All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Posts Tagged ‘adebayor’

Wheat, Here; Chaff, There

Posted by hiphopmama on September 12, 2009

van persie man city
As much as I don’t want to say it, I feel like this may have been the week where the contenders separated themselves from the pretenders, or where the wheat finally separated itself from the chaff, if you will. It pains me, mostly because I’m an Arsenal fan but also because I’m desperate to see someone (ANYONE) other than ManU hoist that trophy, with as many changes in that top four oligarchy as possible – other than Arsenal’s place in it, of course.

Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United
1-0 Defoe, 1′
1-1 Giggs, 25′
1-2 Anderson, 41′
1-3 Rooney, 78′

So Tottenham playing well was a good thing for me, because, despite their heated rivalry with Arsenal, it was another team putting pressure on the biggies and they had the chance today to knock off the reigning champs. They failed, and big time. They opened the game in brilliant fashion with a laser of a bicycle kick from Jermain Defoe inside of the first 50 seconds putting the North London side up 1-0. But then United did what they always do – slow and steady to the finish line. In the 25th minute, Ryan Giggs curled in a free kick to knot the scoreline, and Anderson blasted one past Cudicini just before halftime to give ManU the lead for good. Paul Scholes had a typical Paul Scholes day, sliding into two dangerous tackles and earning himself a red card in the 59th minute. Being reduced to ten men didn’t hamper United much, though, as Rooney tiptoed right down the lane to slot home Manchester’s third and final goal of the game.

And just like that, Tottenham’s supposed coming-out party was put on ice, if not abandoned altogether, and their 100% record went out the window as well in favor of a clear statement of intent from the defending league champions. Spurs just seemed short of answers today, scoring early but then never really finding anything else to punish ManU with. Perhaps the loss of Modric had a role to play in this, but whatever the case, it doesn’t bode well for the longevity of their stay at the top of the table.

Manchester City 4-1 Arsenal
1-0 Almunia (og), 20′
1-1 Van Persie, 62′
2-1 Bellamy, 74′
3-1 Adebayor, 80′
4-1 Wright-Phillips, 84′
4-2 Rosicky, 88′

I don’t even want to talk about this one. Maybe I’m officially a soccer nut if a loss like this can screw up my whole day, because that’s what it did. I watched the rest of the matches I recorded today after this, but only grudgingly and with the bitter hope that the other big teams would fail too. I’m not going to bother describing each goal, because it will just depress me further. The first was tragically comical in everything from the ball’s lofted trajectory off Micah Richards’ bulbous head to Almunia’s hapless expression as the ball ricocheted off his own melon and into the Arsenal goal. 1-0 City despite Arsenal looking the better side in the opening minutes. Things were pretty even for a while after that, until Arsenal started piling on the pressure in the second half, eventually resulting in a goal by Robin Van Persie to tie things up. For a good ten minutes after that, it seemed inevitable that we would get another and take the lead, but there was some kind of lapse in the aftermath of Adebayor’s very intentional kick to Van Persie’s face and Alex Song’s foul of revenge on his former teammate. City parlayed the resulting confusion into a lightning quick counterattack and a strike from Craig Bellamy to restore their lead. And then Adebayor scored (that’s all the description I’m going to give) before jetting to the other end of the field to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans. Cunt. It might have been the fastest I’ve ever seen him run. If he had hustled like that last season, Arsenal might have competed better down the stretch. But no matter. He got his ticket (check?) out of London and over to the trendy new Manchester side, where it must be said he is playing quite well. He reminds me of my separated parents, only NOW doing all the things he should have been doing all along to salvage his former relationship. Do I sound bitter?

There was one silver lining in this match, and it was the return of Tomas Rosicky, including a sweet goal in his first game back. It came on some gorgeous link-up play between he and Fabregas, who lofted the ball to the little Mozart, who in turn needed just one touch to send it on its way. The whole Arsenal side looked better after he was introduced, so everyone just pray he can miraculously avoid anymore injuries for a while and we may have a winning combination on our hands.

Liverpool 4-0 Burnley
1-0 Benayoun, 27′
2-0 Kuyt, 41′
3-0 Benayoun, 61′
4-0 Benayoun, 82′

Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea
1-0 Faye, 32′
1-1 Drogba, 45′
1-2 Malouda, 90′

Two very different victories here, but with very familiar overtones. Liverpool absolutely ran rampant over Burnley, with Yossi Benayoun netting a hat trick and effectively setting up Dirk Kuyt for the fourth by blazing the shot that Brian Jensen parried into Kuyt’s path. Chelsea, on the other hand, needed another late-game winner to beat a bottom half side, but they, like Manchester United, proved that it doesn’t matter how you earn those points, as long as you get ’em. They secured all three today and kept their perfect start going, now having won five games in five tries. Only they and Manchester City can claim a 100% record going forward, with Chelsea having played one more game at this point.

Which brings me to a question I have for my own theory: if the true title contenders are separating themselves from the pack this week, what does this say about Man City? Because I don’t really consider them contenders for anything other than a Europa League, or at least I didn’t before the season started. I’m hoping I’ve just come up with a faulty explanation for the weekend’s turn of events, but I’m beginning to worry. They can’t be the real deal, can they?

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Two Out of Four

Posted by hiphopmama on April 15, 2009

adebayor-villarreal

Arsenal 3-0 Villarreal (Agg: 4-1)
     1-0 Walcott, 10′
     2-0 Adebayor, 60′
     3-0  Van Persie (pen), 69′

Porto 0-1 Manchester United (Agg: 2-3)
     0-1 Ronaldo, 6′ 

Of the four teams through to the Champions League semifinals, you could say that two of them came off my wish list – the two London teams, to be exact. I couldn’t be happier at Liverpool going out, except if Manyoo had bombed out as well. Instead, the always well-coiffed Cristiano Ronaldo ensured his team a place in the final four with a superb strike from 40 yards that sailed past Helton and was enough to seal the deal. Porto presented a few dangers, but they were mostly manageable and nearly all from set pieces, which Man Utd defended decently enough.

Arsenal put on a much more impressive display against Villarreal. Walcott broke the deadlock early when some weak defending saw him through, and he chipped one beautifully over the Villarreal keeper. The Spaniards never looked particularly threatening, other than the first few minutes of the second half, but after that the Gunners kicked it into another gear. Adebayor atoned for some boneheaded play with a lovely finish on the counterattack off another Fabregas pass. They topped it off with a Van Persie penalty kick on what was admittedly a dubious call made by the referee’s assistant. 

These two teams will face each other on April 29th, while Barcelona will face Chelsea the 28th, and once again we see the Premier League with three of the final four Champions League teams. Even with that numerical advantage, you have to give the edge at this point to the Spanish representative, Barcelona, who are once again on the rampage after a tiny hiccup in form in La Liga. Good luck to Chelsea in that one. As for Arsenal, they are the underdogs of the bunch, but I could see them pulling off an upset against the reigning champs, setting up a possible rematch with Barça. Just two more weeks to wait.

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That Crucial Away Goal

Posted by hiphopmama on April 7, 2009

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal
    1-0 Senna, 10′
    1-1 Adebayor, 66′ 

As expected, this was a fun game to watch, although as an Arsenal fan the second half was much more fun than the first. Villarreal came out guns blazing and took the early advantage on a brilliant long strike from Marcos Senna, who found himself in too much space and nailed it to the back of the net. Things then went from bad to worse for the Gunners when they lost both Almunia and Gallas to injury in the first half, and they went into the break looking a little worse for wear. 

One inspirational halftime speech later, Arsenal were a different team and spent the second half pinning Villarreal back in their own half instead of vice versa. Typically, they had plenty of chances but neglected to finish them, waiting for that most brilliant of opportunities to level the scoreline. Also typical was the fashion in which it arrived, on a silver platter from Fabregas to Adebayor, who corralled with his chest it in the middle of the box, then took it on the volley, whipping a ridiculous scissor-kick past Diego Lopez.

Arsenal looked the likelier to score after that and spurned a few more clear-cut opportunities, and Villarreal almost made them pay for it. Senna hit a couple more whistlers just past the bar and the last few minutes saw the Spanish side pour forward on a number of occasions. As injury time dwindled, Arsenal struck back on the counterattack but the cross from Clichy was blocked out for the corner which ended the game. 

So the Gunners take an even scoreline and the critical away goal home to the Emirates for the second leg, and you’d have to think they’re pretty satisfied with that outcome. Having started so poorly, tying it up alone was encouraging, but getting that potential tie-breaker makes the result even more harsh from the Villarreal perspective. The Yellow Submarine (can someone please explain that nickname to me?) played a great first half and seemed poised to take their one-goal cushion with them, but Adebayor’s absurd strike one-upped Senna’s and snatched the moral, if not actual, victory away from the home team. Who would have thought, a couple months ago when Arsenal were in the midst of their slide, that they would be a rejuvenated squad getting their best players back and looking to head to the Champions League semi’s? Not I, for sure, but I will remember not to doubt them again.

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Arsenal 1 – 0 Wigan

Posted by hiphopmama on December 6, 2008

  • 1-0 Adebayor, 16′

This weekend, my sporting worlds seemed to collide, and not in a good way. As a devoted Lakers fan, I watched with chagrin as my blazing hot team gave up a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter to lose to a sub-.500 team in Indiana. They followed this up with a fairly convincing win over Toronto and then, on Friday, tried to give away yet another sizable lead to a struggling team. In the third and final game of this road trip, the Lakers toyed with the Wizards like a cat lazily slapping around a mouse, building a 19 point lead in the second half, only to see it evaporate with their talented bench players on the floor. The Lakers ended up pulling out the win, but not without some nervous moments, including a chance for the Wizards to win the game on a last second three-pointer. 

What does this have to do with the Arsenal game? Plenty, especially for my viewing experience. Just like the Lakers in all three games, Arsenal were the superior side and played like it for stretches of time. The Lakers were considerably more dominant, but it’s true just the same. Arsenal jumped out to an early lead with a somewhat fortuitous 16th minute strike by Adebayor, who benefited from poor positioning by Titus Bramble and slotted the winner past Chris Kirkland. The rest of the game was hot and cold. The Wigan attack threatened numerous times and often for sustained periods, but they were unlucky and never broke through. The Arsenal defense played fairly capably for the early part of the game, but as it drew to a close they started to panic. Arsenal were close to that second insurance goal many times, with Robin Van Persie twice just missing the chance to double the lead, but when they couldn’t secure it, they became increasingly harried at the back. Actually, it would be more accurate to say they slipped up at the back all the way up to the midfield area. Eboue, who came in as a substitute for an injured Nasri in the first half, played a couple of poor passes and lost possession at crucial moments, and as the crowd got on him for it he seemed to shrink away and play even worse. You couldn’t help but feel awful for him, especially since he was filling in on the left wing when his normal position is at right back. Wenger eventually subbed him out for Silvestre at the very end, killing time and adding an extra defender, but it seemed like a questionable move. Silvestre didn’t play very convincingly, and it must have been even more devastating for Eboue to have been removed like that.

Arsenal managed to hang on, but only just. Amr Zaki, returning from injury, came on as a sub and ran his butt off to try to pry open the Arsenal defense. Heskey had the best chances for Wigan and only narrowly missed a header to tie the game, sending it just over the bar.

It was a nervy win for Arsenal, but three points is three points, I suppose. The word I kept thinking was “composure,” as that is exactly what the Gunners lacked. When it was clear they weren’t going to get a second goal, they should have just maintained possession and worked the clock down. Instead, the looked frantic in their passes and unsure of what exactly to do, and as a result they awarded Wigan a number of opportunities they needn’t have had. In the end, though, they managed to follow up their enormous win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with a victory, something they had been unable to do after beating Manchester United, or just about anybody, for that matter, as consecutive good performances have been hard to come by for this team. 

Watching Arsenal almost dissolve under pressure after a good start was certainly familiar to me after recent Lakers games, but it also reminded me how fortunate I’ve been to have the purple and gold as my basketball colors. Because while Arsenal have mostly lost this kind of close game, the Lakers have almost always won them. LA is currently 16-2 and clearly leading the Western Conference, yet I have been consistently critical of their play, particularly their defending and composure late in games. All of which is true, but it bears remembering that, even with all these apparent issues to tweak, they have still won a remarkable percentage of their games, which counts for a lot. You can say, as I have, that they have won the games that they were supposed to win, but even that is impressive. Plenty of teams – Arsenal included – can’t manage to do even that. The Tottenham debacle comes to mind, as do their games against Fulham, Hull City, and Stoke City. So I guess the moral of the story is, be grateful for what you have, because it can always be worse. Unless you’re a Clippers fan.

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Arsenal 0 – 2 Aston Villa

Posted by hiphopmama on November 15, 2008

agbonlahor1

  • 0-1 Gael Clichy (og), 70′
  • 0-2 Gabriel Agbonlahor, 80′

How many times can we witness this same exact story line? A struggling Arsenal team pulls off a big win against a quality opponent, the youngsters throw in an impressive victory in Carling Cup play, and this renewed confidence and spirit is dashed with a horrible showing against a team they should beat. In this case, the opponent was one of some quality – Aston Villa were sitting at fifth in the table and had had a very good start to the season. They had, however, coming off disappointing losses to Newcastle and, last week, Middlesbrough in a game that, had it been won, would have moved them into a coveted top four position. Arsenal were, as always, using a depleted line-up, with Van Persie out due to suspension and Adebayor only just brought back on the bench after coming back from injury. They did have Sagna back as well as Gallas, both of whom had missed time recently.

None of that accounted for the result, though. For as good as they looked against Man Utd last week, they looked ragged and sloppy today. Villa was clearly the stronger of the two teams in the first half, despite missing a poorly taken penalty, which was saved by Almunia and kicked out by a charging Gallas. Ashley Young especially stormed forward in the early going, creating and receiving numerous opportunities and only being held off by some excellent goalkeeping by Almunia. Agbonlahor wasn’t much of a factor in the first half, but he made up for it in the second half, making piercing runs and killing Arsenal with his speed. He was partially responsible for the first goal, forcing Clichy to make the play that resulted in an own goal. Ten minutes later, he scored one for real, securing a long ball around Gallas and striking it past Almunia to secure three points.

Arsenal easily dominated possession, nearing 70%, but they were much less threatening than Villa and created fewer chances. Bendtner was essentially invisible playing up front by himself. Walcott gave his defenders some trouble but it never amounted to anything. Nasri wasn’t nearly as dangerous as he has been in recent weeks. And Fabregas continued his run of indifferent form. At one point in the second half, a long ball over the top that was mishandled by Bendtner practically screamed out for Adebayor, and sure enough, a few minutes later he was subbed in for Diaby. Vela was also brought on for Bendtner, and that two man combination seemed to work much better although to similar (no) effect. The biggest blow, aside from the loss itself, was losing Sagna to a serious looking injury in the build-up to the first goal. He had only recently come back from another injury, and Wenger said in his post-match press conference that he will miss a few weeks with this new ankle injury. 

It’s almost impossible to figure out what to make of this Arsenal team. Two steps forward one step back would almost be a blessing at this point, as every victory – moral or actual – is countered with at least one disappointment. The team seems to need some moderately drastic shaking up – tinkering with the established formula just isn’t enough now. I can’t pretend to know as much as Wenger, but I would hope that picking someone up in the winter transfer window wouldn’t be ruled out. Then again, with Eduardo potentially returning in a few weeks and Rosicky making his return around the new year, they might get the equivalent of some new players without having to spend the money. Whatever the case, the current tack isn’t working, no matter how many isolated bright spots it produces. Beating Manchester United is all well and good, but it’s worthless if you can’t replicate that performance against teams like Fulham, Hull, and Stoke. Aston Villa is no pushover, but they should at least elicit a more inspired effort than what the Gunners gave today.

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Arsenal 2 – 1 Everton

Posted by hiphopmama on October 20, 2008

This game saw both Arsenals show up: the one that looks completely hapless on defense and can’t contain squat, and the (much more pleasant) one that dominates possession and links up for beautiful goals. They opened the game with the first Arsenal present, and Everton struck quickly to take a 0-1 lead. Osman scored on some relatively average build-up play but, to his credit, put the cross he received away with ease. Arsenal sort of muddled through for the rest of the first half but returned rejuvenated in the second, playing their typical Arsenal football. It was truly a pleasure to watch, and it was capped off by a goal from Nasri. Arsenal had definitely begun to pick up the pace, but Nasri officially turned the tide when he hit an incredible strike from a few yards outside the area that might have taken a slight deflection and jetted its way into the back of the net to tie the game. The next goal came after they had about a gazillion touches in the area, and for a second it looked as though they were going to squander another opportunity looking for that perfect goal. Adebayor turned his back on one chance, then dished it off to Fabregas, whose shot was blocked by Howard. The rebound bounced to Van Persie, who headed it home to take all three points. 

It was a nerve-wracking performance, to be sure, especially coming from a side that desperately needed a win. They knew they couldn’t fall behind the three leaders by an additional three points so early in the season, and they gutted out a victory. It’s reassuring that they can win this kind of game, after going down a goal early on, but that they had to do so at all is somewhat disconcerting. Three points is three points, though, and Arsenal will take them any way they can get them at this point.

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