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.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
It's Beautiful On the Other Side/A Disturbance in the Force
Two quick points:
1) Once you've successfully abandoned all expectation for your team, it's actually kind of nice to watch a game like yesterday's match between Arsenal and Spurs. Both teams played fantastic attacking football, defense optional, and all in all, it was probably a fair result. I think Arsenal were slightly better on the day (when will Tom Huddlestone, of all people, score a goal like that again? - the answer is surely never), but it's hard to begrudge Spurs the draw, especially when Kenny Chesney had to make a series of excellent saves to keep it 3-3.
Basically, I was expecting to surrender the 3-1 lead. (And frankly, I was expecting William Gallas to head in the winner once the game was tied.) I refused to get sucked in by Manchester United's draw against Newcastle. We should all know that the league is lost, the season is over. So I'm OK with the result, and I'm able to see the dark, absurd humor in supporting a team for which no lead is EVER safe. When one's team is up 3-1 and playing well, that supporter should entertain in the back of his mind that a draw or loss is possible. He should NOT, however, fear that outcome. And he definitely should not anticipate that outcome or, as in my case, perceive it as a foregone conclusion. But that's how it is with Arsenal these days. And once you've gone that far, it's weirdly beautiful on the other side. [Note: As I was writing this, I began listening to the Footballistically Arsenal podcast from Tuesday. From his remarks, you can tell that Tom Rosenthal reached the other side during the Liverpool match, and I'm happy to join him there. He notes in the podcast that Arsenal have become a parody of themselves. He's taking sick pleasure in the sheer absurdity of the team - it's almost a perfect summary of how I felt going into the Spurs match.]
2. Is this the beginning of the end for Barca's GOAT claims? Have the Patriots found a way to stop the Greatest Show on Turf? Honestly, I was stunned at the momentum shift I perceived after Madrid won. I was expecting Barca to look unhappy, but not perturbed. Instead, the TV captured Messi looking really upset, Guardiola looking concerned, and the rest of the team looking generally devastated. Madrid, of course, were going nuts. I'm not sure we can underestimate just how big a statement was made in this game. There has been a disturbance in the force. And if I could feel it here, I'm sure Juan heard cries of anguish for miles.
Other Thoughts: Ronaldo's header was fantastic, and for the first time ever, he definitely outplayed Messi. He was the most dangerous man on the field for all 120 minutes. I had flashbacks to watching him run at English defenders in the Premier League. It's still terrifying how fast he is and just how good he is in the air. It was also perversely satisfying to hear the commentators accusing Barca of all the things they say about Arsenal: "not enough height," "no Plan B," "not enough urgency," "wasteful in front of goal," etc. I would also like to note that Arsenal (even a more talented Arsenal from 2004-2006) always had a great deal of trouble with Mourinho's Chelsea teams. He is a master at exposing those kind of flaws. Very, very interesting times ahead.
Also, I can't believe Sergio Ramos dropped the Copa del Rey under a bus. That's really all there is to say about that.