Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Full Credit to Arsenal

The title of this post says it all.

I’ve criticized Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger a lot recently, although there was every reason for me to do so.

Today, there’s nothing for me to do but salute the Gunners’ performance in Milan, as they beat the hosts 2-0 and advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals. This was a match that Arsenal had the better of from start to finish and while the final scoreline may be a bit flattering, there is no doubt that Arsenal deserved to win. They had more chances and created more going forward than Milan, and it’s as simple as that.

It’s time for me to eat a bit of crow and I will do so. I picked Milan to win this tie and prove that experience was more important than youth, something I still believe regardless of this result but will have to question more when the case arises again.

Great result for Arsenal and as I said, they were the better team on this day.

I would be remiss to not also salute Paolo Maldini, who played his last European match for AC Milan today. Maldini has been a great servant to the club and has played in over 1,000 competitive games for the Rossoneri, which is unheard of today. Along with Franz Beckenbauer, I believe Maldini is the best central defender in international history.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes credit to them for going away from the Emirates and stealing a victory. However, a tough road lies ahead for them.

Anonymous said...

with the ac milan victory behind them, who has the hardest road to winning the epl this year?

who has the easiest? and, between 5th and 10th, who do you think has the easiest remainder of season to clinch the european spots?

MJ said...

Out of the three legitimate contenders to win the league (and if Chelsea doesn't win their game in hand, I would consider them finished), I would say that Arsenal has the easiest remaining schedule.

The Gunners still have to play Man U, Chelsea, and Liverpool, and of those, only the Liverpool game is at home. That said, Arsenal also play Wigan, Boro, Derby, Reading, Bolton, and Sunderland, which should be 18 out of 18 points. They have a tricky home game against Everton in the second-to-last game of the season which could be HUGE.

Chelsea's schedule is relatively favorable as well. The Blues host Arsenal and Manchester United and are done with Liverpool. They also play Derby, Sunderland, Boro, Wigan, Newcastle, and Bolton, but tough games at Everton, at Spurs, and at City loom as well.

By process of elimination, that makes Man U's remaining schedule the toughest. Outside of their three games against fellow "Big Four" members, the Red Devils have to play Villa, Blackburn, and West Ham.

Between 5th-10th, there's obviously a bit of a logjam. We can safely assume, I think, that Liverpool are going to take one European spot and since they're behind Everton right now, you'd have to say the Toffees are going to get one as well. After that, there is only one more UEFA Cup spot available because Spurs took one away by winning the Carling Cup, and it's possible that that spot could be taken away because there are a number of lesser teams still left in the FA Cup.

Hypothetically, we'll say that doesn't happen and one spot will remain. I've got Villa taking it, with Portsmouth giving them a fight until the very end. The two clubs play on March 15, and that game will be one of the biggest in the PL all season, in my opinion.

My predicted finish (1-10):

1. Manchester United
2. Arsenal
3. Chelsea
4. Liverpool
5. Aston Villa
6. Everton
7. Portsmouth
8. Blackburn
9. Manchester City
10. West Ham

Anonymous said...

I do not think Liverpool can finish 4th.