Archive for Cesc Fabregas

Bolton vs Arsenal

Posted in Arsenal with tags , , on March 31, 2008 by kemgooner

Football can be such a crazy horrible wonderful game, as Arsenal and Bolton fans today must feel. The game kicked off in the pouring rain today, with Arsenal resting striker Emmanuel Adebayor, and at first Arsenal seemed to be dominating. Then Bolton scored from a cross and Arsenal fans around the world groaned in frustration. Not again was going through the minds of even the most optimistic fans. Then Diaby was sent off for a bad tackle. Then Bolton scored again. Bolton fans must have been ecstatic, their team seemed in control.  Arsenal fans were ready to kill themselves, how could their team go from league leaders to losing 2-0 to a relegation team.

The second half began and for the first 10 minutes or so nothing changed, Bolton was in complete control and I really couldn’t see Arsenal turning it around at that point. Bolton even came close to making it 3-0 but for a great save by Almunia. Then the whole game changed when Arsene Wenger brought on Adebayor and Theo Walcott. The pace picked up for Arsenal, they seemed surer in possession and were putting Bolton under more and more pressure. Then the captain, William Gallas, scored from a corner when the Bolton players seemed to fall asleep in defense. Just a few minutes later Alex Hleb was fouled in the box, and Robin van Persie scored the penalty.  Time continued to tick away, and then right at the last minute Cesc Fabregas shot and after being deflected by about 3 Bolton defenders the ball was in the back of the net. His face after the goal echoed the passion felt by Arsenal supporters anywhere.

So in the end the final score was 3-2, and after such a rollercoaster game Arsenal fans finally get to see another W.  This doesn’t solve the problems of the past 5 weeks or reverse them, but it does show that even when things are awful, even when you’ve felt you’ve hit rock bottom, and all there is, is despair eventually thing can come around.  Watching the team in the second half and feeling the relief of getting that goal at the very end just makes me believe that things are turning around for us. I still doubt that we will be able to get back in front of the league, but stranger things have happened so who knows what will happen next.  The Champions league game is midweek, and this result also gives me more confidence going into that.  Come on You Gunners!

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AC Milan vs. Arsenal: A masterclass in football

Posted in AC Milan, Arsenal, Football, sports with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2008 by marooner

One of the most beautiful exhibitions of football you will ever be likely to see was executed on Tuesday night in the first knockout round of the Champions League. The victim was an unlikely AC Milan side, current holders of the prestigious title, yet struggling to keep the pace this season in Serie A, even with names like Kaka, Pirlo, Maldini, Nesta and the young Pato (among a whole host of impressive talents) to boast. It took eighty-four minutes of slick, fluid football from their opposition for Milan to come undone- at none other than the cage of intimidation that is the San Siro- but when it happened it felt as if only the smallest degree of justice had been served for the travelling side’s hard work. The executors of such magnificent football? Arsenal.

Dismissed early on in the season as being a team of ‘kids’, criticised for trying to walk the ball into the back of the net, discredited for their absence of English players and ultimately disregarded as a top-four-finisher at best, who might finally fall below the apparent ‘emergence’ of their bitter North London rivals, Tottenham… All these qualms, much like their Italian opponents, fell apart on Tuesday night.

Arsenal stole the show in all areas of the pitch. Playing the four-five-one formation Arsene Wenger’s lately grown rather fond of in the Champions League, with Alexander Hleb sitting in the hole just behind Emmanuel Adebayor, ultimately it was Arsenal’s midfield which truly bossed the game. Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini, in particular, had the best of nights. Statistics from the match showed that Fabregas covered seven and a half miles in just ninety minutes, while Flamini covered over eight. Hardly surprisingly. The two of them were truly ubiquitous; while Fabregas drove forward and kept looking for that goal which seemed to threaten at all times, his partner in crime hung back, his presence overwhelming Milan’s renowned attacking force. The Frenchman had Kaka- hailed the greatest player in modern football, and with good reason, too- in his pocket virtually all night. There was a period of ten or fifteen minutes in which Arsenal sat back slightly and allowed Milan to see more of the ball, win a few corners and exert their presence- but Arsenal’s defence was outstanding, and when the brief period of Milan dominance ceased, it was hard to see how the result could go any other way.

And yet, when the goal finally did come- a low, fierce shot from Cesc Fabregas, thirty yards out- it was almost as if the goal had been dreamt. Silence engulfed the predominately AC Milan-filled stadium while Fabregas stormed, wide-eyed, towards the man who justly put faith in the young Spaniard two years ago in a series of Champions League fixtures already hugely reminiscent of Tuesday night’s glories. Memories flashed of the then-eighteen-year-old ‘kid’ sliding the ball past Buffon in a piece of vintage Arsenal class. Two years later, and he is back to storming down a pitch that he had, for the past eighty-four minutes, owned. One-nil Arsenal, and it would take two unlikely Milan goals in ten minutes to undo Arsenal’s blissful performance.

But if another goal was going to come, then it was inevitable that it would belong only to Arsenal. Theo Walcott, brought on with twenty minutes left to play for the yellow-carded Emmanuel Eboue, showed a mere glimpse of why Arsene Wenger splashed out on a virtually unknown sixteen-year-old more than two years ago. It’s been a long and, most likely, frustrating journey for the English starlet, who turns nineteen in less than two weeks, but one in which the road seems to be widening. Two minutes into stoppage time, Walcott made a bursting run down the right flank, shrugging off Kaladze to square the ball in to Emmanuel Adebayor, who promptly slid the ball home, scoring his first Champions League goal, and securing Arsenal- and an English team’s- first ever victory against AC Milan at the San Siro.   

It would be foolish now to begin hailing Arsenal near-definite favourites to steal the double, to go on and win both the Champions League and the Premier League. Let’s not get carried away. A host of strong, talented European teams still remain in the competition, and all is still to fight for back at home. Yet, after a series of disappointing results in the domestic league, beating AC Milan with such relentless class may well give the team the boost needed to achieve their very obvious capabilities. Wenger himself commented prior to the match how he thought his team had forgotten how good they were; perhaps this was the victory they needed to remind them.

And maybe the pundits were right when they said you can’t win anything with kids. But if the same side who pulled apart Milan turn up for the rest of the season, then Arsenal will only be looking to win things with men.