Monday, February 18, 2008

Manchester Maul Arsenal & Mutu Shines Again

What a very, very good weekend it was. On Saturday Manchester United wiped the proverbial floor with Arsenal in their 5th round FA Cup tie to send them through to the quarterfinals by a 4-0 scoreline. Highlights here. The next day Fiorentina beat Catania 2-1 thanks to a 70th minute winner from the dreamy Adrian Mutu. Yeah, he's dreamy. I'm not gonna front. So let's start with the utter domination of Arsenal at Old Trafford:

What I like most about this consummate ass-beating was the virtual 2nd team that handed out the beating. All the pre-game chatter was about how Arsenal would rest their stars and United had the luxury of a full squad including the return of Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra from suspension. Rooney and Evra did return to the starting lineup but that lineup also included a 5-man midfield of all second choice players. Regular starters Hargreaves, Scholes, Giggs, and Tevez were sitting as well as most notably Cristiano Ronaldo. Supposedly the game meant more to United. Didn't seem that way with the likes of Hleb, Kolo Toure and Fabregas all starting for Arsenal when they were all expected to sit meanwhile walking disaster Darren Fletcher started in our midfield as Ronaldo and his 27 goals sat on the sideline. The result was another masterstroke from Ferguson as the fresh-legged 5-man midfield and well-rested Rooney oozed energy and flair and blindsided Arsenal with 3 first half goals. Darren Fletcher added the 4th in the 2nd half after yet more domination, his 2nd of the game (shocking, I know). I'm a bit disappointed we didn't score 5.

Welcome Return
Wayne Rooney came back from suspension and showed just what United were missing in last week's loss to City as he could not be contained. His energy was incredible and he was at his precocious best. Unfortunately he was at his petulant worst picking up a completely unnecessary yellow card for time-wasting.

The Replacements
Nani had a hand in all 4 goals, scoring once and assisting twice. Both assists were to Darren Fletcher as the two briefly created a partnership to rival that of Stockton to Malone. His two headed goals aside, Fletcher was, predictably, otherwise generally inept. Anderson also caught the eye with a typically energetic performance, doggedly chasing down and winning almost every ball in his vicinity as well as making the odd intelligent pass. If you take away the dreadlocks, turn his skin color white, and replace his soft-spoken broken English with an Irish bark; you could easily mistake him for a young Roy Keane.

Dirty Gunners
Adebayor was booked for diving in the box to prompt a rousing rendition of the classic chant "Same old Arsenal, always cheating" from the capacity crowd. Eboue was red carded for a heinous aerial assault on Evra. And to top it off captain William Gallas was lucky to escape punishment for a petulant kick at Nani after he made him look silly by running circles around him. You could almost say they were as dirty as Chris Berman's mouth. Almost.

Man of the Match: Michael Carrick
Made a case for a starting spot with his 2nd successive impressive performance after his goal last week vs Man City. Quietly dominated the midfield from start to finish with impressively subtle ball control and a brilliant array of passing talents on display. Also created the play of the game as he delivered a pinpoint lofted pass from 40 yards away to the foot of Nani which he tucked away for the 3rd goal.

Next Game
Man United travel to France midweek for the first leg of their tie with Lyon in the Champions League. Lyon is grossly underrated and they sort of make me nervous but coming off a confidence-boosting performance like this and with the return of Tevez, Giggs, and Ronaldo to the squad I'm cautiously optimistic we'll come home with an important away victory.

The Italian Job
Mutu is the fucking man. Nothing much else to report here. The win puts Fiorentina ahead of AC Milan in 4th place. It was Mutu's 13th goal of the season. No official statistic of his supermodel count this season but it's probably a similar figure.

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