All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Posts Tagged ‘frank lampard’

Not My Day…Kinda

Posted by hiphopmama on August 29, 2009

As good as the early weeks of the season have been to me, today was not my day. All the well-intentioned advice keeps telling me to fastidiously separate my subject matter, but fuck it – I watch multiple leagues, so I’m going to write about all of them at once. If you only keep up with one and are offended by my mixing, a thousand apologies. But this is how the day played out for me.

Act I

Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
0-1 Arshavin, 40′
1-1 Rooney (pen), 59′
2-1 Diaby (0g), 64′

Inter 4-0 AC Milan
1-0 Thiago Motta, 29′
2-0 Milito (pen), 36′
3-0 Maicon, 45′
4-0 Stankovic, 67′

First off, fuck your bitch and the click you claim. Wait, that’s Tupac, but it could just as well have been my intro to Manchester United and their showdown with my Gunners, as much as I hate those Red Devil bastards and their gum-smacking manager. Things started out promisingly enough, with an AMAZING strike from Arshavin on 40 minutes putting Arsenal ahead. It really was unbelievable, a good 20+ yards out, and he lasered it into the upper corner of the net while a hapless Ben Foster barely got a hand to it. As sublime as that strike was, the second half went completely in the other direction very quickly. Arsenal had a chance right out the gate to go up two goals when Arshavin slipped past his defender on the left-hand side, sent in a low cross with some pace, and then watched in agony as Ben Foster stuck out a leg to keep out Robin Van Persie’s point blank effort. Not long after that, ManU turned the tables and finally made good on their pressure when Almunia dove in front of Rooney and the Shrek look-alike went down. I know, I know, it was a penalty. The keeper didn’t get so much as a fingernail on the ball, and he made more contact with Rooney than Boruc did with Eduardo. ManU weren’t foolish enough to send Michael Carrick to the spot a second time, and Rooney converted the penalty easily. From there, you sensed it was going to be a matter of holding on for Arsenal, and they just couldn’t do it. Giggs, who had set up the penalty with a nice pass, put a decent free kick into the box, and Diaby inexplicably headed it into his own goal to gift United the lead and the win. I’m still not sure what he was doing – he didn’t get enough on it to be trying to put it over the bar, so I can only assume he either, a) was stupidly trying to head it back to Almunia, or b) had absolutely no idea where he was on the pitch. The second of those seems more likely, but the reason doesn’t matter because the outcome was determined. Arsenal put in some last-ditch efforts to even the scoreline, and they came as close as they possibly could without actually scoring. At the dead end of stoppage time, Van Persie actually put the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out for offside, disappointingly the correct call. There was at least a little comic relief at the end when Arsene Wenger got sent off and then got into an entertaining back-and-forth over how far was far enough away from the action. Not satisfied with his initial departure, the ref ordered him into the stands. From there, he was instructed to put some more distance between himself and his bench, so he walked out to the front of the stands amidst the screaming United fans and smiled and shrugged his shoulders, asking, “Where do you want me to go?” It would have been hilarious had the game scenario not been so painful at the moment.

I couldn’t bear to watch any of the postgame wrap-up or listen to any of the talking heads give their two cents, so I immediately muted it and went looking for something else on my DVR to watch. It’s early, I told myself, and I have plenty of football available to watch to lift my spirits. The Milan derby was today too, right? Against all logic, I still thought AC Milan could pull off a surprise result, and I was bolstered in this belief by the teams’ week one performances. Inter draws 1-1 with Bari, Milan joga’s bonito over Siena to the tune of 2-1, and Ronaldinho was sure to be resurgent again in the pairing with Pato. Right? RIGHT?? Wrong. This one was a drubbing. I’m not sure there’s any point in going through the goals. Suffice it to say that, after a brief flourish of possession and attack in the opening minutes, AC Milan absolutely folded and Inter administered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat. Gattuso was sent off in the 40th minute, which didn’t help matters, but that was only after Inter had scored twice, including one off a penalty Rino himself conceded. After that, two great strikes by Maicon and Stankovic put the game on ice, if it wasn’t already, and left me hanging my head.

I then tried to move on to Real Madrid’s opener, but FUCKING GOLTV screwed up their guide listings AGAIN, causing me to miss the opening 40 minutes of their game against Deportivo La Coruña. Strike three.

At this point, all my hopes rested with Chelsea, who became my number two team in England when I realized a few years ago Manchester United losing was more important than anything else and Chelsea were the only ones with a hope of catching them. They’ve had a great start to the season, and I didn’t foresee them letting me down against Burnley. But then laundry, and cooking, and sweeping, and mopping got in the way and prevented me from getting in a decent result during the sunlit hours of the day.

Act II

Chelsea 3-0 Burnley
1-0 Anelka, 45′
2-0 Ballack, 47′
3-0 Cole, 52′

Real Madrid 3-2 Deportivo La Coruña
1-0 Raul, 26′
1-1 Riki, 30′
2-1 Ronaldo (pen), 35′
2-2 Valeron, 46′
3-2 Lass Diarra, 60′

Finally, with the family returned home, the daughter and husband in bed, and a kitchenful of dishes to do, I flipped on the TV and cued up Chelsea. It took them the better part of the first half to really find their groove (that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), but once they did, they didn’t disappoint. Right at the end of the first half, Drogba broke out down the right and fired low across the face of the goal, setting the table perfectly for Anelka to tap it home from inches out. The second half continued in the same vein, with Ballack scoring on a diving header off a Lampard cross two minutes out of the break. The third goal was the real peach, though, and came off still more lovely passing in the set-up. Ashley Cole, who played wonderfully all game, played a little one-two with Lampard around the left corner of the box. Lampard’s lofted ball found Cole impeccably, and the left back volleyed home a stinger into the top of the net to cap the scoring.

With at least one victory under my belt, I scavenged through all the mislabeled GolTV programming I had recorded to find the Real Madrid replay and sat down to watch my most anticipated match of the new season. Despite all my best intentions, the Blancos have my undying devotion, and even my detesting (to put it mildly) of Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t put the damper on my support. An unrequited love for Raul, Casillas, and Kaka helps in that regard, though, so I was more than ready to get the La Liga season underway.

The first goal showed all the promise of what this Real Madrid might achieve, combining the old guard with the new. Kaka delivered a gorgeous ball, nutmegging TWO defenders to find a streaking Benzema (who may or may not have been offside). The keeper appeared to get a fingertip to his strike to deflect it onto the post, and the rebound fell to Raul to poke it home. It wouldn’t have been so easy had the Depor defense not stopped playing looking for the offside flag, but no matter, Real had a 1-0 lead, and it was beautifully engineered by one of the summer’s big signings. Within five minutes, though, Deportivo equalized over some iffy defending off a set piece and header by Riki. Everything just looked a little loosey-goosey back there, which is to be expected, I suppose, with all the new players in there figuring out the system. After just five more minutes, Madrid reclaimed the lead when Aranzubia brought Raul down in the box and Ronaldo coolly converted the penalty. My hatred dissipated just a tad, momentarily at least, upon witnessing his celebration, which seemed entirely earnest in the emotion he showed at scoring his first official goal for the Merengues. Despite all his pomp and hair gel, he does seem to have a legitimate love for the club and appears to want nothing more than to succeed there, which is enough to make him palatable to me. Barely.

Deportivo wasted no time coming out of halftime, equalizing a second time on a nice strike by Juan Carlos Valeron from just outside the box. Once again, some lax defending left him in too much space and he snapped it past an onlooking Casillas after receiving a nice pass from Guardado. Last season’s stand-out Lassana Diarra finally settled matters in the 60th with a surprisingly crisp hit from the top of the box. He dribbled a bit, created some space for himself, and then fired it past Aranzubia for the third time. It came a bit out of nowhere, with all the millions of Euros standing around watching him, but it secured the three points nonetheless.

Epilogue

So in the end, I finished 2-2 on the day, although that last win was a little uncertain. Still, I’ll take it, especially after how horribly it all started for me, going from awful to horrendous in the Arsenal and AC Milan losses. A big thank you to Chelsea and Real Madrid for helping me finish the 24 on a good note. We’ll see how I fare on Sunday.

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Random Week 1 Predictions

Posted by hiphopmama on August 19, 2009

In a very limited number of matches, there have already been quite a few surprises and the question now becomes whether or not particular teams are as good/bad as they looked in their earliest outings. These are my gut feelings as to which teams are pretenders and contenders at this most preliminary of stages.

  • Manchester United are finally going to fall off their championship pace, but not by as much as many think (or as I would like). I know they’ve looked pretty mediocre in their first two matches, but they are a historically slow-starting team and Sir Alex is a strong enough coach that I’m sure they will eventually settle in and start rolling off games. If nothing else, Rooney will at some point hit a groove and score something like 30 goals in 4 matches to earn them a few points. Will it be enough to keep them at the top of the table? No, but they’ll do better than they should based purely on quality of management.
  • Manchester City will both exceed and fall short of people’s expectations. Now a lot of this depends on whose expectations we’re talking about, but the point is true nonetheless. They will exceed expectations because haters and hypocritically bitter opponents (see Chelsea fans’ “money isn’t everything” banter) are already writing them off as impostors masquerading as the real deal and are predicting middling returns on their investments. While I believe their weaknesses at the back will eventually be their undoing – and while I would love to see them flounder in general – I find it hard to believe that the assembled group of superstars won’t at least mildly improve their fortunes over last year, when they finished 10th. That said, I don’t see them making any drastic jumps in the table, and they will probably be lucky to qualify for a European spot at all. Having splashed out close to £100 million in the summer transfer market, mere qualification will inevitably not satisfy the owners and some supporters, who will have their own ideas about how the money might have been better spent. If a top four spot is in their future, it’s a long-term plan at this point.
  • Last season’s upstarts will be under pressure even if they produce similar results. I expect both Martin O’Neill and David Moyes to be on the hot seat at some point this year, mostly because they got their teams to perform so admirably last year. Everton and Aston Villa secured their positions as the best non-Big Four teams in 2008-’09, but this will be more of a curse than a gift in ’09-’10 as both will be expected to improve upon last year’s performances despite the improbability of this task. Fair? No, not particularly, but I see it on the horizon nonetheless.
  • Tottenham will be all up in the mix. No one doubts that Harry Redknapp produced magic when he took over for Spurs last season, but I fully expect him to continue the upward movement at the club and get the most out of a typically underperforming yet talented squad. Bringing both Robbie Keane and Jermaine Defoe back into the fold will bolster the team, as will the addition (again) of Peter Crouch. They’re currently sitting at the top of the Premiership table, and while that certainly won’t lost, don’t be surprised to see them hovering around the danger zone till late in the season.
  • Arsenal will surprise people with the consistency of their challenge. Yes they’re still young and still a bit iffy at the back, but they are no joke and this year Wenger’s faith in his youngsters will finally start to pay off. In just two games, we’ve already seen improvement from players like Denilson and Song, neither of whom was dubbed as having much potential to rejuvenate the squad last season. Now, with another season under their belts and that much more savvy to draw on – not  to mention with a healthy Fabregas and Arshavin for the full season – they will take their game to the next level. Look for them to be challenging for the title till the bitter end.
  • Chelsea are indeed that good and will likely win it all this year. They finished not far off the pace last season, and that was after a horrendous run under Luiz Felipe Scolari. Now, with a squad almost entirely carried over from last year’s, further time to gel, and (hopefully) some consistency in coaching, they are poised to reclaim the title and bring it back to London. Liverpool only just missed a chance to win the Premiership last season and would have been the obvious choice to hoist it this year had they not last their midfield maestro Xabi Alonso. Without him pulling the strings in the center of the park and making things go, I just don’t see them mounting the same kind of challenge. Chelsea, on the other hand, have essentially the same team they had last season with the potentially key addition of Yuri Zhirkov to bolster an already strong left side that includes Ashley Cole, Florent Malouda, and Joe Cole. Couple that with arguably the strongest central defensive pairing in the league in John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho, as well as a playmaker with metronomic consistency in Frank Lampard and you have the recipe for a Premiership champion. I’m an Arsenal fan at heart, but I believe they’re a year and a defender away from true contention, so a Chelsea title would be the next best thing. Say it with me now: Anybody But United.

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Chelsea-Liverpool Goes the Distance

Posted by hiphopmama on April 14, 2009

Is it over yet?

Is it over yet?

 

Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool (Agg: 7-5)
     0-1 Aurelio, 19′
     0-2 Xabi Alonso (pen), 28′
     1-2 Drogba, 51′
     2-2 Alex, 57′
     3-2 Lampard, 76′
     3-3 Lucas, 81′
     3-4 Kuyt, 82′
     4-4 Lampard, 89′

That. Was. Ridiculous. Going in up 3-1 with a trifecta of away goals and Liverpool’s captain and offensive engine out injured, Chelsea must have felt pretty safe in their Champions League position. John Terry did have to sit out, having reached a suspension-worthy number of yellow cards, but Carvalho was available and both Alex and Ivanovic have been filling in nicely. All they really had to do was hold on. But in a complete turn-around from the typical pattern in this match-up, we saw another offensive explosion with eight goals and countless changes of momentum. 

The first half was all Liverpool as Chelsea looked tentative in giving up two early goals to give their opponents renewed hope. The Blues came out of the break a different team, though, and they were pressing forward from the start. Aside from a couple scary moments in the early going, when Cech looked suspect and Ivanovic had to clear one off the line with his head, Chelsea controlled play for the first 20+ minutes. They hit quick on the counterattack, and Anelka sent a low cross into the six-yard box. Drogba was there to meet it, but in the end it was deflected into the goal by Reina himself, who was visibly upset with himself for a long time afterward. If that one didn’t put it away, the next one surely did, or should have, when Alex absolutely DRILLED a free kick past Reina, scalding the back of the net. It looked to be set up for Lampard or Ballack, but Alex ran onto it and simply kicked the shit out of it, seemingly catching the Liverpool wall unprepared and off guard. And just in case the Chelsea faithful were in doubt, Lampard added another off a Drogba cross in the 76th minute.

6-3 aggregate with three away goals? Fifteen minutes remaining? Easy finish, right? Wrong. Liverpool kicked it into another gear out of nowhere, going for broke and being rewarded when Lucas’ long-range effort deflected off Essien and past Cech. Okay, 6-4 aggregate, still fine, right? Wrong again. Just one minute later, Liverpool scored again, just blitzing the Chelsea defense up the left with Kuyt heading home the cross from Riera. 6-5 now, and one more goal puts Liverpool into the semifinals. Well, shit. It was now officially “oops I crapped my pants” time. Luckily, the nervousness only lasted another seven minutes before Lampard put it well and truly out of reach with a shot that banged off both posts before going in. Liverpool still managed another scare, ruffling Cech and forcing Essien into a goal-saving header, but it was too little and (finally) too late. 

This is always a good match-up but usually of a very different ilk. Everyone was expecting some 0-0 or 1-1 type games, but we were instead treated to a 12-goal explosion that lasted until the very last minutes. It was exciting as all hell, especially to the disinterested observer (if there is such a thing with these teams), but it should never have come to that, at least from the Chelsea perspective. No matter, because now they’re through to the semi’s and set to face Barcelona – gulp – and their brigade of ass-kickers. They can’t feel overly confident about that one, but then again no one was picking them to oust Liverpool either. I suppose anything can happen, and after seeing this I’m both more and less confident about their chances against the Spanish giants. More, because they managed to snuff out a surging Liverpool side. Less, because it happened in such dramatic fashion when there was no need for it. You can bet that if they give Barcelona those kind of chances, the Catalans will gladly take them.

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Tightening at the Top of the Premier League

Posted by hiphopmama on March 15, 2009

  • Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool (Ronaldo 23′ (pen), Torres 28′, Gerrard 44′ (pen), Aurelio 77′, Dossena 90′)
  • Arsenal 4-0 Blackburn (Ooijer 2′ (og), Arshavin 65′, Eboue 88′, 90′ (pen))
  • Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City (Essien 17′)
  • Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham (Jenas 5′, Bent 50′, Carew 85′)

I’m happy to report that all the games of the top five teams went my way this weekend. I already gushed about Liverpool’s thrashing of Manchester United, but Arsenal also gave out a thumping to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, continuing their rejuvenated scoring streak. Their first goal could have been credited to Arshavin, who was its originator, but it was heavily deflected and Ooijer got the distinction of being awarded the own goal. Arshavin did eventually score his first goal for Arsenal, and it was a beauty. He smashed the ball into the top of the net from a ridiculous angle for the game’s second goal. Then, miraculously, Emmanuel Eboue doubled the Arsenal lead. His first was a tap-in off an Arshavin miss, and his second came from the penalty spot after Carlos Vela was brought down in the box. Blackburn didn’t even bother trying to score, instead playing typical Sam Allardyce football, which meant sending everything at Arsenal in WWE fashion. If they were allowed to bring out a steel chair, they would have, along with some tables, ladders, and chairs. I’m not gonna go into the disgraceful tactics or the red card that should have been (yeah fuck you, Diouf). It’s enough to say that the suckers got what they deserved in the 4-0 loss. 

Chelsea was similarly dominant in their game against Man City, but they weren’t able to finish as well as Arsenal. (How often do you say that??) Michael Essien scored his second goal in as many games when Lampard took advantage of some lax City defense with a quick free kick and found the recently returned midfielder at the edge of the box. It did come off his shin, but it was still a superb strike that floated right over the head of the keeper. In the end it was all Chelsea would need to get the win, but with all the chances they had to score they should have added a couple more to their tally. 

Tottenham completed my perfect weekend by knocking off Aston Villa, who can’t seem to buy a win lately. There was a time about a month ago when it looked like Arsenal would have quite an uphill battle to regain their Champions League spot, but Villa sure helped them out by falling off quicker than Chris Brown’s advertising revenue. Jermaine Jenas was responsible for putting Villa on the back foot when he tapped the ball in off Brad Friedel’s deflection of Aaron Lennon’s shot. Villa had plenty of chances to equalize but came up empty-handed, and Tottenham got their second early in the second half when Darren Bent headed home a Robbie Keane cross. Carew’s late header made the scoreline more respectable but couldn’t change the outcome, which saw Villa fall to fifth place behind Arsenal on goal differential. As it should be.

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All Aboard the Gunnercoaster

Posted by hiphopmama on November 30, 2008

Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal

  • 1-0 Johan Djourou (og), 30′
  • 1-1 Robin Van Persie, 59′
  • 2-1 Robin Van Persie, 62′

Friggin’ remarkable. Flippin’ incredible. Effing insane. I’m trying to stop cussing since my daughter will repeat the last word in any sentence she hears, so that’s the best I can do to convey the sheer ridiculousness that is the Arsenal season and this game in particular. They essentially didn’t concede a goal to Chelsea all game and scored three of their own. One of those they happened to put in their own net via Johan Djourou, but Van Persie made up for it by scoring two of his own for the right team. 

Everything looked to be going according to expectations. Chelsea were dominating possession with their beautiful passing game, and they certainly appeared to be the likelier of the two teams to score. That’s sort of what happened when Almunia made a boneheaded play, throwing the ball out right to Chelsea right back Jose Bosingwa. The resulting cross came dangerously across the six yard box, and Djourou slid in to deflect it. That it ended up in the Arsenal net was as much his fault as the goalkeeper’s, which I’m sure Almunia knew. 

The first half ended inauspiciously, and the beginning of the second looked to bring more of the same, with Lampard narrowly missing a chance to put Chelsea up two goals. Instead, Robin Van Persie was the happy recipient of a no-call by referee Mike Dean, who was well positioned but still declined to blow his whistle when RVP received a pass from Denilson in an offside position. Because Dean appeared to be in the right place to make the call,  announcer Robbie Earl (?) made the case that the ball deflected off a Chelsea defender, thus keeping him onside. I’m not sure this qualifies as being “played by” a Chelsea player instead of a teammate, but whatever the case, the goal stood and Arsenal tied the game.

There was no dispute about the second goal, which came a mere three minutes later. Van Persie secured the ball on the edge of the area, made a beautiful turn, and fired an accurate shot to the bottom right corner, seemingly surprising Cech and sneaking it past him. And that was all she wrote. Arsenal did have to hold on the rest of the way, including four minutes of added time, but it wasn’t as much of a struggle as you might have thought and they played steady enough to get the win. 

There have been so many of these dramatic ups followed by abysmal downs that I’m hesitant to draw any conclusions from this game one way or another. But with Cesc now 2-0 as captain, you get the impression this *might* just be the start of something good, or at least something not bad. It still wasn’t the greatest game, but it built steadily on their performance against Dynamo Kiev and hopefully set them up for a streak of good games. If they can continue this progression, inch by inch, they can begin to restore some of the confidence they sent packing over the course of their dreadful start to the season. They can prove their renewed mettle Tuesday in a Carling Cup match against Burnley and then again on Saturday at home against Wigan. Two winnable games that Arsenal must capitalize on if they want to right the ship. I’m betting they can pull it off.

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Strange Week For Premier League’s Big Four

Posted by hiphopmama on November 23, 2008

Talk about bizarre. Aside from Arsenal, who lost horribly to Manchester City 3-0, all the big teams in the EPL finished the weekend in 0-0 draws. ManU drew away at Aston Villa; Liverpool went scoreless at home against Fulham; and Chelsea failed to get on the board at home against Newcastle. So between the big four teams this week, not a single goal was netted. 

There has been some talk about the level of competition in the Prem being generally higher this year and, miracle of miracles, that someone outside of the big four might sneak their way into a Champions League spot. Granted, there have been some nice surprises among the “lesser” teams and the bigs have looked distinctly beatable, at least at times. Arsenal in particular look to be on the verge of a bid for the UEFA Cup next year, and ManU have had a hard time getting results against the top teams. 

Despite all this, any discussion of supposed parity in European football makes me laugh. I know no one expects teams like West Brom and Wigan to be able to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, but the notion that the Grand Canyon-sized gap between the top and the bottom of the league might possibly have closed by an inch or two is pretty comical. Let me get this straight. 75% or more of the top of the table is likely to shake out according to form (AKA dollars), but the possible inclusion of Aston Villa or even – gasp – Hull City is supposed to get me excited? I agree that Hull City’s story is amazing, and I’m definitely pulling for them to upset some people come season’s end, but I don’t really see that going anywhere. All the biggies will just retool, probably siphoning off some of the new up-and-comers’ talent, and we’ll be back to square one next year. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for some more competition in the Premier League. It’s just that, coming from a background of American sports which have at least a semblance of a salary cap, the occasional contention by a dark horse team just doesn’t inspire me. The U.S. hasn’t figured out many curbs to capitalism’s excesses, but sports is one area where we’re light years ahead of Europe. It’s not categorically better or worse, just much more even across the board. From what I can understand from my limited experience, that’s not even really the goal in Europe. You have these huge teams, like Chelsea and Real Madrid and Inter Milan, and they drive much of the action. Smaller teams chafe at them when they steal their talent away with a big paycheck, but I don’t sense much of a blowback from anyone with a serious interest in changing the system. Or to put it more directly, I cannot imagine a scenario in which one of those big teams was relegated.

And that aspect of the European game may be a crucial part of the difference. As the analysts are so fond of noting, on any given week, even the lowliest team in the NFL has a chance to knock off a title contender. Who would have thought at the beginning of this season that Atlanta would be 7-4 while Jacksonville sits at 4-7? Injuries play a huge role in leveling the playing field in the NFL, but a strict salary cap certainly deserves some credit as well. On the flip side, there are no special penalties for having a poor season, besides the general ill will of fans and a decrease in profits. In Europe, however, the consequences are harsh, with relegation to a lower league bestowed upon the lowest three finishers. I can’t fathom how big name teams like the Giants and the Patriots would handle the possibility of relegation in an off year, and I can only imagine they would be equally harried in their efforts to do whatever possible to avoid it. 

That doesn’t capture the whole situation, because even in a desperate attempt to stay in the top flight, NFL teams would have to do so within a salary cap. But with a relegation system in place, the wealthier organizations would have a big interest in lobbying the league to loosen up the monetary restrictions. 

Okay, that was a long aside on the monied interests in European sports, but there it is. Back to the games. The two I saw were much more entertaining than their goalless scorelines suggest. Chelsea blanketed Newcastle in possession, but the Magpies dug in their heels and held on for dear life, only just making it out by the skin of their teeth and a gracious full time whistle. Lampard saw a couple of good opportunities go wayward and Shay Given made a great save or two, but overall Newcastle showed great grit in keeping Chelsea off the scoreboard. Manchester United were similarly frustrated by a surging Villa team coming off an emotional 2-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates last week. Aston Villa posed a little more of a threat going forward than Newcastle did, but they also sat back and dared ManU to get one past them. At one point near the end, forward Gabriel Agbonlahor made a game-saving clearance in the box, indicating just how many Villa players were staying back to defend. I enjoyed this one since I hated ManU and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular. He was full of overblown histrionics in this game, rolling around on the ground and grimacing in pain as if he had lost a limb, only to get up and walk off under his own power all the while complaining to the referee. When he eventually went off with a slight but noticeable limp, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all for effect, as most things are with him. Whenever I watch him, he seems to be playing as if for a highlight reel in his head, picturing how this is going to look on YouTube the next morning. Hence all the useless stepovers and backheels that are entirely unnecessary and unhelpful to his team. When he is in form, he is an absolute joy to watch as he does things with the ball at his feet that few others can, and even a hater like myself can appreciate his talent. But that doesn’t detract from what a pissy little pretty boy he is. I’m sure he spends more on primping and pampering than any girl I know, including those meticulously waxed eyebrows and that perfectly gelled hair. Am I far off the mark in seeing him as Ricky Martin in cleats?

As for the others, I can only tell you what I’ve read. For Liverpool, Fernando Torres’ return could not offset the loss of Steven Gerrard to a groin injury, and the defensive minded Fulham team stubbornly denied them all game. Benitez’s decision to rest Xabi Alonso was a little surprising given the absence of Torres, although he was brought on in the second half, but it was too little too late. And then there was Arsenal. I’d prefer not to talk about it, but if I have to, I guess I’ll just say that the depleted line-up and lack of any momentum whatsoever really caught them up. They were without Gallas after the former captain was stripped of the armband, and in addition they were missing Fabregas, Walcott, Adebayor, and Toure. Confusion at the back resulted in the first goal by Stephen Ireland, and Robinho chipped one over Almunia for the second. Finally, in the game’s dying minutes, Daniel Sturridge nailed the penalty after a poor challenge by Djourou in the box. Arsenal now find themselves out of the top four, just behind Aston Villa and only a point ahead of Hull City. Frankly, I’m surprised it has taken this long, but I don’t see things getting better any time soon. It seems everyone at the team is under fire at the moment, so it will take a while for things to settle back down. A good run of play certainly couldn’t hurt that process, though.

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Wednesday EPL Results

Posted by hiphopmama on October 30, 2008

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham

  • 0-1 David Bentley, 13′
  • 1-1 Mikael Silvestre, 37′
  • 2-1 William Gallas, 46′
  • 3-1 Emmanuel Adebayor, 64′
  • 3-2 Darren Bent, 67′
  • 4-2 Robin Van Persie, 68′
  • 4-3 Jermaine Jenas, 89′
  • 4-4 Aaron Lennon, 90′

I didn’t get to see the match – along with devalued currency, one of the perils of living in the U.S. – but I can certainly say that it’s a disappointing result for the Gunners. There were plenty of storylines here, not the least of which was Harry Redknapp’s second game at the helm for Spurs, and he proved himself yet again with a high-stakes draw secured at the last second (almost literally) when Aaron Lennon put the ball in off the rebound after Modric’s shot bounced off the post. Plenty of yellow cards, mostly for Spurs (Diaby did get one at the very end), and hotly contested throughout. Or so I heard.

Hull 0-3 Chelsea

  • 0-1 Frank Lampard, 3′
  • 0-2 Nicolas Anelka, 50′
  • 0-3 Florent Malouda, 75′

Chelsea got back on the bandwagon after the loss against Liverpool over the weekend broke their undefeated streak at Stamford Bridge. The Blues burst Hull’s bubble, bringing the recently promoted team back down to earth and reminding them how hard it is to compete against this level of competition for a whole season. Hull were tied with Chelsea on points (behind in goal differential) going into the game, but Chelsea were light years ahead of them on the pitch. Lampard’s 3rd minute chip shot set the tone, and Chelsea never really let up. Hull got themselves some good chances to equalize, but the next score came from Anelka in the 50th minute as the half drew to a close. Malouda added the third in the 75th to seal the deal. Chelsea remain in second place, three points behind LIverpool, and Hull drop to fifth, tied at 20 points with Aston Villa and Man Utd.

Man Utd 2-0 West Ham

  • 1-0 Cristiano Ronaldo, 14′
  • 2-0 Cristiano Ronaldo, 30′

Liverpool 1-0 Portsmouth

  • 1-0 Steven Gerrard, 75′ pen

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Some Soccer Notes

Posted by hiphopmama on September 15, 2008

What a debut for Robinho! Except that Man City lost, 1-3, to the clearly superior (if momentarily less wealthy) Chelsea. After a questionable foul call on Carvalho just outside the box, Robinho stepped up and blazed in a direct kick that took a deflection and sailed past Cech. Unfortunately for City, Carvalho scored the equalizer just three minutes later, and Chelsea handled it from there, with a nifty goal from Lampard in the 53rd minute and a hard-earned touch home from Anelka off a Joe Cole pass. It went pretty much according to plan for Chelsea, except that John Terry was shown a red card for reaching out to stop Jo in what referee Mark Halsey dubbed “serious foul play.” It was clearly a card, but it looked more like a yellow to me. Terry will now miss three games, including next Sunday’s match against Man U.

And dammit, can AC Milan get their act together? Kaka’s not in shape yet and maybe they’re still incorporating all the new recruits, but they can’t do better than a 2-0 loss to Genoa with Kaka, Ronaldinho, and Shevchenko up front? Not to mention the interminable list of other big names that fill their roster. Tough times for Carlo Ancelotti, for sure.

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