As always, the Arsenalist has the video. I had to actually download the file from the link he provides since either my script blocker is preventing the inline video from playing or the inline video is just broken. Either way, it’s totally worth it.
Man of the Match
I wanted to give Man of the Match to Almunia because, I reasoned, keepers get to shine during penalty shootouts and since we won on penalties you have to give the nod to Almunia. If you add in that he made a game saving finger-tip save, it seemed a lock for the big fella to get the champagne.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the whole team shined in that shootout last night. Eduardo had missed the first penalty and, like a foil for the game itself, the team had to overcome that let down and just put in a solid bit of work. Which they did, one after the other, 7 in a row.
7 in a row!
These are kids! I mean, Theo has never taken a penalty before and yet he stuck it like a pro. But even singling Theo out is unfair because each one of these players, down the line, stood up for each other, and just did what they were asked.
In the end, it took 7 teammates to win that match, so I’m giving the whole team Man of the Match.
All the match reports I’ve read tell it like it was, which is to say, a rather shitty game. After Roma scored both teams seemed to have let off the gas a bit and the match became 120 minutes of not allowing the opponent to score.
That said, as I sat there watching Roma play defense and Arsenal try to play offense the one thing that stood out was Roma was wasting time — at the 60th minute. I can’t remember their names but there were several times that an Arsenal player would put in a good tackle and the Roma player would go to ground, and start rolling around feigning injury. Then the f*cking stretcher would come out and take this guy off the pitch only to have him pop right back up and be ready to come on right away.
I know that the carrot colored c*nt Spalletti said they were going to have a “cautious” approach but I didn’t expect them to be playing for penalties at the 60th minute. Was that really the game plan? Get a goal and then sit back and go to penalties? Strange.
And the goal… *sigh* Totti plays in a cross, Gallas pokes and misses, Toure pokes and misses and the ball rolls through 7 more pairs of legs and slowly comes to Juan, who is sitting on the edge of the box, skimming through his copy of Ivanhoe. Juan kind of looks around, saves his place in the book, takes a little touch, and calmly puts the ball in the net. Gross. Infuriating. Sickening.
In the end, that goal didn’t matter though.
Hell, in the end, nothing mattered; not Roma’s “game plan” (whatever that was), not Arsenal’s poor performance, not the one squandered chance that Eboue played in to Bendtner, not Totti’s leg brace, not the dive in the box, and not even Eduardo’s soft penalty kick… nothing mattered.
Because in the end, a collection of kids stood shoulder to shoulder and calmly put in 7 penalties in a row.
That’s all that mattered.
It almost doesn’t matter who we get paired with in the next round (who wants to bet that we get Barcelona?), or that Arsenal host Blackburn on Saturday, and Hull Shitty on Tuesday. Because as I watched the boys celebrate it occurred to me that they may have reached a moment in this most difficult of seasons that the team came together and gutted out a performance, as a team.
So, whatever happens from here on out, I’m hopeful that they can take that moment where they stood shoulder to shoulder and put 7 penalties in as a team, take that forward and build on it. No matter what else happens this season, they will always have Rome and I’d love to see them capitalize on that.