All Balls Don’t Bounce

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

Posts Tagged ‘tim howard’

Happy Birthday To Me

Posted by hiphopmama on August 15, 2009

arsenal-evertonEverton 1-6 Arsenal
0-1 Denilson, 26′
0-2 Vermaelen, 37′
0-3 Gallas, 41′
0-4 Fabregas, 48′
0-5 Fabregas, 70′
0-6 Eduardo, 89′
1-6 Saha, 90′

So yeah, it’s not really my birthday, not even close, actually. But it’s as good as, with the Premier League starting back up today and finally bringing to an end the mortifying period when European soccer, basketball, and American football are all in their off-seasons. Aside from the occasional MLS broadcast, only baseball is still in action, which is a non-entity in my book anyway, even with the Dodgers leading their division. Praise be unto the lord almighty that they don’t much believe in the concept of “rest” for their footballers in Europe, because their abbreviated off-season has mercifully sprung me from the depths of sporting boredom.

The new season was perfectly inaugurated by my Gunners, who put a hurting on Everton in their season opener. Aside perhaps from Liverpool-Tottenham, Arsenal easily had the toughest fixture of the Big Four sides in their trip to Goodison Park. Plenty had been made of the “losses” of Adebayor and Toure, as well as the limited acquisitions the team made in the transfer market, plus all the usual guff about the team’s (excessive) youth and lack of killer instinct. Yet while Chelsea needed all of extra time to pull out a victory against Hull City, Arsenal made quick and easy work of David Moyes’ side, netting three goals per half, including a brace from captain Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard helped set up the first goal as well, laying it off nicely for Denilson to send one wailing goalward from just outside the box. Newcomer Thomas Vermaelen headed home the second off a Robin Van Persie free kick, and Gallas scored on another header shortly thereafter. Fabregas got his first on a classic Arsenal counterattack to start the second half, tucking it under Everton keeper Tim Howard, then knocked in his second on a quick strike from distance. Eduardo put the capper on it in the dying minutes, slotting home the rebound off a shot Arshavin never should have been allowed to get off. Saha did eventually get Everton their consolation goal in extra time, but it did little to dampen the euphoria of the 6-1 thrashing.

It was all done in typical Arsenal fashion, too, making it that much sweeter to watch this group of youngsters pull off what Wenger always believed they could. The question now will be whether or not they can replicate this kind of performance, but for now I’m not going to let pragmatism cloud this victory. I was a bit surprised to see them come out in the formation they did. The 4-3-3 itself wasn’t really a shock, but Bendtner playing out wide with Arshavin in the center of the front line was not what I expected to see. Wenger clearly knows more than me, though, if you didn’t already know that, because Bendtner played beautifully on the wing and Arshavin gliding around in the middle. The Dane used his size to control the ball well and used his skill to set up his teammates in and around the box. It was his good work on the flank that helped pave the way for Denilson’s opening goal. So while unexpected, his performance out wide was excellent, and Arshavin can obviously play anywhere on the field he likes. With Eduardo still working his way back to full fitness and Rosicky’s potential return on the horizon (I can dream, right?), Arsenal’s prospects for the season are exciting if they can hold their mettle in the middle of the park. Let’s all pray Alexandre Song keeps eating his Wheaties and the center-backs stay fit, so we can ignore the team’s thinness at those spots and revel in the creative potential of the squad. Today, at least, we look like we can win it all.

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Bye-Bye, Quintuple

Posted by hiphopmama on April 20, 2009

Manchester United 0-0 Everton
     Everton win 4-2 on penalties 

It wasn’t as sweet as it could have been, with Ronaldo and his crew of merry men on the bench, but any day ManU loses is a good day. Fergie blamed the Wembley pitch condition for his decision to leave out some of his regular starters, but even with a couple of allowances – which still didn’t include CRon – it was clear that this was a fairly low priority game for the Manchester giants. Sir Alex trotted out a line-up of youngsters and reserves, including Danny Welbeck and Darron Gibson, and they never looked like the threatening side we’ve seen this year (and last, and the year before that…).

The two teams just sort of sparred with each other for most of the game and extra time, setting up a penalty shoot-out that included more drama on paper than in reality. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t get excited as this one drew to a close. Even in the midst of penalty kicks, I wasn’t particularly enthralled, even when Tim Howard made two stops against Berbatov and Ferdinand to ensure his team a victory and a place in the FA Cup final with Chelsea. 

I can’t quite figure out what Fergie was going for with the line-up he chose. Was he waving the white flag? Did he know challenging for five titles was too much and decide to hedge his bets? Did he really think his B, or perhaps C team was enough to oust Everton? I think it’s probably a combination of all those reasons that influenced his decision-making process, but whatever the case, the quintuple dream is over and no one is happier than me. I don’t want to have to hear about this team for all eternity, and Ronaldo doesn’t deserve that swan song on his way out of Manchester anyway. He’s welcome to win title after title once he gets to Real Madrid, but hopefully he’s finished for now. As long as this doesn’t give them extra ammunition in their other competitions, it will be a positive for everybody.

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