I just finished watching what was arguably our most gutsy performance of the year. I’ve been in Whistler at the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival this week and for some reason, I was having a bitch of a time getting the game over Sopcast or TVUPlayer… None of the hotels digital cable channels seemed to be showing it, until I found the live broadcast from The Score HD… You guys saved me this week and I really do have to give respect to all the people behind the scenes at Canada’s best sports network. Thanks for having the foresight to show a good game (I’m talking to you Sportsnet, Fulham-Reading…. captivating…)
Anyways, I have to be honest, I thought for some time that Arsenal are an embarrassment to our league and it was effectively validated today. The amount of diving, gamesmanship, shirt-pulling and out-and-out cheating was so obvious that I think any Arsenal fan needs to have a long look in the mirror and ask themselves why, or even how, they could support such a petulant team. Your goal shouldn’t have counted, Adebayor was cheating and he knew it. Luckily for them, Arsenal had a 12th man today in the referee who was giving every single borderline call Arsenal’s way and in many cases allowed Arsenal to basically dictate the call. My example was the corner that was given midway through the second half. The referee had effectively ruled a goal kick and then every Arsenal player threw up their arms and shouted and the referee REVERSED HIS CALL. That is unacceptable. I don’t care if the referee was wrong, if they made the call, they shouldn’t be allowed to reverse it. When a team can plead with the referee and get the calls they want, it throws the credibility of the game into question. Adebayor should also have been given a straight red for his dangerous and cynical tackle on Anderson. It was from behind, it was late, it was two footed and studs were showing. He hooked his feet around Anderson and put both boots directly into Anderson’s right ankle. That was a deliberate attempt to injure a fellow professional and the referee only gave a yellow, no wonder Hargreaves was furious. How can Arsenal fans continue to support this? They are a truly pathetic bunch and deserved exactly what their mark asses got today.
However, even with all the cheating and soft calls, Arsenal were beaten by a much better team. I will acknowledge that Arsenal have skill and they have some quality players, they have their own attacking style but their accomplishments there are undermined by their cynicism and petulance. They are an embarrassment to football and a stain on the credibility of the English Premier League. Wow they beat a Milan side with an average age of 65. Good for them. They couldn’t even beat Liverpool.
And what of Hargreaves? Absolutely unfucking believable what he pulled today. I think that was a vintage Manchester United goal and Hargreaves took the shot so well. We were all waiting for a shot from Ronaldo (doubtlessly, Jens Lehmann was) and Hargreaves just hooked it over the wall and into the left side of the goal. His celebration capped his greatest week in his career. While he always possessed defensive solidity, his attacking prowess and sheer technical ability are above and beyond most of the players in England. He is the definition of a complete player and he is a better player than David Beckham ever was (except for England against Greece) and I will argue that with anybody. If a team is going to win the title these days, in the climactic stage of the season, they need their middling players to step up and become outstanding players. Hargreaves is a future United legend. Observe.
Van Der Sar was the man of the match. Our defense looked shaky and I don’t think Pique is ready yet after watching him today. I think Silvestre is a better, more experienced option at this vital stage of the season.
VDS came up with some huge saves (some of which were from our own team) and he showed safe hands all the way. He deserves a Champions League and Premier League double and he is an absolute rock for us. Why oh why did Fergie sign Barthez over Van Der Sar back around the turn of the century?
And Ronaldo. What to say of him? His penalty was so cheeky and full of confidence that you know Jens Lehmann will never forget the look on Ronaldo’s face. That stutter step and complete stop… A penalty so nice, he took it twice. Lehmann even guessed right both times and couldn’t keep the ball out of the net. I will acknowledge that Lehmann is better than Almunia… Kind of, anyway.
Chelsea will beat Wigan tomorrow and it all comes down to April 26 now. If we win all of our games from here on out, we’re set. If we beat Chelsea, it’s over. Even if we lose or draw, we are still ahead on goal difference. How cool would it be for us to meet them in the Champions League Final as well?
United ensured that we remained in the drivers seat today with a performance that wasn’t perfect, but was effective. Arsenal got their just desserts.