Thursday, April 06, 2006

Over the Hills and at Juve, history, my friend, has just been made.















Nil nil or not nil nil - that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of embittered Spurs fans, or to take arms against a sea of black and white shirts, and, by opposing, end them.


A note of grandeur seemed appropriate at the opening of proceedings.

It wasn't pretty. The backs were against the wall at times. There was little of the flair and magic of the first leg. But we did it. Oh yes, we did.

The team was as I predicted. Freddie in for Bobby, and the five man midfield otherwise unchanged. What I didn't predict was Thuram on the bench for Juve, and for Juve as a whole to be so, so poor. Not just tonight but over both legs. They looked almost unconcerned at their plight for most of the tie. Nedved's red card was an anomaly. Just like Juve’s red cards in the first leg, they didn't show any great desire to progress: they were a moment of almost childish angst, a swipe at players with twice their desire to win the CL. They were a team of old men, swanning through the fixture. Their exit, combined with Inter's exit, AC's fairly fortuitous performance against Lyon, and the ranks of empty seats tonight, speaks volumes about Italian football. It is a league in near free-fall, with violent fans - see the fires at the end - and teams devoid of true passion, and, dare I say it, real ability. Juve created chances tonight, but we've had harder away games at Everton, Wigan, Bolton, and even West Brom this year. I really wonder how they would fare in the Premiership. Not well, I would venture.

I expected a barrage from Juve at the beginning of the match, and a degree of pressure did come. But it was hardly an avalanche, and we had our chances too. Gilberto should have done better when he received the ball unmarked at the far post. He controlled poorly and scuffed the ball into the ground. Indeed, we should have scored tonight. Fabregas, when clean through in the second half, hit the ball straight at Buffon. It's hard to ask so much of a lad his age, but one has to now realise that chances like that must be taken at this stage of the competition. Jose had a worrying game. He worked hard, but too often his runs came to nothing when he tried a trick too many. However, against Villa, I expect him to play better, given that he prefers to play Spanish teams. Unfortunately, he'll be out for the first leg, ridiculously booked by a fussy referee, for, apparently, time-wasting. A farce of a yellow card. Our best chance was probably from Hleb. A drop, or several, of the shoulder, saw him past several defenders, but he blazed his shot just wide. He's quite a player, and he still isn't getting the respect he deserves from us. Goals, and many more great performances, will come from him.

Aside from that it's hard to fault a player. Jens made several excellent stops when called upon. He showed a moment of misjudgement when he came screaming out of the penalty area during the Nedved sending off, but luckily he wasn't booked. Personally, I now love seeing Jens show that passion. It's a real statement about how much he wants this trophy, and how much he cares for the team. Just please don't get sent off! The back four were superb. There were perhaps two moments in the match when they allowed Juve an opportunity, but Juve were so far off the pace that they wasted them. Ibrahimovic looked like a player who'd only scored 6 this season. Trezeguet was a shadow of his former self. The rest of Juve's team were similarly inconsequential. In future, Mutu's performance over the two legs should be shown in secondary schools around the country: I can't think of any better anti-drugs commercial. By the end it was almost painfully easy. Indeed the referee blew up around half a minute early, perhaps out of sympathy. Juve, quite simply, were a disgrace. Again.

Freddie showed a painful lack of sharpness in front of goal, but battled so hard that you could hardly fault him. Gilberto was excellent, continuing his new trend of actually completing passes. Terry was, as ever, a wonder, but perhaps tried a few too many tricks tonight, when a degree of simplicity may have aided matters. When clean through he also took a, for him, uncharacteristically heavy touch, when you would have bet on him to score. The Flamster was lucky to get away with an elbow [was it just me, or were there elbows flying in from all over the place tonight?] and looked a tad shaky at times. He held his ground overall though, and didn’t make any fatal mistakes. Eboue was awesome, defending astutely and charging down the flanks at any given opportunity. The sight of Eboue in full flight, and the way he harnessed Nedved, exemplified the gulf between the two teams tonight. Old vs. New; hunger vs. Apathy; beauty vs. sterility.

Joint MoftMatch: Phil & Kolo. What a partnership. Phil is now, officially, a rock. What I love about him is his desire and humility. He knows his job: he performs it. He will only get better. And with Kolo sweeping away beside him, using his incredible pace, I think we have a real, long-term partnership being forged. I felt sorry for Sol as he looked on from the bench, but he is now second-fiddle. This is a new era.

We should have won on the night, a point TH pointed out in his post-match interview. But we should now realise we can definitely win this competition. We have just made a team 9 points clear in the third-best (? comments section below) league in Europe look extremely ordinary. The semi-final is going to be a damn sight harder. Villa will have the same desire as us, and will give us a really tight game in Spain. But we can do it. There's an increasing sense of momentum in this team. And for all his critics, Terry is turning into quite the captain. I like the perfectionism line he's peddling: we haven't won anything yet, we will celebrate in Paris and not before. Damn straight.

But still, for the first time in the history of our Club, we are in the semi-finals of the Champions league. Just take that, and savour it for a moment. Drink it in. Forget what the embittered Spurs fan has said on 6-0-6. We are The Arsenal, and we are in the last four. I don't know about the rest of you, but I remember that Wayne Bridge goals in the unbeaten season. It was more than a goal to me, it was almost a symbol, a recurring curse that showed us we would never progress past the 1/4 finals of this competition.

Tonight we have: it wasn't a classic but it was enough.

Enjoy all the plaudits we receive today, but remember what it's all about: keeping the faith. See you in Spain amigos.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

shut ur shiting mouth!! i hate arsenal fans........they r so arrogant and cocky!! talk about flying the flag for france yday! ur local fucking derby is more like lyon than us mate!! we do actually buy british.

and dont give me crap about "we did buy british but look how they turned out"! u bought shit british and that arsene wankers fault! jeffers, pennant r both shite!! we all new that!

Goonerboy said...

To quote Catherine Tate. 'Am i Bothered?'

Who exactly are the 'we' you refer to? If you actually want to tell me who you support then i can counter you.

As for Arsenal not being British: refer to my post: 'By God, that Pardiew's wrong!' in the March archive.

Anonymous said...

Is that a touch of the green eyed monster coming through there..?

Paxton Road said...

Well done for Finally!!! getting as far as we have in the competition. its taken you enough tries.

GoonerGal123 said...

hahahahahahahaha worried bout your 4th spot u muppet???

Goonerboy said...

See you at Highbury. Mate.

Anonymous said...

Arrogant and Cocky?? We have just knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus without conceeding a goal, I think we have a right to feel pride in our team.

And as for buy British, that arguement is as dead as your season. Where could you find British players of the quality of Eboue and Toure for a total of £1,500,000??

We love you Arsenal, we do!

GUNNER2 said...

Anon @ 11.03.

Typical tiny totts response, instead of learning from the better side can only try to level things out with pathetic excuses. Wouldnt you kill to be in Arsenals position right now? As it is the likelihood of you ever playing in the CL gets slighter and slighter every day.......

Anonymous said...

Nice article Goonerboy, i'm a Spurs fan but took no offence to anythin you said. Why has 1st anonymous starting shouting his mouth off????

Goonerboy said...

Thanks anon 12.04.

I don't pointlessly mouth off about other teams on here. And I have also said that I think it's great that for the first time in a long time there's going to be a real derby between us with something at stake other than just pride.

I think Phil and Kolo vs. Keane & Mido will be a hell of a battle.

Can't wait for the game.

tunadog said...

hey paxton road..when were you last in the European Cup ? did the football have a lace in it ? was India still part of the British empire ? havent you worked it out yet...Tottenham are a football embarrassment,youve won nothing for decades ,your stadium is falling down & your idea of achievment is avoiding relegation from the Premiership...now crawl back into your hole & watch your dreams become our reality

Anonymous said...

Totally true.. Juventus just didn't come to the party last night.. didn't take your side seriously and paid the price.

You jammy bastards again...hehe

Que viva los Spurs !!!

Goonerboy said...

The comments I made about Spurs in the opening paragraph, and at the end, were just out of frustration at logging on to the 606 site on bbc, and finding loads and loads of threads along the lines of ' lucky Arsenal' or 'Juve were rubbish, you didn't deserve it' etc.

Spurs fans like anon 12.04 and anon 12.31 I have no problem with. Although I don't think Juve could take us seriously. We were too good for them.

Anonymous said...

Spurs fan here.

Well done. You were good, but no doubting how poor Juve were. You should go all the way, and although it will mean most arsenal fans being very arrogant and cocky, you should win. You are playing the football at the moment. Keep it up, and its yours for the taking. See you at highbury.

Up the spurs said...

Well done,it's spurs 1st chance in ages to finish above the gooners and finally qualifying for cl.There's always a 1st time!Remember spurs were the 1st british club to win a european cup,and then 2 uefa cups whle you lot have nothing to show for your efforts.You better win it this time otherwise your season will be your worst ever.

Anonymous said...

In all honesty as a lifelong spurs fan I have to take my hat off (and turn my phone off) to you gooners for the job you've done in europe this year. The football you play at the moment is blinding to watch and it can only be said you're where you are on merit. Soon we 'spuds' will be up there but we've a way to go so best of luck. The nature of footie these days means nationality is no longer really relevant but I will still take some pleasure from achieving with at least some british players in our squad. NOT a dig, just an observation.

Anonymous said...

Credit where credit is due, on paper you have beaten Real Madrid and juventus, and quite convincingly so too.
The reality of the fact is however that they were both very poor over the two legs. Quite how they managed to get as far as they did playing like that I will never know.
However I wouldnt start to suck each others dicks just yet, as I feel when you come up against Barca it could be very embarassing for you. Ronaldinho vs Senderos 'the Rock'. Makes me smile with anticipation.....

Goonerboy said...

Phil will make Ronaldinho look like Heskey. He's awesome. And he can't do any worse than Terry did in the Nou Camp. Still, getting ahead of myself: still got a massive job to do in the semi-finals.

Where have all the Spurs fans come from!! I've never had a spurs fan comment on here before, and today it could be a bloody spurs blog!

I have been impressed with Spurs this season, but I think we will edge you out for fourth. I'll be intrested to see how you do next year.

Also, as I said earlier, I think we made Juve and real look ordinary. We went to madrid and completely outplayed them. That's why they looked ordinary. Same with Juve at Highbury.

Anonymous said...

Spuzz fans must be picking this up via News Now -- that's what drives them to the other blogs. Yet another quality blog by the way, keep up the good work.

Saw the Villareal-Rangers games on the box. Rangers gave them a good run for their money, especially at Ibrox with the crowd behind them. Don't get me wrong, Villareal are good, but Arsenal are better than Rangers and can keep the pace up for the whole game. It's going to be a bit interesting and probably a good game for neutrals. Bring it on!

Gogsy

jobby said...

careful what you wish for goonerboy, you wanted to be on newsnow, now u must deal with the extra traffic that comes with it. Spuds fans in general not too bad, just a few out on the wind up today, best to let their jealous comments slide.

Goonerboy said...

Ah, I don't mind the Spurs fans. I was surprised this article was put on the Spurs NewsNow feed as well though. I'm not sure if I've been put on there before.

Oh well, the more the merrier. Nice to have a debate on here.

Anonymous said...

The bard would be proud. Keep up the commentary

Anonymous said...

Shame all the discussion here is centred on Spurs - presumably because of the first comment from some illiterate moron. I'm not interested in Spurs. Sure, they've played some nice football this season, but so what? Can't get worked up about them one way or the other.