A truly unbelievable game. If you were a neutral viewer or a Tottenham supporter, that has to be the game of the season thus far. I, for one, seriously doubt we'll see a better match in the months that follow.
That being said, I'm not a neutral viewer, and I'm definitely not a Tottenham supporter. And what I saw today was not a brilliant display of attacking football (and suspect goalkeeping) by both clubs. It was not an exciting end-to-end battle, displaying fabulous passing and possession skills. It was not the miraculous resurgence of a club left for dead under the steady leadership of a good manager. The only thing I saw was the death of Arsenal's 2008-2009 season. And quite possibly, the beginning of the end of Arsenal's taken-for-granted status as one of the Big Four.
On a day that saw Liverpool, Chelsea, and United methodically grind out victories, Arsenal were in prime position to join them. They sat 4-2 up at home with 88 minutes played. Sure, they'd made things hard on themselves, but it was hard to begrudge Spurs their stunning opener (apparently, the rule this season is that all teams are allowed one absurd goal against Arsenal), and Almunia had been playing so well in recent games that his gaffe to allow Bent's goal was more excusable than usual. The Gunners had worked hard and responded well to every Spurs test, and were certainly deserved winners. Then, starting with a horrible Clichy mistake (much like last year), it all fell apart. There's plenty to analyze, but I'll spare myself; what I'm getting at is that this team lacks the discipline, mental strength, and frankly, the right personnel on defense to bring home a league title this season.
I might be the most optimistic supporter you'll ever meet. I love watching Arsenal, I love Wenger, I'm consistently full of hope. Pathetically, I secretly refused to give up even after the loss to United last season, praying that some bizarre turn of events would make victory possible. But the results speak for themselves, and the league is a fairy tale this season. The best outcome for this year is the Carling or FA Cup, a deep run in the Champions League (assuming European teams keep trying to beat us at our game), and holding onto Cesc Fabregas over the transfer window. Those are our objectives. Alright, deep breath now. Let's do it.
Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Before tomorrow's North London Derby...
1) Liverpool. I'm impressed, I have to say. I said at some point last season that Liverpool's weaknesses were a lack of good wide play and a general overdependence on Gerrard and Torres. Well, those two have both struggled with injuries, and Liverpool has rolled. Albert Riera has been a fantastic addition, giving them width on the left, and the much-maligned Dirk Kuyt is playing incredibly hard and very well (and often doing it on the wing as well, which I admit I didn't think was possible). However, let's look closely at what's going on here: a long unbeaten run to start the season, lots of thrilling come from behind victories against teams that had no business taking the lead in the first place, a hard fought and impressive 1-0 win over Chelsea... minus the impressive victory against United, this looks an awful lot like Arsenal's start to the season last year. Just saying.
2) Maradona. TLOCA would like to extend a warm welcome back to professional football and general relevance to one of the true all-time greats of world football. Juan, just for the sake of your homies in sky blue, let's hope Maradona manages Argentina the way he's been managing his personal fitness for the last few years. Also, is it a conflict of interest if the coach's daughter is dating one of his star strikers? Based on simple genetics, the child of this union is going to be no more than 5'7" and probably the greatest attacking threat soccer has ever known.
3) Ronaldo (the original one). Simply for this quote and headline. Good luck, buddy.
4) 'Appy 'Arry Redknapp. Tottenham have burnt through yet another decent coach and are now ready to ruin the heretofore proud career of another. I (and many others) knew this would happen. And a columnist at the Times has now documented the phenomenon in a serious publication. Arsenal fans should be worried, however, as Spurs are now on their longest win streak of the season and brimming with confidence.
5) Joey Barton. Apparently, he scored a penalty today. Whatever. I'm making a new rule - from here on out, we at TLOCA will not mention anything Joey Barton does on a football field. I don't care how outrageous or amazing it is. It'll be like it never happened. Which is how it would be if he were in jail, where he belongs.