30 down, Eight to Go, Hammers & Barca Ahead...

When last I wrote, Arsenal had just dispatched Porto 5-0 to advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, aided by a Nicklas Bendtner hat trick, and were headed into last weekend facing a tough away fixture against Hull and their orange-skinned shitheel of a manager, Phil Brown. What a difference a week makes...

We got an early goal from Andrey Arshavin, who showed what he's like at his best by slipping through defenders and coolly finishing. Unfortunately, that was about all we saw of the "good" Andrey, as he managed to waste a few other opportunities and flitted in an out of the rest of the match. Hull equalized shortly after, as an offside Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink of Anaheim threw himself in front of Big Fat Sol in the box, who promptly and clumsily ran him over. It was a definite penalty, as long as you forget that he was five yards offside on the play. Regardless, it was given and Jimmy "Rocky Dennis" Bullard made it level at 1-1.

Otherwise, most of what Hull provided was less football and more Allardyce 101: foul and cheat, just don't get caught. Craig Fagan and others carried this out thoughtfully through the first half, but George Boateng got a bit carried away, first poking Bendtner in the eye away from the ball, which earned him a yellow card, and nearing the end of the half, making a dirty "challenge" on Bacary Sagna which amounted to trying to stamp on his knee. Unfortunately, this time he was near the ball, and got himself sent off. I would say that this would've warranted a straight red card, but that call would never be made on an Arsenal opponent, so not worth discussing (at about the 6:10 mark in the video).

Hull City v Arsenal
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We continued to attack and waste chances into the second half, doing little in the final third until the introduction of Theo gave us an injection of pace on the right. However, it all seemed to be headed to a draw with 10-man Hull, who, in fairness, put in a well-played and fair-played defensive effort after the dismissal of Boateng. But a funny thing happened on the way to the full-time whistle: an unexpected amount of Fergie-time was added on, 6 minutes in all. In the third of these, another break fell our way: Denilson, quiet for most of the match, uncorked a 30 yard shot on goal, which Myhill failed to control, spilling the ball in front of him. Nicklas Bendtner was immediately on it and...


I'm sure we've all had moments when something took us absolutely outside of ourselves, and this was one for me. Ecstacy. We had rescued victory from the jaws of drawfeat with a late winner, another one right in the eye of the Bendtner-haters (and you lot can stop reading right now, it's ridiculous to slate your own players, especially when they're producing like big Nick has been). Not only that, but it wasn't long before that orange-skinned, fake-tanned, Allardyce-emulating, headset-wearing, lying cheating cunt of a cunt Phil Brown was out of a job. Will Iain Dowie be able to rescue them from relegation? Perhaps. Do I care? Less than I do about Lindsay Lohan's vaginal health, which is about as poor as Hull's league performance this season. Or maybe as bad as Pompey's. Either way, it's ghastly.

So another win in the books as we head into this weekend's home match with West Ham Ushited. As with any London derby, it would be foolish to expect an easy match, and the Hammers have had a better record at the Emirates than their overall performances warrant. Gianfranco Zola is claiming that WHU will emulate the upsets pulled by Inter and Fulham over Chelsea and Juventus, respectively, by knocking us off. To this, I must argue that Inter and Fulham are sides playing in European competitions, and last I checked, the Hammers were still trying desperately to stave off relegation in the Premier League. Additionally, Zola will need to find extra time in his schedule to both rescue West Ham from relegation AND make Night At the Museum 3. Lawyered.

On the plus side for us, we have Cesc Fabregas returning from injury, ditto Tom Rosicky. Alex Song returns from a suspension for having his shirt pulled by Rory Delap and will plug into holding midfield. However, William Gallas has a calf strain which must be as misdiagnosed as Manuel Almunia's two-month chest infection. I believe Arseblogger is right to point out Arsene's tendency to sit down players with unresolved contract issues, but surely Le Boss wouldn't hold out as key a player as Gallas for something so petty, would he? I don't believe so. But what that leaves is Gallas having a worse injury than a simple calf strain. This is like straining a full-grown cow.

In any case, the Hammers will provide a tough match, but they are an opponent we must defeat if we're to establish our title claim. Eight matches left for the crown. If we're to win it, Saturday will be as much a test as any other match this season.

Finally, the last eight in the Champions League was drawn today, and we got the worst possible draw, Barcelona. Perhaps it's karmic realignment after our cake group and 2nd round draw of Porto, but in the end, this is the road we must take. Barca are the reigning champions of Europe, and rightly so. But things aren't all bad. Consider:

- Barca don't play Allardyce-ball, so without those pesky little two-footed tackles and sneaky elbows, we're less likely to have players hurt;
- Barca's style of play is free-flowing and passing like ours, so both legs promise some brilliant football;
- Barca want Cesc Fabregas;
- Arsenal have GOT Cesc Fabregas.

If we can finish our chances, there's no reason we can't win. Of course I'd have preferred a Lyon or Bordeaux, but we don't get to pick who we play, we just play who we're drawn with. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that we're due for yet ANOTHER tiresome round of Barcelona's geneticists, Pique and Xavi, commenting on Cesc Fabregas' DNA. On that note, I hope both of their own Barcelona DNA contains some sort of terminal illness. I'll have more on this once we get closer to our match.

It's officially down to the wire in both domestic and European competition. The belief in our boys is high, the sun is shining on Arsenal. Thirty down, eight to go, with a big Spanish obstacle thrown in.


Things are looking bright these days. Don't forget your sunblock or your classiness.