Will the last one out please turn off the lights...

I've finally managed to wrestle with register.com's awful interface well enough to get my new website up for real this time - all the archives of my old stuff are up with no problems, and I did my first new entry just now (don't bother if you're not a hockey fan though...it's about the atrocity that was tonight's Montreal game).

So, keep checking back there for any and all writing output from me. Thanks for a great 2+ years, Blogger.

The new address is http://www.seanswift.net.

A fond farewell, ladies and gents. Adieu!



In the wake of Arsenal's 2-1 win over Liverpool on Saturday, I can't help but think that we're starting to peak at absolutely the right time. Sure, the blue cunts have the Premiership wrapped up, and it's also true that neither the FA Cup nor the League Cup will grace the marble halls of Highbury before our final move to Ashburton Grove. However, arguably the biggest one of all is still out there to be had...and, over and over to myself, I keep asking one question:

"Why not us?"

Sure, the negative shitheads among us will run down quite the laundry list of reasons...we're too young, we're too old, there's no such thing as Juve or Milan or Barca having a bad night, we can't score, Henry is definitely leaving, etc etc etc. Seriously, I don't know how you live like that. Stifling realism has its place in the "real world"...relationships probably will fail, friends will inevitably disppoint you at some point, your job will eventually become unfulfilling, you name it. However, what's supposed to be the great thing about sports is that in most cases, there is always some ray of hope. Sure, if you're a Sunderland supporter, there's not much I can tell you (other than you have a good chance to come right back up and maybe re-tool for the Premiership a little better next time). In our case, though, why not us?

I couldn't help but laugh at Derek Rae's Soccernet piece in which he admits that he expected Real Madrid to roll all over us. Of course, he's seen Madrid a bunch of times this season, and probably hasn't seen all that much of us - you know how it is with those ESPN dilettantes. Unless you're Madrid or Manchester, they couldn't give a fuck. Sure, if you landed from the planet Zarg and someone explained to you that we had most of our back four out injured, then yeah, you'd be inclined to think that the Madrid of old would roll right over us. Oh...wait...that would mean they were the Madrid of old. Ronaldo is more likely to win a hot dog-eating contest at this rate than he is to win another European title. Zidane is a ghost of his former self. Their back line is largely a joke, held together with duct tape and the tireless work of the awesome Gravesen in front of them. They have no plan, no consistency, and not much to really offer anymore (seriously, if I'm Iker Casillas, I'm bailing to somewhere in Italy or England at the earliest possiblity). Meanwhile, Senderos is mostly solid despite the occasional mistake, Eboue has really come into his own at right back, and Flamini has gone way above the call filling in at left back. Toure, of course, has been his usual massive self. If anyone actually WATCHED this back four for a few weeks, they'd see that they are quite underrated.

In midfield, the rapidly-blossoming brilliance of Fabregas has more than made up for the shortcomings of Gilberto, Reyes and Pires (as well as Diaby's recent inability to break into the side). On the wings, Freddie and Hleb haven't set the world on fire, but they've been full of running, tireless in tracking back, and have mostly done OK in linking defense to attack. Speaking of attack, you can't ever write us off as long as we have Thierry Henry (Oh we have Thierry Henry...Thierry Henry...Thierry Henry). It doesn't help that Adebayor is cup-tied, but here's hoping that van Persie is back soon and ready to go. if we can get him healthy and scoring goals, we're going to be a handful for even the best defenses in Europe.

That's the thing, also. I don't see how people can think that we will struggle against sides that will let us play our game. If someone in Europe figures out that all they have to do is incessantly foul and kick us off the park, we'll have a much more difficult time (of course, Vieira's presence on Juventus makes this a worrying possibility). But, our form is turning...that Liverpool game is one we would have found a way to lose earlier in the season, gift from Gerrard or not. Fulham away was a potentially-tricky match, and we mauled them. The lads are playing with spirit and tenacity, so why not us?

No, seriously...if someone can convince me why not us, leave a comment down yonder. You'd be wrong, but I'd be interested to hear it regardless.


Fuck you, Red Bull...

So, Red Bull bought the New York-based Major League Soccer franchise, the Metrostars, and renamed them Red Bull New York. I've been a Metro supporter since day one, regardless of how much I loathed the name, and despite the fact that they were one of the most comically inept franchises in all of sporting history. They owned MLS' worst-ever single-season record (I believe it was the 1999 season), and they were the last club to make it to the final of the MLS playoffs or the US Open Cup (it was the Open Cup, and surprise of all surprises, they fucking lost in the final). Even with all the frustration and the heartache that team caused me, they were my team...I went to matches, had season tickets one season, and was a member of the Empire Supporters Club, in my opinion the best and most knowledgable supporters' group in MLS.

Anyway, how naive of me, but I thought that if they were going to rename the team, it would have been something decent. Call the stadium Red Bull Stadium, put big Red Bull patches on the jerseys, fine. Put Red Bull placards all over the stadium, great.

This, however, is a fucking disgrace. I'm done with this team. My roommate told me that he read a story where there may be a second NY team in MLS by 2010. If so, great. I'll happily support them as long as they're not named in a similar fashion.

Look, I hated the name Metrostars, but at least it was in the realm of normality for a sports franchise's name. But, I refuse to support a corporate brand name masquerading as a football club. I was a Metro supporter all the way, but they as a team are dead to me...I put myself in the same boat with Fusion, Mutiny and Earthquakes fans.

I'll settle for supporting my European teams until such time as New York gets a football club again. Fuck you for killing my team, Red Bull. You'll never see a red motherfucking cent from me again.


Fulham 0-4 Arsenal

Of course, Arsenal gives a performance like that, and they're not televised at all this week. Wonderful. Thanks guys.

That said, the second leg of our date with Real Madrid is this week, and I for one can't wait. That's right, hermanos...come back to our place so we can give you a good fucking. *smirk*

Sure, Fulham aren't exactly Madrid, but they are a team that (like Madrid) won't try to kick anyone off the park with bullshit cheap tactics. Considering we should have had 6 or 7 against the Cottagers by all accounts, it stands to reason that on this form, we can get a couple past Madrid and really kill this tie off. Personally, I'd like to see the Gunners come out blazing right from the opening kickoff. If we can get an early goal, I don't think Madrid will have the minerals to make any sort of comeback.



What a week!

Ha! I fucking KNEW we were going to get a result against Real Madrid - the all-guns-blazing style they play (combined with the fact that they are really 11 individuals out there) always meant that they were going to have a tough time with us...playing at home or not. I'd be lying if I said I was 100% that we were going to win, but I easily could have seen 1-1 or 2-2. Of course, I'll take a 1-0 lead (with that goal being an away marker) heading into the home half of the tie any fucking day you want to give me.

Even with that in mind, what a massive performance that was by all the lads. Cesc Fabregas was the first 18-year old I've seen completely dominate the center of midfield, Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure were IMMENSE in the back, Jens Lehmann was sensational in net again, Thierry Henry scored a fucking WONDER GOAL (seriously, to all the naysayers and idiots who think he's gotten lazy or doesn't perform in the clutch, you are cordially invited to suck on THAT)...I can go on and on. Perhaps most encouraging is that Fredrik Ljungberg finally looked again like his primary job description was "professional footballer" as opposed to "Calvin Klein model."

And, for Barcelona to go to Stamford Bridge and do Chelsea like they did (with two away goals to boot!)...I am in footballing heaven right now.



Well, the good news is that if we significantly strengthen our squad in the offseason, the UEFA Cup should be ours for the taking. *sigh*


A season in the wilderness

Fuck's sake...it just keeps getting worse and worse, doesn't it?

With this loss, we have 8 on the season. In the previous 3 seasons before it, we had a total of 11 defeats. With that in mind, it's easy to bitch and moan and stamp your feet about how this isn't good enough. Well, actually, people who say that are right in one respect - we are a big club, and you do expect to go most seasons without losing 6 games, let alone 8 or more. That said, shit does indeed sometimes happen...and, we're not the only big club that this has happened to. One need only look at what Lazio have been through lately as a shining example (then again, that's too easy...you can just call that karma for being supported by a bunch of Neanderthal racist shitheads).

All of that said, this has been a frustrating season not only because we're losing, it's frustrating because of who we're losing to. As a reminder, here are the lowlights that we've all suffered through this season:

Community Shield: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
League: Chelsea 1-0 Arsenal
League: Middlesbrough 2-1 Arsenal
League: West Ham 0-0 Arsenal
League: West Brom 2-1 Arsenal
League: Bolton 2-0 Arsenal
League: Newcastle 1-0 Arsenal
League: Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea
League Cup: Doncaster 2-2 Arsenal (in normal time)
League: Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal
League Cup: Wigan 1-0 Arsenal
League: Everton 1-0 Arsenal
FA Cup: Bolton 1-0 Arsenal
League: Arsenal 2-3 West Ham

Looking at this, some interesting things jump out at me. Of course, it's beating a dead horse at this point to talk about our woeful away record. However, besides the fact that most of these losses and draws have come against beatable teams, notice that only twice have we scored two goals in these losses/draws. In seasons past, goals flew in all over the place, but we'd always make multiple key defensive mistakes to lose 3-2 (much like today's match against West Ham). For the most part, though, our losses have been dour affairs where our opponents capitalize on one gigantic mistake in order to see us off. Offensively (especially on the road), this team has been brutally fucking awful...we've been shutout 11 times in all competitions this season. Worryingly, 8 of those have come in the last 2 months alone.

Looking at that (and our injury list), it's easy to imagine how this season can get even worse...like we're in the terminal velocity stage of freefall. It's now three losses on the trot, and we have one win in our last six matches. As the villain from the Princess Bride would say, "Inconceivable!" That's the plain facts...now, we delve into the how and the why.

Many Arsenal fans believe that our entire season failed because we didn't buy people in the offseason. But, honestly, is this lineup THAT bad (hindsight is cheating for this exercise)?

Lehmann - Cole, Campbell, Toure, Lauren - Pires, Gilberto, Fabregas, Ljungberg - Henry, van Persie/Reyes

Honestly, though the bench was always a little thin, that's still a team that should have been able to run through the average and the poor alike without very many problems. Squad depth is important, but for teams at the top, it's a factor that is a bit overrated. For example, look at our friends from up in Lancashire...they have tons of injuries and players out of position just like us. But, can you honestly say that their squad is so much deeper than ours when fucking Rio Ferdinand is playing in the center of midfield? Come on, now!

The main problem, as Arseblog has pointed out several times this season, is that the performance from our established regulars has been absolutely shocking. Sol Campbell is the worst offender, but the one positive we can take from tonight's loss was the fact that he was subbed at halftime. That's exactly what Wenger has to do from now on, even if we're going to have literal embryos on the field rather than just the figurative ones at this rate. Fuck him and fuck his ego...here's a wakeup call, sunshine. You wanna play again? GET FUCKING STUCK IN, SHITHEAD. He gets pushed around more often than a senior citizen on the fucking subway during rush hour...for a guy his size (previous injuries or not), that's just unforgivable. It's not just Sol, though...our central midfield really should be Flamini and Fabregas the rest of the way. I don't care if Gilberto is a World Cup winner, and I don't care how much we're paying him. Based on performaces, Gilberto would be lucky to hold down a place in the fucking Reserves. Freddie has fallen off the face of the planet, and age has finally caught up to the Ice Man (and to Pires as well). Reyes runs his heart out every game and makes it look like he's trying, but the bottom line at the end of the day is that we fucking bought him to score goals, and he's not doing it.

Not only that, but the injuries keep hitting the same positions. You can't expect to go through a whole season without losing, say, your starting left back. But, to lose both your starter AND the backup in a given position (especially one as difficult to fill as that), and that's just some bullshit luck right there. And, it's not just injuries...the cunting African Cup of Nations has taken away Toure and Eboue, which has exacerbated the problem.

Anyway, this is all fairly obvious. However, the bright spot is that some young players have been given the chance to prove that they might belong with the first team, such as Kerrea Gilbert, Johan Djourou, and Sebastian Larsson. On top of that, reinforcements are coming with Diaby and Adebayor, and we have a great young wild card in Theo Walcott. The downside, of course, is that this season is destined to be one in the wilderness, where we'll be especially lucky if we can finish in the Champions League places. Even as a true-red Gooner though, I don't think you can play the violins too loudly for us. In the entire history of the Premiership, we've never finished worse than second. That's an AMAZING run, and even though the Manchester cunts got the better of us more often than I'd have liked, I still feel honored that I got the chance to see it. If we have one shite season (and it's still only shite in a relative sense...I mean, we could be supporting fucking Sunderland for fuck's sake) to get the kids ready for a decade-long charge, then fuck it...make it happen, Arsene. I'll live with it, and if you guys out there are smart, so will you.

Anyway, for next season, here's what I'd like to see at each position.

GK: Lehmann has not been at fault at all for our nightmare season...in fact, he's been a legitimate high point, and he should at least get a look in to be Germany's No. 1 at the World Cup. But, for the future, I think we need to find a keeper who can take us into the next 6-7 seasons...Lehmann's been great, but he's not that guy. I'd like to see him go and finish his career back home in Germany, while we have someone who can take us into the future. As far as the backup goes, I'm fine with Almunia or Poom.

LB: Assuming we don't have another Cole/Clichy injury apocolypse, we're set here.

CB: I hate to say it, but I want Sol gone. I'd very much like to see a first-choice pairing of Toure and Senderos, with perhaps one signing here in the offseason to ensure a semblance of competition for places...unless Arsene is convinced that Gilbert is the real deal, that is.

RB: Assuming we don't lose Lauren and Eboue at the same time again, we're set here.

LM: At this point, I have no faith in Pires (for the long term, any), and I think everyone knows that I'm not the biggest fan of Reyes either. However, I think Hleb should get a third of the season next year to determine whether he really is the bust that everyone says he is. I think he'll eventually come good, but we'll see. That said, I'd like to see us buy a left-sided player to put the pressure on Hleb and Reyes.

CM: With Flamini, Fabregas and Diaby here, we're not in terrible shape. If we can buy a world class player with experience here, then of course that's the move to make. I'd like to see those three get the majority of the games from now on, and if it means Gilberto fucks off to whereever, that's fine with me. Still, three first-choice players for 2 places isn't enough for a club of our stature, so perhaps one buy here would do the trick.

RM: Hleb and Eboue can both get some time here, I'm sure. And, Theo Walcott is certainly waiting in the wings here as well...although I'm not sure what we can expect out of someone so young in the shortest of short-term thinking. But, with Freddie being absolute fucking pants this season, this is perhaps our most gaping hole that needs to be addressed in the offseason. We NEED a right winger in the worst possible way.

F: You know, I think we're absolutely set here. With Henry and van Persie, there's a top pair that should be going strong for at least 4-5 more seasons. Adebayor is there for backup, and Bendtner and Lupoli are hungry to make their mark. Even still, if we can get a world class striker, then you can't really turn that down.

So, in short, my dream scenario would be to see Cygan, Campbell, Gilberto, Freddie, Pires, and Bergkamp make their graceful exits, and replaced with a central defender, a right winger, and maybe a CM or a striker if they're world class.

What do you all reckon?

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