Send us a message

Interested in being a part of the team? Get in touch with us today.

Barclay’s Premier League Week 30 Wrap-up

 Posted by on April 3, 2013 at 1:58 am  England, EPL
Apr 032013

englishflag Barclays Premier League Week 30 Wrap up

Arsenal 4 – 1 Reading

The Gunners keep pressing for UEFA Champions’ League qualification.  Not sure what Royals’ new boss Nigel Adkins was thinking when he took over the team.  They’re going to be relegated and it’s going to be a long painful slide downward.  There was a bit of remembrance by the Arsenal fans in the 7th minute as they honored former Gunner and England midfielder David Rocastle who died 12 years ago from cancer at 33 years of age.  Then the home fans had a positive thing to celebrate when Santi Cazorla set up Gervinho to score early in the 10th minute.  They had a penalty shout denied by the referee when Olivier Giroud was knocked over by defender Stuart Taylor.  Gervinho should have made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute when he went through the Reading defense, but his shot on goal was wide of the target.  They did get their second goal in the 47th minute when Gervinho set up Cazorla to finish into the top right corner of the goal.  Gervinho was the architect again in the 66th minute, this time he set up Giroud to score to make it 3-0 to the Arsenal.  Reading thought they had a life line in the 67th minute when Hal Robson-Kanu headed home a Jobi McAnuff cross to make the score 3-1.  But any idea of a miracle comeback was taken away in the 76th minute when Adrian Mariappa was penalizd for fouling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the Reading penalty area.  Mikel Arteta scored the spot kick and that was pretty much that.  The win brings the Gunners within 2 points of the last Champions’ League spot and within 4 points of the last Champions’ League automatic qualifying position.

Manchester City 4 – 0 Newcastle

The Champions deliver a punch in the mouth to the Magpies in a bid to keep pace with their neighbors.  This was a good result for Citeh with the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford looming.  There were some concerns that perhaps at 18 points behind their neighbors coming into this match; the title might be slipping away from the Champions.  In fact, there seemed to be more thoughts and emphasis on the FA-Cup semi-final coming up in a couple of weeks.  The visitors’ attention also seemed to be on their upcoming UEFA Europa match on Thursday.  So it was no surprise that the first half of this match was a bit boring.  In fact, it took until the 40th minute for Carlos Tevez to score the first goal when he poked home a pass from Gael Clichy.  The goal woke up the home side and their fans and deep into first half stoppage time they got their second goal when David Silva buried a fine pass from Samir Nasri.  Vincent Kompany ended the match as a contest in the 55th minute when he combined with Gareth Barry and hit his shot into the top right corner of the goal.  Insult to injury occurred in the 68th minute for the Magpies when James Perch turned Yaya Toure’s shot into his own goal to make it 4-0.  The result has Newcastle barely avoiding the relegation fight so far.  This is one match they’ll be wanting to forget as soon as possible.

Southampton 2 – 1 Chelsea

The Saints beat TIO Rafa and the Blues at St Mary’s Stadium.  The Interim One, as Chelsea fans call their manager, is acting like the FA-Cup and Europa League are really as good as the Blues are this year.  That has Blues fans absolutely angry and wanting the former Liverpool boss to just go away.  The Saints have claimed their fair share of top team scalps this season and took the initiative in the ninth minute when Jay Rodriguez’s shot had to be saved by keeper Petr Cech.  There was no stopping Rodriquez in the 22nd minute when he played a fine one-two with Steven Davis to get behind the Chelsea defense and slotted his shot past Cech to open the scoring.  The Blues nearly equalized in the 24th minute when Fernando Torres, wearing a “Phantom of the Opera” mask cover a face injury, made a delicate ship over keeper Artur Boruc.  But the goal was disallowed for handball.  But they did get the equalizer in the 33rd minute when John Terry headed home Marko Marin’s corner kick.  But the Saints went back into the lead two minutes later when, after being awarded a free kick outside of the Blues’ penalty area, Steven Davis hit a wonderful strike that nestled into the top left corner of the goal.  The second half saw the Saints equal to everything the Blues threw at them.  As the away fans grew more and more frustrated, each time their team tried to mount some sort of attack, the home side were able to hold on and when the final whistle blew, Chelsea had given third place in the BPL table back to their crosstown London rivals.

Swansea 1 – 2 Tottenham

Gareth Bale and Jan Vertonghen combine to heave Spurs back to third place in the BPL table.  A friend of mine keeps teasing me that the transfer price for Bale keeps going up this season because of his great performances so far.  We both know that Spurs would be foolish to sell their best player and he proved his worth in the seventh minute when was able to drive around the Swans defense and put Vertonghen in on goal.  Vertonghen finished off the move into the bottom left corner of the goal and Spurs were off and running.  They should have had a second goal in the 13th minute when Moussa Dembele put Emmanuel Adebayor through on goal.  But the Togo striker must have still been suffering jet lag from playing for his country last week as he weakly shot directly at keeper Michel Vorm.  But not to worry, Bale got the second goal in the 21st minute.  This time it was Vertonghen who was the provider and the Welsh winger got the ball at the edge of the Swansea area, took one touch, and then slammed a gorgeous strike past Vorm who could only watch it go past him into the upper corner of the goal.  It took until the 24th minute for the home side to mount a significant attack on goal.  Dwight Tiendalli’s shot was pushed out by keeper Brad Friedel who was deputizing for an injured Hugo Lloris.  Jonathan de Guzman took the resulting corner kick, but Bale was there to clear the ball away.  That was pretty much how the rest of the match went with Spurs defending nearly each Swans attack.  Swans did get a consolation goal in the 70th minute when Miguel Michu headed home Sung-Yeung Ki’s corner kick.  But that was all the home side could do as Spurs reclaimed the last Champions’ League automatic qualification spot.  The fight for this place will be interesting.

West Ham 3 – 1 West Bromwich Albion

Andy Carroll gets a brace to help the Hammers win at home over the Baggies.  I think it can be said that the Hammers will be in the BPL next season.  There had been some question as to whether boss Sam Allardyce was going to make Carroll’s move from Liverpool permanent.  Saturday the England striker made a really good case for staying in East London.  The one reason for having a striker like Carroll is his aerial dominance and he made good in the 15th minute when he got above everyone else to head home Gary O’Neil’s corner kick.  A short while later he flicked on James Collins’ long kick into the path of Matt Jarvis, but the shot from eight yards out from goal went over the net.  The Hammers got their second goal in the 28th minute when Ricardo Vaz Te made a great run at the WBA defense then laid the ball off to O’Neill, who then chipped over the keeper Ben Foster and into the gaping goal.  There was a penalty shout for the home side right before half time as Jarvis appeared to have been fouled in the area by Billy Jones, but the referee wasn’t interested.  As the second half got underway, Romelu Lukaku nearly got a goal back for the Baggies when he shouldered O’Neill off the ball and charged in on goal.  But his shot was just over the upper corner of the net.  A short time later WBA thought they had a penalty when Youssouf Mulumbu tangled with Collins’ in the Hammers’ area, but the referee again wasn’t interested.  But it was Carroll scoring again in the 79th minute when he was again found by a Collins’ long ball and he hit his volley shot in past Foster.  The Baggies did get their consolation goal in the 87th minute when they were awarded a penalty kick from Matthew Taylor’s challenge on Lukaku  Graham Dorrans took the spot kick, but the day ended in infamy for the Baggies as Mulumbu was sent off for picking up the ball and in a clear brain cramp kicked it at O’Neill’s back.  The win sees the Hammers in eleventh place in the BPL table which is as good a place as any to blow bubbles with no worries.

Wigan 1 – 0 Norwich

Arouna Kone scores late to help the Latics in their survival fight.  Roberto Martinez and Wigan have been here before.  Last season, a result at Carrow Road in March was what they needed to start a winning run that saved them from the drop.  So it’s no surprise that when the Canaries come to DW Stadium on Saturday, the thought was the same.  Get a result, start the great escape.  For most of the match, the Latics didn’t look like they were going to get much of anything.  They were lacking an edge for the first hour of the match.  But Kone, who passed a late fitness test to make the side, was working hard to make amends for his last BPL appearance when he made that infamous knee-high tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara that has yet to be punished by the FA.  Kone sparked the Latics’ revival and nearly scored several times.  He finally got his goal in the 81st minute when Jordi Gomez nicked off the ball of Wes Hoolahan in the midfield and picked out Kone’s run.  He smashed home his drive into the bottom right side of the goal and assured that his side are out of the bottom three.  Will they pull off the great escape again?

Everton 1 – 0 Stoke

Kevin Mirallas scores a fine goal that helps the Toffees win at home.  This was US keeper Tim Howard’s first match back since injuring his back last month.  He was called into action in the third minute when he had to save Robert Huth’s shot.  There was very little in attacking in the first 25 minutes and it looked like Everton would fall victim to Tony Pulis’ strategy of not losing a match as opposed to winning one.  But in the 28th minute, Howard punched clear a short free kick from Marc Wilson and the ball landed at the feet of Mirallas.  The Belgian midfielder was able to get clear of Steven Nzonzi at the halfway line, then accelerated to a full speed attack on the Potters’ goal.  He was able to poke his shot past keeper Asmir Begovic’s grasp and into the net for the match’s lone goal.  The best response that Stoke could muster in response was from Jonathan Walters and Howard easily palmed his attempt away from goal.  The second half saw very little in attack from Stoke as they just don’t seem to have much punch to them lately.  So Howard was able to ease his comeback with a clean sheet and Everton are now one place away from the European qualification places.

Aston Villa 1 – 2 Liverpool

The Reds win at Villa Park to keep the Villains in the bottom three.  This was one of those matches that Villa should have won.  They started in such a fine fashion and nearly scored early when Lee Westwood set defender Joe Bennett off on a run down the left.  Bennett delivered his cross to the near post and Christian Benteke just barely failed to make contact with the ball.  Gabriel Agbonlahor should have scored in the 17th minute when his run was picked out by Matt Lowton’s curling cross.  But alas, the striker’s shot went straight at keeper Jose Reina.  The home side finally did take the lead in the 31st minute when Benteke drilled home Agbonlahor’s pass across the opposition’s area.  The Reds tried to equalize a bit later and Luis Suarez nicked the ball off Barry Bannan and had a free run at goal, but keeper Brad Guzan made a great save to keep out the low strike on goal.  Guzan later tipped away a long range effort from Steven Gerrard and the Villains went into the locker room at half time with the lead.  But they must have gotten over confident at the start of the second half because Liverpool equalized in the 47th minute.  Winger Philippe Coutinho set Jordan Henderson on his way and the midfielder was able to poke the ball past Guzan for his fourth goal of the season.  To their credit, Villa did try to get back in the lead and nearly had a chance in the 56th minute when Barry Bannon’s cross was cleared by Daniel Agger.  But things came apart for the home side in the 60th minute when Nathan Baker fouled Suarez in the penalty area.  Gerrard scored from the spot to put the Reds into the lead and that was pretty much it.  Benteke did get the ball in the net at the end of the match, but the goal was ruled out for offside.  If the Villains to get relegated, they will look at this match as one that started the downward slide.

Fulham 3 – 2 Queens Park Rangers

Three first half mistakes doom Rangers to another loss and closer to being relegated.  I hate to say that any team is going down at this stage of the season, but after watching this match, I have to say that QPR are as good as down.  The first mistake they made was in the eighth minute when Christopher Samba tripped Ashkab Dejagah in the QPR penalty area and Dimitar Berbatov scored the spot kick.  Their second mistake happened in the 21st minute when Samba gave away the ball at the edge of QPR penalty area and Berbatov coolly finished to make the score 2-0 to the home side.  The third mistake came in the 41st minute when defender Clint Hill put John Arne Riise’s cross into his own net.  QPR did get a goal back right before half when Adel Taarabt scored from a Bobby Zamora assist.  In the 48th minute, QPR were awarded their own penalty when Adel Taarbt was fouled by Giorgos Karagounis.  But Loic Remy’s kick was saved by keeper Mark Schwarzer.  Remy did score in the 50th minute when his shot bounced off the underside of the bar.  QPR had their chances to rally enhanced when Steve Sidwell was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Armand Traore.  But try as they might, QPR just couldn’t come up with the equalizer and now they sit tied with Reading at the bottom of the table.

Look At The Big Picture

 Posted by on March 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Mar 172013

*Full Disclosure-I did not watch the match on Saturday*

But that’s also not what I want to discuss right now.

Saturday’s starting lineup featured Joe Allen, who is supposedly due for surgery any day now according to Brendan Rodgers. Meanwhile regular holding midfielder Lucas was nowhere to be found. Liverpool were thoroughly outplayed by a Southampton side fighting to avoid relegation and lost 3-1.

That, however, was just one game. Brendan Rodgers can be forgiven for one or two puzzling lineup decisions. But take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Liverpool have been outscored 5-0 by West Brom, lost 3-1 a few months ago to a pitiful Aston Villa side, and they’ve struggled mightily against quality sides; Manchester United and Arsenal in particular.

Recently we heard some harsh criticism from Nuri Sahin, who failed to impress in the first half of the season. Sahin complained that Brendan Rodgers insisted on playing him out of position as an advanced playmaker in the midfield as opposed to his more natural holding midfield position. The Turkish international was apparently not pleased with Rodgers’ tactical inflexibility.

While Rodgers appears to have had a good January with signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, it is hard to ignore the botched attempt to sign Clint Dempsey even after letting Andy Carroll go on loan.

All of this put together makes me wonder if Rodgers is, in fact, the right man for the job at Anfield. We’ve been asked to be patient with regard to the Welshman bringing in the right players for his system. So far it appears the current roster has done well to adapt. The offense is flowing, but just as much for the opposing team as for the Reds. Can the defense be solved with one or two additions this summer? Perhaps. But as I’ve said many times before, you cannot wait 3-5 years to build a great club in modern football. You need the desire (and the funds) to go out get the best available players at any given position at any given time. But Rodgers doesn’t want the best players available, he simply wants the best who can play his game. That kind of tactical stubbornness will only get you so far. You have to be willing and able to adapt. Nuri Sahin’s comments suggest Rodgers isn’t prepared to do so.

At nine points out, Liverpool’s hopes of a Top 4 finish have faded fast with Saturday’s loss. Luis Suarez could possible be on the way out this summer and the talisman Steven Gerrard is running out of time. If a return to Champions League football is the goal, Liverpool are not doing themselves any favor right now.

Maybe it’s time to be proactive and make a change at manager before everything becomes too much about the Brendan Rodgers Way.


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

Feb 182013

article 2278420 179030B9000005DC 993 634x388 I was wrong about De Gea

There, I said it.  Over the past two seasons, I have been one of the most vocal about De Gea not being good enough for Manchester United.  He has very visible weaknesses.  He struggles when a physical presence is required on crosses and set pieces, and his inability to speak English fluently greatly impairs his ability to command the back line.  These are obvious, and were clear from the first big game against Manchester City in the community shield.  The problem is, many people (myself included) never took the time to re-evaluate.  Over the last couple of months though, I’ve come around.  Not only do United have the best young keeper in the world right now, but they most likely have the best shot stopper in the world, period.

When evaluating goalkeepers, you have to also look at their supporting cast.  When you look at United, you naturally would think that De Gea is surrounded by the best players possible.  The problem with that theory is that it ignores the injuries and father time, which have wrecked havoc on United over the past two seasons.

Here are the appearances for Manchester United’s top defenders in the premier league so far this year: 26 total games played (starts)

Patrice Evra: 25 (25)
Rafael: 21 (20)
Rio Ferdinand: 20 (19)
Jonny Evans: 17 (16)
Chris Smalling: 12 (7)
Nemanja Vidic: 11 (10)
Phil Jones: 9 (5)

Nemanja Vidic has never really made it back to the every week starter, and defensive rock, that he was before his injury against Basel in the Champions League last season.  With only 11 appearances so far this season for Vidic, De Gea has been deprived of not only his best defender, but the undoubted leader of this squad.  Its clear to anyone watching that United are a much different animal when Vidic is in the lineup.  It also speaks volumes that Evra is leading the way in appearances, and starts, while he is also seen by many as a weak link in the United defense.  Far past his prime, its well known that Fergie was looking to bring in Leighton Baines as a replacement over the summer.  The one bright spot has been the play of Jonny Evans.  The player that pushed Pique out the door to blossom at Barcelona, has often been a disappointment to many United fans, but he’s been probably the most consistently good defender this season.  With Vidic working his way back to full health, Rafael maturing into a world class right back, and Rio seeming to defy time, De Gea is set up to finally have some consistency in front of him for the rest of this season.

Now, getting to the man himself, one major argument in De Gea’s favor is to simply look at the stats.  The below stats are from and show the comparison between David De Gea and Joe Hart.  Hart is widely considered to be the best keeper in the EPL, more reliable, more mature, and generally favored by the media.  Upon closer inspection though, De Gea is the clear winner.  De Gea has obviously had to work more, 68 shots compared to 44, and over double the amount of saves per game.  The one huge stat that took me by surprise was the aerial duels.  De Gea won an astonishing 83% of his aerial battles, which flies in the face of everything you’ve have heard from people like me over the past 2 years.  Clearly he doesn’t look the most confident, but its obvious that whatever he does works.

Saves: Hart – 44, de Gea – 68
Saves per game: Hart – 1.7, de Gea – 3.8
Saves to shot %: Hart – 65, de Gea – 77
Successful clearances: Hart – 26, de Gea – 24
Successful clearances per game: Hart – 1, de Gea – 1.3
Aerial duels won %: Hart – 75%, de Gea – 83%
Passing accuracy %: Hart – 60%%, de Gea – 56%
Total loss of possession: Hart – 224, de Gea – 188
Errors that lead to goals: Hart – 4, de Gea – 1

This plays into the other aspect of his game, his complete unorthodox style.  This was on display for all to see in Madrid for their Champions League match against Real Madrid.  Right off the bat, in probably his biggest game yet for United, De Gea made a save with his fingernails to dive and divert Coentrao’s wicked curling effort, that traveled through multiple players before being forced onto the post, in what was probably the save of the season. Later in the same match De Gea displayed what is quickly becoming his trademark, a glorious kick save of Coentrao’s effort. De Gea said: ”It all happened so fast, I got across and was lucky enough to save it with my feet. Overall, I am very happy with my performance. I am improving every day at Old Trafford and I am very happy.”  Which has to make every Manchester United fan very happy to hear.  De Gea has proven already that when it comes to pure shot stopping, he has very few peers … if any.

It speaks volumes that coming out of a Champions League knockout match between two of the biggest clubs in the world, where Ronaldo (arguably the world best player) faced his former team Manchester United (which he’s still in love with), the major talking point was not about any of that, but it was all about the greatness of De Gea.  Well done sir, you’ve proved a lot of us wrong and for once, I am glad to admit my mistake.

Barclay’s Premier League Week 6 Wrap-up

 Posted by on October 1, 2012 at 12:35 am  England, EPL
Oct 012012

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
Fernando Torres and Juan Mata score to keep the Blues at the top of the league at the Emirates Stadium. It was a hostile atmosphere for this version of the London Derby. Earlier in the week, Chelsea captain John Terry had been found guilty of using racist language toward QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. While he has yet to file his appeal or be sentenced and has always maintained his innocence, that didn’t matter to the Gunner fans. Each and every time he came near the ball, the let him hear their displeasure. There was also some jeering for former Gunner Ashley Cole. But that was about all they had to do in the first half and Torres put an end to that in the 20th minute when he out wrestled Laurent Koscielny to volley the Mata’s free kick into the Gunner goal. Torres almost made it two straight away when Torres got the better of Koscielny again and sprinted into the penalty area. However as the Spaniard was about to shoot, he went over. Replays suggested that he heel may have been clipped by Koscielny. But Arsenal did manage to climb back into the match again and in the 42nd minute, patiently build up the attack fro the right as defender Carl Jenkinson was able to pass over to Mikel Arteta. The midfielder was able to slip a brilliant pass over to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The substitute winger, who had come on for an injured Abou Diaby, squared over to Gervinho. He then went around Terry, turned and blasted the equalizer into the roof of the net. But the Gunners were once again outdone by their poor free-kick defending when Mata’s 53rd minute free kick was allowed to sail into the corner of the Gunner net with no defender making an attempt to clear. The closest Arsenal would come to equalizing again would be in the stoppage time when substitute Olivier Giroud had a chance in the Chelsea area, but was forced wide by keeper Petr Cech and could only hit his shot into the side netting. And so the when the final whistle blew, Chelsea had three more points and secured their spot at the top of the league. It wasn’t spectacular, but it does remind one of another Chelsea team that won things the ugly way.

Sunderland 1-0 Wigan
Steven Fletcher’s fifth goal in four matches ends Sunderland’s run of 12 BPL matches without a win. The Latics, who are looking more and more like they’re relegation bound, did start the first have in a good way. Blackcats’ keeper Simon Mignolet had to make a great save in the 15th minute from Arouna Kone. Sunderland, themselves should have scored in the 26th minute when Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick, which was goal-bound, was cleared away by defender Ivan Ramis. Despite that chance, the Latics finished the half stronger as Kone headed an attempt over the bar and James McCarthy hit a low drive from distance that flew just wide. But fortunes changed in the second half for Wigan. In the 48th minute, NAME Gomez was shown a straight read for a two-footed challenge on NAME Rose. That was all the hosts needed as three minutes later, NAME McClean made a great run down the left towards the Latics’ area and crossed towards the right post. Fletcher was right where he needed to be to drive the ball home beyond keeper Ali Al-Habsi. Sunderland had a couple more chances to add a second goal. The first came from Stephane Sessagnon whose shot was saved by Al-Habsi. Sessagnon had another chance from NAME McClain that he hit wide of the Wigan goal. The match went down hill after that, but Blackcats’ boss Martin O’Neill was quite satisfied with the win and the unbeaten start Sunderland have made so far. Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, on the other hand, may be in a bit of trouble.

Stoke 2-0 Swansea
The Potters get their first win of the season as Peter Crouch gets a brace. Both goals came in the first half with the first coming in the 12th minute. Swansea’s slack defending from Glenn Whelan’s corner allowed an unmarked Crouch to head the ball home. The Swans were guilty of crappy defending again when Crouch fired a shot that was saved by keeper Michel Vorm. But Crouch was able to latch onto the rebound before any of the defenders could react and he grabbed his second of the match. Swans did manage an attack or two and at the start of the second half, Potters’ keeper Asmir Begovic had to tip a shot from Ki Sung-Yueng over the bar. Swans thought they had a penalty claim when midfielder Angel Rangel went down in the Stoke penalty area. But the referee didn’t take too kindly to Rangel’s attempt and booked him for diving. Crouch had a couple more chances to get his hat trick. He hit a header off the bar and tried to score with an overhead kick. He was taken off at the 87th minute to rousing applause from the home fans, many of whom would love for England boss Roy Hodgson to include him as one of the strikers for the national team.

Reading 2-2 Newcastle
Demba Ba’s late, controversial equalizer rescues a point for Newcastle at the Madejski Stadium. Reading really needed a win and nearly scored in the first half when Pavel Pogrebnyak found himself in the Newcastle area with a yard of space. But the ball came awkwardly to him and he could only shin it over the Newcastle goal. Later in the half, Reading worked the ball wide for Jobi McAnuff who made an inviting cross for Pogrebnyak to head, but Newcastle keeper Steve Harper laws able to tip the headed attempt over the bar. Jimmy Kebe finally opened the scoring in the 58th minute. The Reading striker was played in by McAnuff, then ran at the Newcastle defense and scuffed a low shot inside the near post. Newcastle equalized within seconds when Tiote’s pass went to Ba’s feet and he met it with a wonderful running volley. By the time the visiting supporters had finished celebrating Ba’s goal, Reading went back into the lead. McAnuff worked his way to the byline and made a wonderful cross which Noel Hunt headed home to beat keeper Harper at the far post. Ba’s equalizer came in the 86th minute when Shane Ferguson crossed over to the striker and he met the ball with his hand. The Reading supporters, went nuts when the goal was allowed and the newly promoted side were denied their first win. So Newcastle boss Alan Pardew did the right thing by signing his eight year contract extension.

Norwich 2-5 Liverpool
Luis Suarez gets his second hat trick at Carrow Road and helps get the first win for the Reds. A lot of people were not very happy with new Reds boss Brenden Rogers when the season started. Liverpool had made the worst league start in 50 years and were in the bottom three at the start of the match. But Saturday, they were clearly the better team. One of the relevations for the Reds has been the play of the teenagers Raheem Sterling, Suso, and Andre Wisdom. The three of them were the engine for Liverpool and helped to make the Canaries look really ordinary on their home ground. It all started right from the opening whistle when Glen Johnson hit a though ball that was cleared as far as Suarez. The striker happily hit his long drive home from 18 yards out. Canaries’ striker Simeon Jackson almost equalized when his run into the Liverpool area was stopped by a fine save from keeper Pepe Reina. There was a bit of controversy in the 23rd minute when Suarez got hold of the ball from a long pass over the top and raced into the Canaries area. He was about to shoot when defender Leon Barnett barged into the back of the striker and elbowed him in the shoulder. But the referee waved play to continue, much to the displeasure of Liverpool. Suarez did get his second in the 38th minute when he caught Michael Turner napping, nicked the ball off the defender and tapped home from 12 yards. Canaries boss Chris Hughton substituted Grant Holt off for Simeon Jackson at the start of the second half and things seemed to improve for the home side. They should have pulled a goal back in the 46th minute when Jackson’s cross deflected off Robert Snodgrass’ knee and flew over the bar from two yards out. In the 56th minute, Suarez made a run from the flank and passed a fine square ball to Nuri Sahin, who made the score 3-0. It was all pretty shambolic from that point. Suarez got his third when, in the 57th minute the Canaries’ defenders allowed him to hit a brilliant curled shot past keeper John Ruddy. Norwich got a goal back when keeper Reina spilled Russell Martin’s shot in the path of striker Steve Morison and he tapped it home. In the 70th minute, Sterling was able to take advantage of a Javier Garrido slip and square a pass for captain Steven Gerrard. Gerrard scored the fifth goal for his team when his shot was deflected off Barnett and Ruddy was left helpless. Holt was able to get another consolation goal for the home side in the 87th minute, but it really wasn’t their day and the home fans went home angry at the current winless run that has them in the bottom three.

Fulham 1-2 Manchester City
Edin Dzeko comes off the bench to secure the win for the Champions. Earlier in the week, Citeh boss Roberto Mancini had lost his temper in a TV interview. He had been questioned about the poor run of form of the Champions which had seen them surrender last minute match leads. The latest match that happened was their loss to Aston Villa in extra time in the Capital One Cup. So as he fumed at reporters’ questions, he declared that the Champions would retain the Premier League crown. Well, it seemed that fate initially had a different idea in the 10th minute when defender Pablo Zabaleta tripped John Arne Riise and the referee had judged that the foul occurred inside the Citeh area. The replay seemed to suggest that the call was a bit harsh, but Mladen Petric, on for an injured Dmitar Berbatov scored the kick to put the Cottagers in the lead. Petric had a chance to doible the lead in the 15th minute when, after some fine link play with Hugo Rodallega, he scooped his finish over the bar. Citeh nearly equalized in the 25th minute when Fulham defender Brede Hangeland swept clear Zabeleta’s driven ball across the six yard box. It took until first half stoppage time for Citeh to equalize. Carlos Tevez’s deflected shot was turned goalward by David Silva. Silva’s shot was saved by keeper Marker Schwarzer, but the rebound fell for Sergio Aquero to ease into the net. Both sides made substitutions in the 65th minute with Mario Balotelli coming on for Tevez for the Champions and Alex Kacaniklic replacing Petric for the hosts. The battle back and forth continued but it wasn’t until Dzeko was brought on for Gareth Barry that the Champions got the breakthough. It happened when substitute Gael Clichy’s cross wasn’t cleared by properly by Riise. Dzeko was able to latch onto the loose ball and rifle it home from inside the area and the win was secure.

Everton 3-1 Southampton
Two goals by Nikica Jelavic continues Everton’s flying start and secures second place. The Blue half of Merseyside is ecstatic about what they’re sure is David Moyes best squad that the Everton boss has ever put together. This is, by far, one of their best starts in a long time. The match on Saturday didn’t start out that great for the Toffees as the Saints’s Adam Lallana’s 6th minute corner kick found Gaston Ramirez unmarked in the area and he simply headed home his first goal for his new club. Everton equalized in the 25th minute when Kevin Mirallas’ cross wasn’t dealt with properly by the Saints’ defense and the ball fell to Leon Osman. The midfielder was able to smash the loose ball into the roof of the Southampton net from well inside the penalty area. Osman turned provider when he sent a through ball for Jelavic to run onto and fire past goal keeper Paulo Gazzaniga to put the home side into the lead. Jelavic got his second and Everton’s third in the 38th minute when he headed home midfielder Seamus Coleman’s cross inside the far post. The second half saw a lot of domination by the home side, but they failed to score. It didn’t really matter as the Saints never threatened the Toffees’ goal. And so Everton bagged another win and look to continue the trend as their next two matches are against struggling Wigan and QPR.

Manchester United 2-3 Tottenham
In one of the worst performances ever for the home side at Old Trafford, Andres Villas Boas gets the first Spurs away win over the Red Devils since 1989. The first half has simply awful for United. It started from the opening whistle when Jan Vertonghen was able to waltz around the United defense and score the opening goal. He simple asked for Michael Carrick and Luis Nani for the ball in the midfield, which they happily gave. He then drove past defender Rafael and hit a low shot which deflected off defender Johnny Evans’ hand and past keeper Anders Lindegaard. Now most teams would have tried to get themselves together, but that didn’t happen. In fact, Gareth Bale and Mousa Dembele found acres of space in between Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand. Bale’s goal in the 32nd minute was one of those simple storming runs that he is so capable of doing. He ran through the United defense with ease and hit his shot past Lindegaard and the visitors went mad with celebration. Half time couldn’t come soon enough for Sir Alex Ferguson. The camera shots of him on the touchline showed him with steam literally pouring out of his ears. When the whistle did blow, the team was righteously booed off the pitch. The obvious move for Fergie was to get Wayne Rooney onto the pitch and he was substituted for Giggs at the restart. Rooney made an impact right away when he assisted on Nani’s 51st minute close range goal that should have been the start of the Red Devils’ comeback. But I guess the defense wasn’t listening to Fergie’s half time talk because, once again they parted like the Red Sea in the 52nd minute, this time before Clint Dempsey and the American was able to score his first goal in a Tottenham shirt. Sinji Kagawa was able to score a fine reply in the 53rd minute and there was a bit of hope amongst the Old Trafford faithful. But try as they might, there was no equalizing goal for the Red Devils. Rooney hit a brilliant free-kick of the post. Van Persie made a horrid attempt to finsh from a Carrick pass. Spurs keeper Brad Friedel turned away a Scholes thunder shot. Carrick tried a sneak header that rebounded off the bar. So ended an awful day that saw Evans hobble off injured, adding to the long list of defender injuries.

Aston Villa 1 – 1 West Bromwich Albion
Substitute Darren Bent rescues a point for the Villains. Villain boss Paul Lambert made a couple of changes from the side that lost last week. They were also still feeling a little giddy from their Capital City Cup win on Wednesday. So Darren Bent was dropped and Gabriel Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke were started up front. Benteke almost got the home side going into the early lead when he almost connected with Agbonlahor’s dipping cross. But West Brom had the better of the first half and Shane Long should have scored when he headed wide from James Morrison’s header across the goal. West Brom thought they had scored five minutes into the second half when Long was able to put the ball in the Villains’ net. But the goal was disallowed for offside. But Long did score in the 51st minute when James Morrison beat the Villa trap. He ran into the Villa area and sent in a dangerous low cross. Villa centerback Ron Vlaar was not able to clear and Long put the loose ball into the net to make it 1-0 to the visitors. Long should have had his second a little while later when he was again well placed to pick up a loose ball. But the West Brom striker scuffed his shot that was easily picked up by keeper Brad Guzan. Lambert, desperate to fix Villas woeful league scoring record, took off Benteke in favor of Bent in the 70th minute. Ten minutes later, Bent got the Villains’ goal when midfielder Ciran Clark’s volley from a Barry Bannan corner was blocked and the rebound fell to his feet. Bent happily fired the ball into the net and the Villains had their draw.

Barclay’s Premier League Week 4 Wrap-up

 Posted by on September 17, 2012 at 12:34 am  England, EPL
Sep 172012

Norwich 0 – 0 West Ham
The Canaries are still without a BPL win this season after a scrappy, goalless draw versus the Irons at Carrow Road. This one was always going to be a bit of a fight. West Ham had the first chance in the 13th minute as Ricardo Vaz Te made a good move down the right of midfield and crossed over to Carlton Cole. His headed effort was cleared off the line by defender Russell Martin. Matthew Taylor hit the resulting rebound wide of the Canaries goal. The Canaries felt they should have had a penalty in the first half as Irons defender James Collins tripped midfielder Andrew Surman. The replay showed that the referee got the call right when he ruled the challenge was made outside of the area. Canaries’ midfielder Bradley Johnson took the free kick which rebounded to Javier Garrido, but his shot on the Irons’ goal missed to the left. That was the best chance of the first half. Norwich nearly started the second half with a goal when Simeon Jsckson hit a 25 yard effort that was tipped over the Irons’ goal by keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. There weren’t many efforts on goal until the end when striker Robert Sondgrass played through Harry Kane on goal. The loanee from Spurs should have scored, but fluffed his shot. Moments later, Kane got by defender Guy Demel into the Irons’ area and cut the ball back to Snodgrass who should have scored for the win. But the Scotland international has his effort blocked off the line. The last action saw a header from substitute striker Steve Morison go straight into keeper Jaaskelainen’s hands. It was and ugly draw for both sides, but a point is a point in the BPL.

Arsenal 6 – 1 Southampton
The Gunners lay down a home field beat down upon the woeful Saints. You could tell from the opening whistle that the Saints were over match and it showed as they just couldn’t deal with the early Gunners’ onslaught. In the third minute, striker Lukas Podolski’s hard shot was barely turned aside by Saints’ keeper Kelvin Davis. Next Gunners’ winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s dangerous cross was hit high and wide by striker Santi Cazorla. The Saints kept giving the ball away in the midfield and were punished for their bone-headedness in the 11th minute when Podolski got onto a wayward Southampton pass in the midfield and played through Kieran Gibbs. Gibbs hit a low drive that got through keeper Davis’ legs and defender Jos Hooiveld accidentally turned the ball into the Saints goal. It went from bad to worse for the visitors as it tends to happen at the Emirates Stadium when you play like crap against the Gunners. Saints’ boss Nigel Adkins tried to fix things by replacing an injured Hooiveld with Maya Yoshida in the 28th minute, but it didn’t help as Podolski got through the Saints’ defense to score a beautiful curler for the second Gunner goal in the 31st minute. They really looked out to lunch in the 35th minute when Gunner midfielder Gervinho got on the end of a wonderful Mikel Arteta lob over the top. The Ivorian was able to waltz into through the Saints’ defense again and beat keeper Davis at his near post. The 37th minute saw another Saints’ brain cramp as Gibbs’ cross into the area was knocked home by defender Nathaniel Clyne for another own goal to make it four for the Gunners. The Saints did get a consolation at the stroke of halftime when Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny was not able to deal with a cross from the right while being pressured by Saints’ striker Rickie Lambert. Saints’ defender Daniel Fox was able to put home the loose ball for the visitors at the stroke of halftime. The Saints did get a little better in the second half as Adkins brought in Gaston Ramirez for Steven Davis. Ramirez did create a couple of chances and played through Rickie Lambert but the latter could only fire wide of the Gunners’ goal. The fifth Arsenal goal came in the 71st minute when Cazorla played through substitute Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey then made a wonderful turn to get his shot away. It hit the post and the rebound was turned in by Gervinho. Substitute Theo Walcott ended the Saints’ misery when he put home a rebound from keeper Davis. So that ended a miserable day for Southampton. They have no points from four matches and sit firmly rooted to the bottom of the BPL table.

Aston Villa 2 – 0 Swansea
The Villains finally earn boss Paul Lambert his first and end the Swans unbeaten run. American Brad Guzan got another start ahead of veteran Shane Given and he had to prove himself with a great double save. Guzan first had to react quickly to beat away NAME Williams’s header from a Swansea corner kick. Then he had to push away Nathan Dyer’s shot when the Swans winger pounced on the loose ball. The Villains grabbed the lead in the 16th minute when Matthew Lowton hit a great strike from distance by Swans keeper Michael Vorm. The home fans took the moment to cheer their support for midfielder Stillyan Petrov who is currently in remission from leukemia diagnosed last spring. The Swans almost spoiled things shortly thereafter when midfielder Angel Rangel set Nathan Dyer on a great run down the right of midfield. The winger made a great cross over to Danny Graham, but the striker failed to make good contact with the ball. Swans boss Michael Laudrup tried to shake things up in the second half by bringing on record signing Pablo Hernandez for Wayne Routledge. It didn’t do much to tilt the match in Swansea’s favor and Villa’s Belgian striker Christian Benteke pounced on a very weak header from defender Ashley Williams and chipped the ball over keeper Vorm to secure the three points.

Fulham 3 – 0 West Bromwich Albion
Berbatov is loving life back in London as he grabs two goals in the Cottagers’ win. WBA came into this match having conceded just one goal in the last three BPL matches. But one thing that ole Berba is really great at is holding up the ball and bringing teammates into play to pick apart good defenses. The Bulgarian got his first when winger Alex Kacaniklic zoomed past defender Billy Jones and square passed the ball on to Berba. He took one touch then nailed a 15 yard shot beyond keeper Ben Foster. Kacaniklic created Berbatov’s second goal when he got past Jones again and the defender tripped the Swede in the penalty area. Berba calmly took the spot kick and sent Foster the wrong way for the score. It got easier for the Cottagers when WBA winger Peter Odemwingie got himself sent off in the 37th minute. The striker, who did so well last week against Everton, lost possession to defender Sascha Riether and swung his foot wildly from behind. Steve Sidwell added the third goal when he pounced on the rebound from Hugo Rodallega’s header off the crossbar. And so it looks like Martin Jol may have found his replacement for Clint Dempsey after all.

Manchester United 4 – 0 Wigan
Paul Scholes marks appearance number 700 with a goal as the Red Devils make it look easy versus the Latics. Things seemed to start well for United as they usually do at Old Trafford. They should have gone ahead in the 5th minute when they were awarded a penalty kick after Wigan keeper Ali Al-Habsi was able to save Javier Hernandez’s weak penalty kick. I guess without Wayne Rooney to take the spot kicks, conceding them may be a good defensive move for United’s opponents. The Latics did have an attack or two in the first half, but the Red Devils’ defenders, with debutant left defender Alexander Buttner kept things well in hand. Things were relatively quiet until the 51st minute. Luis Nani pushed into the Latics area and hit a low shot that keeper Al Habsi pushed right into Scholes’ path and the “Ginger Prince” easily tapped the gift home. They nearly scored another in the 52nd minute when Danny Wellbeck hit a wonderful bending shot from the left side that narrowly missed the upper right corner of the Latics’ goal. In the 63rd minute, Hernandez grabbed the second goal when he knocked in Buttner’s misdirected shot. I have to say, even though he got booked in the first half for a bad challenge on Emmerson Boyce, Buttner made a wonderful debut in the left of the United defense. The Dutchman showed pace, skill, grit, and most importantly, brains. He only went forward when the opportunity was there and was able to quickly sprint back in to defense to prevent and counter attacks. But his best moment came in the 65th minute. He seized on a misdirected Latics pass and was able to push though the entire defense and bounce his shot easily off keeper Al-Habsi to score United 3rd goal. Scholes took his bow for the fans as he and Ryan Giggs came off in the 70th minute for Robin van Persie and MUFC Academy graduate Nick Powell. Powell marked his appearance in the 81st minute with a wonderful strike from 25 yards out. It was a great day for United supporters at Old Trafford and the win puts them one point behind league leaders Chelsea.

Queens Park Rangers 0 – 0 Chelsea
The latest version of the London Derby had lots of pre-match drama, but little happening on the pitch as the Rangers and the Blues end in a goalless draw. First things first: No, Anton Ferdinand did not shake John Terry’s hand in the pre-match ceremony. He also did not shake Ashley Cole’s hand either. Now, let’s talk about the match itself. Terry almost had a great STFU moment at the start when he nearly got on the end of Frank Lampard’s corner kick. Eden Hazard also should have scored a couple minutes later after he was found with a great cross from the right by Ramires. Hazard’s shot went right straight to new goalkeeper Julio Cesar’s hands. It was a contentious match, just like it had been last season with each side trying to go hard after the other. Ramires may have gotten a little too excited when he was booked for tripping Alejandro Faurlin in retaliation for being tripped himself. Chelsea had a couple of penalty claims waived away in the first half. The first was when Terry went down after being leaned on by QPR defender Ryan Nelson. The second should have been called when QPR winger Shaun Wright-Phillips made a clumsy challenge on Hazard as the Belgian striker cleverly made his way into the penalty area. Substitute James Mackie nearly got Rangers on the score sheet as the second half started when his shot nearly caught Blues keeper Petr Cech napping. Park Ji-Sung nearly scored a while later as his header from Esteban Granero’s cross was also saved by Cech. Chelsea nearly gifted the result to QPR when Bobby Zamora was gifted the ball from a really awful John Obi Mikel back pass. Zamora never was able to find a good shooting angle and when he finally did shoot, Terry was able to block the shot. Hazard should have won the match at the death when, although he was completely unmarked, hit his shot completely over the bar. So I guess the highlight of this match will be the not-handshake.

Stoke 1 – 1 Manchester City
Javi Garcia’s Citeh debut goal earns a point for the Champions at the Britannia Stadium. Real Madrid scout Jose Morais sat in on this match, undoubtedly assessing the Champions ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions’ League clash at the Spanish capital. There wasn’t a whole lot to watch at the start until Potters’ striker Peter Crouch scored in the 15th minute. The goal had a bit of controversy attached as replays show that Crouch appeared to have gotten away with handling the ball with his left hand prior to taking his shot. But the Real Madrid scout will have taken note of Garcia, who came from that club, as he showed real calm as he headed Carlos Tevez’s free kick home in the 35th minute. Most of the drama in this match came toward the end. Garcia nearly won the match at the end for the Champions when his header from the corner kick was brilliantly saved off the post by keeper Asmir Begovic. But the safe of the match happened in stoppage time when Edin Dzeko’s lob over keeper Begovic was chased down and cleared off the lone by Ryan Shawcross. So it’s off to Madrid for Citeh and an attempt by boss Roberto Mancini to beat the guy who replaced him at Inter Milan.

Sunderland 1 – 1 Liverpool
Luis Suarez once again rescues the result for Liverpool as they draw versus Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. This is the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Many of you may have read the story about the findings and how it looks like the police may have something to answer for. The Sunderland fans showed a bit of class and the flags at the stadium were flown at half mast as a sign of respect. Once the match got underway, Carlos Cuellar almost gifted the Reds a chance when he tamely headed back toward keeper Simon Mignolet who had to block the shot taken by Fabio Borini. Borini almost scored again when stiker Luis Suarez put a pass right into his path. Borini’s shot was again parried away by keeper Mignolet. But then Sunderland grabbed the first goal when Craig Gardner was able to get past Suarez and the defender Glen Johnson and place a low cross for Steven Fletcher who scored his first goal as a Black Cat. An up and coming player for Liverpool showed his stuff in the second half. Raheem Sterling scared Sunderland fans when he was able to dance past defenders and cross over to Suarez. The striker failed in his first attempt but when the ball bounced back to him off defender Titus Bramble, he placed the ball in the lower corner for the equalizer. But the Reds really didn’t make any more headway in this match and, although the draw does see them out of the bottom three, this is their worst start in the last 50 years.

Reading 1 – 3 Tottenham
Jermain Defoe’s brace for Spurs assures that Andres Villas Boas gets to keep his job for another week. It’s his first victory since taking over for Harry Redknapp. There were a lot of questions from Spurs fans about Villas Boas and some hope that when he was gone that perhaps there would be some sort of reconciliation and Redknapp would return. Such talk seems to have been postponed for the time being. Spurs got going in the 17th minute when midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson ran through the Reading defense to find Aaron Lennon. Lennon squared the ball for Defoe who hit a rifled shot from 15 yards out past keeper Alex McCarthy. McCarthy had to be alert a short while later to deny a Spurs second goal from Sandro’s long distance shot. Defoe was clearly Villas Boas best player Sunday as he constantly harassed the Reading defense throughout the first half. The second half saw more Spurs domination. Gareth Bale scored the second goal in the 70th minute. Kyle Walker was able to cut through the Reading defense and pass back to an on running Bale. Although Bale did scuff his shot, it looped over keeper McCarthy and into the goal. Defoe secured the win for Spurs in the 71st minute with a brilliant solo effort. He won the ball at the half line and zoomed past four Reading players and easily slipped past a sprawling McCarthy. Defoe almost got his hat trick in stoppage time, but his volley went over the goal. Reading did manage a consolation goal at the death when Substitute Adam Le Fondre chipped over to the back post and fellow sub Hal Robson-Kanu tapped in. So Villas-Boas, who was booed last week at White Hart Lane, gets his first win in charge of Tottenham. Maybe the fans will give him a break?

Barclay’s Premier League Week 3 Wrap-up

 Posted by on September 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm  Breaking News, England, EPL
Sep 032012

West Ham 3 – 0 Fulham
Andy Carroll announced his presence at Upton Park with convincing authority as the Irons triumph over the Cottagers in this week’s London Derby. Carroll dominated the visitor’s defense and made Brede Hangeland look very ordinary for the 68 minutes of the match. The Irons got the first goal in the first minute when Carroll flicked on a long, clearing kick from James Collins and the ball fell in the path of Ricardo Vaz Te. Vaz Te then played the ball over to Kevin Nolan who calmly finished the move in the back of keeper Mark Schwarzer’s goal. The goal happened so fast, the Upton Park Bubbles hadn’t even finished fading away. It was all pretty easy for West Ham from there. The second goal came in the 29th minute when Winston Reid got on the end of a Matthew Taylor corner and easily flicked it into the lower corner of the Fulham goal. It was easy pickings for Reid as the Fulham defense was all concentrated on Carroll, who once again, out jumped Hangeland to help the ball on to Reid. The third goal came in the 41st minute when James Collins’ free-kick in toward was headed clear by Hangeland and fell to the feet of Taylor. Taylor hit a great strike from the edge of the penalty area and found the target low and to keeper Schwarzer’s lower right side. Fulham look lost with out former players Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele. They never really threatened in this match and the introduction of Dimitar Berbatov in the second half for Mladen Petric did little to change things. The match did not end on a good note for Iron’s boss Same Allardyce as it Carroll appeared to have picked up an injury and had to be taked off at the 68th minute. Word is that he will miss both of England’s World Cup qualifying matches. However, when he does return, he looks like good fit for West Ham in their quest to stay up in the Premiership.

Swansea 2 – 2 Sunderland
Black Cats’ new signing Stephen Fletcher grabs a brace and ends the Swans 100% Premier League record. The Swans were eager to impress their home fans at the Liberty Stadium and all seemed to have started well for them. Wayne Routledge should have been awarded an early penalty and Nathan Dyer had a sure goal denied by Black Cat’s keeper Simon Mignolet. But the Swans were dealt a serious blow in the 16th minute when Neil Taylor suffered a serious injury from a challenge from Sunderland defender Craig Gardner. Swansea fans were absolutely furious at the referee for not punishing Gardner for the challenge. Taylor required prolonged treatment and had to be carried off and given oxygen. The incident seemed to get to fans and players alike and in the 40th minute, Fletcher got his first when he grabbed a horrible back pass from Swans defender Ashley Williams and slotted the finish past the helpless keeper Michel Vorm. Swans did manage to equalize deep into first half stoppage time as Dyer’s gentle chip pass was volleyed home by Routledge. But Sunderland were awarded a free kick right before the half time interval. Sebastian Larsson kick seemed to evade everyone except Fletcher who had been hanging out by the back post. He tapped home the gift and the Black Cats were back in the lead when the half time whistle blew. All credit to Swans boss Michael Laudrup in getting his boys to focus and pick themselves up for the second half. They could have easily rolled over, but they kept pressing and Black Cats’ keeper Mignolet had to save an excellent volley from Dyer and later sigh with relief when a rehearsed corner routine saw Leon Britton volley over the bar. Things got testy later on when Swans defender Chico Flores appeared to make a studs-up challenge on Black Cats midfielder James McClean, leaving the latter in a heap. Boss Martin O’Neill went nuts when the home side refused to put the ball out of play so his player could receive treatment. The equalizer for Swans came in the 66th minute when Michu headed home a Jonathan De Guzman cross past keeper Mignolet. Any hope of Swans grabbing a late win were dashed when Flores was sent off for a wild high-footed challenge at Louis Saha’s head. But even with ten men for the last 18 minutes, Swans continued searching for the winner. So, away goes the 100% record, but it should be noted that Swansea are for real this season and it will not be easy to get any points from them.

Tottenham 1 – 1 Norwich
I think Harry Redknapp is laughing his butt off which ever London golf course he is spending his Saturdays. Andreas Villas-Boas has gotten Spurs off to their worst start in four years. The match seemed to drag at a slow pace for an hour as Spurs could put together any consistent attack and the Canaries spent long periods defending in their own end. There were frustrated consternations from the home fans when Villas-Boas moved the left-footed Gareth Bale to the right of midfield and the right-footed Aaron Lennon to the left of midfield. The resulting play saw Spurs very narrow and unable to break down a stalwart Canary defense. So it went until the 55th minute when Emmanuel Adebayor came on for Gylfi Sigurdsson. Things seemed to pick up a bit as Adebayor was able to hold the ball a bit longer and Spurs got a shot or two on goal. The Canaries should have opened the scoring in the 61st minute when Anthony Pilkington had his shot brilliantly saved by Spurs keeper Brad Friedel. New signing Mousa Dembele, who had come on at half time for an under performing Raniere Sandro, opened the scoring in the 68th minute when he struck form 18 yards out from a Jermain Defoe pass. The home fans expected for Villas-Boas’ boys to go on and notch their first win, and he did try to bolster the midfield by bringing on Tom Huddlestone to replace striker Defoe. But once again, slack defending and really crappy ball control bit Spurs in the butt again in the 84th minute when Jake Livermore conceded a stupid free kick by unnecessarily fouling Steve Morrison. Pilkington took the free kick which Spurs made an absolute mess of in trying to clear their lines. The ball ended up at Robert Snodgrass’ feet and he happily equalized in the bottom right corner of the Spurs’ goal. Things got worse for Spurs in the 88th minute when Huddlestone was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Jonathan Howson. So Spurs have no wins in four matches, the fans are not happy with Villas-Boas, and things are not going will at White Hart Lane. Stop laughing Harry.

West Bromwich Albion 2 – 0 Everton
Is this the same Everton that man-handled Manchester United on the first week of the season? Is this the same bunch that made Aston Villa look so bad at Villa Park last week or easily man-handled Leyton Orient in the Carling Cup on Wednesday? Toffee’s boss David Moyes will not be happy with the way his boys pushed around the Hawthorns stadium ground on Saturday. The first half seemed to start ok for Everton. Midfielder Steven Pienaar was his usual pesky self and nearly opened the scoring in the 4th minute when he forced a fine save out of Baggies keeper Jonas Olsson. The first sign of trouble for Everton came in the 19th minute when Tony Hibbert had to be brought on for an injured Darron Gibson. The Baggies almost took the lead in the 29th minute when striker Shane Long got on the end of a Liam Ridgewell cross from the left and headed against the crossbar. They almost scored again in the 44th minute when midfielder James Morrison managed to get through the Toffees defense and was one-on-one versus keeper Tim Howard. But Howard was able to block the hard shot to keep the score level at the half time break. Marouane Fellaini should have put Everton in the lead at the 55th minute after captain Phil Neville headed a poor clearance from Baggie defender Liam Ridgewell back into the box. The Belgian striker made a great turn to create the chance, but his shot went across the face of the goal. In the 60th minute, Fellaini made a worse miss when he latched on to a low cross from substitute Kevin Mirallas and promptly put his side-footed shot over the bar. That’s when the Baggies took the match in hand and opened the scoring in the 65th minute. Ridgewell get Peter Odemwingie going in space on the left of midfield. Odemwingie picked out Shane Long who beat defender Sylvain Distin to the low cross and Long was able to get it past Howard. Gareth McAuley secured the win in the 82nd minute when his glancing header from Chris Brunt’s corner kick left keeper Howard grasping for air.

Wigan 2 – 2 Stoke
Peter Crouch saves a point for Stoke as they visit Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday. The Latics got the lead in the fifth minute when Potters’ defender Robert Huth has penalized for handing in the box. Shaun Maloney coolly finished the spot kick. But in the 40th minute, the Latics conceded their own penalty kick when Mayor Figueroa was penalized for hand-ball and Jonathan Walters equalized. The Latics went back into the lead in the 49th minute. Franco Di Santo grabbed the clearance and sent Arouna Kone on his way. Kone went brilliantly up the field with the ball and managed to elude the Potters’ defenders. He was able to hold the ball in the Stoke area until Di Santo arrived, made a fine square pass, and the latter expertly put the home side back in the lead. That should have been that, but Cameron Jerome, who had come on for Michael Kightly, was able to get a pass over to Walters. Walters then crossed in from the left and Crouch was able to nod home the equalizer. Stoke should have won it, when Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi saved Gary Caldwell’s deflected free kick at the match end.

Manchester City 3 – 1 Queens Park Rangers
The BPL Champions grind out a win at the Etihad on Saturday. Yaya Toure gave Citeh the lead in the 16th minute. He grabbed Carlos Tevez’s rebounded shot and turned it in with a half volley. The Champions dominated the first half and it looked like QPR boss Mark Hughes would experience another spanking at the hands of his old team. Samir Nasri came the closest to making the second goal when his close range shot was parried by keeper Robert Green. The second half saw QPR improve a bit and striker Bobby Zamora got an equalizer in the 59th minute when picked up the scraps from a scramble in the Citeh penalty area. But things did not stay equal for long. In fact Citeh attacked directly from the kickoff and Tevez, after brilliantly keeping the ball in play, made a fine cross to Edin Dzeko, who wasn’t properly picked up by the QPR defense, who headed Citeh back into the lead in the 61st minute. That should have been that, but QPR refused to give in. Defender Ryan Nelsen’s volley narrowly went wide of the Citeh goal. Nelsen had another chance to score when Esteban Granero whipped in a great free kick that Nelsen nearly was able to touch into the Citeh goal. The nerves of the Champions were jangling a bit until the points were wrapped in injury time (we’re going to call this Mancini time). Tevez, who had just moved back into an onside position deflected home Dzeko’s shot and that was that. So the Champions remain unbeaten and are two points off the top off idle leaders Chelsea.

Liverpool 0 – 2 Arsenal
The Gunners travel to Anfield and end their goal scoring drought in emphatic fashion on Sunday. It was the 99th anniversary of Liverpool Legend Bill Shankly and the Reds celebrated by equaling the record of the 1962-63 side. That side had collected just one point from each of their three opening matches. The Gunners have not lost at Anfield in the last five matches and went into the lead when Lucas Podolski beat keeper Pepe Reina in the 31st minute. It was Podolski’s first goal in an Arsenal uniform and he made a fine run into the Liverpool area after he was sent on his way by Santi Cazorla. His finish was a clinical strike that went under Reina and into the net. A few minutes later, Red fans were sure that Raheem Sterling had earned them a penalty kick when he latched on to a Luis Suarez pass and zoomed in on goal. Gunner defender Per Mertesacker got his tackle in and just did manage to knock the ball away. Although Sterling did go down, replays showed that Mertersacker did not bring him down. The closest Liverpool came would to equalizing was when Luiz Suarez’s shot on goal in the second half was parried over the bar by replacement keeper Vito Mannone. The Gunners secured the win in the 68th minute when Santi Cazorla’s shot rebounded off keeper Reina and underneath into the net. As the match wound down, the Arsenal fans were chanting: “Sacked in the morning, you will be sacked in the morning” at Liverpool boss Brenden Rogers. I wonder if the same was chanted at Shankly when he first started.

Newcastle 1 – 1 Aston Villa
Paul Lambert and the Villains grab their point of the BPL campaign at Saint James’ Park. Starting Villain keeper Shay Given was dropped in favor of American Brad Guzan. The Magpies must have figured the Villains would be easy pickings, but the first half saw Villa put up a great fight. In fact, they went in front in the 22nd minute when an unmarked Ciaran Clark headed in Barry Bannan’s cross. Guzan made a good accounting for himself in the Villa goal and made a brilliant save off the line from Papiss Cisse. Magpie boss Alan Pardew changed the formation to a 4-3-3 to get some more attacking in on goal. The result made the home side more dangerous in attacking the Villains goal. It was a moment of shear brilliance from Hatem Ben Arfa that got Newcastle. He seized onto a loose ball, eluded the Villa defenders and hit a 20 yard wonder strike to keeper Guzan’s left. However, Guzan made a bid to remain the starting Villain keeper when he got to Yohan Cabaye’s free kick attempt that was headed for the upper left corner of the Villain net.

Southampton 2 – 3 Manchester United
What a way to celebrate 1000 league matches in charge at Manchester United! Robin van Persie grabs a hat-trick and the Red Devils steal three points from the Saints at Saint Mary’s stadium on Sunday. It started out a bit slow as United, without injured striker Wayne Rooney, tried to find some way to cope with the loss. There was a bit of eyebrow raising when Alex Ferguson started Anders Lindegaard in goal in place of David de Gea. Rio Ferdinand was back from injury to partner with Nemanja Vidic and so the Red Devils defense seemed to be safe. Things seemed to get better for United when Van Persie almost opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a volley that went just wide of the Saints’ goal. But Southampton have shown so far that they are not easily intimidated and in the 16th minute striker Rickie Lambert out jumped United right back Rafael to head home the opening goal. United midfielder Shinji Kagawa nearly got the equalizer a bit later as his 20 yard shot on goal was parried past the post by Saints keeper Kelvin Davis. But in the 23rd minute Van Persie leveled the score with his first when midfielder Antonio Valencia crossed from the right and Nathaniel Clyne’s slip allowed the ball to land and the striker’s feet. He took one touch to gain control and slammed the shot home past the sprawling Saints’ keeper Kelvin Davis. That should have kicked the Red Devils into gear. They came close several times with efforts from Van Persie and Kagawa, but they kept giving the ball away and making defensive mistakes at the wrong time. One of those times was the 55th minute when United defender Patrice Evra slipped and fell, allowing Morgan Schneiderlin to easily head the Saints back into the lead. They had several chances to put the match beyond the visitor’s reach. Rafael cleared away a Lambert effort. Rio Ferdinand blocked James Ward-Prowse’s attempt and Ferguson had seen enough. He brought on Paul Scholes for Kagawa and Luis Nani for Tom Cleverley. As soon as he came on, Scholes changed the match for United. He made a wonderful chance for Van Persie who fired his shot straight at Saints keeper Davis from a tight angle. United should have had the equalizer in the 68th minute when Van Persie was fouled in the Saints penalty area. He stepped up to take the kick and tried to wrong foot keeper Davis and roll it into the opposite corner. Davis easily saved the weak effort and it looked like the Saints were going to get their first BPL win at the expense of the Red Devils. But Van Persie did get the equalizer in the 87th minute when Ferdinand’s header came off the post and RVP directed the rebound home. Van Persie completed his hat-trick in stoppage time when Nani made a fine move in from the left, crossed to the Dutchman who nodded the effort home. A bit of trivia for United Supporters: Dutch Legendary Striker Ruud van Nistelrooy scored his first home debut goal versus Fulham. He scored his first hat-trick versus Southampton. Robin van Persie scored his first home debut goal last week versus Fulham. Can RVP out do the legend of Ruud?

A Thriller At St. Mary’s

 Posted by on September 3, 2012 at 11:15 am  EPL, Manchester United
Sep 032012

Manchester Uniteds Robin 003 A Thriller At St. MarysSouthampton 2 -3 Manchester United
I’ve said it very clearly, for the last two weeks, that this is going to be one of those seasons where pretty much every match we play has an absurd score, 6-5, 3-4, 5-4, etc. I am a middle-aged old fart and I’m really staring to question, not my love for my team, but whether my heart, or at least my underwear drawer, can hold out for the season. At any rate, away to Southampton, Manchester United had a historic day as Sir Alex Ferguson managed his 1000th match for the club and striker Robin Van Persie scored his 100th goal in the Premier League.

During this crazy, topsy-turvy mishmash of a match, before Our Robin stood there, with his hat-trick in hand, pointing toward his club badge for the benefit of Our traveling red army packed in the stands at St. Mary’s, there was a moment where Sir Alex Ferguson’s shiny, brilliant new toy must have anticipated the looming sting of the Gaffer’s hairdryer. Did RVP really try a high school boy’s version of a cutesy-poo Andrea Pirloesque chip when we were 2-1 down in the midst of the old tartan warrior’s record-breaking 1,000th game in charge? Did he? Did he really?

Of course, what happened next is just one more story in the catalog of United comebacks. RVP’s equalizer was headed home after 87 minutes and then, with this pulsating thriller entering injury-time, another header, an exquisite bit of art as he rose high to nod home at a diagonal angle far too obtuse for the stranded Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davies to reach for the winner. Rockin’ Robin, the Dutch assassin, with the invaluable service of the Ginger Ninja, Paul Scholes, at his side, somehow managed to turn the match inside out and belly up. Poor Southampton–one minute in it, then done–upside down – stunningly, devastatingly mugged on the very cusp of their first win of the season.

Yes, Southampton were snake-bitten and yes, United are jammy! Did they deserve the three points? Adam Lallana was a buzzing metronome. Jason Puncheon gave United’s once brilliant left back Patrice Evra a spanking. Sliding on the long St. Mary’s turf and absolutely devoid of reflexes, Puncheon passed Evra the kind of Sicilian message so well heeded by a less vanity-befuddled Gary Neville a season ago. Turn him over, Fergie: He’s done! Meanwhile, the Saints’ young Alsacian midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin wreaked havoc on United’s AWOL central midfield. Both Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick underwhelmed again. Consistently terrified of any kind of physical contact, Carrick exuded the body language of a Gulag inhabitant. This aspect of his game did not surprise me, although now that he’s freed from the responsibilities of being a second stopper behind Nemanja Vidic, the excuses are running out. Why, with Shinji Kagawa continually marked by at least two players, Cleverley and Carrick repeatedly still kept trying to find him with timid passes beggars belief. And with Vidic and Ferdinand looking sort of rusty and arthritic, screaming at each other a lot and reminding those of us of a certain age of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton getting wed for a third time, United’s defense was terrible.

Luckily, Southampton were incapable of playing anything one might call defense, beyond packing their final third of the pitch with players. Indeed, once Paul Scholes arrived, the two late goals he set up were the difference. Like an adult child forced by circumstance to move back in with its parents, United steadily grow more, not less dependent on the 37-year-old Scholes. And with both Schneiderlin and Puncheon exhausted, the extra energy Ferguson pumped into his side with the introduction of Scholes and striker Javíer Hernandez made a huge difference.

Above all, there’s hyperbole for Robin Van Persie. The first goal he scored, like the one last week, was an exquisite left-footed angled strike. After giving the slip to Nathaniel Clyne, the elegant Nederlander controlled an Antonio Valencia cross on his chest, he blasted a volley past Davis after. And then third, a gorgeous header, his 100th in Premier League competition, at an awkward angle after a superbly accurate corner from Nani.

Nigel Adkins’ side deserve credit. The tough-as-teak, Rickie Lambert had headed the home side into a seventeenth minute lead after Jason Puncheon delivered an inch-perfect cross, exposing the Rafael da Silva’s lack of height with a perfectly placed header. And, later, 58 minutes in, Patrice Evra, supposedly marking Schneiderlin, did a kind of Harpo Marx-meets Mr. Pastry pratfall, allowing the Frenchman all the time in the world to steal the ball away from Cleverley as he passed recklessly to Kagawa, stormed in and then headed home.

Finally, last but not least, there’s the crazy penalty that anyone who witnessed this match will never forget. After a bad Kelvin Davis clearance fell to Nani . The Portuguese winger went into one of his delicious. tricky, mazy runs and clumsy Jos Hooiveld, althoughh e was clearly going for the ball, scythed through the back of his fellow Dutchman Thus there was the penalty no one will ever forget.

It was a grand entertainment indeed. 35 thrillers to go! Not to mention the extra hijinx thrills and spills of the European Champions League, F.A. Cup and the League Cup.

Aug 262012

Swansea 3 – 0 West Ham
Could Swansea be a contender this season? Well, it’s a bit early for that conversation, but Michael Laudrup has Swans flying high at the top of the BPL table. Now they have played two of the lesser London sides in QPR last week and West Ham on Saturday. They’ve look great doing it last week and they made it look easy against West Ham. Now here is the weird part, they’re doing it by scoring lots of goals. They’ve score the most goals of all the teams so far this season with eight goals in two matches. Last season, they were one of the least goal scoring teams with 44 goals in 38 matches. What’s the difference? Miguel Michu. The man is the engine for Swans. He was instrumental in winning the ball in the midfield and creating the Swans’ attacks. But it was a fluke goal from Angel Rangel in the 19th minute that opened the scoring. Rangel was put into the area by Michu who then dribbled wide toward the goal line. He then hit a blind square ball that bounced off keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the West Ham net. The rest of the first half saw the Irons chasing Swans’ shadows with Michu dominating play. He got the second Swansea goal in the 28th minute when he latched onto a very loose back pass from Irons’ defender James Collins. The second half was more of the same domination and Wayne Routledge, in the 60th minute, made a telling pass to Danny Graham who then scored the Swans third goal to secure the match. If West Ham intend to stay in the Premiership, they will need to do more than blow bubbles.

Aston Villa 1 – 3 Everton
Oh man, I would hate to be an Aston Villa supporter just now. They haven’t started well at all and got humiliated by three first half Everton goals in front of their home fans at Villa Park. Boss Paul Lambert could end up being as hated as former boss Alex McLeish if he can’t get the Villains back to winning ways. The match went downhill for the Villains early in the 3rd minute when Steven Pienaar hit a superb strike for the first goal of the match. Steven Naismith, just signed from Glasgow Rangers, made a great cut-back pass and Pienaar hit a great curler past Shay Given into the top right corner of the net. The Toffees laid siege to the Villain goal all day and the in the 31st minute a Shay Given error allowed Marouane Fellaini to grab the second goal. Toffee captain Phil Neville almost got the third shortly there after when his shot went high and wide of the Villa goal. Leighton Baines’ cross from the left found an unmarked Nikica Jelavic in the 44th minute and Jelavic grabbed the third goal. The second half saw more Everton dominance and Pienaar twice carved up the Villa defence and made opportunities for Naismith and Jelavic. Only the intervention of defender Nathan Baker on both occasions prevented further humiliation. In the 58th minute, the Villains were reduced to 10 men when Claran Clark was sent off for bringing down Jelavic and, as the last defender, stopping a goal scoring opportunity. Villa did manage to get a consolation goal in the 75th minute when Karim El Ahmadi’s long shot managed to get past Tim Howard. Substitute Andreas Weimann hit the post in stoppage time, but Villa were never really in this match. I think it’s safe to say that the Villains will be one of the sides fighting relegation this season.

Manchester United 3 – 2 Fulham
Robin Van Persie, Shinjin Kagawa, and Rafael Da Silva finally get the Red Devils march started, albeit with a stutter step or two. The make shift United defense still has holes in it and Damien Duff found one in the third minute as he got past Rafael to grab the opening goal. But United got going when in the tenth minute Patrice Evra put over a fine cross which Van Persie met and put away with a wonder strike. Then he and Kagawa began linking up in really fine fashion and put the Cottager’s goal under great pressure. Kagawa got his first goal as a Red Devil in the 35th minute when he latched onto keeper Mark Schwarzer’s rebound from Tom Cleverly’s hard distance shot on goal. Kagawa later hit the post and Rafael had a goal disallowed for offside, but the right back later scored in the 41st minute when he headed home Ashley Young’s left wing cross. Fulham could have pulled one back right before half time when United keeper David De Gea turned back Mladen Petric’s shot onto the bar and Brian Ruiz fired the rebound over into the crowd. United should have marched on for an easy win, but once again the Red Devils took the foot off the gas pedal and in the 64th minute a mix-up between Nemenja Vidic and De Gea saw Matthew Briggs’ cross rebound off Vidic’s foot and into the United goal. That inspired Moussa Dembele who started driving hard through the United defense. De Gea was forced to make two fine saves from Dembele and stop a late Ruiz header. Vidic also made up for the own goal with a fine block from Hugo Rodallega. The win was dampened when Wayne Rooney was stretchered off in the 83rd minute after receiving a horrible gash after Rodallega caught his cleats on Rooney’s thigh. Reports are that Rooney will be out for at least four weeks. And so the growing injury list has a lot of Red Devil fans worried. Maybe this early injury bug will turn out to be a blessing as it is happening at the beginning of the season and not at the end?

Norwich 1 – 1 Queens Park Rangers
The Canaries and Rangers each get their first BPL points in a draw at Carrow Road. While it’s not a complete recovery from their respective beat downs that each suffered last week, it will do for a start. The Canaries took the lead in the 11th minute when Anthony Pilkington’s cross has headed in by Simeon Jackson from point-blank range. Eight minutes later, new Canary signing Sebastien Bassong was judged to have tripped Djbril Cisse in the penalty area. Replays of the incident made the referee’s decision appear to be a bit harsh as Cisse looked like he had fallen on his own. But a penalty kick was awarded. Cisse took the spot kick, which was saved by keeper John Ruddy. But the rebound was put home by Bobby Zamora. But replays of the kick showed that Zamora was in the area well before the kick was taken. The second half saw a bit of controversy when Robert Green appeared to handle the ball outside his area. The referee saw nothing wrong and play went on. Both sides pressed for and advantage, but the Canaries should have scored as Pilkington made great crosses for Robert Snodgrass, who headed his attempt over the goal, and Chris Martin, whose headed attempt rebounded off the cross bar. But on the whole, Canaries boss Chris Hughton and Rangers boss Mark Hughes should be satisfied with the recovery of each of his respective teams.

Southampton 0 – 2 Wigan
The Latics get two past the Saints weak looking defense. The crowd at St. Mary’s stadium saw their get off to a decent start and they controlled much of the early match. In the 14th minute, Adam Lallana had his shot from 25 yards out saved onto the crossbar by Latics keeper Ali Al-Habsi. Jay Rodriquez ad Danny Fox both had efforts blocked as the Saints continued to press the Latics. And then the rain started. The match got a bit scrappy when the second half started but livened back up when the Latics got a 51st minute lead. It started when keeper Al-Habsi made a great save from a looping, goal bound Rickie Lambert header. The Latics countered and Maloney played Di Santo through onto the Saints goal and Franco Di Santo smashed the ball into the top right-hand corner. To their credit, the Saints tried to immediately respond, but Al-Habsi was equal to the 25 yard volley from Daniel Fox. But the Saints gave the ball away a lot and we all know that is something that you cannot do if you intend to stay in the Premiership. Wigan secured the win when defender Jose Fonte lost the ball to Arouna Kone, who then ran the the length of the pitch and calmly slotted past keeper Davis. There was some question as to whether Kone had tripped Fonte to get possession, but the referee refused to hear any appeals from the Saints. Lesson for the day: if you cherish your place in the BPL, you’d better cherish the football.

Sunderland P – P Reading
Umm… It rained a bit and the pitch got waterlogged. This one got postponed.

Tottenham 1 – 1 West Bromwich Albion
James Morrison gets a stoppage time equalizer to deny Spurs and boss Andreas Villas-Boas their first win of the season. Spurs were quire wasteful in this match. Defoe came the closest to scoring at the end of the first half. He was given a neat square ball from Christian Bale, but made a weak attempt on goal that was easily saved by goalkeeper Ben Foster. That’s how it went for most of the match. Bale would do his usual hard running down the Spurs left wing. Crosses would go into the Baggies penalty area, but the finishing just was not there for Spurs. Beniot Assou-Ekotto finally got Spurs a goal in the 74th minute when his 25 yard shot was deflected past keeper Ben Foster. That should have been that and Villas-Boas should have been able to count his first victory as Tottenham boss. But someone forgot to tell West Bromwich Albion. They pressed and pressed for the equalizer. It finally came in stoppage time from James Morrison. The ball kept pinging around Spurs’ penalty area and defender William Gallas managed to clear it off the line. But Spurs failed to clear their lines and Morrison had the ball fall kindly to his feet and he eased it by keeper Brad Friedel for the equalizer. Jan Vertongen thought he had won the match for Spurs when he volleyed past keeper Foster. But the goal was ruled out for offside. It’s a long season and Villas-Boas should be able to get Spurs going. But it doesn’t look good so far.

Chelsea 2 – 0 Newcastle
The Blues made it looks easy as they get goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres and ascend to the top of the BPL table. Hazard looks like a wonderful buy as he constantly exploited gaps in the Magpie defense. It looks like Torres has found the partnership that he’s been longing for since leaving Liverpool. The two of them made a great combination in the 22nd minute and Torres practically walked around defender David Santon who tripped the Spainard in the Magpie penalty area. The resulting penalty kick had some Blues fans a bit worried as the normal penalty taker, Frank Lampard, was on the bench. But Hazard stepped up to the spot and used the occasion to get his first goal as a Chelsea player. The Belgian midfielder was later provider for Torres as he set the Spainard up for his 45th minute wonder strike past keeper Tim Krul. Newcastle almost got one back before the half time whistle blew when Papiss Cisse let loose with a hard shot straight at keeper Petr Cech. To their credit, the Magpies did try to get a goal back after the half-time break. Hatem Ben Arfa an Jonas Gutierrez both put shots wide of the Blues goal and later Cech pulled off a fine save with his legs after Demba Ba made a fine run into the penalty area. But this was one of those matches that make Stamford Bridge the place where opposing teams come away with nothing but misery. So the European Champions were able to cruise to three easy points ahead of their UEFA Super Copa match on Friday.

Stoke City 0 – 0 Arsenal
Yawn. I think we can bring back the old chant of “Boring, boring Arsenal”. The match at the Britannia Stadium was quite mind-numbing affair. I know it’s a bit unfair to expect the Gunners to pick up where they left off last season, but they really are not very easy to watch. Neither are Stoke City and so the Sunday match plodded on and on. The Potters were the first to attempt an effort in the 6th minute when Jonathan Walters had his goal ruled out for offside. New Gunner boys Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski did try to lift the team out of the doldrums, and the Gunners did dominate much of the possession during the match. But they really didn’t look like making any real dent until boss Arsene Wenger put on Theo Wallcot and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Podolski and Gervinho in the 71st minute. The Gunner attack seemed to pick up a bit, but they never really troubled the Potters’ goal. In the post match interview, Wenger moaned that his attack was missing something. Well, yeah Mr. Obvious. Arsenal have not scored yet, so perhaps the attack is missing a goal scorer? Potters’ boss Tony Pulis seemed more than satisfied with the goalless draw, although he was a bit angry when Jermaine Pennant appeared to have been pushed over by Kieran Gibbs in the Arsenal penalty area and nothing was given. Wenger has a lot of rebuilding to do if the Gunners mean to challenge for silverware this season.

Liverpool 2 – 2 Manchester City
An exciting draw happened at Ainfield as Liverpool took on the Champions. This one was easily the match of the week. The Reds had a lot to play for as they pressed really hard to overcome the drubbing they got last week. It looked like a disaster for the Reds was coming when Lucas had to be substituted in the fourth minute with an injury. But that didn’t dampen the team spirit. There is a reason why Liverpool are so hard to beat at home and you could see that boss Brendan Rogers and captain Steven Gerrard have picked up the team spirit. Both new boys 17 year old striker Raheem Sterling and midfielder Joe Allen looked good and the Reds dominated much of the match. Martin Skrtel got the Kopp on their feet cheering when he headed home Gerrard’s corner kick in the 34th minute. That should have been the start of Liverpool’s win over the champions, but in the 63rd minute a defensive mix-up in the Liverpool area allowed Yaya Toure to scramble an equalizer for the Champions. But before Citeh fans could really get going singing about “Blue Moon” and start doing their backwards dance, Gerrard got hold of the ball and forced new Citeh substitute Jack Rodwell into a hand-ball gaff at the 66th minute. The free kick was placed about 25 yards from the Citeh goal and Luis Suarez hit an amazing free kick that had keeper Joe Hart clawing nothing but air and the Reds had the lead again. But once again, Liverpool’s defending let them down in the 80th minute when Skrtel went from hero to goat by making a horrible back pass that went right to Carlos Tevez. Tevez easily went around keeper Pepe Reina and slotted home the equalizer. It looked like Citeh were going to steal yet another stoppage time win as they pressed the Liverpool goal. But the Reds managed to successfully shake off the effects of Skrtel’s brain freeze and saw out the draw to claim a much deserved point. One Citeh player who seemed to be missing in action was Mario Balotelli. The Reds successfully kept him in check and never allowed him to do any real damage. Boss Roberto Mancini was really angry when Carlos Tevez’s effort on goal, which bounced off the cross bar and along the goal line, was lamely watched by Balotelli who probably could have hustled to push the ball over the line. Citeh’s comeback seemed to be sparked when Mancini hauled off Balotelli in the 62nd minute and put on Edin Dzeko. Could Balotelli still be a tired from this summer, or will he finally be sent packing?

Our Boys Overseas: August 23

 Posted by on August 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm  Our Boys Overseas, United States, USMNT
Aug 232012

After the United States’ historic triumph at Estadio Azteca last week, several Yanks began their new club seasons amidst transfer rumors , while several others are making the transition to their new clubs after summer transfers.


Tim Howard and Everton started the new EPL season off with a 1-0 win against Manchester United at home. Howard helped his team by making three saves in the match. The match also marked the debut of former Arsenal player Robin van Persie for Manchester United who came on as a sub in the second half. The Howard and Toffees travel to Aston Villa on Saturday.

Clint Dempsey was not on the game day roster for Fulham on Saturday during their 5-0 shutout over Norwich City. According to various reports Dempsey has been fined an undisclosed amount by Fulham FC for not agreeing to play in the match against Norwich. Fulham manager Martin Jol is stating that the American has also not been training with the team for the past several weeks. After previously being linked with a summer move to Liverpool, Dempsey’s future club situation still remains uncertain and his time at Fulham seems to be nearing an end. Dempsey has spent tha last six years at the club since moving to Fulham in 2006 from the New England Revolution. Fulham travels to Old Trafford on Saturday to take on Manchester United.

Geoff Cameron was unable to play in Stoke City’s season opener due to a visa delay and is expected to return to England sometime this week and should be available for Stoke’s home opener against Arsenal this weekend.

Neither Brad Guzan nor Eric Lichaj was on the game day roster in Aston Villa’s 1-0 defeat to West Ham United. Guzan recently signed a new contract with Aston Villa that would keep him at the club for three more years after spending the last four years as Aston Villa’s backup goalkeeper.

Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur lost 2-1 to Newcastle United on Saturday. Friedel made one save in the game. Friedel and his team host West Brom on Saturday.

Tim Ream went the full 90 minutes in defense for Bolton Wanderers in their 2-0 loss to Burnley on Saturday. This was the team’s first game of the season in the Championship after being regulated last season from the Premiership. Stuart Holden is still out recovering from a knee injury that kept him from any playing time last season. On Tuesday, Ream and Bolton took on Derby County and won 2-0 in their first win of the season. The Trotters play against Nottingham Forest and Robbie Findley on Friday.

Robbie Rogers was not included on Leeds United’s game day roster in the team’s 2-1 loss to Blackpool on Tuesday. This comes after Rogers was placed on the team’s transfer list. Rogers spent most of last season recovering from concussions he sustained during matches. Leeds United travels to Peterborough United on Saturday.

Jonathan Spector played the first 27 minutes in Birmingham City’s 1-1 draw against Charlton Athletic on Saturday. On Tuesday, the team lost 3-2 to Hillsborough. Spector and Birmingham take on Jay Demerit’s former team Watford on Saturday.


Michael Bradley and new team AS Roma have ended their United States tour and begin the Serie A season on Sunday with a match against Catania. The match is expected to be Bradley’s official Serie A debut with Roma. On Sunday, Bradley scored in a friendly against Greek side Aris FC marking his second goal for AS Roma since joining the team this summer. The midfielder scored his first goal for Roma a couple weeks ago at Fenway Park in a friendly against Liverpool.


After Rangers FC’s demotion to the fourth-tier of the Scottish league rumors of potential bids for Maurice Edu to either Ipswich Town or Stoke City were swirling. Ipswich has recently denied this rumor and any bid for Edu. Edu has made it clear that he seeks a transfer from Ranger’s due to their demotion. Carlos Bocanegra has also been amidst many rumors tying him to a potential move back to MLS. Meanwhile, the defender has spent the time captaining Rangers in their past few games. Bocanegra will once again be captaining Rangers this Sunday when they travel to Berwick Rangers.


Alejandro Bedoya recently made a summer move to back to Sweden after leaving former club Rangers FC due to the club’s money issues. Bedoya has started off on the right foot at Helsingborgs IF. On Saturday, Bedoya marked his debut for Helsingborgs by scoring the team’s only goal of the night with a bicycle kick in the team’s 2-1 loss to Elfsborg. On Tuesday, the team lost 2-0 to Scottish league giants Celtic in the first round of Champions League qualifying. Next Wednesday, Rangers and Helsingborgs will have a rematch against Celtic in the second league of Champions league qualifying. Helsingborgs travels to Djurgården for league play on Saturday.


Jozy Altidore scored two goals on Sunday in AZ Alkmaar’s 3-1 win over Heracles. This comes one week after also scoring two goals for AZ Alkmaar in the team’s home opener. AZ lost 1-0 to Anzhi Makhachkala in the first play-off round of the Europa League. Altidore and AZ return to league play on Sunday against Heerenveen.


Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 defeated FC Nottingen 6-1in the first round of DFB Pokal on Sunday. Cherundolo lead his team to a 5-3 win over ?l?sk Wroc?aw in their first round of Europa League play-offs.  Hannover and Cherundolo host Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 in league action on Sunday.

Timmy Chandler and FC Nurnberg lost 3-2 in extra time to TSV Havelse in the first round of DFB Pokal on Sunday. Chandler and Nurnberg travel to Hamburg SV on Saturday for league play.

Alfredo Morales and Hertha Berlin lost 2-1 loss to Wormatia Worms in the first round of DFB Pokal on Sunday. Hertha Berlin host SSV Jahn Regensburg on Friday.


Sacha Kljestan and RSC Anderlecht are off to a winning start season after finishing on top in last season’s Belgium League by defeating Mons 2-1 win on Saturday. Anderlecht lost 2-1in the first game of Champions League play-offs against AEL Limassol. Kljestan and his crew travel to OH Leuven on Saturday before hosting AEL Limassol next Tuesday for the second leg of their play-offs match up.


Michael Parkhurst scored the game winning goal for FC Nordsjaelland in their 1-0 win over AGF Aarhus on Sunday after scoring last week’s game winner also. Parkhurst and FC Nordsjaelland host Sonderjyske on Friday.

Clarence Goodson was another defender who also scored a goal this past weekend. The American defender scored his first goal of the season and lead Brondby IF to a 1-1 draw against FC Copenhagen on Saturday. The team takes on Esbjerg on Sunday.

Charlie Davies and his new team Randers FC won in a 1-0 shutout over Silkeborg IF on Saturday. Davies is one of several Americans that changed clubs over the summer after leaving French side Sochaux. Davies and Randers play FC Copenhagen on Saturday at home.


Oguchi Onyewu was not included in Sporting CP’s game day roster on Sunday in their scoreless draw against Vitoria Guimaraes. This comes just after being left off Sporting CP’s Europa League roster. The team takes on Rio Ave on Monday.


Herculez Gomez and his team Santos Laguna lost 2-1 loss to Pumas UNAM on Saturday. Days after, Santos Laguna and Gomez shutout Salvadoran side Aguila 5-0 on Tuesday in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League matchup. On Saturday, the team takes on Pachuca and Jose Torres.

DaMarcus Beasley and Puebla fell 3-0 last Friday to Morelia. On Tuesday, the team defeated Lobos BUAP 3-0 in a Copa Mexico match-up. They return to league play on Sunday when they host Michael Orozco Fiscal and San Luis. Michael Orozco Fiscal and his team lost 1-0 to Chivas de Guadalajara on Saturday. The defender picked up a yellow card in the match.

Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona both played in Club Tijuana’s 2-1 over Tigres UANL last Friday. Greg Garza was an unused sub in the match. Tijuana beat Celaya 2-1 at home on Tuesday in Copa Mexico action. The trio travels to take on América this Saturday.