Sunday, February 20, 2011

Get A Grip Arsenal fans...At Least You Don't Support The Mets

Arsenal fans watch Arsenal defeat Barcelona 2-1
This past Wednesday, Arsenal hosted Barcelona at The Emirates in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.  Barcelona is considered the best team in the world and is pretty much made up of the Spanish squad that won the World Cup this past summer in South Africa.  Arsenal went in to the game knowing its past history with
Barcelona having been knocked out of the competition by the La Liga leaders in the quarter-finals last season and losing to the Catalans 2-1 in the 2006 finals.

So what did Arsenal come out and do just several days ago?  They came back from a 1-0 deficit and won the first leg 2-1 while keeping Lionel Messi off of the score sheet.  It was a monumental achievement that has had fans, pundits, journalists and football fans all over praising Arsene Wenger and his team.

Then today, Arsenal visited League One Leyton Orient in a 5th round FA Cup match.  With the fixtures coming thick and fast, Arsene Wenger rested a number of first team players knowing that Stoke awaits in mid week, the Carling Cup final is next weekend and the small matter of a second leg Champions League match at the Nou Camp is quickly approaching.

Arsenal dominated possession and went in to the final moments of the match up 1-0.  To Leyton Orient's credit, they didn't stop battling and they scored a goal with just a minute left in regulation.  A bummer?  Yes.  Annoying?  Yes.  The end of the world?  No. 

Van Persie puts one past Barcelona
It was amazing to see so many negative comments by Arsenal fans on Twitter and other message boards after today's game.  Four days ago these same fans were heaping praise on the team.  Unbelievable.  Chill out folks.  Arsenal didn't lose.  They're still in the competition.  Yes they'll have to play another game, but give them a freaking break.  Remember, they are still the only team in England alive in four competitions and just beat BARCELONA 2-1.

Arshavin scores the second versus Barcelona

Let's have some perspective. Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League every year since 1997.  They are one of the most successful clubs in English football, having won 13 First Division and Premier League titles as well as 10 FA Cups. In addition, Arsenal hold the record for the longest uninterrupted period in the English top flight and are the only side to have completed a Premier League season unbeaten.

Do you need another point of view?  You could be a fan of the New York Mets.  The Mets are about to begin their 50th season and have won just two championships.  They appeared in the finals on two other occasions, most recently losing to the hated crosstown Yankees in 2000.  That was more than painful.  That would be like Arsenal losing to Tottenham in the FA Cup Final and having to listen to their fans celebrate and trash talk forever.

Then in 2006, the Mets went to game 7 of the NLCS with the chance to return to the World Series (yes my non American friends I know it's a bit presumptuous but it is called the World Series).  With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, one of the Mets' best hitters, Carlos Beltran, struck out LOOKING with the bases loaded.  Since then it's been a long torturous downward spiral.

Relax Arsenal fans, at least you don't support the Mets
The Mets famously choked away division leads in 2007 and 2008 and since then have finished below .500 the past two years.  Going in to this season, the Mets are a lock to be mediocre as the team's owners haven't spent a dime due to losing tons of money in Bernie Madoff's ponzi schemes.  Add to that, the insane contracts that the team is stuck with; $12 million to horrible Oliver Perez and $6 million to the gimpy Luis Castillo.  If money wasn't an issue, these guys would be long gone.  These deals make Chelsea's signing of Fernando Torres for 50 million pounds look like the deal of the century.  Yes, they paid a lot, but at least the guy can actually play.

So my fellow Arsenal fans...chill out, get a grip and take a reality check.  Arsenal are in the Carling Cup Final, 4 points off the top of the EPL, lead Barcelona 2-1 going in to the second leg of the Champions League last 16 and STILL ALIVE in the FA Cup.  Remember, you could be supporting the New York Mets.

One other enjoyable football moment this week:  Watching Chelsea crash out of the FA Cup to Everton with New Jersey's own Tim Howard saving from Le Sulk Nicolas Anelka and the one and only Ca$hley Cole skying his shot and thus eliminating his team from the cup.  Karma is a bitch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Arsenal 2 The Best Team in the World 1 - Arsenal Beat Barcelona

For weeks all Arsenal fans heard were the doubters, haters, naysayers and every other negative force out there writing off their team's chances of progressing in the Champions League knockout stages.  As always seems to be the case, Arsenal were drawn against the team that no one else wanted to play in the round of 16...the World Cup Champions (minus 1 or 2 players) Barcelona.  Meanwhile, ManUre and Chelski get the easier draws with Marseille and Copenhagen respectively.

Twitter was aflutter with nervous gooners leading up to game time and as the start drew closer the atmosphere inside The Emirates was AMAZING.  (Video courtesy of @Keiththegooner)  You could feel the confidence of the players right from the start and that familiar air of uncertainty was gone.  There was a different feeling this time.   It's crazy but just watching the game as a viewer, you could feel that this year was different.  Yes Barcelona are a great team, but, they could be beaten by this Arsenal squad.

Arshavin gets his mojo back
Despite conceding an easy goal in the first half, the players did not lose their composure.  Instead they seemed to dig in more.  Koscielny was a beast on defense and Jack Wilshere became the face of Fabio Capello's England by owning the midfield against the likes of Xavi and Iniesta.

Van Persie's tight angle goal in the 78th minute was  a thing of beauty and substitute Andre Arshavin's game winner 5 minutes later not only gave Arsenal the win, but gave Arshavin the dose of confidence that he's been in need of over the last few months.  A rejuvenated Arshavin can only mean good things for the stretch run.  It may sound crazy, but confidence is a piece of the puzzle that Arsenal has been missing.  Not only was this a victory over the best team in the was a team boost of confidence that can never be taken away.  With Arsenal still alive in four competitions that confidence could be vital over the last few months of the season.

Whatever happens the rest of the way, on Wednesday, February 16th 2011 Arsenal came back to beat Barcelona 2-1 and that is a FACT.  Congrats Arsenal.


Meanwhile in the EPL, Arsenal came back from the debacle at Newcastle and easily contained Wolves at The Emirates 2-0.  The scoreline actually flatters Wolves as goalie Wayne Hennessey was outstanding and the only thing that kept the scoreline respectable.  Robin Van Persie showed his class with both goals and the Gunners kept pace with ManUre who beat Manc Citeh and pretty much erased them from the conversation.  Rooney scored a great bicycle kick goal and acted like Jesus in his celebration, but ManUre continue to ride their luck and definitely can be caught by Arsenal.  The remaining fixtures favor Arsenal and the belief amongst the team and the fans is growing.

Most enjoyable non Arsenal moment of the week:

Gattuso goes nuts against Tottenham

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Arsenal - The Agony and the Ecstasy Via Twitter

The events on the pitch this past Saturday are without a doubt some of the most inexplicable that Arsenal fans have seen in quite some time.  Between the kickoff of Arsenal's visit to Newcastle and the final whistle of ManUre's match at Wolves gooners everywhere, experienced every emotion in the book.  Rather than try to explain the events that unfolded, I thought it would be best to use the actual words of my "tweeps", fellow Arsenal supporters on Twitter.  What follows are actual tweets from folks that I follow that perhaps best portray one of the craziest and maddening match days that Arsenal fans have experienced in recent times. 

So with out further delay, here are the "tweets" of my "tweeps":

1Bastard Less than an hour til KickOff.

L3W1_UK Arsenal Team to Play N'Castle - Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Kosh, Clichy, Diaby, Wilshere, Fabregas, Walcott, Robin Van Persie, Arshavin

Gunnersphere @bala_chn Going for the same result, I hope we thump them 5-0 haha

Gunnersphere How many injuries will we suffer at the hands of Joey 'dirty bugger' barton today? predictions? haha

evadztif “@VerityJNutjob: OH TO OH TO BE OH TO BE A GOONER”OOOH TO OOH TO BE!!!

JT4Mets4Arsenal 44 seconds!!!!!!!!!!!! Walcott!! #Arsenal

gunnersandroses @xxAbbieRyanxx 2-0 djourou, header from AA23 free kick!!! :D

L3W1_UK Don’t mean to sound Cocky here but Would LOVE to see 6 goals. + Clean Sheet! Would like Arshavin to bag one + RVP 2nd Hat-trick

Van Persie scores, Arsenal are cruising
Geoghegan10 3-0!

evadztif FOUR!!!!!!!!

goonsofanarchy I almost feel bad for #Newcastle. almost. #Arsenal

Gunnersphere Right I retract my 2-1 prediction and now say 6-0 is on the cards lol

Geoghegan10 HT 4-0

YankeeGunner Underway. More of the same please

YankeeGunner Oh dear god. Djourou injured. He's off.

NYArsenal oh My god, Squillaci is a liability

BatterseaGoonar As much as Diaby is a fool for being sent off. Seeing Joey Barton get floored like that was a consolation to me. What a twat

TheSKAGooner Wow. Replay of the Barton challenge...Barton could have gone as well.

feverpitch Never a penalty. Diving bastard.

gnnr Getting silly now. Shouldn't be scared of anything or panicking, we're 4-1 up with 15 to go. Just keep your heads boys

gnnr Fuck's sake Arsenal. This is pathetic. Getting bullied off the park here.

arseblog How the fuck is this a penalty?

GGooner Very soft. Dowd is a tosser

ArsenalStation To be honest, I don't care if we win 4-3 as long as we don't get any more injuries.

feverpitch Oh shit! Bastards have scored again.

GGooner Surely we can't chuck this away !!!! #arsenal

This can't be happening
YankeeGunner 4-4. Wonder strike by tiote

arsenalmania 4-4 full time. Absolute shite.

plymouthgooner WTF? #Arsenal

TheArsenal Phil Dowd walks off with arrogant air of a man who doesn't know how f**kin inept he is. The second penalty is more than a gift. Outrageous.

feverpitch Dowd was a great half time signing by Newcastle.

gnnr Seriously, I hope you die in a car crash on the way home tonight, Dowd. Two generous penalties and a red card. You fucker

feverpitch How do you let a fucking 4-0 lead slip? Oh yes. The fucking ref gives 2 soft penalties, your holding mid gets a stupid red, CB injured again

NYArsenal Rosicky, foul for pen 3, foul leads to goal 4. uninspired substitution.

GGooner Fucking gutted !! I'm sure that was not a free kick that led to their equalizer. Fuck you Dowd ! #arsenal

GoonerPaulG Just woke up, that Newcastle game was a dream right? RIGHT????

GoonerTalk That game is an example of how football can put the biggest downer on your weekend.

ashburton_grove There is every Gooner's weekend ruined in 45 minutes. #Afc fans talk to me, can't believe what happened

thegoonblog Fuck you Phil Down. I repeat: Fuck. You.

Dirt Bag of the Match - Joey Barton
 Arsenal904 Fuck Joey Barton.....

Geoghegan10 I feel sick.

KeithTheGooner I don't want to talk about it. #TheArsenal

Gunnersphere Phil 'dick-wod' Dowd is a fat wanker who should be signing up at the job centre tomorrow morning following his shitty performance. Bastard

ArsenalUpdates Now that the anger has died down, time for some words of wisdom: Phil Dowd is a f***** c***

GoonerTalk The swear word count has gone through the roof on Gooner Talk in the past 30 minutes.

ArsenalStation @DarrenArsenal1 I don't think anyone is denying the poor performance in the 2nd half, but there's no doubt that Dowd changed the match.

feverpitch I feel lower than Joey Barton's morals

TheGoonerholic With £35 million in the bank you would think Newcastle will act swiftly to make Phil Dowd's signing permanent.

Arsenal904 I heard Joey Barton was the guy who mugged Redknapp in Spain...

Arsenal904 Joey Barton is a street thug. Someone will leave him laying on a sidewalk somewhere some day.

Arsenal904 In America no one even knows the Refs names in most sportsThat means they are doing their England the refs are out to make a name

Geoghegan10 I still can't believe we surrendered a 4-0 lead.

1Bastard Watched a romantic comedy after the game. That's how depressed i am about the result. Why Arsenal Why!

evadztif I'm home, drunk and still enormously frustrated by today's events....still fucking livid actually....

gnnr Right, consoling myself with the fact we've got a point, and off to do the washing up. Life goes on...

ArsenalStation It's an away draw... not the end of the world or title race. The real test is how we respond to this.

Goonersweb Wolves v Manchester United: LIVE: Manchester United will look to take advantage of Arsenal's implosion at Newca

HappyGoonerDays We have to hope manure drop points #gobsmacked by the ref display today terrible decision on 2nd pen

iSupportArsenal I'm Going To The Sofá To See If I Give Bad Luck To United

Phil Dowd was Newcastle's 12th man
L3W1_UK Breaking News - Phil Dowd is in Mike Ashley’s helicopter on the way to Wolves to try and win the game for Sir Alex

gunnersandroses #nw utd vs wolves. We all know what'll happen here so it's safer to change the channel and spare more agony.

JamrockRover Manure score with their first attack at Wolves. Fuck a mother fucking duck

L3W1_UK I would run down the street naked if Man utd manage to fuck their game up against Wolves.

JamrockRover Wolves have equalized :)

GGooner Some cheer at last !!! Come on the Wolves !!

JamrockRover I love you Kevin Doyle Wolves 2-1 Manure

NJArsenalFan CMON WOLVES! if United come back and win this game i WILL do something i regret, such as throw my laptop through the tv.

L3W1_UK As i said, If Man utd Dropped points today I’ll run down the street naked. How newcastle fans can defend a man of disgust in Barton is a joke

ManUnitedCheat Don't get excited, #mufc will win this game, probably dodgy pen or deflection... #cheats

ManUnitedCheat Referees are worth 10 points a season to #mufc and that is no exaggeration.

NJArsenalFan i hate watching United. you always know they have the advantage of the referee, plus the announcers always kiss their asses

Geoghegan10 C'mon wolves. Will we actually make up ground today after all that!!! Crazy league

OleGunner We all know how the Wolves game will end now don't we? Late penalty for Man utd. They get 1 more. they win

NYArsenal 5 added minutes. Fergie time.

L3W1_UK Ok now I’m worried, I said to Twitter and My GF I would run down the street Naked if UTD don’t win. Now it could be happening

NJArsenalFan 2 MINUTES!

BostonGooners 60 seconds


ArsenalOffside Congratulation to Wolves who've handed United their 1st defeat. Arsenal get out of jail. 4 points back.

There's only one Kevin Doyle!
Gunnersphere WOLVESSSS!!! fuck off Utd!

OleGunner Invincible they're not. #ManUtd #Arsenal

HappyGoonerDays Your not invincible anymore lovely lovely we gained a point

ashburton_grove Ok. Weekend isn't so crap now! Manchester United lose!

ManUnitedCheat Live from Wolverhampton - it's the Three Point Drop.

ManUnitedCheat Scholes, Giggs, Rooney and Smalling all escaped blatant reds, 5 mins Fergie Time, and you still FUCKED IT UP #mufc

BayAreaGooners Huge debt to Wolves. After Arsenal debacle today, this is just what we needed.Put an end to the United as new "Invincibles" rubbish finally.

evadztif Does that make what happened today better or worse???

GGooner Well done Wolves. That has numbed the pain slightly. #notunbeaten #arsenal

feverpitch So we got a useful point away today!!

BostonGooners Ground made up! 4 points back, we're still well in this title race!

YouAreMyArsenal by ArsenalStation
Thank you Wolves - on a day we made crappy history - you preserved our good history #Arsenal

feverpitch 29 games unbeaten. Is that all you can manage?

feverpitch Untouchable my Arse! Fuck off Man U. There are only one unbeatables.

L3W1_UK You guys do make up some stuff? I never said I’ll run down the street naked if they lose. Whhhaaaat! Haha! Oh how I do love football,

NJArsenalFan things I never thought I’d see today: Arsenal blow a 4 goal lead and United lose to Wolves. this is why I watch! never know what can happen!

L3W1_UK Ok, I put my hands up, I was the first to say Premier league is over, But.. You know what? IT'SSSS BACKKKKK ON BABYYYYYYYYY

jack_wilshere Very strange day We are gutted like all of the AFC fans, but on the positive side we have a point and manu lost! Let’s learn and move forward!

Persie_Official Shame about the result today. Good thing is that manU lost so everything is still in our own hands!

NJArsenalFan love seeing that "1" go up in the loss column under Utd.

L3W1_UK Right, What a day, What a day of Premier League football. Still Gutted about the game and the red but UTD lose and we are let off

Arsenal_Away We love you Arsenal, we do, We love you Arsenal, we do, We love you Arsenal, we do, Oh Arsenal we love you!

PositiveArsenal Today's positives are 1 point gained on the Moans and no match of the invincibles season

L3W1_UK '' But when the dust settles on this crazy weekend, only one thing will matter. They are closer to the summit '' - #FACT

JT4Mets4Arsenal The past 4 hours: Confident, nervous, gutted, depressed, optimistic, hopeful, nervous, very nervous, elated. Arsenal draw, ManUre lose.

So, in the end Arsenal are up 4-0 and end up with a 4-4 draw.  ManUre have the chance to pick up points over second place Arsenal and continue their pursuit of Arsenal's 2003-2004 Invincibles who went an entire season without a loss.  They take an early 1-0 lead and somehow lowly Wolves come back, take the lead and hold on for a famous win.  Net result...Arsenal pick up one point on ManUre and are now closer to the top of the table.  How fans interpret things is up to each fan individually.  I refuse to focus on the negatives.  It's a valuable point for Arsenal and shows why football truly is "the beautiful game".

@Arsenal Fans Everywhere...#Arsenal for the title.

The true Invincibles


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's All About The Benjamins - Abramovich, Madoff and the Business of Sports

Name your price, any price.
The transfer window in English football closed this week and as usually happens, the biggest deals came right down to the wire and involved tons of cash being thrown around.  Interestingly enough, the two biggest culprits in this excessive spending frenzy are two of the traditional "Big Four", Liverpool and Chelsea.  However, rather than being perceived as smart business moves, both franchises are being chastised for spending big out of desperation rather than anything else.

Brother can you spare a dime?
Chelski and their billionaire owner Roman Abramovich are the worst offenders.  With their once dominant squad now showing their age and slipping in the standings, Mr. money bags drops £50 million to sign Liverpool's biggest star, disgruntled striker Fernando Torres and over £20 million on defender David Luiz.  While crazy money in sports has become common, £50 million for even a player as good as Torres is INSANE.  As Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger pointed out, one day Chelsea announce a loss of £70 million and then turn around and spend £75 million on new players.  I'm no financial wizard but I can tell that doesn't sound fiscally responsible.

Liverpool have had a turbulent season and have seen their form drop while also going through an ownership change.  I can't really jump all over Liverpool for spending, as they definitely needed reinforcements.  First Liverpool paid £22.75m for Luis Suarez from Ajax which seemed expensive, but he is a quality player.  Then their hands were forced when Fernando "Judas" Torres started crying that he wanted to leave and Daddy "Warbucks" Abramovich swooped in and gave Liverpool crazy money for his services.  With time running out, the much touted but still unproven Andy Carroll became available.  The price, just a small £35 million.  He's definitely a good looking guy, but even that doesn't justify paying so much for an unproven striker. 

Begrudgingly I'll give Man. U. credit as they did not throw money around in this transfer window.  Of course I will also give praise to my beloved Arsenal.  While many fans, myself included, think that the team could have benefited from some defensive help, Wenger has proven time and time again that he knows how to build a winning team rather than simply buying pieces.  The entire starting 11 in Arsenal's latest game cost a total of £40 million combined...£10m less than Fernando Torres...yet Arsenal are the only team in England still alive in all four major competitions and are in second place five points behind current leaders ManUre United.  Arsenal fans should be proud that the club was singled out by UEFA as an example of a well run club.

With the world in a recession and debt everywhere it's astonishing to see such money thrown around.  In recent years clubs such as Leeds, Portsmouth and Fiorentina have all been demoted and lost tons of money because of bad business.  It could happen again.

On the other side of the money madness are my other team, the New York Mets.  This is the letter sent to Mets fans by our owners, father and son Wilpon.  Seems our owners' dealings with everyones' favorite ponzi scheme criminal Bernie Madoff has left them worse off than they originally led fans to believe

Long story short, the team's owners have no money to invest in the team, the team is going to be mediocre this year and that's that.  Maybe we'll get lucky and Chelsea's Roman Abramovich will buy a stake in the NY Mets.  He obviously has the money.

On the pitch, Arsenal put in some nervy performances.  Division One Huddersfield visited the Emirates for the 4th round of the FA Cup and the Gunners looked pretty pedestrian.  Bendtner opened the scoring in the 21st minute and what should have been an easy win turned out to be anything but.   First Sebastien Squillaci clumsily got sent off towards the end of the first half.  Then, Huddersfield equalized on a corner in the 67th minute.  Eventually, Arsenal were awarded a penalty in the 86th minute which Cesc Fabregas put away sealing advancement to the 5th round.  The draw was lucky and Arsenal will travel to Leyton Orient of League One later this month.

In the league, Everton visited London in a game that saw the ref get a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons.  In the 24th minute, a clearly offside Louis Saha, put the ball in the back of the net and both the ref and the linesman allowed the goal to stand.  Interestingly enough, this injustice seemed to wake Arsenal up.

Losing was not an option if Arsenal wanted to keep pace with ManUre for the title.  Despite leaving it late, Arsenal came back.  First the little Russian, Andrey Arshavin came on as a sub and scored the equaliser.  Six minutes later, center back Laurent Koscielny scored the winner with a header from a corner kick.  In years past these are the type of games that Arsenal always seemed to lose.  This performance showed true grit and determination.

As the Yankees have demonstrated over the years, money can buy superstars, but it can't build team chemistry.  Hopefully Chelsea will learn this and a team put together the right way, such as Arsenal will come out ahead. 

Winning with team unity