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Are They Gunner Make It?

Arsenal’s season just got worse, losing 4-3 to Blackburn Rovers thanks to Arsenal conceding two own goals and two Yakubu goals. Arsenal took the lead with Gervinho scoring his first Premier League goal on the 10th minute when Song slide the ball through and Gervinho hit it first time across goal, but Rovers didn’t sit back and just let Arsenal have their way. Chris Samba had a good chance to score and with a free header you really expected him to score, and the Arsenal defence didn’t pick him or Dann up.

Arsenal had their chances when going forward, as you would expect, but Arshavin’s shot was saved, while Gervinho’s shot went over after he and Sagna linked up well from Koscielny’s long-range pass out from defence. In the end Arsenal were made to rue those missed chances when Yakubu equalised. Formica collected the ball from Arshavin poor pass and then turned his player trying to thread the ball into Yakubu’s path, but was blocked off. The ball fell to Holliet who did manage to slide the ball into Yakubu who skilfully hit it first time with the outside of his boot past an on rushing Szczesny.

Samba was a constant threat in the Arsenal box from corners and freekicks, and may well be showing Wenger what he has missed out on, but in the end no goals game for Blackburn and it was Arsenal who again took the lead this time thanks to Arteta. Aaron Ramsey pulled the ball back and Arteta was there to run onto it and side-foot it high into the back of the net. Arsenal had a great chance to make it 3-1, when Arshavin played it to Gervinho who ran at the defence and with Robin van Perise in a great position to score, Gervinho opted to shoot, but it was blocked.

Blackburn equalised 5 minutes into the second half through a Song own goal which came from a chipped in freekick. With the ball up in the air, there wasn’t one Arsenal player that was attempting to rise and head the ball away and in the end it landed on Song’s thigh and went past Sszsczey. Blackburn then took the lead when Yakubu struck again, but this time there seemed a hint of offside with Andre Santos at fault.  Yakubu was just offside, but Andre Santos could have done better to play him more offside. In the end the ball was played in and Yakubu was there to tap it in.

Another own goal sunk Arsenal into even deeper trouble, with Koscielny at fault this time. It came from a counter attack Arsenal are accustom to, Holliet played the ball out wide to Yakubu who then fed it down the line for Olsson to run onto. Djourou dived in for the tackle but Olsson skipped passed him and continued his dribble into the box and pulled it back in Yakubu’s direction but it went to Koscielny’s feet who tapped it into his own goal rather than clear it in any other direction.

Arsenal’s problems aren’t scoring goals, but conceding them, and with Chamakh on as a substitute he managed to head home a goal to make it 4-3, and then Mertesacker had a great chance to make it 4-4 but his header just went over. Arsenal were pilling on the pressure, but in the end nothing came of it and under pressure Steve Kean got his first victory of the season, while Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, will again have to look at himself and his team.

European Hangover

Manchester City played their first game in the Champions League against Napoli, and though they played in Europe last season in the Europa League, they will have taken the Champions League a lot more seriously, and may now be feeling the hangover affects. Everyone would have expected them to beat Fulham at Craven Cottage, but in the end only came away with a point even though they had a two goal lead.

City opened the scoring with who else but Sergio Agüero. But City showed that maybe they were not fully awake for the game when Hart took a freekick, but somehow sliced it and it lead to a Fulham attack. Luckily for City, nothing came from it, but I am sure it had the City fans and players worried. Fulham were also foul of sleepiness, when Agüero stormed past the defence with everyone claiming offside. Everyone stood with their arms raised, except from Schwarzer and the calm Agüero, who looked across, and then to where he was going to place the shot and he made it 1-0. Replays show just how close it was, and in the end it was a great decision by the referee’s assistant. Fulham kept getting caught with their claims for offside, but thanks to Schwarzer the game stayed 1-0.

The first half ended 1-0, but both teams had chances to score, but it wasn’t long before City and Agüero scored again, 12 seconds to be precise. Nasri tapped it to Silva for the kick off, Silva played it top Clichy, who controlled it and then put a cross field pass to Dzeko who headed it down for Agüero who was in acres of space who with a deft touch controlled it and then drove it hard and low across goal. That goal looked like it had been played out on the training ground a few times and worked out perfectly on match day.

Even though City led 2-0 they still didn’t look the same as the team that had crushed all before them, the movement didn’t seem to be quick or free flowing, the passing didn’t seem as crisp or sharp, and the play seemed to be more laboured, and Fulham took advantage of that. Fulham were able to pass the ball around just in front of the defence with the likes of Kompany and Toure not closing down as they have down so far this season, and when Zamora got the ball on the edge of the box, he wasn’t closed down soon enough and made then pay with a nice goal. Dembele played it to Dempsey who then played it to Zamora who controlled it, shifted his body and fired it home.

By this point in the game, it seemed as if Fulham were the sharper, quicker team and Zamora, Dembele and Dempsey were causing them problems but thankfully for Manchester City Joe Hart was able to keep them, at bay but Hart was beaten by a deflected Murphy shot to make it 2-2. It was a hard fought but well deserved, draw for Fulham and a reality check for City and City fans that maybe winning the league and the Champions League won’t be as easy as they were starting to believe it would be.

That Was £50 Million Well Spent!

Now some people may read that and take it that I am taking a swipe at Fernando Torres, well you may be right, but I am also praising Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United who spent £25 million on Wayne Rooney, around £15 million Nani and £10 million on Smalling, now if I get my maths right I believe that is £50 million. Now United won today 3-1 with Rooney, Nani and Smalling on the score sheet, Fernando Torres was for Chelsea, but he should have been on there twice! That miss will go down for the ages just like Ronny Rosenthal’s has, with Match of the Day branding it a “Nando”.

An interesting stat before the game was the amount of games managed with Sir Alex Ferguson taking charge of his 2054th game where as Andre Villas-Boas was taken charge of his 91st, and maybe some of that inexperience was shown in the line ups. AVB decided to go with a more attacking side opting to leave Mikel on the bench, but also decided to have Torres as the lone striker and have Sturridge and Mata on the wing, leaving Anelka and Malouda on the bench, and surprisingly for me also David Luiz. But on paper Evra the only real experienced defender, with Evans, Jones and Smalling making the rest of the back four, looked susceptible, but they have played so well so far this season, that paper doesn’t matter, it’s the performances on the pitch.

The game was an exciting end to end game, but one that was won by half time. Chelsea had the best chance to score first when Ramires shot, but De Gea saved well with his legs, and it was United that opened the scoring with a header by Smalling. Bosingwa fouled Young, and Young himself took the freekick. There was a hint of offside, but Chelsea were stagnant and in the end Smalling was the one to head it home.

Chelsea had their chances to get a goal back, but where unable to take them. Torres had a good chance when Anderson pretty much passed him the ball. He did well to cut in between Evans and Anderson and create the chance to score, but in the end dragged his shot wide. Chelsea again had a great chance to score this time Torres squared the ball across goal, and with Ramires and Sturridge both moving for it, it looked as if Sturridge was in the better position to score, but Ramires lunged at the shot and De Gea saved, much to the disgust of Sturridge who was letting Ramires that he was in a better position. Torres was looking sharper than he has previously for Chelsea and when he tried a bicycle shot, the fact that he attempted such a shot, is evidence that he is getting back to his old self, but the shot was well wide and didn’t trouble United.

In the end for all Chelsea’s efforts no goal game and United made them pay. Johnny Evans put in a great diagonal cross field pass to Nani who controlled with ease, cut inside from the wing and was not closed down fast enough, put the ball onto his right foot and fired in a great goal.  United made it 3-0 just before half time, when a marauding run by Jones made the opportunity to score. Jones played a nice one two with Rooney, as Jones ran with the ball from the half way line to the edge of the box before he played it to Nani. Nani attempted a back heel but it didn’t pull of but Jones fought for the ball, and as the ball became loose Nani played it to Rooney, who had made his way into the box and was in acres of space just outside the six yard box, who then put it away.

The second half saw AVB take of Lampard for Anelka and move that paid dividends straight away as it was Anelka vision and pass that gave Torres the chance to score. It was a nice finish by Torres but a goal I felt De Gea could have maybe done better on saving. Ramires was not having one of his better matches and when Chelsea had a corner, Mata quickly took it, passing it to Ramires, the chance to catch United napping was there, but it seems Ramires himself was napping and played the ball forward back to Mata and Mata had to run back to collect the ball, by that time United had got themselves sorted and when the ball came in, United cleared and went on the counter attack. Nani had the ball and cut inside and shot again, but this time it hit the bar, he got the rebound but was brought down in the process and United were awarded a penalty. Rooney stepped up to take it and with everyone expecting a goal, when he went to shoot the ground came up from beneath him and he slipped and the ball went wide.

Explain that one to me!

There is always talk of referee and United, and many feel that United get their fair share of favours from the referees but in this instance I am not quiet sure what went on. Hernandez has got for a shot, and as Hernandez is going to shoot you can see Cole notices the shot is coming and starts to dive to intercept it, but by the time he connects with Hernandez the ball has already hit the side netting. Now Cole caught Hernandez pretty badly, badly enough for Hernandez to go off and badly enough for the referee assistant to advise referee Dowd that the challenge has happened, and Cole was subsequently booked, but no foul was given. Now if a challenge has gone in and is warrant a booking, then surly it warrants a foul, and so in this case, a penalty. If it happened after the ball was out of play, wouldn’t that then be seen as malicious and be a red card? I think some answers are needed on that one, as it is very curious.

“OH MY GOODNESS ME”

Now that was the response of Jonathan Pearce on Match of the Day 2. Torres had a good game, he missed some chances, but had created chances and showed glimpses of what he was like, and looks to be getting back to that, but then that miss happened, and it will be very interesting to see how he does next game, as now no doubt his confidence will be knocked yet again. This was a spectacular miss. Anelka played the ball to Ramires who the played a great ball between the United defence and Torres did elegantly moved passed De Gea with some great foot work and with the goal gapping wide open, everyone fully expected him to score, and a player of his standard you would have expected him to score with his eyes closed, but he somehow managed to hit it wide. now dubbed a “Nando” when you miss a goal like that.

United had a real chance to make it 4-1 when Young flicked the ball over for Rooney to run at goal, and with him one on one with Cech, and with the form Rooney is on, you wouldn’t have been surprised to see him go it alone, but he decided to play it wide to Berbatov, now the pass could have been better as it gave Cole a chance to make up space and get goal side, but also you would have expected Berbatov to do better, in the end his shot wasn’t powerful enough and Cole cleared off the line.

The game ended 3-1, but there could have been more goals for both sides.

Thanks FOUR Nothing. 

Two games on Sunday ended 4-0 and neither result is one fans would have thought would happen, no one was really expecting Tottenham or Sunderland to even win, let alone win 4-0

Redknapp Delight

Tottenham had the advantage of playing against ten and then nine men for some time, but even before that they were playing well and looked like they were able to win. Luka Modric scored a great goal from outside of the box for the opener and then ran over to the fans who were going crazy, strange as I remember not even a month ago when things were all so different from both fans and player. Liverpool were poor all day, and with Skrtel at Right-Back having to deal with Bale pretty much on his own, there was always going to be chances for Tottenham and for Adebayor, who seems to linking up with his new team-mates as does Scott Parker.

The midfield partnership of Parker and Modric was excelling, with Parker doing the nitty gritty while also putting in some great passes and Modric was playing the ball around the park with consummate ease and linking up play all day. Charlie Adam was the first to see red, but first saw two yellows, and the same fate was destined for Skrtel with two bookable offenses both on Bale who was a constant threat down the left. Dalglish who had bemoaned decisions not going his way in previous games, no doubt felt that this was again going against his side, but Liverpool were masters of their own downfall here not closing down people quick enough, and then having to make stupid challenges that were awarding fouls to the opposition and bringing yellow cards against them.

After they went down to nine men, Tottenham could pass the ball about even easier than before and the goals came first Defoe made it 2-0 when he spun round the defender and struck it low and hard past Reina and then Adebayor added to his goal tally for Tottenham before going over to his new adoring fans, which will no doubt bring a “The fans here love me more than any other fans have” comment that almost seems obligatory from Adebayor when at a new club. This being his 4th in five seasons…I say no more. It was a very well taken goal by Adebayor, Defoe originally shot but Reina couldn’t keep a hold of it and Adebayor flicked it up and over Reina and then tapped it in to an open goal, the flick was quiet something to make the goal possible.

With the game wrapped up Tottenham could make some chances, taking King off for Bassong and Defoe off for Giovanni Dos Santos, yes, Dos Santos, the games really was no contest by this point. Tottenham’s 4th came when Assou-Ekotto picked up the ball from Liverpool’s sloppy play and crossed it for Adebayor, who was in far too much space, who then controlled it and with the that amount of time measured up his volley and smashed it past Reina. Liverpool were poor all game, leaving Tottenham to pass the ball around and play the football they like to play and at the same time they didn’t create any real chances for themselves and can’t even stand behind the loss of two players, a poor, poor showing by Liverpool all round and the result reflected that.

Brucie Bonus

Sunderland’s 4-0 win against Stoke may well have been a bigger upset, as it involved no sending’s off but also because people have been talking up Stoke as a team that can push forward and maybe finish in the top six, and I am one of those people, while Sunderland who should also be challenging for that kind of position haven’t started so well.

With Stoke normally doing so well from corners it was surprising to see them concede from one. Honestly it was a poor corner, but it wasn’t cleared and it fell to Titus Bramble who fired it in and it went through Begovic’s hands and he should have done better to save it. It was not the start Pulis would have wanted and it didn’t get any better as with in 10 minutes his side were 2-0 down and this time it was down to an own goal by Woodgate. Larsson crossed it in for Bendtner, but it was Woodgate who made contact with it and sent it into his own goal. Very uncharacteristic of Stoke and of Woodgate, but that is football.

Stoke caused Sunderland trouble with their aerial attacking ability, and through the hard work of Cameron Jerome who won them a freekick. Wilson took the freekick for Stoke but Mignolet made a good save to deny him. Sunderland were playing football with nice one-two’s and good movement and looked like they wanted to score with every move but for the third they were fortunate to score as Gardner’s shot deflected over Begovic and Stoke found themselves 3-0 down with only 28minutes gone and no doubt were hoping half time would soon come. Stoke tried their best to get a goal back before half time, but Sunderland’s defence held firm and the half ended with Sunderland in full control.

Stoke would have wanted to try and control the second half, and not give Sunderland the chance to add to their already impressive score line, but on the 58th minute, Stoke gave away a freekick on the edge of the area, a great position for Sebastian Larsson to shoot from. Now for me Begovic was well positioned, and really didn’t have to dive to make a save, but even though it was a well executed freekick, it was one that really should have been saved by Begovic, in my opinion anyway.

Stoke had a chance to score, but it went begging with Crouch in the end missing it completely and it being a spectacular air shot, not what the fans want to see from the £10 million record signing. Today was not Stoke’s day, but was most definitely Sunderland’s, and something Bruce deserved after everything that has gone on with Asamoah Gyan and a poor start to the season, will this be what kicks off Sunderland’s season now?

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One thought on “SAF Outwits AVB; Friendly Fire Shoots Down Arsenal; Mancini's Men Have a European Hangover & Harry and Bruce Strike It Lucky

  1. Interesting and reasonably well-balanced report of the United-Chelsea game. I think “hint of offside” should read “clearly offside”, as was Nani for the second goal as well, although, like you, I cannot begin to understand how and why Phil Dowd can possibly book Ashley Cole and then give a goal-kick – that really beggars belief.

    Two comments on the Spurs-Liverpool game. Liverpool committed 9 fouls (only Wigan and Swansea committed fewer on Saturday), yet received 6 yellow cards. Spurs had 14 fouls given against them, 1 card – consistency?

    My second comment is that Liverpool were so awful that it didn’t make a scrap of difference, except perhaps in the final scoreline !!

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