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Summary of September

Posted by Daniel Stone on October 2, 2007

adebyor.jpgI haven’t been able to write on the blog over the past month of September as I have been working on a different Project, which hasn’t been finished as of yet either! Therefore as I have been away for an entire month I think it’s a good idea for a summary of all the main things that occurred during the month of September:

Premiership

·         Thierry who?? Arsenal have started the season amazingly and notched up 6 successive victories in September which leaves them sitting prettily at the top of the Premiership and their Champions League group. Many pundits had said they would suffer the loss of Thierry Henry, however, his loss seems to have vindicated the Arsenal youngsters who have since stated that Henry had been a burden on their development (Cesc).

·         Manchester United have taken over the old old Arsenal (Tony Adams legacy), having won 1-0 six times in their last eight games. Boring Boring United! They are not firing on all cylinders as of yet but they are still in contention for the Premiership title.

·         To the contrary, Chelsea have successfully pressed the self-destruct button. Do you think Roman Abramovich has realised he made a mistake in sacking Jose Mourinho? Of course he doesn’t because this is just a game for him where he can spend his pocket money. The best decision Abramovich made was appointing Mourinho and the worst was sacking him. Yes Mourinho was sacked to the contrary ‘mutual consent’ malarkey coming out of Stamford Bridge and Mourinho himself.

·         Derby will be the first team to get relegated and might even be challenging Sunderland’s record as the worst Premiership team to get relegated.

La Liga

·         Real Madrid are somehow top of La Liga. I say somehow as they are not playing attractive football but winning. Take the last game against Getafe for instance, Getafe dominated the entire 90 minutes having 20 odd shots on goal but somehow Real came away with the 3 points. Their luck will soon run out so Schuster better get his troops into gear and playing this ‘attractive’ football we were promised!

·         The new galacticos, Barça, are relying heavily on the new Diego Armando Maradona. It’s amazing to see how similar Lionel Messi is to that great player Maradona was. Even Thierry has stated that if Messi keeps up this form he will go down as one of the best players of all time which goes to show just how well Messi has been performing this season. Thierry himself hasn’t performed as well as we have all become accustomed YET, oh yeah I forgot, he did score a hat-trick at the weekend, but prior to that he has struggled.

·         Sevilla are going through a rough patch, I don’t know if it has anything to do with the death of Antonio Puerta. My dear condolences are with his family and friends, his wife was eight months pregnant with his child. It truly is a very sad story. I really like the way Sevilla have played over the last two years and let’s hope they can get back to winning ways after 4 straight defeats, win another trophy and dedicate it to the magnificent Antonio Puerta.

Champions League

·         After the first round of games there were no really shocks apart from Fenerbahce beating Inter and Chelsea drawing with Rosenborg at home . The second batch of matches commence today, bring it on!

Posted in Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea, Derby County, La Liga, Manchester United, Premiership, Real Madrid, Sevilla | Leave a Comment »

Champions League draw

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 30, 2007

championsleague.jpgHere you have the Champions League draw. There isn’t really any group that will be classed as the Group of Death as the big teams seem to have been kept apart, for the time being!

Group A:Liverpool, Porto, Marseille, Besiktas

Liverpool and Porto should have absolutely no problem advancing to the next stage. Marseille, with Cisse, lost Frank Ribery in the summer and have had a very average start to the French League this season. Besiktas are bound to finish rock bottom.

Group B:Valencia, Chelsea, Schalke 04, Rosenborg

This group is similar to the previous one with the top two too powerful for the lower seeded teams. Chelsea knocked Valencia out of last season’s Champions League so the latter could be seeking revenge. Schalke 04 do not possess enough resources to trouble the big two. Rosenborg, no chance!

Group C:Real Madrid, Werder Bremen, Lazio, Olympiakos

Depending on the Real Madrid that turn up, this group could be quite open. Real Madrid had a very poor pre-season but have since started well in La Liga. However, Werder Bremen, Lazio and Olympiakos will be difficult to separate.

Group D:AC Milan, Benfica, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk

This group is probably the most competitive, taking away AC Milan. The holders shouldn’t have any problems progressing, although it will be very tight between Benfica (who have a new manager, Jose Camacho), Celtic (very hard to beat at Celtic Park) and Shakhtar (who have invested heavily on improving their squad).

Group E:Barcelona, Lyon, Stuttgart, Rangers

Last season I would have said this would be quite a difficult group for Barca but Lyon have started this season very slowly in contrast to previous years. Second place is up for grabs but I can’t see Rangers competing.

Group F:Manchester United, Roma, Sporting Lisbon, Dynamo Kiev

The major talking point of this group is Roma visiting Old Trafford for the second season in succession and after being humiliated 7-1 at the Theatre of Dreams (or nightmares in their case). United will take Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani back to their previous team, Sporting Lisbon, so it will be interesting to see the reception they get. I can see any of the top 3 qualifying.

Group G:Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce

Inter Milan have had an irregular start to their campaign but they should be qualifying along with PSV. It will be interesting to see how Roberto Carlos’ Fenerbahce get along. Moscow can also be a daunting place to go in winter.

Group H:Arsenal, Sevilla/AEK Athens, Steau Bucharest, Slavia Prague

Assuming Sevilla go through (they do lead AEK Athens 2-0 after the first leg) this seems to be the weakest group of the lot. I will be amazed if Arsenal and Sevilla do not qualify from this group.  

Posted in Arsenal, Barcelona, Champions League, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia | Leave a Comment »

Controversial penalty, goalkeeping howlers and a shock!!

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 20, 2007

chelseapenalty.jpgThis past weekend was dubbed as the biggest of the season so far and my god it didn’t disappoint. These are the major talking points of the third week into the 2007/2008 Premiership season:

  • Everybody seems to be hounding Rob Styles (the referee that took charge of Liverpool – Chelsea yesterday) but I for one, as a neutral, thought penalty as soon as I saw the incident live on TV. Having seen the replay I now know it definitely wasn’t a penalty. As we know the referee doesn’t have the option of looking at the replay (YET) but considering his position on the pitch when the incident happened he should have made the right decision. However, being a referee in the top flight these days must be the hardest job on earth!! He has since been dropped for next weekend due to his frailties. The game finished 1 all and Chelsea will be the happier of the two with the outcome. Liverpool will be delighted Fernando Torres got on the score sheet on his home debut. Liverpool 1 – 1 Chelsea

  • Manchester City provided the shock of the weekend, somehow beating rivals Manchester United with a long range effort from Brazilian Geovanni. I say somehow due to the pressure Manchester City were under at times. In the end they managed to keep their third clean sheet in a row as well as pick up 9 points from 3 games, shooting to the top of the Premiership. Manchester United have a major game this weekend hosting Tottenham, another defeat could mean the end of their defence of their title. Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United 

  • Arsenal felt aggrieved with the final result against Blackburn considering they were leading for long spells of the match and the manner in which Blackburn equalised, a howler by Jens Lehmann. Blackburn could also point to the fact that Arsenal took the lead through Robin Van Persie via a mistake by Brad Friedel the Blackburn stopper. Arsene Wenger stated after the match that Blackburn were violent (it always is for Arsenal against the northern clubs) but as Mark Hughes rightly says it is just sour grapes from Wenger as Arsenal thought they would come away with the three points. Blackburn 1-1 Arsenal

  • At the other end of the table newcomers Birmingham and Derby find themselves in a spot of bother having only acquired 1 point from their first 3 games and most notably Bolton are in big trouble, having lost each of their first 3 games. With El Hadj Diouf and Nicolas Anelka wanting out before the transfer window closes, Bolton might well be faced with a relegation battle.

 Take note of this past weekend as not many will finish like this one, none of the supposed ‘big four’ picking up 3 points.

Posted in Arsenal, Birmingham City, Blackburn, Bolton, Chelsea, Derby County, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Premiership, Tottenham | Leave a Comment »

Premiership Champions – Chelsea??

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 16, 2007

premiershiptrophy.jpgThe long awaited Part 4 is here! Here you can see Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.

1st Position – Chelsea                          

If the rumors are to be believed, Arjen Robben will be playing for Real Madrid this season whereas Daniel Alves will become a Blue. I think this is a great move for Chelsea, not only is Robben very injury prone, Alves will give great balance to the side (being a right sided player). Florent Malouda will be Robben’s replacement, a very good one indeed. Against Birmingham City and Reading, Chelsea showed their power and quality. They were not as solid as usual but these games are an example of how Chelsea are made of champions, others wouldn’t have grinded out those 3 points. Michael Ballack and Andrei Shevchenko have had a season to adapt to the Premiership so expect better performances this year.

Key Man: Didier Drogba 

2nd Position – Manchester United 

After an amazing season last year, United have made reinforcements spending big amounts. This season I think they will just fall short though as the signings (Nani and Anderson) seem to be more for the future rather than the present. I also think Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney are too similar as a strike force, both small and very technical. There may be times when United will need to hit a long ball to ease some pressure and so a target man will be needed. I think Owen Hargreaves is a great signing as a holding midfield player and if Cristiano Ronaldo can equal last season, we are in for a real treat. They will not be far off Chelsea.

Key Man: Cristiano Ronaldo 

3rd Position – Arsenal 

Arsenal, undoubtedly play the most attractive football in the Premiership. However, this alone does not win you trophies. Arsenal are begging for a prolific striker who can bury their numerous chances. Is Eduardo Da Silva the answer? Time will tell but I think this season will be too early for him. It will be interesting to see how Arsenal will cope without their ex captain Thierry Henry. If they can pick up points at places like Blackburn and Bolton (teams who have bullied them in previous seasons) they may have a chance of challenging for the title. If they keep this young team together they will be a real force in the forthcoming seasons.

Key Man: Robin Van Persie 

4th Position – Liverpool 

There is a lot of pressure on Rafa Benitez to bring the Premiership to Anfield, if at all possible, more so than previous seasons. Liverpool have spent big this season due to the new investors and so there is a real belief within the camp this is their year. However, with there being so many players at the club it is going to be difficult to keep them all happy. Reports suggest Crouch was already unsettled after the first game of the season. They also rely too much on Steven Gerrard. I think Fernando Torres will be a great signing but he will need a season to find his feet in the Premiership. Vronin and Ryan Babel are also good signings, the latter one for the future. 

Key Man: Steven Gerrard 

5th Position – Tottenham 

Another team that have spent big and are under great pressure to at the very least equal last seasons place and close the gap with the big four. Jose Mourinho has said they are in contention to battle for the title but I think that is out of the question. The signing of Darren Bent is very peculiar, considering they already have (and kept) a very similar player in Jermaine Defoe. I still cannot see them breaking into the Champions League. They still lack quality and desperately need a left winger.

Key Man: Dimitri Berbatov

Posted in Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Premiership, Tottenham | 2 Comments »

United draw first blood

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 5, 2007

van-der-sar.jpgManchester United defeated Chelsea on penalties to take home the Community Shield in an entertaining game played on a scorching day at Wembley. The game finished 1-1 with goals from Ryan Giggs and Florent Malouda but in the end Manchester United deservedly won on penalties with Edwin Van der Sar the hero. United took the initiative and dominated most spells of the game with Chelsea counter attacking.  

Even though the Community shield is not one of the so called ‘big trophies’, this will no doubt be a psychological blow to Chelsea and United will feel revenge is sweet after their defeat in the FA Cup final last season. Not just because of the result but because Manchester United were superior thoughout. Both teams can take positives from the game this afternoon though. Patrice Evra looked threatening throughout the game playing on the left hand side of midfield whereas Chelsea will also be pleased with Malouda’s integration into the team after capping off his debut with a magnificent goal. This is vital for Chelsea as they seem to be loosing Arjen Robben to Real Madrid. Glen Johnson also had a solid game at right back. 

Match Key Points: 

First Half;

20 mins – Giggs has a great chance to put the Red Devil’s ahead after a great run from Cristiano Ronaldo but Petr Cech makes a save. 

22 mins – Michael Carrick has a shot from outside the box that shaves the post. 

26 mins – Obi Mikel is inches away from heading Chelsea into the lead, Essien flicks on the first header from a set piece but Obi Mikel couldn’t divert the ball goal wise. 

29 mins – Ronaldo sends in a dangerous cross but Silvestre fails makes contact at the back post. 

35 mins – Man U GOAL, Evra and Ronaldo inter exchange a one-two down the left wing, Evra then finds Giggs who is close to the penalty spot and finishes the move sending the ball into the top of the net. 

45 mins – Chelsea GOAL, Rio Ferdinand is caught out by a great ball from Essien, Malouda latched onto the ball after a powerful run and sends the ball into the net evading Van der Sar (the ball but not Malouda, who ended up injured from a collision with Van der Sar). 

47 mins – Rooney could/should have been Red Carded after a high challenge on Ben Haim but instead escapes with a Yellow Card. Totally unnecessary! Rooney’s childish antics could cost United dear at some stage of the season. 

Second Half;

49 mins – Evra makes a run down the left wing, crosses and finds Cristiano Ronaldo in the box. Ronaldo controls and shoots but Cech makes an amazing save. Ryan Giggs shoots the rebound which is then blocked by Glen Johnson. 

69 mins – Pizarro has a long shot which he drags wide. 

74 mins – United should have had a penalty after a blatant push from Ben Haim on Vidic. 

Penalties:

Chelsea; Pizarro (missed), Lampard (missed), Wright-Phillips (missed)

Manchester United; Ferdinand (scored), Carrick (scored) Rooney (scored)

Posted in Chelsea, Manchester United, Premiership | Leave a Comment »

Heinze to Liverpool?

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 25, 2007

heinze1.jpgNow this is not a common situation in football but here it is:

Apparently Manchester United sent Gabriel Heinze’s agent a letter stating that if a club came in with an offer of £6.8 million for him they would agree to sell him. This alerted Liverpool, with Rafa Benitez being a firm admirer of the Argentinean international. BUT Liverpool’s interest has got Sir Alex Ferguson fuming,

“I can assure you Liverpool will not be getting Gabriel Heinze. We have had a couple of offers for him and we have turned them down.”

Benitez has since hit back,

“We made an offer which they rejected. The lawyers are working on it now so we have to wait.” 

Heinze is unsettled having lost his left back spot to Patrick Evra last season and with Manchester United reinforced in that position with Mikael Silvestre as cover for Evra, Heinze is surplus to requirements. This poses the question, why will Manchester United not sell him to Liverpool?

The rivalry between these two clubs is immense. There hasn’t been a player that has transferred between them in approximately 43 years. This fierce rivalry came about back in the day when they both possessed the best teams in the country and found themselves battling to be number 1. That and them being separated by about 35 miles also has something to do with it!

Is Sir Alex Ferguson acting appropriately not allowing Heinze’s deal to go through? Should Heinze even be contemplating moving to his current clubs main rivals having become a fan favourite at Old Trafford? Do you think the transfer will go through?

Posted in Liverpool, Manchester United, Premiership | 6 Comments »