Champions League

SPT IHN 110309-41

Man Utd Sale Confirmed?


The non-executive director of Manchester United football club, Mike Edelson has just delivered the shocking revelation that: “It’s no secret that, at some time, the family will sell.” And that has now definitely left the door open for the Qatar royal family, headed by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who have targeted United in a £1.5billion deal.

More to come soon…

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerpose.com

Arsenal Crest

Arsenal v. Partizan Belgrade After Match Report


Well it was a cracking, but sometimes frustrating affair for both teams in the cold of the Emirates as Arsenal beat Partizan Belgrade 3-1. The match was a relatively open end to end affair, but the first half had to be frustrating for the Gunner faithful. It didn’t seem to matter where the ball cam into the Partizan area from their defense simply would not crack under the pressure. A penalty was always coming out of this hostile environment, and sure enough on the turn of the 15th minute Jovanovic brought down Van Persie in the penalty area, leading to a pot kick. Van Persie, the perpetually injured but sometimes stubborn forward, picked himself up and slotted the kick home for the Arsenal jersey first. The rest of the half was marked by Partizan staying on the back foot and hoping to score on the break. It looked like a second goal was coming for Arsenal, but it was Partizan who would grab the advantage as they pushed forward on the break. They had hardly been in the Arsenal half for most of the match, but because Cleo’s curling shot from the edge of the box took an ugly deflection off Sebastien Squillaci’s back, it somehow looped over Lukasz Fabianski and landed in the back of the net.

With the scores level, Arsenal went back on the attack pressing men forward, bringing on Walcott as a sub for Arshavin with 25 minutes left. It turned out to be an inspired choice by Arsene Wenger as the youngster found the back of the net within minutes taking a deflected Sagna cross onto his chest and smartly slotting it into the goal. Again, the superb and consistent pressure by the Gunners allowed their skill to show. The final goal, to the delight of Gunners fans, came from Alex Song combining with Nicklas Bendtner, who has just come on for Marouane Chamakh. His pass slipped Samir Nasri clear inside the box who turned to slot home Arsenal’s third goal of the night.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, the match didnt end there as Bacary Sagna caught Aleksandar Lazevski on the edge of the box and somehow his challenge was deemed worthy of a red card by referee Paolo Tagliavento. It didn’t look too rough to me, a free kick maybe, but surely not a red card. From the resulting free-kick, Radosav Petrovic smashed a shot that Fabianski punched away.

Overall, it was an interesting match, but not the best I’ve seen so far. It seems Tottenham are the best English side to watch this year, with Arsenal displaying an awkward, nervy streak at times during the match. I don’t think Partizan have deserved two goals from tonight’s performance, but to be honest, I’m not sure if Arsene Wenger’s side have what it takes to compete with Barcelona or Real Madrid. After the match, Robin van Persie said: “As a football fan, Barcelona or Real Madrid… but we will have to wait and see.” I’m not sure how many Gunners will be looking forward to that after tonight.

Arsenal 3-1 Partizan Belgrade

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Arsenal Jersey Giveaway


So our friends over at soccerpro.com are giving away an Arsenal jersey, home or away, winners pick, for correctly predicting the result of their Champions League clash with Paritizan Belgrade.

Check it out here.

Posted by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Man Utd v Valencia

Manchester United v. Valencia


Manchester United face Valencia tomorrow in a clash that will decide who will finish top of their Group. While both teams have already secured their passage on to the next round, there is still a lot to play for tomorrow as whoever finishes second will have to face tougher opposition in the coming rounds. “We may be through now but we want to get to first spot to avoid any of the big teams in the earlier rounds,” said United keeper Edwin van der Sar.

Look for Manchester United to play a classic 4-4-2 formation with Chicharito, Berbatov, and Nani up near the top. I think Sir Alex will leave Rooney on the bench for the start of this, not so much because he needs more time to recover, but he hasn’t earned his place back yet. Berbatov and Nani have been brilliant and Ferguson will seek to acknowledge and encourage their success as Rooney will not be around forever. the men in Manchester United jerseys will also need to stay tight in the back as Valencia tend to grind down opponents, gradually whittling them away until they can grab a goal on the sly. Without Paul Scholes, who is out with a groin injury, United will have to look to the slippery feet of John O’Shea to hold back the attacks. As for tactics, so long as they can keep it together at the back their standard hard attack should work over Valencia nicely.

As for Valencia, they need to move the ball forward and often in order to take the steam out of United’s attack. Some old fashioned possession football combined with no stupid gifts off the soccer shoes on the feet of Chicharito should do the trick. Valencia may not have as many big name players as Real Madrid or Barcelona, but they area threat and cannot be discounted. Real Madrid learned a harsh lesson during this years “El Classico”, or more to the point “La Masarce,” you must play as a team to have a chance. Cobbling together a bunch of whinny millionaires is not enough to compete at the highest levels of soccer. Should be a cracking match with lots of action, but not many goals as the defenses hold strong at both ends.

I’m predicting Man Utd 1-0 Valencia

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Wanye Rooney in Snow

Lackluster Manchester United Advance v. Rangers


Well it was a performance worthy of the PGA Seniors Tour that guaranteed passage to the last 16 of Champions League for Manchester United tonight as they defeated Rangers 1-0 on penalties. The match itself was atrocious, with both sides sitting on the back foot, and seeming to lack any real interest in winning. You can hardly blame Rangers for sitting back in their now trademark 1-4-5 formation, particularly with the injuries that have been dealt to their first team, but United really should have done better.

All credit to the Rangers defense for holding strong for as long as they did, but in the end it was the ridiculous challenge of Stephen Naismith. For some reason he decided to challenge his inner ninja and annihilate da Silva by using his Nike Superfly boot to kick his face within the 6 yard box. Honestly, it seemed more accident than malice, but it was a very stupid decision for a player of his experience to raise his leg so high in the penalty area. I think once he watches the replay he won’t have too many complaints as it looks awful. Wayne Rooney stepped up to take the penalty and slotted it cleanly into the net, wining the game for United. This is perhaps the biggest story of the night as it is the first time he has scored since his recent troubles. He celebrate like a man possessed by, a man possessed by lot of demons both personal and professional who just had a colossal burden lifted off his shoulders. Still, he missed a lot of chances and there still seems to be some rust in that Wayne Rooney jersey he was wearing. Even Sir Alex admitted so after the match, but seemed genuinely pleased that his pet striker was showing signs of life.

Overall, it was sordid and boring affair that only opened up at the end of the match, but the result was good for United, and in the end that’s all they’ll care about. As for Rangers, there off to the local to lick their wounds and prepare for the UEFA Championship.

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Rooney v. Davis

Manchester United v. Rangers


A depleted Rangers side will face the big men from down south, Manchester United in the Champions League tomorrow and both sides have a lot at stake. For Rangers, its obvious they need to win and win big to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League. For United, a win is also required in order to be sure of finishing top of the group, but more important will be the return of Wayne Rooney to the starting line up.

Rangers come into tonights match nursing a series of injuries. Defenders Sasa Papac, Madjid Bougherra, and Andy Webster, plus midfielder Maurice Edu and strikers James Beattie and Nikica Jelavic, are all out injured which has some serious ramifications for Rangers formation. Normally, they tend to play a more defensive type of football with 4 men back, but with so many players out they may have to play a more aggressive formation like those they use against there domestic opponents. Now they may have been able to fill out some sort defensive formation by cobbling it together from second team players, but without Papac, the house won’t have any mortar.

The concussion Papac received a few weeks ago during league play was quite serious, and the wound it left required ten stitches, so I have serious doubts that he will have fully recovered. As a recipient of a few hard knocks on the head myself, i know for a fact anything that draws blood and leaves a concussion takes months, not weeks to fully recover from. Balance usual takes 3 weeks, and normal cognition can take up to 9 months to come back. I seriously doubt he has trained much, let alone is fit enough to face the men in Manchester United jerseys.

Manchester United are also dogged by injuries for tomorrows match, but thankfully they have made a dynasty out of playing with a squad of half way broken down squads. United central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, and midfielder Darren Fletcher, will be rested, most likely due to undisclosed injuries, or worries about injuries. Wayne Rooney is set to start, and his performance will most likely tell the tale from Ferguson’s perspective as he needs his former top striker at top form for the more competitive Premier League.

Look for a wide open affair marked by tactical as well as personal aggression as both teams play an attacking formation. Overall, I’m looking forward to it.

Man Utd 2- 0 Rangers

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

abramovich-chelsea

Chelsea’s Owner, the Real Reason They Can’t Make Any Progress


Over the weekend Chelsea fell to a shocking defeat at the hands of minnows, Birmingham. Now I’m not one to dissect every kick of the match, nor do I believe in the false god of play statistics as they both seek to reduce the world to terms no one can understand. In my view, Chelsea lost for three reasons:

First of all, Birmingham gave an inspired performance particularly at the back as Ben Foster parried shot after shot from the likes of Drogba, Malouda, and Alex. There formation was near perfect as they held on for the majority of the match despite being outplayed across most of the pitch. Overall, it was a fantastic rearguard, edge of your seat action by the bluenoses.

Second, Chelsea defensive play allows for hole that you could drive a bus through. This simple mistake made by the Chelsea defense during there 3-0 hammering by Sunderland two weeks ago once again bared their ugly head as Lee Bowyer ran on to a header put over the head of the Chelsea defense and stuck in the back of the net. After all, Bowyer, 33, only played as Craig Gardner had injured his ankle, normally has no business scoring against Chelsea. they need to tighten up there lines in the back, Alex can steady the ship, but someone else will have to take the wheel if they are to be competitive with top flight teams.

Third, Roman Abromovic is meddling with the managerial staff and allowing the players to dictate to the manager. As for the fallout from Ray Wlikins’ sacking continues to dog the misguided tenure of Carlo Ancelotti its has become clear that two groups of people control the destiny of, the players, and peopled named Abromovic. The fact that an assistant manager seems to have been sacked as some of the first team player weren’t confident in his abilities to hold his job is both shocking and bizarre at the same time. What’s even more bizarre is that Ancelotti didn’t stand in the way, and tacitly gave control to the players to sack their manager.

Now Ancelotti may have wanted to see the back of Wilkins as much as the players, we’ll probably never know, but I can’t understand why he would allow himself to be undermined in this way, then gripe about ti the morning papers. Of course he’s lost control, and its his own fault for not standing by his own staff. As for Abromovic, it seems likely that the first team players who were dissenting took their concerns to him directly, and the order came down from the top to put Wilkins out on the curb like so much rubbish, but this is also a bizarre turn of events. While few managers have the imperial control over the fate of the club Alex Ferguson does at Manchester United, I think this is the first time that a managers staff has been sacked instead of him by the owner.

It may be my own personal conceptions getting the better of me, but it seems Abromovic is the only one who acted entirely according to character in this comedy of errors. Following the great tradition of all Russians in positions of power, Abromovic has decided to engage in purge of his own ranks on the dubious advice of trusted underlings, in this case the first team players. The result has been predictably disastrous as it now looks like he will lose the manager in a case of putting the baby out with the bathwater. But, if he can stop channeling his inner Stalin; leave the team and staff alone to recover from their recent results, then perhaps there is still a chance they can win it all this season. Any more purges, and I think the Chelsea jersey will be the only piece of the organization that still functions properly.

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Wanye Rooney in Snow

The Prodigal Ogre Return’s….Rooney to Feature Against Rangers


Wayne Rooney is due to make his return to Manchester United’s first team next week when they play Glasgow Rangers in the Champions League. I know there is speculation he will play for a few minutes against Wigan with the hope of him getting a few soft goals to rebuild his confidence. For my part, I don’t think he’ll play Saturday, but the fact his mental fitness is such a subject of discussion brings up the point I have made before, Rooney may have gone off the same cliff as Paul Gascoigne.

Now its a fact Rooney hasn’t been physically fit for some time, and the trip to Nike HQ up in Oregon to rebuild his battered body was needed. The question is, why did he have to go all the way to Oregon to do it? It seem to me, that the answer is easily apparent, he couldn’t stand the glares of the media and his wife anymore; he needed to get away. But one has to ask, how much psychological treatment did he receive while he was there? Hopefully, all that he needed, but no will know if whatever regiment of therapy he was on has been successful until he plays in a Champions League match against a team whose fans are known for their creative chants and songs, honed against the men in Celtic jerseys for generations. For my part, I think he has mostly recovered, and here’s my reason why. This video was recently released of Rooney working on the set of the “Boom” campaign Nike are using to flog their Pro Combat line.

Look at him, he looks crushed, broken, and tired at first. But count how many times he smiles, not awkwardly, but genuinely, when he talks about scoring goals and I think you’ll understand why I think he has the hunger to score back in his belly. Look for a gola or two in his near future.

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com

Valdes’ Karate Kick Nearly Takes N’Doye Dame’s Head Off


Barcelona’s Victor Valdes pole-axes Copenhagen’s N’Doye Dame as he gets past Puyol. He didn’t get a card, Dame was penalized, but stayed on the pitch for the rest of the match.

Posted by: Chris Behrens, soccerprose.com