I’ve been busy lately (and as of yesterday recovering from a fairly nasty kick/knee to the head…not sure which it was). Anyway, I wish I could comment on Arsenal’s evisceration of Tottenham up at the Lane, but I sadly missed the match to play in a soccer tournament…the one where I picked up the aforementioned injury. I did see a GIF of Cesc’s goal to make it 2-0 though, and while there was some dozy defending and it did start with a horrendous going-nowhere square ball, the run and the decision-making from the Captain were sublime. The only other player on the squad who could potentially score that goal is Andrei Arshavin. What a finish, too…keep in mind that Gomes made some stellar saves before that, and Cesc didn’t give him a prayer of stopping that shot – near post or not.
But, of course, that’s not why I’ve titled this post in the manner that I have. It’s not even about the Canadiens, whose record is abnormally inflated with two heavy-weather wins over the Islanders combined with two wins over Toronto that had to go to OT or the shootout (Really? Conceding the tying goal in the last minute of the 3rd? Jacques Martin team, my bunghole). Instead, I refer to the New York Giants, who on the back of the last three weeks look in danger of having been sussed out by the rest of the league.
Today’s 40-17 loss to the Eagles highlighted the same old problems – the secondary, Eli Manning and special teams in that order – but I think we may have underrated just how deep those problems lie. It’s nice to thump Oakland’s skulls for them, but on the other hand, what does that prove? The Giants sit at 5-3 (albeit with a 3-game losing streak), but they have only played four teams with a pulse. They are 1-3 in those 4 games – a fortunate-in-retrospect win at Dallas; and losses at New Orleans, at home to Arizona and now away to Philly. The loss in Louisiana was expected in a lot of ways, as our troubled secondary was always going to struggle against the best QB in the league (and New Orleans is a tough place to play in general). But, the loss at home to Arizona was fucking DREADFUL, and may have been the first real sign that this team may not be what we thought they were.
Meanwhile, while there isn’t much shame in losing at Philadelphia, you would expect our guys to at least put up more of a fight than they did today. Going down 13-0 inside the first few minutes is frankly inexcusable for a team with Super Bowl pretensions. As for the DeSean Jackson TD pass, it says it all when at the time of the reception, the only other player visible on the screen was C.C. Brown – the safety on the other side of the field. There’s almost no point in wasting any further keystrokes on this – it was yet another awful performance on both sides of the ball.
Here’s where the visions of doom really start to kick in, though. As mentioned, we’re 1-3 in games against above-average or better opposition, with 94 points scored against 143 conceded in those matchups. The bye week is thankfully coming up in 2 weeks, but first our guys travel out to Cali to take on the San Diego Chargers. They have some problems of their own, and they admittedly did just luck out to beat the same Oakland Raiders that we demolished so comprehensively. However, they have a quality QB in Phillip Rivers and a dangerous wideout in Vincent Jackson. Any team that is comfortable going to the air more than half the time is a terrible matchup for us at present, and that’s what the Chargers do. Any way you look at it, this is another one that we may struggle in. After the bye week, it doesn’t get any easier – home vs. Atlanta, away to Denver, then the return games against Dallas and Philly (both at home, thankfully). Two should-be gimmies follow against Washington and Carolina before a hellaciously-tough season finale away to Minnesota. Even if you assume victories in the Washington and Carolina tilts, the G-Men would still need to win 3 of the other games to get to 10-6, which I imagine will probably be the minimum to get into the playoffs. To win the division, they’ll probably have to win at least 4. Other than perhaps Dallas at home and perhaps Atlanta, where are those other wins coming from?
I don’t know, frankly.
So, the Giants begin their must-win stretch of games with a smothering 24-0 win on the road at Tampa Bay. It’s great that the boys took care of business, but this is the entire list of things that we learned from this game:
Tampa Bay is really, really, REALLY crap at professional football.
That said, Steve Smith seems to be growing into the No. 1 receiver role, as Eli Manning continually looked for him first throughout the day (which is frustrating as hell for me because I opted to add Mario Manningham to my fantasy team). Brandon Jacobs did the usual, pounding the Tampa Bay line into submission to allow Ahmad Bradshaw to break out with some big runs. However, it should also be noted that the Buccaneers are seemingly unable to perform basic tackling fundamentals, and those runs would have been a lot shorter against nominally-competent opposition.
Still, it was nice to see the Giants do what needed to be done against a weaker opponent, to the extent that David Carr was put in at QB for the 4th quarter. Speaking of QBs, if I’m coaching Tampa at this point, I bench Byron Leftwich and go with one or both of their rookie backups for the rest of the season. For me, three games of sub-replacement level play from the most important position on the field is reason enough to see what they have with their kids. It says it all that even though the Giants were pretty good defensively on the day, the Bucs had managed 30 yards of offense through three quarters. I say without exaggeration that if the Giants were playing the University of Texas or the University of Florida, I’d expect them to best that tally (not by a lot…let’s not go nuts here…but they’d be above it). Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams didn’t do much on the ground for them, but our d-line was getting penetration all day, and the linebackers could cheat forward due to the utter lack of threat from the air.
Looking ahead, Kansas City and Oakland both put up dreadful performances once again in Week 3, and all available evidence suggests that a letdown isn’t coming from the Giants for either of those games. Beyond that, the Bills did a fairly good job of containing Drew Brees and the Saints…New Orleans’ margin of victory was inflated somewhat by two late TDs from Pierre Thomas. If the Giants can come up with a similar performance, there’s every reason to believe that we can punish their defense enough to end up with a comfortable victory. Admittedly, that’s a dangerous assumption, but I like to live on the edge.
Finally, congratulations to the Lions for putting three years of futility behind them to finally win a game of professional football. It’s even sweeter to see it come against a divisional opponent!
At this point, you have read all about Fulham 0-1 Arsenal by now at other places. To all that, I would just add that while Vito Mannone was clearly MOTM and that double-save was magnificient, let’s not go nuts and anoint him the starting goalkeeper yet. Anyone who has been around to remember Alex Manninger in 1997-98 will recall that he stepped in and held the fort like a boss when David Seaman went down with a broken finger – in particular, his penalty saves against West Ham were the reason we stuck around long enough in the FA Cup to go on and win it. If you remember that, though, you’ll remember the League Cup match the following season where Arsene played all the kids against Chelsea, and there wasn’t a Jack Wilshere or an Aaron Ramsey in the bunch. Actually, there wasn’t so much as a Kieran Gibbs. Manninger was left completely exposed in a 5-1 shellacking, and he was never the same after that. The point is, the confidence of young players can be remarkably fragile, and while he has shown flashes of brilliance in his brief time in between our sticks, he should not be thrown entirely to the wolves yet.
With that said, I just thought it was interesting how the football teams – both normal and American – I support are at the same sort of crossroads in their season. It isn’t entirely comparable of course with the shorter season for the NFL, but both sides find themselves in a soft part of their schedule where nothing but running the table will be acceptable.
To wit: the NY Giants play Tampa Bay at their place this afternoon, and follow that with a trip to Kansas City before entertaining the Oakland Raiders at home. There is no good reason on this earth why the G-Men shouldn’t be 5-0 heading into the big clash with Drew Brees (oh, and I guess the rest of the New Orleans Saints as well) on 10/18. They will need to have those wins in the bag, because after what should be a slam dunk at home to Arizona, they travel to Philadelphia and San Diego, two games they could well lose. If they’re 7-2 or 6-3 at that point, the playoffs should be well and truly in the bag by then. From there, they have two potentially tricky games at home against Atlanta and Carolina, but there’d be no excuse for not taking care of business against at least one and preferably both.
In the meantime, the Arsenal are in the midst of a stretch where picking up three points is vital in every case. This weekend, Chelsea demonstrated this by contriving to lose 3-1 to Wigan while having their goalkeeper sent off on top of it. Still, you have to look at this and figure that picking up all 18 points should be within the realm of possibility – Blackburn Rovers (H), Birmingham City (H), West Ham United (A), The Lily White Scum (H), Wolverhampton Wanderers (A), Sunderland (A).
If either side is to seriously challenge for honors this season, stretches like this must be navigated with little problem. If not, serious questions have to be asked about if either has what it takes…and questions at this stage are fair as well. We all know about Arsenal’s youth-based policy and team selection (PLEASE FUCKING BENCH DIABY), but the Giants have their issues, too. Can Steve Smith and Mario Manningham truly be No. 1 and No.2 caliber at wide receiver? Why is our defense getting breached for big plays on a regular basis? When will Eli Manning be consistent over an entire game? If the Giants lose any of these three upcoming games, I don’t think it will kill the season or anything (that’s the main difference with Arsenal, where 14 points is probably the bare minimum they need to get from the above stretch in order to stay in the race)…especially with Dallas imploding and Philadelphia looking sketchy in the early going. However, if the Giants want to be taken seriously as a Super Bowl threat, these are the opponents that need to be brushed aside. A loss to the Saints or Falcons or Chargers I can handle, but I am not responsible for my actions if we lose to Oakland or Kansas City.
This will hopefully be the only time we do this.
I’m writing a quick rebuttal to Sean’s response to my post, as I feel what I actually wrote was severely misrepresented.
– I have not said All Arsenal Supporters Are…anything. Doing so would be precisely opposed to the point I was trying to make, and in fact I went out of my way to name several blogs and their readers who I feel have acted well in this instance. The trouble is that they represent either lesser read blogs, or minority trends in the general current of fandom. Some, such as ANR, are more often brought up to be mocked and dismissed than for any other reason.
– My point about the mobbishness of Arsenal supporters draws on two facts.
1) The major Arsenal blogs are, with the exception of Le Grove, mostly interlinked; they are also in direct contact on and off with people who work for the club, as is clear in their writing. Thus, in some respect (especially when they begin to be quoted in the press as representative Arsenal fans) they represent the club and are held up by the club as an, possibly the, important aspect of the way in which the club and the fans meet. They garner this attention because they represent the largest organized factions of fans, and to a degree they represent those fans because of the attention they receive from the media and the club itself. It’s fair to say on that basis that, as noted above, while ALL fans cannot be grouped together in any way, the LARGEST ORGANIZED FACTIONS of fans are clearly identifiable. And yes, those people are the ones I’m largely speaking about- that, combined with things like the wildly variable crowd reactions in the stadium. Vox vulgaris, vox fanbase.
2) All of this is new with Arsenal fans. As I specifically stated in my post, it is NOT new for football fans; as I said, it’s more or less what I’d expect out of Madrid fans. What makes it new is the unhinged, violently emotional quality of it, plus the fact that it’s being lead by specific people who have great influence on the fanbase, and who derive that influence partly by being tacitly endorsed by the club itself. Those two factors were not in place, say, five years ago. Thus in my estimation there’s been a major swing just this year as fans have grown frustrated with the team and look to take out that anger on whatever target is handy, preferably an external one. Compare, for example, the treatment of Alexander Hleb and Jose Reyes (or Julio Baptista) when each of them left the club; neither did much of anything at Arsenal and left under a cloud in dubious circumstances, but only the former gets called a cunt, constantly, and abused in the most vicious and personal terms. That doesn’t mean these fans are about to be Roman ultras (a charge I never made); it does mean that I don’t know where they’re going to be this time next season- and neither, really, does anyone else. The mood of Arsenal fans, and probably how low some are willing to sink, ultimately will depend on results. The mindset, however, is increasingly coming to resemble the worst of football fans, and it’s very telling how both evaluation of and basic decency towards a player can now alter so radically based on which shirt he’s in. I’m hardly the only one to notice this: any blog you choose will have one or two people complaining about “the new fans” on it in the comments section; and whether the change is due to new fans or not, the recognition of a change having taken place is widespread.
– And the larger point about tribalism: it’s disrespectful and wrong to wholly identify tribalism with passion. It demeans someone who strives to achieve without the goad of hatred for another, who can give their best and care whole-heartedly without needing to see an enemy brought low in the process. Tribalism endorses the worst in human nature, the pathetic sad and disgraceful leftovers of evolution which fill us with hate and fear at things which are new or different. Playing with it and indulging it just a little is like having just a little heroin, except that the person you so endanger may not just be yourself. Worse than that, it doesn’t even work to diffuse anger or hatred safely; if anything it encourages those feelings, which is of no little moment to understanding the importance of this. If you hate someone today just a little because he’s got the wrong shirt on, just for a few hours…what will you be ready to hate tomorrow? What are you allowing yourself to become? Pitch invasions and riots aren’t the alternative- they’re where this road is leading, where it’s ended up so many times in the past. Better to encourage people to use the more honorable parts of their nature, to demonstrate the passion without hate of which humans are equally capable. For my part, I would be better than the most base of my instincts.
I have a personal stake in this. Sean and I will never see eye to eye on this issue and there’s many reasons for that, but one of the really key ones is that I’m not straight. I consider it a minor detail about myself, personally, but this is one of those situations where, along with having been raised in and around a political activist environment, it makes all the difference. This is not a theoretical discussion for me; the fear and the danger of being part of the wrong tribe in someone’s opinion is part of my life, and so the understanding of that part of human nature is a necessity. It took me probably 12 years from when I first realized I was at all attracted to men to admit it to anyone other than myself, and when I did it was because I’d simply hit a point of misery so profound that I didn’t care what anyone thought or what the consequences were anymore. I’ve only written the words down twice in public, of which this is the second occasion. In 4 years of college I mentioned it exactly once, which was coincidentally the same number of times I was insulted for my lack of religious beliefs by a professor whose class I was taking- different tribe, I suppose. Since then, only my family and a few close friends know of it; because of course, when I go out socially and hear the word “fag” thrown around 15 times in half an hour, it’s just easier to pretend and pass as part of someone else’s tribe. That does make me a coward, but it also makes me wise enough now to know what tribalism means in practice for those without custom or numbers to shield them.
There was one exception to my silence about sexuality: I had a good friend many years ago who I’d known forever, and to whom I mentioned it in passing once. I’ve not spoken to him in at least 8 years now. Perhaps I wasn’t part of his tribe anymore.
What is the alternative, then? When I tune in to watch a sporting event or go to an arena, I go to see skill, professionalism, technique, athleticism; people pulling together as a team and striving to achieve a goal as a unit, or else the greatness of the truly superior individual athlete who describes in the arc of a career the heights to which humanity may aspire. I want to find out what works in a sport, why, and what that tells us about human nature and the world beyond the arena walls and the roar of the crowd. I do not go in order to hate, say, New Jersey Devils fans and revel in the injury to Martin Brodeur, even though he and they are among the bitterest and most long-standing of local rivals. Personally I consider it a tragedy when arguably the greatest goaltender ever is out- both because greatness impaired is always a small tragedy, and because those occasions when the Rangers have beaten him when he was at his best are among my favorite sports memories (“Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!”) precisely because they beat the absolute best. I can’t hate the Devils (or Manchester United, or the Celtics, etc.)- I respect and admire them. If I didn’t, why would beating them mean anything? Compare this to the reaction to Phil Brown from some Arsenal fans: if they truly believe he’s as much of a rotten, low-account son of a bitch as they say he is, a liar and a cheat, why be so incensed about anything he says? What value could it have? But then the value to them is solipsistic, and lies in what it can be used for- it can be hated, and he can be a figure to focus all that rage on. A good two minutes’ worth you might say, if the mood struck you.
When I root for my team, I root because they represent the city of my birth, or my father’s birth in the case of Frankfurt, or because they’re my national team (or the German national team who I’ve adopted; and yes, your joke about the guy who likes men rooting for Mannschaft goes here), and because I want to see them do well and achieve. There may be opposing teams or groups of fans which I find distasteful (say, internet MMA fans), but it’s not because they’re different, or they have the wrong shirts on; it’s because, in my estimation, they merit it through ill conduct or general foolishness. If the quality of posts on Sherdog increased 100% tomorrow, I’d be happy to praise them- it’d be more good writing to read and an asset to the sport, and I derive no emotional satisfaction out of thinking they’re wrong and misguided. For the same reason, you’ll see me more than once have little good to say about a player for a team I support- Sean “Captain Dickhead” Avery’s a good example- if I feel they merit it for conduct, but also show little interest in obsessing about and reveling in the misfortunes of such players when they’ve moved on. I can’t recall having written anything in months about Zach Randolph, Jason Kidd, Stephon Marbury’s .304 FG%, etc. all of whom left teams I support under testy circumstances. Intellectual honesty, sportsmanship and respect for the self and others demand no less. Hate and schadenfreude leave me unmoved, not because I’m any better than average, but because I make a conscious effort to rise above the tribal instinct. What I do, so too may you, and be a better man for it.
In the end I’m not accusing Arsenal fans of being violent, or evil, or totalitarian, or anything on that line. I am saying that they’re coming to increasingly embrace tribalism, which is probably the most destructive of human instincts, and that to understand why it is so requires you to walk for a while in the shoes of those targeted by it. The whims and attitudes of a football fanbase may be the most petty of instances of this, but it still matters; and all the more so when there are other and better ways of being a fan- ways that, in some small measure, may ennoble the spirit instead of dragging it down into the muck. Football is the world’s game, touching the lives of billions of people on every continent. Better, then, that those with some influence and standing in the game try to make it an influence for good, rather than a license to be squalid. Imagine if that were the Arsenal Way.
Once again, I have to apologize for my lack of updates recently…we’re not big and we’re not famous…and sometimes real life will interfere.
To catch up:
On the Arsenal front, I did see the 1-0 win over Bolton. Even alcohol and the presence of a hundred or so friendly Gooners couldn’t help that piece of shit of a match…Bolton parked the bus in front of their penalty area, and I believe they didn’t have a shot on target until the 80th minute or so. Unfortunately, the side looked completely bereft of ideas. Again. Still, justice prevailed when Nicklas Bendtner came on as a sub and did well to convert a cross from Samir Nasri. Nicky has had no shortage of people on his back lately, myself included. But, credit to him, the only place he could have beat Jaaskelainen was through the legs, and from a tight angle he finished well. At the very least, it keeps us in the hunt for 4th.
As for the never-ending Andrei Arshavin saga, wake me up when he’s a Gunner. Otherwise, I couldn’t care less about the details.
On the Giants front, Eli Manning, John Carney and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride were the goats in a dreadful 23-11 loss to the Eagles. Eli’s pick early on handed the Eagles 7 points and the momentum. When he wasn’t throwing to the mob in green, he wasn’t hitting the target at all. Wind or no wind, his performance was utterly abject. Same for Carney, who missed two field goals that would have seen the score at 23-17 late on…while they were from 45 and 46, I can’t help thinking that Lawrence Tynes makes those kicks. Finally, Gilbride has to answer for not running the shit out of Jacobs, especially when it was obvious that Eli was shitting the bed. Also, when Jacobs did run, they tended to be sweeps to the outside (talk about not playing to his strengths). It’s beginning to look like an Arizona-Baltimore Super Bowl to me, which is an interesting contrast of styles at least.
Finally, Les Habitants played two games in the interim. Of course, I was away during the 6-2 win over Toronto, and didn’t get a chance to DVR it. Of course, I was home for the 3-1 loss to Boston, and saw the whole thing. The Boston game wasn’t all bad, though. The opening period was awesome, as the Habs peppered Tim Thomas with almost 20 shots. The forecheck was nasty, and Boston didn’t look like having an answer. But, they adjusted and had the better of it for the second half of the game.
Still, the good news is that the goals weren’t the result of schoolboy defensive errors like they have been recently. Penalties were the main issue, as Andrei Kostitsyn took a stupid 5-minute boarding penalty, and Hammer (in his never-ending quest of pissing me off this year) took an even dumber penalty when that was still going. They scored on that PK, but it was no one’s fault. The forwards were all covered, and Chara gambled by pinching way in to the goal line to seek a rebound. He got it, and made no mistake. The second goal was on another PK, and this time Chara just let loose with an unstoppable shot. It happens. Finally, the third goal came on a 3-on-1 late where it was 2-1 their lead, and we had to press everyone forward looking for the tying goal.
We get Nashville at home on Saturday, and hopefully the Habs can marry that defensive strength with a tad bit more discipline.
I had meant to write this post sometime on Sunday, but it turns out the holiday season’s inactivity/constant easting meant that one pickup soccer game incapacitated me for the rest of the day. Needless to say, my ass is going to the gym today after work (especially because I have a league game on Thursday).
– The Canadiens (in a game I missed because since when do they ever play at 2 PM on a Sunday?) had a storming 2nd period against the Panthers to take a 4-2 lead. They also ended up winning the game…that’s the good news. The bad news is that they let a shit team come back and tie it with less than 2 minutes remaining in the third period, and had to grind out a 1-0 shootout victory (inexplicably, the winner came courtesy of Andrei Markov) to take home all three points.
Now, I know that every team is going to concede a certain number of goals during the season. I know that some proportion of it will be bad ones from the goalie, or defensive mistakes that leave the keeper out to dry. However, I worry that we are going to be a first-round playoff victim against whoever we face unless that gets tightened up in a hurry. I know I keep banging on about it, but I’m astonished that the Habs blogosphere isn’t making more of an issue about the fact that our most experienced guys are crapping the bed while the kids play their hearts out. Roman Hamrlik has been abysmal this season…wjy is no one mentioning this? Andrei Markov is going to the All-Star game AS A STARTER, and that could well be the worst selection in quite some time.
Further, why isn’t anyone expressing any worry about how injury-prone Carey Price has been? I know Jaroslav Halak is going through a rough patch and he’ll get better, but would you trust him in a playoff series? Even with Price, I worry that we’re going to get someone like the Rangers and we’re going to run into a buzzsaw as we hand them chance after chance. Price can only do so much, and our offense can only do so much.
Fearless prediction: If we don’t trade for an established blueliner at the deadline (if someone wants Chris Higgins, Jaro Halak and a draft pick, I’d grab it so fast, they’d have whiplash), we’re out in 6 in the first round.
– Meanwhile, Arsenal played out a perfunctory 3-1 win over Plymouth Argyle in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. I missed the first 35 or 40 minutes, and watched the rest on a hilariously dodgy stream from Spain or someplace. So, I can’t intelligently comment on individual performances or anything like that…but, Robin took his goals well. Argyle put up a bit of a resistance and I think they hit the crossbar once when it was still 0-0. After we went up 2-0, I wasn’t worried from then on (despite the score sitting at 2-1 at one point). Their goal came from another stupid defensive breakdown, but what can you do? We know what we’re getting from Arsenal at this point.
Arseblogger seems to think that there is something to the Andrei Arshavin rumors, but my sense is that Zenit St. Petersburg will continue to overvalue him and he’ll be sold to some big-spending club who gets desperate. I know the economic climate isn’t conducive to that, but never underestimate the wanton nature of a Real Madrid or a AC Milan. I’d rather have a defensive midfielder anyway, even if we don’t know who he is initially. As long as the quality is there, I think that is one of our main issues (a winger would be nice, too).
– OK, hands up anyone who thought San Diego had a prayer against Indy in the NFL playoffs. If your hand is up, you’re a filthy lying liar. I appreciate Darren Sproles representing the 5’5″ community!
– Missed Baltimore-Miami, but that went about as I’d expect. Ed Reed is a scary, scary man. Philly-Minnesota was impossible to call beforehand, but I’m glad that the Eagles won. The Giants have some unfinished business with them, and I have a feeling that we’re going to massacre them at home next week.
Of course, I have a tiny voice in the back of mind wondering aloud if this is just Philly’s year, and could it be possible that this lot will somehow fluke a Super Bowl win? Luckily, they’d have to beat us, Carolina and then I’m thinking the Baltimore-Pittsburgh winner to do so. It doesn’t seem likely, does it?
I SWEAR that regular blogging service should resume now that we’re through the holiday madness. Actually, that should resume late tonight with a write-up on the Canadiens-Panthers game.
– First off, check the post below this one for Brendan’s thoughts on the Arsene Wenger quotes that came out today. I am officially reserving judgment until January (errm…thirty days have September, April, June and November)…31st. He has been known in the past to claim poverty and try and misdirect the press, and to be honest, I don’t blame him. We’ve lost out on enough transfer targets to deeper-pocketed clubs where he probably has to do that, even if he does actually intend on buying. The biggest rumor right now is Andrei Arshavin, which I’d put in the “nice to have” category rather than the “need to have”. Even if we do buy him, we’re barking up the wrong tree if he’s the only purchase. Anyway, this truly is silly season in world football, so as mentioned, I’m keeping my distance until something tangible happens (or doesn’t happen…at which point, cue Jules Winfield’s “greeeeeeat vengeance and fuuuuuuurious angah!” from Pulp Fiction).
– Anyway, back to the Canadiens, I missed most of their latest tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I did catch the highlights, and it was nice to steal a win in a game where we were largely overrun by the NHL’s teacher’s pet and friends. God, I fucking hate Sidney Crosby. HAAAAAAAATE. Why do I hate him so?
Well, here’s one cheap shot that the league didn’t discipline him for. He also is a world-class whiner to the refs, and that’s on top of the fact that he’s the only player the NHL sees fit to “market” (such as that is)…it’s sickening. Anyway, he lucked into a goal when the puck took a weird bounce off the boards, but Carey Price was sharp and Andrei Kostitsyn arose from the dead with a hat trick. That is definitely more towards the “28 Days Later” type of zombie as opposed to the Romero variety. The PK was strong, and all in all it was the type of game we need to start winning. So, well done to the guys there.
– On the other hand, the Giants lost a dead rubber (for them) decision to the Minnesota Vikings, 20-19. Ehhh…whatever. For one thing, the Vikings needed this one badly, and they apparently were never told that the Chicago Bears had made a dookie in their collective beds against the Houston Texans. If a guy is going to drain a 50-yard field goal with time expiring, well, fair play to him. Perhaps the only worrying thing though was John Carney pushing his 48-yard effort wide right a few minutes beforehand. He’s been virtually automatic all season, so hopefully this inspires him to redouble his efforts in practice rather than have it cause a dip in confidence. On the other hand, we played with our second string for virtually the entire second half, and still fared well against a decent opponent. Now, the onus is on the team to get everyone healthy and make absolute sure they’re prepared for the Atlanta-Arizona winner. So…Atlanta, then.
– I haven’t seen the main event yet, but UFC 92 was a pretty good show. Sadly, I went a stellar 0-3 in my predictions for the top three fights. I figured that Forrest Griffin could absorb any beating Rashad Evans gave him for 3 or 4 rounds, where Evans would then gas out and get caught. It didn’t happen that was, as apparently Evans withstood a beating for two rounds and then got him down in the third, and finished on the floor. I guess it goes to show that I’m not an MMA genius, eh? In what I thought was the biggest surprise from the other big fights, Frank Mir absolutely clocked Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to win by knockout in the second round. All throughout, Nog looked slow and unable to cope with Mir’s striking…and for whatever work Mir did on that in his training camp, he’s still a BJJ guy first and foremost. In this fight, he let Nog up every time he was dropped (and that was several times, actually), knowing that he could tag him with hard shots at will. I hate to say it, but Nog looks done. Speaking of done, Wanderlei Silva, ladies and gentlemen! I usually use this phrase to describe slapshot goals from the point, but Quinton Jackson unleashed a HAMMER OF GOD left hook to drop Silva in the first round. I don’t know what this fight tells us about Rampage, but I damn sure know what it tells us about Silva… s-h-o-t f-i-g-h-t-e-r.
Pretty sure that’s everything. Again, see you tonight for Habs-Cats.
I’ve been away for most of the weekend, hence the silence from this end of the blog (thankfully, Brendan is kicking ass, per usual…I almost had the entirety of this post state: “What he said”). I managed to clear the tivo of all the crap I missed out on in my absence, so I suppose bullet points will have to do.
– Didn’t see Boro 1-1 Arsenal…my company holiday party/soccer playoff final was the night before. I didn’t drink at the party, but in retrospect I wish I did…my mob lost 3-1 and we deserved it. I had no chance on the three goals, so basically all I could do is look on helplessly as probably my best chance at a trophy slipped away. So yes, good fucking times. Went to the afterparty and drank a whole bunch…so when my alarm went off for the Arsenal game, I basically said “fuck this” and went back to bed. Sorry if that means I have to turn in my “real fan” membership card, but it is what it is. Anyway, I reckoned we’d win 2-1 before the game, but I suppose Arseblogger is right on the money when he says this is really our level given the current personnel. Sigh.
– I wish I had bet money on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar de la Hoya fight. I don’t know what the mainstream boxing press were smoking beforehand with their insistence that DLH would have too much size and strength for him. As it turned out, it was just a bigger surface area for Manny (my favorite fighter in the world now that I’ve abandoned the Jermain Taylor bandwagon) to mercilessly pummel into submission. All I was surprised about was it being bad enough for DLH to quit on his stool – I figured it’d be a horribly one-sided decision in Pacman’s favor. Actually, it got to the point where it stopped being an enjoyable spectacle and ranged more towards the uncomfortable awkwardness of watching someone beat their kid at a family function.
– The UFC Ultimate Fighter finale was OK, but nothing too special. The problem is that I hated most of these retards so much during the season, I couldn’t even muster the same tenuous attachment to them that I had for, say, George Sotiropolous, Mac Danzig or Manny Gamburyan. Some Guy spectacularly knocked out Another Guy with a head kick for the ages…oh, and there were a few nicely-done submissions. However, all I really wanted from this show was for Philippe to win and for Junie Browning to have his head knocked off into the 14th row. Neither happened, which kind of summed up how this weekend’s sports went for me.
– Speaking of which, the battered and bruised Canadiens finished up their homestand with an ugly 2-1 loss to the Capitals. I didn’t watch most of it…because I had so much else to get through in one night, I just FFed through to the goals. The Caps went up first when one of their guys was given all day at the side of the net to tap in a rebound (I forget if it was this one or the game-winner where Roman Hamrlik was guilty of crimes against hockey defense). Patrice Brisebois busted out the HAMMER OF GOD to equalize in the second, but the Habs conceded another awful, brain-dead goal with three minutes left to seal the deal. The injuries don’t help, but you can’t go 0 for 314 on the PP in a given game and expect to get anything from it. It’s funny how I’m beginning to lump them in with Arsenal in the “we’re just not good enough, are we?” section of my brain. I would say they’re the same fucking team, but the Canadiens have more established talent and they honestly have less of an excuse for how poorly they’re performing at the moment.
– Finally, the Giants went to Dallas and were utterly abject in losing 20-8 to Dallas. Eli Manning had one of his worst games in a good long time, and you can see how badly the team misses Brandon Jacobs. Derrick Ward is without a doubt not ready to be a featured back – it’s increasingly obvious that he and Ahmad Bradshaw feast on the scraps left when Jacobs gets done with a defensive line. The worst part is that Dallas didn’t play spectacularly well on the offensive side of the ball, either. There were one or two drives where they timed their short passes well to take advantage of the Giants constant LB and CB blitzes, but that’s about it. The game was there to be won, but the Giants just didn’t seem to have the personnel to do it. My hope is that by the time the games matter, Jacobs will be back and that will take some pressure off of the WRs (who also were awful last night) and Eli and allow them to play their normal game. That said, I wonder if the other teams will now realize that Jacobs is the key to the whole team, and bring up 7 or 8 every play to make Eli beat them. The way he’s going right now, can he? I don’t know.
So yeah…this weekend was not one for the record books. Regular service should resume from my end now, though.