Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A (not so) way back machine treat

Just tuning in to America's lifeline to the football, the poorly named Fox Soccer Channel, and a nice treat from the vault turns the clock back to January 6, 2007 for an extended highlight package of the FA Cup Third Round match at Anfield between Arsenal and Liverpool. 

What a difference two years make. Dios mio, folks.

Arsenal scored first through Tomas Rosicky with a goal that came from stunning movement up the pitch, blinding in its fluidity and pace. This is Arsenal football. And do I ever miss it. 

The ball was turned over just outside of the Arsenal box and was collected by (The Much Missed) Gilberto ... even before the Brasilian collected the ball, Rosickydinho (As we used to call him round the Pub, mostly because it seemed to roll off the tongue. It was either that or ham sandwich, the boy's gaunt appearance making it clear that Arsene wasn't feeding him properly.) sprinted ahead into open space around midfield, starting out from the left flank. He took the pass and found Hleb who held the ball up toward the right edge of the Liverpool area. Hleb was good for one thing, in spite of all the grief I've given him over the last couple of years. He could move, dribble and man alive could he hold onto that ball. He did so, in this instance, long enough for Rosicky to pull himself back into the middle and lash a shot home. Stunning precision and startling pace. (see the photo, one of my favourites)

Next up, Rosickydinho hit yet another stunner. Incredible interchange between Clichy, Henry and Rosicky to climb up the right, Van Persie moving into the middle to provide space and then Tommy created a goal out of nothing but will. He just took the ball, moved into the middle and put it in for his second of the game. 

Moving along, Liverpool pulled one back in the 71st minute as Crouch easily beat Senderos to move the ball toward Kuyt who completed the goal. In typical Hard Working Dirk Kuyt fashion, he firmly grabbed the ball out of the net and trudged back to the middle of the park for the restart. It was Kuyt's eight of the season.

Liverpool, the holders after that incredible Cup Final against West Ham from the year before, were pushing Arsenal but the Gunners would hold on with a classic finish from Thierry Henry. He took the ball at the very center of the pitch and just hoofed it down the left side toward the corner. This was nothing more than a foot race against Jamie Carragher - and it's fairly obvious who's gonna win this one. Perhaps my favourite part of this goal is the look of absolute fire in Arsene Wenger's eyes when the camera cuts to him. It's almost lust for that high level of football. We're missing that. And I really want to see it again ... quite sure I'm not the only one too. Although I don't miss it quite as much as I do Henry flying down the left side of the pitch and just showing that simple glide back into the middle.

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