How to take a penalty part two: don't think

Fabregas at Euro 2008

It was a very dry match, which is exactly what the Italians wanted it to be. Everyone watching knew that the Italians weren’t playing to win as much as to “not lose.” It was the type of game that any Arsenal fan recognizes immediately: a ton of great movement, great passing, loads of possession, chances not taken, and great defending by their opponent. Now, think back to any of Arsenal’s away matches up ‘norf last season and that’s what this match reminded me of. It even featured that same kind of bad luck where you just can’t seem to score a goal no matter how well you’ve broken your opponent.  Quite amazing actually.

That bad luck, though, was nothing compared to the way the Italians used the ref to turn the match into a grotesque charade of football: diving, pushing, cheating, and when the Spanish got a break away? Feigning injury. Huh. Wait a second… that’s what Bolton do! The Italians are the Bolton of international football! No wonder I hated them so viscerally from the very start.

Unlike a typical Arsenal/Bolton clash, however, this tournament must have a conclusion so, they played a useless 30 minute overtime period, followed by this year’s ubiquitous feature: the penalty shootout.

First, due credit to Iker Casillas. The impartial observer must admit that Casillas’ two saves won that match: they were as great of saves as I have seen any keeper make in any international tournament. Too bad the press is all a twitter with Fabregas’ “winning” PK because Casillas really deserves all the credit.

That said… what a stone cold penalty by Cesc! I had told my lady earlier that I thought Cesc might win it for the Spaniards but never would have predicted that he would take the fifth and decisive penalty, in fact when it went to penalties I almost left for my own football match (we won 9-0) because Cesc has never taken a penalty and I had no reason to believe that his coach would let him take one now.

But there was number 10, walking toward the spot. The camera focused on him as he backed away from the ball, his lips were blue and he had the 100 mile stare, I said “breathe Cesc, breathe!” Then… Buffon, never having seen Cesc take a penalty, guessed the wrong way and Cesc, unlike Modric, Ronaldo, and John Terry, found the back of the net at the time when his team needed it most. He didn’t shirk his duties like the horrible Nikolas Anelka. He didn’t fall down on the spot like the hapless John Terry. And he didn’t shoot wide and proceed to cry like the World’s Most Annoying Footballer ™ Ronaldo. Nope, he stuck it. He won the match.

Good for him. I was hoping that Spain would get knocked out of the tournament and Cesc could join Robin van Persie on vacation prior to the start of the season but if he had to go on playing, well… that was simply the best way in the world to do it.

Adebayor Week at Arsenal.com

Meanwhile, back in sunny old London, the fans were busy voting on who should be player of the season and after Clichy comes Adebayor in 3rd place. Bit of a mystery to me as to why so many people voted for him at all since you all seem to hate him so much but vote you did. And, erm, third place he won! Passive sentences no more shall I write!

Anyway, it’s Adebayor week at the old dot com and if you follow that link there’s a link in there in which you can spew your invectives. Just remember, he’ll be the guy in the number 25 shirt scoring goals for Arsenal next season, so you might want to hold back some venom for the two game streak where he fails to convert. Also, you might try to think of some of the positive things he brought to the team; like the winning goal against Spuds, or the 11 game scoring run, or the fact that he fundamentally (and for the better) changed the way that Arsenal played football last season. Stuff like that.

… oh yeah, they released the official squad numbers — looky there, Hleb and Adebayor are still on the list.

Transfer Roundup

And why shouldn’t Hleb be on the list? After all, Arshavin is the one who’s going to Barca and given the choice between the two, I’d probably pick Arshavin if I was Barcelona.

But that news does leave the Hleb situation in doubt, because I honestly can’t see Barcelona turning down Arshavin for £10m and buying Hleb for £8m. They would be foolish. How much you wanna bet that Hleb is with Arsenal next season?  A pint?  You’re on.

Meanwhile, over on the smelly side of London, Tottenham is ready to swoop for Arsenal fan target and £10m rated goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. I approve this transfer as it will hopefully stop people in forums from linking us to him.

What am I saying? Arsenal fans will never stop linking Arsenal to Gomes!

And that’s it for today, perhaps Barcelona will announce that Adebayor just text messaged their cousin’s brother’s agent’s tea lady to ask for a spot of fresh tea.  Which is a CLEAR SIGN he wants to play with Theirry Henry next year.  It’s all so obvious, isn’t it?