Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breaking Transfers: VVV Venlo sign youngster Baerke van der Meij

Relegation threatened Eredivisie side VVV Venlo have confirmed that they signed 18-month old Baerke van der Meij on a 10 year professional contract after a video was posted of him online, performing perfect spot kicks. The toddler's grandfather was a star player for the Dutch side, so it might be in his genes. In other transfers, rumors have it that a myriad of teams, including Barcelona, Arsenal, and Real Madrid are all interested in signing 5 year old Shaqueel Van Persie after he scored a wonderful goal with his father, Robin Van Persie, in goal. We'll have to wait and see this summer.

Mourinho, Ronaldo, join Barca Conspiracy Bandwagon

So, Jose Mourinho's caused a bit of controversy (surprise!). After his Real side lost to Barca in the Champions' League semi-final, the Portuguese manager vented his frustration in the post-match interview. But, he did bring up a good point, saying "Congratulations to Barcelona. But I just do not understand why Barcelona always receive the help of the referee ... I am not too sad, I have a great family. But I don't understand why Barcelona have this power. It happened two years ago to Chelsea (2009 semis), almost to my Inter last year, and also to Arsenal this year." I fully agree. I'm not saying that the refs are biased towards the Catalans, but c'mon, 3 teams that could have potentially knocked "The Best Team in the World" out, and they all get a man sent off in the second leg? 

Added to that, every single time this has happened, one of the opposing players or managers have complained. They definitely had the right to do so, but that's not what UEFA thinks. Didier Drogba was fined for venting his frustration at the referee after their controversial loss to Barca. They got a man sent off and two clear penalties denied! He didn't have the right to do so? And after Arsenal's loss, Samir Nasri and Arsene Wenger both got one match bans for complaining to the referee. Plain stupid. How come whenever every single Barca player swarms the ref after a tackle, none of them get yellows? How come 2 Barcelona players didn't get sent off for grabbing the necks of Nasri and Van Persie right in front of the official? Bah. Maybe I'm just complaining. I am actually, but if Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo agree, it can't be that ridiculous, can it?

Oh, and they should stop diving. Especially Dani Alves. He got stretchered off, and then got off and was perfectly fine. What a p*ssy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Champions League Semi-Finals: Meh.

I hate Dani Alves.

Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona (Agg. 0-2): Kinda one-sided. It's pretty predictable that Barca's going through to the final, even Mourinho admitted it. So, i'll do a quick sum up. It was 0-0 at halftime, and then Pepe got a soft red card (Surprising isn't it? A team getting a soft red against Barca. Where have we seen this before?). So, still 0-0. Both teams are playacting and being little babies, then Messi puts it in after a nice cross from Afellay in the 76th. Then, he completely puts Real's chances of going through, scoring a wonderful solo goal, going past four of Real's defenders.

Schalke 04 0-2 Manchester United (Agg. 0-2): So, like Barca, Manchester won comfortably away at Schalke. But, they were kept at bay by Neuer, who had a fantastic game, and missed 11 chances to go ahead. Finally, in the 67th, Ryan Giggs put the Red Devils ahead after putting Rooney's pass into the back of the net calmly. Then, Rooney bagged a similar goal, and put one foot in the final for Manchester. So, it looks like a Barcelona v. Manchester United final. But then again, Schalke did beat Inter 5-2 at the San Siro. Maybe there will be another surprise win?

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Player of the Week: Cristiano Ronaldo

Aaaaaaand, my second installment of My Player of the Week! Yes, my heading at the top of the page does say that I cover English football, but I will cover El Clasicos in Spain, especially with 2 more coming up. In the most recent meeting, Real Madrid defeated Barcelona 1-0 in the Copa Del Rey final. And, because of my dislike for Barcelona, I chose the man who scored the winning goal, Crisitano Ronaldo. I don't really like him, because he's a whiny little baby, but hey, he beat Barcelona.

A New Era for Arsenal?

6 years. It's been 6 years since Arsenal has won a meaningful trophy, the 2005 FA Cup. Now, in recent times, all that the Gunners have won is the insignificant Emirates Cup. This season, that looked to change, as they entered the League Cup Final against Birmingham City, full of confidence after beating Barcelona with a comeback. Then, disappointingly, frustratingly, and humiliatingly, Arsenal lost to the Blues, with an absolutely horrible mix-up between Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny being the catalyst for another trophy-less season. After that day, Arsenal dropped out of the Champions' League, the FA Cup, and on April 24th, all but guaranteed that they were out of the title race with a 2-1 loss to Bolton.

Since February 23rd, their 1-0 home victory against Stoke City, Arsenal have had only one league win, and that came against a relegation battling Blackpool. They passed up numerous chances to close the gap to Manchester United, only to draw against the likes of Sunderland, West Brom, and Blackburn. Not exactly teams that would frighten a team who is supposedly one of the world's best. But, with Arsenal, now every game is one where the supporters grow frightened, thanks to the fragility of Arsenal's defense. Yes, many will point to referee's mistakes, or just bad luck, but it's really only the squad to blame. So, this makes many ask the question, is Arsene Wenger really still capable of winning the league with his current side?

Will the stubborn Frenchman change his frugal ways? I can only hope so. Yes, he has been great at spotting and raising young talent, with the likes of Jack Wilshere, Cesc Fabregas, and Aaron Ramsey regularly being important parts of the Gunners' squad. But, what the team lacks is a leader on the field. Ever since the "Invincibles" era, there hasn't been anyone who will get up and shout into someone's face after they make an Almunia-like mistake. The quiet Cesc Fabregas has been the captain of the club since the 2008-2009 season, and he hasn't been the best driving force behind the club. Even Robin Van Persie has been more vocal, criticizing the way that other clubs play and act, and, along with Jack Wilshere, has openly supported and pledged his allegiance to Arsene Wenger and his club.

Despite being captain, even Fabregas has commented on Wenger's tactics and philosophy. Like many supporters and pundits, he believed that Arsenal can't win trophies with just kids out on the field, and that they need experienced and committed players. So, what will Wenger do this summer? The players that I believe  the Gunners need to purchase are obviously a central defender or two, an experienced 30-something midfielder, and a clinical striker who can provide great cover when Robin Van Persie is injured. Per Mertesacker, Gary Cahill, Phillipe Mexes, Diego Milito, Eden Hazard, and Karim Benzema have all been linked to Arsenal constantly. Will the adamant Arsenal manager change his ways and buy a few players with the 40 million pounds now at his disposal?

Finally, I just have one more thought on my mind about Wenger's managerial ways. He absolutely needs to sell the under-performing players. Diaby and Denilson started their Arsenal careers strongly, but recently, have been totally ineffective. Along with those two, Tomas Rosicky, Manuel Almunia, and Sebastien Squillaci should be put on the transfer market in the summer. Along with being ineffective, they constantly make mistakes that continually cost Arsenal important points in the title race.

So, that's all that I have to say about the current Arsenal "crisis". After six years of trophy-less, but wonderful football, it seems that Arsene Wenger has been thinking about purchasing a few experienced players who should help the Gunners finally win a title again. In a recent interview with the Guardian, Wenger said, "We have to strengthen the squad where it needs and make the right decision on that front (transfers)." So, the outlook looks good. This will be an interesting summer for Arsenal fans. But, if next year Arsenal comes out empty-handed, then it will surely be time for Wenger to leave his post.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Torres FINALLY Scores for Chelsea!!!

Chelsea's recent 50-million pound purchase, Fernando Torres, hasn't scored for his new club and country in over 901 minutes. That's 10 whole games, well, until today it was. He finally put the ball in the back of the net for the Blues in their 3-0 win over West Ham. After coming on for Didier Drogba in the 76th, Torres found the back of the net after only 8 minutes on the pitch. According to "El Nino" himself, he believes that there's less pressure on him to score; "There's less pressure for me now, now I can enjoy it." Well, congrats to him. It's unusual to post about a player scoring a goal, but this seems like a fitting occasion.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Player of the Week: Yaya Toure

In this new feature on my blog, I'll be stating my favorite player of the week, based on their performances. My first ever pick will be Manchester City's Yaya Toure. Scoring the winning goal against their arch-rivals Manchester United, the midfielder saved Roberto Mancini's job as the manager of the Citizens. Is he my player of the week because he beat the Red Devils? No, of course not.

Ok, yes, it's because of that. The irony of all of my friends, who happen to be United fans, saying "Man S**tty" before the match made my day.

Premier League Title Race: Oh, It's ON!

Well, the last few days have been quite eventful in terms of the Premier League title race. On Saturday, Chelsea comfortably defeated West Brom with a score of 1-3, and in doing so, made the gap to Arsenal only 2 points. But, the Gunners, instead of being inspired by Chelsea's closeness in the table, only managed a home draw against Liverpool on Sunday. Arsenal's attack was slow, sluggish, and was actually very predictable. The wingers, Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri, couldn't even create many chances because they couldn't get past Liverpool's fullbacks, who were both from the reserves. Then, the magical moment. Arsenal got a penalty, and Robin Van Persie coolly put it in the bottom corner, thinking that he secured the 3 points. But, at the other end, Eboue had other ideas. He fouled Lucas, who wasn't even threatening Arsenal's goal, and gave the Reds a penalty. Dirk Kuyt put it away, and also basically put Arsenal's title hopes away for another season. 

So, it looked like today, Manchester United would finish off any chance for Arsenal to come back and cause a huge upset in the title race. But, Tim Krul, the Magpies' number one, had other ideas. Putting in a Man of the Match performance, he kept the Red Devils at bay and earned Newcastle a 0-0 draw. Because of Man United's naive performance, the gap is now 7 points, but Arsenal have a game in hand. Will this be an impetus for the Gunners? Will they now play the wonderful, attacking, and clinical football that they showed earlier in the season? Time will only tell. I think that players like Jack Wilshere and Robin Van Persie will play their heart out during Wednesday's game against the Spurs. It won't be easy, with Gareth Bale and Rafael Van Der Vaart constantly threatening to score. 

With 5 rounds to go, Manchester United still has to play Arsenal at the Emirates and both Everton and Chelsea at home. Compare this to Arsenal's fixture list, with tomorrow's game against Tottenham and the game against the Red Devils being the matches where Arsenal could truly lose points. But who knows? There can be many, many surprises to come until the last match of the season. Both teams could potentially drop points, and of course, no one should truly rule out Chelsea.

Haha. Just kidding. Those chavs are out of it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Looking Forward to the Weekend, Weekend

This weekend, there will be a few matches in both La Liga and the Premier League that are sure to entertain. Now, I don't normally cover La Liga, but El Clasico is certainly a great occasion to do so. Let's preview some of these matches, shall we?

Real Madrid v. Barcelona (La Liga): The clash of the Spanish titans. Last time Los Galacticos met the Blaugrana at the Camp Nou, Barcelona completed dominated Jose Mourinho's side with their tiki-taka style of play. However, with this match being at the Bernabeu, things could be a little different. With Barca being 8 points ahead of Real, this could be a pivotal match in the title-race. A win for Barcelona, and they have basically won the league. Unless of course, they have a terrible slump in form. But c'mon, it's Barca. But, a win for Real, and they're only 5 points behind. If that happens, all it takes is a Barca draw or two for Real to be firmly back in it. This will be the first of four matches that these two will play in a matter of 18 days, with the other matches being the Copa Del Rey final and the Champions' League semi-finals. My prediction? A 3-3 draw. I don't think Barca will be able to overcome the atmosphere of the Bernabeu. Heck, they let Arsenal come back at the Emirates. And yes, I did just take that as an opportunity to brag. This game will kick-off at 3 p.m. Central US time on Saturday.

Manchester City v. Manchester United (FA Cup Semi-Final): Anyone remember the gem of a goal above? Of course you do. It's most likely going to be the Premier League goal of the year. And, it was also the winner for the Red Devils the last time they met the Citizens. Did I also mention that Rooney isn't going to be playing. That's right, his ban will keep him out of this match. But, it isn't all bad news for United. City's main man, captain, and goalscorer Carlos Tevez will be out with a hamstring injury. That leaves either Mario Balotelli to start or Edin Dzeko. Balotelli's a little baby and Dzeko's still adjusting to the British style of play. So it looks like a tough choice for Mancini. I just hope that Roberto Mancini doesn't put a defensive-minded squad onto the field, which would ruin what I'm anticipating to be a fantastic match. Hopefully, Mancini will play around with his squad and play both of his center forwards. They'll be looking for a positive result, following their 3-0 defeat at the hands of the rejuvenated Liverpool, who will be facing Arsenal on Sunday. I honestly can't make a prediction for this one. After all, anything can happen in cup matches. This match will kick-off at 11:15 Central US time.

Arsenal v. Liverpool (Premier League): Finally, the third, and final of this weekend's "Clashes of the Giants". With both teams slightly ravaged with injuries, this could be closer than most expect it to be. The players out for Arsenal: defenders Bacary Sagna, Johann Djourou (most likely). But, with Emanuel Eboue having a fantastic match against Blackpool, his presence will be welcomed. What I'm fearing is a Squillaci-Koscielny backline for Arsenal. "Squicielny" as they're affectionately known by the Gooner faithful aren't exactly the best back line in the League. In fact, together, they're pretty terrible. This could be a huge disadvantage for Arsenal, with Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll firing on all cylinders for the Reds. It's kind of a scary situation. But, Liverpool's midfield, atleast in my opinion, pales in comparison to Arsenal's. With Steven Gerrard being out, Lucas, Jay Spearing, and Raul Meireles pitted against the likes of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, and Jack Wilshere. However, under "King" Kenny Dalglish, the Reds have beaten both Manchester sides by the score of 3-0. But then again, those were home games. Arsenal have looked a bit weak at home lately, but this will be an amazingly crucial game for the Gunners. If they win, they're back in the title race, being only 3 points behind Manchester United. I predict a 3-1 win for Arsenal. I think that the squad will realize that this is the pivotal point of the season, and they'll play their hearts out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Champions League Quarterfinals: Second Legs

Well, like I said last week, most of the matches were decided in the first leg. So, because of that, I'll only provide a truly detailed report of the Manchester United v. Chelsea match. Stupid one-sided matches.

Schalke 04 2-1 Inter Milan (Agg. 7-3): Raul scored his 71st Champions' League goal just before half-time. Soon after, Inter's Thiago Motta equalized in the 49th. Benedikt Howedes put the tie out of Inter's hands in the 81st.

Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 (Agg. 0-5): In this second leg, Jose Mourinho played basically his strongerst side possible. It payed off, thanks to a howler from Gomes, Tottenham's keeper. After Cristiano Ronaldo took a fairly weak shot from 30 yards out, Gomes failed to catch it and it went into the back of the net.

Shakhtar Donetsk 0-1 Barcelona (Agg. 1-6): After Barca destroyed the Ukrainians at the Nou Camp, they had an easy time going through to the next round. In the 43rd, Leo Messi put it past Pyatov after passing through the Donetsk defense.

Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea (Agg. 3-1): FINALLY. The only match where the winner of the tie wasn't already decided. With the Champions' League being the only trophy that Chelsea even had a realistic chance at winning, they needed to turn around the scoreline. But, for some reason, Carlo Ancelotti stupidly played an out-of-form Fernando Torres instead of Didier Drogba. Tisk-tisk. With the match being scoreless until the 43rd, Javier Hernandez finally put the Reds up doing what he does best, poaching. Ryan Giggs delivered a low-cross across the box, to find Hernandez, who had the simple task of tapping it into the back of the net. Despite being down 2-0 on aggregate now, Chelsea kept on persevering to get back into the draw. During half-time, Ancelotti finally brought on Drogba, who nearly scored soon after half-time, but his shot went past the post. Then, in the 70th minute, Ramires certainly didn't do the Blues any favors when he got sent off with a second yellow for a foul on Luis Nani. However, the goal-hungry Drogba didn't let up, and scored in the 77th to give Chelsea hope of advancing. Sadly for them, Ryan Giggs got his second assist of the match with a fantastic pass to Ji-Sung Park, who scored to put the Blues out of the Champions' League.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Huge Injury Blows for Liverpool

During the week, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish ruled out both Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger out for the rest of the season. Gerrard, the Reds' captain, returned to training after having surgery on his groin, but then a similar injury occured. Center back Daniel Agger will be out for two months, after he suffered from a knee tendon injury in Liverpool's 2-1 loss to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. 

These players will be out of the match against Manchester City, along with Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly, who both have hamstring injuries. Those two will be out for around a month. Despite all of these injured players, Kenny Dalglish hasn't given up hope; "We’ve just got to get on with it and accept that’s the position we’re in. It’s up to us to make the best of it." With the wonderful recent form of Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles, hopefully this doesn't hurt the Reds' chances of overtaking Tottenham for 4th place.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Champions League Quarterfinals: First Legs

Well, this is rather disappointing. Only 1 of these matches will be truly contested in the second leg, that being the Manchester United vs. Chelsea clash. All of the other ties will have teams try to overcome near-impossible deficits, but who knows? Crazy things happen.

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United (Agg. 0-1): Despite Chelsea coming back into form recently, their efforts weren't enough and gave the Red Devils their first win at Stamford Bridge since 2002. In the 24th, after an amazing piece of play from 37 year old Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney put away the simple tap in from 6 yards out. Chelsea kept putting the pressure on United, with Patrice Evra having to clear a Frank Lampard effort off of the line to hold Man U's lead. Then, in the dying minutes of the game, Evra clearly fouled a charging Ramires in the penalty area, but a spot-kick wasn't given. In a desperate attempt to draw, Fernando Torres later dove in the box, but was only awarded a yellow card.

Barcelona 5-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (Agg. 5-1): Well, here's the first of the hugely one-sided matches. Just 2 minutes into the match, Andres Iniesta put in the first for the Catalans, with a low shot from an interception off of a loose ball. Despite dominating later on, Barca let the Ukranians have a few chances which definitely put a scare in the Spanish giants. Then in the 34th, the goalscorer slotted a perfect pass to Dani Alves, who only had to put the ball into an empty net. Gerard Pique made it 3-0 for Barca after taking a shot from a corner first time, and the ball was helped in with a deflection off of Rakitskiy. The Ukrainian defender redeemed himself in the 59th, heading Srna's free-kick past Victor Valdes to get a consolation goal. But, Seydou Keita then powered a shot into the back of Shakhtar's net after Leo Messi worked hard to get past his man and then pass it to the waiting Keita. Finally, Barcelona killed the match off with a Xavi goal in the 86th minute, basically ending Shakhtar's chances of advancing.

Real Madrid 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur (Agg. 4-0):  After promising to score against the Spurs for the Arsenal fans, Emmanuel Adebayor did indeed do so. Twice, actually. Early in the 4th, Adebayor, who was marked by the puny Jenas, put a header past Luka Modric on the post to give Real the lead. Stupidly, after already being on a yellow, Peter Crouch earned his second and was sent off in only the 15th minute of the match. Despite being denied a penalty, Real put a second one into the back of the net in the 57th minute, with Adebayor once again scoring from a stunning header. Then, in the 72nd, Angel Di Maria scored one of the Champions' League goals of the season, with a curler from the right into the top left corner of the goal. Hoping for the goal to kill off the tie in the 87th, Cristiano Ronaldo took a hopeful shot, which somehow found the net thanks to a dumb mistake from Gomes, the Spurs keeper.

Inter Milan 2-5 Schalke 04 (Agg. 2-5): Looking to bounce back from their 3-0 loss in the Milan derby, Inter desperately wanted a win. But a comeback of this magnitude by the Germans was not expected by anyone. Inter was up 1-0 in the 1st minute thanks to a wonderful volley from Dejan Stankovic. 16 minutes later, Schalke leveled from a corner kick, with Joel Matip putting the ball in the back of the net. Diego Milito restored the lead of the Italians, when he finished off with smooth strike from Cambiasso's header. 5 minutes from half-time, the pesky Germans equalized, with Edu scoring after his first shot was saved by Julio Cesar. Then, it was time for Inter to hit the self destruct button. In the 53rd, former Real Madrid man Raul put his 70th Champions' League goal into the back of the net, after Farfan had worked hard to get the ball to him. 4 minutes later, Andrea Ranocchia scored an own goal in an attempt Jurado's cross. 15 minutes from full time, Edu put the final nail in Inter Milan's coffin, with an absolutely fantastic strike from outside the box, leaving Julio Cesar stranded.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Potty Mouth: Rooney Banned for 2 Matches

While celebrating his third goal against West Ham this Sunday, Wayne Rooney foolishly dropped an "f" bomb towards the camera. Thanks to those antics, he has been banned for two matches by the FA. He'll miss this weekend's match with Fulham and the FA Cup Semi-final against Manchester City. He has until April 5th to launch an appeal against the decision.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities: Manchester and London

In the last two days, it has become even more obvious which team in the Premier League wants to win the title the most. If you haven't already guessed, it's Manchester United. Visiting West Ham on Saturday, the Red Devils found themselves down 2-0 at halftime thanks to two penalties for the Hammers. In the second half however, Wayne Rooney inspired the Mancs with a hat-trick to win the match 4-2, completing one of the best comebacks of the season for any team. Talking to the press, Alex Ferguson praised his side, saying, ""I think we played like champions." I have to agree. Champions show true grit like this, keeping cool and calm, and showing a truly wonderful display to come back like this. If they manage to lose the title race for the Premier League, I for one, will be truly shocked.

On the other side of Manchester, the Citizens showed a hungry, fighting spirit to completely dismantle Sunderland's defense, demolishing them with a score of 5-0. Every player on the Manchester side was craving to win this match, with Adam Johnson, who needed to secure Mancini's trust, scoring the first goal. Then, Carlos Tevez put it in from the penalty spot. David Silva, Patrick Vieira, and Yaya Toure all scored to finish off the Black Cats. Thanks to this win, Manchester City moves into 3rd place, taking the spot over from Chelsea. But, they have also played a game more than Chelsea, and are only a point ahead. This match was also a much-needed divergence from Roberto Mancini's usual defensive tactics.

Now, onto the English capital city, London. With Fabregas, Song, and Walcott all returning from injury, the Gunners were looking to start a huge title-charge with a win over Blackburn Rovers. But, once again, like many other times, it wasn't Arsenal's day. Like usual, despite having many more chances to score and put the game away, Arsenal's usual goalscorers couldn't do so. Even with Cesc Fabregas coming on in the second half, they still weren't able to put the many chances from crosses into the back of the net. It seemed like Marouane Chamakh was missing from the side. Thanks to Blackburn's stellar defending, they got a much-deserved draw against a weak Arsenal side. The Gunners' supporters made their feelings knowing, with a big, resounding "BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". Could it be time for Arsene Wenger to move on?

With a recent resurgence in great form, Chelsea were hoping to do the same as Arsenal, trying to cause a major upset in the title race. But, also like Arsenal, their team couldn't cooperate to get a much needed win against Stoke City. Falling to a wonderful early goal from Jon Walters, Didier Drogba then got the equalizer with a wonderful header on the half-hour mark. With both teams relatively evenly matched, they were both desperate to get the winning goal. The Potters were twice denied by the woodwork, and also forced Petr Cech to make a myriad of wonderful saves to keep Chelsea level. Soon before the end of the match, Didier Drogba was also denied getting the winning goal by the crossbar.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Switch to Baseball

Starting today, I'll be making the switch to baseball, with the new site being "Baseball: The World's Sport". Watching terrible soccer teams like Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester United, and Chelsea, reminded me just how great the sport of baseball is. The athleticism, hand-eye coordination, and steroids required to be a baseball player are much greater than that of soccer. Any baseball player, even the catchers, can be thrown into a soccer game and become the star player, because soccer is SO MUCH EASIER THAN BASEBALL. So, this is my last post where I'll even mention the word soccer, or football. After all, baseball is "The World's Game".