Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Arsenal were young, hungry and imperious; Juve were a disgrace.

Title says it all doesn't it?

Tonight, in North London, Juventus were comprehensively outplayed by Arsenal. The final 2-0 scoreline flattered Juve, who should have lost by 3 or 4.

Arsenal were Imperious.Yet it took a moment of sublime inspiration by 2 Frenchmen and a Spaniard to get us there.

For the first 35 minutes the game resembled a chessmatch. Arsenal applied more pressure than Juve, but neither side seemed to want to give too much away. Both teams probed for a weakness, drawing back when they became exposed. But Arsenal already seemed more likely to score. Halfway through the second half Pires, in a moment of brilliance, back-healed the ball to Cesc who hooked his shot wide. In that moment Juve had been ruthlessly exposed for what they were tonight: a tight, professional team who, quite simply, were not up for the game. A team, it seemed, devoid of hunger.

On 39 minutes Bobby executed the greatest tackle of his Arsenal career, disposessing Paddy of the ball in one fluid movement. He layed it off to TH who held the ball up momentarily before threading it through to Cesc. Cesc shaped to shoot right, and then pulled the ball into the left hand corner, leaving Buffon rooted to the spot. For a moment I, and I think even Cesc, was unsure whether it had gone in, but, oh yes, it had.

After that moment it all became about nerve. We deserved to win, and win well, but Juve, at first, seemed to be a professional enough team to keep pressing forward and maybe take their chance when it came. But Toure was a gladiator, performing several incredible tackles to keep Juve at bay. As a whole, the back 5 (including Jens) were outstanding. With every game he plays with Kolo, Phil grows, and there is no reason for me why Sol deserves to take his place. Phil and Kolo were rocks tonight. They did Tony, Steve and Martin proud. Flamini defies belief at Left-back, Eboue was awesome.

In the second half Arsenal continued to surge forward. My main concern now was that Arsenal wouldn't score the second goal they deserved, and that the second leg would remain unjustifiably tight. Some of the team seemed afraid to shoot, but, eventually, Hleb, Fab, and T forced quality saves from Buffon. The goal when it came was, again, a thing of beauty. Hleb pushed the ball throught to Fabregas, taking out around 4-5 Juve players in the process. Cesc took it out to the edge of the box, drawing out Buffon. He then knocked back to TH who, with a great deal of composure, slotted the ball in.

As we pushed for our third goal Juve imploded. Paddy picked up a yellow card for a petulant challenge on Jose. He was a shadow of the competitor that once graced our ground. I really think the emotions got to him, because it was at best a functionary performance from him. The yellow card rules him out of the next leg - a great boon to us, but I can only imagine whats going through his head at the moment. If ever Arsene's decision to sell Paddy is again questioned, he should sit down his doubters and run a video of tonight's performance. Cesc ran the show: an 18 year old controlled the game. I felt sorry for Paddy by the end,an Arsenal legend who showed why he was considered surplus to requirements.

As we continued to run riot over Juve Camoranesi violently hacked at RvP in a ridiculously pointless challenge. He was rightly sent off. For once I found myself agreeing with David Pleat - shudder - as Camoranesi trudged off. Here was a man who thought he was bigger than his club, and who cared for no one but himself. That challenge was an offence to all the Juve fans who travelled from Italy to see this game. Zebina was also rightly sent off for a second bookable offence, although there was considerably less malice in his challenge, and also notheatrics as he left the field.

What must Capello have thought after the game? His team started competently, then dissolved into a performance of a, to be frank, disgraceful nature. We were hungry. We chased every ball. Toure and Phil sprinted up for every corner then sprinted back. TH Tackled back. Bobby made challenges. Our midfield pinged the ball between them at a dizzying speed. We worked as a team, passing fast, breaking fast, denying Juve time and space, making the game come to us. Juve, by the end, trudged around the pitch, wildly hacking away at our players. We deserved a third, and Juve got what they deserved from this game: no goals and suspensions.

Yet again, in this increasingly beautiful ride through Europe this season, Arsenal football club not only won, but won in a way which gave credit to the beautiful game. We played fluent, passionate football against flabby, cynical opponents. My only concern is that we deserved three, if not four, goals tonight. Hopefully, next week, we will get what we deserve.

M.O.M has to be Fab, but I really can't fault a player tonight. Everyone was superb. We played as a team, and we played the game in the right spirit. We deserved it, and we deserve more.

Keep the faith.


tata said...

hi goonerboy. nice site. only arseblog is more consistent i think. how come people do not visit it more?
just wanted to know, hear people say that highbury pitch is small, narrow etc. what does that mean? that its smaller than others? thought all fields are to be same size?

Anonymous said...

no tata highbury is smaller than most pitch in europe but the emirates will be one the largest and i beleive it will help our pacy footballing style as opposition will have to cover more ground

Anonymous said...

great blog gonnerboy you really need to get more awareness for it.arsenal last night was absolutely magnificent and if we can carry this form into the league we will be unbeatable

Anonymous said...

arsenal set a new clean sheet record for the champions league with its 2 million defence who would have thought that was possible

Goonerboy said...

Hi guys - thanks for the comments. It's great to know some people are reading it!

If you want to help the blog, can you please go to newsnow.co.uk and find a part of the site that allows you to request that they add sites to their feeds, and then request my site is added. I've tried to do it myself, but they won't get back to me for some reason. If I get on the NewsNow feed my readership will hopefully go up significantly!

As for the pitch - in the FA, and I assume Uefa/fifa guidelines - pitches don't have to be a uniform size: their width and length have to be within a certain range. Hence Highbury is a very small pitch because it is nearer the minimum size range than most other pitches nowadays.

According to Myles on ANR, the Emirates pitch will be the biggest in the premiership. I agree that this will really suit our fast, passing style.

We equalled the clean sheet record last night. If we go to Turin and beat it we'll deserve this trophy more than ever.

jobby said...

Like the blog goonerboy, just bookmarked it there, will be back.