A moving tribute by the Toffees to remember the 96 fallen before the Newcastle game. To the Everton fans who made this day about fans no matter where and what stripe they support. And David Moyes showing that he’s not just a manager but a class act through and through:
“I applaud the families who continued to fight for the ones they loved. The outcome was nothing short of disgraceful. We have all been brought up to believe and trust in authority. The authorities who were responsible for ensuring the safety of supporters that afternoon let themselves down, as have the government parties who have been in power since. Praise must go to Andy Burnham and the families for getting disclosure.”
Everton’s moving tribute to the Hillsborough 96
Messi off the bench scores a brace as Barca beat Getafe, 4-1
Adriano gets the Blaugranas started after Cesc Fabregas does all the brilliant spadework. Well into the second half, Pedro is brought down in the box and Messi who comes off the bench scores from the spot. The little maestro is at the right place at the right time to sweep into goal Montoya’s cross for his brace.
Getafe get one back as their goal comes after a bizarre double deflection off Xavi and Javier Mascherano. The last laugh belongs to Barca as David Villa gets Barca’s fourth and final goal.
Messi it is said was given a bit of a rest after a grueling schedule of internationals with Argentina which also included their bus getting pelted by stones in Peru for the World Cup qualifier.
Barca continue to be in first place and are now eight points ahead of 10th placed Real Madrid.
Real Madrid lose again this time to Sevilla, 0-1
Piotr Trochowski’s majestically swept in half volley following a corner in the 2nd minute was the game winner. “Sad” Ronaldo did not do much. It was a bad tempered match and after losing Real are in 10th position. Not exactly keeping up with Barca are they? Mourinho was quite blunt:
“I worry about my team. They did not play against Getafe, and today they played very little like they did Granada. More to the point, I am concerned that at this time I have no team.”
This is what makes Mourinho so unlikeable. He’s already throwing his team under the bus instead of analyzing why they are not doing well.
Manchester City held to a standstill by Stoke, 1-1
Peter Crouch must have committed about five handballs before scoring but the referee failed to spot even a single one. There was nothing dodgy however about Asimir Begovic’s goalkeeping. He brought off at least three spectacular saves. However, he could not keep out Javi Garcia, who made his City debut as did Maicon and Scott Sinclair. The last 20 minutes were a Toure de force, as Yaya kept coming at Stoke but luck and Begovic kept their unbeaten streak alive.
Stoke also avoided a stoppage time heart breaker after Edin Dzeko beat an onrushing Begovic to spoon a shot towards goal but Ryan Shawcross sprinting back managed to keep the ball out throwing his left leg out just before it crossed the line.
Michael Owen came on for Crouch but he did not do much. Was he supposed to?
Queens Park Rangers hold off Chelsea, 0-0
Not exactly Chelsea’s best match. There was no Juan Mata but there was plenty of Frank Lampard which does not make for pretty viewing. There were two close penalty calls, the first when John Terry seemed to be gang tackled by Ryan Nelsen and then Eden Hazard was brought down by Shaun Wright- Phillips. The first one looked pretty clear cut but the second one seemed more incidental and Hazard seemed to milk it. Victor Moses had a very good debut and
QPR looked more and more composed as the match went on and they had their best chance when Park Ji Sung with the whole goal at his mercy headed straight to Petr Cech. A bit more angle and that would have been QPR celebrating. By the way, Esteban Granero is quite an acquisition. The Real Madrid player was the midfield cog.
Anton Ferdinand vs John Terry (and Ashley Cole): No handshake
He won in court and now he wants his handshake too? Anton Ferdinand snubbed John Terry and a bit later Ashley Cole, his co-conspirator declining to shake their hands. Lip reading Terry, he appears to say, “My handshake is better than yours, damn right!”
Utd’s old and new post an impressive victory over Wigan, 4-0
Danny Welbeck is a diver. His acting abilities earned Utd an penalty. So it was justice served when Chicharito Hernandez’s soft spot kick was saved. Sir Alex Ferguson started Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes who was making his 700th appearance. The most intriguing change was 23 year old Alexander Buttner’s appearance in place of Patrice Evra. Apart from that bit of first half Welbeckian drama there was no premonition of the number of goals that were going to erupt in the second half.
It was fitting that Scholes got the ball rolling as the ginger haired assassin was at hand to put back Al Habsi’s spill. Scholes scores goals and he amasses passes. Chicharito or Chickarito as the commentator insisted on calling him, deflected in Buttner’s shot past Al Habsi as Utd added to their tally.
The Vitesse Arnhem left half easily the most eye catching player on the pitch with his work rate and skill continued his spectacular debut scoring after an unstoppable run a la Emmett Smith. Gathering the ball after falling, he drove past a maze of defenders and then unleashed a shot from the tightest of angles which Al Habsi once again was not able to hold onto. Plenty of luck but plenty of skill. A pensive Evra appeared to contemplate his future in the club. Sir Alex’s next debutante Nick Powell also crashed the party with a spanking shot which left Al Habsi a bystander. As it were, Utd did not need RVP or Shinji Kagawa. They were helped too by a disorganized Wigan’s defense and Al-Habsi’s forgettable day between the sticks.
Six gun salute for the Gunners as they sweep Saints, 6-1
szólj hozzá: Arsenal vs Southampton 6:1 MOTD
The only imperfection in an otherwise perfect outing for the Gunners was the display of Wojciech Szczesny who could not preserve a clean sheet. A minor detail it would appear but an irritating one nevertheless. The rest was quite stellar.
Arsene Wenger did not start any frontline striker opting to go for Podolski, Gervinho, and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. In place of Abou Diaby, Frances Coquelin got his start. And Vito Mannone made way for Szczesny. It was on the front foot for the Gunners right from the start with Santi Cazorla ably backed up by Mikel Arteta as the two Spaniards began to run the show. Lovely touch football in the tightest of spaces as players interchanged positions fluidly and freely.
Dare we say it? In the four matches played so far Cazorla has shown himself to be a notch above Fabregas as a creator. He is so compact with the ball showing an incomparable ability to diagram plays and execute them with nary an extraneous pass. Podolski showed great tenacity and determination to claim the ball back and drive past defenders to feed Kieran Gibbs whose shot was turned into an own goal. His free kick was even better. Lacing the ball with plenty of power and movement to fool Kelvin Davis. Cazorla and Arteta linked up and the latter scooped the ball over to find Gervinho running hard and finishing superbly. The pair connected again a few minutes later as Cazorla put Gervinho through for the Cote D’Ivoirian to find Gibbs steaming from the left to slam his shot which once again deflected into goal.
A merry band of Gunners running riot over the hapless Saints and looking for more. However, the first half ended on a bit of a sour note as Szczesny could not hold onto a routine cross by Jason Puncheon and dropped the ball right in the doorstep of Danny Fox. The Polish goalie looked out of sorts with his goal kicks and throws proving nightmarish ventures. With the side playing solid and mistake free team defense, the last thing one needs is the last line looking shaky and conceding silly goals. You have to love the sight of the Gunners regrouping to run back in numbers and maintain that defensive shape. The Saints counterattack was going nowhere with all the gaps and players covered till Szczesny had that brain freeze.
The second half saw the Saints rustling up a bit more ambition pushing forward and seeing more of the ball. But the Gunners after a lull answered through Aaron Ramsey who had an excellent game. His first touch after receiving the ball from Cazorla was impeccable and set up a sequence of movements with his shot flicked through hitting the upright. Gervinho was at hand to clean up. Oliver Giroud came on and one thought his goal drought would end when Theo Walcott broke through with pace to created a two on one situation. But in a familiar routine, wisdom was jettisoned, and he decided to over elaborate allowing the defense to recover and then twisted and turned into a cul de sac. Walcott did get Arsenal’s final goal when Cazorla dinked a rebound into the path of the former Saints player and he crashed the ball into the net. Muted celebrations followed. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, the other Saint in the midst was a constant threat down the right and came close a couple of times to scoring a goal.
One note. Per Mertesacker. The tall, lanky German had a superb game. He often looks slow but makes up for it with great positional sense. Today, we saw an aggressive Mertesacker imposing himself on set pieces. Usually, it is Vermaelen who takes the lead.
With this result, we go to Montpellier to begin the CL campaign with a good head of steam. Then back to the league to face City and a far more severe test. The scoring seems to be coming by committee which is probably the best way to plug RVP’s loss. However, we really don’t need a goalkeeping controversy because the last time we had one, there were three choices. Worse, much worse, the worst.
Four Arsenal legends found Southampton a lucky charm: Will Oliver Giroud?
It took Thierry Henry eight matches to open his scoring account for Arsenal, a period so fraught with self doubt that the winger turned striker admitted he had to be “re-taught everything about the art of striking.” The drought ended on 18 September 1999 against Southampton, as Henry losing his marker, finds a sliver of space and curls his shot without any further elaboration. The rest they say is history. Arsenal’s topscorer finished with 228 goals (and possibly counting) breaking Ian Wright’s previous record by 43 goals.
Wright did not have to wait that long. His first league appearance was against Southampton on 28 September 1991, and it turned out to be a stunning debut as Arsenal scorched the Saints, 4-0 with Wright scoring a hat trick on his way to winning the Golden Boot. Three years later, Southampton were at the receiving end of another Wright hat trick losing by an identical margin. The former Crystal Palace striker ended his Arsenal career with five hat tricks and lead the club goalscoring six of his seven years.
The highly anticipated arrival of Dennis Bergkamp, a rising star on a record fee of £7.5 million from Inter was expected to pay immediate dividends. Instead, Bruce Rioch’s signing struggled to adapt to the Premier League. On 23 September 1995, Southampton came knocking and Bergkamp, the butt of merciless ridicule by the press, scored a brace in his fifth appearance. He went on to score 11 goals that season helping Arsenal to fifth place in the league. Bergkamp ended his Arsenal career giving the English language, “sublime.” .
Robin Van Persie, his career blighted with injury till last season, lived up to his full throated promise when he showed what he was capable of if healthy. Arsenal shot to third place after their worst start in fifty eight years as the Dutchman top scored with 30 league goals. RVP came to Arsenal from Ajax in 2004 and his first brush with the Premier League was marred by competition from Antonio Reyes, immature outbursts, and injuries. He was a sparingly used sub coming in late for either Reyes or Pires and it was his fifth match coming off the bench as Arsenal trailed Southampton, 1-2. With a few minutes left on the clock, RVP drew Arsenal level with a left footed curler for his first Premiership goal on 30th October. The Saints turned out to be a familiar target once again on their Premiership return, as RVP scored a first hat trick for his new club, Man Utd.
Oliver Giroud should take heart. His movement has been good and he’s been getting chances in front of goal. He doesn’t have to overthink things. Admittedly, all four players who scored against the Saints were not exactly centerforwards but were either wingers turned strikers or were comfortable playing in the hole. Giroud’s best bet still remains positioning himself out on the posts for set piece service or second attempts. He has to use his height and physicality to create chances for him and for others in and around the box. Tomorrow might be the day to end his scoring frustrations. If he does, he’s in excellent company.
An oldie but a goodie: David Brent on football management
Being: Liverpool is a FSC documentary with the first episode to be aired this Sunday, the 16th. There are enough examples to show Brendan Rodgers channels David Brent in his interviews. He also has a self portrait hanging on a wall in his living room. So without further ado, above a clip of Brent on football management.
” Do you think that Alan Hansen or Mark Lawrenson would have had the careers they had if they’d have had the skills, but without the discipline? Without the concentration? It’s not easy passing the ball back to the goalkeeper every single time you get it for ninety minutes. Yeah, they got out the game before they changed the back-pass rule. One step ahead, you know. “
Priceless. Arsenal’s goalie, David Seaman gets some comical boosting from Brent.
Abou Diaby will not play Saints, Sagna and Wenger patch up
Arsene Wenger has opted for caution following Abou Diaby’s niggling hip injury sustained against Finland last Friday. He most likely will not feature in Arsenal’s home game this Saturday against the Saints as a precautionary measure. Which given Diaby’s extensive history of being crocked is probably a wise thing to do.
The French midfielder’s early performances have received rave reviews but keeping him fit for a whole season will be a monumental undertaking. Guy Roux said Diaby “is mounted on two matches with a spot of glue in the middle.” Wenger might rue rushing him out before recovering fully.
Diaby, however hopes to be back for their Champions League opener facing Montpellier this coming Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Bacary Sagna has been given some face time with Wenger after his statements in an interview questioning why Arsenal chose to sell of two of their best players in Robin Van Persie and Alex Song. He also claimed no contact from Arsenal on offering an extension deal with his contract entering its final year after this season. Wenger was quite blunt saying his attitude was anyone who felt dissatisfied was free to leave. But he felt Sagna was not unhappy and only his negative comments were highlighted. The Arsenal manager was quite confident Sagna would be offered an extension but it would not be a five year one with the full back hitting 30 years of age next February.
“I expect him to stay and I want him to stay,” Wenger said. “The interview does not really reflect what he thinks about the club and the love he has for the club.”
On a more positive note, Sagna might be back in two or three weeks. Jack Wilshere’s rehab is going well and the midfielder should be joining training soon. Wojciech Szczesny has recovered from a rib injury and should be available for the Southampton match.
Barcelona’s 2013-14 away kit to sport colours of Catalonian flag
The Bars of Aragon, part of the Catalonian flag will feature in the 2013-14 kit
Two days ago, a million and a half Catalonians demonstrated in Barcelona in an unmistakably fervent call for independence from Spain. The president of Barcelona, Sandro Rosell attended that demonstration with his family as a private citizen, not representing the club. And Pep Guardiola living it would appear in exile in New York sent a video in support of a Catalan nation with the message, “one more vote for independence.” The former Barca manager also recently attended a NY event celebrating the national day of Catalonia.
Next season, the club is unveiling its new away kit with the Bars of Aragon emblazoned on its jerseys in solidarity with the Catalonian people. Rosell when asked what Barca’s future would be if Catalonia indeed achieved independence was quick to add that they would not break ties with the Spanish league and would play El Clasico’s.
Which brings us to what exactly are Guardiola’s future aspirations? The conventional wisdom is that he’s biding his time and will return to the sport. But what if he believes he has a future in politics in the nascent Catalonian state? It’s not hard to see him garner widespread support. He is after all the lynchpin behind the homegrown project that nourishes Barcelona and continues to bring the club so much success.
Boris Johnson apologizes for his 2004 Spectator hit piece
The Hillsborough Panel’s report exposing a systematic and pernicious police cover up has in its aftermath generated a growing list of personalities apologizing for their part in blaming fans for causing Britain’s most horrific peacetime tragedy. As many have put it, this was the mother of all cover ups.
Add Boris Johnson to that list along with Kelvin Mackenzie, the editor of the Sun, who earlier profusely apologized for writing ‘The Truth’, a planted story by the SYC, blaming drunk, violent fans invading the pitch for causing the deaths of other fans.
Johnson, London’s mayor is a former editor of the Spectator and in 2004 ran this piece which lambasted Liverpudlians for barely failing to observe a minute’s silence in memory of Ken Bigley, a fellow Liverpudlian, at a soccer match. Bigley was murdered in a particularly gruesome way by Iraqi insurgents and his death was televised on the internet. This indifference was traced to the welfarism infecting the city which Johnson said led to the feeling of “vicarious victimhood” that allowed fans to escape blame for their own role in bringing about the Hillsborough tragedy.
It would appear as if Johnson, like Paul Ryan, loves some Ayn Rand. Masters of our own destiny sounds nobler than fighting for JFT96. Who knows better than conservatives that trusting the people is the right thing to do, eh? But are they right kind of people? Here is Johnson’s apology a week later. It is hard to find it in all the word salad of self aggrandizement and third person references. But if you have a whole day and a particularly powerful microscope. Eight years later he is a bit more clear and forthright in his contrition.
Ivan Gazidis redefines Arsenal success
There are many ways one can define success, especially in this football era which clearly divides the haves from the have nots. That is what one gets after reading Ivan Gazidis’s Telegraph interview.
Gazidis is the CEO of Arsenal, and a marketing and PR man by profession who was hired to develop the commercial interests of the club. It is this part, unsurprisingly that comes off strongest in terms of defining success because looming in the horizon, a 2014 deadline which will see existing sponsorships expire and newer, far more lucrative ones negotiated which will increase the financial clout of a self sustaining model.
The present contracts were not the best value for money because Arsenal were desperately preoccupied with funding the move to the Emirates.
“In terms of the financial impact, it will be as significant a step forward as the stadium was in 2005,” Gazidis said. “It does kick us into the top five clubs in the world with separation from the rest. The overall journey that the club embarked on was to make it one of the leading clubs in the world and to do it in a way that would be sustainable.”
The sense one gets from these statements and others is Arsenal better positioned in the long haul to negotiate the bewildering twists and turns of an economic maze as compared to many of its rivals. This dovetails into the overwhelming referencing of DNA which pertains to Wenger and the club’s thinking being inextricably linked and which will pass onto his successor when that time comes. If you look at it very narrowly, Gazidis is once again re-defining success.
“As a club, we have to make sure that all of the things that Arsène has brought to the club are enshrined in our DNA to make sure that, when Arsène decides it’s time, we are in a position to take his ideas and work forward.”
The other metric of success, silverware, which most fans care about, is given a boiler plate response. Gazidis, in a defensive crouch:
“We’re very optimistic about this season. We’re absolutely trying to win silverware and we’re trying desperately hard to do it this year.”
Although Gazidis strenuously emphasizes that the board’s ambitions are much higher than fourth position, the arrival of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, and Oliver Giroud can only be looked through the prism of the departures of Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, and Alex Song. This looks more like a holding pattern. A cup half empty but also half full.
One cannot expect Arsenal to score more than they did last season but they can bring down the number of goals conceded. Where they are already showing signs of success. Steve Bould is already having an impact with zonal marking bolstered by the repositioning of Mikel Arteta in the backfield. There is reason for optimism but one really can’t say whether this will be enough to bring back a trophy. But what Gazidis is preparing for us as does Wenger on many an occasion is a season should be examined in many different ways.
“When you look at what Arsene has done, within the overall constraints, he has outperformed our spending every single year he has been manager. It is extraordinary.”
Which does not answer that million dollar question. These “overall constraints” are now written into Arsenal’s DNA. But are they real or self imposed? Arseblog is of the view that there is money sitting around but Arsenal fail to use it to improve the squad or to give better wages to their top players.
The Sun’s Dominic Mohan apologizes for “The Truth”
The editor of The Sun, Dominic Mohan says, “we’re deeply ashamed and profoundly sorry”. At the background you can read a banner with the self anointed, “THE GREATEST PAPER IN THE WORLD.” You can’t get more alternate reality.