“Sure, someone will come out victorious, headed to the final to face off against Liverpool, hoping to salvage something from a year of disappointment. But the road there will be a painful 90 minutes of downright terrible football.”
These words were culled from a nice post tagged “Chelsea vs. Tottenham: Why the FA Cup Semifinal Is Going to Bore You to Death“.
I wasn’t “bored to death” after the second FA Cup semifinal clash between Chelsea and Tottenham. Instead, I witnessed a collection of goals ranging from sheer power (Didier Drogba), classy precision (Ramires the Great Lizard), consummate ease (Gareth the Chimp) and good technique (Frank Lampback of Notre Dame).
The turning point of the match will undoubtedly be the fictitious goal that was supposedly scored by Juan Mata. Replays clearly showed that the ball didn’t cross the line but I’ll let you know when I give two fledgling f*cks.
It was the Chicken on a Basketball that lost, remember?
At some point next month, Wembley will host the final clash between King Kenny Dalglish’s Red Army and Roberto di Matteo’s Blue Goons. I’ll have to give it to the Italian, Andres Villas-Boa Constrictor wouldn’t have reached this far in my opinion.
Starting from the top, the Arsenal hierarchy is keen on keeping Arsene Wenger for the long term:
“For him to stay longer than that (2014) would be perfect. I can’t think of anybody better to run the team. He has shown how much rubbish people were talking earlier this season. We had a terrible run of injuries and that obviously had an effect.”
“He has a young squad, with some excellent young players. He is building a young team with a great future and I am sure he would love to see them develop. I would want him to stay as long as he is happy here. He has been with us 15 years and has done a magnificent job.
“I want him to stay for the long-term and I see no reason at all why he should want to go.”
Arsene Wenger represents vision, principles and continuity. On the 30th of September, 1996, he took on a job that he has been with till date making him one of the longest serving managers in club football history. He marked his Arsenal start with a 2-0 win against Blackburn and he ended his first season in third place. He also welcomed Patrick Vieira to the club and the lanky holding midfielder spent the best part of nine magical years serving Arsenal making 279 appearances and scoring 28 league goals.
In Wenger’s second season in charge, he achieved the unthinkable with a League and Cup double despite being 12 points behind Manchester United at the turn of the year. The double winning squad had a water-tight rock solid defense in an all-English affair led by Tony Adams. He was supported by Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown was somewhere in the mix.
Wenger also had the great David Seaman as the custodian between the sticks and the midfield was blessed with Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira while Dennis Bergkamp and Nicolas Anelka did the business upfront.
In the turn of the new millennium, Manchester United became a dominant force and Arsenal had to settle for second place but Wenger came close to glory in the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) in a penalty loss to Galatasaray (2000) while Liverpool had the upper hand in the FA Cup final of 2001.
Wenger’s squad had a fresh outlook with the injection of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Fredrik Ljungberg and Sol Campbell. Arsenal overthrew Manchester United in the sweetest possible way in the 2001/02 double winning season with a win at Old Trafford in the penultimate game of the season.
Manchester United exerted their revenge the next season but Wenger’s class of 2004 achieved immortality by being the first team to go through an entire season unbeaten.
After the FA Cup triumph of 2005, the trophy well has dried up quicker than the wells in the Sahara. Like a mirage in such regions, Arsenal fans have witnessed cups pass by like Oases only to hit hard by the harsh realities of losing cup finals.
Arsene Wenger has been pushed to the limit this season and was faced with adversity. The Frenchman has proved his mettle and will certainly be the manager to bring the glory days back to Arsenal.
This season, the Gunners experienced a shambolic Summer filled up with the disappointments of the exits of key players coupled with that humiliating defeat to Manchester United. Autumn saw the Gunners surge up the table only to allow the injury chills of the Winter affect their early performances of 2012.
Spring has been in full bloom as the Gunners are currently in pole position for a third place finish.
Andre Santos arrived in Arsenal on the transfer deadline as Gael Clichy’s replacement. To be honest, I had no bloody idea about his abilities because there was no way I would take out time to watch the Turkish Superliga.
I’ve had my fair glimpses of Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas in the Champions League and that was it. However, I still have fond memories of Arsenal’s 5-2 win over Fenerbahce in their turf. Aaron Ramsey broke his Champions League duck and the calamitous Mikael Silvestre followed Pascal Cygan’s footsteps to register a brilliant own goal.
Andre Santos was a breath of fresh air as he marauded Arsenal’s left wing with more attacking verve than Gael Clichy offered. He has even scored the same amount of goals in just a few months with what Clichy managed in his entire Arsenal career.
However, the Brazilian’s defensive contribution to the club has been a bit suspect. He has been caught high up the field in some occasions, doesn’t track back too well and he has been very sloppy at times. I was able to cull some stats from English Premier League Index on the league’s top left backs and they’re worth sharing.
For the purpose of this analysis, Andre Santos was compared with his own team-mate Kieran Gibbs, as well as left-backs from the remaining three top-four teams.
The first table shows the number of games and minutes played by these left backs,
As you can see, the Brazilian has started the least number of games and played the least amount of time. However, this was caused by the ankle injury he suffered in the tail end of 2011 and it sidelined him for the best part of three months.
As a rule, it can be assumed that more game time is beneficial to a player’s form, so Andre Santos is probably disadvantaged in this respect in comparison to the others. The second table below looks at involvement and success rates in duels and interceptions made.
As we can see, Andre Santos isn’t far off from Kieran Gibbs in the percentage of ground duels won but ahead of the other three left-backs. The Brazilian is well ahead of everyone in the aerial win percentage.
His minutes per ground 50-50?s stat is way better than the others, his per minute Aerial 50-50s is behind Gibbs but comparable to two of the other three. And he makes interceptions with more regularity than any of the other four.
These stats clearly suggest that Andre Santos is heavily involved in the action, and compares very favorably with his peers in winning 50-50s and making interceptions.
He has certainly been a good signing for the Gunners and I truly hope that his injury woes are now behind him. Arsenal has been reaping the rewards of a fit Theo van Persie, I hope Andre Santos follows suit.
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