Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Arsenal 0 - 0 Villarreal (1-0 agg.)

One must breathe a sigh of relief and/or find a handy defibrillator to recover from such a debacle yesterday. Yes, I merely read the commentator's text of the match on gamecast and did not see anything, but the amount of pressure on the Gunners all game was immense (if only to the level bold text and ALL UPPERCASE depictions of shots on Arsenal's goal can convey). For goodness sake, the game flow was as follows: a couple questionable offside calls on Henry, then he disappears until 8 minutes from full time; Villarreal turning up the insanity meter at the end of the first half and can't hit the broad side of an open goal (apparently this was the case for one shot...but then again that might have been in the second half); after the break Arsenal come out with a newfound tactic (read "passing") and lose their short burst of fire within 20 min. Villarreal start the shot frenzy again and somehow Arsenal hold on. Yes, the same team that used to rely on scoring more than they allow (and actually were successful with that strategy at one time) now have gone 6 full games without allowing a goal. I struggle to write this because I can't believe it...first Real Madrid, then Juventus (Patrick, where art thou now?) and finally the cinder-rrealla (sorry I couldn't resist) Yellow Submarine--ALL BLANKED by Arsenal. In meaningful games. Incredible, really.

But I'm not done with the game recap. The last half of the second half was still going and I was sweating it out while I tried to do real work in Excel (I actually succeeded, amazingly!). Suddenly, when it seemed Arsenal was content to win difficult balls and then give them easily away on their own half again...Henry bursts toward goal and cuts diagonally to make (apparently) a nice shot. It doesn't go in (and thus the nail in the coffin remains somewhere to be found) and the pressure resumes back on the other side of the field. Five minutes from time and Villarreal seem to be slowly loosing steam. They're frustrated and the shots are decreasing. Then it happens. The worst text I could have seen came across the gamecast commentary: "RUBBISH!!! Arsenal give up a questionable penalty at the worst possible time!" or some other similar phrase dripping even more with Brit sarcasm and disbelief. My mind is running through the scenarios...they're now even with Villa and thus need to score. Probably will go to overtime and both teams are bushed. And we're not at home, which actually means a lot in soccer. INCONCEIVABLE!

And then the beams from above shine down (even visible through my CRT monitor) and I read in a dream-like state that "LEHMANN BLOCKS THE PENALTY!!" A rush of relief like the broken HVAC in my building actually being fixed by this summer kicks through my acid-soaked stomach (which was previously bathing my heart, by the way). With two minutes to go, momentum has finally switched. (and like the foul line in basketball that never lies, the proper ending to a worthless penalty call results in no goal). Villa still pressure but are beyond belief of their misfortune. One player (wish I remembered his name) from Villa actually makes the commentary log by stopping at midfield with hands on his hips while panting for breath...aghast at how fruitless this game ended. Stoppage time drags on for 4 painful minutes and - finally - Arsenal earn their place in their first Champions League final ever. Brilliant.

In retrospect, Arsenal probably should have lost this game. Their stunning defense has me wondering what happened to get them there...and now of all times. Sure, Sol Campbell has returned recently from injury. Maybe he is as good and as influential to this team as I feared when he originally went down. Either way, Gunners fans can celebrate this run and this year's surprisingly good lineup. Cheers, mates!

posted by El Jefe @ 12:41 PM  1 comments


At 2:50 PM, Blogger colin_hesse said...

Surprisingly enough, I actually watched the second half yesterday from Planet Gahnegon. Arsenal really escaped there, especially the final penalty shot (which was HORRIBLE) and a bad header from some Villareal punk.

Lots of flops, too. My favorite. Oh, and everyone on Villareal looked like Manu Ginobli, which made me hate them.


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