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Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Crisis Liga

Posted by Sports Snob on February 1, 2007

Not so Fabio Capello

What’s the deal with La Liga? Its not uncommon to have teams do badly at some stage of the season, but to have the top four play the most inconsistent football is something new. Barcelona on any other year wouldn’t have had the luxury of a lead. Their football has been devoid of the usual flair and most of their wins have been by the odd goal. More a demonstration of workmanship than skill. But to their advantage the rest of the league has been equally bad. At the moment, Real cant buy a win and have internal strife to boot. The only news emanating from the Bernabeu has been either about Fat Ron or Beckham’s Millions. Fabio Capello seems to have lost the plot and his football gives new meaning to the word Siesta .

Valencia, who until this week were the ‘form’ team lost away to Betis and fell further back from the leaders. But they look the most composed among the teams in the top half of La liga.

Juande Ramos

Sevilla, this season’s revelation finally put an end to a disappointing start to 2007 with a win against Levante. They seem to have a lot of momentum but will their bubble burst? Juande Ramos has been a contender for the coach of the year. To take a selling club like Seville to the top of the totem pole takes some doing. They have not made heavy weather of their high profile departures- Ramos, Baptista and Reyes to name a few and have dismantled some big clubs in the league with some fantastic football.

All this means that even Atletico Madrid have a good chance of sneaking in and winning the league come this June. All depends on how the clubs play in what will be the Business end of the season!

V

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Posted in Football, Spanish Football | 4 Comments »

Platini wins Uefa Crown!

Posted by Sports Snob on January 26, 2007

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In a sensational vote, Former France Captain Michel Platini was elected the new President of UEFA, a post widely seen as the most powerful in Europe. Platini won a secret ballot against Lennart Johansson of Sweden among the 52 member federations at the UEFA Congress with a 27-23 majority, with two votes being invalid.

This could have major ramifications across Europe since Platini had advocated to limit each Country’s participation in the lucrative Champions League to 3 teams. His controversial slogan during the campaign was ‘giving football back to the footballers’ . Besides this, some of his other radical plans were to Expand the European Championship from 16 to 24 finalists and that clubs should field at least six players qualified to play for the country they’re based in[Arsenal fans are pissing in their pants].

Lennart Johansson, the former incumbent, had agreed to increase the participation in the European Championship- A last ditch attempt to placate the smaller nations like San Marino and Lithuania who have as many votes as Spain in an election. It didn’t save his job but it was indicative of the way the smaller nations felt about the direction of the current administration. The proposal to mandate home based players could affect the way moneybags such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Real play the game. At the moment, Arsenal would find it hard to field a single English player.

Platini may have taken Robin Hood route to victory- take from the rich and give to the poor but are his policies feasible? As a fan, I would hate it. To have just three from the top leagues means that atleast 3 very good teams will miss out on the competition, and that could be an Arsenal or a Barcelona. Platini’s claim is that wealth distribution would level the playing field. Yes, it would but would you want it at the expense of 4/5 years of mediocrity?

Its fascinating to see whether this would goad the European top cartel, read the G-14, to breakaway and form their own format and spell the end for various Leagues in Europe. It would centralise the money and the power in the game but also impoverish your neighborhood football team, who have just made it to the English Third Division. That is precisely the situation that Platini wants to avoid but may unknowingly trigger with his pro-poor policies.

The self proclaimed Bull in a china shop may be getting a dose of reality in a few days when the powerbrokers in Europe come calling. It will be interesting to see if he answers their call!

Posted in Champions League, Football, Sports Television | 1 Comment »

Dirk The Digger lays Chelsea to Rest

Posted by Sports Snob on January 22, 2007

That was nice, wasn’t it? Write an article about Mourinho which isn’t too scathing, and he dumps this result in Liverpool fans’ laps. We should be nice to him more often, I reckon.

The Backdrop

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Before today, Benitez had played Mourinho in the league five times. And lost five times. The most memorable of those losses was back in August 2005, when Chelsea hammered Liverpool 4-1 at Anfield. This seems to have worked in Benitez’s favour – the shock to the system then has resulted in Liverpool racking up wins and choking teams ever since. After all the drama generated by the situation at Chelsea, a lot of it by himself, Mourinho probably wasn’t in the right frame of mind, as far this fixture went. If relationships are indeed strained, you wouldn’t put it past Mourinho to dump Chelsea deep in it before pushing off at the end of the season. Further aspersions shall not be cast on his character. Promise.

To the game. Liverpool started at a high tempo, as they seem to have done quite a bit this season, attacking the Anfield Road End. Paolo Ferreira and Michael Essien looked a little rusty, and Liverpool were getting the ball into the box fairly regularly. Sensing a weakness, Jamie Carragher punted a long ball into the box, aiming for the hard-working Dirk Kuyt. Ferreira looked hopelessly out of position, and compounded his initial (positional) error with a slip, which allowed Kuyt to head the ball around him and volley into the back of the net from around 10 yards out. Cech didn’t have a chance. Four minutes gone, 1-0 to the Reds.

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Minutes later, Riise spurned an opportunity from six yards out, after working his way around Ferreira in the box. His right-footed shot was at a good height for Petr Cech to beat away, but it really should have been 2-0. Riise reminds me of a footballing version of Goran Ivanisevic. His left foot is dynamite, as he demonstrated in the second half with a thunderbolt from nearly 40 yards out, which rattled the crossbar under the Kop. Mind, I think a few of the fans in there were praying he would get it on target, because both teams had until then been hitting Row Z shots into the ancient stand with alarming regularity.

Pennant Cechs in with stunning goal

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In spite of a few threatening spells of possession, Chelsea never really threatened, and the game was taken almost out of their reach when Jermaine Pennant popped up 20 yards out to score his first goal in Liverpool colours. A long ball into the box was headed down to him just outside the area, and his dipping volley had Cech stretching his 6 foot 7 frame to no real use, as the ball cannoned off the underside of the crossbar into the goal. Barmy stuff, and a wonderful goal!

Arjen Robben was forced to come off not too soon after the goal, having gone down in a heap challenging for the ball in the air. His right leg seemed to twist under his body, and even though he came back on for a while, Jose was forced to being on Shaun Wright-Phillips, initially down the left wing.

The rest of the first half saw Chelsea under the cosh, except for a 15 minute period when Liverpool were temporarily reduced to 10 men. An aerial challenge between Xabi Alonso and Didier Drogba left the Spaniard on the deck with a split lip and blood all over his face. Stitches were a must, obviously, although whether they numbered 5 or 15 is unnecessary speculation, to say the least. The best they had to offer, though, didn’t really trouble Liverpool too much. The hard-working Drogba and expansive Lampard (his passing wasn’t too bad today) did manage to get Chelsea into the area on occasion, but Jamie Carragher was a rock at the back, challenging in the air and on the floor to keep Chelsea’s talent at bay.

The second half:

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The second half saw a lot more possession from Chelsea early on, although they were unable to force a significant save out of Pepe Reina, who looked solid today. His distribution wasn’t too bad either, but that may be due to the wind. The one scare Liverpool did have came about as a result of a defensive error from the otherwise excellent Steve Finnan. He failed to clear his lines, and Lampard came charging into the box, only for the ball to rebound off him and into Reina’s arms. Lucky break for Liverpool, and a promise of intent from Chelsea. Indeed, the period was played at a very high tempo Liverpool counter-attacking with genuine intent and Chelsea trying to breach the meanest home defence in the league.

A couple of moments which did have me in tears came within seconds of each other. Chelsea won a free kick just outside the box, in the left channel. Liverpool’s three man wall included Xabi Alonso, for some strange reason, considering his face had already been injured once that day. Up against the likes of Lampard, Drogba and Ballack, he must have been thinking ‘What am I doing?’, as he tried to defend the free kick facing his own goal. His teammates were having none of it though, and he was forced to turn around. I was a little worried myself. Heck. What followed was shambolic.

Drogba Scores – Not in the way you’re thinking though

Drogba was stood over the ball, with Ballack nearby. Clearly, the plan was to roll it over to Ballack, who would then set it up on a plate for Drogba’s dinner. The wind blew the ball off its spot slightly, and Drogba bent over to shape it up again. Ballack, however, seemed a little distracted, and seemed to be telling one his teammates to bugger off. Drogba wasn’t paying too much attention either, and kicked the ball gently to Ballack, who seemed almost surprised to see the ball rolling between his legs. A blooper in the same class as Robert Pires’ ‘air-kick’ against Manchester City a couple of years ago.

Liverpool didn’t look back from there, and defended from the front, with Dirk Kuyt dropping deep to help out what already looks like the best midfield pairing in the Premiership. It could have been three, had he converted a delightful chipped pass from Steven Gerrard. His volley flew inches over the Liverpool crossbar and into the instinctively ducking Kop.

All in all, a good win for Liverpool against a Chelsea team who really ought to have more strength in depth, considering the billions at their disposal. They missed John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho through injury/illness today, and the suspension of Claude Makelele didn’t help things. Petr Cech was back, but still looks understandably tentative, in spite of his special helmet.

Man of the Match: Dirk Kuyt. His energy and running had Chelsea scrambling all day long. Dropping deep to help out the midfield, and linking up well with pretty much everyone on the pitch. Scored the first goal with an instinct not seen from Liverpool’s strikers since Michael Owen left.

Oasisboy

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Posted in Chelsea, EPL, Football, Liverpool | 2 Comments »

If I were a rich man

Posted by Sports Snob on January 13, 2007

I feel rather sorry for Jose Mourinho. I’m not echoing too many sentiments here, obviously, because by and large, people look at him and think, “Arrogant Git” (Perhaps its empathy?). Anyway, let me tell you why.

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I don’t need to give any of you guys the background of the situation. Roman buys Chelsea. Chelsea finish second. Roman buys Jose (literally). Spends millions and millions of pounds. Chelsea win title. Roman vaguely happy with his football empire. Still wants more. Spends millions again. Chelsea win title again. Empire not crumbling, but certainly not expanding. Spends a few more quid. Season so far – second in the table, in the second round of the Champions League. Through to the FA Cup 4 th round. And a 1-1 draw against Wycombe Wanderers (!) in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final. Didier Drogba and Michael Essien apart, they haven’t really set the league on fire, by any measure. There have been two or three spectacular games, notably against Arsenal and, dare I say it, Reading. But on the whole, Chelsea have looked defensive, and there doesn’t appear to be any real strength in depth, as far as the squad is concerned.

‘Chelsea’s squad?’, you may ask. ‘They’ve spent hundreds of millions of pounds on that squad!’ True, true, but almost every single player they bought came with an inflated transfer fee, and the squad as a unit haven’t really lived up to the prices on their heads. Didier Drogba, of course, looks a steal, especially now that he’s cut the diving out of his game (for the most part). Petr Cech was bought by Ranieri, and was a real bargain at just 6 million quid. But then look at the rest – Shaun Wright-Phillips? Jon Obi Mikel? Asier Del Horno? Michael Ballack? (He came on a free, with a 130,000 pound/week pay packet) Andriy Shevchenko?


That last name in particular holds a lot of significance for me. And for Jose too, I believe.

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It seems fairly clear that Jose wasn’t that keen on buying Sheva. At least, he wasn’t as keen as Abramovich was. He has undoubted quality, but he’s getting older, losing his pace, and generally looks like he’ll have trouble adapting to the physical nature of the English game. I’d love for him to prove everyone wrong and score bagfuls of goals, because an in-form Shevchenko is magnificent. Can’t see it happening in the immediate future though.

The Oligarch was behind the transfer deal, it is widely suspected, and he was going against Jose’s wishes. For all his bravado and big talk, Jose is actually a very good manager. I won’t say anything about his tactics, because the sight of Robert Huth playing up front still makes me laugh, His man management skills are without question, however. And so are his motivation techniques. His persona seems to have rubbed off on a lot of the squad, as is evident by the arrogance of Lampard and the whining of Terry. Not to mention the gamesmanship of Carvalho and Drogba. They take themselves too seriously though. With Jose, its clear he’s having a laugh, even when he’s whining. Everything he says, everything he does, is designed to attract attention towards him and away from the failings of his team. Not 3 days ago, the Pensioners drew 1-1 against Wycombe, a club three divisions below them in the league. Normally, this would attract much attention and more than a lot of mirth from non-Chelsea supporters. Nobody’s talking about it for two reasons though. One, David Beckham (see below). And two, Jose’s come out and said that he is ‘only a manager’ and effectively said that he doesn’t control the signings. Normally, we’d dismiss this as the (engineered) ravings of a man desperately trying to draw attention away from his team. This time, I think he has a point.

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I think a lot of the buys Chelsea have made over the last two and a bit years (Alexei Smertin, anybody?) have been made against Jose’s wishes. The specter of Roman appears to be hanging over a lot of their signings. Specifically those who are out of favour. Peter Kenyon was in all likelihood the mastermind behind the deals involving SWP, Ballack and Mikel, to name but three. Apart from Sheva, of course.

Mourinho doesn’t want to play any of these guys, but it appears that his hand is being forced by someone higher up, at least in the case of Ballack and Shevchenko. Ballack has been anything but impressive so far, and Shevchenko has been played out of position in order to accommodate him in the eleven. The side’s defensive frailties have been exposed by the recent injury to John Terry, and with Joe Cole out for the season, he’s lost one of the most mercurial players in the league. He has tons of players, but he doesn’t want to play them. Instead, he wants to buy MORE players, which leads me to believe that he didn’t really want any of these guys in the first place. Peter Kenyon has shoved off to China (how convenient), and Roman Abramovich recently said in an interview ‘We do not have a warm relationship. But it is friendly’. Or something like that (make of that statement what you will).

In summary , Jose’s got players he doesn’t want to play in the squad. He doesn’t have control over a lot of the transfers (this is my suspicion). He is being forced to play big names, because they are big names. And he’s got injuries in the squad which he wants to cover with new players. Abramovich, for all his philanthropy, is not going to shell out more money. Kenyon’s not in town. Jose’s got his back against the wall. And I’d like to think he’ll fight back.

They play Wigan tonight, and Mourinho has said that Shvechenko will be dropped, and if the board have a problem with that, well, too bad, I’ll be off now. And for all his outbursts, I’m quite fond of him, and I hope he stays in England. What do you reckon?

Oasisboy

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Posted in English Football, EPL, Football | 5 Comments »

Beckham to LA Galaxy

Posted by Sports Snob on January 13, 2007

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Well, it had to happen. Beckham had to leave Real Madrid and to no one’s surprise, he chose a move across the Atlantic to sunny Los Angeles where he would take his freekicks against teams such as Washington Wizards and Dallas Cowboys . Nobody really expected to move from Madrid to Portsmouth (although the prospect of him moving to Liverpool seemed interesting). What has surprised everybody has been the cash involved and the duration of the the deal.

The deal:

From the Wall Street Journal:


Mr. Beckham’s five-year pact includes an annual salary approaching $10 million a year, 40% to 50% of team-jersey sales and a share of club ticket revenue. His endorsements are expected to bring in $20 million to $25 million a year. Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the operating rights to the Galaxy and two other MLS teams, said it estimates that, including endorsements, Mr. Beckham could could earn in excess of $250 million over the five years — a deal the company called “the biggest in sporting history.”

Thats an obscene amount of money for any sportsman, let alone a player who is now past his prime, is entering a country where the sport has little mass support (come on even George Best and Pele did try!), is not part of his national football team and at age 31 is now watching his limited football skills go on the decline. Beckham will also be selling global brands such as Adidas, Pepsi and Gillette to Americans.

Miserable days in Spain

After a very successful career at Manchester United where Beckham won trophies every year, he moved to Real Madrid following a spectacular fallout with Fergusson. United had agreed a deal to sell Beckham to Barcelona (albeit a Barcelona that were struggling and had not won a trophy in ages) and the deal appeared to be going through until Beckham hijacked it by signing a contract with Real Madrid. Beckham was a perfect fit for the galactico policy of Real, he was a global superstar, and he would bring millions to Madrid through jersey sales and image rights.

Since then, Barcelona, inspired by Ronaldinho (ironically a Madrid reject) and driven by manager Frank Rijkaard have gone on to win 2 league titles and were crowned European Champions in May. Madrid on the other hand have gone to the gutters as a result of poor management and terrible transfer policies. Last heard, emergency talks were being held at the Bernabeu to understand why the club was under achieving.

To be fair to Beckham, he tried and tried hard. I cant understand how people like Guti and Raul continue to be in the Madrid first XI ahead of Beckham. And, being pushed to the centre of midfield by a series of managers didn’t help his cause either. Worse, he had lost pace. He is no Zidane but he is no Pennant either. You put him on the right side of midfield and Beckham will deliver perfect crosses to your strikers all day long.

What does this mean for the MLS?

Short term interest is no doubt going to shoot up, when every national newspaper and television channel covers the story, you know it’s something big. There will be a definite spike in attendances wherever the Galaxy play atleast over the coming season. But can somebody explain to me how in four years time, a 36 year old David Beckham is going to continue to draw the crowds for much longer?!

Worse, the chances of the Yanks taking to the sport in a big way are about as remote as India qualifying for the 2014 football World cup. Football (or should I say soccer) is perceived to be a sport to be played by young kids, where every kid however poor gets to kick the ball. And there is way too much competition for the MLS from the other big leagues. On the other hand, the young kids (and there are eight million between the ages of 8 and 16 who are playing the sport) might just be the perfect target for the MLS bosses and Beckham’s football academy.

It is also going to be interesting to see if this transfer results in other football superstars like Figo, Ronaldo hopping across the atlantic. Who knows? maybe Shevchenko will move there too. There is already talk of Edgar Davids joining the Dallas Cowboys.

Will Beckham be the messiah who will take Football to the final frontier? Will a very average and ageing 36 year old David Beckham be able to sell cars and razor blades? Will this website survive to discuss that in 4 years time? Only time will tell.

– Z

Posted in English Football, Football, Transfer Talk | 6 Comments »

Top 5 football moments of the 2006

Posted by Sports Snob on January 10, 2007

2006 gave its share of incidents and some override others for their display of impudence, trickery or maybe even idiocy. These are our Top 5 footballing moments(On the pitch) of the year:

5) Gerrard’s goal in the FA Cup Final

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Into stoppage time in what turned out to be one of the most exciting FA Cup finals ever, Liverpool were trailing to a reselient and a “fluky” West Ham side. My head was all over the place. Liverpool had retrieved a two goal deficit only to go and let a cross in. 3-2, with seconds on the clock.

Most Liverpool supporters were probably thinking ‘surely they can’t equalize now’ (I was, for one), when the stadium announcer went ‘The fourth official has indicated there will be a minimum of four minutes added time, four minu…’

The ball went to Steven Gerrard swung his right foot nearly 40 yards out to send a missile straight into the bottom corner of the net. Cue crowd exploding (the missile had nothing to do with it), Martin Tyler screaming like an idiot, and Gerrard pointing at the name on the back of his shirt. Liverpool went on to win the Cup on penalties, but even if they hadn’t, that goal would have gone down in history.

View the Video here: Gerrard (Liverpool vs West Ham United)

4) The Wink

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The English National team is synonymous with under achievement and especially under ex boss Sven Goran had the dastardly habit of entering big tournaments under a blizzard of hype and then leaving the tournament without as much as a whimper. And for the third time in as many tournaments, Sven had to meet his nemesis Scolari as England faced Portugal. For once, England seemed to be having the edge until Wayne Rooney got involved in an off the ball incident with Ricardo Carvalho. The kick seemed innocuous but before the referee could stop and think, Rooney’s pain in the butt teammate Ronaldo arrived and protested to the referee. Whether or not, this lead to Rooney’s subsequent sending off is anyone’s guess, but the English forward blamed the sidestepping Right winger for his role. The highlight of the night was when Christiano looked over to his bench and made what is now the infamous wink.

Since then, the two (Rooney and Ronaldo) have sorted things out and look set to capture the EPL championship this year, much to Roman’s chagrin.

View the video here: Ronaldo Wink (Rooney send off)


3)Champions League Final- Juliano Belleti & Thierry Henry:

For sheer drama and intensity, few matches in the year would compare to the CLE final of 2006. Although, the match could have been better had it ended 11 v 11, it had its share of heroics from Juliano Belleti and Henrik Larsson, villains in Jens Lehman and Almunia and the downright pathetic from Thierry Henry – 2 guilt edged chances and 1 blubbering rant. All in all, a Fantastic match to cap off a great tournament. Here’s hoping that Champions League 2007 lives up to the billing.

Video: Belleti against Arsenal

2) Grosso 119 minute strike.

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Prior to the World Cup, only the most avid soccer fan would have known of Fabio Grosso. A left back of an unwieldy nature, Grosso played for a Serie C team as late as 2001. Even he would not have predicted his meteoric rise. What was to happen in 5 years time was the stuff of legend. After winning a dodgy penalty in the final stages of a tense encounter against Australia, Grosso put his own stamp to the semifinal against the hosts with the most exquisite of strikes. Operating with a small window , he managed to curl the ball into the right corner. The Germans were shell shocked. A penalty shootout would be straight down their alley but Italians can thank god for grosso. He went on to slot the winning penalty in the shootout against France in the Final.

View the goal here: Grosso’s goal against Germany

1) THE Headbutt:

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The Number one Moment of the year has to be the infamous Zidane Headbutt. I’m sure the world gasped when television cameras caught the Frenchman knocking Marco Materazzi off his feet with a head butt that would do The Great Khali proud.There was much speculation as to what had provoked such a reaction but the incident was the butt(no pun intended) of several jokes from Late Show hosts and TV Sitcoms and even spawned a clothing range. What is known now is the Materazzi had made obscene remarks on Zizou’s sister. But little did he know that he would become the world most famous punching bag.

View the Video here: Zidane headbutt Materazzi

Posted in Football, Videos | 2 Comments »

Transfer Talk

Posted by Sports Snob on January 6, 2007

No, this is not an article about Harry Redknapp and his South coast shenanigans, so keep reading (or stop reading, if that suits your fancy). The January transfer window is open, and many clubs are scrambling to sign players whom they think they might at need at some point of time during the rest of the season. We’ll take requests in a bit, but for now let’s have a look at the ‘Big Four’ plus Manchester City.

Chelsea:

The club is looking pretty shaky at the back without Terry. Jose needs to shore up the defense in case of another injury. Boulahrouz does not make sense as a player, let alone an emergency centre half/full back (Face it, he’s only ever gonna be used in an emergency anyway). Tal Ben Haim has been mentioned as a potential target, but Bolton have tripled his wages and extended his contract, so it’s unlikely he’ll be moving any time soon. Micah Richards is another possibility – young, built like an ox, pace to burn, and what appears to be a very good footballing brain – but he’ll cost Chelsea at least 20 million pounds, which, while they can afford, may not be an amount they’re willing to shell out. I’d buy Matt Upson if I were him, to be honest with you – a solid defender with a fairly good track record. Or Anton Ferdinand. For a laugh. They’ll probably win the league anyway. Funny, with all the money they have spent and they have hidden in Roman’s couch- they are still short of players.

Man United:

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Fergie’s hunt for a defensive midfielder appears to be drawing to a close, with Bayern Munich announcing that they will consider bids for Canadian-Englishman Owen Hargreaves. But Munich want 20 million for it. Does Fergusson have so much cash? What about the money for the striker in the summer?

While United appear to be strong on both wings – indeed, with the form Cristiano Ronaldo has been in, they could ask him to play both wings simultaneously – they need a little more quality up front. Rooney, for all his talent, has performed sporadically at best for United. Solskjaer doesn’t have the same pace, even if he is an impact substitute of some pedigree. Saha has been in fine fettle, but is prone to injury, and SAF has done a wise thing by bringing Larsson to the club. Wonder, when the boy wonder Rooney is going to start scoring the goals.

Liverpool:

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Rafa Benitez has been fairly shrewd with his transfers so far, and it appears that the signings of Bellamy and Pennant are finally beginning to pay off. Liverpool have signed Javi Mascherano from West Ham on loan for the rest of the season, although it baffles me to think of what Benitez will do with 4 top class central midfielders. There is strength in depth for every position except the right hand side. I’m hoping a cheeky bid for Dani Alves from Sevilla will get that sorted, though. Finnan is incredibly consistent, but is also the only quality player in his position, and would relish some competition. Lucas Neill has been mentioned a few times, but Benitez should realistically be looking at some younger targets. Some would argue that Liverpool still need to buy a striker, but I reckon Dirk Kuyt has shut everyone up for now, with some outstanding displays. I wouldn’t say no to David Villa though, and I suspect Rafa might break the bank to get him. But not now.
 

Arsenal:

Arsene Wenger’s young team have been bullied a little bit this season. Their (now insignificant) victory at Old Trafford apart, the Gunners have looked shaky all season long. Beating Liverpool 3-0 at home and losing 1-0 at Sheffield United is pretty much indicative of their inconsistency. Now, I’ll be frank here – I cannot stand Arsenal. For all their talent (Fabregas, Van Persie, Henry), they are incredibly arrogant and self-obsessed (sounds a bit like me, this lot). With youngsters all over the pitch, and the old heads of Henry and Gilberto, Arsene must be thinking “Well, these guys look pretty good right now, we’ll worry about next year when we come to it”. I don’t expect them to buy anyone. They already have? Sue me.

And I did mention Man City (I love this club, by the way), but I think they need to be bought before they do any serious buying.

Oasisboy

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Posted in Football, Transfer Talk | 4 Comments »

The English Premier League: season thus far

Posted by Sports Snob on December 29, 2006

Its just past the halfway stage, but a few things are already pretty obvious.

Title: A two horse race

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The title race is a duopoly, with Manchester United having the upper hand and Chelsea having serious problems at the back without John Terry. It is the exact opposite at United who have strong back up in defence, but are lacking in quality replacements in midfield and attack. Both these problems should be addressed when the transfer window opens. My prediction, a Chelsea hattrick of titles mainly due to the firepower they have in the squad. Classic case was last weekend when Chelsea and Man U played Everton and West Ham respectively. Chelsea brought on Kalou and Sheva while Man U brought on O’Shea to replace Giggs. Also given the amount of money that Chelsea have, a replacement defender for John Terry will not be too tough to find.

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It’s going to be interesting to see the impact that Henrik Larsson has on the United squad. And what happens if he is a success? Is there a clause that lets him stay on till the end of the season? Also, will the whole Owen Hargreaves saga will come to an end? Hargreaves should cost upwards of 12 million pounds and this signing might mean that United wont have cash for any other signing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in English Football, Football, Goals | 5 Comments »

Chelsea Vs Arsenal: Review

Posted by Sports Snob on December 11, 2006

After a pulsating 90 minutes, the London derby ended 1-1. The draw means that Chelsea now trail Manchester United by 8 points 9 (well, five as they will beat Newcastle on Wednesday). Arsenal will come away with a lot of confidence and will hope to cement their hold on the third place in the coming weeks. This season promises to be an exciting one and promises to stay alive till April.

My thoughts.

The Bull:

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What a goal by Essien! Almost like Gerrard’s goal against Olympiakos but from a longer distance and a tighter angle. This guy is a bull, and would make a brilliant right back if not for the fact that he is even better in the centre of the park. Just like against United, Chelsea became more potent the moment Mourinho put him in right back and brought in Robben. And right now he is one of the 5 best players in the World (of course most footballer of the year polls would tell you that the best players right now are Henry, Owen, , Ronaldo, Raul and Zidane)

Theatrics:

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Lehmann and Drogba reminded me of a couple of 5 year olds in the school playground trying to get the teacher’s attention at the right time. What a joke! This is one part of football I really hate and hopefully sometime in the next decade video rulings will help the referee come to the right decision. But what it definitely does is make the game more interesting. Frankly, I cant stand either Lehmann or Drogba and would have loved to see the two of them take each 0ther out. (by the looks of it it didn’t take too much to knock them down)

Whining Wenger:

The game showed what an annoying hypocrite Arsene Wenger really is. Arsenal went to the Bridge as the weaker team (missing key players) So what did they do? they had defended with all they had and hoped to hit the opponents on the break. What is wrong then? Just that Arsene whines everytime an opponent does the same thing against his team. Sure, the game was more attractive to watch because Arsenal have a lot of flair players (unlike say Everton) but it is still the same policy. So stop whining and try scoring, the next time you are playing Everton or Wigan at home.

Cashley Cole:

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I would love to see what happens when Cole goes to the Emirates Stadium later on in the season. I wonder if the reaction will be any worse (or better) than what Figo got the first time he went back to the Camp Nou after his transfer to Real Madrid. From his career point of view, he did the right thing- he went to a company that offered him much better pay and also better chances of success but then try explaining that to the football fans!

Premiership:

What an advertisement for the premier league! Some of these big games can end up being a snoozefest with both teams cancelling out each other, but this one was anything but one. Two goals of very high quality, Chelsea hit the post thrice, hard tackles and some theatrics. What more could one ask for? The premier league might not be the best technically and the English team might be mediocre, but in terms of sheer entertainment nothing can beat this league.

Z

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Posted in English Football, EPL, Football | 2 Comments »

Showtime for European Giants

Posted by Sports Snob on December 5, 2006

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Wednesday may well be the end of the road of several European giants in this year’s Champions League. The usually drab group stage has given way for some exciting KO football with some of Europe’s finest, including participants of last year’s dream final, having a lot of work to do.

Barcelona have the hardest proposition- A must win game with an injury ravaged side against one of the best teams in Europe, at-least this season. . Werder have been spectacular this season, both in the Champions League and on their domestic front, with Brazilian Playmaker Diego pulling the strings and finally living up to his billing after his unhappy time at Porto. He has been sensational this year and he will go against a Barcelona team who know they cant sit back, but that has never been their wont. Ronaldinho has had a coming again party and would want to celebrate his nomination for FIFA World Player of the Year in style.

Manchester United on the other hand were looking pretty a few weeks ago until they, presumably in a fit of idiocy, decided not to turn up for the next two games. And they paid the price. In an identical situation to last year, they are to face a Benfica team with a winner take all clause. This time however it will be in the comfort of their backyard.

Arsenal have fewer excuses this time for struggling in a group of mediocre difficulty but that wont stop Arsene Whinger from dishing out the usual tripe about refs and the fixture list. Henry’s bust up with Wenger has been rebuffed as sheer hyperbole by the die-hard gooners but Wenger’s equivocal post match interview may suggest otherwise. They are lucky in that a poor performance need not send them out of the Champions league.

All in all fantastic matches for fans. Here’s hoping that Barca dont play in the Uefa Cup….

V

Posted in Champions League, Football, Spanish Football | 4 Comments »