Henry’s One Off Blunder & Cesc’s Appeal

Hard Times For Our Young Protégé

There’s only a 3 day break in the World Cup until tomorrow’s game between Germany & Argentina but it’s a strange feeling not having any football to watch! But that gives us time to reflect on the Round of 16 and how the games panned out.

If I had to pick one game from the second round then it would have to be the Spain v France match that stood out. In the end it was an entertaining game and for Arsenal fans had so many sub-plots it was unreal.

Vieira against Cesc, master against apprentice – who would win?

Henry v Aragones – would it all kick off?

In the end France were victorious with goals from Ribery, Vieira (of course) and finally Zidane. I was pretty even for most of the game and it took a set-piece and a Vieira header to seperate the teams. And even then the freekick that lead to the goal wasn’t without controversy!

At first Henry appeared to be elbowed in the face but replays showed that contact was made around the chest.

What do I think?

Well first of all it was a foul, but obviously Henry saw the chance to get Puyol sent off.

But why would Henry do this?

After all, this is the guy that ‘doesn’t fall over like a woman’.

When I think about it, there are a few reasons why I think Titi decided to do what he did.

There was obviously still a lot of animosity between Henry and the Barcelona defence – especially Puyol and Marquez for their very rough treatment of the French forward during the Champions League Final.

Then there is the whole racism issue in Spain itself.

It would be stupid to tar every Spaniard with the same brush but it seems that Spainish football fans are worst than most when it comes to racial abuse during games.

We remember the abuse England players Ashley Cole, SWP, Emile Heskey et al received in the friendly in Spain last year and Luis Aragones didn’t exactly help the situation when he referred to Henry as a black sh*t.

In fact Henry was so enraged he started a whole world-wide campaign against racism.

That’s why I think it was just a one off – Henry doesn’t act like that.

Henry isn’t stupid, he knows millions are watching.

I’m sure considering the circumstances we can forgive the impeccable Henry for a rare faux pas. I am certain that this will be the last time we see Henry acting out of character.

The other main story of the night was Fabregas and his obvious anguish after losing another important match of his short career.

But as ArseBlogger said today defeats like that are character building, and he will return a better man – and player – for it.

He’s had an impressive tournament – the highlight of which was his match-winning performance once he came on against Tunisia.

Valentin Ivanov Worse Than Graham Poll?

16 Yellows & 4 Reds – Was It Really That Bad?

After a dull England v Ecuador game the Holland v Portugal promised so much. But referee Valentin Ivanov had other ideas.After Graham Poll managed to book Croatian defender Josip Simunic three times before actually sending him off against Australia midweek.

But tonight saw 16 yellow cards and 4 yellows! Apparently a new record in the World Cup. I’m one for breaking records.

Portugal won the game 1-0 with a smart goal from Maniche.

Good work from the Brazilian-born playmaker Deco on the right wing saw him pick out Pauleta on the edge of the box. The PSG striker flicked the ball into the oncoming Maniche, who managed to move away from a Dutch defender and shoot into the corner in one movement.

A really good goal!

But by this time Valentin Ivanov had really stamped his authority on the game with Maniche, Van Bommel and Costinha already in the book.

And then just before half time Costinha lost the plot and got a second yellow for deliberate handball. Even before this it was clear with this referee that it would not end 11 versus 11 – although I though if anyone was going to be sent off it would be Van Bommel who was as dirty as ever.

Petit came on for striker Pauleta at half time and got booked within 30 seconds of the restart. No surprise there then.

But Scolari showed his tactical expertise and played Maniche and Petit just ahead of the defense with the skillful Deco behind Figo and Simao. The system was designed to stifle the Dutch and it worked as Holland only had one or two decent half chances to equalise.

On 49 minutes The Netherlands came as close as they would all night as Philip Cocu smashed the underside of the bar from only 5 yards out. How costly that miss would prove at the end of the night.

Then another mêlée of yellow card ensued until the 73rd minute, when the referee lost control not for the first time as Portugal played the ball out so that a player could receive treatment. But the Dutch refused to return the ball to Portugal and Deco hacked down Heitinga in retaliation. Deco got sent off only 5 minutes later for apparently wasting time. This didn’t matter as Ivanov added about 7 minutes injury time!

Portugal managed to hold on to their slender lead and progressed into the Quarter Finals against England.

As the Holland v Portugal match turned into one of the farces of the tournament, England fans everywhere were smiling as influential Portugese players Deco and Costinha would be suspended and a further 5 are now on yellow cards. The skillful Cristiano Ronaldo also picked up a nasty unjury and could be out of next weeks showdown.

It might have been a crazy game but England will not have a better chance of getting into the Semi-Finals as the Portugese ended tonights game with only 9 men and played most of the 90 minutes a man less than Holland. They’re not exactly in top shape going into England’s match!

Although they showed glimpses of brilliance, Holland just didn’t perform and Portugal deserved to go through.

Arsenal’s representative Robin van Persie struggled in a Dutch team that couldn’t get their game going and found it hard to break down a determined Portugese side.

However he almost scored another wonder goal on 37 minutes when he tore apart Nuno Valente on the right hand side and clipped the ball towards the far post. Unluckily for Robin the ball swerved away from goal and out for a goal kick.

There were several other interesting sub-plots in the game, including how Arjen Robben escaped punishment for several blatant dives, why didn’t Van Nistelrooy even make an appearance and why didn’t Figo get sent off for clearly head-butting Van Bommel?

Red cards: Gio Van Bronckhorst, Khalid Boulahrouz, Deco & Costinha.

Yellow cards: Ricardo, Valente, Maniche, Figo, Petit, Mathijsen, Sneijder & Van Bommel.

Same Old Story With England? Probably…

For F*cks Sake!

I’m not sure what to think after the England game yesterday. We were top of the group, had 6 points, 2 wins and hadn’t conceded a goal.

We should all be happy right?

But the fact of the matter is Group B is a joke group.

Trinidad & Tobago are full of players who are comparable with a League 1 side. And that is not an exaggeration! Paraguay are a nothing team, who’s best player is an injured Santa Cruz.

Sweden are nothing special, but believe me will give England a good game.

The sad thing for England fans was that yesterday our best player – by a mile – was centre back John Terry!

I had to laugh through out the game when ‘expert’ co-commentator Gareth Southgate came would say how hard it is to play games against weak sides because there is too much expectancy!

Would you rather we played Brazil? Or maybe the Czech Republic?

There was no excuses this time. The wasn’t ‘too hot’ and the strange shadows on the pitch weren’t there anymore.

But maybe this is just all part of Sven’s masterplan.

Play absolutely shocking in the group stages, and no-one will thing we’re any good.

And once the knock-out stages begin then that’s when we play our real football!

I doubt it though – looking back on our 2002 & 2004 showings.

England have some great footballers, like Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney – but for some reason always hit 60 yard passes.

The reason is Beckham and Crouch.

With those two in the team, England refuse to play football!

Do England need to play so one-dimensionally?

Rant over.

Rosicky Double / Van Persie Pleasure / Freddie’s Fire / Gunners in Germany

He Plays For Arsenal You Know…

Well the world’s biggest football tournament is officially underway, and here’s a little recap of how the Gunners are doing in Germany…

Germany won the opening World Cup game 4-2 against Coasta Rica, with Jens Lehmann conceding two goals against the seemingly awesome Paulo Wanchope! This guy just can’t stop scoring in the World Cup! Anyway, I’d say the two goals Germany conceded where due to, well, sh*t defending rather than anything Lehmann did (or didn’t do).

Then the big game on Saturday. England beat Paraguay 1-0 from an own goal from Gamarra after David Beckham sent in one of his trademark freekicks. Not much really happened after that – although I was too pissed to care when the final whistle came! Ashley Cole slipped a few times that on another day would have cost England – and it looks like he struggled (like all the other England players) in the heat. But that life lads – the other teams will have to play in that heat too you know! Sven took off Owen in the second half for Downing (please explain that one) and apparently his favourite player Owen Hargreaves made ANOTHER appearance. Don’t get me started…

Later on T&T managed to get a draw against Sweden against all odds. Caught bits of the game but Freddie looked lively enough and offered a decent attacking threat. Freddie apparently had another bust up with Melberg. Probably over Calvin Klein underwear no doubt. That or something over flat packs and fancy furniture.

Then Kolo and Eboue played for the Ivory Coast as they lost 2-1 to Argentina in the Group C opener. Kolo as ever ran all over the pitch but couldn’t stop the Argies scoring twice, with Saviola and Crespo on the scoresheet. Drogba managed to pull one back with about 7 minutes remaining but it was too late… Eboue didn’t look that great though. Still, the lad is young and you can forgive him for having one bad game. Well as long as it isn’t for Arsenal. Obviously.

Yesterday Holland beat Serbia & Montenegro 1-0 thanks to a goal from Arjen Robben. Didn’t see much of the game but apparently Robin Van Persie had a good game and he did create the goal so it looks like he’ll impress in the World Cup.

And then to the best news of the World Cup (not including England winning, obviously) which involved new signing Tomas Rosicky who helped the Czech Republic win 3-0 against the United States – scoring two brilliant goals.

Rosicky had a fantastic game and it appears once again that Arsene Wenger has pulled off a transfer coup. The guy was reported to be only about £6.8 million which looks like a right bargain now! His first goal must have been over 25 yards out and was a bullet into the corner, and his second was a cool chip after linking up well with Nedved.

Good to see Van Persie and Rosicky on good form!

Thank God The Campbell Rumour Gets Stronger…

There are reports now that Sol Campbell might join Fenerbahce because they offer a ‘new challenge’, and not just because they have offered a lot of money.

Well that’s good to know.

He also talks about how he’s focused on England and then will decide his future after the World Cup.

Thanks for talking about Arsenal and how they stuck by you when you decided to f*ck off in the middle of a London-derby.

The sooner we get rid of him the better.