Friday, May 19, 2006

The Champions League Final

What a shame, what a terrible terrible shame. Barcelona 2 - Arsenal 1 rang the full time score on an interesting final in Paris.

A night to remember perhaps only for those of Barca origins. But somehow I don't believe the other half will be forgetting things in a hurry either.

For, they started so brightly with some nice passing and movement & then a great early opportunity well saved. On the 17th minute however, the world caved in as Lehman made a terrible mistake by committing a foul outside of his box. A few seconds later and the ball was in the back of the net.

Now, the referee had blown the whistle on play to stop just before. That is why the goal was not given. Was he too hasty? Should he have played the advantage? Most importantly, should the keeper have been sent off?

Well, the answer to the last question might be yes. However, it was hasty to blow and it would have been better to let play continue and give the advantage. A yellow card would not have been entirely inappropriate and the match could have continued with 11 V 11 albeit with Arsenal probably 1-0 down (assuming Barcelona would have scored from the advantage being played).

How much better that would have been for the game. As it was, Arsenal were up against Europe's best team with 10 men for 73 minutes. This ensured an uneven final for the remainder of the time, with Barca having most possession and Arsenal playing on the counter attack.

The second (winning) goal has also been called into question. It was very very marginal - difficult to call. Not a clear off-side but not a clear on-side either.

But they must face it, it was the opportunities they missed which cost them most dear. Not the referee, though certainly he did not help.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Highbury Farewell

Yesterday saw the final match at Highbury (Arsenal's former home ground). An exciting 4-2 win over Wigan that assured Champions League football for them next season.

Might I just briefly use this entry to salute what has been a great venue for English football. Hosting some memorable games, unique atmosphere and a fantastic playing surface. A great stadium.

It will now soon be demolished to make way for new developments. Arsenal football club, meanwhile, will move to the 60,000 capacity New Emirates stadium. Highbury, RIP.