Having seen nothing more of the match than the highlights on UEFA.com's web site thanks to ESPN's perfidy, Roberto Gotta's observations will have to replace mine. He points out that one can tell so much more about what teams are trying to accomplish in person than on TV, which is an excellent point. I wish that more post-game articles followed this format. Instead, they simply tell the reader what he/she could have gleaned from watching the game on TV, spiced in with mealy-mouthed quotes from the players and coaches. This is true for just about every sport, probably because most beat writers are either too lazy or don't understand the game well enough to analyze it with any degree of detail, or, alternatively, their editors want to dumb the produce down so someone with a 6th grade education can understand it.
Speaking of not having much to say, I did watch the tape of Arsenal-Villareal last night, but the combination of two hours of sleep the night before and the inexplicable decision to have a glass of wine after getting home from work meant that I didn't take that much from the game. I did decide that I don't like Villareal, despite the fact that they're a great story (small-town club with no history nicknamed after a Beatles song makes the Champions League semi-finals), because their "South American style" (read: Argentinian/Uruguayan) is to dive and feign injury every time an opponent comes close. I lost count of the number of times the stretcher was called out onto the field, but maybe that was the result of the somatic state I was in. The Austrian ref was clearly pro-Arsenal, but that might have been the result of being annoyed with the obvious play-acting that Villareal was engaging in. (Two straight sentences ending in a preposition. Screw you, seventh grade English!)
Arsenal played very well, creating almost all of the good chances in the game. I had forgotten that Thierry Henry can be such a good creator. He was playing the role of a link-up attacking midfielder/winger, more than a striker, and Arsenal's movement allowed him to do so because they were getting midfielders (and even defenders, hence the goal from Kolo Toure) forward. Arsenal's defense is as good as advertised; they completely shut Forlan and Riquelme down. If Arsenal and Barcelona hold their leads, then the Arsenal defense versus Ronaldinho, Eto'o, and (hopefully) Messi will make the Paris Final one of the most hyped in recent memory.
One other thought: Derek Rae kept going on and on about the match being the last European game at Highbury, but how much European history can Highbury claim to have when: (1) for a period, Arsenal played their European ties at Wembley; and (2) Arsenal had never even made the semis in the Champions League up to this year? Is there anyone who has warm, fuzzy feelings about Highbury as a European venue other than Wayne Bridge?
Sorry Tim, but I could't resist.