Friday, April 11, 2008

Bayern Munich: Team of UEFA Cup destiny?

For those that don't have FSC, or if you somehow missed their wall to wall UEFA Cup coverage yesterday, this may be news to you. If not, you can still revel in one of the most ridiculous finishes I have ever seen in knockout round play. Details, and video (as long as it stays up) after the jump.

The first leg of Bayern-Getafe ended in a 1-1 draw with Getafe scoring a pinball goal in the last minute to secure the draw.

Things looked good for Getafe to advance, given the away goal, but in the 6th minute of the return leg, De La Red saw red for a ghost tackle on a diving Miroslav Klose. At that point, it looked to be a pretty safe bet for Bayern to go through, as all they needed was one away goal against 10 man Getafe. Getafe did not back down, continuing to attack Bayern and were rewarded in the 44th minute with a goal. Bayern looked out of it for the most part in the second half. They were saved in the 89th minute when Franck Ribery powered home from 10 yards to draw the match 1-1 in regular time.

In extra time, Getafe abused Bayern from the outset, scoring two quick goals in five minutes to look to secure the tie. For the rest of the first fifteen minutes, Bayern pressed and Getafe counterattacked with numbers, but did not score again. It would come back to haunt the home side. In the 115th minute, Getafe keeper Pato dropped a ball right in front of Luca Toni who put the ball away. And in the 120th minute, on a last gasp attack Toni headed home a cross from 8 yards out. The header hit the line of the six-yard box and squirmed over the top of a useless Pato's outstretched hand. Look at the video below. You'll see just how ridiculous this games was.

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More match-fixing, more easy sentences

In the few short months of this blog, I've become the go-to guy for a couple of subjects. I'm the bad jersey guy. I'm also the guy who writes on Scotland which nobody reads or cares for (sorry for so much Gretna this season). Now, with this new article, I feel I'll also be known as the guy who writes about match-fixers getting lenient sentences. Boy, what a c.v. I've built myself, huh? Anyway, details after the jump, as per usual.

This time we go to Singapore, where Liaoning Guangyuan (that's a team) forward Zhao Zhipeng had his court sentence reduced from seven to five months on appeal. He was convicted of accepting a $2700 bribe from his manager to help the team lose a match by at least three goals. That's right, the manager, Wang Xin, wanted his team to get a Paul Jewell-esque result.

In fact, Wang Xin was charged with offering bribes to all of his players on that day, and seven are charged with having accepted. Which makes Zhao Zhipeng's winning defense curious. Supposedly the manager was a fearsome beast and the player had no choice but to accept. Okay, fine. But what about the players who did not accept? Were they made of stronger mettle than the accused? I doubt it. At least four players are said to have refused. The formerly internationally fearsome Singaporean court system rolled over on this one, it would appear.

Wang Xin, for his part, was also arrested, but has skipped bail. Presumably, he has gone back to China, where authorities will have a hard time finding him, because, as everyone knows, all those guys look alike. Right?

Read more on "More match-fixing, more easy sentences"...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More Rumors: More Americans Buying Euro Clubs

Four English Premiership clubs (soon to be 3 with relegated Derby County) are currently owned by Americans with a fifth, Arsenal, having an American minority stakeholder. The American ownership is a new trend but so far has been mostly confined to England.

Now, it looks like another American is making a play for a big European club, but not in England. Financier George Soros is said to be interested in purchasing AS Roma.

Roma, facing ManU in the second leg of a quarterfinal Champions League tie today, and its parent company are rumored to have a large amount of debt and are looking for a bailout. Roma fans are opposed to foreign ownership but Soros thinks they are dumb and gullible.

From the article:

If the talks go well, Soros is then expected to launch an immediate takeover bid. In order to soften up Roma fans, who are against foreign ownership, the 78-year-old has spoken in glowing terms of Francesco Totti.

“Totti is simply a phenomenon. I like him very much,” he said.

If Soros does end up purchasing the club, I can't wait to see how the leftist activist interacts with noted conservative politician and AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi.

[Photo Credit: Novinite]

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Et tu, Titi?

On Monday the new Seattle MLS team name was revealed--Seattle Sounders FC--and rumors have percolated surrounding the announcement that former Arsenal talisman and current Barcelona striker Thierry Henry was being recruited by Seattle squad.

Titi has not had the greatest season at the Nou Camp having not performed to expectations and revealing he has missed his daughter and now the Catalan club is accepting offers for Henry.

It makes natural sense that he would be linked with a team that hasn't played a match yet, is 9,000 miles away from his daughter as is miles below the standard of play of Barca.

Nope, not a PR stunt....not at all.

It's rumored that Seattle is in "advanced negotiations" to acquire him, whatever that means. Despite the ludicrousness of this rumor and suspect timing, it will not die when Henry has proclaimed his love for the US and Paul Allen's deep pockets associated with Seattle Sounders FC.

The London Sun reported on its Web site Wednesday that Seattle MLS is willing to offer Henry $297,000 a week to come to the States. Henry has expressed interest in playing stateside.

"I always say that one day I can play over there," Henry told The New York Times in November. "I would love to. It's still early. Don't get me wrong, I just love the U.S. I don't know why. I love the way you live. I love American sports. For me, it's a dream to go to training and then see a game of football, basketball, whatever game."

He might be the only French national to currently say he loves the US. Let me just set this straight...Henry will not be going to Seattle. He will not earn $297,000 a week ($15.4 million/yr). Beckham makes only $5M per year in salary with a cut of merchandising. Henry could cut the same deal, but he's not going to increase merchandise sales any more than Beckham.

A fun rumor, but not gonna happen.

[Photo Credit: REUTERS/Eddie Keogh]

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I'd like his debt payment plan, please.

Is this the referee or is it Ryan Cabrera?

Mercifully, we will start today with a post neither lauding Liverpool, nor containing tears for Arsenal. We will focus on a referee, though, because those guys always turn out to be bastards.

Coming from the old news file, German referee Robert Hoyzer was convicted in 2005 of accepting bribes to fix matches in 2004 and earlier. Hoyzer shows up again this week because the terms of his settlement of the DFB have been released, and boy, did he get a sweetheart deal.

Alright, so maybe Hoyzer did not get a sweetheart deal per se, but he did get a greatly reduced rate. As part of Hoyzer's settlement, he agreed that the DFB lost 750,000 euros, or $1.18 million at today's rate, becuase of his actions. Instead of having to repay in full, however, Hoyzer agreed to pay about $1500 a month over 15 years, a total of $270,000. If he fulfills these terms, the DFB will agree to drop any claim at further renumeration.

I wonder if his lawyers can talk to my student loan people? I would love to have that kind of consolidation of debt.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Salary Bullshit

[Ed. Note: Sorry... this post has nothing to do with Arsenal/Liverpool from yesterday. We could easily open up a thread after this just for random griping. You know you want to.] has been busy of late, releasing all sorts of salary Top 10s from around the world, and this one for highest-paid players worldwide is just fucking hilarious.

Enjoy this top 10, as it teaches you one very important lesson: when you're at the top of your game, sign a massive fucking contract before the downward spiral begins.

Looking at the list: Kaka has had a rough year, Ronaldinho's injured again, Terry's been hurt, Thierry's been hurt, Lampard's been ghostly on the pitch, Ballack's not getting enough starts, Shevchenko.... well let's just move on, and Gerrard's suffered a dip in form and influence this past season.

It's really no coincidence that there are 4 Chelsea players on this list, because let's face it, they're the fucking kings of overpaying for players. They do it every year [I can still hear the laughter as they paid 16 million pounds for Juan Sebastian Veron AFTER he'd already flopped massively in the EPL for Manchester United], and this list has to make tough reading. Look at those awkward contracts you'll be paying for quite some time.

The sting is of course lessened by being just 2 points back from Man U in the two-horse title hunt, but still: if you fall short, look at all that guaranteed money flying out the door. It's a fucking miracle, almost 30 million pounds going into the pockets of 4 players [3 of whom aren't worth a fraction of it], but hey, that's the game nowadays, isn't it?

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The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Today, and to my eyes, this is the ugliest collection of shirts I have ever put together. Instead of just concentrating on a certain shirt this week, I have done some exhaustive research and come up with the worst team collection I could find. If you have the stomach, join me after the jump for a truly awful set of shirts from today's most annoying English team.

To those that don't get the inherent joke (a possibility given that the internet lives forever and dates are rarely checked), this article was posted the day after Arsenal won, then lost, the CL tie against Liverpool. I'm sure this knowledge will make the article a lot funnier to you.

Usually, with that kind of hate-filled intro, I would be introducing Manchester United, or maybe Chelsea. But with the average Scouser's inability to realize that Babel was, at best, fouled outside the box, or, at worst, a diving cuntbag, I'm going to immediately change my tune. Instead of being the member of the Big 4 I could tolerate, now I have nothing but contempt for you lot and that stupid goddamn song you never quit singing. Sure, the players will never walk alone, but when will the "fans" quit breaking into their houses? Never, I'm guessing, if the alternative is getting off the dole and getting a job.

But I digress. Let's look at the abominations of Liverpool's past.
If there is one thing I hate in the world of jerseys, it's the cookie-cutter style that some manufacturers force onto teams. Teams that are not strong enough to say no. Teams, apparently, like Liverpool. This shirt is especially egregious because of the placement of the three stripes on either side of the abdomen. If you ever need a shirt that says "Hey, look. My ribs are right here", this is the one for you.

Dear Liverpool, you are a football club playing by Association Rules. You are not a Rugby club. Please dress accordingly on the pitch.

If the mid-90s will be remembered for one thing in football shirt world, it's the sublimated print. Liverpool obviously decided to go all-in on this trend, but not really with the sublimated part. Instead they chose a pale yellow suitable for your grandma and doctored it with what looks like random inkstains. Until you get close in, that is, and you say to yourself "Hey, it's that same badge embroidered on the shirt over and over again."

Ah, kids Liverpool shirts from the past. Eyesores in their own right, now decorated with autographs of former players who, if they didn't make it in football punditry, now glaze windows. Remember, YNWA, unless you no longer play, that is. And really, what is that top one? Baby blue? Blue-Grey? Either way, real manly, fellas.

Uh, I like this one. Let's move on.

Hey look. It's the exact same design that Trinidad & Tobago wore in the World Cup. That must be nice feeling, knowing that Liverpool has as much sway with adidas as T&T does. And what did I say about cookie-cutter shirts anyway? Come on.

Oh, and one more thing, Liverpool fans, your captain is an Everton fan, as this pic attests. Deal with it. I don't care what his ghost-written autobiography says.

Thanks to The Spoiler for sending over the Gerrard pic. The others are from the eBays, if you have that poor of taste.

Read more on "The Good, The Bad, The WTF"...

Arsenal - Liverpool Real Time Commentary

Since it is apparent that we will be talking about Arsenal-Liverpool all day here, I thought we could add to the discourse and present two Liverpool fans instant messaging during the game. No edits...just our stream-of-conscious typings. Warts, rage, joy, sadness and all.

You'll learn things you didn't want to learn and see all of my bad jokes. Learn that LB is proficient to text acronyms. See unbridled joy and confusion all in text. And, lots of swearing. My favorite portion starts around the 1:22 P.M. mark. Keep in mind that TFA is watching on the computer while LB has no visual of the action, just online commentary and whatever I write.

So join me after the jump to read Lingering Bursitis and The Fan's Attic running commentary of yesterday's match--whistle to whistle--with all the ups and downs of the match.

11:28 AM The Fan's Attic: crouchie on pitch for LFC.
11:35 AM Lingering Bursitis: here we go
oh god
got back from lunch
11:36 AM and crouch deserves some love
guy's been scoring lately
The Fan's Attic: on and off the pitch.
Lingering Bursitis: ha
The Fan's Attic: love me some abby clancy.
11:40 AM Lingering Bursitis: she loves you too
from what i've heard
11:41 AM The Fan's Attic: you've heard correctly.
11:55 AM The Fan's Attic: shit ballack scored already.
Lingering Bursitis: yeah
11:56 AM ridiculous, right?
i laid down a 3-1 chelsea win prediction
12:01 PM The Fan's Attic: yup. [ed. note: Diaby goal]
12:16 PM The Fan's Attic: thank the fucking lord.
12:17 PM Lingering Bursitis: seriously.
now it's fucking on. [ed. note: Hyppia goal]
12:21 PM i REALLY wish I could be watching this
12:22 PM The Fan's Attic: it's turned a bit.
cudcini went off with an injury and now hilario is in goal.
Lingering Bursitis: yeah seeriously
i hear it's all us now
The Fan's Attic: torres not having the greatest match so far.
12:24 PM Lingering Bursitis: yeah he has been quite quiet against the big UK teams

i am confident in him though he'll make some magic happen
it's waiting
12:27 PM damn, we took flamini out
that's significant
unfortunate too
12:29 PM The Fan's Attic: arsenal's midfield is out of whack right now.

we need to score before half to dishearten the.
12:30 PM Lingering Bursitis: yes we do
12:41 PM The Fan's Attic: do they always switch the days of the CL matches.
Lingering Bursitis: um
The Fan's Attic: last week it was LFC on Wednesday
Lingering Bursitis: i don't think so except for this round onwards, maybe?
The Fan's Attic: and this week it was tuesday. while ManU was tuesday last week and wednesday this week.
seems unfair.
Lingering Bursitis: perhaps
yeah, i see what you're saying
12:42 PM in Man U's case, it gives them more time to rush rio ferdinand back from a minor injury
The Fan's Attic: exactly.
7 days of rest versus 5 days.
seems patently unfair.
12:43 PM Lingering Bursitis: yeah
1:13 PM Lingering Bursitis: YESSSS
1:14 PM The Fan's Attic: yeah...i knew the minute i went to the bathroom to let a fart rip they would score.
bastards! [ed. note: Torres Goal]
Lingering Bursitis: hahaha
The Fan's Attic: did get to see the replay though.
Lingering Bursitis: torres with a turn-n-shoot
The Fan's Attic: that's a classic move of his.
he's scored a lot that way.
this season.
1:15 PM probably because we just lob the balls up there hoping for him to get a break.
Lingering Bursitis: what a great goal
nah, it's a classic striker goal
take pass, turn and shoot
owen scored a lot like that
as did many LFC greats
The Fan's Attic: maybe.
1:16 PM i feel like he does that more often than some others.
Lingering Bursitis: i understand

it's not unusual for strikers to score like that esp a guy like him who does come deep for the ball
The Fan's Attic: yeah.
Lingering Bursitis: he covers a lot more ground than most FWs
The Fan's Attic: that was a stinky fart too.
so i guess it was the right thing to do.
1:22 PM The Fan's Attic: babel just screwed that up.
wish he had more composure.
Lingering Bursitis: yeah
he'll learn it
1:23 PM i'm amazed crouch didn't come off for a defender seeing as though arsenal
brought on two strikers/wingers for cornerbacks
The Fan's Attic: made up for it on that next touch though.
Lingering Bursitis: yeah
1:24 PM The Fan's Attic: that was poor from almunia.
i think kuyt has found a new position.
outside mid.
1:25 PM Lingering Bursitis: yeah
he's been reborn as a midfielder on the flank
he can run around all day
and really use his workrate to his advantage
The Fan's Attic: yeah...just needs to work a bit on his defense.
Lingering Bursitis: yeah
but fuck, he covers more ground than anyone i've seen in a while
1:26 PM it's not always effective
The Fan's Attic: i know.
Lingering Bursitis: but he never stops running
The Fan's Attic: amazing.
kuyt was defending
just outside of our box.
arsenal was dispossessed.
1:27 PM and then the ball was advanced up the right flank...
kuyt runs on to the ball.
Lingering Bursitis: omg.
1:28 PM The Fan's Attic: fuckk [ed. note: Adebayor goal]
come on LFC!!!
1:29 PM Lingering Bursitis: wait
arse scored
and now a PK
The Fan's Attic: yes
Lingering Bursitis: for who?
i am so confused
The Fan's Attic: GERRARD
Lingering Bursitis: WOW
holy fucking siht
The Fan's Attic: eboue [ed. note: it was toure] pulled babel down in the box.
perfect shot by Stevie
1:30 PM riise for torres
1:31 PM Lingering Bursitis: holy christ
The Fan's Attic: yeah.
1:32 PM babel did some good acting.
he got touched...but given kuyt's noncall last week...
tough job.
1:36 PM babel!!!!
90 +2
1:37 PM Lingering Bursitis: YES'

And that my friends, was that.

Read more on "Arsenal - Liverpool Real Time Commentary"...

As If Anyone Needed a Reason to Hate Sweden

You know what's funny?

Not much today. But this comes close.

Yesterday the comments section of Arseblog was one of the more popular places for Gunner fans to grieve. So much so that the comments wouldn't even load for long stretches of time. But hitting refresh incessantly for the better part of an hour was eventually rewarded, and if misery loves company, this was an orgy and angst.

Below is a (relatively) small slice of those comments. Some were edited because they were posted 16 times (careful with the 'Submit' button, KJ). Others were edited out because they were bland. Many were left in because they displayed little regard for the English language. Hope the fine folks over at Arseblog are not upset by this—and wonderful day after post today, guys. It's more of an homage, a bit of performance art to help all of us feel a little better after the fact.

After the jump, it's a symphony of hatred, despair and Foo Fighters tickets.

AusGunner @ 21.3 | April 08, 2008

incredibly cruel, bad luck boys fucking brave performance not our day not our season, very brave of your efforts all year all the same.

Mrs Merfa Fabregas @ 21.37 | April 08, 2008

"i guess the penalty is less of an issue"

well no, fuckwit, it isn't, as if the penalty hadn't been conceded, we wouldn't have been so stretched.

Azza @ 21.39 | April 08, 2008

This is gay as fuck. Footballs not corrupt, it is however governed, driven and refereed by fucking morons and parasites.

To get put out by a negative team like this is hard to take though. Dirty, bin dipping, car radio stealing, moustaced, CUNTS!

Thorley Gooner @ 21.40 | April 08, 2008

Quite simply, cheated out of the semi final

cam @ 21.46 | April 08, 2008

that was a joke. Liverpool can go fuck themselves. Whatever happened to lucky arsenal. And after that run by Walcott. I'm sorry but if you take those TWOP decisions together. There;s only one word that springs to mind. CORRUPT. I'm sick of this shit, bring on the summer holidays.

KJ @ 21.47 | April 08, 2008

Theres no fucking justice in football. I cant handle watching a fucking shit side like livershite be outplayed by us only for them to get through cause of some shocking ref decisions...

The only consolation is Theo, he really is the only player Ive seen tear up defences like Henry used too....

MarkM @ 21.47 | April 08, 2008

Fact is we were leading this tie 3 times and let them back into it within minutes each and every occasion.

The fact they got a dodgy pen at the end is immaterial, we should have been out sight by then.

It typifies our season, we fucked it up.

I haven't been this fucking upset over a defeat for fucking ages.

wes @ 21.47 | April 08, 2008

without trying to just sound like a whiny arsenal fan, it's really quite hard to swallow the amount of points and crucial games that have been taken away from us due to fucking terrible refereeing decisions. more this season than I think I've ever seen.

Matte @ 21.49 | April 08, 2008

I'm so fucking ashamed to be a swede right now...

cam @ 21.52 | April 08, 2008

that was a joke - sure criticise wenger / the team but thers nothing you can do about decisions like that. And by decisions I mean TWO TWO TWO decisions. It seems the Kop did play a part then in getting them a non existent penalty. I;m fucking lost for words.
Anyone who criticises the team ovr this is simply overshadowing a couple of fucking horrific decsision.

Kmoney @ 21.53 | April 08, 2008

Never was a penalty. For once, I'm glad that I'm a Gunner in the US, where I can turn to a sports channel and not see replay of that shit call from a shit ref. Guaranteed no penalty if played in any other stadium. What a fucking pussy. FUCK THIS

Statto @ 21.55 | April 08, 2008

There are things wrong with this team, but there are a lot of things right with it.

They didn't deserve that tonight, I'm very proud of them.

North Bank Ned @ 21.55 | April 08, 2008

This is beyond cruel. That's three critical 50-50 penalty calls that have gone against us in the three games: two denying us a winning goal and one giving L'pool one. If at the start of the season you'd have said that we'd have a top 3 Premiership finish and a Euro quarter-finals place, I would have reckoned that a decent season for such a young team, which none of the pundits fancied much. The fact that we got so close to doing so much better and then get slapped in the face by such awful penalty calls - only makes it hurt more.

mark @ 21.56 | April 08, 2008

well .. i can't overlook hleb's deserved penalty and bendtner's chance in the 1st leg .. their penalty was a disgrace for the football world

we missed flamini a lot .. and i don't wanna see this ebouseless again wearing our t-shirt

also i can't f. understand why nobody's giving the ball to theo .. even after his incredible second goal

Flamge @ 21.57 | April 08, 2008

Apart from the CL final I dont think Ive been so gutted and at the same time angry about about Arsenal. Our defense was a disgrace today, pathetic just doesn't do it justice. Rest of the team was fine, and what a cameo from Walcott. Still, I feel like we have been cheated out of this, how many fucking times is it now this season?

Ken Korda @ 21.58 | April 08, 2008

Fuck it. Great performance and we were outdone by another shite refereeing decision.

Big Phil sounds like a really nice guy, but he's a fucking calamitous defender and we are immediately handicapped whenever he plays.

Right now I want to give Theo a hug and kick big Phil squaw in the nuts.

Vinayak @ 21.59 | April 08, 2008

Mother-fucking ref's got us again... AGAIN!!! fucking cunts! My heart went out to Arsenal for playing the way they did... tired legs they sure were but didn't seem like it till the penalty was given and their shoulders dropped to another ball-ripping decision given by the ref!!!

Fucking motherfuckers

robby mcrobbed @ 21.59 | April 08, 2008

that's as cruel as it comes. we were robbed. swings and roundabouts? i saw somewhere the other day about the decisions that could 'go either way' that have gone against us since eduardo's nightmare at brum - tonight's put the icing on the cake.

credit to liverpool for grinding out another result and good luck to them the set of robbing scouse cunts.

uefa need to take a long hard look at their ref's and get them on the same page about what is or is not a penalty.

more annoyed than when i parked my car in liverpool and came back to find no fucking stereo - robbing scouse fuckers.

cam @ 22.03 | April 08, 2008

hope that ref has a fucking car crash on the way home

fucking fucked off tarragona @ 22.03 | April 08, 2008

please please please help me feel better I just dont understand why three shit decisions have fucked our season in the arse. At 2-1 i was able to live with going out though dissapointed as I though we had played better over the two legs.... However our season has been decided by 3 shit penaltys :

1st Birmingham Arsenal, Clichy fucks up but clearly wins the ball back then the penalty is given against us

2nd Arsenal Liverpool, kuyt pulls back Hleb penalty not given we go to anfield 1-1

3rd liverpool Arsenal, a less tbc...

arsehole @ 22.07 | April 08, 2008

Have we won the double yet?


Le Bob @ 22.07 | April 08, 2008

The mugsmashers fought for it in the second half, while we couldn't keep up until after they scored their second. In that respect, they deserved...something. What hurts the most, and I'm sure most of you agree, is that they got a pen where we didn't, and ours was the most clear of the two. It was an awful desicion, which mattered more than how inept our defence were when they scored.

But, I do love Walcott. I really, really do.

Cunning Stunt @Home @ 22.11 | April 08, 2008

We had them twice, and twice referees saved them out of our hands.

Blackstock Road @ 22.22 | April 08, 2008

Fuck. That's just the way it goes sometimes, got to take a bit of rough with the smooth etc. We should be proud of our team for getting us this far in the first place. They've put in a great Champions League run this year, much better than last and that's something to be proud of, however hard the defeat is to take.

Shit happens in life and shit happens in football. It makes the highs sweeter, and the lows even harder to swallow. But the fact that you care shows that you are passionate and as long as you've got passion, then you can hold your head up high at the end of the day. This is why we support Arsenal through win, lose or draw, and this is why it is not the end of the world.

Good night Gooners.

quasimodo @ 22.30 | April 08, 2008

Crucial turnpoint in the game, Flamini injured out, otherwise we overplayed them for sure.

Definitly wasn't a penalty, the other dutch cunt almost tricked us like that in the 1st half.

And finally: i can't see what everyone else (commentators) sees in Torres.

Someday we'll have our revenge!

GunnerMike @ 22.31 | April 08, 2008

BOLLOCKS!!! They say you have to take the rough with the smooth in refereeing decisions but it seems to me that since the Birmingham Match all we have had is rough.

That foul on Hleb was a penalty not given in 1st leg. Toure does not do half as much and we get a penalty against us. We need consistentcy in refing. This is totally bollocks that these decisions can be so biased.

Puzzled 'holic @ 22.42 | April 08, 2008

G'evening mates.

If luck balances itself out over a season we are about to get a hatful of penalties and we will never be offside in the final five games.

Specsavers? I'm fucked!

fucking fucked off tarragona @ 22.50 | April 08, 2008

new idea...

we could be looking forward to next season thinking that this will be our year for a top 4 finish an other year in the Uefa cup and darren bent as our main striker....

see not soo bad being a gooner is it...

all together now:

"we'll be running round tottenham with our will's hanging out...."

Ricey @ 22.53 | April 08, 2008

CHAMBO - I can't remember if it was you or Bald who wanted Foo Fighters tickets. I PM'd Bald earlier but can't send any at the mo due to server cuntage. If it was you who wanted them, no doubt I'll get a "What the fuck are you on about?" PM from Bald. Anyway, thumbs up for the spares..!

Matt @ 22.54 | April 08, 2008

This is what being an Arsenal Supporter is about.. Moments of sheer joy swiftly followed by a depressing low :(

Stevie G did Flamini in the first half the fucking twat.

Snail @ 22.54 | April 08, 2008

Here's a bold fucking idea. Maybe you doom mongers should apreciate that we were robbed by a bad referee over two legs, as one could argue, were Inter before us.
Liverpool never get a bad decision against them. That is one of the laws of football.

Magic Hat @ 22.57 | April 08, 2008

There was also a penalty not given against Fab in the league match on Saturday when his shirt was clearly pulled inside the box.

Whatever @ 23.15 | April 08, 2008

I've more or less given up on football. Love Arsenal til I die but we are constantly shafted and I do think the game is now run by money and that includes the results. Whether it is UEFA, the FA or the clubs themselves, something is wrong. We are getting too many bum decisions and I hate this 'it evens out' crap. How can it even out if we're out of the Champs League and the Premiership race and your season is over. Wankers the lot of them.

wes @ 23.18 | April 08, 2008

you know, this loss is kind of like a bad break up, I don't really feel all that bad right now, but I know I'm gonna be fucking gutted when I wake up tomorrow.

Read more on "As If Anyone Needed a Reason to Hate Sweden"...

The ref's a wanker

Yeah, Arsenal rogered by the referee in their tie with Liverpool. Call it sour grapes, but I don't care. If Gunners get the benefit of either disputed penalty call, they are likely watching film of Avram's "tactics" this morning.

I guess the dynamic duo of Hicks and Gillett have decided that the best way for them to overcome Rafa's obstinate rotation policy is to just go all out and bribe the refs. I kid, sort of. Or maybe a superbly trained athlete like Ryan Babel, who was able to easily blow through a weak shirt grab, didn't dive and really did lose his balance two steps later and flung himself to the ground in the opposite direction. Come vent with me, after the jump.

After the game, Arsene Wenger rightly blamed the refs. He told the official website that:

"I believe that we have to live with that and sometimes you have to swallow it. It is like that but it is very difficult to understand it because it was not a penalty tonight. I watched it clearly again. Last week [the challenge on Hleb] was a real penalty but we have to accept it. As well we have to accept in a game like that where we had so much control, but we were too naive. We lacked a little bit of maturity defensively."
Hey, at least he didn't bust out the usual "I didn't see anything" defense. I'm sure non Arsenal fans are laughing, but he has a point. If that penalty isn't called and Babel picks up a yellow for diving, then Arsenal advance on away goals.

If the Hleb call is reversed the outcome is less clear, but it would have been an advantage to have won at Emirates. After Diaby's early goal, it would have been 3-1 Arsenal in aggregate.

In a high stakes environment like this, its a shame that the referee feels a need to interject himself so blatantly into proceedings. And these weren't even shitty EPL refs like Mark Clattenburg! I was hoping for more, Mr. Peter Frojdfeldt, whatever Nordic country you hail from. At least he didn't grow up five minutes from Dirk Kuyt.

Arsenal fans can take some cheer from last night's proceedings, though. They bossed play for large parts of both legs, and the team clearly has the quality to beat anyone in Europe. Theo Walcott looked exceptional out on the wing, and he would be a huge upgrade over Eboue if he can stick in that role. Gilberto played well replacing Flamani. Its too bad he apparently can't be happy as a squad player, because he offers great depth in the midfield and would be able to spell Flamani in games against Bolton and Wigan. We also learned that Rosicky and Van Persie are made of glass, and should be flogged off to some middling Continental club, or Man City, at the earliest opportunity.

Anyways, its looking like another empty season for Wenger. That's four in a row, if you are keeping score. This weekend's visit to Old Trafford could very well be a severe beating given the fragile state of the team psyche. Like every Arsenal supporter on earth, I'm on record that he needs to make it rain this summer and buy some depth.

Also I'm hoping for Chelsea to beat Liverpool and make it to Moscow, just to see the hilarity that will ensue when Abramovich literally tries to fix a Champion's League Final. Ronaldo and Rooney better make sure they don't visit the wrong whorehouse when they are town, less they get arrested and shipped off to the gulag in Kamchatka.

And no, I'm not bitter at all.

[photo credit: BBC, Getty]

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At least it wasn't boring

What a game. What a fucking game. I've been a Liverpool fan since birth, and I'll be damned if I can conjure up many moments over the last 5 years where we exhibited that much backbone in the face of adversity.

[off the top of my head:
1. The AC Milan CL Final, of course.
2. The West Ham FA Cup Final.
3. The UEFA Cup Final against Alaves.
4. The Liverpool/Everton derby where McAllister scored the winner despite being down to 10 men]

Of late, we've been characterized by a distinct lack of fight. Name a game against the Big 4 this season, or the last 3 seasons for that matter, where we've shown that kind of purpose. Sure, we took a lucky break en route to the 4-2 final result, but still... we never, ever put ourselves in positions to win like that.

Tonight, both teams played with the sense of doom and desperation that comes with the realization that there's nothing else left to play for. The urgency on both sides, while not mistake-free by any means, was a breath of fresh air compared to the lacklustre 1-1 draws in the first two meetings this week.

Walcott and Babel were the architects of a wonderful, gripping last 20 minutes where it seemed like even the smallest foul could turn into the most memorable moment.

In short, it was fucking wonderful.

It was why we watch this beautiful game in the first place.

Seeing Theo glide through the midfield to set up Samson Adebayor filled me with the dread I've become very familiar with as a Liverpool fan. I almost ruined my desk at work after that one went in, but the last 5 minutes turned that desk-pummeling rage into unbridled joy.

Wenger is convinced that the fix is in, but honestly, it was hard to see us losing that one, penalty and late Arsenal 2nd goal aside.

We've always been capable of European heroics at home, like Mark Walters slamming in the crucial 3rd goal 10 minutes from time at the Kop End against Auxerre, giving us a 3-2 aggregate win in that '92 UEFA Cup second round where it was previously thought impossible.

Precious Roy and I were talking before the game about the importance this fixture held to both sides, and he was spot-on in stating that Liverpool are in danger of becoming a Cup team.

Right as he may be, if winning like we did tonight is the final step in that transformation, then fuck, I'll take that outcome 99 times out of 100.

And I will rankle the ire of our Gunner blog contingent further than I did on email last night by saying that the more I watch it, the more I think the foul on Babel was an honest penalty. Here's a link to the video. I'll leave it to everyone else to debate endlessly, but I thought it was a PK. Initially I was on the fence, but seeing it more, I am convinced. Toure's foul was clumsy, far clumsier than Kuyt's, and I thought the ref made the right call.

It is generally unfavourable when massive games are decided like that, but like I said earlier: this is why we watch this beautiful game in the first place.

The human element, one that UEFA and FIFA would dearly love to erase in favor of the cold consistency of computers and instant replays, is what keeps our sport holy in the face of Russian moneybags owners, foreigner-dominated starting XIs and feuding Yanks who don't even love football in the first place.

The human element, like how the fuck did Adebayor miss that tap-in?

I am ready and willing to listen to the conspiracies against Arsene's "le sexy foot" that's being wilfully crushed by the dark forces that be, but I honestly don't fucking care.

Complain and gripe at will, but it won't change the fact that Liverpool won their biggest game in ages, and they fucking deserved it, so help me God. Of course, no-one will give them much credit for it, but hey.... baby steps.

Onward to Avram Grant's overpaid fucks.

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Ode to a Referee: Part II

To the referee of the Arsenal v. Liverpool Champions League match played at Anfield on Tuesday, April 8, 2008:

The following is not a foul:

The next time you are presented with such a situation, please respond accordingly and do absolutely nothing. Also...


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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A post where I attack Beckham again for no reason

Slow news days are the best, because you get to focus on people and teams that you can't stand, writing all sorts of blithering hate about them.

David Beckham is just one of these people, and although this story isn't really that eye-opening, I couldn't resist.

Despite the average MLS salary rising 12 percent to $129,395, David Beckham still makes 50 times that, and twice as much as the league's next highest player.

Fucking old overrated bastard.

Chicago's Cuauhtemoc Blanco, another fucking old overrated bastard, clocks in at $2.667 million a year, while DC United's Marcelo Gallardo earns a paltry $1.874 million.

From the article:

Forty-six players earn the league minimum of $33,000. Among developmental players, 30 make $17,700 and 43 make $12,900.

The median salary — the point at which an equal amount make above and below — was $61,273 for the 333 players listed. That is up 16 percent from last year's median of $52,965.

And Beckham makes how much? $6.5 fucking million a fucking year? It's a disgrace! He turns 33 in 3 weeks, he's mediocre and ineffectual for the national side, he's unable to corral his fellow mercenaries to win consistently in Los Angeles, and yet he's destroying the delicate balance of the MLS with his ridiculous old contract.

This is why the MLS will never really compete as a world league. The longer that they continue to reach out for aging once-marquee names and tether them to long, expensive contracts, the longer the league will struggle. The MLS is desperate to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other big domestic leagues around the world, and yet it still hasn't found its identity.

At a cursory glance, the MLS is a blend of fresh-out-of-college prospects and 30-something itinerants, most of whom have retired from their national teams.

I desperately want the MLS to work, and I'd love to be corrected if I'm way off base, but articles like this exhibiting the glaring chasm between Beckham's pay check and everyone else's doesn't help matters much.

Beckham, if you want to help the Galaxy, give them some of that money back to use elsewhere. It's not like you need a third pool in your fourth summer home.

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Ten Facts that Might Be Wrong: Part 4 (and last)

Last one people. Promise because, well, fish barrel shoot.

If you missed the scintillating pre-quels, click here (links to the two posts prior are up top in that post). And set aside some time as they got a little wordy. The original article is here.

Again, I am reluctant to reward shoddy journalism with more clicks, but eh, if it leads to Ric being more thorough in the future, then maybe some good might come from it.

Anyway, "fact" number seven has buried in its 204 words—and that's one long ass fact—this little bit of tid (emphasis his).

Do you know that the TWO most-attended sporting events EVER HELD at Reliant Stadium in Houston are USA-MEXICO friendly matches - matches held in the middle of the week (Wednesdays) with no official importance of any kind ?

Why no, I didn't know that. And there's probably a good reason for that.

It's because they aren't the two most attended events at Reliant Stadium. The stadium hosted a Super Bowl. Number XXXVIII to be exact. That was the one where Panther's coach John Fox went chasing after a missed extra point by continually going for two. But by failing continually, he gave the Patriots a chance to kick a game-winning field goal and the whistle.

And let me give all "throwball" coaches some free advice. Never even consider, bother, worry, or think about going for 2 until there are less than 4 minutes to go in the game. There, I just saved someone's job.

Back to the issue at hand. The attendance for the Super Bowl at Reliant was 71,525.

The attendance for the February 6, 2008 US v Mexico friendly was 70,103. And the attendance for the May 8, 2003 friendly was 69,582.

So for those that might need a little help:

71,525 > 70,103 > 69,582 OR Super Bowl > US v. Mexico II > US v. Mexico I

Now the 70,103 was the 2nd largest soccer crowd in US history. That's pretty good, although I imagine that's for a US soccer match, not just any soccer match as the US hosted a World Cup back in 1994 and pretty much every match at Stanford Stadium and Giants Stadium outdrew 70,000.

But really of all the errors with the original post, this is the least explicable or excusable. It took about 90 seconds to find the three attendance numbers here. Just proclaiming something it bold doesn't make it true. It makes you seem like Skip Bayless. Honest mistakes are sometimes excusable, being Bayless-esque isn't.

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Brazilian Soccer Players Are Sensitive

Soccer players have a bit of an image problem in America. Some detractors say that soccer players are a bit sensitive and have acting problems. Well, the latest story out of Brazil isn't going to help that image.

This weekend in a match between Gremio and Juventude, four players were sent off after a goal celebration. Juventude player Thiago celebrated his goal taunting the opposing fans by shooshing them. Gremio players were furious, coming off the bench surrounding Thiago and knocking him down. Check the video after the jump.

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Stupid MLS Wankers

Earlier this year Seattle was awarded a new MLS team to begin play in 2009. It was a team without a name until today. The stupid MLS wankers gave Seattle fans a choice of three names--Seattle FC, Seattle Alliance or Seattle Republic--three incredibly bland and/or dumb names.

I am incredibly loathe to admit this but thankfully Seattle-ites have some semblance of intelligence and managed to have a successful write-in campaign to name the club Seattle Sounders FC taking the name of the current USL and former NASL Seattle squads.

It's a name that reflects the region, preserves history and manages to incorporate a traditional soccer feel. It also allows me to continue to aim my hatred of the Seattle Sounders soccer team, although the stupid MLS wankers have not awarded Portland an MLS team. A city with a strong fan base, historical soccer cred, a healthy hispanic population and no summer competition for the sports viewing audience except an AAA baseball team. That makes too much sense.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

PSG Supporters Don't Play Nice

During the French League Cup Final on Sunday, March 30th, contested between Paris Saint-Germain and Lens, some PSG supporters made the brilliant decision to unfurl a banner which described people from northern France as unemployed, inbred paedophiles.

The rest of the sad story of racism in French football after the jump.

Look closely at that map and you will find that Paris, umm, is in northern France. However, PSG supporters do not trifle with mere facts of geography, and choose to ridicule anyone outside of the Ile-de-France, despite the fact that Lens, in the Pas-de-Calais, is a mere 200km (124 miles) from Paris. This is a bit like people from New York City making fun of people from Yonkers.

(side note: I was born and raised in NYC, and my family in France lives relatively close to Paris. Apparently, this makes me an asshole.)

I could understand, perhaps, the insinuation that people living in the more northern areas of France (i.e. anyone outside of Paris) are lower-middle-class (i.e. "unemployed" to the PSG supporters) and rural (i.e. "inbred" to the PSG supporters), but "paedophiles"? Really? Living outside of Paris qualifies one as deserving of a visit from Chris Hanson?

Although both PSG and Lens have filed complaints about the behavior of these fans with the Ligue de Football Professionel (and a hearing is scheduled this Thursday), this is far from the first (or worst) incident of xenophobic and offensive behavior from PSG fans. In the first years of the club back in 1972-1973 (after the club split from Paris F.C.), the management made the conscious decision to try and replicate the atmosphere of the kop at Anfield (see? I blame Liverpool!). Unfortunately, this resulted in the creation of a beast beyond their control, as far-right fans seized the ooprtunity to adopt a football club and form a "firm" in the tradition of English hooliganism. What followed was decades of neo-Nazi, racist propoganda and violence.

After losing a UEFA Cup group match against Hapoel Tel Aviv, 4-2, in Paris, the fans in the Stand of Boulogne (i.e. the "kop" end) responded with violence, attacking a French supporter of the Tel Aviv club. When a black policeman came to his aide, both were met with a shower of racist chants and projectiles. After firing several canisters of tear gas, the policeman opened fire, killing one PSG supporter and wounding another. The Stand of Boulogne was closed for two months.

However, lest one think that it is only my childhood club of PSG that is responsible for deplorable behavior, it should be noted that racist violence has reared its head throughout Ligue 1 (and even Ligue 2 - who says they can't compete?). In a game between Metz and Valenciennes, which Metz won 2-1, a far-right fan group known as "Identity Youth" made racist comments throughout the match towards Valenciennes captain Abdeslam Ouaddou. After the match, as Metz players threw anti-racism T-shirts into the stands, the "Identity Youth" members further solidified their stupidity by responding with Nazi salutes (although they have yet to sit in the stands in the shape of a swastika - we're not in Croatia, people!).

What can be done about this nonsense? Fear not, I'm assuming that Michel Platini will find the solution after he is done curing cancer.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

TWAG: Asshole United Fan Might Be Redundant

As much as I love futbol, even I am surprised that I made it to Ginger's just a couple of minutes after the kick for the second leg of the troika. And yes, I do want a cookie. I thought about it a good long while and, after hitting the snooze button twice, realized that if I missed the match, it would turn out to be the Greatest Soccer Match Ever Played.

Instead it was mild torture. For the second time in 4 days Arsenal outplayed Liverpool and had almost nothing to show for it (okay, one league point).

I blame Wenger. The second he saw the Skrtel (I'd like to buy a vowel please) and Carragher in central defense, he should have put Adebayor in. That pair was dreadful against United and he should have exploited it. Bendtner couldn't scare a 4 year old boy, not even if he were wearing Jason's hockey mask.

Champions League Schmampions League. With United dropping points, had Wegner been a little more aggressive with his line-up, a win at Old Tratford next week and United would be down to a one point lead atop the Prem.

Okay, Wegner couldn't have known that United with draw on Sunday, but still, manage like a baseball manager down 3-2 in a seven game series. Do everything you can to win game six, then worry about game seven when it happens.

I really could do this all day. "This" being ifs and shouldas. But I'm only making myself miserable. In fact I don't think I've even enjoyed much Arsenal soccer since sometime in January. That's the real bummer here.

Sure the first two matches were exciting, but not exciting in a fun kind of way. In the first, they held a lead for all of three minutes before giving a goal right back. In the second, they controlled the match only to be one down at half. It was a nice individual effort by Crouch, but it was equally a horrid defensive lapse.

Is it too much to ask for a methodical 4-0 dismantling of someone? Anyone? Probably not happening Tuesday. Probably not happening the 13th either. Who is getting promoted and when are they on the schedule for next season?

Anyway, instead of the Greatest Soccer Match Ever Played, I think I got a mild ulcer (or maybe that was just the seven cups of coffee I put back eating a hole in the line of my stomach). Oh, and I had to listen to some United fan talk shit the entire match.

That's right some dicktard (and no, it wasn't Douchey McBosox Hat, this guy was old) showed up at Ginger's wearing a United shirt and scarf just to cheer against Arsenal and talk shit the entire match.

A) It was finally warm in Chicago, what the fuck you need a scarf for? B) I think the very definition of "asshole" is to get up at an ungodly early hour to put on garb for a team that isn't even playing and spew stupid half truths you've heard elsewhere like there's a string coming out of your back.

Sometimes I wish Americans were the type of people who beat other people senseless just for wearing the wrong shirt into the wrong bar. Sometimes I wish I was that kind of American instead of the pacifist that I am.

Well, asshole, hope you enjoyed sweating it out against 'Boro on Sunday. Maybe if you're a little less of a dick the Universe wouldn't derive such pleasure from taunting you. Of course if there really is a direct causal connection between your behaviour and United's on-field performance, then feel free to show up for the Champions League match on Tuesday and be an even bigger prick. That would make my weekend.

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