Something Great

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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Since I Did It Yesterday

I might as well do it again. But I don't want really want to...

OK, Porto vs. Arsenal. [Highlight links to follow]

Porto 1 - 0 Arsenal. What. The. Hell. I honestly don't know what to do about our goalkeeping situation. Cesc said it all: "schoolboy goals." If I had my way, Fabianski would never, ever play for Arsenal again. I'm sorry, but he's simply not good enough to be the #2 for this team, let alone #3. Or #4. Or the personal shopper for Nicklas Bendtner. As I was watching the goals he conceded today, I felt like Buster at the 5:30 mark of this episode. (Lots of effort, I know, but it's worth it.) Last season, he singlehandedly knocked us out of the running for a trophy. Does anyone remember this? My God. I just hope he hasn't done it again, but to be fair, if we can't beat Porto at home, we don't deserve to advance. So that's that.

Porto 1 - 1 Arsenal. Perfectly executed. Porto's defending wasn't great, so that helps, but there's not a lot you can do when a corner is worked as well as that. Back post to Rosicky, straight to Campbell, and hey presto, welcome back Sol!

Porto 2 - 1 Arsenal. See commentary for first goal. Although for this one, a few small shares of blame parceled out to referee Martin Hansson (seriously, dude?), and Sol for not just kicking the ball away and taking a yellow or doing that annoying thing where you stand in front of the ball. Come on guys.

All in all, a pretty awful game to watch. Porto played good attacking football, and Arsenal matched them for it in the first half. I honestly thought we'd take it to them and win in the second. But oh well. Also, they were kicking the hell out of Cesc. And though I can't really blame them for taking that approach, I can certainly hate them for it. Which I do.

Bayern Munich vs. Fiorentina.

Bayern 1 - 0 Fiorentina. Weirdness. Uh, advantage? Bayern were rightfully furious. If that penalty were saved, the ensuing drama would have been priceless. Either way, really nice buildup; Robben is fantastic at the moment.

Bayern 1 - 1 Fiorentina. Shambolic.

Bayern 2 - 1 Fiorentina. Yeah... so, was there some sort of bet you could place on both CL games finishing with this scoreline and both awful referees being awful?* Because if there were, the fix was totally in. The red card that came in the period before this goal I can kind of comprehend. The elbow was high and it looked like it was deliberately aimed at Robben's throat. On replay, it's a yellow, though. As for the goal itself... that is the most offside goal I have ever seen allowed. That's all I have to say about that.

* Can someone please explain to me how Martin Hansson and Tom Henning Øvrebø (you like that?) still have their jobs? Hansson missed the most obvious and controversial handball since Maradona. Øvrebø absolutely jobbed Chelsea out of a deserved spot in the CL final last year (don't get me wrong, I'm still laughing uproariously about that and I agree with this man that no es Andres Iniesta, es el Dios de la justicia del fútbol, but still, Chelsea got absolutely, completely, totally robbed - Didier was right). Well, at least having those two around keeps things interesting. And totally insane.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Wrap-Up

Just a few quick thoughts about today's CL games/goals that couldn't be fit in a comment.

In the United - Milan game:

1. Milan 1 - 0 Man U. Welcome back to relevance, Ronaldinho. It's nice to see him quietly on the up and up this season. And though his goal was a bit fortunate, a shade of that fantastic technique shows through - hitting that and putting it on target is, uh, pretty hard.

2. Milan 1 - 1 Man U. Paul Scholes scores goals. Sometimes they're amazing. And sometimes they're amazing-ly lucky/fluky/ridiculous. This one is mesmerizing, but not because of anything he does intentionally. Although if someone did that on purpose, swinging a leg and whiffing and letting the ball deflect off the standing leg, it would be unbelievable. It reminded me of this.

3. Milan 1 - 2 Man U. Rooney just wants to score more than any defender in the world wants to stop him. This is just sheer athleticism, positional awareness, desire, and technique. Great goal.

4. Milan 1 - 3 Man U. So, if trying to push Rooney wide to the far post resulted in a goal, maybe the Milan players decided to just let him have two free headers (one to win the ball, one to score) in the belief that it wasn't worth their time. Or maybe they were too busy thinking about the delicious pasta or risotto dinners waiting for them, prepared and served by fine-featured brunettes with soft hands and large, brown eyes. Either way, it's called suicidal defending.

5. Milan 2 - 3 Man U. Wonderful goal. Excellent buildup, perfect pass, the finish it deserved (let's see how many cliches I can work into one sentence). Unlike Scholes, Seedorf knew exactly what he was doing. He confuses me, though. I know he's a legend, and when he does stuff like that, I get it, but often I don't know what he's still doing out there. Whatever.

Honestly, Milan could have scored about a million goals in this game. I felt like I was watching an older, Italian version of Arsenal. Sigh.

In Lyon vs. Madrid:

Lyon 1 - 0 Madrid. HAHAHA. Well-deserved, says I. It takes something special to beat Iker from that range, and that was dripping with delicious special sauce as it swerved from left to right. Also, Govou and Lisandro have oodles of swag, which I like, but how many Row Z screamers did they smack before Makoun scored? Tee him up next time, eh boys?

Some takeaway questions:

On current form, is Wayne Rooney the best player in the world? If not, then who? Discuss.

Is there a coach with better hair than Leonardo? When Milan play against Inter or Barca, which team do the 30+ female viewers decide to secretly support when it's him versus Jose or Pep?

What are the odds on Madrid going out? And if they do, how much do they intensify their summer bid for Cesc? I know he "bleeds Barcelona" and all that, but honestly, if anyone needs a creative general with redonkalous field vision, it's los Galactifails, not Barca. So, how much do they spend to get him? And who goes the other way? Alright, that's plenty for now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The State of the Union

With the Champions League finally back this week it's time to look at the state of the English Premier League. So, as per the table:

Chelsea - 58 pts
I was hoping to title this post, John Terry Wants To Have Your Abortion, with this fabulous picture to match. My favorite headline is far and away, "Chelsea captain Terry delighted with another clean sheet." You see Mr. Terry doesn't fancy protection and well... you get it right?

Anyway, can Terry and his boys go the distance is the question United and Arsenal wait to find out. And only United have any more say in the matter head-to-head on April 3rd. Chelsea's upcoming games are:
win, City, win, win, win, Aston Villa, at United, win, at Tottenham, win, at Liverpool, win.

Everton, in their incredible form as of late, beat Chelsea last week and kept the Prem interesting. But perhaps there are more points to be miscarried with at least five more non-guaranteed games coming up. The climax of this season could get a bit sticky for Mr. Terry and recent deadline transfers James Westfall and Dr. Kenneth Noisewater.

Manchester United - 57 points
United have been my surprise of the season so far. I wagered a cheap jersey of choice that Rooney wouldn't score 15 goals this season in the EPL. He has 21 with fourteen games to go. My only way out of this wager is if United doesn't finish in the top two as I required that his success must also lead to United success. So, needless to say I didn't see this coming at all.

Rooney has carried this squad for every league game thus far and his absurd form has England fans in rapture when they think about the World Cup. He grabbed his ankle a few games back and the announcer half-joked that all of England was holding their breath. A few moments passed and he chuckled nervously as even he realized he might be right. I have yet to see a striker in the past 5 years look so confident and so comfortable in front of goal as Rooney in domestic play. We're in Ruud and Raul territory here. This hurts me. Moving on.

Valencia and more so, Nani, seem to be coming around and with Ferguson's genius coupled with Carrick's anti-football United are still in it. Their upcoming games are:
at Everton, win, win, win, Liverpool, win, Chelsea, win, at City, Tottenham, win, win.

In earnest I don't expect Everton to help out anymore than they already have, but at City could be interesting. In reality this unstoppable red and indebted train has only Chelsea in their path. As much as I want to talk myself into Pool and City and Tottenham posing a threat, I just can't do it.

Arsenal - 52 pts
TLOCA has turned their attention to the Champions League as the last trophy we have a good chance at hoisting. I refuse to get suckered into the EPL again. Not gonna do it. Well... I guess we can look at their remaining games:
win, win, win, win, win, win, win, at Tottenham, win, City, win, win.

Oh no. It's happening. I can't believe it, but yes, if we get 32 points out of our remaining 14 games the EPL is ours. We're still alive. We are. Seriously, we are.

Liverpool - 44 pts
I am confident they will remain in the Top 4. If vegas would give me better than 11/10 that they will I'd throw something on it, but even money is not worth shite. Upcoming:
at City (!!), blah, blah, blah, at United, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Chelsea, blah.

Liverpool have a real opportunity here to propel Arsenal to the top in their quest to remain in the top 4. So again, I'm confident (looking at you gimpy Torres) that Liverppol will remain in the top 4.

Manchester City - 44 points - Two (!) games in hand.
Greedy-bayooooooooooooorrr, Greedy-bayooooooOOOOOR. His dad has a lowly profession and his mum is a whore.

I have no issues calling someone's mother a whore. My issue is with the racial undertones of chanting that his father washes elephants. Juventus got absolutely skewered when they sang "There's never been a black Italian" (or directly translated to, there's never been an italian born black) and English teams should get some negative press for singing the Adebayor song too. Show me the video of Ade running 100 yards to celebrate his mediocre goal and I'm liable to change my mind and throw something sharp, but for now I don't like the chant.

Here's the reason why I don't think City can hold on:
blah , Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, -, -, -, -, -, United, Arsenal, Villa, -

That's brutal. And that's the thing about the top four - you have to beat them to get there. It sounds stupid to say, but Arsenal don't have to play Arsenal two times a year. And obviously what I mean is that Arsenal have 6 games against top 4 opponents, City have 8. And if you're City you haven't earned the respect to have McCarthy send out 11 training ground players and concede three points. Teams believe they can beat you, and thus try harder. Belonging in the Top 4 is like being a New York Times Bestseller. Did you earn it, or is the fact that you're labeled one make it easier to be one. .... Yeah. Anyway, that made sense when I started the sentence.

Porto on Wednesday and frankly I love, but am not in love with, a 4-nil thrashing that allows my new lust Carlos Vela some playing time in the second leg. Come on Carlitos!