Archive for March, 2006

We have to win every game now…

12 comments March 31st, 2006

…starting with Villa at home tomorrow.

Spurs, Bolton and Blackburn all present genuine competition for the fourth Champions League spot, with Spurs currently in the driving seat. However, they still have to play us and Bolton. It is far from over.

I genuinely believe we can win all of our remaining games. Of course we can. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible. And it may be neccessary.

Villa are a team that we should comfortably beat. Especially when you consider that we comfortably beat Juventus in midweek. There is no real injury news, except that Dennis Bergkamp is out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cesc Fabregas rested, with Abou Diaby in line to come in.

Our 8 game winning run to secure fourth place starts here.

Come on Arsenal!

ps. No, I have no idea who those people are.

Cesc vs. Vieira the same as Arsenal vs. Juve: No Contest.

90 comments March 29th, 2006

What a night. When we overcame Real Madrid in the last round, it was a tremendous result. But neither of those performances were quite as good as last night’s, when we not only mugged, but probably murdered the old lady of Juventus.

If any old ladies reading are offended by the above I apologise, but the emotive nature of our victory has lead to unfortunately violent language.

We were dominant in every area of the field. The 4-5-1 system which served us so well against Madrid was employed again, the only difference being that Robert Pires took Freddie Ljungberg’s attacking midfield role. Pires was a revelation, hounding Vieira and Emerson every time they got the ball, and in fact putting in the excellent tackle which lead to the first goal.

A goal scored by Cesc Fabregas: an 18-year-old who made two World Cup winners in Emerson and Vieira look like Tottenham players. Since the turn of the year, he has been simply outstanding. 2006 could well turn out to be an Absolutely Fabregas year for the boy wonder, with the PFA Young Player of the Year award surely on the horizon.

His duel with Vieira was fascinating, and it seemed almost symbolic that Vieira will not even be able to take part in the second leg, having picked up a booking. One commentator even had the temerity to suggest that his foul may not have been entirely accidental.

The second half showed that we weren’t prepared to sit back on 1-0. The penetration from Eboue and Flamini matched any of Cole and Lauren’s attacking skills, as we pushed for a second goal. The pressure mounted, and eventually, Juventus caved. Hleb slid in Fabregas, who looked up before tucking the ball back to Henry, who of course managed to scoop the ball into the net. 2-0. Against Juve. In the quarter-finals. Words fail me.

At this point, Juventus seemed to lose control of two rather important things for playing football: their legs, and their brains. The rest gained from not playing Pompey had, in spite of my protestations, clearly done us some good, and the Italians were visibily tiring. And once their heads dropped, they were doomed. Two late sendings off for Camaronesi and Zebina seemed almost inconsequential. The night was Arsenal’s.

But not the tie, if you listen to the grounded Cesc. At least not yet. I suppose he’s right. But for now, enjoy last night. And enjoy this picture, which I noticed on Arseblog. It perfectly sums up Paddy and Juve’s evening.

Brilliant, wasn’t it.

Cesc vs. Paddy just hours away…

87 comments March 28th, 2006

…and I missed out on getting a ticket by the skin of my teeth. Bugger,

Here are the pair in happier times.

It’s funny, because this game is absolutely enormous, and yet this whole Vieira thing has completely dominated the hype. You’d almost forget that this was a Champions League quarter-final. In fact, you might forget that it’s actually eleven versus eleven, not just Cesc and Vieira playing a little game of one-on-one.

You can understand the hyperbole though. In the first half of our season we were pretty poor, and the loss of Vieira was a huge part of that. Subsequently, Cesc has been at the heart of our revival. Seeing the two in direct competition will tell us a lot about how far the diminuitive Spaniard has come.

Sol is “injured”, and Fredrik Ljungberg has failed to come back, so I’d imagine the team will look something like:

If we’re good enough to beat Real, we can beat Juventus. Bring on Vieira.

Why I’m disappointed by Portsmouth

290 comments March 26th, 2006

Until this season, I really liked Portsmouth. They were a good solid club with excellent players, whose combination of hard-work and flair made them a great team to watch. Guys like Steve Stone, Yakubu, Lua-Lua, and De Zeuw were all genuine Premiership stalwarts.

But then they got rid of Harry, and now have turned into a club whose doors revolve faster than Wayne Rooney’s local sweetshop. The teamsheet is now unrecognisable, and even the return of Redknapp has failed to restore the famous Pompey spirit.

But all that was fine. I still wished them the best in their battle to stay up – after all, Harry is a gooner.

However, yesterday’s postponement of our match deeply upset me. I had been looking forward to the game all week, and had left a meeting early to get to a pub in time for the kick-off. For a Premiership club in 2006 to have to cancel a match due to a bit of rain is really pretty poor show.

Grrrr. Whilst some think it’s great we’ve had a rest before Tuesday, players like van Persie could’ve done with some match-time.

But basically I’m just pissed off.

Pompey Team News – Sol out for Juve?

11 comments March 24th, 2006

“Reyes is out,” said Arsene Wenger yesterday. “So is Ljungberg, Cole, Cygan, Clichy, Lauren and Campbell”.

Poor grammar aside, it’s a pretty good summary. But the injury list is shortening, however slowly.

Sol’s exclusion suggests that Senderos will continue for Juventus on Tuesday night, but I would expect Reyes to be in that team regardless of having no match practise. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was ready for today, but just being held back.

Portsmouth should be easy.


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