Saturday, August 19, 2006

Frustrated But Encouraged

Arsenal 1-1 Aston Villa.

Very disappointing, yet encouraging at the same time. Arsenal flat out dominated: 21 shots to 5, 11 shots on goal to 3, 61% of possession to Villa's 39%, and a whopping 18 corners to 1 (of course Villa scored off their 1 corner). Arsenal had two cleared off the line, put the ball in the net only to have it called back on a verrrrry marginal offisides, and then Villa scored on a set piece (corner) thanks to a complete fuckup by Mats. Merry Christmas Olof Mellburg. The 2nd half really was one way traffic, they created a million chances, and Eboue hit the crossbar. It looked like one of those frustrating matches that you completely dominate but lose but finally Gilberto scored a great equalizer in the 85th minute and it finished 1-1. So it was one of those frustrating matches that you completely dominate and draw instead.

Gilberto celebrates his cracking equalizer.

Not getting 3 points home to Villa is pretty shit, but getting 1 point is better than getting none. And who knows, maybe Villa will turn out to be decent this season - I am reminded of Chel$ea's shock come from behind draw 93rd minute last second 1-0 win after being outplayed against newly promoted Wigan on opening day last season that at the time was so shocking, but as it turned out Wigan was a legit solid club that stayed up with ease, and Chel$ea won the title fairly easily. That being said, you have to think that the other contenders like Chel$ea, Liverpool, and ManUtd will get the full 3 points when they play Villa at home. Either way, all top clubs will unexpectedly drop points somewhere along the way, so it's not all doom & gloom.

There were some very encouraging things to take from this match on top of the fact that Arsenal completely dominated it. First & foremost, we finally got to see 17 year old wunderkind Theo Walcott, who came on for FL8 and played the last 17 minutes. Holy shit, the kid is as advertised. Amazing pace, ball control, passing vision, and a nose for shooting on goal. I was frankly suprised that he lived up to all of the amazing hype - he was fantastic and I sure am excited to see him get more playing time and develop. Another added bonus is that his amazing play today plus his great game and goal for the England 21 team in midweek, just makes Sven look all the more stupid for naming him in the England WC squad but then not having the stones to put him on the park for one minute, and I am all for anything that reveals what a dumbass Sven is.

Theo finally makes his Arsenal debut,
and what a debut it was

Second, the new big field will be good for Arsenal. Today there was lots of space out wide on the wings in the attacking third, and Eboue made the most of it getting forward on the right - he played an absolute blinder. Ljungberg and then Walcott were very dangerous in space on the left; the space will be a good thing for Arsenal's style I think. Ljungberg ran his socks off on the wing and just like at the World Cup and Champions League final, looked much more pacey and dangerous that he did most of the last two club seasons, where it seemed that he had lost a step or two. Henry didn't do much but he did have to travel and play 90 minutes for France on Wednesday, so that was a little bit to be expected. Everyone else was very good (Mats fuckup aside) except for left back Justin Hoyte, who was pretty dodgy - I expect Flamini to start at left back against Man Citeh. It was also a bit silly of me to have Rosicky scoring a goal when he didn't even make the squad because of injury. Oops.

So a bit of a shit result today, but looking at the big picture I am very, very excited about this team. Can't wait to see them play again. And the new kit is clean: my big dilemma is which one to order: CF4 or KT5? I'm leaning towards CF4. ***Update: after reading this, there is no more doubt - I'm defintely getting the CF4 kit.

Oh, and my man Kanu scored not one but 2 goals for Pompey on his debut, and he should have had a third but Brad Friedel saved his late penalty kick - as of today he is your leading EPL goalscorer. I hope that he keeps it up and has a great year for them.

Hell yeah: Kanu opens his account for Pompey.


Nicole said...

You totally have to get the Fabregas jersey, that way you can hear people say his name all the time. I don't know why, but I love saying his name. I giggle like a little schoolgirl.

Michael said...

Chelsea actually beat Wigan at JJB last year. The game was 0-0 late, Wigan missed a great chance (a two-on-one, IIRC), and then Crespo hit a superb strike. Your point is well-taken, though: Chelsea didn't look great at the start and still won the title at a canter.

Kanu said...

Thanks for the correction - I actually knew that - what a dumbass I am. Corrected.