Norwich City 1-4 Arsenal

Jose Antonio Reyes (22)
Thierry Henry (36)
Robert Pires (40)
Darren Huckerby (pen 50)
Dennis Bergkamp (90)

Ladies and gentlemen, this may have been the most boring 4-1 game in history. From the first whistle to the final one, this was essentially a procession. For all the "who the hell is THAT guy?" evident in the Norwich teamsheet, they really aren't a bad side at all, and I can imagine why they did so well in Division One last season. However, against this Arsenal team, they were never going to be so much as a speed bump along the way. I know that sounds arrogant, and I know that I hated ManUre fans so much for that very trait back when they were unbeatable. However, I think the difference is that we Arsenal fans know that we are the beneficiaries of a special team, a special manager and special players. For whatever reason, a team from the gods was gifted to us, and I feel like we -- as a whole -- are unbelievably grateful and appreciative of it all. I think it is possible to bask in something like this without wallowing in it, you know. Meanwhile, I always felt as if ManUre fans acted like they had a divine right to lay waste to the Premier League, and therein lies the difference. They're like Yankee fans...only far, far worse.

Oh yeah...before I forget, the lineups:

The Champions: Jens Lehmann -- Ashley Cole, Justin Hoyte, Kolo Abib Toure, Lauren Bisane-Etane -- Robert Pires (Gael Clichy 84), Francesc Fabregas Soler (Edu 73), Gilberto Silva, Fredrik Ljungberg -- Thierry Henry, Jose Antonio Reyes (Dennis Bergkamp 73)

Norwich City: Robert Green -- Simon Charlton, Adam Drury, Marc Edworthy, Craig Fleming -- Damien Francis, Gary Holt, Mattias Jonsson (Youssef Safri 45), Paul McVeigh (Leon McKenzie 63) -- Gary Doherty (Mathias Svensson 82), Darren Huckerby

Anyway, I digress completely. The two sides came out, and right from the off, Arsenal laid siege to the Norwich goal. Often, you'd see two lines of four yellow shirts in front of goalkeeper Robert Green, kind of like he was the general in a 1700s army. Speaking of Green, he was fantastic for the Canaries...there was nothing he could have done to save any of the four goals, and he kept the scoreline from getting embarrassing. That said, he looks a LOT like an asshole I knew in college, so good...too bad we didn't stuff 5 or 6 more past the prick. Heh.

While sieges in movies are always frantic things involving guys in metal suits waving sharp metal things around, this was a lot closer (metaphorically) to what a siege was actually like -- sitting around and applying gentle-but-constant pressure until the defenders' resistance broke. Sure enough, on 22 minutes, Jose Antonio Reyes continued his torrid run of form with his fourth goal of the campaign. While Reyes was able the claim it on the scoresheet, however, the goal was created entirely by the French master, Thierry Henry. A nothing ball from Fredrik Ljungberg found Henry in a non-threatening area. He beat one anonymous defender in yellow and green, and then just turned on the afterburners, leaving THREE others in his wake. One-on-freaking-four, and Thierry left them all in the dust. Brilliant. Then, to top is off, his slide-rule pass across the face of goal was inch-perfect, leaving Reyes with a tap-in that Timmy from South Park could have converted. With that, cue a chorus of "One-Nil to the Arsenal."

Sadly for Norwich, it would get a lot worse than one-nil, but not without some controversy first. A rare Norwich foray up the field saw Huckerby (typically he's shit, but he was still their best player today) fouled from behind by Lauren. Every home fan in Carrow Road thought it should have been a straight red card. However, it looked to me like Lauren actually wasn't the last defender, thus I felt that referee Graham Poll was correct in only issuing a yellow. It was too close for comfort though, so you can understand my relief when the Gunners doubled their lead in the 36th minute. Henry found Ljungberg out on the wing, and the Swede sent a perfect cross right back towards him. This complex move obviously befuddled the Norwich defense, as they did their best statue impersonations as Henry headed the ball into the net...even Green was rooted to the spot. Henry scoring with his head is almost as rare as Manchester City clean sheets, just so you know.

Four minutes later, the rout was on...even though Arsenal had never come anywhere near second gear, let alone the super-mega one that they found against Middlesbrough last week. Norwich captain Adam Drury (whose name I had to look up...only reason I knew it was him was the captain's armband) had the ball in his own defensive zone. Ljungberg pressured, allowing Robert Pires to barrel in and steal the ball right off of Drury's feet. To the surprise of no one, Super Rob easily powered a low shot past Green, and the lead was 3-0.

Shortly after that, Arsenal went into the dressing room for halftime. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that Coventry City or Sheffield Wednesday came out to play the second half. In fairness, there was no reason for the Arsenal to exert themselves too much in the second half -- this one was pretty much locked up, and it is an extremely long season after all. And, in fairness to Norwich City, they at least made Arsenal pay for their languid play once, early in the second half. Actuallly, Norwich attacked well in the first five minutes of the second half, and their pressure finally allowed them to breach the red-and-white forcefield around the 18-yard box. It was that muppet Huckerby, actually, who did well to beat one defender. Young Justin Hoyte, pressed into emergency service when Pascal Cygan went down to injury in the warmups (my theory was that the bolts fell out of his neck), kinda-sorta fouled Huckerby in the area. Now, I didn't think it was a penalty...actually, I think Huckerby is a diving piece of shit. However, Graham Poll thought it was a penalty, and in fairness, it was a close enough call where one can't really complain either way. Lehmann guessed wrong on Huckerby's penalty, and hey, the home fans had something to cheer about. Fine.

After the Norwich goal, a little worry crept in for me, to be honest. Thankfully, the Canaries never came within astronomical units of scoring again, as Lehmann smothered every half-chance they had. After his nightmare last week, it was good to see our crazy German keeper play back up to his potential. At any rate, the second half crawled along, as the brave First Division champions struggled mightly as we...well...kind of placidly held them at bay. It didn't make for heart-pounding action, that's for sure. In the 73rd, Edu made a welcome return to the squad after recovering from Brazil's whirlwind summer schedule. Also, Reyes made way for the rejuvenated Dennis Bergkamp, who celebrated his continued excellent performances with a late goal. Oh yeah...Norwich brought on other anonymous people to replace the original anonymous people, and it did help them out some. In particular, that Leon McKenzie guy probably should have been on the pitch from the start.

Also, I wonder why the Canaries have a guy playing up top in Gary Doherty who was last seen as a shit fullback for the Scum. Just wondering.

And with that, another valuable three points in the bank, which never hurts. Chelski won their match, while ManUre was lucky to draw Blackburn. Our next match is actually on 9/11, away to Fulham.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?