Song Billong, Nasri, Van Persie, Adebayor. Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Ramsey, Silvestre, Wilshere, Bendtner, Eboue.
Wigan: Kirkland, Taylor, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Palacios, Cattermole, Melchiot, Heskey, Camara. Subs: Kingson, Kilbane, Koumas, Brown, Zaki, De Ridder, Kapo.

Hmmmm… That’s a strong lineup for the Arsenal and a bit of a weakened lineup for Wigan. Lets put this one away early so that Zaki can’t come in late and rescue the points.

I can’t wait to see how Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) displays the midfield lineup.

Time for ham and eggs be back for kickoff.

I should post the “Upgrade” picture everytime that commercial comes on.

1′ — Woo hoo! Come on Arsenal!

7′ — Cattermole doing a good job policing the midfield, come on boys get stuck in.

10′ — The announcers are calling Cesc’s late tackle a yellow card. Please, he didntouch the man. Bramble jumped out of the way, that is in no way a yellow card.

11′ — Bramble slides in on an onrushing Denilson, very late… there’s your yellow. I realize I’m sensitive to this but it seems like the announcers always see the Arsenal foul and never the opponent… In fact, the douche just called that a “good tackle” on the replay. Yes, it’s a good tackle when you take out the man just so long as you get a piece of the ball. RIGHT???

16′ — Ball drops in the box and Adebayor puts on a clinic in finishing. Pay attention Bendtner, that’s how it’s done.

19′ — Wigan fouls three Arsenal players and no call… this is now getting old. Oh hey, look, the ref has a chat with Cattermole who was caaught holding Sagna on a break away, everything is even now, right?

22′ — FREE KICK!!! I FEEL LIKE ARSENAL JUST WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!

23′ — This is just out of control, van Persie is tripped in the box and the annoucers say “he’s stumbling there.” Of course, no call. I’m not going to talk about it any more it’s driving me insane.

26′ — Tackle from behind. WHEEE YELLOW CARD. I lasted all of 2 minutes.

29′ — Arsenal are responding to the physicality of Wigan, someone is going to get hurt.

32′ – Ok, I turned the announcers off, as Eboue warms up to replace Nasri. We haven’t had Eboue for a month and I haven’t missed him in the least.

42′ — Toure and Djourou are doing pretty well at the back and Clichy looks like a new player now that Gallas has been stripped of the captaincy. He looks, more… confident?

45′ – Adebayor nearly scores a second after Kirkland gets a great fingertip save and the announcer says that a second goal would have been hard on Wigan. Uhhh… the only thing “hard on” Wigan is this guy. It’s pretty disgusting, but then, they cut away to the studio and the talking head there says something similar… maybe I’m watching a different match?

Huh… Oh well, second half over here.

Cesc to coach Sunderland via SMS, or something

First, the awesome news. As my regular reader can tell by the fact that the site took ten minutes to load this morning, I updated the header to the new, improved “Dudu Header.” This is in honor of the imminent return of Eduardo, which I actually read buried in this story about Gallas not playing tomorrow. According to Wenger, Eduardo has been full-contact practicing and just needs a few games before he re-joins the first team. What’s really exciting about this is how ready Wenger is to play him, it must mean that Dudu is scoring bags of goals in practice or something.

Even if he isn’t scoring bags of goals, Eduardo could hardly be worse than Nicklas Bendtner, who, according to my French source, has had his Nike sponsorship canceled after his Carling Cup profiligacy and will no longer be allowed to sport their Pink boots.

Second, I saw the story linking Cesc to Milan yesterday and chose not to report it as soon as I read the actual quote that came out of Cesc’s mouth. It was and is a non-story, if you can’t even get Setanta to bite on it, it must be a fugazi. Irregardless, Cesc issued denial number 7 via the club’s web site, saying:

It is true that I said I admire Milan for their rich history and the way they play football but that is as far as the story goes. I am honoured to be wearing the captain’s armband for Arsenal and I am 100 per cent committed to this Club. My future is here.

Next I expect Cesc’s agent to fly into Manchester and have lunch with some Citeh people so that the press can run “CESC TO JOIN CITEH” headlines.

And why not, Citeh reportedly offered to buy out Iker Casillas’ contract, which has the most retardulous £130m buy out clause, ever.  $250m for a goal keeper? What? Part of me hopes that Citeh come knocking at our door and offer $200m for Fabregas. I know he wouldn’t go but I like to play the “what could Arsenal do with that money?” game. How about pay off the stadium? Buy a bunch of 16 year olds before FIFA crams some new rules down our throats? Sit on the money and say the squad doesn’t need any improvement?

Maybe Citeh will just buy William Gallas. Why not? His best friend’s sister’s cousin’s brother told the Sun that he feels “humiliated” by Arsenal. Let’s start the “Gallas to Citeh” rumours right here and now.

I wonder how much Citeh will offer for William Gallas?

How do I watch Arsenal on TV?

There’s a second story in that link above that has ESPN withdrawing their bid for Bundesliga rights so that they can consolidate and make a huge bid for the EPL rights. Supposedly, ESPN wants the rights to show the games online as well as on their flagship television stations. I love this idea: as an American, it’s my God given right to watch English Football in high def, isn’t it?

B r a k e ? That’s in your car, dummy (not safe for work language)

And finally, Niall Quinn revealed that Roy Keane, the bravest, strongest man to ever mount the pitch, a God among boys, quit Sunderland via text message. After going emo for four days, he finally “manned up” and texted his boss his resignation. I guess you can add craven to the list of adjectives used to describe the great Roy Keane.

Oh, and guess who is coming to town to replace him… Sam Allardyce. I bet the fans in Newcastle support this appointment.

That’s it for today, Wigan preview in the morning and I’ll be liveblogging the match. See you at 7am PST, for the, erm, kickoff.