Shortly after I publish this article, all of the fixtures for next season will be released and we will all be planning our lives around who our team is playing. Football supporters sacrifice so much to follow their team around the country, skipping social events with friends and Read more
Joe Kinnear was a theatrical, comedic goldmine yesterday on Talksport, saying that he's "more intelligent" than Newcastle United supporters and showing a crushing inability to pronounce the names of Newcastle's top players. Kinnear called Yohan Cabaye, "Yohan Kebab" and have you ever heard of Hatem Ben Affri? Kinnear Read more
Joe Kinnear has re-joined Newcastle United under the guise of "Director of Football." Due to the absurdity of the appointment, I could finish the blog here and leave you to chew on that information for the entirety of your Monday. It is a very bizarre development at Newcastle, as Read more
The new Premier League season is set to be an exciting one, thanks to a raft of changes that have occurred at the top clubs since the end of the last one, which leave things feeling less predictable than they have for a while.
The fact that Chelsea have Read more
As I trawled through the various football websites this morning, all I saw was this...
Tumbleweed. Lots and lots of tumbleweed. The transfer window hasn't opened and won't do so until the July 1st, so we should all calm down in that regard. At the moment it feels as Read more
Contractually, I’m not obliged to speak about the England match last night, so I’m not going to. That match wants locking up in the Steve McLaren performance review cabinet in the deepest, darkest depths of the FA’s headquarters and hidden from all public knowledge forever. What a horrible match. I watched Germany v Ecuador after twenty minutes and that was much more fun. Hopefully, it was just an “end of season” match where the players want everything over and done with so they can go on holiday.
Anyway, moving on from that, Luis Suarez has, as newspaper dialect would dictate, “rocked Liverpool by demanding a transfer as Real Madrid begin to spend their £547 million war chest on the Uruguayan.” What Suarez actually said to Uruguayan radio is this: “It would be very difficult to say no to Real Madrid.” He then added that he is, “not prepared to continue suffering at the hands of the English journalists.”
For most football players in the world, Real Madrid are difficult to ignore. Suarez plays for Liverpool who don’t compete for things and is attracting interest from one of the biggest clubs in the world, which can guarantee him the chance to battle hard for trophies and Champions League football. Rather than play alongside Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen, Suarez could play next to Karim Benzema and Sami Khedira. Real Madrid are better in every way than Liverpool. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that Suarez would be interested in joining them.
What Suarez hasn’t said, is this: “I’m definitely leaving. I want out of Liverpool because they don’t challenge for trophies and Brendan Rodgers is so cheesy that it gives me chest pains.” All that Suarez has done, is state the bleedin’ obvious in saying that it would be difficult to say no to Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, Stoke fans will have woken up this morning wondering what sins they’ve committed in the past to warrant Mark Hughes as their new manager. The same Mark Hughes that left Fulham as they didn’t match his ambitions, is now rocking up at Stoke and is set to be confirmed at 11AM this morning.
When Peter Coates dumped Tony Pulis, I was delighted for Stoke. “Finally, they can move forward” is what I thought to myself. Instead, the Britannia Stadium will become much less difficult to visit, Stoke will get relegated and Mark Hughes will have got the sack long before then. What a regressive appointment.
I have precious little to look at across the many football websites this morning. One of the top stories on BBC Sport is of Titus Bramble suggesting he may or may not leave Sunderland. Reading that news fails to titillate me. Could there be a worse transfer story? “Ben May hints he may not renew his contract with Dover Athletic.” Okay, so there could be worse.
Tony Pulis has written Stoke City supporters a letter in their local newspaper, speaking of his pride when he looks at where Stoke were when Pulis took charge for his first spell, which was 21 in the old Division One, in 2003. He has done a great job in taking them so far, but his tactics and approach to the game are frankly, unsustainable in the long-term. Maybe not so in the lower divisions, but in the Premier League, it will only get you so far and for that, getting rid of Tony Pulis is the right thing to do.
Just when you think Stoke are on to something however, things take a turn for the worse. I applauded Peter Coates’ ambition to take a new direction. I’d even heard a rather audacious rumour that he’d try and lure Rafael Benitez to the Britannia Stadium! It was always “unlikely” to happen, but still, I appreciated the effort put in to name-planting Benitez at Stoke.
When I was on the cusp of thinking that they might coaxe Sir Alex Ferguson away from his retirement plan, they pulled one unlikeable character out of the frying pan at Stoke and launched the despicable Mark Hughes right in there. It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but bookies have slashed odds on the likelihood of Hughes taking over at Stoke and in general, they don’t do that for no reason. If Hughes does take over, it’s a huge disappointment for Stoke fans who were looking forward to something more exciting and instead, got another heap of boring in Hughes.
Maybe the biggest news that is to be announced later today, is the decision from UEFA on whether a team that wins the Europa League can be rewarded with a Champions League place in the following campaign. To be honest, I’m surprised it isn’t already in affect. I’ve always felt that the winners of the Europa League should be granted a spot in the Champions League. Said team have won a European competition and thus deserve to go compete in the “bigger” tournament. I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be allowed and I fully expect UEFA to announce that they’ll allow it later. Good decision, if so.
In transfer news, everything is getting slightly tedious already. It’s been 48 hours since Stevan Jovetic’s agents were in London to meet with officials and in that time, Fiorentina have claimed there to be no official contact from Arsenal and that they aren’t interested in buying him. It’s now going round Twitter that Jovetic favours a move to Juventus, just a couple of days after Arsenal was his preferred destination.
Pending an agreed fee, passed medical, signed contract and a photograph with the club shirt, Jovetic will definitely be a player somewhere other than Fiorentina next season.
Finally, it’s the Champions League Final this weekend in London. I really, really wish that me and my brother would be going down to London to watch the match in a bar with Borussia Dortmund supporters, as we have a good following from them on Twitter and have always had nice e-mails from their support whenever we’ve covered them on here. Unfortunately, my brother isn’t old enough to drink and I’ll be watching the game at home, but it would have been lovely to meet up with a few of the Dortmund fans we’ve spoken to on here.
Due to my affinity with Dortmund because of playing FIFA 2004 and seeing them play my team, Arsenal, at the Emirates Stadium two years ago, I’ll be rooting for them completely as they player Bayern Munich. Hopefully we can get to Germany to watch Dortmund next season!
A word on the final itself - I’d prefer Kevin Grosskreutz to the out-going Mario Gotze, who is moving to Bayern Munich at the end of the season, for the Champions League Final. I know that’s a bold thing to say, as Gotze is a very special talent, but Grosskreutz bleeds yellow and if I were to need an extra edge of mental strength on Saturday, then I’d pick Grosskreutz every day.
“He is nineteen years, 198 days old. Just think what he’ll be like when he grows up.”
The above quote is provided courtesy of Jon Champion, commentating on England v Argentina at the 1998 World Cup finals, where Michael Owen scored a stunning goal to plant his talented name firmly on the map. Earlier in the same tournament, Owen had achieved the mantle of becoming England’s youngest ever goal scorer in a group match against Romania, bundling home a loose ball from close range. Such a young age, with the world at his feet, it was mind-boggling at the time to think what Michael Owen could achieve as he grew older. Read more
Domestic football is back with a much welcome bang. Unless, of course, like me, you are an Arsenal fan, in which case you wish everybody would go back to their respective corners of the globe to play some more international football. What a massive anti-climax to the international week, and not because the football has been great, particularly from England, but because I’d built it up in my mind so much that I expected Arsenal to walk to Carrow Road, (they actually flew) claim three points and stroll home (again, they flew).
In spite of what my mind insisted on telling me, Arsenal were shocking, a million miles away from what I’d envisioned for two weeks since beating West Ham United 3-1 and it was an all round poor performance. Defensively, I thought Norwich were absolutely superb, they limited Arsenal to half chances and let them play about with the ball in areas where they were going to do no damage. I can’t sit here and complain about any wrong decisions and so on, as Norwich stuck to a plan, outsmarted the Gunners and even looked the more threatening in attack. Read more
I’ve long championed Manchester United’s need for a central midfielder who can hold the ball effectively from deep and instigate attacks from said deep area. In signing Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund, United solved that particular problem of an absence of creativity through the middle in the final third, but getting the ball to Kagawa in threatening positions is a problem.
Sir Alex Ferguson hadn’t corrected the problems for last season, and so Manchester United play with the same air of predictability they did last season, pumping the ball out wide from deep and going from there.
Admittedly, it’s not helped United so far that Michael Carrick has had to sit in defence for the opening two matches and whilst he’s been a liability in defence, United miss him in midfield, and this is my point over the Robin van Persie signing and whether the money could have been better spent. With numbers short in defence, Carrick has had to drop back and there’s only the erratic Anderson to do Carrick’s job. As a result of circumstance, admittedly, United looked unbalanced yesterday and if injury problems persist throughout the season, their lack of cover and competition in midfield will make for a very long season. Read more
Good morning to you! As I write this (this post is set to publish at a specific time) I’m still sitting here in my chair, proud as punch having given a trick or treater a jar of Tuna & Sweetcorn sandwich filler whilst pretending all along it was a jar of sweets. Brilliant.
Aside from me being mean to children in my spare time, I later watched the football following that prank. On paper, Newcastle v Stoke always looked a thriller. For Newcastle it represented their first serious challenge in a Stoke side horribly difficult to play at the Britannia Stadium. For Premiership matches, Stoke have shortened their pitch to make it difficult for sides like Newcastle to get the ball down and play. Previous to playing Manchester United at home, Stoke hadn’t conceded a goal and when playing United, they conceded just a goal and that was a solo effort from Nani, highlighting just how hard Stoke are to get past at home when it takes a moment of individual brilliance to unlock their defence.
For Europa League matches, Stoke are forced to widen their pitch, which may be their downfall in Europe if they’re forced to play against technically superior teams on a wider pitch than they like. Whatever though, that’s for another article and since I can’t bloody stand the thought of writing a post for a match which Salif Diao qualifies for, that post will never arrive.
Still, Newcastle had to play on Stoke’s subbuteo pitch and had a job to do. A win would take the Toon into a staggering third position, ahead of Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal, which is pretty brilliant considering Newcastle had ‘no strikers’ and their fans were going apopleptic during the summer over said matter. Personally, I thought Demba was a good enough replacement for Andy Carroll and on current form, Demba Ba puts his predeccesor in the shadows of his hulking great frame. When playing for Hoffenheim in Germany, I always felt Ba merited a move to England based on his basic attributes, such as a terrific turn of pace and ability to put his frame to good use, both good things to have in your game when playing English football. Just talking about Ba’s physical traits would be an insult to how good he is technically. Ba’s opener for Newcastle last night for example, was a fantastic header, throwing his body backwards in order to head the ball back across goal, past Asmir Begovic and into the net. Ba proceeded to cup his ear to the Stoke crowd in retort to claims he wasn’t fit enough eighteen months ago for a move to Stoke. Oh how wrong could Tony Pulis be…
Newcastle aren’t just Demba Ba however, even though last night’s scoresheet suggests different when you see his name flash up thrice. For example, Yohan Cabaye moved to Newcastle as a replacement for both Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan. Now whilst both the latter are fine players, Cabaye can do both their jobs with added quality. Fresh from leading Lille to a league and cup double as Lille captain and one of a few players tipped to spark the start of a sparkling new era for French football. Capable of playing a killer pass as well as putting in a bone crunching tackle, Cabaye would seem to have it all in his locker and with time on his side, Newcastle’s £4 million investment in the Frenchman could well make a big profit if he keeps developing.
In Ba and Cabaye, Newcastle have all the hallmarks of a more energetic, vibrant side as opposed to last season’s carthorses who yes, did a job, but proved to be painful on the eye at times. Last night I enjoyed watch Newcastle, particularly Jonas Gutierrez whose quick feet surprised me. I don’t really know what I ever thought of Jonas, but I do know I never had him down as a quick-footed winger.
Newcastle’s second and third, both arrived via the efforts of Leon Best. First, Leon Best received a cross on the right hand side inside the box and though he shaped up to shoot, his scuffed shot still did well enough to rumble along the area and find Demba Ba’s shoelaces. This wasn’t well received by Stoke fans, who saw Ba grab his second and though Newcastle deserved their two goal lead, their second did arrive courtesy of gratuitous circumstances.
If their second was fortunate, then I can’t coin a fancy word for what their third was. Robert Huth used Leon Best as a form of trampoline by using his shoulders to lift propel himself. It was hardly a massive shove on Leon Best and Best himself looked surprised when a penalty was awarded. Ba stepped up, grabbed his third and cancelled out Stoke’s penalty a few minutes earlier, which was also a push (by Demba Ba would you believe) and unlike Newcastle’s that was a correct decision.
A great result for Newcastle and their unbeaten start continues…
Again, to much derision, I predicted Manchester United were not perfect, something I was laughed at for saying. As normal, I have again predicted I was right in saying that United have a massive chink in their armour, with that ‘chink’ being when Rooney is missing, Manchester United for the larger part, look very blunt.
Fair enough, United were against Stoke City, a side who would have ensured even Rooney himself had a tough afternoon of it, but that’s no excuse for a side who spent around £25 million on Ashley Young, another £20 million on Valencia, a good £17 million on Nani and then play a £30 million striker in front of all the former three players mentioned and still not create a jot. Rooney has been dropping deep a lot in the opening games, as he’s been encouraged to do by SAF and little wonder, as not signing Wesley Sneijder still means United lack a play-maker in the middle of the park when Rooney is not there to drop back. Don’t get me wrong, Rooney hasn’t contributed much to assists (just the one) but his value in starting those attacks from deep has meant more than a £30 million player from Holland at times.
Apart from Hernandez coming into a one-on-one situation with Begovic, United didn’t create anything at all before Nani’s opener. Before we get to Nani though, I have to touch upon that Hernandez chance. To my knowledge, denying a player of a goalscoring opportunity is a red card offence and a penalty; did Woodgate deny Hernandez of that opportunity? Of course he bloody did! It’s been said Hernandez never had control of the ball, but for a start Woodgate had clipped his leg before Hernandez even had chance to seize the ball and was further prevented from doing so when Woodgate pushed the Mexican onto his belly and into Begovic. For me, that’s a penalty, I can understand what world your living in if you disagree. At the end of the day, Wayne Rooney thought it was a penalty and that’s it for me, disagree with me if you wish but I have an angry Scouser on my side.
If that event was ugly, Nani’s goal was sublime. Though I cannot stand his weird moustache, he is a great football player; can anybody remember when he was awful? He had a good game against Arsenal two seasons ago, scored a strange goal and has never looked back since, he’s really grown into his game and when he took possession out wide, played a one-two with Fletcher, dragged the ball inside Woodgate and Shawcross before dumping the ball inside Begovic’s near post, you saw a world class player. It was a brilliant goal and one I shall be trying next Thursday at football training.
So if Nani’s goal was sublime, what does that make Crouch’s goal? Typical? Yeah, probably. A corner from Stoke early in the second half found Crouch’s annoyingly-married-to-abbey-clancey forehead and boom, the ball was past De Gea and nestling in the back of United’s net. 1-1 and looking at it in the aftermath of the game, probably deserved. As I said, United would falter at some stage, they are far from unbeatable and for one, I am really, really looking forward to the Manchester derby in four weeks’ time!
Elsewhere in England, Arsenal managed to earn a win against Bolton, as well as a clean sheet! Strangely, Arsenal have managed to keep three clean sheets in six Premiership matches so far, compared to Manchester United’s and Chelsea’s total of two. If it weren’t for conceding a pesky total of twelve in two matches against Manchester United and Blackburn, things may well be very different for Arsenal! Now I haven’t seen of that game yet as I had to be elsewhere but as expected, I will be going through a full re-run of the game with a tooth-comb to give my full thoughts.
One thing I have heard from reading through the comments on Le Grove, is that Arsenal players were slow to help Van Persie out in some form of melee? If it were my mate being pushed pillar to post by the opposition, I’d be racing from one end of the pitch to the other to wade in and help my mate out, or is the reluctance of the players to help out down to being bollocked by Arsene Wenger over the Barton/Gervinho debacle where Wojciech Szczesny ran from one end of the pitch to the other to wade in? Before I move on to Torres, I’d like to share with you this video of Szczesny when quizzed on Polish TV as to what he says to put off strikers when they go to take a penalty…
Ah that big Polish man does make me laugh!
Anyway, to end this post, I must mention Fernando Torres’ quest to not help himself in the slightest. After scoring a goal today, he goes and gets sent off. This comes straight after scoring a goal against Manchester United and then proceeding to miss an open net. What a tit you are, Torres! Still as I said, he’s a brilliant striker and he’ll get it together, it’s just quite funny that one man can enjoy so much bad luck.
To cheer up any Chelsea fans still suffering from ‘that’ miss, I unearthed this treat the other day…
Despite an indifferent start to the season, I was obviously impressed with Bolton in their 4-0 triumph on the opening day of the season and I was equally impressed with their performance against Manchester City, despite Owen Coyle’s side losing 3-2. You have to write off that match against Manchester United (Bolton lost 5-0) as nobody has been able to match SAF’s side so far this season, what is not acceptable however, was last weeks defeat to Norwich City at the Reebok. A victory against Aston Villa in midweek does nothing for me, especially as it was a Carling Cup match and thus both sides were weakened. Bolton will travel to Emirates Stadium desperately short on confidence and form. Bolton will miss Ivan Klasnic for this one due to the red card he picked up last weekend, whilst Stuart Holden is available following a six month lay-off through injury, though he is expected to start from the bench having only made his come-back on Wednesday.
Saying that, Arsenal, as we know, are not in the best form either following a crushing 4-3 defeat by Blackburn Rovers and don’t look anywhere near finding the form of their usual selves. Arsenal do welcome back Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Bacary Sagna to the match-day squad, three players that will surely steady a sinking Arsenal ship.
What won’t happen: Bacary Sagna to have rid his head of those lovely golden locks. Nor would I want him to.
What will happen: Arsenal and Bolton to play out a 2-2 draw, with bad defending featuring heavily on both sides.
Chelsea v Swansea
Swansea, like I said they would, have started to score goals, netting three last week against West Brom. Against a Chelsea back four who have looked far from certain in their opening games, I expect Swansea to create chances aplenty. Who knows, maybe Danny Graham might stick away an opportunity against Chelsea, anything could happen! In defence of Graham, he gets into the spaces, so his goals will come and as far as I’m concerned, he’s a class act, so no worries there! To strengthen their case of a win, Swansea have no fresh injury concerns, which will be music to Brendan Rogers’ ears.
It won’t be plain sailing for Swansea, don’t get me wrong! Chelsea created a hatful against Manchester United and despite what people have been saying, I thought Fernando Torres had a brilliant game, okay he missed an open net, but so did Ryan Giggs against Arsenal once upon a time in the FA Cup…
… So no, Torres isn’t a bad player, he just had a bad moment and I expect him to score against Swansea, I can’t see AVB not starting Torres in a league match after what happened. Chelsea will be without Daniel Sturridge for this one, so there is a possibility Chelsea fans will have to suffer Salomon Kalou for an afternoon.
What won’t happen: Fernando Torres to miss an open net… or will he?!
What will happen: Fernando Torres to grab a goal. It won’t be enough though, as I think Swansea will pull off a shock at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
Liverpool v Wolves
I do like Wolves, I don’t know why, but I do, maybe because my Mum has a crush on Mick McCarthy, who knows?! Either way, I expected a lot of from them last season and they failed to deliver, this season however, with the additions of Jamie O’Hara and more imporantly I feel, Roger Johnson, I think Wolves will have a good season.
As for Liverpool, well they got turned over by Spurs last week and were defeated the week before that to Stoke City, backing up my claims of them being a side in transition. Dalglish’s side have endured a crap fortnight, though made better with the return of Steven Gerrard in midweek against Brighton, as well as a brilliant performance from Craig Bellamy.
What won’t happen: Andy Carroll to come on and score. Has Liverpool come too soon?
What will happen: Roger Johnson to head an equaliser for Wolves in a 1-1 draw.
Manchester City v Everton
I had no idea of Everton’s good record over Manchester City in recent years! Everton have done the double over City two seasons in a row, won 7 out of 8 against Manchester City and are the last team to have beaten Mancini’s side at Eastlands are remain the last team to have beaten them in an away match. (when City played at Goodison Park last season) Despite such a statistical pile-up in favour of Everton, Manchester City are 5-2 favourites to win this match and rightly so!
Never have Manchester City had such a strong squad and for that reason alone, I expect them to hammer a very light Everton side and that’s without any injury worry concerns unless you count Victor Anichebe. Following three years out injured, Owen Hargreaves will not feature for Manchester City, though Kolo Touré will hope to keep his place following his return from a six month ban.
What won’t happen: David Moyes to wear a scarf. He’d look ridiculous.
What will happen: Manchester City to storm out 4-0 winners.
Newcastle United v Blackburn Rovers
Despite a good start to the season, I think it’s time Newcastle lost a game and no better team to lose to than a Blackburn side who have now won two games on the bounce, following victories against Arsenal and Leyton Orient. Don’t get me wrong, I think Newcastle will have even better season than the last, but Newcastle played 120 minutes in midweek, unlike Blackburn who won their Carling Cup tie inside regulation time. For this reason alone, I expect Blackburn to beat Newcastle, purely because Rovers have the fresher legs.
Blackburn welcome back David Goodwillie, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Michel Salgado, whilst Alan Pardew has the pleasure of being able to welcome Hatem Ben Arfa back to his match-day squad following a year out through injury.
What won’t happen: Anything with the number ‘four’ in it. I don’t expect a high-scoring affair.
What will happen: Blackburn to win 1-0 thanks to Mauro Formica.
Stoke City v Manchester United
Having never dropped a point to Stoke City, I don’t fancy Manchester United to drop any points to Stoke this time either, even if Stoke have looked impressive so far this season. SAF’s side have looked immense in every department and for that, my mind can’t see past an emphatic Manchester United victory.
Stoke have Kenwyne Jones absent through a hamstring injury picked up in midweek but apart from that, Tony Pulis has a full squad to pick from. SAF should be able to welcome back Rio Ferdinand, as well as being able to name Javier Hernandez in the side to play Stoke after that horrific tackle from Ashley Cole last Sunday.
What won’t happen: Wayne Rooney not to score. Last year he was in Dubai getting a tan when United play away to Stoke…
What will happen: Wayne Rooney to score as Manchester United win 4-0.
West Brom v Fulham
Here’s something I didn’t know; Martin Jol used to be a West Brom player! It doesn’t mean much, but I found it fun to know, either way I’m sure he’ll get a good reception from the West Brom faithful. I also expect Fulham’s travelling fans to give Roy Hodgson a warm reception, in what will be a very friendly atmosphere tomorrow. I’ve been impressed with West Brom so far, especially Shane Long and I expect the Baggies to erase last week’s defeat to Swansea with a win at the Hawthorns against Fulham.
Fulham could welcome back both Andrew Johnson and Aaron Hughes to the side following their return from injuries. Roy Hodgson will be expecting Shane Long to feature despite a flu bug, however Gabriel Tamas is still suspended so Craig Dawson will continue to deputise.
What won’t happen: Me to get excited over this match.
What will happen: West Brom to beat Fulham 2-1.
Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspurs
Hugo Rodallega was the man Wigan can think for collecting an unlikely three points at White Hart Lane last season as Wigan ran out 1-0 victors. Roberto Martinez’s side didn’t concede home or away last season to Spurs and although Spurs looked great last week against Liverpool, I expect a draw from these two.
Wigan will miss Rodallega, Antolin Alcaraz, Emmerson Boyce and Steven Gohouri, while Spurs will miss; Niko Kranjcar, William Gallas, Aaron Lennon, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
What won’t happen: Spurs to win 9-1!
What will happen: Wigan to earn a respectable point against Spurs in a 0-0 draw.
So I predicted a win for this match and got it right, infact, I’ve correctly predicted every single Arsenal match so far, quite impressive, eh? One thing I didn’t foresee was the score, I said Arsenal would score three when in actual fact, they were to score only one, which came through Andrey Arshavin in the first half.
Arsenal had lined up with two new signings in the starting XI, Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta both made their debuts for Arsenal, while Swansea left their new signing, Federico Bessone on the bench as the Swans lined up with a pretty predictable team.
The only goal of the game arrived after a Theo Walcott shot was blocked and sent looping into the air, presenting Michael Vorm with an easy catch, which he indeed made. Unfortunately for the Dutch international back-up keeper, when he rolled the ball out, it only got as far as Angel Rangel’s heel, re-bounding graciously into Arshavin’s path. In Kanu-esque fashion, Arshavin scored from a narrow angle with in-step of his left foot. Only Andrey Arshavin can do something like that and hopefully, a goal and an all-round good performance can spark the Russian into some form of, well, form!
The one thing Arsenal lacked was directness, as although they looked great on the ball, with Mikel Arteta doing a fantastic job in the Fabregas role, everything seemed a little slow at times, especially in the second half. Yossi Benayoun’s introduction changed that however, the Israeli international looked full of mischief and if he can work his way up to match fitness, then you have to wonder where he will fit in? Surely he won’t be picked ahead of Gervinho, Arshavin and Walcott, or will he play a little deeper? Time will only tell but coming on for Arshavin, you have a feeling he’ll be used to kill off games with his experience or find his time spent starting against weaker opposition as Wenger leaves his more prized names for the big guns.
As for Swansea, they can still take positives from this, massive positives as well! Unfortunately, Brendan Rogers didn’t make the trip to the Emirates following the passing of his Father and his sides battling efforts against Arsenal will do good in hopefully lifting his chin up a bit. Swansea were great yesterday and still managed to create chances against what still remains to be a very good side, in spite of ‘that’ 8-2 defeat. Unfortunately for Swansea, their efforts were never turned in to goals and they go on looking for their first Premiership win.
Bolton Wanderers 0-5 Manchester United
Another match review brings another I called correctly just yesterday. To be fair, it was one of my more steady predictions – predicting Manchester United to beat a side they haven’t lost to in four years after United had just hammered Arsenal 8-2. Still, United had to justify my prediction and so they did, scoring as early as the fifth minute through Javier Hernandez, back in the side following Danny Welbeck’s hamstring injury suffered against Arsenal a fortnight ago.
By the 25th minute, things had gotten progessively worse for Bolton as Manchester United stormed into a 3-0 lead to put the game to bed mid-way through the second half, with Wayne Rooney scoring twice in the space of five minutes. Strangely, Phil Jones claimed both of the assists, the second coming after a brilliant run into the box where the ball eventually found it’s way to Rooney who had the simple job of tapping it in. Jones had a brilliant afternoon at right-back and looks a fantastic prospect.
Hernandez and Rooney added to Bolton’s misery in the second half, ultimately presenting Manchester United with all three points. It was all so, so easy for United and it came against a very handy Bolton side. Unless United slip off like Chelsea did last season after a monstrous start, then it could be a long, long season for all the other 19 clubs in the Premiership.
Everton 2-2 Aston Villa
Okay, okay, I got this prediction wrong! I went for a 4-2 win to Villa but instead, Villa scuppered my plans and failed to score another two.
Despite a protest before the game with fans angry at the way Everton are currently being managed in a financial sense, Everton’s performance on the pitch was full of fight, perhaps spurred on by the passion of their fans. Alex McLeish himself conceded that Aston Villa had claimed a fortunate point as Everton battered Villa, pulling the trigger seventeen times compared Villa’s measly total of seven. Everton also claimed eight corners, which compared to Villa’s tally of zero, highlights just how big the gap was when it came to chances.
However, the fact Everton drew this match 2-2 brings emphasis to the fact they are extremely light in the attacking department when it comes to actually finishing chances as David Moyes named a team with no strikers in the starting line-up with Louis Saha injured and strap-on-lung on the bench.
Aston Villa came from behind twice from this in this match with goals from Petrov and Agbonlahor cancelling out Everton’s goals coming courtesy of Leon Osman and a Leighton Baines penalty.
Manchester City 3-0 Wigan Athletic
Are both Manchester clubs going to storm ahead of all other opposition this season following heavy investment? Probably, but it’s too early to tell as of yet but early signs indicate that both Manchester sides are going to take some stopping this season.
Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick cost a lot of money but when those goals fire to City to some form of trophy this season, that fee will be have been paid. There’s nothing wrong with buying your way to glory, as long as you’re not going out of your way to do it and by that, I mean spending outside your resources; City have a filthy rich owner who can bankroll all this, so in my books, City are fine to do what they wish.
When you bring off Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero for Mario Balotelli and Samir Nasri, you know your squad is quite alright! Nothing needs to be said really regarding a game that was pretty straight forward.
Stoke City 1-0 Liverpool
Yesterday and for months before that, I’ve said Liverpool are in a season of transition and largely, I’ve been laughed at and when I said Liverpool would lose away to Stoke, I was laughed at again.
How wrong could everybody be?
Young signings, many new players, a new manager and a new start point to starting life at Anfield as a fresh, so losses to Stoke will happen, Liverpool won’t challenge for the title but in my opinion, will finish fourth of fifth, I can’t decide exactly which at the moment. Despite absolutely hammering Stoke yesterday, Liverpool simply could not score, one of those ‘teething problems’ in their transition which will be sorted out. Having nineteen attempts on goal and not scoring isn’t normal for a top side, a clear sign they need to improve and ultimately will improve.
Jamie Carragher bundled Jonathan Walters to ground inside the penalty area in the 21st minute and Walters himself stepped up to take the penalty and smash it home to give Stoke a 1-0 victory.
Wolves 0-2 Tottenham Hotspurs
For 67 minutes, Wolves matched Spurs man-for-man if only for more incision, may have had the game killed off themselves by the 67th minute. Unfortunately for Wolves, it was Spurs who opened the scoring in that pesky 67th minute through Emmanuel Adebayor.
The fact is took Spurs so long to grow into the game could be a real worry for Harry Redknapp but as he said, he has nine players missing and that makes the world of difference. Even I
Morning! I didn’t get to sleep till late last night waiting for all the transfers to be announced whilst I checked various club websites for confirmation of said deals. Needless to say I was excited! Okay, so there were no biggies in the sense of Manchester City announcing the signature of Robinho a few years ago, or West Ham announcing a Tevez & Mascherano, but the excitement was still there and as a matter of intrigue, the net spend was down -25% on last summer as more money was circulated around the Premiership and Championship. A lot of that’s to do with the 50% tax rule, but it’s encouraging to see lower league clubs get a bit of money.
Obviously it’s impossible to cover every single transfer without spending all day typing, so I’m going to run through the deals which interest me the most, starting with Stoke City, who have acquired the signatures of Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios and Cameron Jerome. Honduran midfielder, Wilson Palacios, is something Stoke lack in the middle – and that’s high energy, Palacios will run at the pace of a race horse to cover ground lost to opponents and whilst Stoke’s current midfielders do graft hard, they simply don’t possess the stamina of Palacios, so for me, it’s an upgrade on what they have, for a fee of £7 million and thus a brilliant signing for Stoke. Likewise Peter Crouch, like Palacios, is an upgrade on what they currently have in Kenwyne Jones who yes, is very good, but Crouch can combine his aerial threat with equally tricky feet, something Stoke don’t have in their current strikers. Cameron Jerome however will be a squad player so Stoke can work with all four competitions, something which is new to the Potters, so he’s there for bodies.
Going slightly North to Sunderland, where Nicklas Bendtner has moved to re-join Steve Bruce, his former manager during his loan spell with Birmingham City earlier in his career. Now, despite everything, I do believe Bendtner is a very good player, part of his problem at Arsenal was being forced to play on the wing. Admittedly he’s no Robin Van Persie so yes, it’s hard to dislodge a player like that, but Bendtner is a towering centre-forward, not a nippy winger, so his form consequently struggled. That he’s only on a season loan suggests to me that Bendtner could still have a future at Arsenal if he re-invents himself at Sunderland. Everybodies favourite Dane will be a massive improvement on Asamoah Gyan and Bendtner should score at least fifteen in this Sunderland side.
Finally, I’ll finish with Arsenal as they completed the signings of four players on deadline day, securing the services of Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, André Santos and Yossi Benayoun. I’ve heard a lot of people saying Benayoun and Arteta is a very poor replacement for players of Fabregas and Nasri’s calibre, but people have to remember that the brief three months in which Nasri performed at a high level for Arsenal was the only three months where fans were left thinking, ‘ah, that’s why we forked out £8 million for him’. Nasri was an average player for Arsenal, so to get £23 million for him was remarkable, especially since he was available for nothing next season. Fabregas on the other hand, is a massive loss, he’s a world class player and Arsenal will definitely miss him, which is why two creative players were signed. Arteta can’t be Fabregas and nor can Benayoun, but combined, they can reach something near that, which leads me to the conclusion that both players are a replacement for Cesc. Gervinho, signed earlier in the summer is Nasri’s replacement, don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise. Mertesacker’s signing speaks for itself, he’s a brilliant defender and will go extremely well with Vermaelen in the middle, likewise André Santos, who with his attacking style at left-back, will slip straight into proceeding at Arsenal.
Right, that’s all from me today, let me hear all your musing in the comments section!