The FA Cup Semifinal

Between both teams, there had only been one instance in the earlier rounds where one faced Premiership opposition. I have two things to say about that. First, it seems fitting that Arsenal (the team that did end up facing the Premiership squad) had to play the first set of untalented, psychotic hack-merchants in order to get through to face the even worse set of untalented, psychotic hack-merchants. Second, it's painfully apparent that the only reason the fucksticks from Lancashire got this far was precisely because they didn't play anyone else from the Premiership. Had they had even a slightly more difficult draw, they would have been dumped out on their violent asses long before (I'm sorry Todd, but it's true. Mark Hughes has your boys playing like the prison guards in "Mean Machine").

With that, the particulars:

Arsenal 3-0 Blackburn Rovers (from the Millenium Stadium - Cardiff, Wales)

Robert Pires - 42'
Robin van Persie - 86'
Robin van Persie - 90'

The Gunners: Jens Lehmann - Ashley Cole, Philippe Senderos, Kolo Abib Toure, Lauren Bisane-Etane - Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Fredrik Ljungberg (Francesc Fabregas Soler 50) - Jose Antonio Reyes (Jeremie Aliadiere 90), Dennis Bergkamp (Robin van Persie 82)

The Cheating Slasher-Film Evil Fucks from Lancashire: Brad Friedel - Ryan Nelsen, Dominic Matteo (Jonathan Stead 83), Andy Todd, Lucas Neill - Aaron Mokoena - David Thompson (Robbie Savage 63), Steven Reid, Garry Flitcroft (Brett Emerton 51), Morten Gamst Pedersen - Paul Dickov

Frankly, this game doesn't deserve a giant write-up, so here goes. Blackburn came in with a game plan straight from George Romeo, John Carpenter and Wes Craven. It's a fucking shock that they didn't have Freddie and Jason lining up in their midfield as well...though I suppose it's even more of a shock that we haven't yet seen the movie where Flitcroft and Thompson and Todd go around killing off teenagers at a summer camp somewhere. I mean, how obvious does it have to be when you start the match with Brett Emerton and Jonathan Stead on the bench? Clearly, they intended to get someone (Patrick Vieira) injured, and then bottle up Arsenal as much as possible until perhaps a chance came along on a set piece. It's a crime when such tactics end up in a semifinal of a cup competition...normally you'd like to see some actual skill involved...if it had to be a bottom-end team, I wish it had been Norwich or someone who at least tries to play football. It really was shocking stuff, and for 41 lamentable minutes, it worked like an absolute charm.

But, some good work down the left-hand side (and really, what WAS Toure doing there, anyway? Not that I'm complaining, just wondering) found Kolo in a good position in the box. His excellent cross was met by Pires, who had at some point switched over to the off-wing. Despite Friedel's heroics before and after, there really was nothing he could do about the tap-in, and thus it was 1-0 to the Arsenal once again. A quick word about Brad Friedel, if I may...he was absolutely brilliant. Other than Pedersen and Emerton, he was the only guy in a blue-and-white shirt (OK, maybe Nelsen too) who didn't look completely out of their depth in a cup semifinal.

From the second half on, Blackburn had to chase the game...and if anything, their infractions only got worse. I defend Premiership referees 90% of the time, but Steven Dunn had an absolutely horrendous match. He cautions Cole for clearing the ball 0.3 seconds after the whistle (remember, players are always told to play to the whistle, and if they don't hear it immediately...), but Dickov tries to break Senderos' leg, Savage comes up with another horror-show tackle on Fabregas, and Andy Todd hits the best Running Elbowsmash this side of New Japan Pro Wrestling on van Persie, and NONE of those got so much as a caution. I'm going to have to call "shenanigans" on that one.

So yeah...van Persie came on and scored two excellent goals. Take that, you pricks.

So, we get the matchup that we all wanted...Arsenal vs. The Dark Side of the Force, with the FA Cup being the only thing either one of us can win. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm sure they are as well. Both squads should have as close to full first-choice XIs as possible, so there won't be any excuses (which is exactly as it should be). We can beat them...hell, we HAVE to beat them. And, if there's any luck, maybe it will make them sell Timmy Howard to a team I don't hate. At this rate, I'm rooting for a transfer for Friedel, too. He deserves better than those cunts.


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