Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Champions League: Barcelona 3 - 1 Arsenal (4 - 3 agg.): It's Absurd Video Time

We here at Hipster Gooner realize that we haven't posted in a while. We're retooling a little bit, now that I have started writing previews for the NYC Arsenal Supporters' official blog, The Modern GoonerAs such, we have come to realize that it is in our best interest to add more of a twist to what we do here at Hipster Gooner, and have decided to establish ourselves as a more off-kilter look at the team.

And so, it begins here. We know you can get a standard recap of what went on in an Arsenal match almost anywhere on the Internet (might I suggest Sean's recaps on the aforementioned Modern Gooner?) But where can you get an absurd recap involving cops, robotic voices, and mispronunciation?

We didn't write the script specifically for the video (but we will in the future,) this was actually an e-mail exchange from yesterday afternoon between six people. As such, it's probably really weird and not as funny as it could be.

They'll get better. I promise.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Preview: Arsenal v. Stoke City

On-loan Aaron Ramsey scored for Cardiff last night, as Arsenal 
prepares for the side he was injured against last season. Pic via Daily Mail.

Emirates Stadium, London
Wednesday, February 23
7:45 p.m. GMT, 2:45 p.m. EST
  • Referee: Peter Walton
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 2 - 0 Stoke City
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 48 Arsenal wins, 22 Stoke wins, 21 draws
  • Arsenal's Recent Form: D-W-W-W-D-W
  • Stoke's Recent Form: L-W-L-L-W-L
Predicted Line-Up
guesses in red

Sagna - Squillaci - Djourou - Clichy
Song - Wilshere
Walcott - Fabregas - Nasri

Subs from: Almunia, Eboue, Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Arshavin, Chamakh
Suspended: Diaby (third of three, violent conduct)
Out: van Persie (hamstring), Koscielny (back), Fabianski (shoulder), Vermaelen (Achilles)

Arsenal News and Notes
  • Suddenly, Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny have slight knocks and are unavailable. Part of me suspects that they could play if this was a huge match, but there is an element of caution with a cup final on Sunday.
  • Abou Diaby still has a calf injury, but can't play anyway, serving the final match of his three match ban.
  • Johan Djourou will be available following his back injury suffered against Barcelona.
  • I suspect Nicklas Bendtner will start over Marouane Chamakh in RVP's place. Bendtner is in "better" form, if you can really say that. This is more to say that Chamakh is in poor form. Also, Arsenal could use Bendtner's height against a rugby team.
  • This is the first of five Arsenal matches within a two week span (the others being the Carling Cup final on Sunday, FA Cup replay next Wednesday, Sunderland in the league next Saturday, and Barcelona on the following Tuesday.)
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in 10 across all competitions and nine in the league.
  • Arsenal have only lost once (the 1-0 at Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg) in their last 16 competitive fixtures.
  • The Gunners are unbeaten in 12 at home and have won six straight at the Emirates since the Leeds draw.
Stoke News and Notes
  • Matthew Etherington faces a late fitness test after withdrawing from Stoke's Saturday FA Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion with a back problem.
  • Mamady Sidibe has a long term Achilles injury; Abdoulaye Faye has a hamstring injury.
  • Stoke City have not won away from home in the league since Boxing Day (four straight losses), though they have two away wins in that time period in the FA Cup.
Match Facts
  • The Gunners won this fixture 2-0 last year. Cesc Fabregas missed a penalty, but Arsenal got goals from Andrei Arshavin and Aaron Ramsey.
  • Arsenal have won eight straight home fixtures against Stoke in all competitions; five of those were league matches.
  • Stoke's last league result at Arsenal was a 1-0 win in 1981/82.
  • Stoke City scored in the opening ten minutes of both matches against Arsenal at the Britannia last season; they have not scored in the opening 15 minutes of any match this year.
The Referee
  • The referee is Northamptonshire-based Peter Walton.
  • Walton was in charge of Arsenal and Stoke's league meeting at the Britannia last year and was the man who showed red to Ryan Shawcross.
  • Walton's only Arsenal match this year was the Gunners' 3-0 win at Birmingham on New Year's Day.
  • For Stoke, Walton has taken charge of a 2-1 loss at Bolton and 1-1 draw with Manchester City.
Around England
  • Today, Champions League: Copenhagen 0 - 2 Chelsea
  • Today, Premier League: Blackpool 3 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur
  • Wednesday, Premier League: Marseille v. Manchester United; Stade Velodrome, Marseille
  • Thursday, Europa League: Liverpool (0) v. (0) Sparta Prague; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Thursday, Europa League: Manchester City (0) v. (0) Aris, City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester

Friday, February 18, 2011

Preview: Leyton Orient v. Arsenal, FA Cup 5th Round

Orient's mascot is a dragon. His name is Theo.
Last year, Theo Walcott's birthday cake had a dragon.
Connection!?!? Pic via Leyton Orient.

Matchroom Stadium, London
Sunday, February 20
4:30 p.m. GMT, 11:30 a.m. EST
  • Referee: Kevin Friend
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 7 Arsenal wins, 2 Orient wins, 1 draw
  • All-Time in FA Cup: 4 Arsenal wins 
  • Arsenal's Premier League Form: D-W-W-W-D-W
  • Leyton Orient's League One Form: D-D-D-W-W-W
Predicted Line-Up
I usually only get like seven of these in cup ties

Eboue - Koscielny - Squillaci - Gibbs
Denilson - Wilshere
Bendtner - Rosicky - Arshavin

Subs from: Szczesny, Sagna, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie
Suspended: Diaby (second of three, violent conduct)
Doubtful: Walcott (hamstring)
Out: Djourou (back), Fabianski (shoulder), Vermaelen (Achilles)

Arsenal News and Notes
  • Johan Djourou picked up a back injury on Wednesday and will miss the cup tie. Get well soon (damn it, we need you)!
  • Theo Walcott is a doubt with a hamstring knock, though I wouldn't have expected him to start anyway, and certainly hope he wouldn't have been necessary to use. Arsenal has been leaving these cup ties for late, though, haven't they?
  • No other new injuries, but a lot of rotation likely.
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in nine across all competitions, by far their longest streak of the season. Arsenal last went unbeaten in nine from February 20 to April 3 last year, a streak that was snapped at Camp Nou.
  • In 25 tries, Arsenal has never lost an FA Cup tie to a lower tier team under Arsene Wenger.
Leyton Orient News and Notes
  • Orient currently sit in 10th place in League One, meaning Arsenal have played progressively lower teams down the table with each passing round (Huddersfield Town is in 3rd.)
  • There are three teams currently still alive in the FA Cup that are below Orient in the table: Sheffield Wednesday, Notts County, and non-league Crawley Town.
  • I'd give you their injury news, but honestly, I can't seem to find specifics. As of last week, it appears that Adam Chambers and Matthew Spring are injured. I hope that is good enough for you.
  • Orient are unbeaten in nine League One fixtures (5 wins, 4 draws) since a New Year's Day loss to top of the table Brighton & Hove Albion. They have won three straight.
  • To progress this far in the competition, Leyton Orient has beaten Dagenham & Redbridge (another London derby!) in a replay, Droylsden in a replay in which they scored six goals in extra time, then upset two Championship sides in Norwich and Swansea. Both of those sides sit in Premier League promotion playoff spots right now.
Match Facts
  • Arsenal have won all five matches they have played against Leyton Orient since World War I.
  • The last meeting came in the 1978 FA Cup. Arsenal won 3-0 at Highbury.
  • Leyton Orient has spent only one season in the top flight, 1962/63. Arsenal beat them 2-1 at Brisbane Road and 2-0 at Highbury.
  • Orient's last win over Arsenal came in the old second division, on February 13, 1915. Orient won 1-0 at Millfields Road.
  • Arsenal have won all four FA Cup ties against Leyton Orient, with three of those coming away from home.
The Referee
  • The referee is Leicestershire-based Kevin Friend.
  • This is Friend's second Arsenal match in his career. The first was the 3-0 win over Wigan last month, in which Robin van Persie had a hat trick.
  • His last Leyton Orient match was on April 13, 2009. Orient won 1-0 at Swindon Town.
Other 5th Round Ties (and 4th Round Replays)
  • Saturday: Chelsea v. Everton (4th Round Replay); Stamford Bridge, London
  • Saturday: Stoke City v. Brighton & Hove Albion; Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Saturday: Birmingham City v. Sheffield Wednesday; St. Andrew's, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Manchester United v. Crawley Town; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Sunday: Manchester City v. Notts County (4th Round Replay); City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester
  • Sunday: Fulham v. Bolton Wanderers; Craven Cottage, London
  • Monday: West Ham United v. Burnley; Boleyn Ground, London
  • Next Tuesday: Chelsea or Everton v. Reading; London or Liverpool
  • Next Wednesday: Manchester City or Notts County v. Aston Villa; Manchester or Nottingham

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Champions League: Arsenal 2 - 1 Barcelona: OOOOH TO BE A GOONER!

We've got Cesc Fabregas.
And Jack Wilshere. And Robin van Persie. And Andrei Arshavin...
Pic via Guardian.

Arsenal 2: van Persie 78, Arshavin 83
Barcelona 1: Villa 26

It's a pivotal month for Arsenal (but you know that already,) with a chance for silverware at the end, plus three other competitions of arguably more importance to worry about. Domestically, Manchester United looks catchable at the top of the Premier League, the Carling Cup final is the 26th, and a win on Sunday at Orient brings Arsenal to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup.

Ah, but in Europe, it's a whole different monster, and thanks to losses in Donetsk and Braga in November, Arsenal started the knockout phase of the Champions League behind the eight ball, having not won their group. Their reward was Barcelona, the team that just can't stop fucking talking about Cesc Fabregas, the team that forced Arsenal out of this competition last year with a bit of a thrashing at Camp Nou, the team that plays the same style of football so well, you almost can't be blamed for developing some sort of inferiority complex.

But, with that draw comes an opportunity to taste revenge. A win at the Emirates on Wednesday night wouldn't put Arsenal through, of course, but they'd have the upper hand going away, and have given Barcelona something to think about. And oh boy, what a win it turned out to be.

Arsene Wenger made two changes to the side that beat Wolves at the weekend. Bacary Sagna was suspended, after picking up a red card in the final match of the group stage in December, so Emmanuel Eboue deputized at right back. In the slightly more surprising change, Samir Nasri was not just fit to join the squad, but he was also fit to start the match on the left wing, dropping Andrei Arshavin to the bench.

From the start, Barcelona started tippy-tappying it around for a minute or two, but unlike last year's encounter at the Emirates, Arsenal actually showed up at the start, and had the better of the chances through ten minutes. From a free kick, Samir Nasri dinked a ball on goal which Alex Song could not quite reach to redirect, and Victor Valdes in goal handled easily. Valdes later made a brilliant save on a tight angled shot from Robin van Persie. A few other Arsenal chances went begging as the final passes were too strong or the final touches were too heavy.

The bad news in the first ten minutes was the early booking of Alex Song, who clipped Lionel Messi before he could do anything too Messi-like about 35-40 yards out in the seventh minute. Throughout the first half, Song walked a fine line of picking up a second yellow card, which would have completely changed the complexion of this match.

Barcelona started to click after the ten minute mark, as the tippy-tappying resumed, and in the 15th minute, Messi should have put the Catalans up 1-0. David Villa sent him a through ball which saw Messi clear in on Wojciech Szczesny. The Pole stayed up as long as he could, but was eventually drawn to make a move, and Messi maneuvered brilliantly to flip a shot past him, which twisted just wide of the far post.

Despite all of Barcelona's building pressure, Arsenal nearly struck first on a brilliant counter-attack of their own. The pace of Theo Walcott started a chance as he picked out Cesc Fabregas on the break. Fabregas lined up a cross for van Persie, but Eric Abidal got a head in the way just in time. Then, Barca streamed forward and as Lionel Messi sent a through ball for Villa in the midst of Arsenal's offside trap, Gael Clichy backpedaled for no reason and played Villa on. From there, the finish was academic.

Much of the second half proceeded with Barcelona controlling the possession and tippy-tappy-tippy-tappying (I'm trying to include that phrase in as many paragraphs as possible.) Arsenal defended tenaciously, as you must against a team like this, to keep the match 1-0. A second goal was ruled out for Messi being offside and Szczesny made a huge save on Pedro as well. Yet, the feel at halftime was more optimistic than it was in either match with Barcelona last year. Sure, Arsenal was trailing, but they had created some chances this time. It felt like an equalizer could happen, as long as Arsenal could keep Barcelona from scoring again.

What the hell is that logo? I think it says, "Fuck Adebayor."
Pic via Daily Mail.
The Gunners had a strong start to the second half, and controlled a lot of the play throughout, but as in the first half, many of the chances went begging. It looked like, as Messi was, Robin van Persie was just not quite on form on this night. I guess he just wanted to fool us for 78 minutes.

Alex Song was removed for The Diminutive Russian, Andrei Arshavin, in the 68th minute, as Arsenal looked for more offense. Arsene Wenger spoke post-match about how the move could have backfired, and Arsenal could have found themselves two or three down. Alternatively, Song could have found himself with a second yellow, so not making the substitution could have backfired as well. So, who knows. Nicklas Bendtner came on for Theo Walcott in the 77th minute for a change of pace and style, i.e. the only really good way to use Bendtner, in my opinion.

Jack Wilshere's maneuvering won a corner kick as the clock reached 78 minutes. Arshavin took it, but Valdes caught safely. Then, Arsene Wenger angrily unzipped his coat. As Barcelona moved forward, Arsenal won a free kick at the halfway line and eventually Clichy found van Persie at a tight angle. From the byline, van Persie fired on goal, from an impossible spot, and managed to beat Valdes near post to make it 1-1. A brilliant, goal scorer's strike. And RVP's 12th goal in 12 games.

And so, the tide had turned. Barcelona tried to muster a challenge, but Laurent Koscielny (who was excellent) intercepted from Messi in the box. Wilshere hit Fabregas with a pass, and he played a powerful through ball for a breaking Samir Nasri, onside. Nasri ran out of space as he was closed down by the defense, however, so he cut back and sent a pass back toward the center. The pass found Arshavin, who thundered in a winner from 15 yards. And every Arsenal supporting place in the world went nuts.

Arsenal probed a bit for a third, but would not come up with it, then Szczesny made a tremendous stop in the dying moments before a Messi shot was blocked by two Gunners. At the final whistle, Arsenal sealed a 2-1 lead they will take with them to Camp Nou in three weeks. And, as tough as that match will be, not only was Arsenal able to fire a warning to Barcelona that this is not the same team that rolled over for them last year, but they were also able to build up a huge confidence boost moving forward into the four crucial domestic fixtures that come before the return leg. Arsenal have, in addition to two cup ties, Stoke and Sunderland at home in the league while United have road trips to Wigan, Chelsea, and Liverpool.

By the time Arsenal plays at Camp Nou on March 8, the landscape of this season could be quite different on all fronts, and with the way things are shaping up for the Gunners, it looks quite positive. Nobody knew how this team would react to blowing a four-goal lead at Newcastle. Well, their two performances since have been nothing short of spectacular. And it's a damn good time to be a Gooner these days.

Hipster Gooner Man of the Match: Jack Wilshere

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Arsene Wenger Is Very Disappointed in You 2/16/11

He's as disappointed as I am that I am not going to be able to come to today's game

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Preview: Arsenal v. Barcelona, Champions League Round of 16, First Leg

Have you heard that Cesc Fabregas used to play for Barcelona in his youth days?
Because this is the first that I'm hearing about that.
Pic via Daily Mail.

Emirates Stadium, London
Wednesday, February 16
7:45 p.m. GMT, 2:45 p.m. EST

  • Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
  • History: 0 Arsenal wins, 3 Barcelona wins, 2 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: D-W-W-W-D-W
  • Barcelona's League Form: W-W-W-W-W-D
Predicted Line-Up
guesses in red

Eboue - Koscielny - Djourou - Clichy
Song - Wilshere
Walcott - Fabregas - Nasri
van Persie

Subs from: Almunia, Gibbs, Squillaci, Rosicky, Arshavin, Bendtner, Chamakh
Suspended: Sagna (one match, professional foul)
Out: Diaby (calf), Fabianski (shoulder), Vermaelen (Achilles)

Arsenal News and Notes
  • Samir Nasri surprisingly returns to the squad, having returned to training after the hamstring injury he suffered January 30 in the FA Cup. He should only start he's 100%. I would hope.
  • Abou Diaby, however, picked up a calf strain on international duty. Nobody noticed, I guess, since he's suspended domestically.
  • Speaking of suspensions, remember Bacary Sagna's red card against Partizan? Because I forgot about it too. He's unavailable and Emmanuel Eboue will deputize.
  • Tomas Rosicky returns to the side as well, though I also, in this case, don't remember him getting hurt.
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in eight across all competitions and have lost once in their last 14.
  • The Gunners have not lost at home since November, going unbeaten in 11 at the Emirates.
Barcelona News and Notes
  • Caveman impersonator Carles Puyol will miss the tie with a knee injury, forcing left back Eric Abidal to play in the center and forcing Maxwell (who was terrorized by Theo Walcott last year) to start on the left.
  • As far as I can tell, Puyol is the only major injury in their side.
  • Sporting Gijon's 1-1 draw with the Catalans at the weekend marked Barcelona's first league loss in 16 matches.
Match Facts
  • This is the sixth all-time meeting between Arsenal and Barcelona. Arsenal have never won.
  • No foreign club has ever won a Champions League tie at the Emirates, in 27 matches.
  • Last year, Arsenal came from 2-0 down to draw level with Barcelona in the first leg of the quarter-finals. Nicklas Bendtner put Arsenal ahead on aggregate in the second leg before Lionel Messi scored four to knock the Gunners out.
  • The two sides met in the 2006 final. Sol Campbell put ten man Arsenal ahead 1-0, but Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti scored in the last fifteen minutes to win the title for the Catalan side.
  • In 1999/2000, the two sides played twice in group play. Arsenal salvaged a draw at the Nou Camp, but then lost 4-2 in their home match, which was played at Wembley.
The Referee
  • The referee is Serie A's Nicola Rizzoli. This is his first Arsenal match.
  • Rizzoli took charge of last year's Europa League final, when Atletico Madrid beat Fulham in extra time.
  • His last match on English soil saw him send off Manchester United's Rafael for two yellow cards in last year's quarter-finals, as Bayern Munich advanced on away goals.
  • Rizzoli took charge of Barcelona's 5-1 win over Panathinaikos in the group stage earlier this year.
Other Round of 16 Ties
  • Tuesday: AC Milan 0 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur
  • Tuesday: Valencia 1 - 1 Schalke 04
  • Wednesday: AS Roma v. Shakhtar Donetsk; Stadio Olimpico, Rome
  • Next Tuesday: Copenhagen v. Chelsea; Parken Stadium, Copenhagen
  • Next Tuesday: Lyon v. Real Madrid; Stade de Gerland, Lyone
  • Next Wednesday: Inter Milan v. Bayern Munich; San Siro, Milan
  • Next Wednesday: Marseille v. Manchester United; Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Arsenal 2 - 0 Wolves: The Bounce Back

Hugs! Pic via Sky Sports.

Arsenal 2: van Persie 16, 56
Wolves 0

I'm firmly of the belief that last Saturday's trip to Newcastle is going to be a season defining moment, but that's not necessarily a negative; it could shape the season in any number of ways. Which way would it go? Would Arsenal crumble in the aftermath or would they rebound and use the draw as a learning experience? With Barcelona on the horizon, the league to contend with, and a Wembley Cup final in two weeks, February is a crucial month for the Gunners that did not start very well on Tyneside. Yesterday, Arsenal righted the ship, dominating 90 minutes and completing the double over Wolves.

Coming into the match, team selection was a bit of a question. With Barcelona coming to the Emirates on Wednesday, would Arsene Wenger prioritize the league or Europe? Would he start his strongest side or rest some of his talent? The answer was the former. Arsenal made one change to the side that started last week: Abou Diaby missed out through suspension, but Alex Song returned to his normal starting position in Diaby's place, after missing the trip to Newcastle with a thigh injury. Johan Djourou was fit to start after a fear that his knee injury could have been season-endingly serious.

There's no doubt about it, Arsenal played exceedingly well yesterday, and it was the response that they needed following last week's collapse. It took a little while for Arsenal to get in gear, but they nearly went ahead 1-0 with a Robin van Persie goal that was called back for a foul on Jack Wilshere, instead of playing advantage. RVP shot the ensuing free kick over the bar. The Dutchman would get the opener in the 16th minute, one-timing a Cesc Fabregas cross home with his right foot.

Arsenal had a number of chances to extend that lead over the next forty minutes, but had a tough time sneaking another shot past Wayne Hennessey. A leading pass to Andrei Arshavin was a bit too far ahead for the Russian to take a shot, but he did cut back and feed a pass to the center for Theo Walcott. Walcott's shot was saved by the legs of Hennessey, then Fabregas's rebound was blocked off the line. Van Persie nearly picked up the brace just before the stroke of halftime, but Hennessey saved again. Just after the restart, following a brilliant run from Jack Wilshere, Walcott fired wide on a fairly wide open opportunity.

But the second goal would eventually come, and it would be classic Arsenal. The goal came from a series of lightning-quick one-touch passes. Bacary Sagna won the ball back initially and found Djourou in his own penalty area. Then, Arsenal launched the fast break. Djourou hit Wilshere, Wilshere found Song, Song found Fabregas, and the captain launched the ball forward for a breaking Theo Walcott. In the ensuing rush, Walcott centered for van Persie, who took one touch and fired past a diving Hennessey.

There was, of course, always a little fear that one Wolves goal could send Arsenal spiraling downward again. This week, however, Wolves never really had those opportunities. There was almost no pressure at all from the relegation candidates. In BBC's Match of the Day highlights, there was only one Wolves chance even shown, it came in the final minute of play with the match out of reach, and the shot was well over the bar. Arsenal did exactly what they had to do: bounce back from last week by sticking to their style. Perhaps the most encouraging part was that there was no nervousness in the defending, which would have been almost understandable after last week.

So, three more points, and Arsenal keeps their pace with United, as the Gunners still sit four points out of first place with just 12 games to play. After the first eight of those, they will meet each other at the Emirates. This is still a season defining month for Arsenal in all four competitions and each of Arsenal's next four matches are in different competitions. There could be new silverware for the trophy case by month's end. And by that point, one hopes last week is long in the rear view mirror. Yesterday was a good start.

Hipster Gooner Man of the Matcb: Jack Wilshere