Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Approaching The Zero Hour

It's going down tonight.

Woke up today with the anticipation of an 8 year old child on Christmas morning.

The day got off to a flying start:

So I'm walking to work this morning sporting my Kanu Arsenal kit circa 1999-2000 season. A dude in the passenger seat of a car driving towards me rolls down the window, puts his fist in the air, and screams at the top of his lungs in a Brit accent:


Made my day. I decided against running out into traffic to high five the dude and instead reciprocated his defiant fist-in-air manouver.

Only this would be better then my morning

Or this: Crepe Nutella tailgate

Got to work and more good news: UEFA Officials heeded my call to replace the assistant referee who was photographed a few days ago wearing a Barcelona kit.

Then I read three outstanding preview pieces on today's CL Final:


Arseblogger (who is going to the match)


I cannot add too much insight that isn't in there, other than to say that tonight is Arsenal legend Denis Bergkamp's final match for Arsenal, as he is retiring once and for all. What would be more storybook than him coming on as a substitute and scoring the winning goal in the last 10 minutes? Perhaps only if the match goes to penalty kicks and he scores the winning goal with his last kick of the ball, like Patrick Vieira did in last year's FA Cup.

This could also be the final match for Thierry Henry, Ashley Cole, and Robert Pires in an Arsenal kit, but we'll find out all of that soon enough in the silly season. (Personally I predict that Henry will stay, Pires will go, and Ash will be sold to Real Madrid).

Arsenal were allocated 20,000 tickets for the match. Supposedly there are up to 100,000 Arsenal supporters who have travelled to Paris just to take in the scene, and I am sure that Barca fans have done the same. Tickets on the street are selling for upwards of $3000 each (or you could just try to rob the mayor of St. Denis of his. At gunpoint).

Would I sell this for $3000 if I had one? Nope.

Finally, Solon sent this story (which I cannot find on line) about Euro PGA Tour player and Arsenal fanatic Ian Poulter. I knew that he is an Arsenal freak, that he wears golf shoes with the Arsenal logo on them every time he plays, and that he wore an Arsenal kit earlier this year in an Euro PGA Tour event (and got into some trouble for it). Poulter is doing the Deion today - playing his golf round in Ireland and then flying to Paris for the CL Final. Can't find the link so I'll just cut & paste it:

Sweet socks. Sweeter shoes.

Arsenal mad Poulter to cut it fine

Ian Poulter is best known for his golfing skills and wacky trousers, but this week the Englishman's attentions will be diverted somewhat to football and wine-coloured shirts.

Poulter is a huge Arsenal fan and despite having a tee-off time of 7.50 am in Thursday's first round of the Nissan Irish Open at Carton House Golf Club in county Kildare, the Englishman will be in Paris for the Gunners' Champions League final with Barcelona on Wednesday evening.

Poulter has supported the London club all his life and after taking part in Wednesday's pro-am will fly to Paris for what he calls the "match of a lifetime," on a chartered executive jet, along with fellow European Tour member and Irish Open entrant Simon Khan, Poulter's own father Terry and two other friends.

It's not the first time the eccentric player has flown to see Arsenal play. He famously travelled from Sky's Soccer AM Studios to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium with the matchball for the 2005 FA Cup final between the Gunners and Manchester United.

However, he admits this week's dash will be more frantic, telling the Irish Independent: "I have never done it on the Wednesday of a tournament. I can't miss this. I have to go.

"We will land at 6.20 pm French time. The game doesn't start until 8.45, so we have over two hours to get to the stadium.

"Afterwards we'll have a car waiting to take us directly back to the airport. If there is no extra-time or penalties, I reckon we should be back (in Ireland) around midnight."

Poulter will hope things go smoothly as his passion for Arsenal has gotten him into bother with the Tour in the past. In this year's Abou Dhabi Open, he played in the Gunners' home shirt and was reprimanded for displaying the large sponsorship logo on the front, a breach of the event's regulations.

Sweet. Here's hoping he makes it to Stade de France with no troubles.


Anonymous said...

If you had high fived the man, you would have instantly become my hero, for a second or so before you were flattened. But it'd be worth it, in my opinion.

I agree with you about Ashley Cole going to Real Madrid. RM needs to line up a replacement for Roberto Carlos and.. well... you don't get much better than Ashley Cole at the moment (except maybe Del Horno, but good luck out spending Chelski). As for Henry... I don't see him leaving. It's just hard to fathom. Where would he go? Not Italy, not Chelski, not Barca, and unless Ronaldo and Baptista leaves, not Real Madrid.

Also, yeah, Ballack to Chelski, that weeping sound you hear is what's left of Shaun Wright-Philip's ex-promising career.

Anonymous said...

Typical, Ronaldinho and Henry both under perform (Henry had no help really).

What was very interesting was all of the talk that Henry and Wenger had. I didn't think Henry would leave, but if the disagreement with Wenger turned out to be something significant... well, ya know.

For a while there, I was right, random header off of the equivalent of Senderos. :)

Ironically, I guess the hero of Arsenal's season, Mats, turned out to be the goat.

Kanu said...

Yes, ALOT will be written about the Wenger/Henry 'conversation'.

Wouldn't have mattered because Arsenal were completely out of gas, but when you go down 1-2 in the 81st minute, you get Reyes on the pitch IMMEDIATELY. You don't wait until the 86th minute to bring him on. They were so tired it most likely wouldn't have mattered.

Mats was not the goat - he did what he needed to do at the time.

The closest thing to a goat is Almunia for letting a poor shot go through his legs - the absolute #1 no-no for a keeper. Hard to say he is the full on goat because that save off Eto'o in the 1st half was brilliant, but he totally should have saved Eto'o's goal (no way he should have been beaten on the short side there) and the last goal was a total fuckup.

The team played their hearts out against the odds - can't fault the effort at all. If only Henry had chipped Valdez instead of going low, what might have been...

Anonymous said...

Too true, as good of a match as can be expected 10 on 11.

Also, I'm not blaming Lehman, he was put in a bad spot by a great throughball and there was nothing else he could have done. But still, his sending off will be the first thing people bring up with this Final. It's probably not fair, but it's how it will be.

The 2nd goal was Almunia's fault, but there was not much he could have done with Eto'o's goal. It'd have been a signature save had he saved it, I'll cut him some slack there.

What did you think about the sending off? I think I'd have gone with the advantage->goal->yellow card (in general, I think I'd play advantage alot more than the usual soccer ref). But I can't find any fault with sending Lehman off either.

Kanu said...

I think the red was thr right decision. Mats is clearly the last man and trips Eto'o's leg with his outstretched hand. My understanding is that by rule this is a straight red, so it was either no whistle/no call, or straight red.

The referee didn't really have a choice, and for my money did the right thing

In a way Arsenal were lucky that the fould was outside the box, because if it was inside the box and the lost Mats, wen t a man down, and conceded a penalty so early, they probably would have had no chance at all.