March 2011 Archives
This injury time goal from Gyan gave Ghana a draw against England in a friendly that was played on the 29th of March.....
szólj hozzá: En 1-1 Gh
Xavi lobbed the goalie to get the opener.Lithuania equalised with a long distance scorcher from Marius Stankevicius. Then Tadas Kijanskas spoiled things a bit by scoring a self goal and Juan Mata delivered the coup de grace.The reign of Spain continues...
szólj hozzá: Ltu 1-3 Esp All
Rogério Ceni scored the winning goal against Corinthians this weekend and it was his 100th goal for São Paulo. Ceni is 37 years old and has played more than 950 matches in his 21-year career, which adds up to a strike-rate of a goal every nine games or so - roughly equivalent to Emile Heskey's record with England.
100 career goals, two World Club Championships and 17 caps for Brazil are in his pretty impressive list of achievements. More here.. ...and the winning goal
A moment of total panic for Milan Baros in the game against Spain when the ball goes missing...............!
He chested down a long ball and it landed at his feet.
Then he somehow manages to lose sight of it and spends the next few seconds frantically looking up,down and all around - in every direction except the right one...!
Great interview by Vikas "Thought Economist" Shah.
Jérôme Valcke explains how FIFA sees football as a "school of life."
Perhaps someday FIFA itself will undergo a revolution, become more transparent, and be a greater force for good in the world. Today, I'm sorry, but in my opinion, the game goes on despite FIFA, not because of it. The corruption we see in FIFA is a symptom of globalization and crony capitalism.
At soccerblog.com, we've always viewed soccer as the world's greatest religion, and we continue to look forward to the quadrennial pilgrimage we call the World Cup. Someday, there will be a revolution in FIFA, and we'll see the organization live up to it's potential.
Then they can help us with the $300 House >>
In the first qualifying matches of Euro 2012 since November both World Cup finalists secured wins and remain in cruise mode at the top of their groups.
The Netherlands stormed off to a 4-0 victory against Hungary in their Group E qualifier.
Spain had a tougher match against the Czech Republic.They had to come back from being a goal down to eventually take the game 2 - 1 (Both goals from David Villa)
If global warming keeps going the way it's going you are going to need more than sunscreen to protect yourself from the blazing sun at the 2022 world cup in Qatar.
Grim predictions that players would evaporate and that referees dressed in black would melt away to nothing have led to some brainstorming on how to beat the heat.
Plan A was to shift the entire World Cup to the winter months when it would be a bit cooler.
Because it was a sensible suggestion Blatter naturally rejected it outright
Plan B was very large umbrellas over everything.( C Ron rejected that suggestion.He said he would look very silly running around the field carrying a great big umbrella)
Plan C is a bit more ambitious.Scientists working around the clock are going to create artificial clouds which will hover over the stadium and give the players the necessary shade to do what they have to do without fear of sunstroke.
Here's the plan...
Martin Galmarini playing for Tigre was booked because the ref thought he used his hand to control the ball before scoring against Gimnasia.It was his second yellow of the game.
Video evidence showed that Galmarini's goal was legal and that he had not handled the ball.The Argentine FA overturned the red card decision.A bit late for Tigre because they lost the game 2 -1 anyway.However it's a step in the right direction.
Here's the video of the imaginary handball and the real booking.
A win on the weekend against lowly Brescia was due to this long awaited goal from Del Piero.Juve have been held scoreless in eight games this season. They have won only six out of their 14 home games this season.Three draws and 5 losses make up the other 8 games. DavidTrezeguet remembers the good old days . Who doesn't ?
Meanwhile here's the long awaited winning goal....
Arseblog draws attention to something that Wenger said in the pre West Brom press conference regarding Thomas Vermaelen's frustrating injury saga.
"I never expected him to be back before the end of the season"
Now that statement wants to make you perk up. Because it is contrary to what Wenger said during the winter transfer window which ultimately shaped his decision not to seek an additional centre back. Back in January he said he expected Vermaelen to be back in six weeks.
" The time to be back, if all goes well, they tell me is six weeks. A bit more, a bit less I don't know. But I count six weeks."
If Wenger's recent statement is interpreted as foresight it means he was aware that we were going into the toughest part of the season with just three center backs but was willing to gamble on their health. It is an exceedingly foolhardy manager who leaves such things to chance. As feared the best one out of the lot is now injured indefinitely. It makes you question not for the first time, Wenger's judgment.
We now have to pin our hopes on Squiilaci and Koscielny dealing with long balls and Luis Suarez. And if one of them gets hurt it is Song in the centre and Denilson or Abu Diaby in the holding role. Shudder. We might be in for the longest 90 minute matches.
Chad Ochocinco's headline grabbing foray into soccer maybe motivated by the same feelings which led Deion Sanders and Michael Jordan's crossover into baseball. For a sport constantly looking for a bubble (Beckham, World Cup) to inject it into the larger consciousness of the US mainstream it is a welcome novelty. Nothing more than that.
There are a few differences between the two sports.
Wide receivers are only as effective as their given route in the tightly scripted world of the NFL. It is all jotted down in a playbook and memorized by rote. There is a hierarchy which calls the plays, transmits, and executes them.
Sure they are perfectly capable of improvising in the end with their athleticism but unlike the discrete units of football (downs, yards to go, etc) soccer is a sport of continuous improvisation and motion. It does not matter who passes or receives the ball in that continuum. That is also the reason why movies on soccer are hard to film. Soccer is also compared to most sports, statistically impoverished.
Football in contrast is a made for TV/ film sport and littered with all sorts of statistics that become part of the playbook. There is a simplicity to soccer which is at odds with the overwhelming mental preparation and specialization that a game of football entails. But the difference in mindset is not the only one.
In bio-mechanical terms, the rest of the human body is far less precise than the hands.
Ochocinco would be an intimidating sight with his 6'3" frame blistering his way through with the ball attached to his feet. He would be par excellence if that is all it took to play soccer.
Given Ochocinco's length of time away from the game (10 years) it is simply another category of skill altogether if he can dead trap with his foot a ball kicked to him from 30 feet away. Or arch his trunk with the requisite number of degrees to chest trap. Or rotate his head ever so slightly to change the trajectory of the ball to effectively score a goal. In soccer, the effectors used to make contact with the ball and the number of successful outcomes associated with them vastly outnumber that of football. Even Rory Delap uses his hands to deadly use. And we all remember el mano de Dios!
What soccer does is make these less naturally precise parts of the body more precise. Try writing your name with a marker clutched between your toes. It can be done neatly after great practice and indeed there are individuals who do that out of necessity.
When we see Leo Messi dribbling the ball with such great skill, he's using muscles in the legs not naturally predisposed to grading force accurately, certainly not the kind that can manipulate a coin into a vending machine. The hands (and face) are examples of overtrained mechanisms because we use them so often in daily interaction. The famous picture of the homonculus reflect the real estate grab of these anatomical parts on the brain. Soccer wants to reverse that and introduce a more egalitarian human morphogenesis. That may well be the reason for its popularity in the school age population.
Not a knock on the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver who from all accounts has played the global game and loves it but he might have more success taking to golf.
The Jonny Evans tackle does a number. Holden is out for the season. Big loss for Bolton and the USA. The knee injury he suffered required 26 stitches to close up and he undergoes surgery today in London. The good news is he's keeping upbeat.
The Bianconeri are yet to lose since the winter break. Their 2-0 win over Catania marked their 10th win in thirteen matches. They've ascended to fourth in the table after spending the early season at the very bottom.
Much of this has to do with their attack led by the evergreen Antonio De Natale, at 33 years old topping the Serie scoring table with 24 goals and still going strong. He was on target scoring today from a penalty. Alexis Sanchez, so impressive in the 2010 World Cup has chipped in with 12 goals. With these two in tandem, Udinese tie with Inter in number of goals scored.
Sanchez's countryman, Mauricio Isla is the chief playmaker while Gokhan Inler is charged with organizing the resistance. Samir Handanovic, a World Cup standout with his shot stopping manages some heavy lifting for a leaky defense that has tightened up considerably. Either way Francesco Guidolin, the manager is not complaining.
At this point, Udinese are just six points off Milan on top of the table. They have upcoming fixtures against Roma, Napoli, Fiorentina, Lazio, with a season concluding match against Milan at home. Not easy but there is cause for optimism when we cast back on their recent run.
After a deflating Zlatan Ibrahimovic last minute equalizer salvaged Milan a 4-4 draw on January 9th, the Bianconeri refused to back down responding with wins over Genoa, Inter, Juventus, and Sampdoria. A 7-0 thrashing of Palermo, last season's fifth placed team was the icing on the cake.
We are talking of Milan and Inter in a dogfight but there might be a surprising Serie winner for the first time from the northern cold of Friuli.
The battle of the heavyweight "financial dopers" with a combined estimate of £650m in transfer fees was settled at Stamford Bridge.
The Italians on the sidelines, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Mancini, and Fabio Capello saw Chelsea's Brazilians rise to the occasion and score two goals. David Luiz, Chelsea's latest darling used his rock star mane to good use scoring from a John Terry corner. Then Ramires nimbly stepped aside a couple of City defenders after receiving a Michael Essien pass to blast the ball past Joe Hart.
Capello must be especially pleased with the deportment of Terry, reinstated as England's captain. In fact, he turned in a pretty darn good performance. For a long time it looked as if Chelsea would have to settle for a stalemate. One remembers Arsenal's similar inability to solve City's frustrating anti football at the Emirates. But Chelsea's set piece capability proved to be the difference. The result leaves the Blues within sneaking distance of the title.
Mancini employed Nigel De Jong, Yaya Toure, and Gareth Barry. Not exactly an attacking force. The only player capable of creativity was David Silva, a gifted playmaker but too often he cut a solitary figure. The pressure is visibly on Ancelotti but one can bet money Mancini will be the one shown the door as his natural inclination seems to be not to lose matches. He was forced to use Adam Johnson and Mario Balotelli only when City fell behind.
Here is another prediction: Didier Drogba will leave Stamford Bridge this summer even as he rationalizes Ancelotti's rotation. This is a striker who threw a major sulk when he felt his scoring title was in danger after Frank Lampard was chosen to take a penalty in last season's thrashing of Wigan.
Liverpool beat Sunderland 2 - 0 . This second goal from Suarez was scored from the tightest of angles.Goalie went the wrong way and he put the ball in through the crack. Brilliant.
szólj hozzá: S0-2L
The injury prone Stuart Holden was stretchered off after Jonny Evans tackle opened up a big bloody gash in his knee knee. The Man Utd defender and the American midfielder both went for the ball fair and square but Evans right foot left the ground and he went studs up into Holden.
You could see Nani showing a great interest in the proceedings given the brouhaha surrounding Jamie Caragher's tackle on him a few weeks ago.The zero tolerance policy kicked in and Evans was shown a red card. He now faces a 3 match ban but Utd should get back Vidic and Ferdinand after the international break.
Owen Coyle now awaits word from the medical staff on Holden's condition. Hopefully it is nothing more serious than a wound.
Berbatov came off the bench to score late in the second half.Ferguson began his five match ban. and so had to use a phone to relay instructions to the players.
Arsenal had to come back from 2 goals down to draw against West Brom.The second goal they conceded mainly happened because Almunia collided with Sebastien Squillaci while he was trying to get at the ball.
The ball bounced into the path of Peter Odemwingie who said thank you very much Almunia and rolled it into an open net.
Lehmann needs to get back to where he once belonged.
Peter Hill-Wood? Pat Rice? Anyone? Arsene Wenger needs an intervention. No one is hurting more than he as Arsenal blunder their way through like a drunk trying to aim for a urinal. His glorious experiment is in danger of being consigned to the dustbin of history because he refuses to see the obvious. Some might countenance "to repeat the same things over and over again and expect a different result" as a principled stance. But to the less charitable it is a symptom of insanity.
There it was - yet another series of ghastly mistakes gifting West Brom both goals. A complete lack of defensive cover allowed Steven Reid to score the first goal. The Baggies added another in a moment eerily reminiscent of the Birmingham mix up, this time Manuel Almunia and Sebastian Squillaci proved to be Hogan's heroes. It does not matter any more which combination provides the gaffe. This Arsenal squad is not going to win a title. Any title.
Yet here was Wenger after the West Brom match on cue delighting in the mental toughness shown by the Gunners. Which of course puts 10 man Man Utd snatching a last gasp goal against Bolton in a totally different category of toughness altogether. Or luck.
There is no louder voice than Wenger's railing against out of control financial doping. He's the architect behind Arsenal's impressive financial stability and unmatched stewardship. And for that he should be commended. A thousand times. Any criticism of him should be prefaced with that hosanna. But there is a huge difference between being a market corrective and one who nickels and dimes his way through. In Wenger's case the lines have blurred.
It was painfully obvious that Arsenal needed a top quality goalkeeper before the season began. They are in short supply and hence expensive. But there were some potential candidates.
Shay Given and Maarten Stekelenberg could have been wooed with the right amount. Given in particular was cooling his heels at City itching to get to first team action. Not an easy task but Arsenal had to show serious intent which would have given the goalkeeper the green signal to force his employer's hand. Using a stock analogy - an investment grade goalkeeper like Given or Stekelenberg with their relative youth would have yielded top dividend like Man Utd's Van der Sar or Chelsea's Petr Cech. Those clubs are who they are because their custodians make their defenses stellar. Their cost has been repaid many times over. But the moment went by as Wenger chose to be pusillanimous.
Wenger did make a late charge trying for middle tier Mark Schwarzer, desperate to come to a big club. The Fulham goalie in the light of today's horror show would have been perfectly capable of organizing the defense so not to expose Aaron Ramsey. Not top drawer but an experienced veteran with leadership skills. In hindsight his price tag at £4M now seems to be a good bargain. But Wenger chose parsimony. That moment too went by.
Seven months later, Wenger has turned to 41 year old Jens Lehman. The former Arsenal goalkeeper last played a competitive game a year ago. It does not get more surreal than this.
He's to be Almunia's back up who was Fabianski's back up who himself was Almunia's back up before he got downgraded. Fabianski got hurt but instead of Sczesny becoming Almunia's back up, it was he who became Sczesny's back up. With Sczesny hurt, Vito Mannone should have become Almunia's back up. But Mannone was hurt too and Almunia had no back up. But four years before, Almunia was Lehman's back up before he was downgraded and he then became Almunia's back up which left them both frazzled. Now they get to reprise that dance again which means that the present crisis has its origins in 2007-08. Yet Wenger chose to do nothing about it.
But all of this does not matter because in this merry go round he comes free. Like his old friend Sol Campbell, another Wenger piecemeal move to bolster Arsenal's crisis on defense. Which again dogs them this year.
Thomas Vermaelen is undoubtedly a quality centre back but his career has been chequered with injuries. This was no secret in Ajax where he had only one injury free season out of five. It would have been naive not to expect him to re-injure himself again in the most physical league in the world. But Wenger chose to go for the cut price Sebastian Squillaci as back up and picked an inexperienced Laurent Koscielny as Vermaelen's partner.
Six months later Vermaelen's injury saga continues without a seeming end. In the meanwhile Koscielny and Squillaci combined to form a disastrous partnership. Arsenal enjoyed a brief reprieve when Djourou came back and paired Koscielny. With the Swiss sidelined, Arsenal's brittle hopes for the remainder now lie on two French get out of jail free cards to the rest of the clubs.
Wenger was debating whether to get a centre back in the winter transfer with Vermaelen's prolonged recovery a factor. By that time, Djourou partnering admirably with Koscielny stilled Wenger's straying hand to his account book. With the encouraging news that Vermaelen might be back in a few weeks the transfer period closed without a single player bought. In Arsenal's present squad we have Tomas Rosicky and Robin Van Persie's mythic round the corner recoveries which should have warned Wenger. But maybe he was too busy celebrating his penny pinching to notice.
It is shocking how much Wenger has transformed in the last seven years to nickel and dime the core competencies of defense. Having a solid and competent defense while giving nothing away in attacking quality seem to register two mutually exclusive qualities in his mind. And yet it was a solid and competent defense that gave us the Invincibles. He has also been remiss in not seeking players with obvious leadership qualities. Tony Adams where are you?
Last year's AGM ended in an acrimonious exchange between supporters and Wenger, maintaining a prickly defense of his methods. Nothing so far suggests that this year's meeting is going to be any less so. Man Utd seems to have steered themselves out of a losing funk in the nick of time but meanwhile we're spurning every opportunity to come closer. Mourinho used to crow "zero tituli" to mock his Serie rivals. That's where we're heading once again.
Had the great pleasure of seeing them perform at this year's Good Vibrations in Sydney. Maxi Jazz was just awesome. This is the live version which is a lot more fun than the studio version. Can't help but think this is the musical analogy of Barca's tiki taka. There you have it, the raison d'etre to why this song is on Soccerblog. Enjoy.
Needless to say, Mario Balotelli might not be your preferred house guest for dinner if a rack of ribs is on the menu. But it does make him look human after all those horror stories of an aloof, supercilious, and thoroughly disagreeable personality. He actually smiles sheepishly. Now let his feet speak in that Man Utd FA Cup semi-finals. Bib optional.
The announcement was hardly out when Franz Beckenbauer openly worried that opposing Blatter would split FIFA into two camps. Old Franz knows something about singularity of purpose - ask Jens Lehmann as the Bayern cabal went out of the way to destroy him in order to promote Ollie Kahn as goalkeeper of the German squad in 2006 World Cup.
What would happen if Sepp Blatter does not win re-election? There is one thing to be thankful for above and beyond it all: The marginalization of the most polarizing and corrupt of his many right hand men. Jack Warner. He is the poster boy for FIFA's lip service to transparency under Sepp Blatter. Under him CONCACAF has become a dependable voting bloc for the Swiss tyro over the many election cycles. The benevolence has paid handsome dividends as FIFA has turned a blind eye to the one of many scams that Andrew Jennings has so assiduously investigated.
Old Franz's complaints of divisiveness is a bit rich when Warner in his capacity as CONACAF president and FIFA vice -president was jet setting to candidate countries bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup and playing the old game of divide and conquer. He could not have telegraphed bribe me any more graphically. Under this sleaze's active intervention, the Soca Warriors would have been fobbed off with pittances from the T&T football federation's windfall after the 2006 World Cup. They rightly sued. To date his own countrymen representing T&T in a blaze of shining glory have not received a single cent.
Blatter might point to South Africa on his vitae as FIFA opening up new parts of the world capable of accommodating the global game. But his championing of Russia and Dubai comes on the heels of the western world's worst economic meltdown, a calamity bought on by a lack of transparency. The parallels are apparent to those less concerned about egalitarian ownership of the global game and wary of the smoke and mirrors of the current leadership. It is the latter being highlighted by the opposition candidate.
"I will consider ... the demands from the public to keep Fifa and football organisations above accusations and suspicion of negative practice; the demands of the public to create an absolute, ethical, democratic and transparent environment within Fifa," said Bin Hammam. "I will establish a transparency committee."
But Bin Hammam's announcement also reflects the shifting of the market place. Apart from Japan, the region with the highest rate of return for future investments lie in Asia. The biggest market for growth in football despite the paucity of player representation reflects the power of the mind boggling disparity in generating new viewership between Europe and Asia.
A skew well understood with a growing number of European clubs mounting pre-seasons in Asia. Richard Scudamore's desire for a 39th Premiership match was demonized but it will happen in some shape or form in the next few years. China, till a decade ago, a veritable shadow but with the 2008 Olympics is now mentioned as potential World Cup hosts in the near future, alternating the world's biggest spectacle with the ASEAN countries.
The old guard could look to Blatter's straddling both fences torn between natural proclivity and a new reality. Russia and Dubai might have been blips. With Hammam's presidency the shifting of power is irreversible. But the Qatari has been emboldened by one time allies, now spurned, willing to gamble on anyone but Blatter. Joao Havelange and his hand picked successor Sepp Blatter have ruled FIFA for as many years as Mohammed Gaddafi ruling Libya. An echo of the seismic forces dissatisfied with the status quo sweeping the Middle East? Hardly fanciful.
Blatter responds to the latest and most serious challenge to his presidency by seeking the most unsavoury company. No wonder the numbers eager to see the last of him are rising.
Lovers of redemption rub your hands. Man Utd and Chelsea meet this time in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Three years ago, they waged a bitter war in the finals in Moscow. A match that was well within the grasp of Chelsea slipped away in one irredeemable moment as John Terry lost his footing on the slick surface of the Luzhniki and missed his penalty kick. It is quite possibly the moment that torments most when it comes to Chelsea's frustrating history in the Champions League.
The encounter comes when the Premiership is on a tightrope with Man Utd holding onto a razor thin lead, Arsenal knocking on the door, and Chelsea showing signs of a late revival.
Tottenham have gained enough admiration for the way they've garnered success in their maiden campaign but they face a real challenge vs Real Madrid, a nine time winner of the Champions League. Not an insurmountable task because the Liga runners up have looked vulnerable against teams that attack with pace and power. Which Spurs possess in spades. Gareth Bale should be back and pose any number of problems for Sergio Ramos as he did Maicon, arguably amongst his peers in that position.
No such problems for Barca as they face Shakhtar Donetsk. The Ukrainian club got the better of Arsenal in the group stage as the former vestige of Eduardo came back to haunt them. But the talented Brazilians in that club will find it hard to combat metronomic Barca. Inter face Schalke and on the strength of their rejuvenation under Leonardo, this match too should be relatively easy.
More from the BBC on today's draw >>
Marcelo scores a beauty dancing around the Lyon defense as Cristiano Ronaldo provides the killer assist! Karim Benzema adds another against his old club and Angel Di Maria rounds off the tally.
Sir Alex Ferguson's contract should include the provision that he publicly proclaim his contempt for a referee before a match. It's called banns.
This simplifies the task of investigating charges and the appeal process. The FA can move immediately to the punitive part - similar to the purpose of banns. An axiom: Sir Alex is going to abuse referees if the match does not go his way. We offer a preemptive solution.
The FA took two weeks to come to a decision after the Martin Atkinson brouhaha. Sir Alex was assessed a three match ban and a £30,000 fine. This will be tacked onto a two match ban he already faces for calling Alan Wiley "physically unfit". He can appeal the ban - so it is not over yet.
Samuel Eto'o fires the first goal for Inter before two defensive lapses cost them the lead. Julio Cesar bobbles Arjen Robben's shot and Mario Gomez makes him pay by hooking the ball into an empty net. Minutes later, Dejan Stankovic deflects Robben's cross invitingly into the path of Thomas Mueller and the German flicking the ball over the spreadeagled Cesar.
Cesar makes up for it effecting a brilliant but risky save off Frank Ribery's shot after the Frenchman is sent free after Andrea Ranocchia bites on the ball. At the other end Thomas Kraft brings down Stankovic for what appeared to be a clear penalty and a sending off. But the goalkeeper survives as the referee does not entertain Inter's appeals.
Bayern come close as Gomez turns Ribery's floated cross across goal towards the far post. Both Ranocchia and Mueller scramble with the centre back sliding in fractionally before to turn the ball away before it rolls over the goal line. The ball deflects off the German's foot back to goal but fortuitously balloons off the upright and Cesar is able to collect.
Lucio gets into all sorts of trouble trying to finesse the ball away but succumbs to Mueller and Ribery's pressure and is in danger of conceding a goal but the Frenchman is called offside. Cesar then spectacularly saves Gomez's volley off yet another Ribery cross.
Inter's equalizer comes after the newly introduced Phillipe Coutinho sends a long diagonal ball to Eto'o. With the Bayern defense trying to reset - the striker lays the ball off for Wesley Sneijder whose acutely angled shot finds the gap between Kraft and the far post.
With Bayern fading Inter comes close as Cambiasso, Coutinho, and Sneijder dominate the ball. The breakthrough comes after Eto'o, whose play making skills close to goal is vastly underrated latches onto a long ball, shrugs off an Inter defender, and cuts in to lay off a pass off to the arriving Goran Pandev who cracks the ball over Kraft.
Eto'o scored the first goal and had a hand in the other two. He made all the difference. The club has also regained its footing under Leonardo. Since taking over on 24th December 2010, the club has won 11 of its 14 matches and gained 34 points to pull it to second place, 5 points behind Milan.
The elusive Chicharito Hernandez, surely the signing of the season (Rafael Van Der Vaart is the other claimant) slips through unnoticed to score a brace against Marseille. Man Utd did enough to enter the quarterfinals without looking entirely convincing.
Wayne Rooney might be short on goals but he's finding a role as playmaker. He and Ryan Giggs combined to create the movement leading to Chicharito's first goal.
Antonio Valencia finally succeeded in his elaborate dance to shift the ball to his dominant right foot for an outlet to Giggs. The midfielder's perfectly choreographed pass found Chicharito for his second goal.
Wes Brown scored an own goal to make things interesting but Marseille generally lacked initiative. They could have taken advantage of Utd's extensive re-jiggering of the back four forced on by injuries. The centreback pair of Chris Smalling and Wes Brown looked particularly vulnerable.
Jens Lehmann who definitely has tiger blood in his veins returns to Arsenal to help out with their goalkeeping emergency. With goalies dropping off like flies, untested 19 year old James Shea is the only healthy back up to Manuel Almunia whose had his share of injuries and major cock ups. Not an appetizing scenario.
Lehmann's last match for Stuttgart was May 8, 2010 so he's definitely short of match practice but he's been keeping fit.
It was Almunia who took over from Lehnmann in 2007- 08 with the German relegated to the bench which led to some hard feelings.
It will be interesting to see if that rivalry is resurrected - Wenger might be tempted to start Lehmann if Almunia undergoes a loss of form. That was the case with Sol Campbell last season when Wenger introduced the veteran centre back after Mikael Silvestre proved to be such a liability.
Stoke beat West Ham 2 -1 in the FA cup quarterfinals.The winning goal came off a sneaky free kick through a gap in the wall that Green got a hand to but couldn't keep out.
szólj hozzá: ---
Brisbane Roar pull back from two goals down and draw level with two minutes to go in extra time It is time for Michael Theoklitos's heroics as he stops Daniel McBreen and Pedj Bojic. Brisbane Roar win the A-League championship against Central Coast Mariners, their first title since the 2005 inaugural season. For Central Coast Mariners it was third time unlucky.
Theoklitos was named goalkeeper of the 2010-11 season but his Central Coast counterpart Matthew Ryan won the Joe Marston award for the MVP of the Grand Final.
Gary Lineker in his Guardian interview:
"You've got no chance of reaching the top if you're just playing for money. No, you play because you love it - and if you've got a talent you'll love it even more. You're not telling me that five-year-olds go: 'If I do this I'll earn lots of money and have a great life.'
The rest of the interview is equally bland.
Benoit Assou Ekotto:
"Martel said I go to England for the money but why do players come to his club? Because they look nice? All people, everyone, when they go to a job, it's for the money. So I don't understand why, when I said I play for the money, people were shocked. Oh, he's a mercenary. Every player is like that."
The spin would be Assou Ekotto the hard eyed realist with Lineker as the youthful idealist who still believes in values like honour and love of country. But Lineker in his second career as TV pundit is also extremely cautious about his public image which precludes him from expressing any strong sentiment. Assou Ekotto would have treated his illustrious Spurs predecessor with contempt.
This is big news. In rugby Ian Roberts and Gareth Thomas have come out and recently they were joined by cricket player Steven Davies. But gay footballers have continued to remain in the closet since the tragic death of Justin Fashanu.
Anton Hysen's father Glenn was a Liverpool defender and whilst there was involved in a homophobic incident. Six years later, Glenn Hysen was the keynote speaker in Sweden's Pride festival. Now we know why. A welcome augur towards increasing acceptance and tolerance in football? Lets hope so.
Three down. Only the Premiership is left in Arsenal's house of cards. And worse we will have to do it with Koscielny and Squillaci as the centre back pair as Johan Djourou dislocated his shoulder and is out for the season.
Sir Alex Ferguson began with what can only be called a Maginot line - seven defensive players but as the match progressed, these were just on paper.
United's heroes were the Da Silva brothers. Both players showed incisiveness down the flanks and in midfield orchestrating United's potent counterattacks. Their fluid movement posed all sorts of problems for the Arsenal defense.
Fabio finished what he created in midfield, His diagonal pass from beyond the halfline finds twin Rafael. The right back controls the ball and picks out Rooney who floats a cross to Javier Hernandez. An out of position Manuel Almunia manages to parry out the Mexican's header but only to a lurking Fabio who just has to tap the ball in.
Rafael's surging run in the 49th minute finds him across goal and he cracks a shot which is blocked by Djourou. The ball balloons up and Rooney is left with a simple header.
Arsenal had their chances but Van Der Sar was equal to the challenge. It is comforting to have such a rock as a custodian while the Gunners still keep playing their goalkeeping musical chairs.
Still it was not all bad. A bit to cheer as Aaron Ramsey made his first Arsenal appearance since last year's horrific injury.
"To come away just one goal behind after the first-half performance is very fortunate," said Dalglish. "While they didn't create a lot of chances, we created most of our own problems ourselves and when you play as badly as that you are fortunate to lose only 1-0."
Couldn't have been more plain spoken. No excuses. No blaming the referee or the pitch.
Braga's Brazilians made sure that Liverpool never gained a foothold in the first half. Alan converted a spot kick after Mossaro was brought down by Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
Things improved when Andy Carroll was introduced but the Merseyside club ran out of time.
Veteran Andriy Shevchenko, the former Milan and Chelsea striker showed quick thinking and quick feet to give Dynamo Kyiv the lead in the 25th minute. And in the 77th minute Oleh Gusev added a second as Kyiv ran out victors, 2-0.
Roberto Mancini looked stunned. He also had to deal with second half theatrics served up by Mario Balotelli who tottered in late and then developed all manners of facial tics. He had to be taken off looking quite ill. It was apparently an allergic reaction brought on by the grass on the pitch which caused his face to swell up. Edin Dzeko was a non-factor.
The action swings back to the Eastlands and City have their work cut out to overcome a two goal deficit.
In all of the furore surrounding Robin Van Persie's dismissal by Massimo Busacca a simple truth seems to have been overlooked - why did RVP foolishly strike Dani Alves on the face? Right after Busacca had cautioned him from making matters worse for entering into a war of words with Abidal.
He not only received a totally unnecessary booking but was thereafter skating on thin ice. Busacca without the hindsight of that first booking might have stopped with just cautioning the Arsenal striker for deliberately ignoring the offside whistle. But Van Persie was inviting trouble. Busacca probably thought another talking to was just going to be empty words. Underscoring the context of the undoubtedly harsh decision to give the second yellow.
Many have screamed bias and quoted statistics about Spanish clubs never having lost with Busacca officiating. Messi was clearly brought down by Diaby in the box right in front of the Italian referee. It was a clear penalty. Arsenal got an incredible break with his decision to wave on play. Which really waters down this whingeing about partisanship.
Now UEFA are contemplating a two match ban for Arsene Wenger and Samir Nasri after the two exchanged words with Busacca. An aggrieved Wenger hit back accusing UEFA of being a dictatorship and demanding they show humility by admitting they were wrong for the Van Persie sending off.
But where was Wenger when he had to calm his main striker and entreat him not to do something stupid. Pep Guardiola was on the sidelines waving his arms up and down visibly remonstrating with his players to take it down a notch.
Both teams were on the verge of something disastrous but there was only one manager who seemed to recognize the importance of mental composure. And Arsenal was the team unsurprisingly undone by momentary lapses of reason. It is a pattern well documented and shows no signs of mitigation. Reflexively the blame falls on the players. But this is too simple an explanation attributing this contagion to a sort of collective yawn. We have to look higher up for this malaise.
It has taken Wenger a while but he finally acknowledged that winning the Carling Cup was important to Arsenal's psyche. Thus it would follow the club would come out of the gates to end their six year old trophy drought against unheralded Birmingham. But evidently it seemed showing up was enough to earn them the Cup. It was the Blues who looked earnest and confident. And by the time the Gunners got going they were done in by another moment of mental fragility.
A teachable moment one would think. But here was Samir Nasri, not two days later virtually declaring Arsenal winner of the Premiership. Promptly Stoke cut them down to size. But he was just following Wenger's vainglorious cue that they were in line for a quadruple after winning an unnecessary FA Cup replay against Orient, 5-0. In the past, Wenger has compared Abou Diaby to Patrick Vieira on the strength of one display against Portsmouth. Just another example of the wishful fast tracking that has increased one trophyless year after another without the pre-requisite time, diligence, performance, and most importantly results on the field: Walcott will be the next Thierry Henry, Nasri is Pires, Wilshere is Rooney, Van Persie is Van Basten. It goes on.
This litany of self fulfilling prophecies is a dangerous sign that things are not going according to plan and Wenger is just rehashing past laurels. Just because you say so, doesn't make it so. Only in a world devoid of reality would someone like Nicklas Bendtner summon the braggadocio of best striker in the world. A world fostered by Wenger where it now seems bombast come first. Going after referees is another. Stacking imaginary odds against you requires creativity and invention. Unfortunately Wenger seems to be expounding more effort in that area than actually taking a good hard look at himself.
Peter Walton presided over the a recent game between Everton and Birmingham City.During the course of the game he became perhaps the first referee in premier league history to dish out an imaginary yellow card.
Jordon Mutch was the player who received the phantom booking.
szólj hozzá: ---
One can't but wonder with Arsenal on the ropes, Nicklas Bendtner could have pulled off the most outrageous heist of the 21st century with an almost last minute goal. But as is his wont, the Dane's touch deserted him and Victor Valdes was able to stop him. It was the one clear chance that Arsenal had all evening.
From the very outset it was clear that the visitors would not get too many. Zero shots was the unflattering statistic at the end of the match. In the end Barca's quality saw them through to the quarterfinals, 4-3 on aggregate, with their 3-1 win at home erasing their Emirates loss.
Wenger elected to start Tomas Rosicky, in place of the injured Theo Walcott and on the evidence displayed, the Czech continues to fade in quality. But he was not the only one having an off day.
That surely belongs to a clearly unfit Cesc Fabregas on his Camp Nou return whose singular contribution was an ill advised back heel just when Arsenal were trying to scramble the ball out of danger. Andres Iniesta pounced on the loose ball and Messi timed his run to perfection to receive the pass, glided it over Almunia with his left foot, and guided the ball into goal. It was vintage Messi.
For a fitting response, Arsenal would have to rely on their leader to pull off some of his own magic as he did in the Emirates. But Fabregas struggled with the pace of the game and made way for Nicklas Bendtner in the 78th minute for an increasingly desperate Arsenal.
Arsenal's task was rendered even more difficult when Robin Van Persie was sent off controversially in the 56th minute for failing to check his shot after being whistled offside. Referee Massimo Busacca was unmoved by the "did not hear because of the noise" defence. The Dutch striker had received an earlier caution for striking Dani Alves on the face with his palm. Wenger's plans changed dramatically with his main offensive weapon off the field and with Busquet's fortuitous own goal resulting in a favourable 3-2 aggregate was forced to abandon the defensive high line.
To pull off an Inter was going to take a miracle and kudos go to the much maligned defence and Manuel Almunia for keeping the scoreline relatively tight. The Spaniard came in for the injured Wojciech Szczesny in the 19th minute. He showed some of the same stop saving instincts last year during Barca's 15 minute blitz and came up with some excellent saves. Wenger will also be particularly pleased with how Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou have progressed. They managed to recover in time to stop David Villa and Messi's darting runs and keep the ball in front of them.
However with Barca unrelenting on the ball it was a matter of time before they unlocked the defensive wall. Xavi Hernandez's goal came after Iniesta cleverly worked the ball with Villa providing the lightest of touch to send the number 4 to a rare score. Pedro was brought down by Koscielny after Barca made another one of their countless forays. Messi collected his second through the resulting penalty kick conversion.
Arsenal were well within last gasp heroics seeking to add to their away goal tally but Bendtner was not up to the mark. Their CL campaign is over.
Two down, two to go. For Wenger the end to the trophy drought now rests on the FA cup and the Premiership. He has four days to gear up the team for the 12th March encounter with Man Utd at Old Trafford.
Interview with the football legend, film actor, political activist, and tangential philosopher waxing on his career, international football and his new role with the New York Cosmos
"When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown in the sea."
~ Eric Cantona
Hopefully this is not what will happens to the NY Cosmos if and when it gets off the ground. You can get their jerseys but they have no stadium or players as yet! This is not to say New York/ New Jersey cannot support two teams - a derby clash will be just the boost the sport needs. Cantona's job as director of football will be to attract the talent and sign marquee players with a modicum of kung fu skills. Just kidding. With Pele and Cobi Jones already on board and Fabien Barthez mentioned as a possible coaching candidate that should not be too difficult.
Meanwhile posters of Pele and the original NY Cosmos have started appearing around the city to create a buzz. Some old football buffs even recognized the club's mascot Harold, a chimp pictured on a poster next to Pele's.
Barca's two centre back stalwarts Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique out of the line up is heartening news.
More welcome will be the presence of Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, and Jack Wilshere in the 18 man squad to make the trip to Camp Nou.
RVP had made very rapid progress in the last three days according to Wenger. And Fabregas's hamstring is now at 90% fitness. So they are not in fact, fully fit which means Wenger is taking a known gamble but to press a 2-1 advantage against the best team in the world leaves him with little choice.
Some would raise eyebrows at Pep Guardiola's statement that Wilshere would be a good reserve player at Barca. But it is hardly a put down given the quality right now in their first squad. Even Fabregas would find a tough go. But that overlooks the fact Wilshere is being groomed before his time because Denilson has proven so abysmal. It also benefits Fabio Capello as quality English midfielders are all too rare.
Alex Song is to miss the trip and his place will be taken by Abou Diaby with his known liabilities who will have to step up bolster defensive duties. Song has transformed into a genuine hardman and his crab like legs can tangle up many attacking players whereas Diaby is far more lightweight. He has to get down and dirty. A few hard tackles to disrupt Xavi and Iniesta.
Ahsan Ali Syed, the man with a Midas touch who rode into Blackburn as their saviour until several financial irregularities exposed by the BBC forced him out of contention is back in the news.
The mug happy Indian businessman is now the focus of increasing media scrutiny over a global scam involving millions of dollars. In short, his company, Western Gulf Advisory (WGA) allegedly took fees from his clients to secure loans that never materialized. It is estimated that this "Nigerian scam" cost Australian investors $100 million.
When Blackburn was eventually taken over by Venky's, Mr Syed turned his focus on the Liga and subsequently bought out financially strapped Racing Santander a few months ago. More recently, he promised to bail out Terry Serepsios, the owner of the Wellington Phoenix in the A-league from impending bankruptcy by buying out a 50% stake but so far the indications are that he too has been duped.
WGA now faces the possibility of a string of lawsuits to recover the money. Which of course, brings into question the future of Racing Santander. Their owner is known to bolt when things get hot under the collar.
Blackburn are lucky they counted their chickens. At least their owners are not tainted like the Ahsan Ali Syed character. Now if Venky's could give up some of their laugh out loud pie in the sky schemes.
Wikifraud documents Ahsan Ali Syed's scam trail which starts in India in his native Hyderabad where he too is wanted.
There should be a moratorium on statements like Samir Nasri's who before the Sunderland match came up with a bold prediction.
'We have the best schedule,' said Nasri. 'United have to play Liverpool, Chelsea and come to the Emirates. They play at Liverpool without Vidic and Ferdinand so something can happen.
'If we are on our game against Tottenham (Arsenal's game in hand), we can be on top. That's why we can win the title.'
The problem is that Arsenal despite these verbal bromides have yet to buckle up and show us that they control their destiny when the occasion demands. They have been helped by other clubs like Wolves, Chelsea, and most recently Liverpool in their effort to take over Man Utd. But when it comes to creating their own impetus they've been found sorely wanting.
On 5th February, United were on 54 points after Wolves ended their unbeaten streak. With Arsenal on 49 points the Newcastle match presented a golden opportunity to close the gap with the league leaders.
In a match marked by a self implosion of epic proportions, the Gunners blew a four goal lead and at the end barely managed to salvage a draw. With the extra two points, the Gunners could've been just a point off United's current total of 60 points. An enervated display against Sunderland saw them drop points again. A favourable result would have swung them two points ahead with a game in hand.
Without the stimulant of the Chelsea and Liverpool wins, the Gunners would have little realistic chances of winning the league.
It does not get easier going forward. They face Spurs, Liverpool, and Man Utd in short order. And their rear is exposed with City and Chelsea showing no signs of going away Statements like Nasri serve no purpose other than lulling the squad into a sense of dangerous complacency. The first sign of opposition resistance has led to disappointingly effete and timorous displays.
Arsenal will be better served plugging into Charlie Sheen's twitter feed. The man has become an overnight cultural phem - a Colonel Kurtz type living on a very rapidly diminishing island of sanity with his stream of consciousness followed by millions. Just a sampling:
''Tiger blood will drip from my veins . . . defeat is not an option."
"My passion. My passion. If you borrowed my brain for five seconds, you'd be like, 'Dude! Can't handle it, unplug this bastard!' ''
''I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man.''
Wenger's boys to men have to play each match possessed by the very demons who've infected Sheen's membrane. Play with tiger blood and without defeat as an option. Only then will they throw off the banality of failure.
If you are a forward who has just had a crack at the goal and have seen to your dismay that your shot hit the upright and bounced just outside the goal,don't worry.
You just have to walk away with your arms in the air pretending to celebrate a goal and the ref will obligingly do the rest.
Marcell Jansen's opening goal for Hamburg was allowed against Mainz was allowed to stand in precisely such a manner.
All the hard work for Kuyt's first goal was done by Suarez who danced between 3 or 4 defenders before getting the ball through for Kuyt to merely tap home.
Kuyt's second goal was a gift from Nani who headed the ball back to him.
The third one came off a free kick that Van der Saar failed to hold on to.Kuyt was in the right place at the right time to kick the rebound in.Man Utd have to figure this one out..
The race to the title is still very much on.Arsenal get another chance.
The battle for the lowest spot is heating up...
West Ham beat Stoke 3 - 0 to go from 28 to 31 points.Stoke is still ahead of them at 34 points.
Fulham went to up to 35 points by beating Blackburn 3 -2 and can breathe a bit easy.Blackburn remain at 32 points.
West Brom are now up to 32 points because they beat Birmingham 3 -1. Birmingham remain at 30 points.
Aston Villa will rue the penalty miss.They lost that chance to equalise against Bolton and more importantly lost the point,A draw would have taken them to 34 points...and just that bit ahead of the pack of the others on the relegation battlefield.
It may be a bit lonely at the top but it's terribly crowded at the bottom of the EPL this season.The countdown of those who all face the Relegation Drop reads like this..
10th: Stoke City 34pts
11th Everton 33 pts
12th: Aston Villa 33 pts
13th: Fulham 32 pts
14th: Blackburn 32 pts
15th: Blackpool 32pts
16th: Birmingham City 30 pts
17th: West Brom 29 pts
18th: Wolves 28 pts
19th: West Ham 28 pts
20th: Wigan 27 pts
Chelsea came back after being a goal down to win 2 -1. Rooney scored for first for Man Utd.Chelsea came back with goals from Luiz and Lampard.Plenty of refereeing controversies.Luiz escaped what looked like a sure red card.The penalty decision that Lampard got his goal from looked a bit dodgy.And Vidic got a second booking so Man Utd will have to do without him for their game against Liverpool. No wonder the headlines read "Fergie fumes"