Thursday, April 20, 2006

1-0 to the Arsenal, but will it be enough?

So, as far as I'm concerned, a good result that could, nay should, have been a great one. We dominated the game and had a hatful of chances, but only came away with one goal. So the second leg will be far tighter than the the game in Turin. One goal from Villa and everything will be up for grabs.

We opened very brightly, and unfortunately, as in the United game we didn't make our opening pressure tell. However, unlike at Old Trafford, we had a perfectly good goal ruled out when Henry slid past the keeper fairly early on. I had a horrible feeling that we would go in at 0-0 at h-t and Villa might edge toward getting a goal - but we stuck at it and got the breakthrough at about the same time Fab had scored in the Juve game.

Andy Gray - who was acerbically anti-Arsenal all night - claimed that the goal was purely due to slack Villa defending. Not the beautifully weighted ball from Henry which split three defenders or Hleb's wonderful cross. Idiot. Kolo finally got his much well deserved first goal at Highbury. And all seemed to be going to plan.

Then, I'm afraid to say, Villa had a stone-wall penalty turned down. Gilberto - my man of the match - scythed through the back of Jose Mari, and, in all honesty I was amazed a penalty wasn't given. From the refs position it may have seemed that Gilberto won the ball, which he did partly, but it was a real get out of jail moment.

Second half we struggled on but we seemed noticably more weary than in the Juve and Real matched. Fabregas, who had been bright and creative, noticably tired; while on the right, Hleb was consistently fouled every time he took the ball into the Villa half. The ref - who was otherwise excellent - should have done more to protect him. We had a few half-chances - Henry's attempted tap-in the most noticable - before Bergkamp and Rvp came on. Neither really got into the game and Bergkamp was denied a tap in very late on.

I have to say, I thought Villa were poor. We completely shackled Riquelme - Gilbs doing his job superbly - while Forlan more than looked like the player who took 30-odd games to score when he was put up against Kolo and Phil. They had a few shots on goal which Jens dealt with, but that was about it. So, and this seems to have been largely forgotten, we extended our clean sheet record in the CL to yet another game.

I thought the attitude of the Villa players was a disgrace though. The slightest tap and they went down, almost always accompanied by a series of theatrics. For any of you old enough - it was very reminiscent of the 1990 world cup: players going down and rolling about perpetually in anguish, before popping straight back up to try and head in the ball. At one point, after another Villa player had gone down, Hleb smashed the ball into the advertising hoarding, instead of continuing the attack we'd just started. To be honest I think we all shared his frustration, and even the ref was telling the Villa players to get up as the game wore on. I expected more than Villa than a team who would merely try and deny us from playing - rather than play themselves - and also, essentially, cheat. It was dissapointing to see, and I felt they let their travelling support down. I think at one point I said to my mate 'this is not football' when the game had been held up for another stoppage.

So an edgy night in Villa ahead of us, and a huge game on Saturday with a team of players who clearly need a rest. We are abundantly better than both of these teams, and it will especially be a travesty if Villareal get to the final instead of us. They played anti-football last night: we must not let the dark side of the force prevail. We can do it. Keep the faith and for those of you who managed to get tickets - make sure you're the 12th man.



business voodoo said...

... good luck in your game ...
... a new soccer fan, thanks to my daughter and her fascination with the dodecahedron and her love for running as fast as she possibly can without taking off ...
... have a great time!
peace & harmony,
'freedom must be exercised to stay in shape!'

Basso said...

Good comments, especially on the Villareal anti-football.
On the question if 1-0 will be enough; in the last three Champions League seasons 5 out of 6 (83%) of teams winning 1-0 at home in the first game have gone through to the next round.
Based on this and the game yesterday and previous results, we should have a 70-80% chance of reaching the final.

jobby said...

statistics can be manipulated to prove any point, 70% of people know this.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you about Andy Gray's anti Arsenal stance last night. I thought that the whole tone was negative from Sky. The 'Pundits' were just as bad. It felt like the commentator and Gray were willing Villareal to score. They spent all half time banging on about the penalty claim with little or no mention of the wrongly disallowed goal from Henry.
Gilberto was fantastic last night!

MKGunner said...

Absolutely right about Villa being cheats and playin anti-football (altho this was the ONLY way that villareal could stop arsenal), and I for one was in COMPLETE shock at the commentary throughout the whole game - 'ohh a goal here would turn the tie on it's head' and 'Arsenal haven't had the best of the midfield play' and 'Arsenal don't deserve more than their one-goal lead', mainly Andy Gray - I thought Martin Tyler was trying to balance the show, altho a few times he got roped in by Gray's comments. I have to say after hearing Gray producing bodily fluids after Cheski's shower of shite against Barca, and then hearing his analysis not only of the 2nd leg ay Juve, but of the 2nd leg of Real I am seriously wondering if he's on Roman's payroll.Andy Gray = 100% absolute C U Next Tuesday in Spain.

Anonymous said...

The tired legs really worries me because, come Tuesday, it's presumably going to be worse.

Players who definitely looked as though they needed to regather their stength: Kolo, Hleb, Gilberto, Cesc; possibly also Eboue and Henry, if only to protect them from injury, given the absence of cover. Flam looks as though he could run forever, but he too would surely benefit from having Saturday off. Damn Sol not being fit for the Spurs game. Ditto Ashley, I guess, as there's no suggestion he'll be playing this week. I'm appalled, however, that Wenger wants to break up the existing back five for the away leg at Villarreal. Yes, the defence had some shaky moments last night, but I'd put that down to tiredness rather than inexperience. Wenger can't surely be envisaging playing Sol and Senderos together, can he? It has been a disasterous combination every time he has tried it, so bad that Jens loses his composure as well. Someone please reassure me.
Perhaps Senderos and Djourou on sat and Sol and Kolo against Villarreal?

la gooon said...

Good blog boy.

Why do they alway use andy gray. He has no idea about todays game. He still lives in the kick 'em' see days.
Arsenal's pace is to quick for his idiotic brain, and all gooners know how sky "love" us, not

la gooon said...

P.S. glad to see you sorted the banner

Anonymous said...

i do not understand why people think martin tyler was bias toward arsenal as i have listened to his commentary for a long time now and i think he is a closet gooner

Anonymous said...

andy gray is a cunt

Anonymous said...

Another good blog. It seems that the 'penalty' may have been outside the box by some accounts. Still, we got away with that one.

For what it's worth, Radio 5 commentary was much better and highlighted Villarreal play-acting to break things up. They also suggested that the ref backed out of carding them after giving warnings.

Gogsy. said...

Nice one it WAS OUTSIDE THE BOX...I have a pic of it here on this article:

That clearly shows it is outside of the area when contact was made! What you think?

Anonymous said...