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
FC Twente Goalkeeper provided us with this gem of a play yesterday in the 3-3 draw with group winner Tottenham in yesterday’s European clash. What a way to start a Champions League Debut. To be fair, the game turned out to be virtually meaningless and it can happen to the best in the world.
Matty Burrows, the terror of Northern Irish league goalies, and hometown hero of Glentoran FC is to travel to the gala wards dinner with all of the other ten nominees for the Puskas Award. Given in honor of Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas, the award recognizes the player who scored the most thrilling, technically difficult, and consequential goal in all competitions. The competition for Burrows is fierce, with Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben, and Samir Nasri all in the running along with South Africa’s Siphiwe Tshabalala, who scored the opening goal of the tournament against Mexico.
All ten of the nominees will be attending, so his traveling to the ceremony alone doesn’t mean much. But the quality of his stunning goal, and its significance coming in the 92nd minute, combined with the fact he doesn’t play for a major club side may give the edge necessary to win the Ballon d’Or.
See all of the goals on FIFA Puskas Awards Page.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
I’m still in shock that Newcastle are searching for a new manager with the way they’ve been performing this campaign. The Magpies sit in a comfortable 12th position after just coming off a promotion from the Championship, yet manager Chris Hughton got the sack, as the board
“Chris is such a lovely guy. Top man. This will hit the players hard. The players admired him, and liked him, and won’t be happy now he’s gone like this.”
The former England, Arsenal and Tottenham centre-back added: “You have got to ask yourself why this has happened because it makes no sense. Here is a guy who has done an unbelievable job. He got the club back into the Premier league and any manager would have been rewarded for that with a new contract – but Chris wasn’t.
“The players are sure to be asking themselves ‘what the hell is going on?’, that is only natural.
“We all had a good relationship with the players, and when we left training this morning none of the players had a clue this was coming.
“But word started to spread that the bookies had stopped taking bets and the players started texting each other with the news.
“Yes, it has come as a shock, and it will affect the dressing room there is no doubt about that.”
Regardless, the men in the Newcastle jersey have to move on. The Newcastle board wants to move forward with someone else, but Martin Jol is not the man. Why, you ask? Jol is a quitter. What makes you think he won’t quit if things go badly in the first couple months at Newcastle? He quit out of thin air when the Amsterdam giants Ajax were five points off the pace in the league this campaign, citing high expectations the ultimate demise of his job. What? Does Jol or the board really expect that he won’t have high expectations on him in England, especially considering his resume?
The only choice I see as a viable option is former Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill. O’Neill is just 4 months removed from his resignation at Villa Park and overall has a better grasp on the English game than Jol. Plus, O’Neill main reason for resignation only supports a look from the Newcastle board: he resigned because of lack of resources. In his tenure for the Villains, O’Neill made boys out of men, carrying the squad on his back to the club’s first cup final in 10 years and an extremely respectable 6th place finish in the league and a spot in Europe. What more can he do when the clubs above him are spending truckloads of cash each transfer period other than quit? O’Neill is the logical choice for the Magpies. Maybe a Jol hater because I can’t stand quitters. You tell me.
Written by Chris Behrens
The new White & Cyan Adidas F50 Adizeros finally came to the shop recently, and I’ve been waiting to talk about them ever since I heard of their impending arrival. The F50 Adizero line is no secret to players and fans—they’re the lightest boot on the market and used by world class strikers, most notably Lionel Messi. Let’s harp on that quality for a second. Before I tried a pair on for myself, I thought, “Ok, yeah they’re super light, but is it worth it?” Then I finally put a pair on and walked around the shop. Holy bejeezus, it was as if I hadn’t put shoes on at all. I obviously didn’t get a chance to use them to their full capacity, but the little personal demo offered a solid amount of incite to the ability of these boots.
You get a supreme touch on the ball with the added bonus of swift movement and acceleration. There’s also a great balance between stability and quickness, owing to the chassis structure and cleat design. The geometric triangle/diamond shape design of the studs keeps your feet from digging too far into the playing surface, and Adidas kept the number of studs to a minimum. You’ll get enough support in key areas like the heel and such, but Adidas kept the amount of studs at the front of the foot low. I think it’s a good move because it will reduce friction with the playing surface and give a little nudge forward with acceleration and top speed. The chassis of the shoe is also sturdy enough to allow quick turning and planting of the foot while also being flexible enough for comfortable movement.
My only issue with the F50 adizero line is the lack of protection on the top of the foot. I do understand that this boot is a striker boot and has to cater to that particular position which especially demands quick and free foot movement, so obviously protection isn’t on the top of the priority list. However, I would have liked to see some sort of security for the top of your foot—it’s hard to score goals with a broken metatarsal. All in all, though, I suppose this is less of a worry for those who rarely get their foot stomped on. The occasional wayward kick will always happen, and, in that scenario, I think a player wearing these boots will only end up with a pain or bruise.
Alright, now for the part everybody’s been waiting for—the white on white with cyan cleats color scheme! Let’s do an exercise real quick. Check out soccerpro.com and look at the white/cyan adizeros. Now look at your shoes. Now look at the adizeros. DIAMONDS. (Thanks Old Spice. Always wanted to do that.) This boot is basically the antithesis to the leopard print Ronaldo boots of, shall we say, debatable likability. It’s slick, clean and simple. The shoe is all around a reflective white color, and even the trademark 3-stripes are white. With the cleats being cyan, the overall effect of the shoe is a somewhat futuristic look. If spacemen played footy, they’d wear a shoe that looked like these boots. At $179.99, I’d look out for these boots in the market. If you decide to sit and wait on it, you might find yourself out of luck. Overall, I like the direction Adidas took with these soccer shoes’ color scheme. It gives a fresh perspective in the market that has seen highlighter and neon colors flourish; I for one welcome this fresh perspective!
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
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
Just got word from SoccerPro that they are giving out a 10% coupon (use “holidaycheer”) to celebrate their nomination for “Best Football Gear Site” at SoccerLens for this year. You can vote for those cool cats here. The deal lasts only today so get your swag on before the deal is up. Note: Only valid with coupon code. Get an additional 10% off everything except items in the Clearance section, gift certificates, and Copa Mundials. Valid only on December 6, 2010. Discount is not valid on previous orders.
Embarrassed. Appalled. Downtrodden. All feelings Los Blancos are feelings after Barcelona delivered an annihilation that Jose Mourinho could have never seen coming. Recovering from such a thumping will be tough but if anyone can handle the adversity, it’s Mourinho. I’m trying to think of which player in a Real Madrid jersey had a good game and it’s tough to come up with one. Surprisingly, Casillas had a decent game, thanks to a couple of great instinct saves. Even after all the madness, El Clasico is only one fixture in a long campaign and Real Madrid sit only two points behind the Blaugrana. Sure, the loss is perplexing to most fans of the game. Sergio Ramos and Ricardo Carvalho picked up suspensions so they won’t be available for the contest and Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo are both doubtful for upcoming match, so it’ll be interesting to see who gets the starting nod. Expect often-criticized to Benzema to navigate the lone striker position, which is a tough pill for Mourinho to swallow.
Valencia have had a solid start to the campaign but still sit 10 points off the lead. No one is expecting the team to contend for a league title, especially with the lost of their two talisman David Villa and David Silva in the summer. However, the strike force should be motivated to get a result at the Santiago Bernabéu with former “Blanco” Roberto Soldado returning to his old stomping grounds (4 goals in the last 2 games). Aritz Aduriz has also had a decent start to the season thus far, notching 4 goals in 11 appearances for the club. Juan Mata will also be eager to get back to his old stomping grounds, where he grew up in the Real Madrid youth ranks. Mata has been on fire as of late and is starting to turn into the team’s leader with his blinding pace and recent knack for getting a goal or two. It’s as good a time as any to get a win at the Bernabéu with Madrid potentially still reeling from the devastation at Camp Nou and the injuries and suspensions piling up for the fixture.
I’m seeing Madrid dropping points here, but not the full 3. The side still has too much quality to lose at home to any team but Barcelona.
Written by Chris Behrens, writer for SoccerProse.com