Let’s do this in chronological order, since it was a big weekend in Fighting Talker-land.
Arsenal Toys with Newcastle En Route to 3-1 Win
Now that’s the kind of Arsenal performance we all wanted to see. With the return of Cesc to the starting lineup, and Van Persie to full effectiveness, we finally looked like a team that could attack in varying ways and keep continuous pressure on opposing defenses both through possession and through dangerous scoring opportunities. RVP showed how a forward takes a penalty, confidently blasting it home low in the corner. The other two goals were as well-assembled as a hand-built Maybach.
I even liked the bit of scrappyness that Nasri got into with Joey Barton. It’s nice to see Arsenal players fighting back again. Since Vieira left, I don’t think we did nearly enough of that. We allowed opponents to muscle us around in full knowledge that only a post-game pout by Wenger or Gallas would come in return. Now that may no longer be the case.
My one takeaway thought from match was that if Denilson can build his confidence to the point where he can as well without Cesc beside as he does when Cesc is beside him, this Arsenal squad might… might just be in a position to challenge for things if a lot of other fortuitous elements fall in to place.
DC United Spoils the Party
After the Arsenal beatdown, I cruised to RFK expecting to see another beatdown – the traditional home DC beatdown of New York for the Atlantic Cup. While not really silverware in my mind (maybe we’ll call it Pewterware), it’s always good to maintain our historic dominance over the best that New Jersey, erm.. New York can offer.
But by about the hour mark, and especially after Emilio stumbled off with an injury, I realized the party was about to end in quite possibly the worst way. This was a real match that United was both unlucky not to win, and lucky not to lose. Moreno’s penalty miss is simply inexcusable, and he can say all he wants that fatigue has nothing to do with it, but he looked gassed throughout most of that match. Again, I liked Joe Vide a lot. He clearly has a good soccer brain and can often see the best passes. Does he always have the skill to make the pass work? No, not really. But right now, he is a more than serviceable option at defensive midfielder. I agree with D that Devon also looked just terrible right now, and that opposing forwards in our CONCACAF group are going to be queing up to run at him like NBA players lining up to dunk on Shaun Bradley.
Crayton too was simply outstanding (if, a little too Higuita-like for my taste) in net. Could his signing turn out to be a job-saver for Kasper?
I really thought that win Saturday would lock up DC’s spot in the playoffs. I still feel United is quite safely ensconced in the postseason, but I’d feel a lot better if Moreno’s spot-kick had gone where it was supposed to and Untied walked away with three points.
Manchester City Does What?!?!
Like most folks, I woke up Monday to see the surprising news that Manchester City had been purchased by the Abu Dhabi Sovreign Investment Fund folks and that they were preparing bids on Berbatov, David Villa, and Gomez. That was a surprise, but not as surprising as flipping on Sky Sports News and listening to the reporter say “I CAN CONFIRM THAT CITY HAVE FINALIZED THE SIGNING OF ROBINHO FROM REAL MADRID.” I believe my immediate response was a Bill & Ted-like “No way!”
If I were a Liverpool fan, I’d be very, very concerned that the Reds’ place in the vaunted “Big 4” is gravely under threat. Hughes is no idiot and Abu Dhabi is no pauper kingdom. They have the ability to through funds around that might make Roman blush aboard one of his garish yachts. I’ll have more thoughts about this later, for now I am still having do one of those Lewis Black-style headclearing shakes everytime I think or read about the resources City will have at their control.