April 16, 2003

It's the big 'un.: What has been somewhat prematurely billed as the "title-decider" tonight 8PM GMT. Arsenal vs Man Utd. Wenger vs Ferguson. Viera vs Keane. France vs England. Southern Softies vs Northern Monkeys. Personally I'm expecting a tense, tight contest, ending in a draw. Who do you think will emerge uncrowned Kings of the English Premier League? Who are the most influential players? And how are going to be following the game?

posted by squealy to soccer at 05:23 AM - 25 comments

Well i hope its Manchester United...Arsene Wenger is such a fucking tool... And Arsenal really need a good ass kicking.

posted by StarFucker at 08:41 AM on April 16, 2003

I'm expecting a dull 0-0 draw personally. It can't possibly live up to the hype surely? (I'd also prefer a draw - it would be good for the premiership to go right to the last game, with goal difference being a factor).

posted by BigCalm at 08:46 AM on April 16, 2003

I hope Man U plays like they did against Newcastle as opposed to how they played against Real Madrid. I agree with it being a "tense, tight contest" although I hope that both sides don't bunker down in an effort to prevent goals. Keane, Giggs, and O'Shea are all questionable, with at least one of the three expected to start. Keane is probably Man Utd's most important leader, but I have not been impressed with his play lately. If he is deemed fit, I wouldn't mind seeing him at center back instead of midfield. And how are going to be following the game? I have to watch the replay after work so I'll have to avoid lurking around here after the game starts.

posted by pfuller at 08:50 AM on April 16, 2003

Keane is not impressive at the moment - his movement around the pitch has been restricted since his hip operation earlier this season. I can't see him playing midfield for much longer, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing as a central defender in Division 1 in a couple of years time. The result depends a lot on Henry - he can win the game for Arsenal, but he seems to have off days quite regularly. It all depends on whether this will be one of those days.

posted by BigCalm at 08:57 AM on April 16, 2003

Keane was never impressive in my book...was he good 3 years ago?! Cause since i've been watching the EPL, he is more like a schizophrenic who forgot to take his meds. And Beckham?! What the hell is that about? I can cross as good as he does, and the free kicks?! He makes 1 out of 20 on average and all of a sudden he's a hero?! The good players on Manchester United are Giggs, Solskjaer, Ferdinand, Scholes, Veron... The OK players are O'Shea, Brown, Silvestre, Butt, Forlan, Nistelrooy, Keane, Beckham, Barthez... But seriously, if you look at the last 3 years like i have, Beckham and Keane have got to the the most overrated players around. And don't get me started on Arsenal...what the hell is so great about Vieira?!

posted by StarFucker at 09:28 AM on April 16, 2003

Anything but Man U winning, please. I still think that who wins today, wins the EPL. If Man U win, they'll have a 3-pt, if not six-point lead. If Arsenal win, they're back on top, tied on points but ahead on goal difference, and having played one game fewer than Man U. After this game there will only be four (for Man U) or five (for Arsenal) games left, all of which will be less difficult than today's encounter. A draw today would suck donkey nuts, but it would leave Arsenal in better shape for the run-in. Man U remaining matches Sat Apr 19 2003 Man Utd v Blackburn 15:00 Wed Apr 23 2003 UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final Second Leg Man Utd v Real_Madrid 19:45 Sun Apr 27 2003 Tottenham v Man Utd 16:05 Sat May 03 2003 Man Utd v Charlton 12:30 Sun May 11 2003 Everton v Man Utd 15:00 Arsenal remaining matches Sat Apr 19 2003 Middlesbrough v Arsenal 15:00 Sat Apr 26 2003 Bolton v Arsenal 12:30 Sun May 04 2003 Arsenal v Leeds United 16:05 Wed May 07 2003 Arsenal v Southampton 19:45 Sun May 11 2003 Sunderland v Arsenal 15:00

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:49 AM on April 16, 2003

I would agree that Beckham is a bit overrated, but he does have fantastic touch on the ball and sometimes his energy level seems quite remarkable. With Keane, however, I have to disagree with your assessment. Before his surgery this year I thought he consistently played as well as any central midfielder in the Premiership. He may not have the flash and dribbling skills of some players, but he more than makes up for it in toughness and desire.

posted by pfuller at 10:05 AM on April 16, 2003

Great title deciders of yesteryear. Don't you just love the Guardian?

posted by BigCalm at 11:20 AM on April 16, 2003

aargh! Where did my exquisitely crafted post on the skills of Viera and the disappointment of Keane go?? Oh well, you'll just have to imagine it...

posted by sauril at 11:40 AM on April 16, 2003

Press Post, sauril, you poor bastard. btw, I'm off to the bar at lunch to watch the game. One benefit of being on the left coast (aside from the superior weather, food, wealth, health and good looks -- but I was born with most of that anyway) means most mid-week games are on at noon. Boo-yah! Barring that, one can always rely on the Guardian's live text commentary. Watch Glendenning implode.

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:09 PM on April 16, 2003

I hope they both lose.

posted by Fat Buddha at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2003

You might be able to listen to the game on the Five Live radio player - not sure yet, but I can't find anything on the site to say they're going to block broadcast during the game.

posted by BigCalm at 01:13 PM on April 16, 2003

This game will be won or lost in the midfield I think. If Viera plays to form, Arsenal should win. If he's a non-factor... I shudder to think. Arsenal should have a mostly healthy full side for the first time in some time, and Man U are just a little beat up (not that Newcastle would acknowledge). Advantage (slightly) to Arsenal. Oh yeah, Go Gunners!

posted by trox at 01:42 PM on April 16, 2003

Its on!

posted by StarFucker at 02:10 PM on April 16, 2003

How bout that for telling analysis: Veira obviously isn't fully fit, and Ruud torches him on the way to the goal. Dammit.

posted by trox at 03:11 PM on April 16, 2003

2-2.... Well at least Giggs scored.

posted by StarFucker at 04:04 PM on April 16, 2003

Where was Seaman? And Beckham? I wonder how Man U would have done with Becks playing. Man U had much better midfield control, while Arsenal was tap-tapping it in midfield and then hoofing it right down the middle for Henry. wtf? They had, what, six attackers and they couldn't put some passes together? That Pires attempt right before half-time was the result of some superb short passing. Arsenal would have been more dominating with that kind of play. Instead, Man U controlled much of the pace of the game. Keane was solid, altho he wasn't commanding. He took balls off Henry like candy from a baby. Solid, regardless of his book and his bigmouth and temper. Sol Campbell was utter rubbish. Diving after he'd lost the ball for a corner. (Good thing the ref saw thru that.) And then that useless elbow when he had the ball and was well ahead of Solskjaer -- red card! I think Arsenal played better without him. The difference in that game was Henry -- even if he stole the Cole goal (haha that rhymes. I rule!) -- especially if that stoppage time attempt had gone in. He was brilliant every time he got the ball. Well, except for that free kick he ballooned into the stands.

posted by worldcup2002 at 04:12 PM on April 16, 2003

What I want to know is how did Campbell get tossed for his barely in contact elbow and Van Nistleroy not even get a foul for slamming his shoulder into Campbell's back as the ball rolled over the end line nine or 10 minutes before. Can someone who understands this stuff better please explain? Pretty excellent viewing though, and just fine by me that neither team took three. On preview: wc, are you saying Campbell took a dive on that one?

posted by billsaysthis at 04:15 PM on April 16, 2003

bill: Yes. Bumps do happen. But Sol is a big boy. And that was a dive. Incidental contact. Sol lost the ball, and dived to avoid the corner. He obviously knew what he was doing. And look at that elbow. Nice try, except that the linesmen was right there. OK, maybe it's just that Sol is slow and has bad balance.

posted by worldcup2002 at 04:36 PM on April 16, 2003

All I can say looking at the remaining schedules above is thank god Arsenal have a game in hand (and that game is Sunderland la-la-la). In fact, Man U's remaining games look on the whole to be a bit tougher. While Arsenal may run into some resistance from Middlesbrough, the other three shouldn't pose to many problems. Man U, on the other hand, have two tough road matches left in Tottenham and Everton, not to mention a potential problem in hosting Blackburn. It's definitely not out of the question that the league will be decided on goal differential. Talk about an exciting end to the season (Kind of like the battle to play second fiddle to Starfucker in the yahoo league).

posted by trox at 04:40 PM on April 16, 2003

I was just looking on user profiles to see if there is an eric from Omaha here as he has just had an e amil read out on 5 live, when I discover we have a Mark Dennis amongst us: the best left back never to play for England.

posted by Fat Buddha at 04:55 PM on April 16, 2003

Hey, how'd you get my picture!?! Well ok, that isn't me, but I did get to hear about him every time he got (yet) another red card... I caught the last 30 minutes, a job interview took precedence (natch) and was sad that I missed all the goal scoring action. Campbell just nailed Solskjaer, didn't he, ouch. But I did think that the Campbell fall was a foul, Van N. went into him hard...

posted by sauril at 05:19 PM on April 16, 2003

Yay. I was right. How come this never happens when I have money on the game? Solskjaer, IMHO, overreacted to a somewhat misjudged hand-off from Campbell. I don't blame the linesman, because it looked like an elbow from that angle. How Wes Brown avoided a booking is beyond me.

posted by squealy at 05:33 PM on April 16, 2003

I dunno, an elbow to the nose can drop you pretty fast...

posted by sauril at 05:54 PM on April 16, 2003

Sauril, good luck with the job interview! I've been hunting for a long time (20 months or so) and I can't stand it anymore.

posted by billsaysthis at 06:03 PM on April 16, 2003

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