Thursday, 30 September 2010

English clubs in European clean sweep

It was a clean sweep for the English clubs in the Champions League this week. All four of them won their games.

Perhaps the most impressive result was Manchester United's 1-0 win at Spanish league leaders Valencia. It wipes out the memory of the 0-0 home draw with Rangers, and puts United at the top of group C, with Rangers in second after their 1-0 win over Bursaspor last night.

Arsenal also had a good away win, 3-1 at Partizan Belgrade, and after their 6-0 thrashing of Braga in the opening game, they are in a good position with 6 points, although Shakhtar Donetsk also have 6 points, having beaten Partizan 1-0 and braga 3-0. Arsenal and Shakhatr meet next.

Chelsea were not a their best on Tuesday night against Marseille, but still won 2-0 and were never really troubled. They are top of group F, but Spartak Moscow also have 6 points and the pair are looking good to qualify. All this for Chelsea without the suspended Didier Drogba. They're going to be a real threat for the trophy this time round.

Finally, Champions League newcomers Tottenham Hotspur put Twente Enschede to the sword last night, winning 4-1, following on from their 2-2 draw at Werder Bremen in the first match. There now come two tough matches against Rafa Benitez's Inter Milan who beat Bremen 4-0 last night, having only draw 2-2 with Twente in their first game.

There are some interesting games ahead.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Rooney misses Valencia match

Wayne Rooney will miss Manchester United's important Champions league game in Valencia on Wednesday. He has stayed at home, unable to play due to an ankle injury. Rooney came off the field during United's game at Bolton on Sunday, and immediately had ice applied to his ankle.

Rooney has been out of sorts since going to South Africa with England for the World Cup in June. This season he has managed just two goals: one from the penalty spot for United, and one for England against Switzerland.

Ex-England boss Kevin Keegan said after Sunday's game: "His performance at Bolton tells me his confidence is shot." United only managed a 2-2 draw, failing to take full advantage of leaders' Chelsea's 1-0 loss at Manchester City the day before.

At times Rooney, 24, appears to be trying "too hard", but simple aspects of his game like control and short passing have often let him down in recent games.

Sir Alex Ferguson will want to solve the Rooney problem so that United don't slip out of reach of Chelsea before too long.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Liverpool join Everton in League Cup graveyard

The Carling Cup proved to be the graveyard of some of the biggest names in the Premier League over the last couple of days.

Topping the shock list has to be Liverpool who could only draw 2-2 at home with League Two side Northampton Town, before The Cobblers - placed 17th in their division - knocked out their hosts 4-2 on penalties. The sight of a drenched Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson was evocative of the dreadful result.

This followed the demise of Liverpool's local rivals Everton, similarly on penalties (4-3), at the hands of League One's Brentford - currently placed 19th.

Even Chelsea, the mighty champions of the country - thrashing everyone in their path to date - fell at their first League Cup hurdle, losing 4-3 at home to Newcastle United. From 3-1 down and with only ten men, the Blues battled back to level, only for Shola Ameobi to head the winner as time ran out.

Lesser shocks were Bolton Wanderers losing at Burnley and Manchester City losing at West Brom, but the League Cup once again showed its propensity for promoting lower clubs through its rounds. Weakened teams may be an excuse, but on one could tell me that Liverpool and Everton wanted to lose to their humble opponents.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Is the Carling Cup a route to success for Wenger?

As I hear that Arsene Wenger will retire from his position as Arsenal boss in 2014, I note that he played a strong team in the Carling Cup last night.

Notoriously using the League Cup to blood his younger players in recent seasons - often with great success, including a runners-up spot in 2007 - it seems that the Gunners' boss may have had a change of heart this season.

In a twist of the status quo, it was Tottenham Hostpur who fielded an inexperienced side in last night's third round tie. With Harry Redknapp having bigger fish to fry in this season's Champions League than they ever before, he decided to rest his top players ahead of the weekend's game at West Ham and next week's European game against Twente.

So it was that the Gunners triumphed in the north London cup derby, 4-1 winners after extra time.

May Wenger has decided that the Carling Cup represents Arsenal's best chance of getting their first trophy since being Premier League Champions in 2005.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Chelsea yet to get the credit they deserve

Chelsea rampaged past Blackpool on Sunday afternoon, the game's result in no doubt as early as 1 minute 13 seconds when the Blues opened the scoring.

The champions have now scored 21 goals and have conceded only one in their first five games. They are already four points clear of Arsenal and Manchester United in second and third and seven clear of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in fourth and fifth.

Critics claims that Chelsea have 'only' played West Brom (6-0), Wigan (6-0), Stoke City (2-0), West Ham (3-1) and Blackpool (4-0), but these results are undoubtedly impressive.

There is no doubt that stiffer tests will come and Saturday's lunchtime visit to Manchester City will be the first. However, big-spenders City have hardly impressed to date and, in reality, it's hard to see anything other than another Chelsea win.

Last week's statistics that Chelsea are the tallest and heaviest team in the Premier League surely confirms that they are the most powerful squad. Just look at Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and John Terry as examples of what other teams have to battle against.

Yet somehow, even with the staggering string of league results, following on from last season's 17 goals in the last three games (all wins), it seems that the media darlings are still Manchester United, Arsenal and (believe it or not) Liverpool.

Perhaps some crushing wins by Chelsea against those teams will start to bring them the credit they deserve.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Tennis Live Online

From time to time I come across a website I like the look and this one's for tennis fans.

It's Tennis Live Online.

They provide you with news, fixtures and results for all events of tennis palyer worldwide.
Go there now to find out all the latest news about Rafael Nadal's victory in the US Open.

Manchester United and Tottenham begin their Champions League campaigns

Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur take to centre stage for England in the Champions League this evening.

Old Champions League stagers Manchester United take on Scottish champions Rangers in a game that some years ago might have been (and, indeed, was) dubbed 'The Battle of Britain'. Not so much now. United are such strong favourites that the title is barely worth the effort. Yet fans of the Scots will travel south to Manchester with hope - as they always do - and Walter Smith will be out to conjure an upset.

It is highly likely that United striker Wayne Rooney will return to the team after being omitted from Saturday's team against his old club Everton at Goodison Park for fear of a fan backlash after revelations about his private life. Rio Ferdinand - unavailable since being injured in an England training session in June - may also be in contention. Bursaspor (Turkey) and Valencia (Spain) complete the group.

Meanwhile, Champions League virgins Tottenham travel to Germany to face Werder Bremen who finised third in the Bundesliga last season. Fourth-placed Tottenham - who have not actually won the English league since 1961 - may surpsingly be able to call on Luka Modric, despite fears of a broken leg from Saturday's draw at West Brom. England players Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson are definitely out. It will be a chance for Harry Redknapp (many people's tip for the next England manager's job) to begin to pit his wits against Europe's finest. Twente Enschede (Holland) and Inter Milan make up the group.