Its a game of two halves, jumpers for goalposts, they don't like it up em... the old adages are dangerous ground in terms football punditry, but tonights 1-1 draw at the El Madrigal stadium against Villareal was a great example of football being a very funny old game. Its also not usually wise to go for a match report straight after the game, as your objectivity is usually as absent as Tomas Rosicky, but I'll give it a go anyway.
The first 45 minutes was a flashback to early season nightmares. Villareal looked sharp and matched our 4-5-1 formation, Pires the surprise exclusion from the Yellow Submarine and made to sit on the bench against his old team. Arsenal were extremely wasteful in possession. We were in slow motion. Many miscued passes and Adebayor isolated up top.
A nothing sort of ball from Villareal up the inside left channel bounced high and Gallas might have cleared, didn't, and Almumia punted clumsily into Rossi (ex-Manure). It looked nothing but Almunia seemed to land awkwardly and twisted his ankle, shortly to be replaced by Fabianski. But before he went, the Anglo-Spaniard had the opportunity to pick the ball out of the net after Marcos Senna drilled in a magnificent goal from 25 yards with only ten minutes on the clock. The commentators said that Song might have got closer to Senna, which is true, he might, but at least he was there, whereas Denilson and Cesc had gone walk-about. Still, an amazing goal, but not the best goal of the night.
Arsenal played sporadic football over the next 15 mins, but it was largely aimless. Our young midfield looked its inexperienced worst, Denilson largely anonymous, Nasri prone to errors and Walcott ineffectual. It was like they had never even seen each other before. Villareal were playing a tight passing game, and doing it well. A mazy run from Rossi into the heart of our defence caused Song to commit a foul, Rossi fell into Gallas and his leg was trapped underneath him. After a brief and somewhat futile attempt to play on, Gallas followed Almunia off the pitch with about 35mins on the clock and Djourou came on.
Half time could not come fast enough. We were 1-0 down and frankly that was a miracle.
Bendtner was tipped to come on straight after half time, but Wenger stuck with it. And I am glad he did as the next 45 mins from Arsenal were magnificent football. I suspect the chat in the dressing room had the desired effect and I would love to know what was said. I suspect it was something like "Denilson - say hello to the rest of the team. Rest of the team - stop punting it around it give it to Cesc and Ade. And no-one else. Now get out there."
I figure that is how it went, because it kind of worked. Djourou and Kolo were magnificent at the back, sweeping up everything that came their way. They are both big strong bastards and Rossi didn't get a sniff. Gallas lets a striker play on the ground, and makes him think he has a chance. Gallas is often better than the striker, but it breeds confidence for the attacking side. Djourou just wins the ball before the striker and passes it to Song. He is a good player that Johann Djourou.
Anyway, Theo looked a bit more menacing down the right, hit the gas a couple of times and then chipped some pretty useless balls into the danger zone. Danger zone = good, but useless chipped pass = bad. Still, Theo did some good work down the right hand side overall, but the was not the young English striker/winger/not sure's best night. Nasri likewise down the left fluttered in and out of the game, but when he was on it, his workrate was top drawer and I really warmed to his effort during the second half.
And so, with 66 mins on the clock, and with ITV4 (the cunts) showing highlights of something else, like an ugly bloke blowing smoke rings (wtf?), Cesc picked the ball up in the middle of Villareal's half and chipped it forwards towards Ade for the 100th time in the match.
Yet it wasn't. As this was no ordinary chip. This was a newly tattooed, flat angled, holy mother of a good ball Cesc Fabregas chip. And it was to the the mighty Adebayor, my favourite striker in the whole wide world, who gives the impression of being involved in a beach kick around a lot of the time, and then does something like that, something that truly makes you sit back in your chair, speechless, and wonder whether a bath full of jelly with 4 busty blondes could be any better than the goal you have just seen scored. Its a close one.
The three defenders trying to stop Ade scoring had no chance. The control from Ade's left pec was deliberately close, Ade knowing that he did not have time to let the ball drop to the ground, and with the ball still only six inches from his chest and with his back to goal, the lanky fucker swivelled into a low bicycle kick and neatly slotted it, from almost upside down, into the bottom right hand corner. Holy shit that was good.
That's £120,000 well spent on Ade's wages this week and no mistake. I'll bore you all later again something about how good Ade is, but that goal was for the doubters. 'In your face doubters', it said, loudly.
Anyway, that's enough soft focus Ade-porn for now. This game was well and truly on and Arsenal looked for the winner in the last 25 mins. Our main tactic for most of the 90 mins seemed to be to work an angle and look to cross to Ade, which is all well and good, but with Ade the only striker on the pitch and our crossing generally poor, we didn't really create a good chance to win the game. But we looked like we were trying to win it, which is a good thing.
So, it finished 1-1 and well played to the Arsenal. The crucial away goal means we are well set for next week's rematch at the Emirates. Also well played to the away fans who have made the 3-day trip to Villareal, and who will now be sitting in the cold, empty stadium for an hour or two after the game watching highlights of Steve Bould's 10 greatest ever near post-flick-ons (its great) before being abandoned into an empty, closed town at about 1am. Thats what its all about.
Plus, with the late news coming through that Porto got a 2-2 result at Old Trafford, the thought of Fergie shitting himself at the prospect of going out next week is another reason to smile.
Over and out. Thanks again Ade.