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Monday, April 16, 2007

Who's the best...Ronaldo or Drogba?

Premiership leaders Manchester United dominate the nominations for the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year (PFA) award, with man of the moment Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes all making the six-man shortlist. Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, the 2006 winner, complete the contenders. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney, Ronaldo and Fabregas are also up for the young player award with Tottenham's Aaron Lennon, Kevin Doyle of Reading and Manchester City's Micah Richards join them on the list.
Ronaldo has been brilliant this season for the United side which is still hunting for their unprecedented double Treble Ronaldo, 22, is currently being acclaimed as the world's best player in some quarters and the winger has 21 goals for Premiership leaders Manchester United. Meanwhile Drogba has been consistent for Chelsea throughout the season. The Blues had already won the league cup and are still on contention for another three trophies to complete an remarkable quadraple.
"Didier has, arguably, been Chelsea's best and most consistent performer this season - no mean achievement when he is playing alongside so many top-class players at Stamford Bridge," said PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor. "Cristiano is the most exciting player in the country at the moment - the quickness of his feet and the skills he possesses make you think, at times, that he is from another planet," added Taylor.

Man Utd vs Chelsea in Everything?

It has been a fact that Man Utd and Chelsea always competing against each other on and off the pitch. From finacial, players signing, promoting popularity to the football field, these two teams just trying their best to outdo each other. But it has been quite different this season. Both teams are vying for the Premiership title and after another dramatic weekend, both teams are playing each other in the FA Cup final at the new Wembley Stadium. More than that, both are in the last four of European cup semi-finals and stand a good chance to progress to the Final in late May where the season finale comes to an end.
Man Utd 4 Watford 1
Villa Park, Birmingham, England, UK
14th April 2007
The last time that the FA Cup semi-finals are going to play in the neutral venues kicked-off at Birmingham where Man Utd played relegation-threatened Watford. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a brilliant 20-yard drive. Although being outplayed by United players for most of the time, Watford showed alot of determination and resillince. Their effort paid off in the 26th minute when Hameur Bouazza scored a spectacular overhead kick. Cristiano Ronaldo swiftly restored United's lead two minutes later. The 22-year old Portuguese winger, who just signed a five year extension to his contract with the Premiership leaders ending the speculation of him being sold to Spanish giants Real Madrid or Barcelona in this summer, bundled in Rooney's cross from close range. United suffered a blow just before half-time when defender Rio Ferdinand was taken off for suspected damaged groin but it was later found that the injury was not as serious as first thought. The England international could be back to play against Sheffield United in a league match in midweek. Rooney's close-range finish wrapped up the win after 66 minutes and substitute Kieran Richardson chipped in a fourth. Sir Alex Ferguson again paid tribute to his fantastic United side, branded the game was as good as Tuesday's night demolition of Roma in European cup quarter-finals. He's proud of his players especially Rooney who played his best game in the season so far. Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd said the scoreline didn't clearly reflect the difference between the two sides on the pitch today. He was disappointed with his side that couldn't take their chances well early in the second half before Rooney's strike made the game more difficult for them.
Blackburn Rovers 1 Chelsea 2 (AET)
Old Trafford, Manchester, England, UK
15th April 2007
Frank Lampard put Chelsea in front after 16 minutes as Chelsea dominated early on and Blackburn made a sluggish start. After the break, Mark Hughes' side were the better team, with Rovers having numerous chances to draw level. Blackburn striker Jason Roberts got the reward for their good play just after the hour mark, flicking home from Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick. Petr Cech made a series of fine saves for Chelsea before the game went into extra time. And, after Blackburn's defence failed to clear a cross in the 109th minute, German midfielder Michael Ballack reacted quickest and fired hom the winner with his left foot. It sets up another end-of-season showdown in May, with the Reds already facing a trip to Stamford Bridge in the Premiership's penultimate match of the campaign, while both teams are vying for a place in the Champions League final.
Premiership Results:
14th April 2007
Arsenal 2 Bolton 1
Man City 0 Liverpool 0
Middlesbrough 1 Aston Villa 3
Portsmouth 2 Newcastle 1
Reading 1 Fulham 0
Sheffield United 3 West Ham 0
15th April 2007
Everton 2 Charlton 1
Wigan 3 Tottenham Hotspur 3

Thursday, April 12, 2007

English Rules

Liverpool 1 PSV Eindhoven 0
(Liverpool won 4-0 on aggregate)
Anfield, Liverpool, England, UK
11th April 2007
Liverpool march into the semi finals of the European Champions League means that there're three English clubs in the last four for the first time in the history of European football. English club is guaranteed a final berth now and for three years in a row, there's an English team in the Final. England international Peter Crouch's scoring form continues when he put the ball into the back of the net in the 68th minute after some smart plays by another Englishman Robbie Fowler. PSV showed some determination and intentions in the begnning stages of the match but they were denied by Liverpool Spanish keeper Jose Reina. The victory set up an all English affairs between Chelsea-Liverpool next week and a repeat of 2005/2006 semi-final showdown.

Bayern Munich 0 AC Milan 2
(AC Milan won 4-2 on aggregate)
Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
11th April 2007
Bayern showed their intention for the first period of the match but Milan's experience and professional performance bring them into the last four. The homeside couldn't get their chances counted in the early stages of this match and it was Clarence Seedorf who opened the scoring for Milan in the 27th minute. Fillippo Inzaghi's excellent finish four minutes later put the away team on the edge. Second half started with Bayern showing more urgencies and determinations but they were denied by Dida. Kaka could have put the match beyond doubt but his shot was well-saved by Oliver Kahn. Milan is playing Manchester United, who thrashed another Italian team AS Roma 7-1 a day before on the 24th April 2007 at Old Trafford.
Semi Finals Showdown:
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Man Utd vs AC Milan, 19:45

Wednesday, 25 April 2007
Chelsea vs Liverpool, 19:45

Chris Coleman

Fulham football club has parted company with their manager Chris Coleman after a series of bad results that put the Cottagers at the brink of relegation zone. Statement from Craven Cottage announced on Tuesday that the London club has ended their partnership with Coleman after the Welshman's four years tenure at the club. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez will take over as caretaker basis at the club.

But why? For me, Coleman is one of the best managers in English football. Not to mention Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson, Coleman alongside Bolton's Sam Allardyce, Everton's David Moyes and Aston Villa's Martin O'Neil, he is one of the best British managers in English top flight football. He should be the answer to the club in avoiding relegation. But maybe the club wants an alternative and we will see.
Coleman's Managerial Stats at Fulham:
17th April 2003-10th April 2007
176 games, 61 wins, 44 draws, 71 loss (34.65% winning rate)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Seventh Heaven at the Theatre of Dreams

Man Utd 7 AS Roma 1
(Man Utd won 8-3 on aggregate)
Old Trafford, Manchester, England, UK
11th April 2007
Man Utd recorded their highest European win by thrashing AS Roma 7-1 in the return leg of UEFA Champions League quarter finals. A scintillating performance by the home side torn Roma apart within the first 19 minutes of the match in which Michael Carrick opened the scoring with a delicate lob in the 11th minute; Alan Smith with his first goal in 18 months in the 17th minute and Wayne Rooney's goal in the 19th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo proved once again he's a strong candidate for the PFA Footballer of the Year Award by scoring from 20 yards with his right foot after another sublime skills and pace. Many would have expected Roma to reorganise in the second half but they still looked fragile at the back. Four minutes after the game restarted, Ryan Giggs' cross from the left and Ronaldo's tap in put the match beyond doubt. Carrick's long range effort from 24 yards out went into the back of Alexander Doni's net once more in the 60th minute. Daniele de Rossi scored a consolation 9 minutes later for the visitor but the home side seem not to be satisfied and substitute Patrice Evra put the score into the record book 9 minutes before regular time. The Eternal City giants were clearly swept away by the more hunger United team.
Post Match Response
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was clearly delighted with his players. He said the performance was fantastic and the scoreline was totally out of his expectations. He showed his praises to every player in the team in particular Smith who scored his first competitive goal since November 2005. "Smith deserved it more than anyone else," said the Scotsman. He has no preference who to play against in the next round.
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti blamed the poor performance to his team lack of experience after being one nil down too early in the match. He said the United players' enthusiasm cost his team dearly in the early stages of the match. Captain Francesco Totti said it was the saddest day in his football life. He said his team inability to handle Ronaldo and come back from 0-3 down cost them the match. But he hope to play this kind of games again in the future and to win to pay back the traveling fans.
Man Utd was simply brilliant and in their own league last night. AS Roma wasn't playing too bad but they were totally outclassed by the more determined and confident United side. The away goal by Rooney proved to be crucial and I believe it is the driving force behind United's greatest come back. United 'tinkerman' Sir Alex put a 4-2-3-1 formation clearly showed it to us that United was determined to get an early goal and the move seem to pay back. Smith was alone at the front and supported by Ronaldo, Rooney and Giggs, and Darren Fletcher and Carrick behind these four players. The attacking options up front and fast passing game clearly torn Roma apart. I do believe with Roma coach that the inexperienced of his players especially in big games was the key to their humiliation. They never seem to recover after 3-0 down in the first 20 minutes. Every United player showed alot of hunger since the first minute of the match. Ronaldo stole the limelight once more when he was declared the man of the match. But for me, Giggs was the best player in this match. His skills, touch, pace and passings are just simply unbelievable. Four of United goals were assisted by Giggs. I think he won the match for us but every team member should be given the credits. It's really good to see different players scored for United. Carrick is usually not a goal-scoring player but two brilliant long range efforts proved everyone wrong. Evra first match since he came back from injury and scored will be a huge boost to the team. Smith first goal in 18 months is hugely important for him to build up his best again since his move from Leeds United. Amazing performance by Fletcher and Gabriel Heinze shouldn't be left out.
Valencia 1 Chelsea 2
(Chelsea won 3-2 on aggregate)
Mestalla Stadium, Spain
11th April 2007
Chelsea had another great escape last night after Michael Essien's goal in the dying minutes put Jose Mourinho's multi-millions dollar team into the last four of the Champions League. Fernando Morientes put the home team ahead in the 32th minute before Andrei Shevchenko equalised in the 52th minute. The match looked certain to go into extra time but it was Essien's long range effort that beat Santiago Canizares in the last minute of regular time after the Spanish international goalie made one of the best saves ever seen in European football from Michael Ballack's header. Mourinho was full of praises for his players and said they're absolutely unbelievable. He said that every player in the team played like a beast and they deserved to win the match as they were the better team in the second half.

Oh dear..oh dear..Jose Mourinho...

Just before the European Champions League showdown between Chelsea and Valencia on Tuesday, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was asked who did he fancy to go through between Man Utd and AS Roma.

Jose Mourinho: "I say this without showing any disrespect to Roma. I like Italian teams. I love Roma but no disrespect to Roma, I want Man Utd to go through!"

Did you know Patrick Berger is still playing professional football in England?

A guy who was once dubbed the best left winger in the world, Czech Republic Patrick Berger has returned to English top flight football. Fine display on Saturday and an assist on Monday evening for Aston Villa proved that he's still worth something to the team.
9th April 2007
Warford 4 Portsmouth 2
Aston Villa 1 Wigan 1
Bolton 1 Everton 1
Fulham 1 Man City 3
Newcastle 0 Arsenal 0
Charlton 0 Reading 0

Sunday, April 8, 2007

To those Chelsea fans out there...

Chelsea seems to be more conservative in their gameplay lately. They’re a very discipline side. They go into every game playing their normal football to beat the opponents. But if it’s still a draw or if they’re losing, they seems to be able to upgrade their gameplay, keep the possession or bring in one or two ‘world-class substitutes’ in order to win. While Man Utd goes into every match play to their best attacking football and tries to build up a big gap between them and the opponents as early as possible. I think that explains why we have got a better goal difference! I think if Chelsea wins the league because they’ve got a strong squad. You have got at least one world-class player in each position and another very good player as a back-up. To be honest I think Jose Mourinho should’ve done better with Chelsea. He’s an amazing manager but for me, he’s still not as great as Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger yet. But Man Utd has been brilliant this season. Although we don’t have as much depth as Chelsea in terms of players but every player show his professionalism and fighting spirits on the pitch. When people said we got lucky sometimes, I think that’s how to sum up a championship winning season: consistency, great team spirit and good team shape, a player who can change the match which is what C.Ronaldo has been doing this season and finally of cause you need luck as well. I think Chelsea has been quite lucky as well in some matches if not they won’t be at their position at the moment hunting for another 3 trophies. Remember the league matches against Everton and Wigan; Tottenham in the FA Cup and Newcastle in the Carling Cup. Why Chelsea fans just keep complaining about losing Cech, Terry and Joe Cole over the Christmas period? Even Mourinho keeps mentioning it as well. Please look forward and stop mourning about it! You have got all of them available now so please prove me they can win everything and anything for you! No doubt both teams deserved to be called champion elects but I think Man Utd deserves the league title more than anyone else because they’re beautiful to watch! Really looking forward to the next few weeks when it comes to season finale and of cause the FA Cup final as well with potential Chelsea-Man Utd showdown! Come on the Red Devils!

English Premiership Weekend Review

Man Utd traveled to Fratton Park without their key players like Nemanja Vidic, captain Gary Neville, Ji Sung Park and Patrice Evra. It has been a tough week for United as they succumbed another defeat to Portsmouth after Wednesday defeat to AS Roma in Rome which was marred by crowd violence. Another mistake which was similar to the second goal that Roma scored the other day haunted United once again in the 30th minute. Benjani Mwaruwari's close range shot could only be parried out by Edwin van der Sar and Mark Taylor made no mistake from the rebound. The away team pushed forward in the second half but they were disappointed but the brilliance of Pompey keeper David James. The home side extended the lead in the 89th minute when another rare mistake by van der Saar made England international defender Rio Ferdinand put the ball into his own net. Substitute John O'Shea put one back for United immediately and once again James came to Pompey rescue in the dying minutes when he brilliantly pushed the ball out from a powerful Alan Smith's shot. It must be a joyous weekend for Chelsea players, their manager and their fans as it closed the gap between the top two to three points. Both teams have still got six games to go and they still have to meet each other. Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur in the afternoon kick-off with Ricardo Cavalho scored the only goal of the match with a long shot. Spurs, who was beaten by Sevilla in their UEFA Cup quarter finals first leg on Thursday, trained in Spain a day before and flew back to London less than 24 hours before this game. Meanwhile, Arsenal's unbeaten home record at Emirates Stadium came to an end when they lost 0-1 to relegation fightdog West Ham United. Bobby Zamora scored the only goal of the match but keeper Robert Green won the credits for his world-class, 10 out of 10 performance in that match. Charlton who drew goalless with Man City a day before managed to get away from the relegation zone with one point. David Moyes' Everton showed another great come back when they beat Fulham 4-1 at home on Friday. Liverpool snatched a win from Reading with Alvaro Arbeloa's and Dirk Kuyt's goals respectively.

6th April 2007
Everton 4 Fulham 1
Manchester City 0 Charlton Athletic 0
7th April 2007
Portsmouth 2 Manchester United 1
Reading 1 Liverpool 2
Sheffield United 1 Newcastle United 2
Wigan Athletic 1 Bolton Wanderers 3
Arsenal 0 West Ham 1
Blackburn Rovers 1 Aston Villa 2
Middlesbrough 4 Watford 1
Chelsea 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0

Thursday, April 5, 2007

An Eventful Night in Rome!

Its European Champions League football week again and it's the time for another highly anticipated quarter finals matches. Among the elites still in this year's competition are three English powerhouses of Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, German's Bayern Munich, AC Milan and AS Roma from Italy, Spaniards outfit Valencia and Dutch PSV Eindhoven. Watch two of the four matches live on TV and another two on extended highlight. Two that were played on Tuesday were dull and boring but the other two on Wednesday seems to be more exciting.

AS Roma 2 Man Utd 1
Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
4th April 2007

Man Utd traveled to Rome, the capital city which dubbed the 'Eternal City' without some of their key players this season most notably the likes of Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Ji Sung Park and Patrice Evra.

The match kicked off with United seem just could not transform their impressive domestic form into Europe. The tight became more difficult for the visitor when Paul Scholes was sent off in the 33th minute for his second bookable offence when he tipped Roma captain Francesco Totti on one of Roma’s quick counter attack. The referee made no mistake this time again after booking the midfielder early on for a pointless two footed lunged from behind on Roma Christian Wilhelmsson.

In the 44th minute, Roma scored a goal which they highly deserved. A short corner, then a perfect low cross from Alessandro Mancini from the left into the penalty box just for Rodrigo Taddei to slot in which deflected off Wes Brown and then Gabriel Heinze before it went into the back of the net. United keeper Edwin van der Sar was left diving into the wrong direction. Half time approached and United players left the field with frustrations and the fear of conceding more goals in the second half!

Second half resumed and Roma seem to slow down the pace of the game. It proved to be a mistake as United had the time to reshape the team with 10 men and adapt to the game. Roma looked more likely to score their second but Simone Perrotta’s, Totti’s and Mancini’s efforts mostly from outside the penalty box were either denied by van der Sar, blocked by defenders or went wide.

Then it came a moment of brilliance from in-form Cristiano Ronaldo in the 60th minute. After a long throw from van der Sar, Ronaldo ran from the half way line towards the goal passed by three Roma players before unleashing a superb through pass to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the outside of the penalty box on the right before the striker’s inch perfect cross into the box to Wayne Rooney. The England international chested the ball down and calmly slotted the ball home in front of Roma defender Christian Panucci and keeper Alexander Doni. It was a huge boost to United players and the fans as they had been outplayed for most of the time. More importantly it’s Rooney’s first European goal since his debut hat-trick against Fenerbahce in September 2004.

Roma regained the lead after 6 minutes with another quick attack. Mancini’s long shot from about 25 yards again found van der Sar by surprise and he could only parried the ball out which fell rightly to Mirko Vucinic just for the player who came on 4 minutes ago to slotted the ball into the back of the net. Again, the Roma players celebrated the goal in style.

Roma trying to press forward in search for their third and decisive goal but it just never came. They dominated the later part of this game but they seem to be quite unlucky and lack abit of finishing touch in front of the goal.

This game was marred by the violent conduct between both set of supporters before, and during the game. Television footage showed part of United section was evacuated by the Italian riot police and some fans can been seen to be beaten continuously by the police with the batons. It was a very disturbing scenario and most British fans claimed that the Italian police had been exaggerated and too aggressive in handling the problem.

Post Match Response

Sir Alex Ferguson said that United have a ‘fantastic’ chance of beating Roma in the second leg at Old Trafford and delighted with the away goal that he was desperately looking for before the game. He was clearly unhappy with the German referee Herbert Fandel as he claimed his team was playing 10 against 12 men for most of the time and Fandel should have be stricter to those who provoked Scholes’ sent off most notably Cristian Chivu. But he said they still have plenty of options for the return leg at Old Trafford even though with Scholes unavailable and few injured key players. Sir Alex had no immediate comment on the brawl though.

United winger Ryan Giggs said there’s still something to fight for as the away goal proved to be vital if his team wants to go through.

Meanwhile, Roma boss Luciano Spalletti said the lady luck was not on his side tonight. He thought that his team should have won more than a goal in this tie and Roma was clearly a better team of the night.

Roma defender Panucci seem to eat his words when he sent his praises to Ronaldo after making remarks branded the winger a cheat and over-abuse his dribbling skills, before the game. He said Ronaldo’s pace is unbelievable and he is like Italian Motor Grand Prix champions Valentino Rossi. Panucci said he wish he has the same engine as Ronaldo so he can catch up with him.


United’s defence seem to be abit shaky at the back tonight without Vidic. His deputy Wes Brown looked nervous and uncomfortable for the first period of the game. Otherwise he did a good job in stopping Roma’s constant bombardment from outside the penalty box. Heinze’s liking to go up front left a big gap on the left back when Roma trying to put few crosses from the left throughout the later part of the game which should be avoided. Van der Sar and Ronaldo were the two best players tonight for United and it will be more interesting to see what kind of line-up that Sir Alex is going to use in the return leg. Nevertheless, as a Man Utd’s fan, losing 1-2 is not too bad as we got a crucial away goal on hand. It was United’s resillence, patience and calmness that won them credits tonight although playing 2/3 of the game with 10 men.

Roma seem to leave behind their inconsistency in domestic football and played one of their best football tonight. They highly deserved the win and the whole team played really well. They are more organised and lethal up front than United. Totti, Mancini, Perrotta and Tadei all looked to have good goal scoring potential up front. Their ‘long shots strategy from outside the box’ seems to be effective. The first goal was scored from a corner after Tadei’s long shot was parried away by van der Sar and the second was slid in by Vucinic after yet another long shot was saved by the Dutch keeper. Mancini and Tadei had been impressive throughtout the match. It is abit unlucky for them not to win this game for more than a goal.

Chelsea 1 Valencia 1
Stamford Bridge, London, England, UK
4th April 2007

Chelsea multi-millions dollars squad went behind with a fantastic strike from Valencia David Silva. Silva silent the home crowd with a thunderous left foot shot from 30 yards from the left of the pitch into the the top left corner of keeper Petr Cech’s outstretched hand in the 30th minute. Chelsea responded well with Didier Drogba’s brilliant header in early second half to level the score and there are much more to play for in the second leg in Mestalla, Spain next Tuesday.

PSV Eindhoven 0 Liverpool 3
Philips Stadion, Netherlands
3th April 2007

2005 champions Liverpool made a huge step forward with a convincing 3-0 victory over the home team. PSV clearly missed their injured players like key defender Alex, out with a hamstring injury, and striker Arouna Kone with a groin problem. Jamie Carragher could have put the visitor ahead but his header from a Steven Gerrard’s corner was brilliantly saved by PSV goalkeeper Gomes. Gerrard then made no mistake for the first goal via a header. Risse scored a stunning second goal for the visitor in the second half after picking up the ball from a poor clearance by a PSV defender. The player who has been claimed bankrupt by the Norwegian authorities recently proved again that he is one of best left footed player in the world with this thunderous strike. Peter Crouch, who scored a perfect hat-trick against Arsenal the other day, outjumped PSV defenders to score the third for Liverpool and put his team one foot into the last four of the competition. Liverpool clearly deserved the win as they’re much more superior to their counterpart for most of the time and PSV seem to carry their 1-5 loss to Ajax performance last weekend to this match.

AC Milan 2 Bayern Munich 2
Stadio San Siro, Milan, Italy
3th April 2007

Back to Italy, Bayern came back from two goals down to score two vital away goals through Belgium internationl defender Daniel van Buyten and put them on the better postion for the last four before next week’s tie in Germany. AC Milan impressive display in the first half earned them a goal 5 minutes before half time through Andre Pirlo. van Buyten then equalised from closed range in the 78th minute. Kaka put Milan ahead again in the 84th minute from the penalty spot before van Buyten scored his second and Bayern's second on the night with literally the last kick of the night. Last but not least, Bayern deputy goalkeeper 22-years old Michael Rensing had been impressive and made a few excellent saves to deny AC Milan.

The Spiritual Home of Football

Scotland 2 Georgia 1

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

24th March 2007

Scotland: Kris Boyd 11', Craig Beattie 89'

Georgia : Shota Arveladze 41'