2007-03-03T20:36:26.650-08:00And no! Surprisingly my tirade is not directed at the political vultures at the top of the blood sucking money making tree that is FOX. My venom is not directed at the political architecture of the network which continues to serenely support the Bush administration by constantly parroting the orthodoxes handed out by the Republican party which have led us into the quagmire of Baghdad and beyond.However, my anger is directed towards one of FOX's sister channels, "Fox Soccer Channel", and more specifically, the Fox Soccer Report, which airs on channel 613 on satellite television at 10pm eastern, 9pm central. This show has ruined the prime principle of soccer broadcasting.This dilemma compounds, what is to me anyway, a fundamental problem entrenched in the roots of this country. American media is incensed with a fixation of advertising by the mass; cramming as much in to as little time possible in order to make the maximum profit. I'm sorry, this simply does not work when it comes to presenting British soccer.It may work with the endless carpet commercials sandwiched between the intervals of your Sunday morning conservative radio talk shows, it may work during the non stop commercials which display legal attorneys encouraging people to sue for an arm and a leg. And it certainly may work during the infamous ESPN show called sportscenter, which successfully transforms baseball and basketball highlights into tiny two minute segments representing only a portion of the actual game. But you cannot marginalize soccer highlights into such short segments, that action represents an unforgivable sin on "the beautiful game".And the pirates that run this show Fox Soccer Report are complicit in this act. They have this wild idea of compiling all the soccer highlight reels from 4 or 5 different countries into a brief one hour segment. This leaves the viewer with a somewhat less than full filed taste in his or her mouth. Showing one clip from a game that lasted 90mins and declaring "the game ended in a tie game" is not the way to report a game of soccer.Even on the few occasions when analysis is permitted (and believe you me, this is rare) the main correspondent, Bobby McMahon, is only provided with 15 seconds or so to either summarize, or preview a game. He often ends up saying "This is gonna be a close game but I see it going this way..." This is simply not nearly enough time to explain the tactics, players, or sheer mental psychology that surrounds international soccer. You have to allow your viewers to understand the emotional pysche of the respective players before a match, and what sort of tactical masterpieces the managers will employ during the match to win the game. Furthermore, I do not think Americans have grasped the concept of "derby matches", these are games which take place between local rivals where the seed of hatred between the two clubs age back 10s, if not 100s of years. Rivalries which make the Packers - Bears rivalry look like a tussle between two spoiled toddlers on a playground!!!!!!!!!!!!So to conclude, Soccer is not Baseball. It does not deserved to be presented as if it were a commercial itself, no, this game deserves more respect. I hope Fox Soccer Channel changes its ways and adopts a more rounded approach when it comes to Soccer coverage. I can only hope that Fox allows Fox Soccer Channel the same adequate analysis time they allow Bill O'Reilly on "The Factor". Hopefully with less advertisements, and a more comprehensive analysis of the games at hand, the Fox Soccer Report may one day enter "The No Spin Zone".(Highly unlikely in our lifetimes, however...)[...]
2006-08-25T20:31:28.366-07:00(image) With the transfer deadline looming, Arsenal FC have only bought one player - Tomas Rosisky. The Czech international joined for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in the region of around £7 Million. This is a notable capture for Wenger; the 25 year old was a star performer at the World Cup... scoring a memorable goal against the USA (YESS!!) in one of the opening games.
2006-07-23T13:50:28.766-07:00It is late July 2006. As I watched the World Cup final earlier this month it was almost impossible to imagine that it had been 4 years since I sat down with my family in our old English house. I can still remember Rivaldo's step over from Kleberson's pass... and Ronaldo's subsequent exquisite finish past player of the tournament Oliver Kahn to seal Brazil's 5th World Cup.Four years on, I found myself in the only country on the planet oblivious to the magnitude of the aura that is global football; the USA. OK, I might be a wee bit apprehensive with that statement; major developed countries like Hong Kong and New Zealand are not completely submersed in soccer, and cricket still rules the roost in most parts of India. But considering the circumstances, it still feels as if you are in the twilight zone being in the Midwest when a World Cup is taking place. It was as if the gravity of the culture shock of being a well traveled British citizen, stuck in rural Wisconsin, had hit home like Zidane's infamous headbutt on Marco Matteratzi.Nonetheless, life goes on, and there is a new football season in England on the horizon. My team, Arsenal, are upon the dawn of a new era as the Gunners enter their new ground, the Emirates Stadium. I will be looking closely at our defensive abilities this season. We had major troubles away from home last season, particularly in Northern England, with the rough em up tactics of North East clubs on our so called "prodigies" who cannot bare to stand one meaty tackle. I think the problems stems from a more scientific, and tactical reason. I believe that our defensive qualities must improve if we are to go to places like Blackburn, Everton, Man Utd... and get the desired results. The loss of Sol Campbell is a body blow for the gunners, and we have yet to sign a major force for our brittle back line from Europe lush transfer market as of yet. Unless this happens, I fear it will be an ongoing struggle for the Gunners, and we will not compete with Chelsea or Man Utd for the top places, it could be another 4th/5th placed finish for my beloved Gunners.One player to watch out for this season, in my humble opinion, is Aaron Lennon of Tottenham and England. I believe he is one of the best in the world at the moment on the right flank, and he is the man Mclaren should use again Greece on the right flank. He is quick, speedy, has great acceleration, and is gaining experience. Also, towards the end of last season it did seem as if he was gaining a better first touch, and his finishing abilities leave nothing to be desired either. I would love to see Martin Jol use him behind Berbatov (Tottenham's new summer recruit) in a free roll to torment opposition defenses like the way Ryan Giggs sometimes played for Man Utd behind Ruud Van nistlerooy.I see positive outlooks for Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man Utd. I think Chelsea will get off to a blockbuster start again (winning 10 of their first 13 games) and with that impregnable start to the first third of the season, they will be champions. Mourinho has identified Stanford Bridge as a fortress, which at this present moment in time is indomitable (only Charlton picked up a point at Chelsea last season..... unreal). Man Utd have not made many noises in the transfer market, their prodigy RVN seems destined to leave for either Bayern or Chelsea... and the aging Scholes and Giggs do not seem like the players they were this time 3 or 4 years ago. Liverpool have been the most active in the transfer market, on both fronts, bringing in players like Gonzalez and Bellamy, but letting the likes of Cisse and Hamman leave. Rafa's revolution continues, expect them to be closer to Chelsea and Utd next season in the race for the title; Bellamy is the man who could replace Michael Owen. He has all of Owen's positive attributes and in my honest and humble opinion, on his game, is a better player than O[...]
2006-06-25T22:38:16.170-07:00What is that one movie... "The quick and the dead". The World Cup is starting to remind me of the theory behind that film in a metaphorical sense... and in my opinion this is detrimental for the current state, and future of international football.Today's explosive game has brought the issue to the fray, though the whole thing has been boiling steady since the tournament began in early June. The two instances that previously caught everyone's eye occurred in the Croatia Australia game (when Graham Poll failed to send a player off after showing 2 yellows) and then in a contradictory rather violent fashion when Italy played the USA, and three were dismissed, 2 (both Americans) were shown their marching orders in highly suspicious circumstances. Moreover, the referee from the USA Italy.. "brawl", Jorge Larrionda, was suspended in 2002 from officiating because of improper conduct. How can FIFA allow such preposterous errors to occur when the fate of nation's future footballing destiny is at stake? Larrionda clearly should not have sent off Mastroeni because there were tackles as such flying in left right and centre during that game. If that tackle warranted a red card, there probably would have only been Keller and Buffon left on the field of play.... disgraceful!Poll's performance in the Croatia game is... forgivable (at best), but Valentin Ivanov's horror show of a performance in today's round of 16 game was almost laughable. Such was the magnitude of disbelief surrounding the countless cards being dished out by the ruthless Russian, Deco (dismissed in the 78th minute), was seen confiding with his fellow Barca teammate Van Bronckhorst (who was ejected in the 90th minute) over the reasons behind their respective Red cards. Did Mr. Ivanov think he would get his Christmas cards sent out early? It certainly seemed the man from Russia was not offering "any love" between himself and the players. He was more "trigger happy" than a hunter and the beginning of hunting season... in total the four red cards set a new tournament record, surpassing the three dismissals which occurred in the matches between USA and Italy (2006), Denmark and South Africa (1998), Brazil and Hungary (1954) and Brazil and Czechoslovakia (1938). Also, the number of yellow cards equaled the World Cup record which was set in 2002 when Germany played Cameroon!Now surely, common sense is needed to be placed in abundance when a Referee takes charge of a game this massive. Not withstanding, there is a recent history between these two teams, Holland have not beaten Portugal since 1991 and the Dutch were eliminated by the Portuguese in Euro 2004 (also to a fabulous strike by the mercurial Maniche). Honestly... the official should not have acted in such a way that degragated the quality of what was a potentially brilliant game, which rather was twisted into a slug fest in which both sets of players frequently clashed in unnecessary fashion. In truth, if the two teams had possessed a greater "historical" rivalry - like the one that exists between the Dutch and the Germans - Mr. Ivanov could have caused a riot with the way he dealt with today's game.... it was that shocking!I for one echo the post match comments of FIFA President Sepp Blatter that "the referee himself deserved a yellow card". I personally believe that FIFA is partially to blame in their appointment of such dreadful officials, and for their remarks before the competition began about referees taking a harder line on players who foul/cheat on the football pitch. I believe that too many yellow and red cards ruin the spectacle of, what is undoubtedly, the greatest show on earth. Enough of the yellow and red "confetti", and more of the main course (a fantastic football match), bitte, Herr Blatter!source =www.bbc.co.uk/football[...]
2006-06-16T10:11:29.980-07:00Undoubtedly the most scintillating performance of the World Cup so far! I personally thought they were terrific against the Ivory Coast, whereas others thought otherwise. As a result of their "six" against Serbia and Montenegro - I am going to analyze what makes this Argentina team so good.I think we are starting to see the benefits of the youth policy that exits in Argentina. People forget, this is the team who won the Gold Medal at the Olympics in Athens in 2004. I think there has been a great benefit, since their awful showing at 2002, at dropping the likes of Ortega, and Batistuata, and including the likes of Messi, Javier Mascherano, and Carlos Tevez. There is a great technical level to Argentina's play. They enjoy playing through the middle and using width through their full backs. They have a fantastic, what I call, "tripod" in attack of Crespo, Saviola, and Maxi. The key to their attacking success is the ability of Saviola and Maxi to drop back into the final third and join in with the play, so they can turn, and allow the likes of the full backs and Crespo and other midfield players to bomb forward. This was perfectly illustrated for Argentina's second goal - in which he combined with Cambiasso - a truly devastating strike which may go down as one of the greatest goals in World Cup history! Additionally - the fact that both Maxi and Saviola have great ball control and passing precision - means that their attacks are normally fluid and rapier sharp in accuracy and precision. Compare this to England - who struggle to join the strikers and the midfield - you have the exact opposite with Argentina.This could not all work without the intelligence of Crespo. He reminds me personally of a Robbie Fowler in his time - except with greater power and presence. He "comes alive" around the penalty box, the perfect combination of an artist and a predator. He has the ability to come back all the way to midfield and link the attacking minded players with himself. He also has a perfect sense for being in the right place - at the right time. He times his runs deep into the box to perfection - and is normally poised to strike from rebounds/deflections around the 6 yard box. He is the definition of a complete striker. In actual fact - if he possessed the pace of an Henry or an Eto for example - he could be the greatest striker in the world... Not forgetting Riquelme. He glides through games as if he were a hawk soaring through the sky. The Villarreal playmaker makes the game look effortless. In truth, the Serbs gave him an absolute of Eternity of time on the ball and this is criminal. His passing is accurate and penetrative - his eye for a pass is second to none, and his ability to slowly prowl forward like a panther and inter-act with the attacking minded players is like watching an expert pack of lions hunt down a herd of bewildered Zebras. People cannot live with Riquelme when he is playing well; when he is on song you are in trouble. Man marking him is crucial because he is the ignition... the oil in the engine for Argentina. He makes things flow and lubricates the midfield.At the back, they have the experience, power, and strength of Heinze, Ayala, Sorin and Burdisso. All these players have premium experience at the top level in Europe. Bang around the names of European superpowers like Barcelona, Lazio, Manchester United, Valencia, Juventus..PSG - these players have all competed with those premium European teams. The experience and know - how of Ayala is crucial - a man who has been around since 1998, famously skinned by Owen in St Etienne against England, he is the leader of a defence which relies on his dominance to keep the opposition quiet. Their goalkeeper - one of the few in the starting line up to play in South America ([...]
At the beginning of August, I told all Arsenal fans that Arsene Wenger's failure to invest in new players (and canny knack of getting rid of world class ones) meant Arsenal were going to have a tough, long year. A quick peek at the Premier League table, and a glance at the contract situation with the record breaking, mercurial Thierry Henry, proves the point that Arsenal might in fact be in a decline, rather than a transitional period.
First of all, the sale of Vieira to Juventus was the first mistake. As Alan Hanson pointed out in his analysis on the BBC website, "It has done as much damage psychologically, as it has on the footballing side". I agree with this 100 percent. The old wise men in the dressing room (the likes of Pires, Henry, and Campbell) will look at the departure of the former skipper as potential "get out clause" should the club continue to falter in the middle of the Premier League table. This could also spark a mass exodus, and the likes of Reyes, Van Persie, and Cole may follow suit. A terrifying prospect, which might leave Arsenal hoping to avoid relegation, rather than challenge for honors domestically and abroad.
It is Wenger's biggest challenge since he arrived at the Highbury outfit in 1996. To be honest, this day had been coming, and every Arsenal fan knew it. The only irony was that this summer, the speculation on Vieira's departure was almost non existent - compared with those other long, protracted summers where the Real Madrid rumors were intensified to near boiling point. In Arsenal's case, lightening struck unexpectedly without the thunder clouds in the horizon. I say that because the euphoria that existed after beating Man Utd in the cup final, and there was also the added incentive of the football the Gunners had displayed over the 4 months preceding the end of last season, which took them back as the only team who were within a yard stick of all conquering Chelski.
All that was a marvelous achievement, and constituted another successful season for Wenger; albeit mediocre. Nonetheless, the performance against Manchester United in the cup final, and the shambolic performance away from home against Bayern Munich, combined with no ambition in the transfer market are the factors one should have highlighted last season. These were small warning signs that Arsenal were facing a bleak, dark period in which results, and good performances would be both shocking and absent in equal measure. The result, and performance against West Bromich Albion proves that theory to a tee. True, the pressure on Wenger's player to help their respective nations qualify for the World cup have contributed to an injury list as large as Chelsea's budget, but that is not an excuse. Greater investment over the summer was needed, and the man with the magic hat did not provide it.
A high flying Manchester City arrive at Highbury this weekend, Arsenal fans will hope Henry's return will provide the ignition needed to get the season kick started. By the looks of things though, Arsenal need the equivalent to a NASA space shuttle in cape Canaveral to launch their chances of catching Chelsea come the end of the season. All Arsenal fans are waiting anxiously for that lift off!
2005-09-04T20:18:04.710-07:00Passion, Pride, grit and determination. These are some of the essential qualities that the British press believes that Sven lacks in order to succeed as the England Manager. Little do they know that the problem does not lie in the lack of fire within the "gaffer" himself, but in the technical ability of the players he has on hand.I distinctly remember after Euro 2000, and Alan Hansen was asked by the BBC why England were knocked out. His response was blunt, simple, and brutally truthful. They're just not good enough. And that is the truth. English players are just not good enough. I am not saying that any one of the English players in the squad are not good players, but they are not all great players. This is much more important than a fiery tempered manger who gets the Tea Cups shaking in a half-time team talk.If you look at the premiers, and you ask yourself who are the most technically gifted players, they are all foreign - in my opinion. People like Henry, Makelele, Pires, Gilberto, Okocha, Zenden, Robban, Duff etc... These group of players possess more skill, flair, and technical ability than most English players. For years, the British strength in Europe was hard work and determination. Now, European nations have that installed in them just as well as British players, and I think England has fallen short when it comes to the rest when you talk about craft, skill, and ability. Also, if you look at the England team, I can only think of one player who is comfortable on both sides (left and right) and that is Paul Scholes - he is retired from international football.True, there are some great individual performers in the team. Wright Phillips is an excellent player, but he does not have that extra something special that the likes of Ronaldinho, Zidane, and Figo have. One of the biggest flaws in English players is the absence of someone who can operate on the left hand side of midfield. The one man who could have done it for my money, Scholes, has quit. England do not have somebody who can fill the void on the left hand side of midfield. Great international teams either have somebody in that position, or they integrate a quality right footed player who can come in on his right foot and deliver adequately on his left if needed. England do not have this. It is that simple.So when you talk about an English manager making a difference because he "understands what the public demands" with regards to showing compassion from the touchline and the press room, that is just utter rubbish. We seem to have completed a 180 degree turn in 5 years. 5 years ago, the public demanded someone who could communicate with the players with a more astute and intellectual manner, as apposed to the gung ho, all out stle that King Kev deployed amongst his players. And let's be honest, this whole fiasco about the players having power, the same has been said before. The rumour was evident in 1990 in the Robson era, and again in 1998 when Hoddle dumped Gazza from the squad, and in 2000 when Keegan stuck with a "lifeless" and dogmatic 4-4-2 formation that opponents read far too easily.Furthermore, I do not think that the majority of the English managerial contingent is experienced enough abroad to manage the national side. Curbishley, Allardyce, Pearce, and Bryan Robson have never tasted European soil as a manager. Mclaren on the other hand has - but appointment would be unwise considering the inevitable hangover from the Erikkson era; the players would be unlikely to respond to Mclaren because of his previous connections with England. Someone brand new would be best suited if Sven does leave in the not too distant future.My Perfect choice, Sir Alex Ferguson. He would probabl[...]
2005-08-26T13:12:11.290-07:00Not exactly the most welcoming of faces in the world (picture on the left). That is the face Michael Owen would be welcomed by if he somehow idiotically decided to join one of England's worst clubs which seems set for a dodgy relegation battle this season. So, if you were to ask a 25 year old earning big bucks and playing at a club that lets you soak in the Spanish sun 75 percent of the year to change all that to join a damp rainy city of Newcastle and every footballer's managerial nightmare (Souness), the response would normally be immediate and assured. Thus, the silence and denial of Owen's Representatives from a confirmed £18 million pound approach from Newcastle is totally understandable. I for one could not understand why Owen would go to a club that is not in Europe, near the bottom of the Premiership, and has two of the most unpopular people in the club at the helm, Souey and Shepherd. The irony about the arguably comical situation at the Northeast club is that both Freddy Shepherd, and Graeme Souness, are in a catch 22. If Shepherd were to sack Souness after a run of 1 win in 13 premiership games (and a disastrous start to the season) the Newcastle Chairman would probably be ridiculed by the Toon faithful for appointing the high-tempered Scot in the first place. On the other hand, if Shepherd allows Souness to continue his work (or lack thereof) at the club, then the Toon Army could be spreading their good will in the Coca Cola Championship. Souness has a similar simultaneous sort of dilemma. He could resign, but then he would face the barrage of the press and fans that he was at fault for Newcastle's decline, and he would leave a colorful career with a dampened reputation. However, if he stays at Newcastle and the downward spiral continues, he will face the utter embarrassment of taking a club that had qualified for the Uefa Cup in the 2004-2005 season, into a relegation dogfight - and the sack would surly follow. If you add all those worrying facts into the melting pot, a dangerous mix follows. A mix that a striker of Michael Owen's caliber is not worhty of. I am positive that the England striker would rather spend the majority of the season on the bench with Madrid, as apposed to starting every game at a club that is in real limbo as to whether they stay in the top flight or not. Furthermore, Newcastle's lack of width after the sales of Laurent Robert and Craig Bellamy (both after fall outs with Newcastle's under-fire manager) would not help Owen in search of goals. Although Owen is a great player, every striker needs ammunition, and I do not see enough creative quality at Newcastle for Owen to get a decent goals tally. Some more food for though for Owen would be Souness' man managing skills. The Scot seems to have a worrying nack of following out with a football club's best players, Bellamy, Robert, David Dunn and Dwight Yorke are to name a few of who Souness has shown the boot because of bad relations. Michael Owen probably does not want to go through a similar sort of turmoil - he is a decent player - and Souness has an ugly habit of getting rid of good players.Also, Liverpool seem set to begin negotiations over a possible return for their prodigal son. Liverpool Chief Executive gave a big hint to the Sun yesterday by saying he would "keep his fingers crossed" over a possible move. Also, Liverpool seem set to sell Cisse to make way for Owen, the Frenchman joined the club for a record £14 million pound from Auxerre in 2004.Who's your Daddy Michael? Would you prefer the sunshine of Madrid, coupled with the security of fellow England captain David Beckham. Or would you rather make a swan[...]
2005-08-23T14:09:38.036-07:00I was a disgruntled Arsenal fan watching his team lose to Chelsea on Sunday. Arsenal's first loss at Stamford Bridge for 10 years had a certain inevitability about it when Drogba, the first of a £72 million pound bonanza of substitutions who was introduced at halftime (which included new 26 million pound man Mikel Essien), scored in the 72nd minute. In truth, Chelsea are a wee bit stronger than Arsenal.It does hurt admitting that, but Chelsea have invested deeply in the past, and not been successful. In-fact, had Roman Abramovich not brought his Russian billions to the London outfit, they could have possibly been facing administration, they were in debt up to their eye-balls - the dream of lifting the premiership trophy looked more realistic in 2055, 100 years after their first league crown, rather than the 50 year exile which was ended so emphatically by Mourinho at Bolton in 2005.How times have changed. Now Chelsea's players are seething with frustration at 2 semi final appearances in the Champions League in as many seasons, and are aiming to emulate Arsenal as the best ever Premiership side by going an entire season unbeaten. Sunday's game was proof of that, Arsenal's invincibility against their London rivals was extinguished with a less than convincing victory which saw Mourinho keep his calm and Wenger vent his anger.For the long term, the consequences of the result are unknown. Arsenal have bounced back in the past from serious disappointments, in 2003 they surrendered the league to Man United, but then responded with an unbeaten season. One must not forget about what happened last season when Arsenal lost to their biggest rivals (Man Utd), they collapsed, and only took 5 points from their next 6 games, which probably cost them a shot at the title last season. If the latter is true this season, (if History repeats itself again) then the Gunners can forget the title.Despite the horrific statistics against Arsene's players, Wenger still professes that the only thing that his team is not doing is failing to realize their potential. If this is true, then are Arsenal's players waiting to prosper like a bunch of All star chickens at a farm that are not hatching eggs? Forgive the analogy, but if Wenger continues to stress that breeding players of youth is all that he is interested in, then what will happen to the groomed professionals like Henry, Ljungberg, Pires, and Sol Campbell? Will they get a bit fed up of people reminding them that they are in their late 20's, as apposed to their late teens? Will they begin to question the club's ambition? Will they follow Patrick Vieira out of the Arsenal trap door for forgotten stars who are frustrated with the clubs lack of growth and consistency in success.These questions that infuriate Arsenal's bewildered looking manager will continue as long as the quest for perfection goes on at Highbury. Yes, Wenger was talking up a perfect game ahead of the Chelsea clash, a perfect game that consisted of "4 chances", and an absent minded Swiss defender, and finally a cruel deflection that should have never happened because it is a sin to give your opponent the opportunity to have luck. Yes, I am confused too, some perfect game.We will all have to wait and see how they respond against Fulham on Wednesday night, but Arsenal will have a monkey on their shoulder after the lethargic performance against Chelsea, in seasons gone by, that has ultimately been their downfall. Let's hope that this season's traditional lethal injection has come too early to cause the deterioration which has previously ended Arsenal's chances of contending for t[...]
2005-08-18T16:42:29.253-07:00I was listening to the radio the other night, and I heard that Arsenal's titanic clash with Chelsea on Sunday will be Arsene Wenger's 500th match in charge at Arsenal. I was immediately astonished and bewildered that the Japanese speaking Frenchman had been around that long!If every picture tells a story, it is perhaps fitting that the picture on the left hand side has nearly 500 wrinkles to match the predictable stress and strain that would naturally accompany 500 games in charage. There are therefore some questions to be answered after his unprecedented reign at the Gunners. How far has he taken Arsenal? When/where, if ever, did he go wrong? And finally, what does the future hold for the modern version of Arsenal in a new blockbuster 60,000 seater stadium?Without question, no human being can argue that Wenger has transformed Arsenal into a neo-futuristic modern club brimming with over sea's talent. Wenger had work to do when he arrived at Arsenal all those years ago in 1996. He has a defence that was only just beginning to age, a superstar striker in the form of Ian Wright, and one of England greatest disappointments Paul Merson in midfield. Wenger clearly did not feel that the English contingent at Highbury was the way to go, although he did not eradicate the spine of Bruce Rioch's Arsenal immediately, instead he slowly bedded in a new team with an international flair. Throughout the mid to late 90's, Wenger brought in unknown superstars such as Patrick Vieira, Marc Overmars, Nicolas Anelka, and Emaneul Petit. Wenger stuck with England's infamous old guard, which only conceded 17 goals in the 98-99 season and truly that is year that certain back four of Seaman, Adams, Keown and Dixon and Winterburn reached their peak. During that spell, Arsene worked his magic and Arsenal won the League and Cup double in 97/98, wrestling the power away from Old Trafford to infuriate a seemingly impregnable Alex Ferguson and his gutsy Man Utd side. One of Arsenal's best ever performances came in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford in 98 when Overmars struck to swing the pendulum in Arsenal's direction, helping them clinch the title later that year with a virtuoso 4-0 demolition of Everton in which Tony Adams struck his picture book left foot volley to round off the scoring.Although Utd went on to dominate the late 90's and early 2000's, Wenger was not quite done polishing his Arsenal side. I for one believe the sale of Anelka set Arsenal back slightly in their quest for Silverware, but in 1999 an unknown Thierry Henry arrived from Juventus. It had been Wenger's plan and dream to partner the two Frenchmen, but that plan failed when Anelka left for a whopping 20 million pounds to Real Madrid in 1999. Had Wenger partnered the two, only the football gods themselves may know where Arsenal could have gone (Henry is 27, and Anelka is still only 26).But during the 99-2001 period, Arsenal fans endured some horrific results and performances (and worst of all, no real silverware) from an Arsenal team undergoing a significant transformation. One such result was the disappointment at Bradford City in 2000 when they lost 2-1 to the Bantams. I remember listening the five live in the car and I was totally ashamed. Another Arsenal performance to toss in the "I don't remember that" category was Arsenal's 4-0 whopping at Liverpool in the same year. But none of those annihilation's come close to matching the look on Wenger's pale shell shocked visage after the 6-1 mauling at Old Trafford. In that particular fixture, Arsenal had beaten Man Utd at home earlier in the campaign, but D[...]
2005-08-17T08:07:07.836-07:00(image) I was reading BBC sport online and I found a delightful article by Johnathon Stevenson which points out why football should take a back seat to the Cricket which currently has England on the edge of their seats at the moment.
2005-08-15T22:54:25.313-07:00Wow! What an opening weekend of Premiership football we were all treated to. I obviously would like to highlight Arsenal's tame performance against Newcastle, it was enough for a win after referee sent off Jermaine Jenas, but he has since downgraded that card to a yellow. Personally, I hate when players get sent off, I think it ruins the pattern of the game, it is like taking a jigsaw piece out of a Rembrandt - sending someone off needlessly ruins the grand spectacle that is a Premiership football match. On a lighter note, Arsenal will need more killer instinct if they are to shoot down other teams more successfully this season; Newcastle's Magpies aren't exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment.A good word for West Ham, who bounced back emphatically to the Premiership with a 3-1 win over Blackburn. Sherringham is 39 and will be 40 when the season ends, and he is still one of the best players on any football pitch he plays on. Is he a bad tackle away from collapsing on stage, or has he been watching too much Peter Pan in his twilight years? Whatever the case, I believe Sherringham could still do a job for England. With Scholes gone, there is no longer a creative link between the midfield and the strikers - that is what the golden English Lion does the best.Man Utd eased past Everton 0-2. The atmosphere died in my opinion after Van Nistlerooy scored, Everton never recovered from going a goal down. That is going to be Everton's problem this season, the 4-1-4-1 formation is brilliant if you score first and then defend, but conceding first then rescuing the game makes life difficult because it is difficult for a side with limited resoucres like Everton to change mentality so quickly in a game. I do not think their success last season was a fluke, but replicating the trick this time around will be twice as hard due to other team's knowledge of their tactics, formation, and players. And let's not forget Wigan. Watching them tame Chelsea's multi million pound greyhounds to a leash for 92 and a half minutes was pure entertainment for an Arsenal fan, but Crespo's killer strike at the death brought everyone in the JJB right back down to reality. That reality being that no matter how hard you pound any team in this league, no result is certain until the fat lady sings her final whistle. Wigan could hear that whistle in the distance on Saturday but Mourinho's men made sure there was still time for an encore of the Chelsea of last season - win it late away from home 0-1! I, like every other true footballer lover in the country, felt for Wigan, but as I have found out many times in football and in life, nice guys finish last. It was like watching a classic Shakespearean Tragedy.Don't forget, Chelsea's rich boys play Wenger's "Vieiraless" Arsenal on Sunday, both have points to prove, and points to earn.Opening Weekend ResultsWest Ham 3 Blackburn 1Sunderland 1 Charlton 3Portsmouth 0 Tottenham 2Middlesbrough 0 Liverpool 0Man City 0 West Brom 0Fulham 0 Birmingham 0Everton 0 Man Utd 2Aston Villa 2 Bolton 2Wigan 0 Chelsea 1Atsenal 2 Newcastle 0[...]
Portsmouth Boss Alain Perrin knows that this will be the time when people will be judging him, he did well to steer Pompey away from relegation last season, but now will be the time for Pompey to perform. New signings like Andy O'Brien, and Laurent Robert from Newcastle will add strength, depth and experience to the squad, and we will surely learn more about the style of football the Frenchman will want to adopt on the south coast.
Spurs enjoyed a transformation under Martin Jol, and Edgar Davids is a signing that certainly could not have been dreamed of when Tottenham were dangling near the relegation zone the season before last. Jol will want his team to gel, and there is talk of the Champions League at White Harte Lane. Pompey play very well at home, and Spurs do not travel well, expect Pompey to come out on top.
My Tip: Portsmouth 2 Tottenham 1 (Expect the Pompey chimes to be ringing on Saturday)