Friday, March 28, 2008

Who is more suitable to captain England?

Beckham, Terry, Gerrard, Ferdinand? The new England manager Fabio Capello does not want to appoint a permanent captain for his squad until the beginning of the world cup 2010 qualifying campaign. Chelsea defender John Terry insists that his aggressive style of leadership isn't about to change and that he'll fight to become England captain again. The questions surrounding whether he will remain his captain armband for England...

Rio Ferdinand, A nerd and arrogant player who stands along the defensive line? For most loyal England fan, surely you wont want to see him leading the three lions team out of the pitch. The appointment of Rio made England suffer their first defeat to France. A disgusting figure.... The return of David Beckham? This seems more unlikely to happen...Inspirational captain Steven Gerrard? Perhaps he is now the most suitable man to bring England to an international glory. I could not understand why Capello wants to change his captain for the France game..... Many people believe he can inspire England like how he inspire Liverpool, provided he is given the honour to captain & lead his country.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Massive Showdowns in the Premier League!

After the 2-0 win over Bolton in their extra fixture, Manchester United went 3 points clear over Arsenal at the top of the EPL table. On the other hand, a late Robbie Keane stunner held Chelsea to a thrilling 4-4 draw, which could dent the Blues championship hope.

The EPL Showdown Date: 23 March 2008(Sunday)
Time: 9.30 onwards(Malaysian time)
Venue: Old Trafford & Stamford Bridge
Teams involved: Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea & Arsenal

Showdown 1
Manchester United FC Liverpool FC

Man United may have the advantage over their rivals in this showdown with 3 points ahead of their nearest rival- Arsenal but things could be all different when they face the on form Liverpool this Sunday. Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has vowed to fight on and keep pace with the teams at the top of the table. It is interesting to see where can they finish this season. The Reds will have a chance to close the gap with the top 3 and make it a 4 horse race in this intriguing season if they manage to get a victory over the Devils. Can they win it at Old Trafford? Or shall Man United to win and further increase their grip at the top of the league table? This match also features the EPL top 2 striker.

Where are the goals come from?
Christiano Ronaldo(24 goals) vs Fernando Torres(20 goals)

Showdown 2

Chelsea FC Arsenal FC

The second showdown of the night sees Chelsea take on Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have not lost at home in the League in over 3 years. This time around, they will be facing Arsenal who are desperate to bounce back after their 4 consecutive draws in the league. Despite the 4-4 draw against Spurs, the Blues actually found their scoring form with Joe Cole is on fire for them. Frank Lampard is also in good form when he scored 4 goals against Derby last week. Meanwhile, other than their impressive 2-0 win at San Siro, Arsenal have not found a way to win matches as they were striked by Liverpool's jinx(as explained in the last post). It will be interesting to see whether they can bounce back or rather Chelsea to overtake them.

Where are the goals come from?
Didier Drogba(2007 top scorer) vs Emmanual Adebayor(19 goals)

Monday, March 17, 2008

The downfall of Arsenal?

Arsenal FC
After the 1-1 draw against Middesbrough last Saturday, Arsenal slipped to second place in the league table behind Man United on goal difference. They have now equaled Liverpool's streak of 4 draws in a row(from 29 Dec until 19 Jan). Before that, they were sitting quite comfortable at the top of the table until Liverpool's drawing jinx strikes them. According to the jinx, the 4 consecutive draw is then followed by a defeat where The Reds lost 1-0 to West Ham.

With Arsenal playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their next fixture, it is going to be very tough for the Gunners because Chelsea have not suffered defeat at home in the league for more than 3 years. If they lose to Chelsea, they may slip to 3rd place and their confidence will likely to drop tremendously. That isn't over, after the Chelsea encounter, they will have to face Liverpool 3 times in a week, then followed by a daunting visit to Old Trafford to take on the Red Devils. If they slip up in those matches, their season could be well over with yet another trophyless season.

Here are the coming daunting fixtures for Arsenal:
(A)Man United-EPL

Friday, March 14, 2008

UEFA Champions League quarter-finals draw!

Arsenal vs Liverpool

Fenerbahce vs Chelsea

Schalke vs Barcelona

AS Roma vs Man United

  • Arsenal came out of the bowl first, who will they face? Then, It was Liverpool who came out next and this tie pits 2 English Giants together which could be the most interesting tie of all. They will face each other 3 times in just over a week as their European game will sandwich the EPL fixture in between.
Pundit's Forecast: Arsenal 45%, Liverpool 55%
  • AS Roma will face Man United in the other quarter-final tie. They renew their rivalries again as this will be their 5th & 6th game in just about 1year. Roma were beaten by Man United in the group stage earlier and were thrashed 7-1 at Old Trafford in last season's corresponding fixture. Can the result be any different? Can they change their fate and get a revenge?

Pundit's Forecast: AS Roma 40%, Man United 60%

  • Relative minnows Schalke draw Barcelona, Barca will be playing 2nd leg at home. Barcelona will be the clear favourite to go through.
Pundit's Forecast: Schalke 30%, Barcelona 70%
  • Finally, Chelsea will take on Turkish newcomer Fenerbahce, with the Blues also playing 2nd leg at home. Chelsea could be all smiling after seeing this draw.....
Pundit's Forecast: Fenerbahce 30%, Chelsea 70%

This QF draw also involve the draw for semi-final, which means whoever progress will know who they face in the next round. If Chelsea advance, they will be likely to tackle Liverpool in another CHELSEA-LIVERPOOL semi-final showdown. While Schalke or Barcelona will encounter Roma or United in the last four.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

English teams await their fate in Champions League Draw

It is confirmed that all 4 English side will be playing in this year's quarter-final of the Champions League after Liverpool comfortably eliminated Italian Champions Inter Milan from the competition. Last season we saw 3 English teams were in the semi-final and now, all 4 are in the last 8. Liverpool’s triumph in Milan on Tuesday night – the second by an English side after Arsenal's memorable win at San Siro, one of the the holy stadium in Italy where the visiting teams always failed to produce results. It is no doubt that we can now say the English teams are the best in Europe.

With 4 English Teams, 1 Spanish team, 1 Italian team, and 2 other surprises from Germany and Turkey. They must be waiting anxiously for the quarter-final draw on 14 March. Although the 4 EPL team would prefer those teams from other country, the possibility for an all English encounter remains sky high. By looking at the current situation, it is virtually inevitable that they will face each other at some stages later. So bring it on, who do you want to play in the last 8?

Here are some words from the players and managers:

  • United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "But it doesn't really matter who you play in the quarter-finals, they're all going to be difficult games. The important thing is we are there."
  • Chelsea captain John Terry: "Hopefully we can avoid them(English rivals) but if we are drawn together we have to beat them.'
  • Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard: "If that happens we'll deal with it at the time but it would be nice to avoid the English teams for as long as possible. It will be an exciting tie if we do draw one, that's for sure."
  • Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas:"We'd like to avoid Barca at this stage and save them for the final after what happened 2 seasons ago, but if we do draw them then we know we will have a big extra incentive to beat them.
Teams line up for quarter-final draw: Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, AS Roma, Schalke, Fenerbahce

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

4 teams left in FA Cup, only 1 from EPL!

The FA Cup The British newspapers hails more major upsets in the FA Cup and describe this shocking year as a Hazy, crazy Cup year. Indeed, minnows seem to dominate in this season's FA Cup with 3 out of the 4 teams left are from non Premier League team, Portsmouth are the only side who are playing in top flight football. With 3 Championship teams in the draw, surely there is one of them who is going to play the FA Cup final at Wembley. Portsmouth should emerge as the favourite to lift the cup but does anyone dare to look down at the other 3 teams, especially the sensational Giant Killer- Barnsley? Or can Barnsley go all the way and make history?

FA Cup semifinals draw:

Barnsley vs Cardiff City

West Brom vs Portsmouth

Surprise to see this? You may be wondering what cup is this.....(meh cup ar?)

However, the 'big 4' can redeem themselves by making 4 English teams in the Champions League quarter-final if Liverpool manage to overcome Inter Milan later.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

TSUNAMI in FA Cup quarter-final!

Casualties- Man Utd & Chelsea

Last year finalists Man Utd and Chelsea were out of the FA Cup following some stunning upsets.

Casualty no. 1- Manchester United

Portsmouth shocked last year's finalist Manchester United 1-0 away from home in FA Cup quarter-final. It was a memorable win as they recorded their first victory at Old Trafford since 1957. Man Utd had up to 64% of possession and made most of the attacking in the entire match but could not find a way past David James and Pompey's defensive backline who were inspired throughout. As Man U were busy attacking and trying to win the match, Portsmouth got their rare chance in the match by converting a penalty to win the match with 12 minutes on the clock.

Casualty no. 2- Chelsea

I believe Chelsea must be celebrating before the match when Pompey eliminate their biggest rival- Man U from the competition. Which means the rest 0f the EPL 'big 4' are no more available. From quad to treble, now? 2 left..... And now they seem having a big trouble after they blew up their glorious chance in the FA Cup by losing to a lower division side Barnsley. After knocking out Liverpool in the previous round, Barnsley continue to Giant Killing form to stun holder Chelsea 1-0 in the last 8 of the competition. All credits to Barnsley- the truly sensational giant killer, hope we can see them in EPL for the coming seasons.

3rd casualty- Newcastle United?

Perhaps they are the casualty who are staying in the "hospital" for some time..... When Liverpool "visit" them with players like Gerrard and Torres, it is predictably that they are going to add salt to their wound. Without any doubt, Liverpool cruised past them easily 3-0, Torres and Gerrard both scored. After Pennant's bizarre first goal, the second and third goal saw the flawless partnership of Gerrard and Torres combined well to finish off their opponent in brilliant style.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


The new Liverpool no.9 superstar- Fernando Torres

For this first edition of 'BLOGGER PLAYER OF THE WEEK", we take a deeper look at the performance of players in the past 2 weeks. Most players who joined an English club usually took some time for them to adapt to the pace of English football in their first season, but for a world class player like Fernando Torres, within a very short time he is already on fire!

Hat-trick, hat-trick and hat-tricks! How many hat-tricks do you expect from this young man? (Remember the earlier one in the season against Reading?) The answer for this question, to be precise..... oh no, u cant! The only answer I could give is-unlimited! Two weeks ago when he was just recovering from an injury, he started in the Champions League game against Inter Milan. Although we didn't see the very best of him, his agility and enormous fast pace resulted a red card for Inter's Marco Materazzi, which make them playing the remaining match for over an hour with only 10 men.

Fernando Torres almost single-handedly secured 3 points for Liverpool when he scored a hat-trick against Middlesbrough in the EPL match few days later. Then, he further strengthened his status as the Kop’s new hero when he continued his brace with another hat-trick on Wednesday night as Liverpool downed West Ham 4-0. In other words, he became the first Liverpool striker since Jack Balmer in 1946 to score hat-tricks in successive home games. He has taken his scoring tally to an impressive 18 goals in EPL and 24 goals in all competitions.

Predictabily, he is surely the right player who has tremendous potential to score more goals for his club and take them to another Champions League glory. With some crucial Champions League matches await him , the question remains "can we see more hat-tricks from him"?

Enjoy Flying Torres goals for Liverpool

Milan, Madrid knocked out at home!

UEFA Champions League 7 times winner AC Milan & 9 times winner Real Madrid are out of the competition following their woeful defeat at home.

Real Madrid 1-2 AS Roma(Roma win 4-2 on aggregate)
Roma produced a superb away performance at the Santiago Bernabeu to deservedly knock 10-man Real Madrid out of the Champions League. They won 2-1 on the night, 4-2 on aggregate. Real Madrid seem they have not recover from their recent poor form after a 4-2 win in La Liga few days ago. Despite winning 2-1 at the home two weeks ago, the Italian side were widely considered as outsiders against the Spanish champions. Both teams had their chance in an open encounter, but the 71st-minute dismissal of Madrid defender Pepe finally tipped the balance in Roma's favour. Taddei duly headed the visitors in front two minutes later and, although Raúl González levelled with 15 minutes left, Vučinić struck in added time to ensure it is Roma who take their place in the draw on 14 March.

AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal (Arsenal win 2-0 on aggregate)
Young gunners ended Milan's era and send them packing after an outstanding display at San Siro. They made history by becoming the first team to beat AC Milan at San Siro in European Competition after that impressive result. A 0-0 draw at home look like Arsenal are facing a difficult task 2 weeks later when they take on Milan at San Siro. Instead, started the match boldly, at a high tempo, and were superb throughout a first-half they dominated, yet couldn't find the vital breakthrough goal. Finally, on 83 minutes, Arsenal got the goal they truly deserved. Fabregas found himself in space, burst forward, turned Gattusso and hits a superb early shot from distance that took Kalac by surprise. With the Arsenal fans in the stadium ecstatic, and many Milan fans streaming out of the ground, Arsenal got the second goal through Adebayor, who taped in from close range after a Walcott's low cross.

Teams who progressed into quarter-final:

Barcelona, Arsenal, Man Utd, Fenerbahce, Chelsea, AS Roma, Schalke

-Match between Inter Milan and Liverpool will be played on 11 March.

-Quarter-finals and semi-finals draws will be made on 14 March in UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Is Avram Grant good enough for Chelsea?

Chelsea manager Avram Grant

After losing to Spurs in the League Cup Final, the quadruple dream is over for Chelsea. Who cares? The treble is still on! And recently there are problems surrounding their Israeli coach- Avram Grant, who was surprisingly chosen to succeed Jose Mourinho last September. Many pundits suggested that Grant isn't a suitable man to lead Chelsea towards success. Some people even said that he looks like a butcher rather than a football manager!

Can he be more successful than Jose Mourinho? The short, brutal answer is, 'No.' Mourinho was adored by the Chelsea fans (and, it was clear, most if not all of the Blues' players). He was always going to be a hard act to follow, whoever took over. In the first place, the owner of the club Roman Abramovich's dismissal of Jose Mourinho without a good reason could be a costly mistake to the club. The fans continued to chant Mourinho's name at Chelsea matches, suggesting that Grant had not yet won their hearts.

In addition, rumours are spreading that many of Chelsea's key player could leave the club this summer if Grant remains at the club. The newspaper adds helpfully that relations between Grant and his coaches, Dutchman Henk Ten Cate and long-serving Scot Steve Clarke, are "uncomfortable."Apparently their Chelsea futures will be determined by the appointment of the new manager, who could be another Dutchman, with both Guus Hiddink (a friend of Abramovich) and Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard (Ten Cate's boss at Barca) identified as possible successors. It is clear that people at Chelsea are showing their unwillingness to play under Grant.

In fact, his record at the club may be acceptable, just 3 defeats in 36 matches in charge at Chelsea. But they will be slightly disturbed that the three matches Chelsea have lost under Grant have been 3 very important and big matches- a cup final and Premier League games against their title challengers(Arsenal & Man U). They may be wondering whether their manager lacks the ability to produce results in big matches. Unlike Mourinho, who had won 3 cup finals & an unbeaten record against Arsenal in his 3+ years reign at the club.

After All, it will be interesting to see whether he can produce results when Chelsea's season, which is far from over, takes them into the latter stage of the Champions League and the FA Cup. A memorable treble may become realistic? Or if they get things wrongly, they could end the season with nothing? We will see when Grant and his squad are attempting to prepare for two crucial cup ties this week: the return leg against Greek champions Olympiacos in the last 16 of the Champions League, then the FA Cup quarter-final against Barnsley.

Monday, March 3, 2008

UEFA Champions League last 16 preview

With the first leg of the Champions League had already played, here are some selected important matches as we take a look at the chances for some big teams of progressing into the quarterfinal.

AC Milan vs Arsenal (first leg 0-0)
Arsenal could blame themselves for not taking their chances in the first leg as AC Milan secured a goalless draw at Emirates and looking good to beat Arsenal in the second leg at home.
Prediction: Milan through

Man United vs Lyon (first leg 1-1)
Lyon look as if they have beaten Man U in the 1st leg but Carlos Tevez's crucial late away goal in the first leg provide them the upper hand into the second leg for Man United.
Prediction: Man U through

Barcelona vs Celtic (first leg Barca lead 3-2) A win and 3 away goal for Barca in the first leg, they are certainly in a comfortable position and should not face any problem of advancing into the last 8 of this competition. Prediction: Barca through

Inter Milan vs Liverpool (first leg Liverpool lead 2-0)
A magnificent 2-0 victory in the first leg puts Liverpool in command of this tie. Perhaps this is the biggest margin so far in the last 16 as Liverpool got the definite advantage over their opponent. While Inter is facing an impossible task and need a big miracle to overcome the 2 goals deficit
Prediction: Liverpool through

Real Madrid vs AS Roma (first leg Roma lead 2-1)
Close one. Madrid played well in the first leg and were unlucky as Mancini's second-half strike earning the Roma a slender advantage to take to the Santiago Bernabéu. However, with an away goal, they will be confident enough to pit Roma in the second leg at home.
Prediction: Madrid through

Chelsea vs Olympiacos (first leg 0-0)
Olympiacos produced an impressive display to tame Chelsea and earn a scoreless draw in the first leg. With Chelsea looking invincible at home, they are expected to overcome their opponents in the second leg.
Prediction: Chelsea through