Liveblogging Arsenal v. Aston Villa pt. 1

Good morning!

A quick glance at the news reports this morning has Almunia and Adebayor healthy to face the Villans (but you knew that yesterday, if you read the blog). Fiery Jack is being tipped to play in the 2010 world cup — that’s not too soon is it? Gah… what is it about the psyche of the British people that they are constantly putting this type of pressure on children? They did it with Wayne Looney, Theo Walcott, and now Fiery Jack… dudes… give it a rest!

Arsenal will take on Burnley at, whatever the name of their stadium is, in the Carling Cup. Interestingly, Stoke, Tottenham and Man U all have ties that they should win as well. That means that if everything goes according to the odds, Arsenal could face three teams that I’d love to see this youth team beat. Of course, first things first: gotta beat Burnley.

One last thing… Arsene has said Eduardo could be back in two weeks. According to my calculations, that’s the League match against Chelsea. Hmm… I laughed when someone predicted that he’d come of the bench against Chelsea and now it looks like that prediction may come true.

Ok, lineup… looks like a 4-5-1 with Diaby coming in again, Nasri and Walcott out wide, Denilson and Cesc in the middle, Almunia in the sticks, Bendtner up front, and Silvestre paired with Gallas at the back.

Right, be back for kickoff.  UP THE ARSE!

Kickoff — Woo HOoOo! 7am kickoff!

1st minute — OK… uhh, SHAKY START, plus Mike Riley is the ref.

4′ Theo is absolutely destroying his marker Denilson plays him in and Theo makes a great pass that is wasted as it went in toward the hapless Bendtner.

5′ Almunia looks uncertain as Silvestre plays the ball back to him and he simply refuses to come out and claim it. It goes across for a Villa corner. UGH. I’m very quickly becoming tired of Almunia.

8′ I love your optimism Matt…

10′ Denilson gets a yellow for a horribly mistimed tackle. I want the same yellow when Gareth Barry does that to Arsenal.

14′ This is odd, Arsenal are playing long balls up to the increasingly useless Bendtner. Route 1 football from the team that — hey, some good movement and passing sees a shot on goal from Cesc spilled by Friedel and a drop ball after the whistle blows for an “injury”

18′ Mike Riley awards a penalty and gives Cesc a yellow for his late tackle (that happened earlier), Young steps up and ALMUNIA SAVES!!! I LOVE ALMUNIA!

OK — the problem is that Arsenal look to be on the ropes here. Regroup, pull your heads out of your asses and put this team under.

23′ Villa is dominating the midfield right now as evidenced by the fact that both of our central midfielders have yellows.

25′ Diaby could have gotten a yellow for a high boot that draws blood from the forehead of the Villa defender. I really want to see the penalty again… it looked like Theo won the ball but that’s probably just sour grapes on my part, Theo didn’t complain.

28′ I have pinpointed the problem with Bendtner, he is sporting some kind of rat tail hairstyle. Never trust a man with a rat tail.

30′ Denilson is having a nightmare against Sidwell and Young. Young makes a mazy run right through the center of the park and Denilson’s response was to try to trip him. Fortunately, Denilson is having sunch a bad day that he missed his trip or he would have been sent off.  Unfortunately, this means that Denilson is still on the pitch.

35′ A whole sale change is needed at this point, take Bendtner off, take Denilson off — Arsenal escape again after getting opened up by Villa Barry’s shot is directly at Almunia. Villa deserve this match at this point. Arsenal look like they are turning in one of “those” performances.

43′ What’s left to say? Arsenal are playing like a 7th place club. This is horrible.

If you haven’t reached for the cyanide you can catch the second half over here.

Return the Villans

Senderos Own Goal Aston Villa

It was this fixture last year that the wheels came off. Well, at least partially. Ok, almost completely but only for poor Phillipe Senderos. If you remember, Villa came to the Emirates in the match directly after the sickening tackle by Taylor had struck down Eduardo. Travelling Villa fans showed their intelligence by chanting sickening songs comparing Eduardo to Heather Mills. This in turn sparked fights, ejections, and a tranche of condemnation by all thinking people on the planet.

Furthering the psychic pain that Arsenal felt at the time, Senderos scored an own goal in the 27th minute, was sacrificed in the 80th minute and was only spared blushes by an injury time goal by Bendtner. Arsenal recovered enough to go to the San Siro and put two past their Italian hosts but really this fixture set a course for the season that would see us crash out of all three competitions. Further, this match was the penultimate last straw for Senderos (he officially broke the camel’s back against Liverpool in the Champions League one month later). He would never recover the form that Arsenal supporters and the boss expected and during the summer was dispatched to Italy to rot on the bench. 

Getting rid of Senderos haven’t cured Arsenal’s defensive woes and the back four will need to be on the watch for Ashley Young’s pace and ability to put in a cross, not to mention his ability from set pieces. Sagna has the most direct responsibility here but whoever Arsene puts in the center of defense will need to rise to the occasion and put in some clearances. If Almunia is still effected by the knock he took against United then I would expect Fabianski to come in and show the same youthful vigor he showed against Wigan and be the main Arsenal player to handle corners, crosses, and set pieces.  If Almunia is healthy then that responsibility lies with Gallas and Silvestre. That’s right, I don’t expect Toure to get any starts for ther time being; the boss clearly thinks he’s to blame for Arsenal’s aerial woes.

Well… lol… Wenger just passed both Almunia and Adebayor as fit. Oh well, I was kind of hoping to see Fabianski in the sticks but it looks like England’s Future Number One will get the start; Adebayor is a game time decision.

The rest of the squad picks itself, really. Everyone is rested and I don’t see any reason why Arsenal won’t play the same squad they played against United.  We will probably see Vela, Wilshere, and Ramsey on the bench and I suspect that Arsene will start Bendtner and bring on Vela and Ade late in the match if Arsenal don’t have a lead.

Either way I’m looking for a modicum of revenge here for last season’s game. Plus Arsenal really need to put in a good performance and show some consistency after the win against United. I would like to see the first team play with the fire that the kids had on Tuesday but I don’t expect it. I expect that the players will play their measured, moving, passing type of game.

WOO HOOO! It’s a 3pm kickoff over in England which means that we get a 7am (PST) kickoff over here! The match is live on Fox Soccer Channel and I will be doing the liveblogging thing from home, so stop by if you’re into that sort of thing. Local fans will have to wait until 9am if they want to catch the match at Doyle’s because they are playing some Liverpool match at 7 or something. Meh… I’ll be at home with some sausages and stuff.

Ok, that’s it, see you all tomorrow.

Eduardo's back?

Arsenal first team coach Boro Primorac has been quoted as saying that Eduardo participated in some light training with the squad on  Wednesday. Don’t get too excited, yet, kids: he’s got a long way to go before he can play in a full EPL match. His touch, his nose for goals, and not to mention how he handles his first Joey Barton tackle could all take a while to heal.  But the good news is that his bones have mended and he’s out with the team again.

Here’s to continued good health and a speedy recovery.

Rosicky, on the other hand, has had yet another specialist and yet another surgery and is at least 8 more weeks out. Due to the nature of the injury and the length of his recovery so far, I remain skeptical that he will ever play for Arsenal again.