Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where to begin?

There's so much tumbling down on us in the world of football at the moment. I can't even begin to approach it all in a singular post, especially after being completely M.I.A. over the last week. Too much enjoyment of that Match Pricks derby on Sunday perhaps, the thrilling tilt between Top-of-the-Table Liverpool and Circling-the-Drain Arsenal.

For a little while there, about 45 minutes to be exact, it looked as if we had a true classic on our hands. A fantastic strike from Arsenal striker Robin van Persie (formerly referred to by Jim as the Rickie Weeks of north London) - loads of promise, not too much delivery quite yet - gave Arsenal an unexpected lead. Robin is notoriously strong on his favoured left leg, but alarmingly poor at switching to his right leg. Reports have said that he's getting more work in at training and he's growing in confidence. So much so that he's taken to calling it his - ready for this? - Chocolate Leg. Right. Whatever you say Robin. Whatever the case, it made for a good song at the pub after the strike. Sweet, sweet, sweet chocolate leg, folks.

Liverpool started to boss the game in the later stages of the first frame. If you saw any of the pre-match build-up on Match Pricks or the lineup displays in the pre-game this wasn't surprising. Even with their ace Javier Mascherano stricken down with the flu. Time was, and not that long ago, a good discussion could be had over who you'd transfer over from either side in the midfield. Not at the moment. That Liverpool midfield is 100 percent stronger than anything Arsenal can put forward at the moment ... and it was about to get worse.

Liverpool drew level on another fantastic goal. Djourou, the Arsenal center-back who has been playing with more confidence in Toure's absence, was caught on a long chip that sent Robbie Keane through to convert with a helluva strike that was quite a bit more befitting a player of his quality. Level at the half, on the scoreboard but certainly not on the pitch.

As the players left the pitch the cameras caught Arsenal captain (and only midfield player) Cesc Fabregas hobbling off with assistance. It looked like a knee at the time and after a scan, it is a knee. The player will be out for around four months. That is absolutely crippling for the rest of the season (and the future, but we'll get into that later).

Liverpool turned the screws in his absence and looked like running away with the game until Manu Adebayor was sent off for a second yellow, a rather daft challenge. Harsh as a second yellow but, in fairness, it was warranted. This turned out to be the best thing that happened to the Arsenal on Sunday. It had the traditionally galvanizing effect. The 10-men held on for the point and a 1-1 draw. Great match. Great party. Worrying slide in the table.

Arsenal sit three points behind Aston Villa with the Boxing Day schedule ahead on Friday and a MASSIVE trip to Villa Park. They discarded Arsenal with ease in a 2-nil win earlier. Arsenal, now without Cesc in the middle, will find it very hard going to win this match but win they must. I imagine Ramsey will be thrust into the midfield. We'll look forward to seeing what he's got to offer.

And this just in...for Liverpool v. Bolton, just before that headlining Arsenal v. Villa match ... Fernando Torres may well be passed fit. Good news for fans of the game, and Liverpool's title hopes.

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