What a week it’s been!! Not just Arsenal-wise but football-wise. First, there was the small matter of a Manchester Derby. Then there was that little Barca hiccup. It moved on to a magical night at the Emirates before finishing off with a Johnson controversy at the Etihad.
I could go on and on about that Kompany moment, and so could you. We all know, how over a billion decisions have gone in the favour of England’s most successful club, with the feeblest of fans, that is Manchester United. Howard Webb, criticized heavily for his recent poor showing in the game at St.James in the league, where Fergusmoan’s men slipped to a 3-0 defeat; found himself out of United’s books. In came Chris Foy, and he made himself a darling of the Stretford End, or rather the away fans stand at the Etihad, with a brilliant one-man show. He sends off Moneybags City’s influential Belgian captain, Vincent Kompany in the 12th minute. Soon enough, United double their lead through Danny Wellbeck and in no time it is 3-0. I am not sure what half-time talk was offered to the City players. An offer to double their wages if they could muster a result, is my guess. Kolarov and Aguero got 2 goals, but they eventually ran out of steam.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Espanyol caused an upset by drawing with the superhuman football team, Barcelona. Despite taking the lead through that goal-machine Cesc Fabregas, Espanyol managed a late equaliser, which leaves the Cataliens 5 points adrift of FC Real Ronaldo. At the end of the match, it felt like Espanyol had won the World Cup or something, going by the animated celebrations of their faithful, while Guardiola could only crinch in dissapointment, as his team couldn’t get past a bunch of mere mortals.
In the midst of all the drama going on in Europe, there was an emotional farewell to India legend Baichung Bhutia. Not as well publicised as even the Championship match between West Ham United and Birmingham City, on a cold night in East London, German giants Bayern Munich made the journey down to the Indian capital to play India, in what would be a fitting end to a glittering career. The Bavarians played a strong line-up, including the likes of Schweinsteiger, Lahm and Neuer. Pre match pleasantries were heart-warming as Lahm offered a Bayern jersey with the signatures of all their players. After the kick-off there were no pleasantries, as Bayern scored 4 goals in the first-half. Probably, they slowed down their free-scoring instincts as a mark of respect. Bhutia was bought off to a loud cheer and it signalled the end of the career the greatest footballer the country has produced.
Jetting back to Europe, more particularly north of London, where Arsenal hosted Leeds United in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. All pre-match talk was about a bearded bald Frenchman. And yes, there was also a stray ball that hit Martin Keown while he presented the pre-match show, down on the ground. (C’mon, Arsenal didn’t spend millions on building commentary boxes, for you to present a pre-match show, with Robbie Savage, on the pitch). Well, Sky Sports got what it deserved.
Anyways, the match was quite dull, as ditch water, as Leeds were happy to keep Marrouane Chamakh and his non-firing buddies at bay for most part of the first half. Chamakh has lost his shooting boots permanently, while Arshavin seems to have gotten all his shooting calculations wrong, as he blazed over effort after effort. But, all the mediocrity of the game was cancelled when Arsene decided it was time to throw his compatriot into the fray. 5 touches, 1 offside and 10 minutes later, the ball was in the back of the net, and absolute pandemonium erupted around the stadium. I too couldn’t control my joy, hopping about joyously in the living room. My usual goal-screams would have led to the neighbors complaining to the police, for sure.
Well, it didn’t matter, as after 90 minutes of huffing and puffing, Arsenal set a date with Aston Villa on the 28th. Henry, who got the Man of the Match award, for his 4 average and 1 world-class touches, told later in an interview about how he felt on scoring the goal. He said, it was his first goal as a fan, and it was an incredible feeling to score for the club you support. Henry reiterated that the same can’t be expected of him every week. Well, this ask more questions than it answers. Considering we required a 34 year old legend to score the winner against a patched up Leeds, it doesn’t augur well for a team that is aiming to qualify for the Champions League. We should have be beating them comprehensively. But, then again, this is the magic of the cup. It is all about these magnificent stories that make the FA Cup so great. Stories, which you would tell your children, according to Mr Wenger.
Henry later dedicated the goal to some ‘special people’. ”I hope someone isn’t going to wake me up and tell me it was a dream”. Dream, it was, said Arsene Wenger, who couldn’t praise Henry more. After Campbell and Lehmann, it was Henry’s turn in 2011. And there could be more, after reports of a Robert Pires tweet, saying he was in London Colney for training. Boy, wouldn’t that be magical!
The praises came pouring from all parts of the camp. First, from Laurent Koscielny, who was quoted as saying Henry runs around training like a 20 year old. Ignasi Miquel and Kieran Gibbs were buzzing about sharing the same dressing room as the legend.
Well, now let’s put a stop to all the Henry plaudits, cos that would never end, were it to continue. The club now has a new charismatic keeper. After David Seaman and Jens Lehmann, its the turn of the young Wojciech Szczesny. The young Pole was in the news for various reasons, but both stemming out of his Twitter account. Firstly, he commented on Aaron Ramsey’s photo, taken at a golf event.
I don’t wanna be rude mate but you look like a rapist on that picture.
For which the Wales captain retorted..
I try my best mate we’re not all blessed with a good fashion sense like you.
Well, all in good humor I assume, and then he comes up with this audacious tweet after the Leeds game.
It was good to see Becks in the dressing room after the game last night although he was a bit starstruck when he saw me.
Surely, after Perry Groves and Jens Lehmann, we finally have a new cult hero. Here’s to Wojciech Szczesny!!
Some, off the field news then. Francis Coquelin, who limped out of the Leeds match, signed a new long term contract, which bodes well for the player as well as the team. He is a finely talented young lad with some good passing and defending abilities. Luke Freeman, who, 3 years back, was the target of Manchester United and Chelsea, as well, left to Stevenage for an undisclosed fee, for more first team opportunities.
Meanwhile, Arsenal seem to be linked to a host of multicultural stars from around the continent. Left-back problems have triggered rumours suggesting Arsene Wenger has made a bid for Aly Cissokho from Lyon. Other reports suggest Eric Abidal is on his way for £4.1 million from Barcelona. Wayne Bridge rumours have died down a bit, while reports arise of Arsenal scouts now having a look at Southampton left-back Luke Shawe, all of 16 years. Neil Taylor of Swansea says he is flattered by the interest of Arsenal. Man, the media can go crazy. If all these rumours were true. Arsenal would have 12,274 left-backs at their disposal. (Just a random number) And going by recent luck with the fitness of left-backs playing for Arsenal, all of them would be injured and we would still have an Ignasi Miquel holding out right-wingers all over the Premier League!
Well, that’s not all, apparently. Marco Reus, of Borussia Monchengladbach (hope I got that right), who has signed a pre-conract with Borussia Dortmund, has been linked with the Gunners. So is long-term target Eden Hazard. Youann Gourcouff, too is a constant rumour. Mario Gotze, for whom, Dortmund have demanded a miserly £30 million, seems to have fallen out of the radar, to be replaced bu Lukas Podolski, who seems to be Gerd Muller in the German shirt and Francis Jeffers, when he puts on his club colours. Demba Ba, so good they named him twice, says he wants to move back to the capital. Whether Newcastle want him to, is out of the context.
Meanwhile, in the midst of all the hoolabaloo, Mikel Arteta has thanked Scottish football for his rise in English football. Yes, Mikel, we thank them too. For, if it weren’t for the typical Scottish physicality, Arteta wouldn’t have succeeded in the Premier League, where it is pacier. He has been a brilliant performer for us in midfield, not necessarily in the mould of Fabregas, but a major influence without any doubt. He also was happy at having the honour of captaining the club. Per Mertesacker, the BFG (Big F*cking German), as he is so fondly christened in other Arsenal blogs, drew words of praise from his mentor Tony Adams. Yes, we can all see where it comes from. Mertesacker has been tower in defence. Though still short of pace, his experience has been very handy in the resurgence. Together with Koscielny, he has formed a strong spine at the back. According to Adams; Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker could be the next Adams, Bould, Keown. Whether we would have a fully fit Santos and Sagna (Winterburn and Dixon) for the remainder of the season, is another matter.
So, that’s it, a roundup of quite an entertaining week. Swansea preview and lots more coming soon your way.