‘Kolo, we’re going to win’

My co-workers make me sick, maDe, made, sorry about that. My co-workers made me sick by coming in to work while coughing up a lung. And now, I’m sitting here, unable to sleep, but tired, coughing up what little lungs I have left, high on nyQuil.

This will either be the best or worst blog. evar.

My two favorite quotes ahead of the match today are the one in the headline, spoken by Eduardo, and this gem from Wenger

To be professional is to do what it takes for your team to be successful, no more than that. It does not mean that you go to paradise together. (emph. added)

To the first, after an injured Eduardo missed his penalty, he came back to the group, clearly distraught and instead of the woe is me that we saw from Ronaldo last year in their penalty shoot out with slippy boots Chelsea, simply said “Kolo, we’re going to win.”

I’ve been calling for a leader to step up on this team and it looks like we finally have one; a man who overcame the horror of Martin Taylor’s lunge to step back on the pitch and face hundreds of Taylor’s and score on them with flair.

Guts, Dudu’s got guts and sometimes guts are enough.

I’m also quite liking this Toure renaissance. Yes he spoke out about his feud with Cappy and I don’t like that, but he didn’t reveal much and in fact said that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. It was exactly the kind of clear the air that was needed.

Now, he’s out here, geeing up the club with all this positive talk. I see a lesson there for us gloom and doomers and the folks who like to jump on us: in ‘Merica we say, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. Never mind that I don’t like flies because flies means fly eggs and fly eggs mean maggots, which are gross.

(BRING IT HOME, NYQUIL)

The point is, we could all use a dose of positive thinking and certainly some of the signs are there so it’s really good to see our stand-in captain saying really positive things. Sort of shining sunshine on those of us who have been a bit negative  of late.

I have some maxims and one is that “In a leadership vacuum, leaders always emerge.” It looks like we’ve got a few leaders suddenly emerging, and that give me great hope.

And them of course, you have to have a laugh at Wenger’s quote. “Go to paradise together” what does that even mean? Screwing on top of a rainbow? Unicorns and ponies for everyone?

I don’t get it, is that a French-ism?

Maybe it’s the nyQuil, but for me it sort of conjures up Kolo and Gallas walking off into the sunset, hand in hand, bluebirds are tweeting nearby and unicorns look up from grazing in a field of poppies by a deep blue lake.

No wait… isn’t paradise Kolo and Cappy raising Ole Big Ears while streamers pop-off near by and Cesc drinks from a giant glass of champagne held up by Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott and the final score was 13-0 and everyone scored except Eboue who scored a hat trick and the press write about Arsenal’s “miracle season” and we all go off into the summer sun singing

“We love the Arsenal we do, we love the Arsenal we do, we love the Arsenal, we do, oh Arsenal we love you!”

In that case, I actually want Cappy and Kolo to go to paradise together.

Back in reality, Arsenal face Blackburn today and they will need all the positive imagery they can muster to overcome Sam’s lump and crunch football.

I’m imagining an early goal from Arshavin… that would be a mini paradise wouldn’t it?

Big Sam Hoodoo Has Actually Been Dead for Years

either that or he's checking his tonsils.

Good morning kickers, quick blog today because, well, because I feel like it.

Straight in with a two footed tackle to the shins, our opponents on Saturday (Blackburn, a pack of no talent hacks plus the greatest diver of all time) are talking shiat because they had a huge win over, erm, Fulham on Wednesday.

Half man-half shrew Stephen Warnock has sounded the alarm bells and said that they plan to run Arsenal off the pitch because both teams played on Wednesday but Arsenal played 30 minutes more than Blackburn and that means Blackburn have an advantage.

Yeah.

I just want to point out two things:

  1. No Sam Allardyce team has run Arsenal off the pitch in nearly 2.5 years (Nov. 2006).
  2. “You should have been in the dressing room after the game – it was like we’d just won the World Cup final. The atmosphere was brilliant.” — Theo Walcott talking about the team atmosphere after the Roma match.
  3. While Arsenal did play a bit more than Bolton, I mean Blackburn, they have better squad depth and Wenger’s rotation will see fresh, quality legs like Andrei Arsaviour coming in to the match.

Now, I know that that’s technically 3 things, but I think we can sort of conflate them into two things: Arsenal are on a three game win streak (Roma is a loss but you can’t tell me that’s not a win) and Blackburn can go f*ck themselves.

On the injury front, it turns out that Eduardo pulled his groin in the Roma match (which might account for his soft penalty) and is back out for a couple of weeks. Sad, but that’s how that works: it takes time to get your body used to playing at the top level after having your leg broken by Steven Taylor.

Who Wenger will play is up for debate, feel free to hash it out in the comments.

Finally, Diaby has said he doesn’t mind being dubbed the “new Vieira” despite looking nothing like him and playing no where near the same style of game. Yeah, sure, he’s the new Vieira. Kind of like “New Coke” was the new Coke and everyone hated it.

Actually, I like Diaby and he’s grown a bit in my estimation the last few matches. I kind of touched on this when spoke about how both Song and Denilson both seemed to play better with Diaby in there rather than each other. But look, it’s a string of three games, I’m not getting ahead of myself and hailing him as the new anything until I see some more consistency. That he says “What I must do is work as twice hard in order to improve” goes a long way toward raising my hopes that he will one day be the new Vieira. But for now, I’d settle for him just being the New Diaby.

Irregardless, the match is on Setanta tomorrow and the 3pm GMT kickoff is actually at 8am PST — remember, we should be GMT -8 but owing to the ridiculous fact that we start daylight savings early over here we are temporarily GMT -7, also, this is where I usually make a joke about how Bush ruined time for America.

I can’t make it down for the live match because I’m being a responsible father but I’ve asked Doyle’s if they can record the game for me. We’ll see, maybe I can get down there around noon and have a pint and watch the game. Drop me a note in the comments if you’re in the same boat for some reason.

Ashita Mañana.

Roma 1-0 Arsenal; kids go through on penalties

this-image-is-everywhere, at least I'm trying to do something original with it

Match Video

As always, the Arsenalist has the video.  I had to actually download the file from the link he provides since either my script blocker is preventing the inline video from playing or the inline video is just broken. Either way, it’s totally worth it.

Man of the Match

I wanted to give Man of the Match to Almunia because, I reasoned, keepers get to shine during penalty shootouts and since we won on penalties you have to give the nod to Almunia. If you add in that he made a game saving finger-tip save, it seemed a lock for the big fella to get the champagne.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the whole team shined in that shootout last night. Eduardo had missed the first penalty and, like a foil for the game itself, the team had to overcome that let down and just put in a solid bit of work. Which they did, one after the other, 7 in a row.

7 in a row!

These are kids! I mean, Theo has never taken a penalty before and yet he stuck it like a pro. But even singling Theo out is unfair because each one of these players, down the line, stood up for each other, and just did what they were asked.

In the end, it took 7 teammates to win that match, so I’m giving the whole team Man of the Match.

Match Reports

All the match reports I’ve read tell it like it was, which is to say, a rather shitty game. After Roma scored both teams seemed to have let off the gas a bit and the match became 120 minutes of not allowing the opponent to score.

That said, as I sat there watching Roma play defense and Arsenal try to play offense the one thing that stood out was Roma was wasting time — at the 60th minute. I can’t remember their names but there were several times that an Arsenal player would put in a good tackle and the Roma player would go to ground, and start rolling around feigning injury. Then the f*cking stretcher would come out and take this guy off the pitch only to have him pop right back up and be ready to come on right away.

I know that the carrot colored c*nt Spalletti said they were going to have a “cautious” approach but I didn’t expect them to be playing for penalties at the 60th minute. Was that really the game plan? Get a goal and then sit back and go to penalties?  Strange.

And the goal… *sigh* Totti plays in a cross, Gallas pokes and misses, Toure pokes and misses and the ball rolls through 7 more pairs of legs and slowly  comes to Juan, who is sitting on the edge of the box, skimming through his copy of Ivanhoe. Juan kind of looks around, saves his place in the book, takes a little touch, and calmly puts the ball in the net. Gross. Infuriating. Sickening.

In the end, that goal didn’t matter though.

Hell, in the end, nothing mattered; not Roma’s “game plan” (whatever that was), not Arsenal’s poor performance, not the one squandered chance that Eboue played in to Bendtner, not Totti’s leg brace, not the dive in the box, and not even Eduardo’s soft penalty kick… nothing mattered.

Because in the end, a collection of kids stood shoulder to shoulder and calmly put in 7 penalties in a row.

That’s all that mattered.

Conclusion

It almost doesn’t matter who we get paired with in the next round (who wants to bet that we get Barcelona?), or that Arsenal host Blackburn on Saturday, and Hull Shitty on Tuesday. Because as I watched the boys celebrate it occurred to me that they may have reached a moment in this most difficult of seasons that the team came together and gutted out a performance, as a team.

So, whatever happens from here on out, I’m hopeful that they can take that moment where they stood shoulder to shoulder and put 7 penalties in as a team, take that forward and build on it. No matter what else happens this season, they will always have Rome and I’d love to see them capitalize on that.