All Balls Don’t Bounce

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

Posts Tagged ‘gary neville’

Better All The Time

Posted by hiphopmama on August 19, 2009

jensen save

Burnley 1-0 Manchester United
1-0 Blake, 19′

This one was sweet. I’ve been waiting upward of three years for someone other than Manchester United to hoist the Premier League trophy, and it seems this may finally be my year. He would never admit it, but Sir Alex appears to have thrown in the towel on the season already, accepting the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez with little more than a whimper of protest and little done to remedy the squad depletion it caused. Michael Owen? Okay, that’s cute and all, but no one, least of all Sir Alex, expects him to fill the boots of CR7 or Tevez. And with the team’s cadre of veterans racking up another year on those old bodies, you have to wonder how players like Giggs, Scholes, and Neville will hold up over a long, grueling season without a player like Ronaldo to lean on during dry spells.

All these weaknesses and more were on display in their match against Premier League newcomers Burnley, whose hometown population apparently would fit inside of Old Trafford in its entirety, according to the game announcers. That is a nice bit of perspective for the upset they pulled off, as is the fact that they hadn’t won a game in top-flight football in 33 years. Robbie Blake’s lovely volley gave Burnley the only lead they would need inside of 20 minutes, but goalkeeper Brian Jensen had just as crucial a role to play in the victory. His stop on Michael Carrick’s penalty just before halftime buoyed the team and gave them the will to hold on by their fingernails to the slim margin and keep ManU off the scoresheet. He made a few more key saves, and his defense scurried around just enough to put United off their rhythm, so that even the substitution of Berbatov and Valencia did nothing to change the outcome.

While it’s not quite as satisfying watching ManU (potentially) fall off their perch with such a weakened squad, you won’t hear any complaints – or sympathy – from me. If either of my London teams can step in to fill the void, I will be doubly happy, but even if the title goes elsewhere I will still be grateful to Florentino Perez and Kia Joorabchian for helping break up the dynastic unit and let in some sunshine at the top.

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Arsenal 2 – 1 Manchester Utd

Posted by hiphopmama on November 9, 2008

nasri

Why? Why can’t we get games like this one in the U.S.? Instead we get the likes of Sunderland-Portsmouth and Man City-Tottenham. I’m sure it comes down to broadcast rights divided up and owned by the various stations, but I would absolutely love to see the Fox Soccer line-up be more like that of GolTV, where the top teams are shown just about every week, with the matches shown changing week by week depending on who’s in that elite group. You can pretty much count on seeing Barça, Real Madrid, Valencia, and Villarreal every week, with Sevilla thrown in there most weeks as well. GolTV has its own drawbacks in terms of coverage – like their propensity to update their information in TV listings at the last minute; Comcast, DirecTV, it’s all the same – but they consistently show the best games week in and week out.

Ranting aside, this was a great game – you know, I’m told. Arsenal knew they needed an outright win, and they played for it, making it an open game with lots of end to end action. Nasri was the hero of the night, scoring both Arsenal goals from distance and helping elevate a squad that was badly in need of some – any – glimmer of hope. The first ricocheted off Gary Neville and past Van der Sar in the 22nd minute. His next came in the 47th off a nice combination of passing just outside the area, and he took a tremendous shot that outright beat the Man U keeper. 

United got one back in the 90th minute when Rafael Da Silva corralled an airborn ball with his chest, then volleyed with his left foot into the far corner and past Fabianski, who had come on for Almunia after the Arsenal starter took a kick to the head. When six minutes of extra time flashed, the nervousness was palpable, but Arsenal held on better than they had against Tottenham and secured the win to stay within six points of leaders Chelsea and Liverpool.

To say this was a much-needed win is an understatement. Wenger had been valiantly defending his boys, but it was starting to look more and more like a lost cause with all the losses to mediocre teams and flagging effort from players. It wasn’t just that they were losing but how they were doing it that caused concern, relinquishing a two goal lead in the last few minutes against Spurs and slogging through against teams like Stoke and Hull City. The 0-0 draw against Fenerbahce midweek did little to alleviate fears that the downward slide would continue. Now, after beating United, they are off to a good start in a month that boasts challenges in the form of Aston Villa, Man City, and Chelsea. This win means that they are in third place in front of Manchester Utd and within striking distance of the top spots. Hopefully this young team can use this to build confidence and momentum going into the rest of November.

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