Archive for February, 2008

Weekend Preview

Posted in Football with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2008 by kemgooner

Premier League

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Arsenal face a very good Aston Villa team in what is a huge match for them to keep ahead of Manchester Utd in the title race. Arsenal are now down to only one experienced striker after the injury to Eduardo last week and Robin van Persie’s continued absence, so either Theo Walcott or Nikolas Bendtner will be pairing Emmanuel Adebayor up front or the 4-5-1 formation will be used, with Alexander Hleb most likely playing in the hole behind Adebayor. Tomas Rosicky is also out along with Kolo Toure, but aside from that Arsenal should be at almost full strength. Aston Villa are coming into this match after two consecutive wins and are going to be pushing hard for victory themselves to help keep their Europe dream strong.

Players to Watch

Emmanuel Adebayor-Arsenal-Adebayor is the leading scorer for Arsenal and is most likely the team’s best shot at getting on the score sheet. After to somewhat disappointing scoreless matches he will surely be looking to get back on the score sheet.

Gabriel Agbonglahor-Aston Villa-the speedy Villa striker already has 7 goals and will be looking to add to his total at the Emirates.

West Ham v Chelsea

Chelsea will have a tough task defeating West Ham away from home, but we all know if anyone can grind out a result, its Chelsea and they will be looking to rebound from their Carling Cup defeat last weekend.  If Chelsea loses this match and Arsenal and Utd win they will fall 12 points behind first place and will most likely be out of the race. Chelsea have a full strength squad and fans will probably be wondering who Avram Grant will be playing in this match, after leaving Michael Ballack, Joe Cole, and Salomon Kalou on the bench last weekend.  West Ham are looking to get their first win against Chelsea in 6 matches and are coming off a 1-0 win away to Fulham. Bobby Zamora and Henri Camara are both in contention to be in the squad after coming back from injury.

Players to Watch

John Terry-Chelsea- the Chelsea captain is going to be a key player in stopping the West Ham attack and leading the team to victory, and it’s going to be interesting to see how he will do as he is still coming back from injury and had an alleged fallout with manager Avram Grant.

Freddie Ljungberg-West Ham- West Ham is going to be relying on Ljungberg’s experience to help lead the attack on the Chelsea defense, his runs and crosses could be the key to grabbing a goal.

Everton v Portsmouth

In what is looking to be an exciting encounter in the race for European football fourth place Everton take on seventh place Pompey.  Both teams are coming off wins, Portsmouth a 1-0 victory over Sunderland and Everton a 2-0 win against Manchester City.

Players to Watch

Yakubu-Everton- Harry Redknapp has said that the Everton striker is back to his best, and he will have to be in order to help Everton to victory against a Pompey side that has an impressive away record.

Niko Kranjcar-Portsmouth-the Pompey midfielder is going to have to be on top of his game in order to change the result from the last time Pompey visited Goodison Park, which led to a 3-0 defeat.

La Liga

Atletico Madrid v Barcelona

This match seems to be the biggest match of the weekend in Spain, as Atleitico look to regain form after a string a disappointing results while Barcelona are looking to keep up their good run and gain more points on Real Madrid. As of now it is not sure whether Kun Aguero will be fit for Atletico, which would be another blow to an already injury hit side still missing goalkeeper Leo Franco and midfielder Simao.  Atletico captain Maxi Rodriguez has come out in an interview and spoken about how important the match was, stating that “we have to come out to look for the game using our heads, without getting thrown off. They have players that can make things complicated for you at anytime, so we have to be strong, united, and patient. “He also stated that the team does not depend on Sergio Aguero to win. Barcelona, while having relatively good form coming in from the league, will want to make up for their disappointing midweek draw to Valencia in the Copa del Rey and get back to the form that crushed Levante 5-1.

Players to Watch

Kun Aguero-Atletico Madrid- whether he plays or not it will surely have an impact on Atletico’s ability to win this match, whether Maxi says they don’t depend on him or not.

Lionel Messi-Barcelona-Messi is always a threat for Barcelona, and he scored the last time these two teams met, in which Barca won 3-0.

  Recreativo Huelva v Real Madrid

This usually would not be one of the biggest matches of the weekend, but with Madrid’s loss to Getafe anything seems possible in this match. While it is doubtful that Madrid will fail to gain three points again, Huelva will surely come into this match with the confidence that they too can get a result, especially after their 1-1 draw with Valencia at the Mestalla as their last result.  The return of Robinho to the Madrid squad is a welcome return, while Sneijder, Salgado, and Marcelo are back in training but don’t seem quite ready to rejoin the squad. Guti and Cannavaro, who both picked up niggling injuries in the match against Getafe, were also in training are working hard to be fit for the match Saturday. Madrid has beaten Huelva five out of the seven times they have faced each other previously.

Players to Watch

Sorrentino-Recreativo Huelva- the Huelva goalkeeper will surely be under a lot of pressure facing Madrid’s relentless attack and if they are going to earn a result he will have to be on top of his game, and then some.

Robinho-Real Madrid-the Brazilians return will be a boost to the already dangerous Madrid attack, and it will be interesting to see how fit he is in preparation for Madrid’s huge Champions League clash with Roma.

Serie A

Roma v Parma

Roma will be looking to get a win this weekend at the Stadio Olimpico after their frustrating midweek draw with Inter. Parma currently sit 14th in the league and are coming into this match full of confidence after a big 2-0 win against Udinese. Roma while being back to full strength attack wise, will be playing without three key members of their defense, Juan and Marco Cassetti are both seem to be out due to injury, though Juan might be able to return, and Philippe Mexes is suspended after picking up two yellow cards against Inter.

Players to Watch

Francesco Totti-Roma- Totti seems to be gaining form after being plagued with injury and sickness, and after his goal against Inter it wouldn’t be hard to see him scoring again, especially since he scored twice when these teams met earlier in the season.

Cristiano Lucarelli-Parma-the veteran Italian goal scorer will be one of Parma’s best chances of grabbing a goal.

 AC Milan v Lazio

Milan could have grabbed fourth place during the week, but because of their draw to Catania they are still in fifth. However, because Juventus and Fiorentina are playing each other a win would go a long way to get them into position for European football. Lazio are coming off a win, but will not gain confidence from the fact that they have not won in the San Siro (against Milan), since 1989. Milan may choose to rest some players in anticipation for their Champions League match Tuesday, but they still have to play a strong enough squad to produce a victory.

Players to Watch

Pato-AC Milan- Pato scored a great goal midweek and will be looking to add to his total for the season.

Tommaso Rocchi and Goran Pandev- Lazio- between the strike partners are 17 goals, and together they will be looking to punish the Milan defense for any mistakes and both are more than capable of producing a moment of magic.

Juventus v Fiorentina

The match of the weekend in Serie A, this match will prove the legitimacy of each team’s European hopes. Juve are coming off a draw in the Torino derby, and a loss to Reggina and need to get back to their winning ways in order to challenge Roma for second, while Fiorentina are coming off a 1-0 win to Livorno and are looking to stay ahead of AC Milan. Both teams have a trio of key players out, with Fiorentina missing Mutu, Semioli, and Liverani due to injury and Juve missing Zanetti, Chiellini, and Nedved.

Players to Watch

Giampaolo Pazzini-Fiorentina- with Mutu out, the scoring responsibility falls on Pazzini’s shoulders and if Fiorentina are going to get points Pazzini will have to be on top of his game.

Alessandro del Piero-Juventus- while Trezeguet is the leading scorer for Juve, del Piero also has 11 assists to add to his 11 goals and will likely have a hand in any goal Juve are to score this weekend.

German Bundesliga

Schalke 04 v Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich currently have a four point lead over second place Werder Bremen but have let challengers off the hook recently with draws to Bremen and Hamburg. Schalke look to get their big week off with a win to gain momentum to take to Portugal.

 Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund

Werder Bremen is hoping to gain ground on Bayern, but will have to play without play maker Diego who is suspended. Dortmund is looking to keep of their good form and continue moving up through the standings.

French Ligue 1

Lille v Lyon

Lyon is only 3 points in front of Bordeaux and need to win to keep that lead intact. They also are looking ahead to a Champions League match midweek and a trip to Old Trafford.

Portuguese Liga

Sporting Lisbon v Benfica

While Porto has all but wrapped the title, this match still promises to entertain, as both teams will be fighting for a place in Europe next season.

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Milan vs. Catania, and a little bit of everything as I continue to simmer at a low boil

Posted in AC Milan with tags , , , , , , on February 29, 2008 by beutyskooldpout5

Ok so here goes…I’m freaking pissed off at milan right now. After a splendid goal by Patinho mio (pato) milan freaking allow catania to score. It’s like they like the chase of having fiorentina just above them…I mean come on at least try to freaking hold on to a lead when you have it…If we would have won yesterday we would have been tied with fiorentina instead now we are two points below them and fifth in the table. This team is going to be the death of me I swear. Watching them play gives me so much joy especially to see them score but then for it to be gone in an instant makes me want to punch them in their beautiful faces. Thank god for all those offsides because we would have lost like 4-1.

Anco (ancellotti) has effectively pissed me off…I don’t know what the hell he’s got against cuffy (gourcuff) but he never plays the kid. I’ve never seen a kid give so much heart and soul and then be put to sit on the bench. It’s like is Carlo stupid or what…Oh and then the subs he puts on…oh now that’s a whole different story. It seems like he doesn’t take time to actually think it through just puts people on and let bygones be bygones.

Now on to something that gives all milanisti hope…Kakito mio (kaka) has extended his contract until 2013. I am happy that kakito mio (kaka) has finally signed the contract. I am so happy that I’m doing a whole little dance and everything (I know a nice picture for you guys to think of). At least now madrid can leave us a lone.

Sorry for the spastic nature of this post but I’m still simmering after last nights draw so I’m not in my right mind.

Barcelona vs Valencia – 27.02.08

Posted in Barcelona, Valencia with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2008 by vikstervik

Copa del Rey – Semifinal

1000 Valencia fans travelled 219 miles North to Barcelona to watch their side concede a goal in what was the last chance of the game. It took Barcelona 26 shots to finally get the ball in the back of the net. 

It was the 14th time Barcelona and Valencia had played against each other in the Copa del Rey with the stats favouring towards Barcelona with winning 9 times out of the 14 games. It was also the chance for Ronald Koeman to win his first game against Barcelona in the whole of his managerial career. 

It was a Barcelona team with no Ronaldinho in the side altogether and a Spanish team with 6 Spanish faces in the squad including the trio upfront of David Villa, Joaquin and David Silva. The game started with early pressure from Barcelona and managing to earn a corner within the first 2 minutes of the game. The corner came to nothing and was safely punched away by Timo Hildebrand in the Valencia goal.

6 minutes into the first game saw the first real save of the match with Messi linking up well with Xavi by finding him with a superb pass but only to be denied by Hildebrand making a fantastic save. The ball then rebounded out causing another shot to be blocked but this time by Raul Albiol, which again was rebounded back out and again was blocked by Marco Caneira.

On the 9th minute the first goal of the game was conceded, however this was offside. Joaquin for Valencia produced a lovely back heal which went in the back of the net but only to hear the referees whistle shortly after it had gone in for offside.

Valencia had found themselves constantly blocking shots and closing down the likes of Messi and Eto’o very well to prevent them from scoring.

On the 22nd minute Valencia found themselves doing just that with Eric Abidal making a dashing run upfront linking up with Xavi who then passed to Messi who found his shot being blocked.

33 minutes into the game Barcelona had a free kick in a very good position, however, this came to nothing as Yaya Toure had blasted it over the bar, he was one of a couple of Barcelona players who were having a poor game. A minute later another good chance fell to Barcelona. This time by Henry who spun past Caneira then passed to Eto’o who then produced a low dangerous cross in the box only for Henry to miss it by a metre or so.

On 47 minutes the referee blew for halftime. Barcelona finished the half with all the stats in their favour with having the most procession and all of the chances. Valencia had still not had one shot, however Valencia would finish the half feeling much happier than the opposition though with Koemans team holding on well and not letting Barcelona break the deadlock against them.  

The 2nd half started and it saw Valencia kick off in their white and black kit, kicking the ball from right to left.

The first chance of the half fell to Xavi who had managed to break past the defence and produce a great pass to Messi only to be stopped by Timo Hildebrand who was having a brilliant game.

Near the hour mark saw Barcelona break through the defence again. A gap on the right hand side saw Eto’o pass the ball to Messi who then went inside Moretti and then for Hildebrand to produce a good save not for the first time tonight.

After that shot Valencia decided to make a change and decided to bring off one Spanish International, Joaquin, to bring on another Spanish International, Javier Arizmendi.

A few minutes later Messi got booked box for a dive in the box, and rightly so. Hildebrand came out to save the ball only for Messi to fall down ridiculously and easily and so the referee decided to show the yellow card.

Both managers then decided for more changes with Valencia taking off Ever Banega being replaced by Ruben Baraja. It also saw a poor Deco and Henry being replaced by Andres Iniesta and Bojan.

30 seconds after these changes were made, around the 69th minute mark, Valencia scored with their first chance of the game. The new trio upfront of Arizmendi, David Villa and David Silva saw them link up well together with a cross coming in by Arizmendi on the right then only for Villa to put it away. It’s now David Villas 5th game in a row playing against Barcelona where he has scored in every game against them.

1-0 Valencia.

Barcelona’s best chance of the game was on the 80th minute mark where Messi had the ball and skipped past the Valencia defence and was one on one with the keeper, who made himself look big in the goal and prevented Messi from scoring. The shot rebounded to Xavi only for Hildebrand to make another fantastic save.

It was attempt number 26 and the last chance of the game when Barcelona finally scored. Eto’o managed to bring another good save out of Hildebrand only for Xavi to pounce on the rebound and slot it home. The Valencia players did try to claim that Eto’o handballed it in the build up but the referee said disagreed.  

Barcelona finally managed to get their deserved goal, only for Valencia to feel like the game was a defeat with them with holding on for so long and to prevent Barcelona from scoring until the very last chance of the game.

Valencia now take their crucial away goal to the Mestalla in 3 weeks time for the 2nd leg of the semi final to be played. 

Final scoreBarcelona 1-1 Valencia.

Don’t just blame Taylor, blame the system

Posted in Arsenal, Football with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2008 by kemgooner

My first reaction to the challenge of Martin Taylor on Eduardo in the match Saturday was that of pure outrage.  Rage mainly directed at Martin Taylor for the tackle which had him sent off.  After having three days to think about the incident, which has been on my mind more than the two points dropped, though it has become clear to me that there is a far more upsetting issue behind the scenes in the mentality of the English media and football culture in general.

Somehow, through the twisting words of the media and others in the sport, Taylor has become more of the victim then Eduardo.  People are complaining about the comments that Arsene Wenger made after the match in the heat of the moment, or about the actions of William Gallas, and some even have the audacity to say that the tackle was barely worthy of a yellow card.  To me this is ridiculous, and it shows how much dislike there is out there for Arsenal.  I believe that Taylor went into that tackle with intent, not to horribly injure Eduardo, but to just give him knock, show him how rough the match was going to be. This is after all what there manager has said there plan was for the match, and is how teams play Arsenal all the time. Their basic motto is, well if you can’t play the ball, kick the player and we have seen this time and time again. It is what wrecked Abou Diaby’s ankle in the past and now has happened to Eduardo too. And the pundits call it “English passion”.  I’ll tell when you really would see some English passion, if that had been some foreign player pulling that tackle on Rooney. It would be like the situation after Beckham was injured and the press were calling for Duscher to be banned from Europe. The hypocrisy is astounding, but it still continues.

The only way for the FA to try and rectify this whole thing is to ban this type of play for good, and that would start with showing Taylor a hefty ban from football. Then they have to continue to implement the same penalty in the future. Managers and players must learn that playing football does not involve going into matches with the mindset to kick your opponent across the park.  Will they do this? I guess we can only wait and see, but if they don’t it is basically a guarantee that this same type of thing will happen again and another players career will hang in the balance.  It doesn’t surprise me that a player like Benzema has come out and said that when he leaves Lyon he wants to play in Italy or Spain. It also wouldn’t surprise me if more young players do the same in the future unless a change is made. Why would they go to a league where players can make career threatening tackles and be seen as a victim? Unless the FA does something, the league heralded as the best league in the world will be looked at as a league for thugs.

So you can blame Martin Taylor for the tackle on Eduardo, but blame the system in which he has been raised, coached, and seen as a victim for brainwashing him into thinking it was what needed to be done.

Maldini Monday

Posted in AC Milan with tags , , , , , , on February 25, 2008 by beutyskooldpout5

I want to take a wonderful page out fellow blogger Gianfranco from http://www.acmilan.theoffside.com who started a wonderful tradition that on mondays until the end of the season we celebrate Maldini…Known as Maldini Mondays

Now I want to know your opinions on who should be the next captain and at the next Maldini Monday I will reveal the winner. (The acmilan.theoffside.com already revealed their winner today.) Think and choose wisely because remember this will be our next captain for a long time to come…To choose your captain write a comment. I tried to get a blog poll going here but it’s not working so…you know what to do(I know it’s not real but treat it as it is)

Now on to Maldini:
I don’t think there has ever been such a great player… In the history of the whole world…He shows class, dignity, and he can keep up with the youngins how many do you know that can do that?

The day il capitano walks off the pitch will surely be a very sad day for all of us milanisti. I have grown up watching maldini well since I was born in 1991 and calcio will just not be the same without him roaming the fields, of the stadio Giuseppe Meazza “San Siro” or where ever milan are playing. That man embodies everything that is wonderful and right about Calcio!! If you don’t agree then you must not be a real calcio or milanista.

Ale Ale Ale Maldini Ale!!!!

Ac Milan vs. Palermo

Posted in AC Milan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2008 by beutyskooldpout5

Ok I’m going to try and write this in a non-biased way…Oh hell who am I trying to kid? I’m going to be about as biased as a person can be. YAHHOOOO! I’m so happy we won. Ok now that we got that out of the way on to the game.

Palermo nearly made me throw up when they scored…I actually found out from a blog that Bresciano scored 9 minutes into the game, and then I had to relive the horror of watching it happen on TV. How that happened is beyond me…I still can’t believe they scored that early in the game…and that Kalac (Super Kalac) didn’t do a thing about it just watched it go right past him. For a minute I was having flash backs to the days when Dida was in goal, then I had to remind myself that it must have been just an error in judgment and maybe just maybe he couldn’t do anything about it. But then watching the replays realized that he could have saved it but maybe he thought he couldn’t?

The ref surely was legally blind. You want to know why? Because there was no way that someone that could see would just let a foul like Guana did go, or the handballs once by Barzagli and the other by Migliaccio.

Ambrosini then tied it up sliding a cross from Oddo into the left hand bottom corner of the net. And all seemed to align itself in the universe again. We stayed pretty much in possesion of the ball until the last few minutes of half time where we set up camp in Palermo’s box, and I thought we were going to be breaking out the smores, hot chocolate, and ghost stories.

At half time Kaka (kakito mio) who picked up an injury to his knee was subbed out for Gourcuff (or Cuffy as I like to call him). Who I was glad to see get some playing time. I swear that kid everytime he plays gives 180% of heart and soul…Now if only he was nurtured the right way he would probably be able to do something with all that heart and soul that he’s got to give…But ole Carletto seems to only play him once every turn of the century.

Pato (Patinho mio) made some of the Palermo players look like fools. He definetly was worth what we spent on him. Now I know that he didn’t score a goal…but he plays well deep and is all over the place unlike Gila who stands up top like a flag pole and refuses to move. Pato played his butt off today.

Amauri looked very good today almost like he was adutioning for a spot on the milan rooster, to bad we closed him down every oppurtunity he had. And what the hell are milan waiting for he’s expressed interest in us snap the dude up come on Uncle Fester (Adriano Galliani) and Berlu we know you like to spend money on brazilians!

Anyways Inzagol came on in the 73 minute for Gilardino…YEAH THAT’S RIGHT GILA AND NOT PATINHO MIO (Pato). Before Gilardino was decided to come off I sat with baited breath to see who Carletto would take out and have to say I was happy with his choice. And thank god for Inzaghi and Cuffy (gourcuff) came on beacuse it was thank to them that we managed to grab that game and throw it into our bags moving on up to tie with the Viola.

NEXT STOP THIRD PLACE, HERE WE COME JUVE!!!!

Now from the bottom of my heart and all the milanisti out there, our thoughts are with Eduardo da Silva from Arsenal, who suffered a bad bad injury to his left leg yesterday in arsenal’s game against Birmingham City, we wish you the best and hope for a speedy and great recovery.

Liverpool v Middlesborough

Posted in Liverpool with tags , , , on February 24, 2008 by jennalfc

Surprisingly Rafael Benitez only named one change in his starting 11, an enforced change, Alvaro Arbeloa returned to fill in at centre back for vice captain Jamie Carragher.The match started well for liverpool, they pass it around without threatening boro’s defence. 10 minutes in boro got a freekick in a decent area, Stuart Downing whips it in as liverpool’s defence stay static and Tuncay heads past Reina. It was obvious the players needed some direction which is usually provided by Jamie Carragher, without him they looked lost.After the goal liverpools confidence plummeted, they gave the ball away carelessly and the crowd was eerily quiet. Torres was gifted a goal when Arca tried to head the ball back to his keeper from 30 yards, Torres was alert, he intercepted and, despite Pogatetz trip from behind managed to keep his balance and score his 13 league goal of the season. The first goal was a gift from boro but the second was brilliant individual skill from Torres who unleashed a shot from 20 yards which gave Schwarzer no chance.Torres’ double gave the team a lift, the passing improved but boro didn’t dwell on their horror minute and went on to have the ball in the net twice before half time, the first time Tuncay put the ball in with his arm when he could have just as easily used his head, the second was ruled out for offside.Boro started the second half well but on 61′ Torres got his third, it was a hopeful long ball thumped up to him, the defender let it bounce while Schwarzer came out, Torres sensed confusion between the players, he nicked the ball away and put it in the net for his hat trick.

Boro refused to give up and got a goal back through Downing, but that’s all they could manage. Aliadiere got himself sent off at the death retaliating to Mascherano putting his hand in his face, which in fairness Mascherano was lucky not to see a card.

Liverpool looked shaky in defence, Arbeloa made some good last ditch challenges but he didn’t look comfortable there. Hyppia was the rock in defence, he may not have much pace but his experience lets him read situations brilliantly and clear the danger. The midfield did ok, Mascherano chased down everything, Lucas was involved in some good passing moves and Gerrard was unlucky not to score. The difference between the sides today was the fantastic Torres who claimed the match ball. He became the first striker at liverpool since Owen to score 21 goals in a season, all I can say is long may his scoring form continue.

There has been some talk about Rafa and how he has ditched his rotation policy…surely not?!