Arsenal 1-0 Villarreal (Toure 41')
Arsenal came out and applied lots of pressure from the start; the first fifteen minutes they were definitely "in the mood". Then the match was interrupted twice by a squirrel, obviously planted there by a Tottenham supporter trying to throw Arsenal off before the big North London Derby on Saturday that will go a long way in deciding the crucial 4th place spot in the Premiership. Sorry, Spurs, but the joke's on you.
Arsene Wenger on squirrel's Arsenal debut:
"Fast and a good dribbler"
The match settled down a bit after that, but Arsenal defintely had the better of it. Henry scored but is was waved off for a questionable offsides decision. Finally on 41 minutes the rock of the defense Kolo Toure scored after a great Henry move & cross and Arsenal were 1-nil to the good.
Kolo: "Je suis de Cote D'Ivoire; je parle Francais.
Allons-Y au Paris!"
The second half was kind of like the 2nd half of yesterday's Milan-Barca match. That is, one-way traffic. Arsenal dominated, created several excellent chances but couldn't get a 2nd goal. This easily could have been 3 or 4 to nil - if they go out next week they will look back and kick themselves that they didn't capitalize on their many chances. Villarreal tried to slow the game down by time wasting at every possible opportunity, so much so that the referee added 5 minutes of stoppage time. For me the MOTM (man of the match) was Gilberto, who completely shut down Villarreal's best player, Riquelme, and prevented him from creating much of anything. Gilberto bossed the midfield just like Vieira used to; he really has turned it around and played well this spring after being total shite through the first half of the season.
Gilberto to Rilqueme: "You are my bitch!"
So The Arsenal are 90 minutes from the Champions League Final in Paris on May 17th. They take their 1-0 lead to The Madrigal next week, where a draw or even a one goal loss 0f 1-2 or greater will see them through. They are in a great position, but like Barca, they have miles to go before they sleep.
Villarreal-Arsenal. Tuesday April 25, 11.45 a.m. PST. ESPN2
Barcelona-AC Milan. Wednesday April 26, 11.45 a.m. PST. ESPN2