Weekend Preview: Week Three and The Week That Was

First off, let me start by saying that it's past 2am as I'm writing this, and I'm in that tire-but-can't-sleep mindset, so I apologize if at any point I don't sound coherent. And I just nearly wrote"cohernert" and had to look at it twice before I realized I needed to change it, so incoherence is a real possibility.

And so to football. Arsenal traveled north on Tuesday to play Celtic in Glasgow in the first leg of their Champions League play-in tie. Celtic went into this match without having lost to an English team at home since 1983 and with a good overall record at home in European matches. Arsenal were fresh off a 6-1 away thrashing of Everton in MATCHDAY ONE: THE QUICKENING, and facing some injury concerns, with Denilson, Sagna, and el Capitan, Cesc Fabregas doubtful.

Luckily for the Gunners (a theme that would permeate the match), those three all started the match and looked perfectly fit to me. Both sides came to play, the Arsenal playing some nice attacking football, Celtic being hemmed back for much of the first half and counter-attacking. The chances weren't exactly plentiful for either side, but Arsenal broke the deadlock close on half-time when Cesc Fabregas' free-kick ricocheted off of Gallas and past Boruc into the Celtic net to make it Celtic 0-1 Arsenal, which is how the scoreline stayed entering intermission. Perhaps the best part of the goal was Gallas celebrating scoring as though he'd put on some Pele-esque offensive display rather than being the backboard for Cesc's bank-shot. Oh, Willy.

Arsenal looked dangerous for basically the entirety of the second half, creating bunches of half-decent chances, most just lacking that final ball. The North Londoners were rewarded for their efforts midway through the second half, when sustitute Diaby (same injury-prone formula, now with Hair!) broke past the Celtic defense setting up Clichy, whose cross into the box was scored by Gary Caldwell to extend Arsenal's lead to 0-2. Unfortunately for Gary Caldwell, he plays for Celtic and captains their side.

In the end, that's how it finished. Celtic 0-2 Arsenal. Fabregas had another stellar game, at the core of all of Arsenal's atttacks and defending well when needed. Thomas Vermaelen, rapidly becoming a fan-favorite, put in another fine performance at the back, including one of the best defensive plays you'll see this season.

But for me, the man of the match was Alex Song, who topped what had been his best performance to date, against Everton, having another fantastic performance in the holding midfield role. He was forceful, aggressive in defense, moved the ball well, and his decision-making, which has been maddening at times down the years, was spot-on, his work rate second-to-none. Well done to him.

For us Gooners this is a particularly nice result, as Celtic don't travel well, and with a 2 goal cushion for Arsenal, the Bhoys will have to attack more, which means a more open game (and less of Tony Mowbray's diabolically clever plan: foul Fabregas in midfield whenever possible), and that's a situation that certainly gives the advantage to Arsenal. That is to take nothing away from Celtic, who fought doggedly in the first leg, and some might say were more unlucky than anything else. After all, they were unlucky to draw Arsenal in the play-in, they were unlucky that Gallas was positioned to unknowingly "back" in Cesc's free kick, they were unlucky that Gallas' sliding, goal-saving clearance in the second half wasn't an Own Goal while Gary Caldwell's went into his own net. However, I think it's difficult to argue that William Gallas isn't a better defender than Caldwell, just as the quality of the whole of this Arsenal side couldn't be argued to be lesser than that of Celtic. What's worse for the Scots is that their players seem to know it.

Several midweek Premier League matches went on as well. Birmingham defeated Portsmouth 1-0 on a James McFadden penalty. Phil Brown's charges didn't put in the work at home to Tottenham, and were decimated for their poor showing, 5-1. Which puts sp*rs at the top of the league. Sp*rs going top is only going to hurt their supporters more in the end. This team needs to aim for mediocrity and spare their fans injury due to expectation.

Liverpool hung four, not unexpectedly, on Stoke in an easy win; Chelsea play comeback kids again, coming back from an early Darren Bent goal to beat Sunderland; and, my favorite: MANCHESTER UNITED LOSES TO BURNLEY. A team that I have picked for relegation (and I'm certainly not alone there), who haven't been in the top flight in over 30 years, took down the league champions. They're the World Champions too, if, like United supporters, you put any faith in that Club World Cup nonsense. I give that one the ol' "dismissive wanking motion".

Ahead this weekend, there's a full slate of matches up, so let's take a look at what's on tap...

Birmingham v Stoke

Stoke come in licking their wounds after the hiding Liverpool handed them. Birmingham look to make it two in a row after beating Pompey, who are making a strong case for finishing bottom.

Prediction: Birmingham 1-1 Stoke

Hull v Bolton

Hull took it on the chin from Chelski on MATCHDAY ONE: THE QUICKENING, and again to Sp*rs mid-week, but will look to bounce back at home at the KC Stadium against Bolton. Bolton look to erase the memory of ever having been managed by the walrus-fucker, Sam Allardyce.

Prediction: Hull 1-1 Bolton

Man City where they cut your hands off for stealing v Wolves

Wolves managed to get off the ground with a win over high-flying Wigan this week. Man Citibank beat Rovers on Saturday and beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou, obviously meaning they are now the best team in the world.

Prediction: Citybank 2-1 Wolves

Sunderland v Blackburn

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz--mm, wha? Must've dozed off there. No, I wasn't tired, then I started watching Sunderland v Blackbzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Prediction: Boredom. And Sunderland 2-1 Rovers, sure, whatever.

Wigan v The Overpaid Fucktards who Lost to Burnley

Wigan have been a bit Jeckyll and Hyde; in two matches, they've looked more than a little impressive and then immediately flat the next time out. Manchester United fans have begun abandoning ship and buying Chelsea shirts already.

Prediction: Wigan 1-3 United

West Ham v 'Arry Redknapp's Twitch

Hammers threw Wolves a beating on Saturday, and Sp*rs are coming off of two straight victories for which they will obviously be releasing a commemorative DVD. But this is a London Derby, and anything can happen, especially at Upton Park.

Prediction: Hammers 2-1 Spurs, followed by mass vandalism in East London and many screenings of Green Street Hooligans.

Burnley v Everton

Burnley home again, coming off a shocking but much appreciated victory of Manchester Overrated. Everton have had time to think about what went wrong in the straight up beating they took from Arsenal, and it appears they've decided that selling Jolean Lescott to Man, Shitty in exchange for copious amounts of cash and buying at least one more player is their best bet... I don't know if I agree, but it's Moyes' problem, let him sort it.

Prediction: Burnley 2-0 Everton

Fulham v Chelsea

The West London Derby. Fantastic result last time at Craven Cottage, where Clint Dempsey came on as a second-half sub and made himself the hero, pulling Fulham a point where they might've gone empty-handed. Should be a good atmosphere as always, and while you wouldn't usually put Fulham on Chelski's level, anything can happen in a derby match.

Prediction: Fulham 2-1 Chelsea

Liverpool v Aston Villa

The Scouser got their groove back by taking shooting practice against Stoke, but Villa have yet to recover from a 2-0 loss at Villa Park to upstarts Wigan. And they won't turn it around at Anfield.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Villa

Arsenal v Pompey

Arsenal are flying high after an opening day destruction of Everton at Goodison Park, followed by a strong winning performance away to Celtic in the Champions League play-in. They look to open up at Emirates with a win, and Pompey will be willing to oblige them. Still no Theo Walcott, but Eduardo esta javota. Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Pompey (hey, I'm going to predict 2-2 draws for Arsenal until they lose, man)

That's all for now. Enjoy your Friday, and for all Americans, stay in the air conditioning. Nobody wants to be that statistical old lady in Texas that dies from the heat but would have survived "if only she'd had an air conditioner." I'm taking no chances, bitches.

Oh, and if you're coming to Nevada's on Sat., I'm bringing my niece to see her first Arsenal match, so let's have a nice atmosphere and try to give me warning if you're going to shout "C*nt." Until next time, you stay classy, Gooner nation...

- B, a Gooner