Tag Archives: FA Cup

BAHA 2-3 Arsenal: Super Tom saves the day

Arsenal got off to a bright start against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Falmer Stadium but needed a little late magic from man of the match Tomas Rosicky to move on to the next round.

Arsène Wenger made 11 changes to the team which beat Man City last week. In defense, Szczesny started in goal, Gibbs left back, Monreal second left back, Koscielny third left back, and Chambers played right wing. Flamini was brought in as defensive pointer, Ramsey played somewhere, and Rosicky was charged with running all over the pitch and being all around brilliant. Up front, Giroud did his hair, Özil played like a 150lb sack of feathers, and Theo Walcott was charged with dribbling straight into opposition defenders.

Chris Houghton’s men set out to obfuscate from the start but before the ink could dry on their game plan Calum Chambers galloped up the right side, played a good cross to Theo Walcott who took a touch to set the ball and stroked across the keeper. It was all Theo would do on the day and after that goal he went for a lie down.

Still, If Albion’s plan was to defend first, they failed at that within 90 seconds.

From there everyone expected The Seagulls to come out and attack Arsenal but there was no such impetus. Instead they sat back and allowed Arsenal to run roughshod over them. In that first half, Albion played the part of Switzerland and neither defended nor countered. And to carry that analogy further, Arsenal played the part of Italy and attacked Ethiopia, and nearly lost.

Arsenal were afforded as much space as they wanted with the ball, rarely being challenged on a dribble or even closed down when they made a pass. Tomas Rosicky simply waltzed across the Albion back line and when he spotted Özil in 10 yards of space inside the box, played a clever reverse through ball to him. Özil, who had more time in the box than a Christmas present, took two touches to settle the ball before firing into the short side for Arsenal’s second.

Arsenal finished the half doing whatever they wanted to Albion and no metaphor is needed here.

Perhaps Chris Houghton had a word with his players because Albion started the second half a little more dively than the first. Calderon, in particular, dove to win a free kick (which didn’t produce a save) and then dove again in the penalty box when he felt a little nip at the heels from Koscielny. He wasn’t awarded a penalty. Just saying that in case you think he was.

Albion put a little pressure on Arsenal when Monreal’s insane clearance went from the left side of the Arsenal box to Calum Chambers, the right back. Chambers didn’t challenge for the ball and an Albion player (does it matter which one?) climbed all over his back to win the knock down. Sam Baldock, who is not an ambiturner, turned left and his “marker” Flamini was left trundling at his side as Baldock shot into the short side between Koscielny’s legs who was trying to shy away from the shot. It was a very Arsenal goal to concede.

Then the moment of the match. Arsenal had Albion pinned down in a pill box and were peppering them with fire from their Tommy gun. I was having a lie down and watching the whole event unfold from my couch, like any good officer does, and when Rosicky tackled away the ball in the Albion final third, I sat up. He then avoided a sort of tackle and made a clever no look pass to Giroud who did that thing Giroud does where he just stands the ball up for someone. That someone was Rosicky who was being marked closely by teammate Aaron Ramsey. Rosicky shrugged off his marker and hit home a brilliant volley that basically said “ICH BIN EIN BERLINER.”

(The FA took down my video)

The whole time Rosicky was being brilliant and scoring goals of the season candidates Theo Walcott was wide open on the right side of the pitch screaming for the ball. That was my favorite moment of the match.

Arsenal should have won the game easily but Arsenal doesn’t do easily. So they conceded a second goal. That forced Wenger to go to the bench and bring on Akpom, Alexis, and Coquelin. Coquelin brought a measure of calmity to the proceedings. Calmity or calmitude? Whatever, Arsenal looked more solid.

Akpom was set free twice and both times had Alexis to his right, wide open and directly in front of goal. Akpom chose to shoot both times, sadly ending his Arsenal career. Alexis then hit a series of direct free kicks into various places that weren’t the goal. Though all were pretty close!

It was the kind of performance from Rosicky that will leave many Arsenal fans wondering why he doesn’t get more playing time. Rosicky had been no-looking and back-heeling, cutting back, and slipping in balls, all day. Also running around. Tackling. Dribbling. He was just super.

Arsenal are one step closer to back to back FA Cup wins. Which, if Wenger can manage that, will leave the Wenger outers with little choice but to say that the FA Cup isn’t really a trophy. Thus debasing even their hero, George Graham.

Qq

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Zaphod switches on the Improbability Drive for the FA Cup: what will Arsenal be when it is turned off?

When Manchester United drew level 0-0 with Cambridge United on Friday the infinite improbability drive turned a quarter revolution. When City lost 2-0 to Middlesboro, Southampton lost 3-2 to Crystal Palace, Spurs lost 2-1 to Leicester City, Chelsea lost 4-2 to The Bantams, and Liverpool drew 0-0 to Bolton, with almost all of these games home games for the big clubs, the improbability drive spun all the way to infinite improbability.

Once the infinite improbability drive is switched on there is no telling where we may end up or what life form we will be when we get there. Personally, I’ve always wanted to be a Sphinx. With my luck, however, I’d be a Sphinx who can’t tell a riddle.

What’s blue in the morning, white in the day, blue at night, complains about a referee conspiracy, called Arsène Wenger a voyeur and a specialist in failure, claimed that the Invincibles record wasn’t that special, said that no team of his would ever concede five goals, and said it would be a disgrace if his team lost to Bradford in the FA Cup because they have Winning DNA?

Jose Mourinho?

No. Moby Dick.

I don’t think that’s the right answer.

Doesn’t matter, I’m the Sphinx, you’re the adventurer and your adventure is now over.

While I was dreaming of eating adventurers there was a man in a Seahawks hat and a University of Washington Hoodie attending a match in Liverpool. He’s not from Seattle, he’s from Tacoma. A dusty old jewel in the South Puget Sound. And there he is meters from Brendan Rodgers. Did Brendan use his envelopes of clairvoyance to predict the name of the man who would come from Tacoma to watch his favorite football team draw 0-0 to Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup 4th round? And did this Tacoman waste his 12th man mojo on Liverpool? We need that back here, mate. In America. Where the Seahawks are trying to beat the dirtiest team in American football.

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Perhaps I am guilty of wishful thinking. When the improbability drive stops I’ll probably end up something boring. A glacial pond. My surface rarely disturbed, calm, tranquil. And perhaps you will be a pebble. Brought into existence by improbability exactly 10 feet above me. Despite my protestations, you’ll fall in causing ripples across my surface. They are mere ripples and the ripples are fleeting, dying quickly as they ring outward. But these ripples are like waves to an old pond. Their last gasp deliciously lapping at my shores.  And as they die and I delight, you’ll settle into my depths, below where I can see you, into my bed with all the pebbles who came before you.

Chamakh and Sanogoals scored. Not sure what else to say about that.

What will Arsenal be when the improbability drive stops? Will we be one of the few top teams moving on to the next round? Will we be the favorites? Will we be the team that has a few extra games on our way to a second cup final in as many years? Will those extra cup games hurt our chances for a 4th place trophy? Would you rather Arsenal win 4th place or back to back FA Cups?

Wenger has pulled out all the improbable tricks off the pitch. Signing *BOILK* in the week and (it was announced by Villareal) signing Gabriel today for £14m. The Gabriel deal includes a trade for Joel Campbell which is fantastic, for me. That way I don’t have to hear people bang on about how Joel Campbell needs to get a look in at Arsenal. He doesn’t. If Arsenal are looking to Joel Campbell for goals, this club is in more trouble than even the most negative naysayer thinks.

To put it bluntly, I’m glad Campbell went on loan during this period of improbability. Perhaps when the improbability drive switches off he’ll turn into an actual football player. Him and Podolski both. I’m not holding out too much hope. They’ll probably turn into a whale and a potted plant, respectively. Which in the case of Podolski would be an improvement. A potted plant is at least moved around the house three or four times a year.¹

 

All that said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s not revel in the improbability of our rival’s pain. Arsenal still have a game to play tomorrow and let’s face it: it looks like anything can happen.

Qq

¹Oh calm down, you. I’m have a few laughs at some Arsenal players who will never make the grade at Arsenal. Not because Wenger “played them out of position” but because they just weren’t good enough. In a year or two you’ll see. Just like Sagna and Clichy, Adebayor, and Gallas. Just not good enough.

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Match Day Photo of the Month: Homeboy Arsène Gets a Raw Deal

By Jonathan Blaustein

Poor Barack Obama. That guy doesn’t get any credit. To listen to the media, you’d think he was Wile E. Coyote. Hopeless, hapless, and shit out of luck.

His hair’s gone gray. His daughters will be dating soon. And I’m sure he can’t get laid without a security guard in the room.

:(

I suppose only history will vindicate the man. Were anyone to be even remotely objective, they’d look at the numbers. The stock market is at an all-time high. Unemployment is down. Gas prices have plummeted. The dollar is at its highest level in more than a decade. The economy grew at 5% in the last quarter, and is forecast to top 3% for 2015. (That’s practically Chinese-level-growth, for an established power.)

All while Europe is in the toilet, Russia is in the tank, and the Asian powers have to worry about crazy Kim Jong Un messing up the neighborhood.

People forget the mess Barack Obama inherited. The world was on the precipice of anarchy, for goodness sake. Mad Max was not seen as a good movie to remake, with dashing Tom Hardy, but a realistic future scenario. People were “this” close to hoarding fresh water.

Fast forward to now, and you’d think that our basketball-playing President would be doing victory laps around the gym. Instead, he just lost Congress, and gets about as much respect as a cockroach in a restaurant kitchen.

Like I said, homeboy gets a raw deal.

Sounds a bit like Arsene Wenger’s situation, if you ask me. The man spends money now, brought in a trophy, managed the move to a beautiful stadium he helped design, shepherded the team to a phase of solid commercial deals, and bought Arsenal the most exciting player many of us have seen in years. (Yes, I mean you, Alexis. You handsome, handsome devil.)

I know the haters are plentiful. He doesn’t do tactics. His players keep getting injured more frequently than Russell Brand bangs groupie-sluts. He can’t zipper his jacket. Hell, even Graham Fucking Norton made a joke about him having a small penis on TV the other day.

So why do I still respect the man? Because he will be vindicated by history. And because I haven’t been a fan as long as you have. I’m the good old voice of reason, and I’m here to remind you that the future looks bright.

We’ve got a solid chance of beating Monaco. And if we do, the winner of Porto and Basel awaits. Not exactly frightening. That means we have the potential to go further in the Champions League than we have in years.

With respect to the Premier League, sure, we’re not winning it this year. But the top 4 seems genuinely likely. Which means AW can strengthen in the summer, bringing in Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Gundogan, or someone of that ilk. Maybe he’ll use his entire summer budget on Paul Pogba? You can’t rule it out.

Throw in the CB we’re about to buy this month, and you’re looking at a team that can compete for anything in 2015-16. (And beyond.)

And don’t forget the FA Cup. Did you see the game against Hull on Sunday? Arsenal haven’t looked that self-assured in months. And we’re due back Arteta, Ramsey, Ozil, Giroud, Welbeck, and eventually Wilshere.

Step back, and the future looks bright. AFC might even have a decent chance at another FA Cup run this year. Chelsea’s veil of impenetrability has been punctured, and City choked the bone in that competition 2 years running. So you never know.

Just think back to May. How did it make you feel? When Ramsey scored that late goal? Jubilant? Telepathic? Sexually Aroused?

Just think back to May. The open-topped bus. With all those guys riding through the streets, soaking up your love and adulation. Did you feel like a little kid? I know the players did.

How do I know?

Because this month’s Matchday Photo of the Month is a throwback. It was sent in this December, just after the shit show at Stoke. Our photographer, Ian Wytiam, even referenced “Joel, get out while you still can” in his email.

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In the worst of times, Ian was thinking back to May. He was wistful, hopeful, and a good sport to boot. He was thinking of you guys. He wanted to remind you how recently AW got that big horny gorilla off his back. He wanted you to look ahead, past the Winter blues and blahs.

Just remember, this photo says. Glory awaits. Maybe not this year. But soon. Poor Theo Walcott is watching the road behind him, as he knows he still has 6 months of grueling rehab ahead. Who’d want to look forward to THAT on a day like THIS, his body language implies.

Santi Cazorla, ever the practical one, is wearing a baseball hat to block the sun. Kieran Gibbs is wearing the kind of Ray-Bans that people think are cool, but really aren’t. And there’s no Lukas Podolski in sight. (IMHO, that guy was a goofy one-trick pony. We all love goals, sure, but tracking back is what makes even the idiot-Tony-Gales of the world gush over our lad Alexis.)

Look at those security guards, running next to the bus. They mean business. Because the Premier League is big business, these days. People slag of Arsene everywhere, every day, but he helped make it so. The man gets credit for nothing.

But what do you think about Alexis? Or Calum Chambers? Santi Cazorla? Debuchy? Danny Welbeck? Aaron Ramsey? Mesut Ozil? Olly Giroud, when he’s not losing his mind? Don’t they prove that good old Arsene still knows what he’s doing?

I could be wrong, and lord knows I’m not the expert that many of you are, but from where I’m sitting, at my white kitchen table, looking out at the white snow, covered in rabbit poop, I’m pretty happy with how 2014 turned out. And I believe 2015-7 promises a run that will make us feel special in our cold, dark hearts. (The next few years will make us tingle, like when you pour too much Gold Bond powder on your johnson. Imagine how much Gold Bond poor Shaquille O’Neal must need to cover his monster-sized junk…)


As for the runner’s up, we’ve got three this month.

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First off, Sean Thum sent us a photo of the first IRL meeting of the Malaysian Gunners Facebook fan-club. (Taken right after that meathead Skrtel headed in the equalizer for Liverpool.) I might  write as an American, as does our fearless leader, Tim, but let’s not forget that loving Arsenal is a global affair. And while I’m freezing my ass off, I bet those guys in Selangor are drinking cold beers and walking home in shorts. Bastards.

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Second, this picture came in from Hamza Ade, who took it at a live-cast at the Emirates, during the aforementioned game in Stoke-on-Trent. He actually told his kid that Arsenal won the game, so as not to upset him. Gotta love a good lie, if it means your boy doesn’t cry all the way home.

pinksky

Finally, I’m throwing in my own abstracted offering, just to inspire you to think outside the box. When I woke up early on a freezing cold morning, getting ready to watch the QPR game on the Ipad, I went outside and looked up at the pink sky. It was so beautiful, I went back for the camera. My nose-hairs practically froze into stalactites, but I persevered, to share a bit of loveliness with you guys.

Happy New Year. Let’s see some pictures after a win next month, fellas. (Or ladies. If you’re out there.)

If you would like to see your work featured here send your match day photos to matchdayphotoofthemonth@gmail.com