Arsenal self destruct and give Birmingham the game...
February 2011 Archives
"All the protesters are taking Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
James Dorsey at www.mideastsoccer.blogspot.com alerts us to CAF and FIFA footdragging their heels on relocating Africa's U-20 football championship from Libya as that country descends into civil war and increasing bloodshed (estimated 2000 dead) as Muammar Gaddafi escalates his brutal crackdown.
The worsening situation which endangers the well being of Africa's promising youngsters has led to a number of countries like South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria offering to host next month's championship. However Issa Haytou, CAF's president has shown an alarming disregard for player safety in the past.
He was accused of shirking his responsibility when Angolan separatists opened fire on the Togo squad during the last Africa Cup of Nations. The attack left two officials dead and several wounded, including players.
The Togo government had no recourse but to pull out their traumatized team for an official mourning period, a step agreed to by Hayatou initially but cynically backtracked on by disqualifying them from further participation. Togo's football team also paid a harsh price for their government's supposed interference as Hayatou banned them from the next two Africa Cups and fining them $50,000.
In a press conference held yesterday Hayatou and Sepp Blatter were to announce an alternate host. Instead, they gave a statement saying they were still monitoring the situation in Libya. The soccer federation head is Muammar Gaddafi's eldest son, Muhammad who no doubt has sent out missives to the honchos that his father is very much in control and that peace will be restored soon. Meanwhile, he is
Which brings us to the second part. Given the brutal and violent crackdown of the Gaddafis on a defenseless civilian population, why would CAF and FIFA want Libya to continue to host the U20 championship even if peace is miraculously restored? South Africa was awarded the World Cup for their emergence from the shadows of apartheid. Surely, Libya is fairly and squarely in contravention of FIFA's goals.
There should be no doubts. Issa Hayatou and Sepp Blatter should take immediate action on an alternate host. This will go a long way in rehabilitating the CAF president's image.
The Danish tennis player is the world no.1 and she showed she's also an ardent Reds supporter especially of their captain. She wore a signed no.8 jersey during her Dubai Open quarter final win over Flavia Penetta. For a club in the midst of mounting a remarkable comeback having such a high profile fan cheering on is a huge boost and its earned her much love and respect.
For those more interested in tennis, the jersey did no harm. She won her match quite easily, 6-2, 6-0. She's also a Fernando Torres fan but with his Chelsea switch her allegiance to the Spanish striker is less clear.
A closer look at YNWA Caroline >>
Steven Gerrard exults on the sidelines after Dirk Kuyt puts his head on the ball to give Liverpool a winning score. The Scousers now await SC Braga for a quarter-final spot.
The Liverpool captain out with a groin injury is now tipped to return against West Ham this Sunday.
Maurice Edu scored the decisive away goal as Rangers battled Sporting Lisbon to a draw. They move on to meet PSV next month for a spot in the Europa Cup quarterfinals. Manager Walter Smith celebrated his 63rd birthday on a very happy note.
The Glazers use a report showing decreased debt levels and improved sales to deny that Man Utd is up for sale. That should end all the Qatari speculation. But it actually fuels more questions.
As stated here, the Qataris don't care about Man Utd from an investment angle. Clearly the Glazers do. That is the biggest reason why these rumours will not end.
Andy Green in a Guardian article thinks paying £1.5bn for Man Utd is too much. But it maybe a price the Glazers could settle on to make a tidy profit. If there is anybody that can pull it off without thinking twice it is the al- Thani family that rule Qatar. Which is why there are such persistent rumours of a takeover. It may not be dismissed lightly.
The al-Thani's managed to get the 2022 World Cup against conventional wisdom partly because of their wrinkle free financial clout. A few weeks later Barca signed a record five year £125m million (£25m/ year) shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation, a non-profit organization run by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. The stunning speed with which the sponsorship was launched was seen by some as a quid pro quo for Spain's support for Qatar's 2022 bid. But more likely it was a way of bailing out of trouble one of the biggest names in football (Barca posted record losses) and creating goodwill. Having UNICEF and the Qatar Foundation logo on the same jersey will not hurt either in the PR department.
A Man Utd takeover for investment purposes holds no interest for the mega billionaire Qataris. But a club of its stature will be a huge boost to Qatar's ambition as sporting superpower. The ruling family has a history of trying unconventional methods of attracting talented players to the tiny Emirate but they've largely failed. But they've recently launched a more savvy effort setting up the Aspire Football Dreams Academy that sends out scouts to sign up talented schoolchildren from the developing world (mostly Africa and South America) bringing them to the Gulf to develop them. Some of them might nurse ambitions playing for a club like Man Utd while their end of the bargain would be to represent Qatar.
There is substance to these rumours if we start looking away from the narrow prism of investment and consider Qatar's larger vision.
Arsenal's captain has a much worse prognosis than anticipated and could be out for three weeks. It is the problem hamstring once again. He's a definite out for the Carling Cup fixture along with Theo Walcott and both remain in serious doubt for the Barca return leg.
Further updates on the status of Robin Van Persie (hamstring) and Laurent Koscielny (back) will be available Friday.
With these injuries Wenger has to juggle his squad to play both Birmingham and Barca. But his priority is to ensure as fit a squad for the Barca return to maximize the chances of CL progression.
Much has been made of the first chance at meaningful silverware since 2005 but Arsenal are quite capable of pulling off a win on Sunday without the four injured players available. Andrey Arshavin seems to have regained some of his old joie de vivre which should pose problems for Birmingham. Hopefully Tomas Rosicky scoring a goal will give a fillip to his goalscoring appetite.
Arsenal should retain its midfield superiority with Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere, and Alexander Song. On the defensive end, Squillaci had quite an impressive outing against a physical but inert Stoke attack. Birmingham mirrors Stoke in their reliance on set pieces but their lack of speed and midfield creativity have resulted in the fewest goals (25) scored in the Premiership. Still they've managed to battle quite a few top drawer teams to a stalemate.
With Fabregas, RVP, and Laurent Koscielny healthy Arsenal can press their advantage of an extra goal against Barca missing their starting center back pair of Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol through suspension and injury. The presence of a healthy Fabregas and Robin Van Persie could seriously test a re-jiggered defensive line. The Dutchman in particular should be given every chance to recover given his record of fragility.
Koscielny was magnificent teaming up with Johan Djourou to neutralize the dangerous speed merchants at the Emirates. His return will be crucial if Arsenal are to withstand what will be a overwhelming show of force at Camp Nou.
The management of Huyton's Malvern Primary School in Merseyside has decided that exposing pupils to footballs during breaktimes is way too dangerous and have therefore banned their use entirely.It also happens to be the school that Steven Gerrard went to.
It is also now quite likely that no player of his stature would find his way out of that school.The best years of practice have been deleted.Full story...
Theo Walcott was stretchered off with an ankle sprain which will keep him out of the Carling Cup final this Sunday. He was not the only injury substitution as Arsene Wenger decided to bring on Andrey Arshavin for captain Cesc Fabregas in the 14th minute amidst hamstring injury concerns. Arsenal were already missing Laurent Koscielny and Robin Van Persie.
However it was Sebastian Squillaci's 8th minute goal and his first for Arsenal that proved decisive. It was Nicklas Bendtner providing a deja vu moment and the assist for the central defender to nod the ball home. He had done the same last weekend against Orient with Rosicky the benefactor.
What followed in the first half was trademark high possession football without being too threatening. The killer entry pass was lacking although Arshavin tried putting Bendtner and Walcott through. The Russian seems to be relishing his role of instigator once more since his Barca goal with most of the attacks coming down the left.
But the second half was a different story as a renewed and physical Stoke came out smoking and put the defence to the test. Ryan Shawcross came close with a header deflected off Johan Djourou. Robert Huth came close with another header as Stoke resorted to set pieces. But Arsenal hung tough and one has to say Sebastian Squillaci had a good game at both ends. Johan Djourou was tough to beat in the air - he's been outstanding in that department.
Sunday's Carling Cup final will see an equally physical and determined Birmingham side. A bruised Gunners squad will have to dig deep to keep up with the crucial stretch end stretch.
Drogba and Cech are waiting to see the NBA match-up between the New Jersey Nets and the Toronto Raptors at London's O2 Arena.Interview with both of them on the subject here.. and a pretty old video showing Drogba attempting some basketball moves..
Karim Benzema's subdued celebration after scoring his first goal against his former club was at odds with the overwhelming relief Jose Mourinho felt. It has been a record of futility for the world's most celebrated club against their French opponent. Actually, it was the first time Real had scored against Lyon away.
However, Lyon came back with a Bafetimbi Gomis equalizer to set up a tantalizing second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ian Holloway's boys showed no slowing down in their quest for attractive and attacking football despite their history of throwaway second half displays. In Spurs, they met a much higher priced mirror image one but with similar defensive liabilities. By the end, Spurs had to satisfy themselves with Roman Pavlyuchenko's forlorn consololation.
Charlie Adams put the Seasiders ahead with his PK after DJ Campbell was brought down by Sebastien Bassong and Campbell himself got on the scoreline closing out a swift counterattack. It was left to Brett Ormerod, the player most inextricably linked to Blackpool's rise to the top to fittingly become the first club player to score in all four divisions of the English league with his 80th minute goal.
The Blackpool attack was as it should be but this time the club weathered the Spurs maelstorm through some stellar defending and some heart in the mouth goal line saves. Afterwards Holloway glowed:
"I don't think there's a word that's been written, printed or produced in the dictionary that I can use for how pleased I am. It was a fantastic night for everyone connected [with the club]. Does that make us better than Milan? I don't think so, but what we are doing is phenomenal."
His club is now in 12th position and with 32 points and 11 matches left look safe to continue in the Premiership. But such displays show they may not just be happy with survival.
Nicolas Anelka shows an older more ruthless streak as a finisher. Part of the problem playing in the slot is the deferment to the frontline strikers, Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba in carrying the scoring load. The 4-3-3 formation only works if there is a willingness to go wide and create an overlapping dynamic.
But since all three strikers are more comfortable centrally located it leads to real estate statism. But this time there was no Drogba leaving Anelka free to pull the immediate trigger. He's been on target in the Champions League with seven goals sharing top gun billing with Samuel Eto'o. Carlo Ancelotti also benefited by a sharper Fernando Torres passing defenders at will but unable to score his first Chelsea goal.
Could we add Moroccan temptresses to the list of people bringing down autocrats? This time it is not in the Middle East.
Karima El Mahroug, aka Ruby - the scarlet woman behind Silvio Berlusconi's woes claims that she also had a tete a tete with Ronaldo the lesser. The Real Madrid striker is an easy touch as the NOTW discovered.
Manic depressive Roma implode again.
Phillipe Mexes, Nicolas Burdisso, and Francesco Totti fire Roma into a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead. But Genoa storm back through braces by Rodrigo Palacio and Alberto Paloschi to pull off a remarkable comeback as the Romans fall to pieces. Check out Palacio's zen like equalizer for the Rossoblu. Such lethal finishes made him a legend at Boca Juniors.
For Claudio Rainieri it was the end of the road as Roma stumbled to their third Serie defeat as well as being outplayed by Shakhtar in the CL first leg.
They've given up 36 goals with only Lecce and Bari giving up more. As recently as the 21st week, the Romans were riding high in 2nd position trailing just AC Milan. That peak was achieved after a disastrous slide to the bottom after the sixth week. Now in eighth position it has been a season of bipolar proportions for the 59 year old Rainieri. Vincenzo Motella, the assistant coach takes over in a caretaker capacity till the end of the season. His first order will be to stop this careless leaking of goals.
95th minute Deportivo de la Coruna is awarded a last gasp corner. The ball comes floating down and a figure in a lime green jersey rises above the thicket of bodies like a champion no 9 and heads the ball goalwards. It is Dani Aranzubia, Depor's custodian soaring into the record books with the first ever goal by a goalkeeper from open play in La Liga history.
The goal evened the score against Almeria and more importantly gave them a 3 point cushion from the drop zone.
Watch Aranzubia's other finest moment. Three penalty stops (PK shootout in its entire 12+ minutes) instrumental in Depor progressing to the next round of the 2008 UEFA Cup at the expense of SK Brann after both teams deadlocked 2-2 on aggregate.
Full marks to Leyton Orient for pulling of an incredible draw. They reached the semifinals of the FA Cup in 1968 only to be beaten by Arsenal 3-0. To chants of 'You've got Cesc Fabregas and we've got great pies and mash" their fans were having a good time savouring a rare big moment.
History looked to be on Arsenal's side as Tomas Rosicky ended his goal drought turning Nicklas Bendtner's lofted cross adroitly past Jamie Jones in the 53rd minute
The stage was set for Russell Slade to introduce Jonathan Tehoue with a recently acquired super sub reputation. He lived up to it. The Frenchman chested down a pass, burst between Kieran Gibbsi and Ignasi Miguel, leaving the latter on his butt with a deft move and lashed the ball past a hopelessly out of position Manuel Almunia in the 88th minute. Brisbane Road was rocking. Chariman Barry Hearns promised the players a Las Vegas holiday and then some.
Arsenal were Barcelona to Arsenal. And look how that turned out for them. 72% ball possession with 801 passes attempted and an 87% completion rate. But as proven Wednesday, the only thing that matters is the scoreline. As Crawley Town demonstrated against Man Utd, the smaller clubs have shown a never say die attitude and are not overawed by the big occasion.
With a punishing schedule ahead of the club Wenger sent in his second team which included 18 year old Ignasi Miguel making his senior debut. He also sent in Almunia who on hindsight should have been the one left on the bench. Marouane Chamakh is reportedly suffering from exhaustion and put in another enervated display. His vaunted aerial prowess seems to have deserted him.
After his promising start he and Thomas Vermaelen (through injury) have not been factors in Arsenal's season. Not a ringing endorsement of Wenger's recent buys. He also sent in Almunia who on hindsight should have been the one left on the bench. One would have thought that Wojciech Scecszny would have gained more from this experience. There were no substitutions as Wenger calculated the match was sealed and any change was unnecessary.
On the bench he had his pick of Fabregas, Nasri, and Wilshere. Given the horrors of Arsenal's four goal implosion against Newcastle, the prospect of Orient making a late strike was not out of the question. An insurance goal would have been helpful.
A tactical blindspot which is increasingly obvious.
"We've left it until the last minute and once again Arsene has been out-thought by a better brain."
If Wenger was looking for respite, he did not get it from this match.
"The most negative side of our result today is one more fixture and in fairness that is not what we needed."
Arsenal fans are resigned to their club being laterally inclined.
12+ minutes of highlights
Cashley Cole skying his PK was extra icing for Gunner fans still recovering from the marvelous Barca victory. But for Chelsea their season got a lot longer as they were dumped out by Everton losing on a 4-3 PK shootout.
The teams fought each other to a 1-1 standstill in regulation and extra time. And as the PK progressed it was Everton in danger of falling as Lampard and Drogba were on target as Leighton Baines the extra time hero for Everton had his effort saved by Cech. But Jagielka converted to narrow it down to 2-1. Tim Howard provided the first turning point as he saved Nicholas Anelka's casual effort. Mikel Arteta restored parity as he drilled the ball past Cech. The unflappable Michael Essien shot Chelsea into the lead but Johnny Heitinga following up made sure that the Toffees were in the game. Then came Cole's extravagant mistake and in a flash, Everton were on the doorstep. Veteran Phil Neville made no mistake.
For Carlo Ancelotti the loss makes his position very vulnerable. Already there is talk of his resignation and if he dithers then the boss will show no qualms following through with a pink slip. The transfer of Fernando Torres has not provided an instant lift and Didier Drogba is way off from his usual cracking high standards.
Which begets the question: Will this be Drogba's last season at Chelsea?
Joe Jordan pulled out the oldest trick in the playbook winding up Gennaro Gattuso. He might have indeed called the Milan midfielder '"f****** Italian b******'".
At his former club, there is graffiti on the wall leading to the San Siro stadium.
"Non sei un vero Italiano, sei un Africano nero," it says. Translation: "You are not a true Italian, you are a black African."
Gattuso's eruption to standard playground sledging is par for a player of his reputation but can he compare his faux charges of racism to the real virulence which players like Balotelli, Lilian Thuram, or Patrick Vieira have been subjected to in Italy from fans, players, and even coaches. He's fortunate that he does not have to listen or learn to tune out monkey chants or Holocaust references on a regular basis.
His reaction is childish and inexcusable.
Jordan's background suggest that he's probably not too fazed with what transpired. He was after all a notorious hardman in his days as a central defender for arguably the dirtiest team in the English league, Don Revie's Leeds United. His present milquetoast looks as an assistant coach are deceptive because ever so often he serves up reminders to his past. Gattuso chose to pick a fight with the wrong person. He also chose to go after someone with strong past and present links to Italy, as a player and now father.
Whatever Arsene Wenger said at halftime seemed to work a charm.
Arsenal's bright start vaporized as Barca began painting pretty little triangles all over the Emirates. It all looked hauntingly familiar as Andres Iniesta fed Leo Messi squaring off to Villa before breaking away with the return as the Arsenal defense gave futile chase.
This should have been a goal given Messi's lethal touch with his left foot but Wojciech Szczesny showing some smarts made himself large and the ball squirted just wide off the far post. The Emirates exhaled collectively. However, the little maestro more than made up for his miss by threading a pass to David Villa kept fractionally onside by an inattentive Gael Clichy. The former Valencia striker made no mistake placing his shot beyond Szczesny to give Barca the lead in the 26th minute. Messi seemed to be on target in the 35th minute but to the great relief of the Gunners was declared offside.
With Barca exhibiting its trademark rigor mortis on the ball the Gunners were destined for a long evening. Dani Alves was given acres of space to roam and pillage down the right. A few breakaway moves saw Van Persie well placed to test Victor Valdes but the Dutch striker was profligate in his inaccuracy.
All this changed after halftime as an assured Arsenal began pushing back Barca. There was more width to the attack as players rotated more freely to receive passes. This created space and allowed better movement than the first half. Van Persie finally got his shot on target which was duly stopped by Valdes. But Arsenal were nipping on the door as the minutes ticked by.
Arsene Wenger brought on Andrey Arshavin for Alexander Song in a risky gamble but it proved pivotal to what followed. At the other end Pep Guardiola signaling closing down shop subs Villa for Seydou Keita.
Gael Clichy hefts a ball bound for the byline. Van Persie racing down corrals the ball and from an impossible angle lashes it past Valdes and the near post. This in the 78th minute and the Gunners with their tails up went looking for the second goal. Five minutes later Fabregas sends Nasri scrambling down the right. The Frenchman faced with a choice cuts back and lays the ball square as Arshavin arriving from distance drives the ball past Valdes without hesitation. Arsenal 2 Barca 1.
Arsenal then endure a few harrowing minutes before close but Szczesny showing an inkling of the real deal comes up with some timely saves. But Laurent Koscielny proves to be the last minute hero as he takes care of Dani Alves open look at goal.
Jack Wilshere gets better and better. Cesc Fabregas came alive against the club that desires his homecoming. Samir Nasri showed why he was missed. The Arsenal defense which gets so much flak really stepped up and Koscielny and Johan Djourou should be singled out for bottling up the dangerous Dani Alves in the second half and stopping the darting runs of Leo Messi. And in Szczesny, Wenger might finally have Jens Lehmann's successor. A special note for Arshavin. May this be the goal that finally unleashes him from his funk. He's far too talented to wallow in mediocrity.
After his, pardon the ghastly pun,sterling performance in Liverpool's 9 - 0 win over Southend in the FA youth cup,Raheem Sterling has been put on the Liverpool squad for their game against Sparta Prague in the Europa League.
Sterling scored 5 goals in that FA youth cup game - the second being the most brilliant.Video available while it lasts.
Some good news for Gooners as in form Samir Nasri has been cleared to face Barca in their Emirates encounter. He's a gametime decision according to Arsene Wenger.
"Samir is in the squad and the starting line-up will be decided tomorrow," said Wenger.
This will be a great boost for Arsenal as Nasri is not just a playmaker but he's been in great goalscoring form as well. What Arsenal have to do well as a team is to win the ball back and not just leave it to Jack Wilshere and Alexander Song. One of the reason's for Barca's success is the pressure they exert to get the ball back on the few occasions they do lose it.
Wayne Rooney set the benchmark to beat for the best goal in the Premiership season. It clinched victory over crosstown rivals Citeh in dramatic fashion. In the most watched derby in Premiership history. But Alex Terra's goal has been adjudged the best in the less celebrated confines of A-League history. Terra who? Yes, he's a striker for the Melbourne Hearts and his goal came against the Perth Glory.
The real Ronaldo, the player called O Fenomeno retired a day ago. In a nutmeg, he was brilliant. You could have had three legs and he would have found a way between each of them. He brought immense beauty to the game. Enjoy.
As for the present Brazilian team something tells me their swansong days will be hard to replicate. Making those Ronaldo moments in their 2002 World Cup win priceless. He was lampooned mercilessly for his weight issues in his later days and what transpired before the 1998 World Cup final may never been known. A series of knee injuries and subsequent surgeries kept him out for protracted periods of time. But his day in history is intact. For a generation of football fans, he was the best player. Yours truly included.
Glenn Hoddle gets into some hot water with a Chinese aphorism. What is with these Sky Sports commentators? Open mouth insert foot.
But really all this aside, what is Torres's excuse? One can allow for a learning curve under a new scheme but he's flubbing simple football 101's. Liverpool fans are surely not missing him.
Peter Crouch might have scored the goal but the architect was Aaron Lennon bursting forth leaving Mario Yepes sprawling in his wake.
Spurs shrugged off the loss of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale as they went on the offensive through Rafael Van der Vaart with Sandro and Wilson Palacios bolstering the midfield. A slew of near misses and a goalkeeper change as Marco Amelia came in for the injured Christian Abbiati kept Milan on the backfoot.
On the other hand, Milan looked like they were expecting Spurs to prolong their record of failing to keep a clean sheet. Chances were few and far in between. Massimiliano Allegri opting to keep Clarence Seedorf instead of Alexander Pato was a bit baffling. A realization that dawned too late. Milan redoubled their efforts but Spurs this time were not found wanting. Gomes pulled off a stellar save from Yepes to prevent Milan from levelling.
Milan made waves in other ways as Mathieu Flamini hobbled Vedran Corluka giving Jonathan Woodgate his first start since November 2009. The former Arsenal defender should have been sent off by all indications. Rini Gattuso lived up to his snarling dog reputation headbutting Joe Jordan at halftime.
Spurs now need to hold on at White Hart to keep their Champions League dream alive. Milan will come at them.
Van Persie's first goal against Wolverhampton yesterday did not make the news.Nowhere near as spectacular as Rooney's strike but a scissor kick nevertheless.
szólj hozzá: Ar1-0Wo[matchhighlight.com]
Alex Ferguson said he'd never seen a goal like Rooney's scissor kick yesterday.
But Berbatov has been scoring off scissor kicks for Man Utd with monotonous regularity.
Here's one against Liverpool..
Here's another one - this one against Sunderland..
And the first goal in this next video - against West Ham
Berbatov may be feeling a little bit put out by the fact that his own scissor kick efforts are not getting the same amount of attention as Rooney's.
Rooney scores a goal that is going to go down in legend and song.The perfect scissor kick.Goal of a lifetime.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was in and it's definitely the best goal I've scored. It was a special feeling. The fans deserve that from me because I've not had the best of seasons.
I know how big these games are in Manchester so I hope they enjoyed that."
There are very few moments so transcendental in a lifetime. Today is one of them as Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt after 30 years of despotic rule. Bowing to an unprecedented show of people power. It is a revolution that promises the rise of a truly representative democracy and carries the potential of a more balanced vision of Middle East peace. What happened in Egypt is a pointed rejection of the moribund view of Islam being hijacked by radical elements.
We wish Egypt well in its future transition. No one understands the power of the people quite so well as a football fan. The global game is unmatched in its ability to sway emotion.
Less than a year ago, Egypt was in an uproar over a series of highly contentious soccer matches with Algeria which poisoned relations between the two countries. They lost the qualifying battle for the World Cup and for many this was a bitter end. It was possibly the last time that an estranged Mubarak and the Egyptian people were synchronized in unison. But none of them would trade that day for the freedom that they finally achieved. On and off the football field, Al Ahly and Zamalek fans are mortal enemies. But they shouldered arms and fought side by side for this day to happen.
Hopefully this day is also the day that Egypt, a long standing African football force finally turns around it's disappointing record on the world's stage. This revolution might just be the start of a new chapter.
France won their fifth straight game under Laurent Blanc the latest win being over Brazil. Brazil were down to 10 men pretty early on when Hernanes went kung fu fighting and very deservedly got shown a red card.....
Benzema was at the heart of everything and it was only Julio Cesar's goalkeeping skills that kept the score from reading at least 4 - 0. Highlights ...
Messi came out looking better in the Messi v/s Ronaldo international friendly.Both players scored for their countries.Ronaldo from a field goal and Messi from an injury time penalty that turned out the be the winning goal eventually.Messi also outjumped C Ron at one stage in the game (video).
And more Messi skills from the game here..
His two goals against Real Sociedad made him the fastest Madrid player ever to get to 50 league goals (In 51 games).Kaka and Adebayor scored the other goals.The debate on who is better continues unabated.Er that's Ronaldo v/s Messi not Kaka v/s Adebayor.
Nani scores a superb goal in the 3rd minute and Man Utd fans look for a real spanking. Surely, Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney would get on the act. But Wolves fight back through a couple of set pieces. George Elokobi scoring his first Premiership goal followed by Kevin Doyle's deflection of a set piece past Van der Sar. It was all stout defending in the second half as Wolves preserve their lead and pull of an improbable win. They've been a real spoiler beating Chelsea, City, Liverpool, and Spurs while dwelling at the bottom. Next up is Arsenal and they must be on a high right now.
Chelsea unveiled their shiny new expensive toys. Kenny Dalglish did not have to do so.
The best players on display were Martin Kelly, representing the future of Merseyside and Jamie Carragher, the veteran center back. Then there was Roy Hodgson's parting gift of Raul Meirelles arriving at Anfield unheralded but now on the vanguard of Liverpool's unmistakable revival. Liverpool would have been left to rue Maxi Rodriguez's point blank miss but the Portugese showed his smarts in front of goal to give Dalglish the game's only goal. He has been immense.
Kelly was a peripatetic presence on the right getting the better of Ashley Cole and testing the defense with his teasing crosses and prescient runs. Carragher had his biggest moment when he blocked Fernando Torres only shot at goal. The centre back also effectively shepherded Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka off the ball and provided the vocal leadership needed in this testing encounter. He was all passion and intensity coiled in his 6' 2" frame. Bravo!
Liverpool climb to sixth position with every intention to make it to Europe. For Chelsea, this was not the way they intended to deflect criticism flouting the soon to be implemented financial fair play rules.
This weekend will be hard to forget. The cup runneth over. A shower of goals raining down. Stunning comebacks. Brilliant individual play. Spectacular goals. Send offs. Disputed penalties. Missed penalties. Prima donna referees. Streaking spectators.
For the Gunners, a tale of two halves. Or more to the point, a tale of two Arsenals. Unstoppable in the first and scoring at will to take a four to nothing lead. The game signed and sealed. Walcott after 47 seconds, Van Persie with two goals, and Johan Djourou with his maiden goal. Or so anyone sane would think. But this is Arsenal. We can go off the reservation at any time.
No club has as much talent at hand to shoot themselves in the foot so well. The second half devolved into a spineless display of utterly bereft defending as Newcastle found another lever to muscle Arsenal into submission. The price: Four goals going the other way. The result rendered more painful on a day when Wolves, the bottom dwellers stopped the unbeaten run of United with a stirring display of opportunistic scoring and priceless defending.
Much is made of Abou Diaby's departure, reacting badly to a very, very robust challenge by Joey Barton. Wind the clock back five years ago when Dan Smith's foul broke and dislocated Diaby's ankle ending his season and we might be able to see the context of that outburst. Phil Dowd was right giving him the red card but this should have never been the turning point. We made it that way. Slice and dice it any which way but there is no way a 10 man squad would concede a four goal lead. Any description to what transpired beggars belief. How many times are we going to play the blame the referee game?
This match again exposes Wenger's unwillingness to go to a plan B. To be fair who knew they would fold so miserably? Arsenal works on a tight script and when adhered to there is no better team. But there is no team that unravels faster when it has to deviate from the norm. Unsurprisingly, there are those who have successfully exploited this to their advantage. Float set pieces and see the Arsenal defense tie themselves into knots while sneaking one in. Then crowd the middle and watch Arsenal exhaust themselves passing one too many times. Its the rope a dope applied to football.
This however is completely different. Wenger's legacy of spotlighting bright talent is being seriously undermined with his defensive blind spot. One can argue that Johan Djorou going off with an injury and replaced by Sebastien Squillaci was as much of a factor. A Mikael Silvestre clone joining an error prone Koscielny, already sent off twice this season is a recipe for disaster. The duo were already involved in a comedy of errors leading to a Koscielny concussion and a goal by Diomansy Kamara. And this transfer period went without providing decent cover for Thomas Vermelen. It is already proving costly.
I have long said this but Arsenal has no on field leadership. Fabregas is an off and on inspirational presence but lacks the vocal leadership to pull up the collective socks on a consistent basis. The other point is Wenger's built this midfield on ball possession. Ever wonder when that does not work who gets to do ball retrieval? Jack Wilshere. Not Walcott, not Arshavin, not Nasri, not Fabregas, not Rosicky, not Eboue. They just don't have it in them.
Every Arsenal fan should celebrate Wolves pulling off an incredible win over Man Utd because teams like these are breathing life into the title race. We need help because we cannot trust our own team to do it.
A perfect start.Liverpool live life after Torres.Suarez brings hope ...
szólj hozzá: Liv 2-0 Stok
Lee Mason's refereeing was atrocious. Louis Saha was miles offside when Seamus Coleman launched his pass to him making him active. The linesman should have raised his flag there and then. End of story. However FIFA's rules are also clear when it comes to Koscielny's situation. An attacker will be penalized for playing the ball being in a previous offside position even if the shot or pass rebounds off an opponent and comes to him.
As many commentators have pointed out this rule prevents players from gaming the system by deliberately trying to get rebounds off goalkeepers or defenders to allow strikers to get onside. Even David Moyes stated that the goal should not have stood.
The aggrieved Koscielny had the last laugh as he headed Robin Van Persie's corner for a gritty comeback win. Another Everton lapse gifted an Andrey Arshavin's equalizer. Not the best display by the Gunners but they hung in tough.