November 2010 Archives
Even Paul the Octopus would have got this one wrong.
Mourinho has never even lost 4 - 0 before.
An all time low for him....
End of title challenge for Real Madrid ?
I was going to write a learned thesis on the great clash of the titans.
But it's already been done.
Jose Mourinho says he is "less happy" than Barcelona with the choice of referee for Monday's game.Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez has refereed two games between the teams, with Barcelona winning both times, in 1999 and 2005.
Third time lucky for Real Madrid ???
Chelsea are ahead of Arsenal on goal difference but have fallen behind Man Utd.
They conceded their first goal to Newcastle in quite a ghastly fashion.Alex made a complete bags of passing the ball back to Petr Cech and Andy Carroll made the most of the mistake.Salomon Kalou scored the equaliser at the stroke of halftime but that's as far as the scoreline went.
Goals from Pedro,Messi and Pedro in that order...
The All India Football Federation is decidedly ambivalent to the idea of Michael Chopra representing India.
"Michael Chopra is serious about playing for India and he has expressed his desire to us. So, we are looking into the rules and regulations on how he can play for India. But at the moment, it is not our priority," Das said.
The Cardiff City striker has expressed his willingness to represent India and fulfills the FIFA requirement of having ethnic roots with his paternal grandparents from that country. His England call up have been limited to the youth squads which also makes him eligible for a nationality switch.
However, the red tape is all the doing of the Indian government that makes Indian nationality a pre-condition which means that Chopra will have to give up his UK passport. There is no dual citizenship provision between the two governments.
With the Asian Cup roster to be finalized within the next two weeks, it is hard to see the Indian government granting a waiver.
One can argue about the why and wherefore's of Chopra's willingness to play for India after he refused in 2006 but at that time he was just 22 years and must have thought he had a chance to make the England senior squad. Four years later, those hopes have virtually faded. Meanwhile, his Cardiff City compatriot Jay Bothroyd made Capello's squad.
Zesh Rehman, the first British Asian to play in the Premiership when he debuted for Fulham in 2004 also gave up on his dream for playing for the Three Lions and opted to play for Pakistan in 2005. The Pakistani government grants dual citizenship and Rehman was therefore spared the frustration of bureaucratic hurdles. He has been part of their national team and by all accounts it has proved a fruitful move. In 2007, he had some advice for Chopra.
" Why wasn't (Chopra) picked ahead of Dave Nugent? He's the top goal scorer in the Championship but he can't get in (the England set-up). So he needs to maybe look at his decision and go play for India instead of hanging on to the dream of playing for England, because it's not going to happen, end of discussion."
Obviously, it will take more than Chopra to yank India out of the cellars of international football but given the fact that Indian companies can now walk in and buy Premiership clubs, the citizenship requirements smacks of misplaced xenophobia and bureaucratic heavy handedness. The AIFF needs to be more pro-active than some lukewarm statement and lip service to youth development programs.
Auxerre had come to the game against AC Milan with a record of being unbeaten in their last eight outings.But there was no stopping this sledgehammer strike from Ibrahimovic.
Ronaldinho came in as a late sub and scored another to put the game well and truly past the french team.
An unusual bit of trivia about Auxerre:It was was founded in 1905, by the a priest - Father Ernest Abbé Deschamps.
Can't be that many other football clubs around that were founded by priests.
Chelsea's mysterious malady continues.The unheralded Slovakian side scored first. Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda scored in the second half to eventually take Chelsea home.
Two goals by Mario Gomez had Bayern sitting pretty at half time. However, the Rome side had other ideas as they clawed one back through Marco Borriello in a great bit of hustle. Late in the game, Daniele De Rossi guided a cross in for the equalizer.
Three minutes later Borriello was brought down for Francesco Totti, Roma's talisman to pull off a successful spot kick and snatch a memorable victory. The loss did not affect Bayern materially. They are already through to the next round but for Roma this win was yet more evidence of their all around resurgence. They are now firm favourites to finish second in Group E. And they are in fifth place in the Serie after flirting with relegation earlier in the season.
Karim Benzema gets the ball rolling as he niftily finishes off Mesut Oezil's nice little layback. Alvaro Arbeloa scorches the ball magnificently past Maarten Stekelenburg for Real's second goal. Cristiano Ronaldo then takes advantage of an Ajax error to drag the ball wide and then slam the ball across towards the far post for the third.
Urby Emanuelson then chopped down Mesut Oezil after the German midfielder showed some deft footwork to get the better of the defender. Ronaldo did not miss the spot kick.
Real Madrid and Milan are through from Group G while it was curtains for Ajax, the highest scoring team in the Eredivisie last season. This being Mourinho's Madrid, the match ended in some controversy as it appeared Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos practically invited their red cards. The two players will miss the meaningless match against Auxerre but their suspensions mean that they start the knockout stage on a clean slate.
Another frustrating evening as Braga scored two late goals through Matheus, the second one a superb individual effort. The Gunners lost captain Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Eboue to injury, Carlos Vela was booked for a dive when he was clearly brought down in the penalty area, and the London team was unable in a familiar story to convert all that dominant possession into the stat that mattered most: Goals.
Victor Kassai made Sepp Blatter's provision of additional linesman look ridiculous after the Vela incident. Such a defining moment and yet he did not bother to even consult them. Arsenal were diddled out of a spot kick which could have changed everything.
The sight of the defense getting caught and then twisting themselves into knots to try and stop a faster and more determined player on the ball is becoming all too familiar.
Can someone break this gently to Wenger - but Denilson is not a holding midfielder. Never has been. In fact, he has a hard time holding on. Period. Nicklas Bendtner was abject. I have yet to see a striker with a heavier first touch. Instead this would've been an ideal match for Van Persie to play himself out of his rust. And just one observation on Chamakh - he's been good but he can try and attack the goal more. He's been a soft touch in the box.
Shakhtar virtually booked themselves into the next round as they beat Partizan easily, 3-0 to move to the top of Group H. The Gunners made life more difficult for themselves and will vie with Braga for the second spot. Nothing can be taken for granted with confidence ebbing away faster than the prospect of Portugal staving off a bailout.
Fabregas will definitely be out of the Villa match this weekend and maybe longer with a strained hamstring. Eboue looks like he twisted his ankle and could be out for a month.
Arsenal's dissociated neuroses continues. They win a couple of games emphatically. Everyone starts writing about how they're the team to beat. Cue the next crisis. Back to square one. Begin cycle.
Recent reports of Carlo Ancelotti's authority being undermined by the recent elevation of Michael Emenalo as assistant coach sparked of rumours that the Italian would be leaving the club before his contract ran out in 2012.
Today Chelsea's manager came out with a statement stating he is perfectly happy to be in the club.
"These rumours are totally untrue. I have my contract until 2012, here, in this club."
There are all these theories about how Ray Wilkins dismissal has downgraded morale and made communication with players more difficult for Ancelotti. Frankly, all this does not add up. Wilkins's role was being questioned by a number of Chelsea players which is why Ancelotti never rushed to his defense. The long time assistant manager might have left a void but to attribute Chelsea's swoon to his absence is to give him hyperbolic credit.
More to the point - Chelsea are missing some very influential figures like Michael Essien, John Terry, and Alex. Against Birmingham they showed serious attacking intent but were unable to put away numerous scoring opportunities. A very good Ben Foster display also helped in keeping a clean sheet.
The race for the Pichichi is getting intense.Ronaldo with 14 goals this season is ahead of Messi by one goal.When Messi scored his hat trick against Almeria over the weekend he was ahead of Ronaldo by 2 goals for some time.But the hat trick that C Ron himself scored against Athletic Bilbao around the same time saw that lead being erased.
With both men on the top of their games it looks like it's going to be a fight to the finish.
Samuel Eto'o barges into Chievo's Cesar head first as Inter's frustrating season boils over. This should have been a red card but somehow Eto'o escaped punishment. Serie officials are reviewing the video and all indications are that he will be slapped with a three match ban.
A 0-2 loss sends them 9 points behind first place Milan. Rafa Benitez may not survive the winter if this continues. Inter's high powered attack has scored an anemic 14 goals in 13 matches. Highlights >>
Macoumba Kandji, the erstwhile Red Bulls striker forced the issue in extra time when he pushed through a nutmeg between Jair Benitez's legs and then toe poked the ball which deflected off George John for an own goal. Before that the match was tied 1-1. The first goal was scored by Dallas's David Ferreira through a spectacular strike (video). Colorado answered back through Conor Casey (video).
The goal came against the run of play because Dallas looked for most part as the team more likely to score the winner. They were far more skillful and assured on the ball with Ferreira and Marvin Chavez leading the way. But football does not tread the straight and the narrow.
Congratulations to Colorado on picking up the win! Hopefully this means that Stan Kroenke pays more attention to his club then trying to stage a coup in the Arsenal boardroom.
Two things stood out in the Spurs match.
The sight of Cesc Fabregas pulling up his and Marouane Chamakh's hand in a suicidal attempt to deflect Rafael Van der Vaart's free kick did not escape Phil Dowd's attention. The resulting handball led to a penalty and Spurs equalizing the score obliterating completely Arsenal's scintillating first half. To me it smacked off arrogance and sloppiness - having gotten off with the same infraction against Liverpool earlier this year, Fabregas thought he was above the law. It led to the execrable short cut instead of the harder act of the wall jumping to take care of the ball.
It was symbolic of Arsenal switching off for most part of the second half. Spurs deserve a lot of credit for not fading away but Arsenal threw down the drawbridge and practically invited them in.
Laurent Koscielny missing from point blank range with the goal at his mercy was the other. With the top teams struggling to break away, one cannot stress the importance of scoring when given such opportunities. He was also responsible for giving away the free kick which led to Younes Kaboul's winner. Koscielny is a work in progress and has come off second best a number of times. Johan Djourou who has been impressive since his return should have been the preferred choice.
More to the point, this loss continues an annual ritual of mental errors and lapses in judgment which have very little to do with the technical aspects of the game. We can also do away with the perception of an Arsenal not being physical enough - it is not borne out with the number of yellows and reds dished out this season. Phil Neville acknowledged as much after the Everton game.
Arsenal's inability to make a statement when needed is particularly befuddling. It is upto the gaffer to make sure that this team plays all 90 minutes plus and not choose when it wants to show up. It was simpler when there were players like Tony Adams. Wenger lacking personal ruthlessness had the comfort of knowing Adams and Martin Keown would take on the task of soiling their hands. There is only so much one can do exhorting from the sidelines or give barn burning half time speeches. There is a feeling that after five years without a title, the culture of what it takes to win one has gone. Winning is Hebbian. The problem with a blank slate is who gets to write what and when.
Having said that Arsenal have to find their endeavour once again starting against Villa next weekend because this title race just turned schizophrenic. Chelsea slipped up against Birmingham for their second defeat in a row and Man Utd although they won against Wigan have shown they are very capable of dropping points regularly. There is also pressure from Man City, Spurs, Sunderland and Bolton. The club with the most nerve and not necessarily talent or bottomless pockets will win this season's title.
A move that began with Fabregas saw Samir Nasri scoring first for Arsenal from a very tight angle. Marouane Chamakh scored the second off an Arshavin cross and the game seemed to be in the bag.However Spurs came back in the second half and put a spanner in the works.Goals from Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart (penalty) and then the winner from Younes Kaboul five minutes from time.Chelsea's loss to Birmingham meant that Arsenal missed the chance to go to the top of the table.
He didn't mean to pass the ball to Chamakh but that's what N Ireland goalie's Alan Blayney's attempted clearance ended up becoming.He kicked the ball onto an onrushing Marouane Chamakh and Morrocco were one goal up against N Ireland in the friendly.
However a late penalty from Rory Patterson gave them an eventual draw but Blayney will be kicking himself for awhile even so...
Argentina scored their first win over their arch-rivals in five years.
In 89 games between the two nations there have been 23 draws and Brazil and Argentina were even in terms of wins - both winning 33 times.
Messi has made that score 34 - 33.
Ronaldinho - back in the squad after an absence that began in April 2009 made his presence felt with some great skill and a free kick that almost went the distance.
The "Prestige" friendly was played in Doha to showcase Qatar's World Cup 2022 bid.It appeared to be ending in a draw when Messi did a bit of magic....
France were superb in the first half, stroking the ball around with ease, not allowing England any sort of rhythm. Samir Nasri is shaping up to be the pivot around this new Les Bleus side under Laurent Blanc. Perhaps a serious intent to make good on all those early Zidane comparisons?
Karim Benzema opened the scoring for France after Les Bleus established a beachhead in command and control. England's scraps of possession were devoted to scooping optimistic long balls towards Andy Carroll's head in the hopes of a knockback towards Steven Gerrard or some other player. To be fair, he did win those aerial duels but the French defense marshaled by veteran Eric Abidal closed quickly around for him to be effective. The older "more brainless "Theo Walcott emerged once again showing speed without any restraint or thought. The end product. Shabby.
The second half saw Micah Richards, Ashley Young, and Adam Johnson come on as Capello signaled his attacking intent and the tempo picked up considerably. Just when England looked like they had finally established some rhythm, Bakary Sagna made another one of his bombing runs down the right before curling a cross that Mathieu Valbuena was able to stick past Ben Foster. The collective deflation could be heard all over Europe.
The Arsenal vs Arsenal duel was won by Sagna, who was able to get past Kieran Gibbs at will. Gareth Bale take note - you might have to do some defending on Saturday.
France faded somewhat after that goal but England were unable to press the advantage. It was left to Peter Crouch, England's greatest goal scoring machine in the post modern era coming on for the injured Steven Gerrard to pull a goal back. England had a spell for the next few minutes with Hugo Lloris looking unsettled for an equalizer but the clock ran out.
A few things. Under Laurent Blanc's steady hand France are gradually erasing the bad memories of the World Cup. Their squad of new and old players seem to have meshed nicely and are playing attractive football. With England, every match brings new questions and new doubts. Fabio Capello made a verbal commitment to give England's talent a fresh look but with players like Gareth Barry still making his starting XI one wonders if he is second guessing himself.
C Ron scored this marvellous goal against Spain in a friendly yesterday.An offside Nani got the final touch and therefore the goal was disallowed.But the replay clearly shows that Nani was inside the goal when he got that final touch.
Will someone kindly forward the video below to Blatter and Platini as more evidence for allowing videotechnology into soccer.
The good news for C Ron was that Portugal eventually went on to give Spain a 4-0 thrashing.
Otherwise he might have never recovered from that sulk he went into.
Fabregas said sorry to the Spanish fans for the extremely unworldchampion like performance of the Spanish Armada.
'We're hurt. It's been a big scoreline but we have to lift ourselves. We wanted to finish the year well but now we have to wait until February,It's not been our best game but you also have to know how to lose."
Lose they did.
Goals (that were allowed)...
Today's winning goal over Bafana Bafana had a local flavour. Juan Agudelo of the Red Bulls scored on his debut and at 17 years and 359 days became the USA's youngest goalscorer for the USMNT. Bob Bradley took the opportunity to debut Tim Ream also of the Red Bulls. The other debutantes were Mikkel Diskerud who provided Agudelo with the assist, Teal Bunbury, and Gale Agbossoumonde.
Agudelo cornered the plaudits for that immense goal in the 85th minute and deservedly so but it was Diskerud coming on in the 79th minute immediately catching the eye with his deft passing and ball control. He is a talent.
In fact, the Scandinavian contingent - Diskerud plays for Norwegian club Stabæk, Alejandro Bedoya for Örebro in the Allsvenskan, and Clarence Goodson in the Danish league for Brøndby all turned in solid performances. Ream also had impressive debut. Teal Bunbury coming in for Robbie Findley provided an instant attacking threat as the USA shrugged off its first half somnolence to change gear in the second half.
Eric Lichaj employed at Aston Villa was a muscular presence - creating scoring opportunities for others and then tracking back to help on defense. Eddie Gaven was solid in midfield. Brad Guzan, an infrequent presence in Aston Villa in goal with Brad Friedel as first choice pulled off some nice saves.
Not so stellar - Robbie Findley who unsurprisingly disappeared in the first half, Robbie Rogers was a bit lightweight on the ball although he did have a nice crack at goal, and Jonathan Spector continues his downward spiral.
Great win for the USA and a positive note to end the year on.
In case you missed this. FC Dallas are going to their first MLS final after shocking the pre-abortive favourites LA Galaxy.
This defeat was not because the big names in the Galaxy did not show up to play - in fact David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Juninho were outstanding. They were undone by a superb Dallas performance.
Kevin Hartman was an absolute rock in goal bringing of spectacular save after save. Up front the pace of Atiba Harris, Marvin Chavez, and MVP candidate David Ferreira proved too much for the Galaxy defense. The trio combined for the first and the last goal with Ferreira and Chavez getting on the board. The second was created by Brek Shea and finished by George John, Dallas's central defender, scoring his first ever MLS goal.
A well deserved victory and now Dallas meet the Colorado Rapids in the MLS final on November 21st.
After the stunning loss to Sunderland the current form is to portray Chelsea as a club that has come unglued. A host of injuries to first teamers, the departure of key players, an out of the blue dismissal of a veteran assistant, and a flat affect have all been blamed for the drop off in performance. Carlo Ancelotti for the first time had to go to his youth brigade to salvage some pride against Steve Bruce's side. A call to alarm? Not really.
Against Liverpool, the Blues came across a very good Fernando Torres who scored twice and then the Reds shut them down with Lucas having the match of his life. The result was touted as evidence of a Reds resurgence that would then carry them to the top four. After this weekend's loss to Stoke, it is back to 'Woy' for Hodgson's critics. One should not pay too much attention to a single result in a season that spans 38 matches.
There is talk that the eyebrow raising dismissal of a long time hand like Ray Wilkins coupled with these two defeats further imbalanced the club. Lets put this to rest. Roman Abramovich's bankrolling the club gives him the authority to hire and fire on whimsy. He installed Avram Grant out of left field leaving the club bitterly divided into a pro and anti Mourinho camp. Two years ago, Guus Hiddink was flown in to save the season at the expense of Big Phil Scolari. Even Carlo Ancelotti would be foolish to surmise that he does not live week to week. By now the core of Chelsea veterans are used to these ruthless expositions of power as are the fans. There was nary a show of support for Wilkins at the Bridge on Sunday. If Arsenal let go of Pat Rice the repercussions would be of more seismic proportions.
Michael Ballack and Ricardo Carvalho are arguably the only players whose departure could have had a tangible effect on the weekend result. Deco, Juliano Belletti, and Joe Cole never really established themselves at the club. Attributing this so called slump to them is to give too much credit that they never had in the first place.
More credible is the contention that Chelsea were undone by a sense of complacency which if one thinks of their home record of not conceding a goal in 916 minutes is not an entirely unwarranted state of mind. It's actually an incredible record and not since 2002 did they lose so comprehensively at home. The cloak of invincibility seems to have enveloped Florent Malouda, usually the most reliable barometer of intensity. It was quite unusual to see the fleet footed former Lyon winger wander aimlessly without setting up his trademark crosses for Didier Drogba. One of the reasons why the striker was forced deeper into weak long range efforts. In fact, Craig Gordon was never seriously tested at any time. Highly unusual for a club known for its ruthless goalscoring efficiency.
Chelsea were also hurt by absentees, most by Michael Essien. The absence of the mercurial Essien who revels in the long slog at both ends meant that the midfield was left to John Obi Mikel whose admirable physicality is inadequate compensation for tunnel vision when it comes to desperate creation.
Discussing a premature Chelsea demise is to give short shrift to a stellar Sunderland display. Sunderland's goals have come through Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan. Against Chelsea, Bent's absence was hardly felt as Gyan continued his form but the Black Cats found additional goalscorers. Nedum Onohua's slaloming run is deservedly the highlight of the week but the man of the match was Danny Welbeck. The Man Utd loan was limited to just one by Petr Cech otherwise this could well have been a one man wrecking crew. Sunderland's cast of heroes included Kieran Richardson whose presence on the right channel kept the lid on Ashley Cole. His pressure led to Welbeck's well deserved goal.
Sunderland's endeavour was characterized by patience and maturity. Lee Cattermole, Bolo Zenden, and Jordan Henderson kept midfield control recycling the ball for their 18 goal attempts as they stretched Chelsea's defense. They were Arsenal without the recent scrappy incarnation. The expected onslaught never came as the midfield battle was ceded to the Black Cats.
The Blues blindingly fast start had to hit a course correction sometime but they would rather take it now than late in the season. With John Terry and Alex out till the new year they might look vulnerable at the back but there should be doubt that a competent manager like Ancelotti will guard against complacency and rejigger a squad that can manufacture wins till they get back their starters. But the long term prospects of the club in light of the FIFA fair play rules look less clear as does the relatively anaemic turnover from the youth ranks. That is the subject of another article.
A match for football purists. The Barca vs Villareal match unveiled end to end football between two clubs committed to attack. Fabulous, preternatural passing complete with delectable finishes. An excellent counterpoint to the EPL's physicality. Sit back and savour with a bottle of nice rioja.
Xavi lays off to Iniesta who splits the defense sending Villa racing forward for Barca's first strike. A second goal by Pedro was erroneously disallowed for offside but not before catching a glimpse of Messi's selfless nature. That is why he is a future legend - a player committed to the team. He understands the switching on and off of the symbiotic and individualistic aspects of the game so perfectly.
At the other end, Villareal were having none of it as Nilmar's superlative strike showed. The Brazilian took on the Barca defense with some lovely footwork scoring with an acutely angled shot.
La Liga may be for all practical purposes a two horse race but the Yellow Submarines have shown no inclination to let us on that secret. Their squad is bolstered by the fleet footed Giuseppe Rossi in the slot and its midfield excellence. The ever smiling Santi Cazorla, excellent down the flanks; Borja Valero on loan from West Brom adding to the creative dimension; and Bruno sitting deeper in the midfield. With Spain regulars Carlos Marchena and Joan Capdevila, their defense is no pushover.
This was going to be no easy match for Barca unless they found another lever. Which is why they are Barca and it all ended in an unreal Messi goal. Xavi took a hurried free kick with Villareal's players milling around and before they had collected their thoughts the ball was in the back of the net - Messi and Pedro pinging each other in rapid succession before the Argentinian delicately chipped over Diego Lopez with his right foot! And in the dying minutes, Messi added another as he flicked on a deflection off Capdevila past Lopez - he was offside when Pedro drove in his shot but in a way it was justice done for the disallowed goal.
With Real Madrid sitting on top of the table, this is the type of momentum that Barca need coming into the Clasico in two weeks time.
DEFENDING champions Qatar have crashed out of the Asian Games football tournament - after one of their players missed a stunning open goal.
It's quite an incredible miss.The forward in question is Qatar's Khalfan Fahad and the generous goalkeeper in question is Uzbekistan's Timur Juraev.
Uzbekistan went on to score 18 minutes into extra-time.Khalfan Fahad will wonder why this happened for a few years to come....
The world has gone topsy turvy.Sunderland beat Chelsea at home 3 -0.
John Terry and Alex were missing in defence.Replacements Paulo Ferreira and Branislav Ivanovic were found wanting and Chelsea lost at home for the first time since March.
Ancelotti is not mincing his words.
Barcelona hit 5 past Ceuta and moved into the last 16.Video below....
The Copa del Rey (aka Campeonato de España - Copa de Su Majestad El Rey Don Juan Carlos I (Championship of Spain - His Majesty King Juan Carlos I's Cup) is however a tournament that seems to be in danger of losing it's significance if attendance at the games is anything to go by.
Some stats : Athletic Bilbao's San Mamés and Barcelona's Camp Nou were barely a third full. Sevilla had 8,000 for its 6-1 win over Real Union. Zaragoza was knocked out at a half-empty Romareda. Villarreal, the country's third-best side and playing wonderful football, attracted only 8,000 to the Madrigal. Levante-Xérez had 5,000, Santander had 6,000 and Espanyol had 10,000. Deportivo-Osasuna and Almería-Real Sociedad, two all-First Division clashes, drew fewer than 8,000 each.Read full article here...
Goals from Messi,Villa and Pedro kept Barcelona on track.
Real Madrid meanwhile have not ever lost a game to Atletico Madrid in the last 11 years and they did not lose yesterday either - beating them 2 - 0 to stay on top of the Spanish Charts. ( Video)
Arsenal is once again in schizophrenic mode. The season opener against Liverpool ended in a draw followed by three consecutive win before the Gunners took a nose dive with a draw and two losses. They recovered against Birmingham and things looked up as we won against City and then staged a last ditch winning effort against West Ham. But once again we look fragile with this weekend's loss against Newcastle.
The loss reinforces the most consistent narrative that the Gunners are the most vulnerable of the big clubs to pick off notwithstanding hyperbolic displays against Braga and Man City. At home. As West Brom and Newcastle proved, if you scrap and fight then there is a good chance the Gunners will be undone by a defensive breakdown even if its just the one chance.
Lukasz Fabianski's new found solidity evaporated in a moment of goalkeeping horror. A stuttering attempt at clearing a free kick resulted in an unchallenged Andy Caroll heading the ball into goal. Why was Marouane Chamakh assigned to mark Newcastle's big man? Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott were both victimized by the cross bar and Nasri's rasping shot was superbly saved by Tim Krul.
Those chances glossed over a poor effort- sloppy and sluggish in possession except for a few minutes in the bookends of the second half. Fabregas had a sub par performance misplacing a number of passes. Samir Nasri was inexplicably replaced in the second half and bringing on RVP and Nicklas Bendtner reeked of desperation. We again lack a big time finisher. Chamakh has been decent but Arsenal has not exploited his aerial ability effectively. And Laurent Koscielny is still struggling with the physical demands of the English game - this was his second red card. He is an easy touch in a foot race.
Newcastle with Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, and Chiokh Tiote bossed the midfield with their industry keeping the Gunners from developing any fluency. The rationalization after such losses is "look at Man City". But today's dispiriting display also bring up familiar questions of desire which have nothing to do with high priced transfers.
Wenger will have to find ways to win like Sir Alex whose Man Utd side after a series of bitter draws have found ways to win despite their defensive problems and absence of their main attacking weapon. We will have to muster the correct response midweek against the same doughty Wolves side who gave Utd goosebumps yesterday to avoid the sceptre of another Novembers slump.
And why exactly is Chris Hughton's job security threatened? It's surreal. A coach leading a club to their first win against Arsenal in five years and to the threshold of the top echelon of the league. Which side other than Chelsea can claim thrashing Aston Villa by a half dozen? Mike Ashley is touched in the head if these rumours are indeed true.
The man is back! Liverpool's premier marksman long dogged by injury, loss of form, and persistent rumours of wanting away laid all to rest on this day. Fernando Torres roared back with two of the best goals, the second as sublime as any as the Reds sank the Premiership champions.
It was the sort of win that defines a season and served a stark reminder of how much Liverpool missed Torres through this very lean patch. With Newcastle sending Arsenal to another gloomy loss, the league looks very open. The unmistakable aura of a club finding its feet again should resurrect the prospect of a top four finish.
John Henry, the new owner, is no stranger to passion being the part owner of the Boston Red Sox but looked like he was having a hard time digesting the full throated fervour of YNWA and the ringing Kop. What he saw must have pleased him no end.
With Steven Gerrard providing an unrelenting presence and Lucas having his best game, Liverpool established firm control over midfield in the first half. Chelsea also looked sluggish and complacent missing Michael Essien's dynamic presence. Dirk Kuyt the hardest working player in the league set up Torres with a beautiful cross over John Terry's head which the Spaniard controlled with a masterful touch and finished perfectly in the 11th minute.
Jamie Carragher animated and showing a spring of a man a decade younger, marshaled the defense to repel the Chelsea push back. Just before close of the first half, Raul Meireles taking advantage of an imbalanced Ashley Cole slipped Torres a pass. A confident cut back took the striker past Branislav Ivanovic and a touch later a beautiful curling strike towards the far post left Petr Cech stranded. Simply breath taking. Torres on his day, is the world's best striker.
Roy Hodgson a stroke away from apoplexy, visibly exhaled. Torres return to form also means Vicente Del Bosque can resolve Spain's striker conundrum to push for the Euro qualifiers.
Chelsea turned it on in the second half as they brought on Didier Drogba. Liverpool was forced into a siege but they held on impressively. Kuyt might never be mistaken for his striker compatriot but his industry tracking back to help the defense was impeccable. Lucas was a disruptive presence. Reina was brilliant stopping a point blank Malouda and then getting enough of an Anelka piledriver that fortuitously bounced of the bar. He also snuffed out the sceptre of a Jamie Carragher own goal as he smothered his touch after Daniel Sturridge burst through.
An effigy of poor old Rooney was set on fire on bonfire night by fans who are yet to forgive his recent Man U turn and other miscellaneous acts of indiscretion.
The effigy cut a forlorn figure - going up in flames clutching his new contract and a bag full of money.
The man himself meanwhile has been sent to the Nike Centre in Oregon USA in an attempt to get him away from the glare of too much negative press..
Ji Sung Park struck twice like the proverbial bolt of lightning.Not exactly in the same place but near enough.The first goal came as the first half was in its dying seconds.The second at a similar stage of the second half.
Sublime diving skill.
This latest attempt came in the game against AC Milan.Ignazio Abate made contact with him around his shoulder and neck.
Ronaldo collapsed clutching his face and then did the rolling around in agony thing and then the it hurts too much to stand thing.
If the chaps giving out Oscars have any sense they will give it to him.
Emmanuel Adebayor equalised against Lech Poznan early in the second half but two late goals in the last five minutes gave the unfancied Poles the game.
And Mancini the blame ?
The 33 Chilean miners put up a team called "Hope" and played a friendly against a Government side in Santiago.They lost 2-3 to the opposition which was made up of some of their rescuers, the mining minister Laurence Golborne and captained by the country's President, Sebastian Piñera.