Wednesday, July 24, 2019
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  • What makes a ‘Super Sunday’? Not much, according to the producers at Sky Sports. Last week the line-up comprised of Sunderland vs. West Ham and Tottenham vs. Blackburn. The week before Everton vs. Middlesborough and Hull vs. Man City fit the ‘Super’ billing. 

     

    Today’s games come closer to living up to the superlative. First up we have the Manchester derby - a fixture that represents a fearsome rivalry between two halves the former textile manufacturing town. Coupled with this, at board-level we now have the added dimension of Jewish-Muslim antipathy. With pork off the menu expect the prawn sandwich platters to be flying.    

     

  • This season’s top goalscorer looks very hard to pick. Fernando ‘El Sicko Noto’ Torres is already seven from the top, Emmanuel Adebayor is moaning and out of form and Didier Drogba has, it seems, quit the sport to take lessons in vandalism and yobbery.  

     

    We are left with Ronaldo; if he stays fit he will almost certainly finish in the top three. Nicolas Anelka has blazed away and if he remains in the side has a very good shout of claiming the title outright. What a turn around that would be from the 12-yard villain of May. 

  • After scoring a goal, the way in which a player expresses their jubilation says a lot. Africans often demonstrate their athleticism by doing a procession of flips, Alan Shearer’s consistency was mirrored by the perennial palm aloft, and the more morose of souls, such Dimitar Berbatov and Nic Anelka, seem to give scant regard to their feat.   

     

    Goal celebrations can become iconic, such as Jurgen Klinsmann hurling himself head long across the pitch in response to accusations of diving. Romario and Bebeto’s baby cradle is symbolic of Brazil lifting the 1994 World Cup, and Peter Crouch’s robot dance perhaps illustrates England’s disjointed performances under Sven Goran Eriksson.  

  • Listening to the opinions of ex-professionals is an inescapable aspect of sports coverage. They’re there to give you the inside track and tell you what it’s like to be in the athlete’s shoes. Their contribution can be incredibly insightful such as Michael Johnson’s work for the BBC during the Olympics and Nasser Hussain’s analysis of the cricket. At other times, and in one sport in particular, what they bring to the table is of less value.                                  

            

     

    Football coverage is littered with ex-pros. Not only are they studio pundits, but they’re pitch side analysts, interviewers and even commentators. The employment opportunities for retired footballers are seemingly endless. So long as reference can be made to a certain number of appearances, goals or caps then there’s a job for life.  

     

  • New captain Cesc Fabregas got the win he wanted after his vision allowed Nicklas Bendtner to show that he really is a footballer by thrashing home a superb strike to down ten-man Dynamo Kiev 1-0 at the Emirates.  A less than convincing performance, albeit from a very young team, was enough to edge an unpredictably dull encounter.

     

     

    Not that Arsene Wenger will care; a point againstPorto will be enough to top the group having already qualified for the knock-out stages.  Porto themselves are through, beating Fenerbache inIstanbul. Once a rarity, the Turkish giants are now making a habit of it. Losing 2-0 at half time, the indefatigable Londoner Colin Kazim-Richards gave the hosts some hope - false though it eventually was - by pulling one back. 

  • The interminable slog that is the Champions League group stage is finally nearing its end. To no one’s great surprise there has been little in the way of surprises, as all the ‘Big Guns’ look set to qualify at a canter.

     

     

    The best chance of a major casualty is in Group H. With Juventus already through, Zenit St. Petersburg and Real Madrid are battling it out for the second slot. After a poor start Zenit have picked up in recent weeks and tonight host Juve in Russia. As the Italian side have already qualified their dedication to the cause in unlikely to be unwavering – particularly seeing as doing Madrid a favour may well come back to haunt them in the later stages. 

     

  • Quite a remarkable string of results over the weekend saw an impotent "Big 4" draw a collective blank for the first time since 1993. Chelsea, Liverpool & Man Utd were all held to goalless draws, but the big story of the weekend was the result from the Middle Eastlands as Man City trounced a lackluster and shell-shocked Arsenal.

    It was a game which both teams came into with low confidence, City having only taken one point from the previous twelve, Arsenal reeling from a resounding defeat at the hands of Aston Villa coupled with a media frenzy about dressing room unrest sparked by quotes from captain William Gallas no less.
      

     

  • Without all the pomp, ceremony and soundbites that surrounded him, the Premier League has been a far duller place since Jose Mourinho’s departure. Gone are the feuds and the rifts that coursed between England’s top clubs when he was here. To its detriment the league is now a more harmonious place.   

     

    Our loss has been Serie A’s gain as the master of ceremonies has continued his firebrand manner in the warmer Mediterranean climes. One particular target has been his predecessor at Stamford Bridge, the now Juventus manager, Claudio Ranieri.    

     

  • The 'Coca-Cola Kid' may be about to return. According to the admittedly unreliable Daily Mirror, Colin Kazim-Richards is wanted by a host of Premier League clubs, including Manchester City. 

     

  • Sadly, the days of grossly overweight barrels gracing the Premier League may be nearing an end, but I for one shall never forget…

      


     

  • Steve Sidwell put it perfectly. After Aston Villa’s victory last weekend the former Arsenal man left the Emirates with this gambit: “You come to Arsenal thinking you can pick up points." Steve hit the proverbial nail on the head.

     

    What a departure from the ‘Invincibles’ era, when teams were beaten before they even took to the pitch. Lining up in the tunnel and looking across the opposition would see the towering figure of Patrick Viera behind whom stood the likes of Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry. A fearsome prospect.    

      

  • Gone, it seems, are the days when a football shirt meant something. The good ol’ day of yore, when your colours meant more than just which team you supported. When a football shirt was a symbolic representation of class, social status and even religious and political beliefs.  

     

  • Tommorow’s fixture against Germany should prove more interesting than the average friendly, partly due to the interesting choices in the squads personnel with an assortment of unfamiliar faces sprinkled into the squad, and partly due to the fact that we are facing our old teutonic foes.  

  • Steven Gerrard has pulled out of England’s friendly against Germany this Wednesday. The Liverpool captain has cited “a torn leg muscle” that will keep him out for between seven and ten days. 

     

  • It's friday evening and the weekend is almost upon us. Traditionally a time to get hopelessly drunk, Saturday night may see fans of any number of Premiership teams hit the bottle, as a poor result tomorrow could see your club plummet down the table. As it currently stands, the League is as compact as a disk, what with only 3 points separating Fulham in 10th with West Brom at the bottom. An inexplicable woeful performance this weekend for over half the teams in the division may result in them languishing in the relegation zone.



    Supporters of West Ham will have been drowning their sorrows a lot this season as their club reels from one disaster to another. When the 90minutesonline website poll questioned who would be bottom come Christmas, I was the first to cast my vote and went for what I thought was a bold prediction in opting for the Hammers. It seems though that I am not the only one to have spotted the downward spiral trend of West Hams season.

  • Few people know it’s taking place, and even fewer care, but this Saturday marks the final of the U-17 Women’s World Cup. For the past month the young ladies have been plying their trade out in New Zealand inlamentably loose fitting shorts.

     
     
  • No sooner had I finished my article about the flaw I perceive in the FA's rules regarding punishments for celebrating with your own fans, as opposed to antagonising rival supporters, I clicked onto Sky Sports News and witnessed the actions of Didier Drogba.


     

  • So the quarter final stage of the Carling Cup has come around with Chelsea and Liverpool being round four's biggest casualties. The team selections seem to indicate an uncertainty of what the clubs want in this tournament, making for some less than spectacular football.


    Manchester United are another side guilty of this. Ferguson was almost suggesting that his line-up was all youth and b-team but that was not the case. Park, Anderson, Nani and Tevez have all featured heavily in the first team this season and club-captain Gary Neville was also playing.


     

  • I have just finished watching Tottenham Vs Liverpool with my Spurs supporting father. The Redknapp Regime rumbles on apace, as the Lily Whites comfortably outplayed a second string scouse outfit that really looked like they couldn't be bothered playing in the lowly league cup.

     

     

  • Given all the current palava about the respect campaign I feel I need to raise an issue.  

     

    Frazier Campbell scored his first goal for his new club, went over to hug some fans and was promptly booked for over celebration. I'm sure if I were to consult a rulebook, that the letter of the law would state that some infringement occurred that warrants him incurring a yellow, but really, what a load of nonsense.  

     

  • Although of differing magnitude to their last penalty shootout, the result was nonetheless the same. Yesterday, Chelsea were embarrassed by Barnsley, crashing out to the Championship side after a lackluster performance in which they failed to convert their chances.  

     

  • The FA have asked Joe Kinnear to explain his comments after he brandished Martin Atkinson a "Mickey Mouse" referee after Newcastle's loss to Fulham.

    The comment itself seems pretty self-explanatory, but if the FA needed further information to gauge Mr Kinnear's feelings then they only needed to listen to the end of the interview.


  • Andy “Andrew” Cole has decided to hang up his boots at the age of 37. The former Manchester United and Newcastle striker has called it a day after eeking out somewhat of a journeyman existence towards the end of his career. 

  • The end of the year is fast approaching and it can mean only one thing. Yes, it’s time for the nation’s favourite oxymoron: the Sports Personality of the Year.

    With Gary Lineker and Sue Barker presenting, the show is guaranteed to be a platitude-laced laugh-a-minute. Gary's quips and witticisms will evoke polite smatterings of laughter from the assembled sporting elite, as they sit uncomfortably in their dinner dresses and tuxedos, waiting to find out who is Britain’s best/most personable sportsperson. 

  • In yesterday's early kick-off Arsenal managed to overpower the reigning Premiership and Champions League holders, a result that may have large connotations for the remainder of the season. Whilst the result wasn't emphatic it was an impressive marker to lay down, the stats suggest it was close and the game was unusually quick and end to end for one of these types of encounters.

    For the second half Arsenal for the most part effectively quelled Manchester United's attacking potency, with the one major scare coming immediately after Nasri's second goal, when to the delight of the home support he dragged a half volley wide when he really should have scored. In fact the game really should have petered out into a stroll for the home team but there was an incredibly nervous six minutes of injury time after Rafeal de Silva halved United's deficit with a sweet finish, only in these last moments was there a real need for concern accompanied with flashbacks to the horrendous surrender of points to Tottenham. 


  • It was the spectacle that a top Premier League fixture should be: fast, frenetic, end-to-end stuff, littered with chances and moments of individual brilliance. It was Arsenal, though, who emerged victorious from the encounter against Manchester United, and in doing so supposedly answered the critics.

    Anyone who ever questioned whether Arsene Wenger is the right man to take Arsenal forward knows nothing. Any Arsenal fan who doubted him is an ingrate who knows even less and doesn’t deserve the privilege of watching the team play football.


  • Has there been a time when picking the three clubs to be relegated has been more difficult?


  • “Howdy pardner, wanna sign a new contract?” So was the crux of Tom Hicks’ telephone conversation with Rafa Benitez earlier this week, as the American pioneers look to jump on the bandwagon of Liverpool’s early season success.


  • I just watched Celtic somehow manage to not lose to Manchester United on Sky, the Scots utilising an adventurous 5-5-0 formation in the second half. What I will always remember about this one sided affair was piece of commentary from Andy Gray. Great unintentional comedy that you won't see in the BBC quotes of the week section, "Ben Foster has not even been tested in this game, well, apart from an attempt by Shaun Maloney...the little bender". How I laughed. Doubly funny for me, seeing as I don't have much time for Maloney, a Villa reject who managed to get homesick - for Glasgow!

  • It should come as no surprise to hear grumblings of discontent coming from an Arsenal press conference. The Gunners sit six points off the top of the Premier League, having not yet frolicked with any of the other big threesome. They have not won in three and are up against Manchester United on Saturday.

    Today Wenger’s bone of contention centres on the ‘unfair’ treatment his players are receiving. ‘Look at the fair play table. Who is top?’ Opined Wenger. Directing our attention to the one league Arsenal are topping. 

  • Having conceded five goals on their own patch less than two weeks ago, FC Basel managed to hold Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou this time round. The result gives the Swiss minnows their first point of the competition, and represents the first points dropped by Barcelona.

  • Ronaldinho’s winner for Milan against Napoli, late on Sunday night, brought to an end another exciting round of fixtures in Serie A. Jose Mourninho courted the usual controversy byfraternsing with a disabled fan, as Inter won 3-2; and Claudio Ranieri’s Juventus notched up their fourth straight win since beating Real Madrid in the Champion’s League.

    Ironically, whilst in the mid-nineties Serie A was the only free-to-air football on British TV screens, it is now inaccessible. With Sky snapping up the glitz and glamour of the prime Premier League fixtures and Spain’s La Liga, Setanta has mopped up with the best of the rest with the Premiership cast-offs along with the French, German and Dutch Leagues.
  • Being an Arsenal fan has, for the most part, been far more rewarding than soul-destroying over the last fifteen years. I believe that no matter how you come about being a fan of a team, be it through geography or family peer pressure, once that decision has been made it sticks with you for life. This is fairly obvious and is perhaps the modern day form of tribal instincts, your allegiances are decided early on and through whatever trials and tribulations there are, you have a bipolar loyalty towards you team. In fact there is usually more loyalty in supporting a football team (or any sporting team) than people manage in the murky world of politics. It may of been OK for Churchill to swap back and forth from the Liberals to the Conservatives- twice(!), but you would not catch many Liverpool fans becoming an Evertonian during a mid-life crisis.

  • Mr Redknapp is a throw back to the past, coming and going when he pleases and seeking the best deal for himself. He makes no noise about how much he loves the club and its fans, how it is the hardest decision he ever had to make or anything like that. He is simply at Portsmouth one day and managing Tottenham the next.


  • The similarities are striking: both small, bald and power hungry; both the deal makers at their respective clubs; and both have cost Manchester United roughly GBP30m in one fell swoop - Kenyon shelling out GBP28.1m for Juan Sebastian Veron, and Levy hitting United’s back pocket for GBP30.75m for Dimitar Berbatov.


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