Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

We interrupt your regularly scheduled econo-babble for something really, truly, important: the immense triumph of the Arsenal Football Club over FC Barcelona last night in London in the UEFA Champions League.  The Gunners were thoroughly outplayed in the first half and went down 0-1 after a clinical attack by the Catalans.  But they came out in the second half and played with heart and courage and got two late goals to win the night.  They still have to travel to the Camp Nou and will have a real fight on their hands, but right now we can all bask in the glory of a night of beautiful football at the highest level.

Wilshere was every bit as good as Iniesta and Xavi

And just how good is 19 year old English midfielder Jack Wilshere?  Barcelona puts players under tremendous pressure, swarming to the ball, but Wilshere was strong, poised, and clinical in his possession and distribution.  Time after time he received a ball under tremendous pressure only to control and dribble out of it unfazed and unruffled. He looked more like a 10 year veteran than the very young man that he is.  Amazing performance and he just may be the future of the England team.

Koscielny played great, but here Villa scores the opening goal.

Kudos also to defender Laurent Koscielny who played the best game of his career last night.  Strong on the ball and unafraid to apply high pressure and win the ball up the field he looked magnificent.  Alex Song was similarly strong and composed, though was a little too aggressive at first, earning a yellow card very early in the game.  I thought it a harsh decision by the ref, but it did cool things down and let the beautiful football flow.

It has to be said that Arsenal were lucky that Lionel Messi was not in top form, uncharacteristically missing a couple of goals.  But then Robin van Persie was off his form too until his late equalizer.  Barcelona may be the better team, but Arsenal thoroughly deserved their victory last night.

He shoots...
...he scores!

Barcelona are always a joy to watch - their pressure and passing game are a marvelous spectacle - and I am a big supporter of them as well, but it is not the same.  After they tore my heart out in 2006, I want nothing more than to see Arsenal knock them out.  It will be a huge night on Tuesday, March 8, in Barcelona.

And if you aren't a soccer fan, take a look at this and tell me this isn't the greatest sport in the world: