Friday, May 08, 2009

Why Emmanuel Adebayor is disrespecting Arsenal

On Tuesday: "I often speak to Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani on the phone because he is very good at French as his wife is from Morocco," Adebayor told Italian newspaper Tuttosport. "Galliani may not be as sexy as Beyonce, but Milan are.

"For now I just want to finish the season on a high, but then we will see. My agent Stephane Courbis is in London with his Italian associate Vincenzo Morabito and they are always working day and night."

On Tuesday night: "Arsenal put me where I am today, They made me one of the biggest strikers in the world. I have to pay them back.

"How am I going to pay them back? Make them win trophies. Thats what I am here for and I have to fight for that. Next season, 100 per cent, I am an Arsenal footballer."

The Rest

Is the Old Firm Match a Title Decider?

Saturday's final Old Firm match of the season could go a long way to deciding who wins the Scottish Premier League but both Celtic manager Gordon Strachan and Rangers counterpart Walter Smith are playing down suggestions of a title decider.

Here, BBC Scotland reviews how the final Old Firm derby of the season has impacted the SPL title race in previous campaigns.

Who will partner Pedro Mendes?
Maurice Edu
or Steven Davis?
Old Firm Preview

Quotes & Chants of the Week

"The horrible part of football is you fall in love with your players."
Sir Alex Ferguson on the pitfalls of being a boss.

"It was a respectable performance."
Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink on Barcelona's run-of-the-mill 6-2 thrashing of Real Madrid.

"Casper Ankegren's a bit of a Dracula-type keeper... doesn't like crosses."
From Leeds v Hartlepool commentary on Radio Leeds

"Cristiano Ronaldo, no doubt a fantastic player, but look at him sitting down in the box, looking like he's going to cry... like a little girl. No doubting his talent, but he is a squinny. An absolute squinny."
Chris Wise on Pompey's 107.4 The Quay radio during the United v Pompey match.

"You should have stayed on the telly!"
The Kop to Alan Shearer on Sunday. Followed closely by the Match of the Day theme tune.

"You should have been an X-Man!"
Chant directed to Peter Crouch at the Newcastle-Portsmouth match.

The Rest

Tony Cascarino: it's time Chelsea cut Drogba loose

Didier Drogba is the gladiator who acts like a toddler. So big and strong, yet he rolls around the pitch like a naughty child having temper tantrums. I was a physical centre forward myself so I love his ability, but I've had enough of his pathetic antics and I think Chelsea have, too. It's time to cut him loose this summer.

Theo Walcott commits long-term future to Arsenal

Theo Walcott his committed his long-term future to Arsenal after agreeing a new contract. It is thought the 20-year-old has agreed a four-year deal worth £60,000-a-week.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

AC Milan captain Paulo Maldini has leapt to the defence of Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri ahead of the teams' clash this weekend. Juve have fallen to third in the standings after five games without a win and there has been speculation in the Italian media that a defeat against the Rossoneri at a packed San Siro would spell the end for veteran coach Ranieri.

Weekend Preview

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

The Bundesliga returns following the midweek Champions League and UEFA Cup action, and an exciting round 31 awaits.

Weekend Preview

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

The finishing line is in sight for Barcelona and by this time next week the Catalan giants could win some silverware. Barca have been virtually unstoppable this season but until now they have not had the chance to turn that success into silverware. However, that is about to change as this weekend they could have their first opportunity to win the Primera Division title if results go their way, while next Wednesday they take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.

Weekend Preview

England: Premier League Weekend Preview

Manchester United play host to Manchester City and Chelsea travel to Arsenal in a double-bill of derby day action on Sunday.

West Brom's Premier League stay could come to an end on Saturday if they are beaten at home by Wigan and Hull City take a point or more from their KC Stadium encounter with Stoke City.

Weekend Preview

World Cup bid no joke, Indonesia says

Indonesia’s soccer federation insists its surprise interest in hosting the 2022 World Cup finals is a serious bid, not a novelty. Despite its lack of success on the field, the world’s most populous Muslim nation would be an ideal host and a serious rival to world soccer’s heavyweights, said Nugraha Besoes, general secretary of the country’s soccer federation.

The Joy of Six: Great Defences

From the creators of catennacio to the Arsenal Back Four, Rob Smyth selects half a dozen unbreachable rearguards.

Friday MLS Forecast: Week Eight

The Forecast ponders how MLS might look if it adopted a one-match suspension for persistent infringement before it delves into the weekend's contests.

UEFA Cup: Bremen and Shakhtar Reach Final

Werder Bremen fight back to beat Jol's Hamburg to the Uefa Cup final.

Ilsinho winner puts Shakhtar into UEFA Cup final.

Newcastle and Middlesbrough are sleepwalking to surrender

The teams that know how to fight – Stoke, Bolton, Blackburn, Pompey – have managed to climb to safety but the bottom clubs look barely capable of beating an egg.

Rome ready to defy critics with perfect final

Rome will mount a huge security operation to try to avoid trouble at this month’s Champions League final and prove UEFA were right to award the showpiece to the city. Manchester United and Barcelona will meet at the Stadio Olimpico on May 27 in one of the world’s biggest annual one-night sporting events.

Drogba Disgrace Hip Hop Remix

Spanish Inquisition: The Implications Of Real Madrid's Final Four's Cyrus C. Malek argues that, despite the dashing of Real Madrid's title hopes last weekend, there is still much to play for at the Spanish capital...

Quick Kicks: Fulham’s Clint Dempsey

Ever find yourself wondering what Clint Dempsey's dream boat is? Or what tunes he has on his iPod? Luckily for you, asked the Fulham midfielder.

Well, he is from Texas...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dave Bartholomew: My Arsenal Rant

I hate that United only scored one decent goal and still won 4-1. I hate that we sat back in the first leg. I hate that Eduardo, Clichy, and Gallas were not able to play a part. I hate that John O’Shite scored. I hate Tommy Smyth.

That all said, United are better. They had Tevez and Berbatov on the bench. We had Bendtner and Eboue. They sit 12 points clear of us with a game in hand and we still have to play there and host Chelsea. The gap was only 4 last season, but last season we had Flamini and this season we had Denilson/Diaby/Song. Flamini was no Vieira, but he worked hard and protected the back four and was a perfect partner for Cesc. Last season we had Hleb and this season (pre-Arshavin) we often had Denilson/Diaby/Song/Eboue playing on the right or in the ‘hole’ behind the striker. Say what you want about the all-dribble-no-shot Belorussian, but he could play. I think he’s been replaced now with a better player, but until February and throughout the Cash Cup we’ve missed the kind of player who could break down a defense by playing quick one-twos with Cesc and RVP.

Last year Cesc Fabregas looked fresh, played in 32 league games and had 20 assists, this season he looked tired, played in 19 league games and had only 9 assists. Whether it was too many games and the injury, the lack of a ball winner alongside him, or the lack of a ‘creative’ Hleb type to play with…the captain was not the player we had in 07-08. Neither was Ade. He scored 30 goals in all competitions last season…making the loss of Thierry Henry bearable. This year he has put home only 16 and I don’t care if a few of them were world class, an Arsenal striker needs to be scoring more than 10 goals in the league. If RVP plays in two more league games he’ll break 25 league games for the first time since he arrived in London (26 games in 04-05). He has 19 goals this season which is decent, but for our best attacking player to be so injury prone is perhaps something we can’t afford. I love RVP and his best is probably still ahead (only 25) but he’s never scored more than 11 goals in the league before. The defense takes a lot of blame and yes Kolo and Gallas struggled to deal with set pieces at times. We’ve conceded more goals (32) already this season than we did last year (31). Still, I’m convinced that our situation at the back is not the most pressing issue. Would I like to have the cover that United and Chelsea do…sure…but Djourou, Silvestre, Gibbs, and Eboue are decent enough reserves. When Arsenal last won the title they conceded 36 but scored 87. I’m not saying we can’t improve, but honestly Gallas, Toure, Sagna, Clichy is pretty decent. It’s the other end. Check this:


1 Flag of PortugalCristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 17

2 Flag of FranceNicolas Anelka Chelsea 16

3 Flag of BrazilRobinho Manchester City 14

4 Flag of EnglandSteven Gerrard Liverpool 13

Flag of SpainFernando Torres Liverpool 13

6 Flag of EnglandGabriel Agbonlahor Aston Villa 12

Flag of EnglandDarren Bent Tottenham Hotspur 12

Flag of EnglandKevin Davies Bolton Wanderers 12

Flag of EnglandFrank Lampard Chelsea 12

Flag of EnglandWayne Rooney Manchester United 12

I don’t think anyone needs a hint. The Arsenal don’t have anyone on the golden boot list while our three title rivals each have two players. Even Villa, Citeh, and Sp*rs have a top goal scorer.

I think many will place a lot of the blame on the Togonator here and he deserves some. Still he played a lot of times up top by himself and it had to be frustrating to see his midfield struggle so often to win and then keep the ball. Check out who leads us in appearances:

1. Denilson 48

2. Bendtner 48

3. Sagna 45

4. Song 45

5. Almunia 44

6. Nasri 42

7. Eboue 42

I don’t know how many times we had a midfield of Denilson/Song/Eboue/Diaby but if it was once it was too many. Samir and Theo were better but 13 goals is what we need from each of them, not combined. Vela and Arashavin combined for 12 after all in far fewer games. Denilson started ok and Song finished ok but neither showed me that they could do the job like Flamini, let alone like Paddie. Eboue and Diaby had rare moments of genius overshadowed by far more frequent moments of absolute shite.

We were close in 07-08, but we needed to add a key player to the squad to make up the ground and that was before United added Berbac*nt for 31 million pounds. Instead our midfield was much worse this year without Flamini and to a lesser extent Hleb, I’m glad to see that Arshavin came in and I think he’ll be better than Hechhhhhhlleb, but if we go into next season counting on Denilson/Diaby/Song again then I’d say our chances of closing the 12 pt gap are minimal whether Ronaldoc*nt and Drogbac*nt leave for Madrid and Milan or not. I don’t have any suggestions, but we need a proven CM to play along side Cesc. A talented ball winner will remove the pressure from our D, let Cesc work his magic, and allow the lighter skills of Walcott and Nasri to shine. I seriously believe this one move puts us pretty close to United, Chelsea, and Liverpool. If there is any money at all, we have to spend it here…and of course it does not have to be someone we’ve all heard of. Patrick and Matthieu are perfect examples. It does have to be someone who will come in immediately and contribute. I’d say Arsene’s job is on the line with this. Whoever plays CM next season is going to have to provide something better than what we got this season.

Evaluating Arsene is tough because:

1. He is the reason we have high expectations.

2. Nobody really knows how much he has to spend.

It is not like the Arsenal are in a crisis. We’ve gone almost this long without silverware before. Before Sol Campbell arrived there were 4 straight United titles. This will be the fifth straight season we’ve come up short but we’ve been close in two of those years and we’ve made it to the last 8 of Europe in all but one of those years. Tis only a crisis when compared to United and Chelsea. I’m just not sure that this youth “project” is all Arsene’s idea. Behind all of the take over talk and claims that Arsene has money if he wants it are reports of huge stadium debt and different wage structures than United and Chelsea have. I can’t imagine that Arsene has been offered 30 million pounds for a Berbatov, Torres, or Essien and has refused it. Can you? Maybe he did think he could do better with this squad and if so he deserves criticism for getting it wrong. Still he’s not playing with the same deck that red nose has and Arsene’s margin for error is tiny indeed. If he thought Denilson, Diaby, and Song were good enough…he was wrong. If he could not afford a known quantity…that is a bit different. I don’t really care about who runs the team and therefore where the money comes from, but if Arsene does not have it, how can I hold it against him?

I’d love to buy a top notch striker, winger, CB, and some cover for Clichy and Almunia. That seems unlikely given that the Arsenal just broke their transfer record with 15 million pounds for Arshavin while our rivals spend twice as much each summer. It goes without saying that if we do sell Gallas, Adebayor or RVP then we must replace them. Tis a critical time for the club. Cesc will play for Barca one day and I don’t care how young we are, the window closes for a bit when he leaves. You can’t sell Ade and then spend the money elsewhere hoping Bendtner and Eduardo can cope. If Ade goes, he needs replacing. Otherwise we have two cripples and pink boots left. If Gallas goes you can’t sign a Silvestre type and pray Djourou emerges as world class. The squad might be ok at striker, keeper, and defense, but none of those areas are so strong that we can afford to take a step back.

All of this moaning aside...if we put out a team like this:

van Persie

Denilson Gibbs Ramsey
Diaby Wilshire Simpson
Bendtner Senderos Merida
Vela Silverstre

We could win the league. One great buy (two if you count Arshavin) and no selling and we could be there. The worry is that we won't bring in the player we need and instead will lose Ade, Gallas, RVP and then replace them with more youth. Whether that is the manager's plan or the reality of our financial situation it won't be good enough and either we'll need a new board or a new manager to compete.

Dave Bartholomew
May 7, 2009

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Martin Jol's Hamburg take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their Uefa Cup semi-final against Werder Bremen as they look for their first silverware since 1987.

Hamburg look for Uefa Cup salvation at expense of Werder Bremen.

Carlisle: Bradley's partner in U.S. midfield still undetermined

Positional battles have cropped up throughout Bob Bradley's tenure as manager of the U.S. national team. As the Americans head into a packed summer calendar, the left back slot is still up for grabs, and Steve Cherundolo's injury problems have opened things up on the opposite flank as well. But one persistent problem that has yet to be solved is determining who will partner Michael Bradley in the center of the American midfield.

Damning defeat shows Arsenal, and Arsène Wenger, must grow up

After their Champions League elimination, is it time for the Frenchman to admit that his faith in youth is blind?

Calcio Debate: Who Were Greater – Inter Milan 1989 Or 2009?

The Nerazzurri are almost certain to win yet another Italian championship this season. Carlo Garganese looks back 20 years to Inter’s famous 1989 Scudetto winners, and asks if they were better or worse than the team of today...

Chelsea referee smuggled out of Britain under police guard after death threats in wake of Champions League fiasco

The referee was accused of waving away four penalty appeals during the game against Barcelona and was the victim of a barrage of abuse at the final whistle from Chelsea players, including Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and England captain John Terry.

UEFA Champions League: Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona

The anguished expressions of John Terry and his team-mates at the end were familiar, but this time, rather than a game of Russian roulette in Moscow or a phantom goal on Merseyside, Chelsea’s European dreams were ended by the cruellest twist in the final moments of this dramatic tale as Andrés Iniesta sent Barcelona to Rome with a spectacular goal in the third minute of stoppage time.

Sid Lowe: Dream final is on
Matt Hughes: Drogba loses the plot
Amy Lawrence: Soul searching time for Chelsea
Matt Dickinson: Ref gives conspiracy theorists ammunition
Richard Williams: Chelsea end on a sickening note
Paul Hayward: Messi again fails to match the hype

How Barcelona Rated

How Chelsea Rated

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Nicklas Bendtner finally puts on a show

Arsenal's Nicholas Bendtner shows his class once again. "I may be young, but my actions were a poor error of judgment and something I deeply regret. I want to apologise to the club and the fans for letting them and myself down". He said about his finishing, I mean, night on the tiles.

Gunners fan hangs himself after United victory

An Arsenal fan hung himself following his team's 4-1 aggregate drubbing by arch-rivals Manchester United in the Champions League semi-final, police said.

UEFA Champions League Semi-Final: Chelsea vs. Barcelona

Kick-Off: Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 2.45 EDT
Stamford Bridge, London, England

Preview I
Preview II
Preview III
Preview IV

David Pleat: Key clashes
Sid Lowe: Piqué to carry heavy load

Key Battles

UEFA Champions League: Arsenal 1 - 3 Manchester United

Football is a game played in the present and, no matter that Arsène Wenger may believe that he has the power to speed up the sands of time, history will show these to be years of famine for Arsenal while an insatiable hunger takes Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United to the brink of a glorious fourth European Cup triumph, in Rome.

This was men against boys, United not so much beating Arsenal as teaching them and their manager a harsh lesson about the realities from which they have hidden for too long.

Phil McNulty:
Arsenal's weaknesses exposed

Richard Williams:
Naive lapses leave Arsenal looking to future again

Nigel Winterburn:
Gunners lack guile

Arsene Wenger:
My worst night ever

Patrice Evra:
Men against babies

How Manchester United Rated
How Arsenal Rated

The Insider: Ronaldo puts Arsenal to the sword

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sid Lowe in Spain

It wasn't just the Barcelona press that saluted their team's performance against Madrid as one of the greatest ever.

'Football has a God' as Barcelona put an end to La Liga's title race.

Kevin McCarra: Arsène Wenger carries the hunt for style with force

The Arsenal manager must search for some real heavyweights to end his club's four years without a trophy.

Sami Hyypia calls time on Liverpool career after ten years at Anfield

Hyypia will join Bayer Leverkusen on a two-year contract in the summer after shunning Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City, newly promoted to the Barclays Premier League. He had a medical with the German club yesterday

Americans in the UK: Clean Sheet Record for Howard

Everton’s Tim Howard tied the club record for most clean sheets in a single Premiership season on Sunday, equaling Toffees great Neville Southall. The record was achieved after the Merseyside club dispatched Sunderland 0-2 at the Stadium of Light.

The Rest

Americans On The Continent: Gladbach’s Munich Misery

Michael Bradley and Borussia Monchengladbach saw their hopes of remaining in the German Bundesliga slip even further from their grasp as they fell 2-1 to Bavarian giants Bayern Munich over the weekend.

The Rest

Jonathan Wilson in the Ukraine

Uefa will announce the list of host cities for Euro 2012 next week and everyone wants to keep hold of their slice of the financial pie.

Ukraine's road to 2012 remains rocky as cities face stadium scrap.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Sixty years on from the Superga disaster, football fans revere the team that united a nation.

Legacy of the Grande Torino puts Serie A league position in perspective.

UEFA Champions League Semi-Final: Arsenal vs. Manchester United

Kick-Off: Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 2.45 EDT
Emirates Stadium, London, England

Preview I
Preview II
Preview III

Key Battles

Phil McNulty: Can Wenger fill the gap?
Matt Hughes: Arsenal midfield needs to step up
Oliver Kay: Rio recall is a risk

England: Premier League Report

Aston Villa 1 - 0 Hull City
John Carew restores Aston Villa to winning ways at last

Joey Barton suspended for two weeks after row with Alan Shearer

Newcastle United suspended Joey Barton for two weeks without pay last night after the midfield player clashed with Alan Shearer during the acrimonious aftermath of his red card during the 3-0 defeat by Liverpool.

Eduardo Alvarez in Spain

"It's over", screamed Marca's cover on Sunday. After 18 matches unbeaten, Real Madrid's impressive streak came to a brutal end at their own stadium, at the hands of their biggest rival. Barcelona's overwhelming offensive display led former Real Madrid and Barcelona player Luis Enrique to speak about feeling a "footballing orgasm" while watching the blaugrana play in Madrid.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I've Seen England, I've Seen France, I saw Freddy Underpants

The 2009 Chicago Fire are still unbeaten. "The Unvincibles" as I like to call them, are a hallmark of consistency; we now have 4 straight draws. We can draw after going 2 goals down on the road, we can draw after going 2 goals up at home, we can draw with a man advantage, we can draw when we're a man down. Saturday night's somewhat disappointing 1-1 match with new league darlings the Seattle SuperSounders was just another display of our teams dogged commitment to leaving 2 points on the table. The Drew Careys came to town with a reputation for scoring a ton of goals, and they featured a number of exciting players- USA hero Kasey Keller in goal, team scoring leader Fredy Montero, the league's top rookie (Steve Zakauni) and the main attraction of the evening, cutting edge metrosexual and former Calvin Klein spokesperson Freddy Ljundberg. The Sounders have had a hot start to their season, mostly due to Montero's goals and Keller's net minding; Freddy's been solid but not spectacular, and had just returned to the squad after a return to Sweden due to the death of his grandmother. The Fire have been mired in mediocrity for the most part-- last year's stellar defensive play has been absent, Jon Busch is suddenly dodgy on high balls and his bad decision making at the edge of the area has cost him in the GAA department. McBride has been hot, with 5 goals so far, and Blanco, while morphing into Valderrama clone (running? what is this running?) has been effective spreading the ball around.

The first half of the match mostly belonged to the Fire; The back line played high and John Thorrington and Logan Pause's harrying closed down most of the space for the Seattle midfielders. All of the possession didn't come to much with the exception of a rocket volley from Patrick Nyarko which had Keller beat but came off the post. The second half took a rather typical turn-- Montero was sent off for an elbow to Gonzalo Segares' face and the SuperSounders were forced to bunker for most of the remainder of the half. The Fire kept the pressure up but couldn't add the insurance goal. Late in the match the inevitable happened-- the Fire conceded a corner, which was taken by Freddy in his only significant action of the game. He delivered the ball to the back post were a marking breakdown allowed Tyrone Marshall to volley home what turned out to be Seattle's only shot on goal all game.

All in all 1-1 was probably a fair result -- when given more than 30 minutes with a man advantage the Fire could only muster one goal and the defensive breakdown was similar to what we've seen all year from our back line -- excellent man marking and distribution which is prone to stupid lapses on balls in the air. Seattle played like a Sigi Schmidt coached team -- they were very well organized and for the most part knew their jobs. Impressive for an expansion team, I've certainly seen a lot worse this year (hello RedBull!). The Fire are showing some cracks -- they need to cut down on the mistakes. Tim Ward has been a revelation at RB and Thorrington's switch to a more central role with holding responsibilities has gone well. Having Blanco on the field with no interest in defending, chasing balls or even really running after anything that's not a long ball to him in the corner is taking its toll on the players around him and I think that the extra running everyone's forced to do to cover for him will end up taking a toll. Then again this is MLS and the regular season is nearly meaningless, so perhaps it's pointless to think too much about any of this right now.

Richard Williams: Alan Shearer exposed as a novice in Mike Ashley's hour of dire need

Newcastle were hopelessly outclassed by Liverpool in personnel and tactics as unhappy ending looms.

Cannavaro to Lead Real Exodus

Real Madrid are planning a players clear out at the end of the season with Fabio Cannavaro heading the queue of 12 players.