Monday, 22 August 2011

Sports News Round-Up

So the second week of the Premier League season has passed us by (unless you're a Spurs fan who has to wait until tonight for matchday numero uno). It's probably fair to say that the weekend's action will be remembered not for quality football, but for fascinating subplots, shocking refereeing decisions, and the occasional bout of handbags at ten paces. Not the mention some amusing missed sitters.

I may as well start with some self-congratulation. Like probably everyone except Arsene Wenger, I stressed the need for Arsenal to sign some combative Scott Parker-esque quality in the centre of the park. Sure enough, Liverpool's second goal was an embarassment in that department. Admittedly, Emmanuel Frimpong had been pretty decent up until that point, but his lack of experience, and knowledge when to stay on his feet cost him a full 90 minutes. The gaps he left were hence exposed to give Suarez an easy tap-in. The 2-0 defeat also threw light on an alarming statistic. For all the need for more experience and brawn in the more defensive positions, we cannot ignore the fact that Arsenal have scored 1 goal in 3 games in all competitions. That must be excruciating to watch for Emirates regulars and the travelling support. As must be the realisation that Liverpool are hunting down Arsenal's 4th spot from last season. Your move Arsene.

Now some more self-congratulation, as my beloved Newcastle picked up a hard-earned three points at arch-rivals Sunderland's Stadium of Light. I started the game bemoaning Enrique's sale and lack of replacement, and fearing the worst with Ryan Taylor, an average player in his correct position, being played at left-back instead. Fortunately, this was one of the games that keeps his set-piece specialist reputation intact. Just call him David Beckham. Yet again, Joey Barton was in the headlines, and not for his highly anticipated Chuck Norris vs Jack Bauer match-up with Cattermole, but for a header that was stopped on the line by one-time Toon target Sebastian Larsson's hand. No red card. No penalty. Howard Webb will be thanking his lucky stars that Newcastle went on to win the game.

At Goodison Park, Everton's need for striking reinforcements was again made painfully clear by a 1-0 defeat at the hands of newly-promoted QPR. Also by taking off a striker for a midfielder when trying to chase a game. Even Tim Cahill's normally reliable goal-getting ways deserted him, as he put forward an early Sitter of The Season contender. MOTD did a pretty good job with capturing shots of utter disbelief from Everton fans. Don't worry Mr Moyes, I'm sure your place at Old Trafford is secure once Sir Alex is carried from the dugout in a bodybag...

However, if Darren Ferguson's Peterborough keep up their current form, Sir Alex might just bestow the job to his son in the will! A 7-1 thrashing of Ipswich shot Posh up to 6th in the Championship table. I know it's crazy talk, but I would love to see a managerial father-and-son match-up next season in the Premier League. It's the kind of story that could be turned into a best-selling football thriller of a movie. Unrealistic perhaps, but maybe the FA Cup or Carling Cup balls will be kind to my dream.

Speaking of living up to a father's legendary name, Nigel Clough is doing a fine job at the moment. Hopefully this season his Derby County side can sustain their current world-beating form over a whole season, as their 3-0 win over Doncaster Rovers keeps them joint top of the pile for now with 4 wins from 4. Even now, it is their best start for 106 years. If you ask me though, that's a pretty damning indictment of their ability to leap out of the blocks! As for their victims, Doncaster, well last season, particularly in the second half, they were on the complete slide, and with no points on the board so far, Sean O'Driscoll's oracle looks to be fading...

Jumping into some transfer news, it looks like Juan Mata is finally on his way to Chelsea for £23m. Spurs fans will no doubt be sleeping a bit easier now. That is, until Roberto Mancini gets on the phone after securing Nasri.

After Blackburn's undoubtedly nightmarish bit for his services, 34 year-old Raul has announced his intention to stay at Schalke for the remainder of his contract. Pele was unavailable for comment amid rumours that Steve Kean was interested in his services...


Andy Murray has hit his way to victory at the Cincinatti Masters. He beat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-0, but with the Serb retiring with a shoulder injury (plus general exhaustion from his superhuman efforts this year) it will take a lot more than this to convince doubters (and his own mind) that he is good enough to finally win a Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows this year. As Einstein would say, to keep expecting Murray to win a major is at odds with the very definition of sanity. To prove that I myself am of sound mind, I will predict the Scot's elimination at the semi-final stage. Sorry Muzza.

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