Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On to Paris!

And Thierry Henry gets to go home for a match. Arsenal managed to hold off Villareal today 0-0, thus ensuring a place in the Champion's League final for the first time in the club's history. Lehmann saved the day again, saving a most dubious penalty in the 89th minute. I'm afraid I can't comment on the match too much right now. I'm drained and I only was able to listen to the match online.

What a strange season its been thus far. While struggling to find any sort of form in the Premier League, Arsenal quietly did something no one expected them to do. Win in Europe. And keep winning. During the group stages, no one really noticed, because, well, they are the group stages. The survived and moved on.

Then, as the knockout round approached, and we drew Real Madrid as the opponent, I couldn't help but feel like this was going to be yet another disappointment. Surely a team sporting a cobbled together defense, a team that struggled to beat such competition as West Brom (currently racing toward relegation), a team that seemed to have lost the desire to challenge for the league title, surely no team such as this could challenge the mighty Galacticos. But challenge they did. In Europe, they just continued to win and continued to keep clean sheets.

Now, after dispatching Juventus handily, and weathering the Spanish storm during the second leg at Villareal, Arsenal are going to the final. Today, Jens Lehmann put the team on his back--again--as he has so many times in this run and held the yellow submarine goalless, setting a Champion's Leagure record for the most minutes played without a goal in the competition. Boring, boring Arsenal indeed! (1 Nil to the Arsenal!).

I'm ecstatic.


UPDATE: The match wasn't the best one in the world to be honest. Villareal definitely had the better chances, but he same could be said of Aresenal in the first leg. At the end of the day, Arsenal's defense held and stayed very well organized, despite numerous almost goals from Villareal. They could have easily conceded a goal that would take the game to extra time were it not for Jens Lehmann (getting well deserved congratulations above). He was definitely man of the match.

Now, Arsenal take a record 10 clean sheets into the final, where they will likely be the underdog to either Milan or Barcelona. That role suits them well, as they are usually the underdogs in this competition. I think Arsenal will be joined by Barcelona--that would certainly ensure the most entertaining football match featuring the world's two best players. Joga Bonita indeed.

No comments: