Sunday, May 29, 2011

Barcelona Win the Champions' League.... Again

As much as I hate to say it, the Catalans are pretty much unstoppable. After knocking out some of the other strongest teams in Europe, including Arsenal and Real Madrid, they also managed to destroy Manchester United in the second half of the Champions' League final. Up until the end of the first half, when the score was still equal, the game seemed equal too. But then, the second half started, and Manchester had no chance. Barca controlled the game to the point that United had 1 shot on goal, and that being Rooney's goal. The Blaugranas finished off the Reds with two fantastic strikes from Messi and David Villa, and won their 3rd Champions' League in the last 6 years. And this year, they did it without diving (in the final, atleast). So, what do they do now? They've won just about everything. If European competitions stay like this for the next few years, it's gonna be a long and boring ride.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Player of the Week: Roman Pavlyuchenko

That's right. A Spurs player. From me, an Arsenal fan. Now, like I said before, my Player of the Week won't necessarily be a player who I admire and like, but it'll occasionally be someone who had a huge impact, and Roman Pavlyuchenko did exactly that for Tottenham. He scored both goals for the Spurs in their 2-1 victory over Birmingham, which both relegated the Brums and earned the Spurs a place in the Europe League. They stole 5th place back from Liverpool, and while it might not be the Champions' League, it's definitely better than nothing. Good Ol' 'Arry will sure be happy. So, thumbs up to Pavlyuchenko.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Carlo Ancelotti Sacked as Chelsea Manager

After Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Everton today, Carlo Ancelotti was removed from the post of the Blues' manager. Thanks to a mid-season collapse in form, Chelsea has finished this year without a trophy. Despite a recent resurgence that has seen Chelsea move up to second, it wasn't enough to secure the Italian's job. Roman Abramovich has hinted at who could be his potential successor, with Guus Hiddink in the front-running. Ancelotti will most likely not be out of a job for long, with many clubs looking for new managers after dismal seasons. Compare this to the situation at Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger hasn't won a trophy with the Gunners for 6 years. Just shows how ruthless Chelsea is when looking for success.

Blackpool, Birmingham City, and West Ham Relegated

Ok, so we all new that West Ham was relegated a week ago, but the way that it happened was just stunning. Leading fellow relegation strugglers Wigan 2-0 at the DW Stadium, the Hammers collapsed in the second half to allow 3 goals, and eventually lost the game 3-2. Soon after, literally hours later, it was confirmed that Avram Grant was sacked. Now, it looks like some of West Ham's stand-out players, including Demba Ba and Scott Parker, will definitely be sold to bigger clubs. Scott Parker has constantly been linked to Arsenal (I hope it's true).

Today; however, there were still 2 open relegation spots, and 5 teams could have possibly filled those spots. Those teams included Blackpool, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Wigan, and Blackburn. In the most exciting game, Blackpool visited Manchester United at Old Trafford, looking to cause a major upset with a "Cinderella story". For the first 60 minutes, things seemed to really be going the Tangerine's way, when they were holding a 2-1 lead. Sadly, goals from Anderson, Owen, and an own-goal from Evatt gave the Red Devils victory, and Blackpool were relegated. They were really the one team I wanted to stay up. They played great football, and their manager Ian Holloway always provided some kind of entertainment. 

In another David vs. (Kinda) Goliath match, Birmingham City visited White Hart Lane to play Tottenham Hotspur. With goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Craig Gardner, the game was level at stoppage time, and Birmingham City looked to be staying up. Pavlyuchenko had other ideas though. He scored in stoppage time, and both relegated Birmingham and secured 5th place and a Europa League spot for the Spurs. As for Birmingham, I could care less that they're relegated. They're a bunch of w*nkers. Yeah, I might be holding a grudge for them beating Arsenal in the Carling Cup, so what? But, they'll be playing in the Europe League. Pretty weird, a second-division team in Europe. Hmph.

Now, I want to talk about the Wolves v. Blackburn match, the only one where to relegation threatened teams actually played each other. Basically, Blackburn knew they were going to survive with their 3-0 lead at half-time. Wolverhampton looked to be down and out, but had a revival in the second half. Jamie O'Hara and Stephen Hunt got goals back for the Wolves, and secured their spot in the Premier League only on goal difference, quite the comeback. After the game, I've never seen fans be so happy with a loss. Really funny actually. 
In other news, Arsenal continued their dismal form with a 2-2 draw at Fulham, and finished fourth in the league. There better be some spending for the Gunners in the winter, or I'm seriously going to be angry. Like the Arsenal fans chanted during the match, "Spend some f**king money!" On Merseyside, Everton defeated Chelsea 1-0. What consequences will that have? You'll see soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Player of the Week: Robin Van Persie

An Arsenal player? After their loss to Aston Villa? Yeah, seems a bit weird, doesn't it? But the only reason I put the Dutchman as my Player of the Week is because of his scoring. Arsenal's Number 10 has recently looked like the only player for the Gunners who looks like he actually wants to score. Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas, and Samir Nasri have looked absolutely lost recenlty. Kind of sad actually.

Manchester City Win the FA Cup: Will It be a Catalyst?

So, after 34 years of trophy-less football, Manchester City have finally won something, and that something being the 2011 FA Cup. It was quite a thrilling victory, with them dominating over Stoke in the final, despite the score only being 1-0. Also, they turned Manchester sky blue when they defeated their arch rivals, Manchester United, in the semis. It looks like that 300 million pounds of spending has finally payed off for Roberto Mancini and his men.

Will this be a catalyst for more wonderful victories from the Sky Blue Boys from Manchester? This has been quite the season for them, also having secured Champions' League football from the grasp of Tottenham Hotspur. In fact, today, after once again beating Stoke soundly with a score of 3-0, they stole third place in the Premier League table from Arsenal, who amazingly lost to Aston Villa at home on Sunday. We saw a similar thing with Chelsea when they won the Double in 2005, and later they went on to become one of the most dominant teams in Europe and England.

Can Manchester City replicate what the Blues did? They've definitely got the talent to do it. Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Mario Balotelli, Kolo and Yaya Toure, and Vincent Kompany are up there in terms of talent, so honestly I don't see why they wouldn't be able to pull off a Champions' League or Premier League surprise. In my opinion, they could be the dark horses for the 2011-2012 Premier League season. 

While I do admire and respect the Mancs for winning such a trophy, it also saddens me a bit. Now, it shows that teams who are financially backed by billionaires will be able to succeed in the world, despite not having any young talent in their academies. That means that teams who actually play their young players, like Arsenal, Manchester United, and Liverpool, are now screwed. But then again, Arsenal is sponsored by the Emirates, but it's been their stubborn manager Arsene Wenger who hasn't bought. Did I just diss my favorite team....

Now, thanks to the recent rises of Tottenham and Manchester City, it looks like the Premier League will have the "Big Six": Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Tottenham. Added to that, smaller teams like Aston Villa, Bolton, and Everton aren't far behind in the quality of their squads, so it looks like the 2011-2012 Premier League season will be quite exciting. Me gusta. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dreams Will Come True: An FA Cup Final Preview

It's definitely not the final that everyone expected, or actually wanted. Everyone expected Chelsea, Arsenal, or Manchester United to be in the final. But, it was the underdogs that rose to the occasion. Manchester's "second" team, City, stunningly upset their rivals with a 1-0 victory in the semi-final to give Roberto Mancini hope of getting a trophy for the millions of pounds that he has shelled out on world-class players. Stoke on the other hand crushed a favored Bolton 5-0 in the semis, and gave The Potters hope of winning their first trophy since 1972, when they won the League Cup, now known as the Carling Cup.

In my eyes, Manchester City are the clear favorites. They'll be without their talisman Carlos Tevez, but they have other top class players in David Silva, Yaya Toure, Joe Hart, and Mario Balotelli. I'm not sure about Edin Dzeko. He's looked like a total crap signing. Hasn't done anything for the Mancs at all. But then again, Stoke does play well against the big teams, with their 3-1 win against Arsenal being proof. However, Tony Pulis' side is often, and deservedly, receive criticism for playing a "rugby" style gameplay. "Rugby" in this sense means that they simply boot the ball up the field, hoping to catch defenders by surprise, and then score. They also play American Football, thanks to Laury Delap's throw-ins. Just look it up on Youtube. So stupid.  

So, if you haven't noticed already, I don't like Stoke City at all. But, I would hate for the Citizens to actually win it all. It would give their plastic fans bragging rights against teams like Manchester United and Arsenal, who didn't have to buy a whole new squad on the transfer market to actually achieve success. Chelsea are guilty of this too, with Roman Abramovich single-handedly turning them into champions with the help of his wallet. Man City have spent 340 million British pounds since their takeover by the Abu Dhabi Group. 340 MILLION. The price of Arsenal's total starting 11 is around 40 million pounds! Sadly though, it looks like that these days, that's the kind of spending that is needed to win,, trophies. The days of Manchester United and Arsenal being the teams who constantly challenge for the titles are numbered if they don't change their ways.

Whoops, got off topic there. So, who do I think is going to win it? Like I said before, Manchester City. Stoke will most likely try to play their ridiculous long balls, but Vincent Kompany will be more than capable of dealing with them. So, 3-2 to the Sky Blues sounds about right. This match will kick off on Saturday, May 14th at 9:00 a.m. Central US Time, and can be seen on Fox Soccer Channel in the US.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Number Nineteen

Six points. That's now the gap between Manchester United and Chelsea after the Red Devils beat the Blues 2-1. And there's only two games left. Now, it looks like Manchester United have grabbed their 19th Premier League title to overtake Liverpool. Mathematically they haven't won it, but do you really see them losing to Blackburn or Blackpool? Even if they get as much as a point, they've go it.  During this crazy season, both Arsenal and Chelsea have had utter collapses in form to hand the Red Devils the title. They have been totally consistent, to the point where even I can say they deserved it. I wish it was Arsenal up there. Oh well, congrats to Manchester United. Oh, and Manchester City beat Tottenham 1-0 today. Ha.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy St. Totteringham's Day!!!

Today, May 7th, is St. Totteringham's Day! It is a celebration of Arsenal fans, where Tottenham now cannot mathematically finish above the Gooners in the table. They were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at Blackpool. Baha. All that spending and they're still in Arsenal's shadow. And now, since they most likely won't secure Champions' League football, it looks like good Ol' 'Arry Redknapp's best players, including Gareth Bale, will be leaving the club.

Ha. Here's a wonderful poem:
Twas the night before St. Totteringham's, when all through N5 Not a gooner was stirring, not even a child.
The kits were hung by the front door with care, In hopes that St Totteringham soon would be there.
The gooners were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of Fabregas danced in their heads.
And Madam in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap Had just settled our brains for a long late spring nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the newly-built ground, Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects around
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a shimmering saint, stood there clutching a beer.
With a red and white kit, he was looking so hot, I knew in a moment it must be St Tott.
More rapid than eagles his chanting it came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Now Szczęsny! now, Gaël! now, Sagna! and Song! On, Nasri! On, Jack! Cesc, now hurry along,
Eboue! Arshavin! Van Persie! Walcott! Speed him along, that splendid Saint Tott!
And then, in a twinkling, we shall hear that cry, That comes every year despite how they try,
As we leap up and down and spin all around, Down to earth St Tott will come with a bound.
He'll be dressed red and white, from his head to his foot, And 1961 embroidered on his boot.
He'll point at the number and say "See here! They failed once again, despite the 'one' in the year!"
His eyes-how they'll twinkle! his dimples how merry! His cheeks are like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth will draw up like a bow, And the beard of his chin will be white as some snow.
He'll be chubby and plump, a right jolly old gooner, "It comes every year, usually sooner,
They spend so much and I hope it's not rude, One time I had to poison some Italian food!"
He'll laugh and he'll laugh 'til his face turns bright red, "Their Euro hopes lying there buried and dead,
You'd think they'd be happy with Old Channel 5, Not keeping those delusional champions' hopes alive!"
He'll spring to his feet, to the team give a whistle, And away they'll all fly like the down of a thistle.
But we'll hear him exclaim, ‘ere he drives out of sight, "Happy St Totteringham's to all, and to all a good-night!"

So, all Arsenal fans, rejoice! Times might be tough, but atleast we know Arsenal are still better than the Spurs.

Champions League Final: 2009 All Over Again

So, let's rewind to the semi-finals. Barcelona defeated their arch-rivals Real Madrid in a diving and controversy filled semi-final. Two pieces of Messi magic at the Bernebeu basically put the Catalans in the final, while Manchester United completely dominated Schalke in both legs, winning 6-1 on aggregate.  How will these two match up in the final? 

Well, the last time these two faced each other on this momentous occasion, Barcelona had Samuel Eto'o, Thierry Henry, and Yaya Toure. But since then, all have left to different clubs, with differing results. Only Eto'o has received true success, winning the treble with Inter Milan last year. Meanwhile at the United camp, the only huge difference between today's squad and 2009's squad is the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo has left. To some, it might seem like a huge difference, but Nani has filled in Ronaldo's shoes. But he dives more. Just a bit.

Barcelona's Champions' League campaign this year has been marred with controversy. Yes, they do play wonderful (to some) football, but they aren't the most innocent team. In their tie with Arsenal, Robin Van Persie got a (in my opinion) bulls**t red card, and that basically sent them out of the tie. And in their semi-finals against Los Galacticos, Dani Alves dove to get Pepe sent off, and many other players, mainly Pedro and Sergio Busquets, dove in order to get advantages for Barca. In fact, there was so much diving, that I was disgusted while watching, and turned off the TV. Such a huge occasion, two great teams playing, and it was completely ruined. I'd rather watch Blackpool and Wigan of the Premier League play. Oh well, what can you do.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men, on the other hand, have had a great campaign. They got into the final after also beating their rivals, Chelsea. However, over the two legs, that game was exciting and actually fun to watch. Now, they're representing all of England's great clubs in Europe. Despite being an Arsenal fan, I will honestly be behind United on this day. I really don't like either of these teams, but if I had to choose, it would easily be Manchester. I hate how Barcelona have had to get so many decisions their way in order to reach the final, and I truly hope the Mancs kick their Catalonian a**es. But, I think Barca will win it. And I'm not trying to diss Manchester, they'll probably dominate the beginning of the match, but will somehow have a man sent off, and then it'll be impossible to beat them. Ask Real and Arsenal.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Arsenal Make Things Exciting

So, without Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal finally defeat Manchester United, for the first time in the season. But, it was a hollow victory, atleast for the Arsenal fans. A few weeks ago, it looked like this match would be a title decider. Instead, it's a stumbling block for the Red Devils. But, it has opened the title race wide open. Chelsea, who in the winter looked completely out of the race, now has a wonderful chance to retain the league title next week, with the Blues visiting Old Trafford in a Clash of the Giants.  But then again, a lot has happened, so.... can Arsenal still win the title? Let's see.

Well, let's start with Chelsea. About 4 months ago, they were down and out. They were defeated at the Emirates by Arsenal, who at the time were arguably the strongest team in England, and people counted them out only half way through the season. Now, thanks to Arsenal's terrible recent form, they're in second, and only 3 points behind the Red Devils. But on Saturday, they were lucky to get their crucial three points against Tottenham, with the first goal never fully crossing the line, and the second being scored by Kalou from an offside position. I hate to say it (as an Arsenal fan), but I feel sympathy for the Spurs. They could have been a major changing force in the title race, but thanks to terrible refereeing, they're now behind Liverpool, who jumped up to 5th place. 
Now, on to Arsenal. Oh, the Gunners. How sad of a collapse. Despite all of their draws, they were still fully in the race until their loss to Bolton. Let me say that again, BOLTON. But with this win, can they be the dark horse in the race? In a word, yes. They don't play up to their full potential when under pressure, but now that people don't take them seriously in the race, they play freely. And the Gunners showed what they could do with that freedom, defeating Man United despite being robbed of a penalty. Chelsea and Manchester United play next weekend, and if Manchester loses while Arsenal beat Stoke City, the table will read Chelsea-73, Man Utd -73, Arsenal-70. Yes, I am being very optimistic. But why not? The 2010-2011 Premier League season has been absolutely insane, meaning anything can happen. Anything.