Thursday, April 16, 2009
It was an important night for Arsenal fans as their side pushed through to the Champions League Semi-finals for only the second time in club history. Whether it was the atmosphere at Emirates, or the Gunners overwhelming drive, Villareal did not seem the same side as a week ago. The 1-1 was shattered when Walcott opened the scoring in the 10th minute. After a tense first half, the break came at a good time for both sides and the home fans were delighted with what they had seen. Adebayor, who had been knocking on the door all night, got his goal on the hour with help from an incisive Van Persie pass. Signal the celebration. Emirates erupted as Van Persie converted from the spot nine minutes later and the result was no longer in any doubt. Manchester United await them in the semi-finals as the Gunners seek to make history in the coming weeks.
It was a tense affair but Arsenal earned their draw against Villareal. Things immediately took a turn for the worse in the 10th minute as Villareal captain Marcos Senna put the Yellow Submaire ahead of their visitors. The goal caught the Gunners by suprise as they efficiently outpaced by their opponents. A collision early on in the match resulted in the 27th minute substitution of Manuel Almunia for Lukasz Fabianski in goal for Arsenal. To his credit, the young Pole performed exceptionally well for having no previous Champions League experience. In strange turn of events, Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas netted the ball from a free kick but it was deemed too soon by the referee and the Spaniard was promptly booked for the offense. Fortunately, Arsenal emerged a new side from the break and the Gunners proceeded to take the offensive. In what may be one of greatest goals I have ever seen, Adebayor shocked El Madrigal with a stunning equalizer. In the same style as the league match days before, Fabregas supplied the perfect assist. The Togolese striker received the ball on his chest and befuddled the keeper with his acrobatic shot. Arsenal produced a number of chances at the death but in the end were happy to be headed for the second leg at Emirates with an away goal and an important draw.
It was an important match for a number of Arsenal players returning from injury. This was magnified further by the tally of players who picked up injuries on the international break. Scoring in the 8th minute as well as the 49th, Adebayor and team captain Cesc Fabregas proved to the league that the Gunners are back in stride and as dangerous as ever. Theo Walcott also played an important role in the match coming off of a difficult injury spell himself. Arsenal are now unbeaten in 17 league games and show no sign of altering their present form. It may be true that there should have been another goal for the red and white, but all things considered this match was one-way traffic.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The newest side in the MLS impressed once again this week, defeating a solid RSL team. Kasey Keller recorded yet another clean sheet, Freddie Ljungberg made his MLS premier, and Freddy Montero scored his third goal in only two matches. It proved to be great game as Real Salt Lake put the Sounders under a bit more pressure than the Red Bulls had the previous week. Seattle scored early as Osvaldo Alonso sent Steve Zakuani into the box in the 17th minute. Zakuani's quick feet and timely pass assisted Nate Jaqua to perfect strike on goal. The Sounders dominated the first half, but RSL came out from the break a different team. Keller produced a magnificent performance in goal, making a number of critical saves to keep Seattle ahead. In the 77th minute, amidst the heat of a relentless RSL attack, Alonso, the unsung hero of the match, orchestrated a perfect pass to Freddy Montero who converted from 28 yards out. It was a sparkling effort that stunned RSL as well as Seattle's own home fans. Another perfect victory sees Seattle sitting atop the MLS West table with two clean sheets and a goal differential of five. This week the Sounders face Toronto FC April 4th in their first MLS away game.