Monthly Archives: August 2012

Weekly Roundup: Welcome Back to the League Edition

 

Match Lookback

Did you know Craven Cottage was in opposite land? It appears so; after getting rid of scorers like Bobby Zamora, Danny Murphy, Pavel Pogrebnyak, and Clint Dempsey (pretty much), Fulham manged to punish a weak Norwich team 5-0. Damien Duff‘s control for the first goal was exquisite and means the Irish winger has scored in 13 Prem seasons.

Not to be outdone, Swansea repeated the Londoner’s scoreline, only they did it away to QPR. After playing fine for all of eight minutes, Rob Green thought he’d let the Rangers fans know what they’re in for by slapping new boy Michu‘s shot in his net. From then on it was all the Swans. Could have been seven.

Liverpool were picked apart by a clinical West Brom team at the Hawthorns. Happy to play on the counter to the Red’s wasted efforts, Shane Long‘s ‘choice’ moments to be fouled proved Liverpool’s undoing. To remove any speculation about the win, Zoltan Gera did crack a netbuster in though.

Man United were left frustrated last night as a resolute Everton side took all three points. Moyes deployed Marouane Fellaini just off the striker and it paid dividends when the afro-ed Belgian got the goal. I’m sure United fans are giving up on the title already, which isn’t surprising given the standards at the club…

Andesron? Never heard of him

Elsewhere, Tottenham managed to chuck a reasonable position twice to Newcastle and the genius of Hatem Ben Arfa, Man City overturned a surprising Southampton lead despite an inspirational Rickie Lambert, West Ham scrapped in a goal to win against Aston Villa, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard undid Wigan inside seven minutes, Stoke turned a win into a draw with a last-minute penalty giveaway to Reading, and Arsenal unsurprisingly didn’t score in a 0-0 with Sunderland.

 

News Reel

Match of the Day is getting mildly better! In an effort to balance out the scale of ‘boring guy with too much forehead’, BBC have shipped off Lee Dixon and brought in ‘Arry ‘Droopy’ Redknapp and Mick ‘the Nose’ McCarthy to join Alan ‘Thunderbird’ Hansen, Alan ‘Yawn’ Shearer, Mark ‘why the long face’ Lawrenson, and Gary ‘the Velvet Owl’ Lineker.

An Old Lady (that looks like a man) took a pig to a Palmeiras game in Brazil lately because… well, at least she didn’t do a Anthony Barabbas on it.

Alan Pardew is going to receive a two game touchline ban for pushing the linesman in the Spurs game. With an enormous grin, he told the beeb that he was ashamed of himself.

Lino: ‘Oh no you did’nt!’

 

Transfer Trawl

Well the big news is that Arsenal’s goal-getter Robin van Persie has made the £24mil switch to Man U. Despite the mouthwatering prospect of ‘Fatman and Robin’ up front, the majority of United fans seem underwhelmed by the big signing. Perhaps that is because they already had a great frontline in Berbatov, Chicharito, and Welbeck, while the gaping maw in midfield in Scholes’ absence grows.

Liverpool also made some movements, bringing in Swansea pass merchant Joe Allen for a weighty fee that has a hankering of Downing/Adam/Carroll about it. Though an Allen/(improved) Lucas/Gerrard midfield can’t be a bad thing. Along with this they picked up Oussama Assaidi – a Moroccan winger, balancing it up by sending Craig ‘just lemme say this one thing’ Bellamy back to his spiritual home of Cardiff.

Everton Midfielder and England hopeful Jack Rodwell decided that playing all the time and having people believe he had some club allegiance was getting a bit old and moved to Man City for 12mil.

West Brom managed to bolster their now impressive looking attack with the new Drogba himself Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea.

The unattacheys Louis Saha and Jose ‘just shave it already’ Bosingwa have found their way back into the wages at Sunderland and QPR respectively.

Not content with throwing out last season’s best player, Arsenal decided to get rid of the second best and all. Alex Song now joins the formidable midfield ranks of Barcelona for 15 big ones. Hmm the same price as Allen…

Tottenham announced the five million pound signing of Emmanuel Adebayor earlier. Unlucky Jermaine, at least you got one game. In the Spur’s outbox, Sebastian Bassong has moved to needy Norwich, presumably after seeing his centre half position taken up by players who generally would need a zimmer frame.

Transfer Troll

Scott Sinclair who only made 72 apps in six years before joining Swansea has decided not to sign a new contract. His 81 apps in two years for the Swans just doesn’t cut it. ‘Hmm I’m an English midfield/forward who is just a bit old to be considered a hot prospect, and who is struggling a wee bit with the step up to Premier League football… a move to Man City will get me all the football I could ever need!’

 

Video of the Week

There are many great goals that embody the explosive nature of the best league in the world I could put here, but when a video tickles you just right, you can’t ignore it. Ever wondered how informal the brothers Neville are towards each other? About as informal as two butlers at a funeral…

 

 

 

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Weekly Roundup: Usain Bolt Edition

Match Lookback (Olympics)

So after me bigging up Team GB (they were actually good when I saw them) they crashed and burned in true British style – a penalty shootout in a game they should have won.

Birmingham keeper Jack Butland performed a credible magic trick in making his hands and arms become ethereal enough to allow a ball to pass through as Sunderland’s Ji Dong-Won opened the scoring. GB then proceeded to stumble through the first half while the referee gave us penalties. Ramsey took both, and they both were appalling.

I don’t complain when players have penalties saved by a diving goalie who makes it to the correct corner, but this wasn’t the case. It’s fairly evident through the limitations of the physical and from past footage that there are places goalkeepers can’t (or really struggle to) get to in a PK. Just a little bit off-center bobbling along the ground is not one of these places. The keeper is unlucky he didn’t save them both.

From the hour mark on, penalties looked on the cards. From penalties on, failure looked on the cards. I actually said aloud to those around me as Sturridge stepped up “Don’t do a stutter run-up”. I could see just from the player that he was going to. A flash young player full of arrogance, eager to show off in situations that don’t require it. The stutter comes naturally to some players (C-Ron, Neymar) but to others it should be left alone. You know what’s more impressive that some flash maneuvers? Winning games.

‘Huh. Must need more backflips.’

Elsewhere the games were more exciting; Japan finally scored more than one goal, Brazil overcome twice losing the lead to eventually nine man Honduras, and Mexico avoided being scythed long enough to see Senegal’s shocking defence give them four goals.

Brazil v Mexico final with Brazil to win is my two penneth’s worth.

 

News Reel

World’s fastest man, consecutive Olympic record breaker, and recent gold medal winner Usain ‘Lightening’ Bolt has once again stated his interest in playing for Man United.  He did take part in a training session back in 2009 and rightly says that he would be the fastest player on the pitch, but is there more to it?

You can’t help but think of Theo Walcott, sure he isn’t quite a world class player but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a success. He fields on the right for a top four team in a top top league and represents his country – and a lot of that is down to his pace. Other attributes like vision and finishing have been coached in, but it’s his acceleration that is his selling point. Now I’m not suggesting that Bolt to United is realistic, but to a lower league club… maybe. Daley Thompson did it and it certainly would be great to see.

Short but Sweet – Aston Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov‘s acute leukaemia is in remission. No doubt he faces hard times ahead but there is now a hope that we will once again see him play. And how Villa could do with him.

Portsmouth have just two and a half days to shift their remaining professional players (or practically reduce their wages to nothing) or they face the big bad wolf of administration. The problem being that players like Tal Ben Haim claim they are owed up to £2mil in unpaid wages and refuse to leave. Things look pretty bleak and we all hope that the supporters aren’t left without a club. Check out their team sheet against AFC Wimbledon in a friendly:

I hate when players have the same name

Finally, one of football’s more heinous crimes has been solved. In 1984 Spurs had a UEFA Cup semi against Hajduk Split in Croatia. The fans were anticipating the kick off in the stands when a crazed Split Ultra came on the field with a live cockerel (Tottenham’s symbol) and broke its neck. The club was fined but the killer was never found.

Now a 50 year old Lawyer, Anthony Barabbas has fessed up: “I drank a beer, stole a rooster from a bar and ran onto the centre of the pitch and snapped its neck. I realise now (28 years later) I was very wrong and I apologise“. It happens.

 

Transfer Trawl

The big news is Arsenal have signed Santi Cazorla from Malaga for real money, and he isn’t a child. The versatile Spaniard will be brought into the Gunner’s midfield to inject some creativity but will still leave them needing the steel that, unbelievably, they haven’t regained since Viera left.

West Ham have continue to be busy boys and, although they lost out on signing Andy Carroll, they have signed another big lad in the shape of James Collins from Aston Villa. Now I can’t say for sure, but I don’t they’ll be playing him up front.

As a replacement, Villa have bagged Dutchman Ron Vlaar from Feyenoord. The man with a surname that can only be said properly whilst doing a Dracula impression did look okay during the Euros despite Holland’s poor showing.

Norwich have sold Andrew Crofts back to club they bought him from – Brighton – in a Pienaar-esque move. He racked up around 60 apps for the Canaries but was used significantly less in their most recent Premier League campaign.

Transfer Troll

AC Milan are ready to put a bid forward for Andy Carroll. The plan is, they sort his ponytail out a bit, put ‘Ibrahimovic’ on his shirt and tell everyone the Swede is carrying a knock.

 

Video of the Week

I don’t know what this video showcases more; Mark Clattenburg‘s linesman’s incompetence, Pape Souare‘s contention for High Jump next Olympics, or Hector Herrera‘s titanium skull:

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Team GB: An Olympic Experience

 

So ahead of Team GB taking on South Korea tonight in the Olympic quarter-final I thought I’d share my experience seeing the Brits (is that their nickname?) when they qualified against Uruguay on wednesday.

After the mandatory amount of time being lost, we arrived at the Millennium Stadium – and I’ve got to say, it is one tasty stadium. At just over 74,000 it’s pretty mammoth and got within a few Ks of being max capacity which gave a great atmosphere.

In Wales that is contender for nicest sky of the year.

The first game was Mexico vs Switzerland, and there was reasonable support for the Mexicans in (which culminated in an infinite Mexican wave). The central Americans scored in the second half after enduring a pressurising first, then cruised to victory. They possessed a perfected level of close control, confidence in playing a passing game, and good pressing. Switzerland however possessed very little bar some misfiring forwards.

For what seemed a fairly relaxed game, the polarised final whistle emotions were strong and evident; the Mexican contingent went mental as the players applauded their own qualification, while the eliminated Swiss made a quick exit… bar one devastated player:

That’s the groundskeepers coming out before the next game.

As the stadium began to fill, you could feel a level of optimism among the fans that GB would be following Mexico. In between a mash of attire (English football shirts, Welsh rugby shirts, all manner of Prem shirts) there was a sea of Union Jack paraphernalia. A fair portion of Uruguay’s small population had also made the journey and occupied a stand to themselves.

They were pretty much the only ones wearing those shirts though.

There was a bit of tension before the anthems, especially among English supporters like myself. Those who have been following the games know that the Welsh players don’t sing ‘God Save the Queen’, preferring to stay quiet as they normally sing “Old Land of My Fathers” – the Welsh anthem. There was a bit of booing while me and the other Englishmen sung the anthem but nothing too bad.

The Uruguayan fans did take some offense to the booing that occurred during their anthem, although it wasn’t so much down to their nationality – more something to do with a certain captain’s appearance on the screens…

He really was on the end of it. All night.

Uruguay playing a 4-2-3-1 with pantomime villain Suarez linking up top, started quite strongly and had the majority of the chances in the opening 45. But the one that counted came for GB in the 46th minute. A lovely piece of composure from Joe Allen resulted in an excellent pass leaving Sturridge with a tap in.

After that GB hit their stride. Sturridge somehow managed to hit the post from point-blank and Bellamy must’ve had a 100% winning rate against Uruguay’s left back. Watching the team develop from their first abysmal friendly against Mexico has been a unique experience – it isn’t often you see an international team formed in a few weeks.

Pearce has come under some unfair criticism from the David Beckham Fanclub, but has made a credible football team. The midfield three of Allen, Ramsey, and Cleverly blew my mind in Cardiff – I couldn’t believe the football I was seeing from a British team, it wouldn’t have been out of place to compare them to Spain at times.

The team performed to at least the sum of its parts, which is more than we can say of the senior England team in recent times.

Craig Bellamy received a standing ovation on his departure that was only a maximum of 50% due to his nationality, he was the player who made you leave your seat when he touched the ball. Sturridge and Sinclair were both good too, the Chelsea man challenging Campana in goal several times. And although Luis Suarez caused them some problems, the back four look like a dynamic set, even when the Liverpool dribble merchant did make it through, Butland was equal to him all night. Bar the crossbar hit.

There was some hearts in mouth as we remembered this was a British team.

Overall it was a fun game and a great day out. There were plenty of families out with their children experiencing a football game for the first time, which is perhaps something you don’t get during late games at other levels. GB put in an impressive performance and the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura exerted such control over the game he could be contender for man of the match, I honestly haven’t seen a ref have such a good game since Collina.

The Olympic games are receiving fantastic support in England, and in some part I do feel that is down to the re-formation of the football team. The nation are united in their love for football and in giving them a team they can get behind, the committee really galvanised the support for the entire event. GB! GB! GB!

 

 

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