August 21, 2010

“The 1950 FIFA World Cup was the first since 1938, mostly because of an intercontinental dust-up commonly known as World War II. Brazil was selected to host the tournament on the back of a third-place performance in the previous World Cup, and it was eagerly anticipated by the newly democratic country, which was looking to establish itself as a global power, in football and otherwise. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro was able to push forward construction His Socks Are Flagsof a controversial stadium named after the Maracanã neighbourhood, opening it about a week before the World Cup began.” (Run of Play)

My Favourite Footballer…Xavi Hernandez

August 21, 2010

Xavi Hernandez
“Great players can be measured in a variety of ways. Whether it’s a brimming medal cabinet or incomparable statistics you’re looking for, Xavi Hernández has it all. When this era is eventually consigned to the history books, we will look back and wax lyrical about the all-conquering Barcelona side and the European and World champions, Spain. Xavi has been the heartbeat of both.” (The Equaliser)

AZ – Aktobe 1-1, the second half struggle explained

August 21, 2010

“We’ve seen a lot of European Football action this week. No less than six Dutch teams may reach the group stages of either the Champions League or the Europa League this year. Thing however, don’t look too good for Utrecht, having lost 2-0 away at Celtic and also PSV have some repair work to do after a clumsy 1-0 defeat at far far Siberia.” (11 tegen 11)

Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – EPL

August 21, 2010

“Arsenal hosted Blackpool in the English Premier League looking for its first win of the season. Blackpool were coming off an impressive 4-0 win against Wigan Athletic but were not expected to get any result in this match. The match highlights can be found here at Free Soccer Highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

Martin Hansson Stars In Rättskiparen (The Referee)

August 20, 2010

“In some strange turn of fate, Swedish channel SVT1 decided in early 2009 that it would behoove their nation to get a glimpse into Martin Hansson’s run up to the World Cup just finished. One year under the camera’s glare for a look into the life of Sweden’s best referee. You’ll know, of course, of the sharp turn the focus took in the late fall, when Thierry Henry handled the ball which became the goal which sent France to South Africa at the expense of Ireland. What was a simple documentary became a year in the life of the man who oversaw one of the biggest botched calls in recent footballing history.” (World Cup Blog)

Bundesliga 2010/11 – Can Anyone Challenge Bayern Munich?

August 20, 2010

“With the Bundesliga 2010/2011 season upon us and Bayern Munich’s players now back from a pretty good World Cup all round, our German football meister Geoff Edwards asks – who can stop FC Hollywood?” (Just Football)

La semaine en France: Week 1

August 20, 2010

“A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.” (Football Further), (Football Further – 2)

Pelé as a Human

August 20, 2010

“At the end of the episode entitled ‘Brazil’ in the excellent documentary series The History of Football, Pelé offers the interviewer a few comments on his own footballing genius. He declares that just as there can only ever be one Michaelangelo and one Beethoven, so can there only ever be one Pelé. Why? Because, he says in Portuguese, “my father is a closed shop.” When the female interviewer fails to laugh, he repeats his words in English, and adds a snipping motion with his finger. ‘Do you understand?’ he says, now staring at the camera with his world famous grin. ‘My father is a closed machine.'” (Run of Play)

Pelé v. the Animals
“Why do you watch ESPN instead of Animal Planet? Cute uniforms aside, bears are stronger, giraffes are faster, and kangaroos can jump much higher. Why watch a species that struggles to lift over 300 pounds or run a mile in under four minutes? More intriguingly, how did such a feeble runt of a species come to rule the planet? Luckily, two classic moments from Pelé provide answers.” (Run of Play)

(Run of Play – Pelé)

Peter Odemwingie the Baggie

August 20, 2010

“West Brom today completed the signing of Lokomotiv Moscow attacker, Peter Odemwingie. The fiery Nigerian follows in the footsteps of compatriots Nwanko Kanu, Sam Sodje and Ifeanyi Udeze in representing the Baggies.” (Defensive Midfielder)

Liverpool 1 Trabzonspor 0: match report

August 20, 2010

“After the red card, the red face. Joe Cole, always eager to please, was so keen to make a good impression at Anfield last night, following Sunday’s dismissal against the Arsenal, that he grabbed the ball when Liverpool were awarded a penalty in front of the Kop.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

Babel secures slender lead for Reds
“Ryan Babel handed Liverpool a 1-0 advantage in their Europa League play-off against Trabzonspor at Anfield but Joe Cole’s miserable week continued. Babel, playing as a lone striker for a much-changed Reds side, struck in injury time of an otherwise dismal first half.” (ESPN)

Liverpool 1-0 Trabzsonpor – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Europa League
“Liverpool opened the play-off qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League with a first leg match against Trabzonspor at Anfield. The match highlights can be found here at Free Soccer Highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

There Goes the Neighborhood

August 20, 2010

“The past few years have seen an influx of investors from the Far East, India, and the Middle East looking to break into the English game. Worries about diluting the purity of the English game have become the issue du jour. These sentiments are not restricted to England. Italy has struggled with the introduction of “others” into Italian society. France’s inverse love affair with African and Arab populations is well documented. This same narrative can be found in immigration debates in the United States where conservatives continuously harp on about our immigrant nation losing itself through, well, immigration.” (Nutmeg Radio)

Man U, Chelsea and a Bunch of Stiffs

August 20, 2010

“With just one game played in the new Premier League season, the standings are basically meaningless—we’re the equivalent of 50 yards into a marathon, when the guy in the gorilla costume is still in with a chance of the lead. But there’s no escaping the fact that the opening weekend has left English soccer’s top division with a familiar and somewhat ominous look: Chelsea and Manchester United occupy two of the top three spots and are already two points clear of their biggest title rivals.” (WSJ)

The Best, The Best, and The Best

August 19, 2010

“I owned a football encyclopaedia as a child, dating from around 1980 and now sadly lost, in which Jimmy Greaves rates the top ten footballers of all time. Pelé is number two. Greaves notes that he can’t be considered the best ever, because he was never tested in the English League, the toughest competition in the world. So George Best gets the accolade instead.” (Run of Play)

Internacional’s trophy remains nothing short of remarkable

August 19, 2010

“The prospect of the first Mexican winners of the Copa Libertadores flickered briefly on Wednesday night. In last week’s first leg of the final, Chivas Guadalajara had been outplayed and beaten 2-1 at home by Internacional of Brazil. Few people gave them much of a chance in the return game. In front of their own fans in Porto Alegre, Internacional had a 100 percent home record.” (SI – Tim Vickery)

The Synonym

August 19, 2010

“When People Who Don’t Like Football ask me why I do, I invariably answer: ‘You know Pelé? Well, it’s not because of him.’ Then I launch straight into the tragic story that is Garrincha’s life. I explain how he was Pelé’s direct opposite in so many ways. I’ve gotten pretty good at telling that story over the years. I try to make the game tangible for those poor lost souls. Lots of passion. Lots of Alegria do povo.” (Run of Play)

From Russia without gloves

August 19, 2010

“You wouldn’t think UEFA and the Oxford University Press has the kind of relationship where the former helps the latter do its job. However, after introducing a Europa League into football’s bloated calendar, never again will the makers of English language dictionaries struggle for the relevant example to elucidate ‘ambiguous’! PSV Eindhoven sit atop the Eredivisie table after 2 rounds, but start life in the 2010/11 edition of UEFAs second-class competition after a disappointing campaign last season.” (Tactics, analysis, opinion, & scouting)

Rangers: The Future Is As Murky As Ever

August 19, 2010

“This weekend the News of the World reported that the Andrew Ellis takeover of Rangers was back on, this time with funding from the almost inevitable Russian tycoon, in the form of Vladimir Antonov. The ‘paper quoted a “source close to” Antonov who claimed the deal was ‘99% complete’. This apparently came as news to Rangers who immediately denied any knowledge, and indeed to Antonov who also denied that any contact had been made, though he didn’t deny an interest. At the moment it seems likely to be yet another red herring in the ongoing Rangers saga, but for all the denials there is some plausibility to the idea that Ellis and Antonov might have teamed up. Antonov has the cash and is searching actively for a football club in which to invest it.” (twohundredpercent)

Match Of The Midweek: Lewes 2-1 Thurrock

August 19, 2010

“After a defeat at Staines Town in their opening Blue Square South match of the season on Saturday afternoon, the real test followed for Lewes this evening. Tonight’s match against Thurrock wasn’t merely their first home match of the new season. It was the first test of a brave new world, the first chance to see if they have a chance of stabilising their club under new management.” (twohundredpercent)

Werder Bremen 3-1 Sampdoria: Late Pazzini goal keeps the tie alive

August 19, 2010

“Bremen were the better side and looked to be sailing through to the group stage, but their loss of concentration might come back to haunt them. The game was an interesting match-up in terms of formations – Bremen played a 4-3-1-2 / 4-4-2 diamond system, with Aaron Hunt shuttling across the pitch into wide areas, hoping to impress after the departure of Mesut Oezil.” (Zonal Marking)

Paul Scholes: Adapta-Dull

August 19, 2010

“For the past week Paul Scholes has deservedly had his name in lights, and you imagine he’s spent most of the time squinting. Compliments sit as cosy as crabs in the pants of the Manchester United midfielder, or so we are led to imply from his meek, modest, once in a fuchsia moon post-match interviews. Every so often a marvellous performance, like that in the 3-0 win over Newcastle last night, demands his interrogation by the media, and he proves to be consistently coy.” (Spotters Badge)

Young Boys 3-2 Tottenham: Spurs fortunate to avoid a thrashing

August 18, 2010

Francesco Guardi
“A wonderful match – Tottenham looked like being given the thrashing of their life after half an hour, but recovered to take home a decent result, considering the two away goals. They made three changes from the side that were unfortunate not to beat Manchester City at the weekend – in came Sebastien Bassong, Giovani dos Santos and Roman Pavlyuchenko. The 4-4-2 remained. Young Boys lined up with a very interesting 4-2-3-1 shape, that became a 4-1-4-1 and a lopsided 3-3-3-1 at various points in the game.” (Zonal Marking)

Young Boys 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
“The UEFA Champions League play-off qualifying round began with several matches on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 including Tottenham Hotspur traveling to face BSC Young Boys.” (The 90th Minute)

Stepchild of Time

August 18, 2010

“Over Brian’s last few posts about Pelé, we—RoP’s community of contributors/commenters and readers—have advanced the notion that history punishes perfection by consigning it to irrelevance. Perfection is so unrelatable that it becomes ahistorical. It supersedes the ordinary to such an extent that it isn’t even extraordinary: it simply doesn’t belong in any category of our own experience. We have so little truck with it that we forget to adapt it for the generations that will follow us.” (Run of Play)

Zenit 1-0 Auxerre: Early Kerzhakov goal settles first leg

August 18, 2010

“Zenit deserve their slender advantage to take to France – but they’ll be disappointed they didn’t score more than one goal. The Russian leaders are unquestionably one of the most fascinating sides in Europe at the moment – Luciano Spalletti has them playing a distinctive, fluid brand of football which has brought them tremendous success in their own league – into the second half of the season, and still unbeaten.” (Zonal Minute)

US World Cup Cycle Report Cards: Forwards Edition

August 18, 2010

“This is the third of a four-part Series of Report Cards for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Four Year World Cup Cycle, 2007-2010. While we are not issuing grades for all 92 players capped by Bob Bradley during the cycle, we will feature players not on the World Cup roster who figured prominently in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup. We will issue grades of A-F, rather than player-rankings style grades of 1-10. This edition focuses on the American strikers. For prior entries– See Part I, Goalkeepers. See Part II, Midfielders.” (Yanks are coming)

Liverpool: Truths, Half-Truths & Downright

August 18, 2010

“‘I want Rafa to stay,’ screamed the headline in the Daily Mirror on April 24th this year. The thrust of the story was that a potential bidder for Liverpool FC had reached “a crucial stage” in negotiations with Tom Hicks and George Gillett to buy the club. The bidder had ‘been granted access to the club’s accounts’ yet still hadn’t been put off. Indeed, he believed a deal ‘could be finalised’ in June as ‘my audit team is examining the books and my legal team is in close contact with theirs.’ On August 3rd, the UK national media reported that Liverpool had ’11 days to consider’ the bidder’s ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ offer. A week later, the bidder’s spokesman finally spoke: ‘No decision to submit a bid has been made.’ The bidder’s name? Huang Jin-Hua. ‘Kenny’ to his mates.” (twohundredpercent)

Junito: Fearing Fear itself, Fearfully

August 18, 2010

“Every society has a cultural expression for childhood fear. In the United States of America, a land of abundance, vast homes, and suburban distance, the isolation manifests itself in the form of monsters. These monster do not lurk in the woods, the roof, or the basement. Rather, these insidious fiends dwell in the vacant spaces that we reserve for our bloated quantity of non-essential material possessions: the closet, under the bed. At night, after you parents have left and the clouds have strangled any glimpse of light out of the moon, you can hear the creepy critters scattering about. You pull the sheet up and over your head, but to no avail. The monster can hear you breathing. And, more disturbingly, you can hear them breathing.” (futfanatico)

The Fans’ Season Preview: Celtic

August 18, 2010

“Hopes for the season: I have rarely felt as pessimistic about an impending season as I do about this one. Last month I would have said ‘to avoid embarrassing ourselves in the Champions League’, but we’ve already been knocked out of that particular competition before it’s even really started. I still expect us to win the title though, and a run in the Europa League would be nice, even if it does sound like a gay Bulgarian pop duo. I’m not holding my breath.” (Sabotage Times)

Jose & Pep Change Places In La Liga

August 18, 2010

“The football season in Spain still has over a week to go before it finally gets going, but everything is already a touch topsy-turvy with la Liga’s supreme beings, Barcelona and Real Madrid. The narrative in recent years reads that the president of the Camp Nou likes to humour his managers by affording them a certain freedom in the hiring and firing of players. The coach’s job at Real Madrid tends to be given as much importance as the poor soul responsible for oiling up Cristiano Ronaldo’s pre-match pecks. Come to think of it, the latter still had more say at the club than Manuel Pellegrini did during his one and only year under Florentino Pérez.” (Football365)

Özil’s latest dream comes true
“If the front cover of Marca is to be believed – which it never should be, really – Real Madrid have landed themselves an absolute charmer of a footballer in Mesut Özil. According to Wednesday’s edition, the German told his former club, Werder Bremen, that “either you sell me or I won’t play” ahead of their Champions League clash with Sampdoria on Wednesday night.” (FourFourTwo)

Hamburg in a mess

August 18, 2010

“It was roughly two decades ago that the Crash Kid came to prominence in east Hamburg. For at least ten years, this schoolboy struck fear into the city’s car owners. He took, drove away, collided and repented – only to repeat the cycle at the first available opportunity. At round about the same time, a similar phenomenon was plaguing the western part of the city. This time, the car crashes weren’t being caused by a juvenile delinquent, but by the city’s leading football club.” (WSC)

Louis Vuitton and the Eternal Champion

August 18, 2010

“Science fiction and fantasy author Michael Moorcock has written an enormous sequence of novels about the Eternal Champion, the same hero reborn in dozens of different persons. Whether the Eternal Champion is named Elric of Melniboné, Oswald Bastable or Ulrich von Bek, he is always first and foremost the Eternal Champion. The particularities of each champion’s life and personality are different, but their role is the same every time, to restore balance to an off-kilter world.” (Run of Play)

Americans Abroad: Michael Bradley shines, while Tim Howard flops

August 17, 2010

Michael Bradley
“After all the hype and speculation surrounding a major transfer for Michael Bradley in the aftermath of the World Cup, the 23-year-old New Jersey native stayed put at Borussia Monchengladbach, and the Bundesliga club couldn’t be happier to have him. Bradley scored the opening goal in his team’s DFB Pokal (German Cup) first-round victory on Saturday, executing a give-and-go with Mohamadou Idrissou and bouncing a sliding volley from about nine yards out into the goal in the 39th minute to keep up his run of good form.” (SI)

Manchester United 3-0 Newcastle: Sublime Scholes dictates the game

August 17, 2010

“A comfortable victory for Manchester United – the winning margin could have been greater, but Newcastle were not without their opportunities. United fielded Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov upfront together, in a fairly traditional 4-4-2 shape with two natural wingers. Newcastle played their expected 4-4-1-1 shape, with Kevin Nolan deployed in behind Andy Carroll, the lone striker.” (Zonal Marking)

The End

August 17, 2010

“By 1977, the disco starship of the NASL had already blasted off pretty far into its groovy cartoon orbit—that was the year the New York Cosmos dropped the ‘New York’ from their name. It was a league of John Oates mustaches—half the players looked like mellow plumbers—and haystack man-perms, a green festivity of daffy-eyed showmen in 100% cotton shorts. Pelé was in his third season with the Cosmos, deep in his ‘Black Pearl’ phase and now officially representing not only Studio 54 and Andy Warhol’s eight bzillionth Factory, but the glittering expanse of all creation, everywhere: Henry Kissinger went to his games. Pelé had been the MVP of the league the season before, but he was 36 and now he was going to retire.” (Run of Play)

Forced From Home

August 17, 2010

“Stay in the game long enough, doing whatever it is that keeps you afloat, and you’re bound to get the email – how do I become a soccer writer? How do I make money off my website? They come from kids and adults, from established bloggers and newly launched dreamers. …” (This is American Soccer)

My Favourite Footballer…Alessandro Del Piero

August 17, 2010

Alessandro Del Piero
“I feel in my thirties I can say this, knowing whole-heartedly that I will feel no greater affection or appreciation for any other player, past or present. I have seen better footballers, such as Maradona, who’s skills were truly breathtaking. I have seen better goalscorers, Marco Van Basten, even the eternally frustrating Fillipo Inzaghi. My appreciation of Del Piero transcends sport. I admire him greatly as a player, believing him to be both more effective and more consistent than many of his peers such as Zidane and Totti.” (The Equaliser)

Argentina mired in transition

August 17, 2010

“Rebuilding the sense of team after the painful World Cup exit, and following on from the discharge of Diego Maradona, was never going to be easy for Argentina. Only a handful of Argentinian press travelled to Dublin, to cover the 1-0 friendly win against Ireland on Tuesday, which marked the international soccer launch of the new Aviva stadium, as well as that of Sergio “Checho” Batista’s interim appointment to the adult men’s squad.” (SI)

It’s not Liverpool who are in crisis, it’s Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal side

August 17, 2010

“There was a time when a stalled contract negotiation would be a trauma at Highbury/the Emirates. Is it possible that an uncomplicated extension to Arsène Wenger’s stay at Arsenal, agreed over the weekend, could soon be cause for concern?” (Telegraph)

Fabio Capello & The Tabloid Pack Mentality: Fatuous Expectation And Poisonous

August 17, 2010

“So it is that the love affair between the British press and the Italian comes to an end. England’s friendly match against Hungary last week was what it was – a team in transition playing a mediocre team in a pre-season friendly match – but there was no way that Capello could ‘win’ this match, especially after his response to a leading question over the future of Sir David of Beckham. The press were looking for a reason to stick the knife into Capello and twist it and this question coupled with his answer to it gave them all the ammunition that they needed, although no-one has yet indicated the real reason why this may be.” (twohundredpercent)

Man … Superman … Leo Messi

August 16, 2010

Leo Messi
“It’s not big and it’s not clever but sometimes swearing is the only thing that will do. Sometimes you’ve used up every other word and nothing else quite hits the spot. You’ve rummaged round the back of the sofa, rifled through the drawers, turned out your pockets and still come up empty. Pep Guardiola insisted that he was clean out of adjectives and frankly so was everyone else. Spain was suffering a severe shortage of superlatives last night. The Catalan newspaper Sport invited readers to send in headlines for what they had just witnessed and there were plenty of super, sensational and sublimes, some magic, magnificent and marvellouses, wows and wonderfuls, plus deities by the dozen, and even a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but still there was no way to really do it justice. No polite way anyway. Just wide eyes, a wider mouth and a simple: holy shit!” (Guardian)

Super Cup sulking and Özil obstruction
“On Saturday night, LLL was considering breaking a firm blog tradition by sacrificing its precious time to watch a pre-season friendly. In this case, the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup between Sevilla and Barcelona. That was, until it discovered that Barça bigwig Sandro Rosell wasn’t bothering to travel to the Sánchez Pizjuán – apparently because he wanted to make his official debut at the Camp Nou next week, showing that the expansion of his presidential ego is progressing at a very pleasing place.” (FourFourTwo)

Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal: Arsenal dominate, but only just grab a point

August 16, 2010

“A crazy game that neither side truly deserved to win. Arsenal’s side was largely as expected – injuries in the centre of midfield meant Jack Wilshere was deployed alongside Abou Diaby, who played a more conservative role than he likes. Laurent Koscielny made his debut alongside Thomas Vermaelen, whilst Marouane Chamakh also started. Liverpool played a 4-2-3-1 with Steven Gerrard deep alongside Javier Mascherano and Joe Cole as the link player. Milan Jovanovic played an industrious, Kuyt-esque role on the left, ahead of Daniel Agger in an “unfamiliar” left-back role.” (Zonal Marking)

10 Thoughts on Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal
“After the first heavyweight game of the 2010/2011 season (or was it, given it pitted 7th vs 3rd from last year?), here are ten observations and conclusions I came to after an interesting match…” (Just Football)

Robinho in urgent need of fresh start

August 16, 2010

“Robinho is in footballing limbo. He sat out Manchester City’s opening game of the Premier League campaign and although he might be in action in midweek in the Europa League, or possibly playing his football somewhere else before the end of the month, he needs to sort things out fast because this is a huge season for him. I well recall his debut in the Brazilian Championship for an astonishingly young Santos side that went on to lift the title. That was eight years ago. Eight years from now, Robinho will be 34 going on 35, so his time at the top has probably already passed the halfway mark and yet a huge question mark still hangs over him.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

The IBWM Serie A Preview

August 16, 2010

“Premier League, Premier League, Premier League….but where did last season’s Champions League winners come from? Italy of course. With the new Serie A season upon us, Rocco Cammisola looks at what we can expect. From afar it would appear that Serie A’s title race has been – and will be – a foregone conclusion this season. Inter have taken the past five Serie A titles, including the title awarded to them following the Calciopoli scandal, under 2 different managers. But last year’s campaign had its fair share of twists and turns to keep us captivated.” (In Bed with Maradona – Part 1), (In Bed with Maradona – Part 2)

McGeady could open the floodgates

August 16, 2010

“He’s probably oblivious to it all, but Aiden McGeady might just be about to spark another Russian revolution. McGeady’s £9.5 million move to Spartak Moscow from Celtic might have raised more than a few eyebrows among Scotland’s football fraternity but others could soon follow his lead.” (ESPN)

You, me and Rothmans

August 16, 2010

“This week, it was with no small amount of delight that I took delivery of this season’s Sky Sports Football Yearbook (or ‘Rothmans’ as all football fans still refer to it). I haven’t had one for a long time – not since my teens – and had forgotten what a pleasure it is to leaf through its thin, cheap pages. Reassuringly still edited by father and daughter team Jack and Glenda Rollin, it does a brilliant job of reminding you all the stuff from previous seasons that you’d forgotten about – particularly the most recent season.” (Narrow The Angle)

EPL Weekend Review Show #1: EPL Talk Podcast

August 16, 2010

“The first weekend of the season went into the books with the final whistle at Anfield, Arsenal’s visit to Liverpool the EPL Talk Podcast Match of the Week. To talk about the match and the eight from Saturday, I was joined Sunday night by Kartik Krishnaiyer for the first EPL Talk Weekend Review Show of the season.” (EPL Talk)

Marseille already in the eye of a storm

August 16, 2010

“When Patrice Evra pointed out to Lilian Thuram that ‘walking around in glasses and a hat does not turn you into Malcolm X’, he could equally have been referring to Hatem Ben Arfa, albeit in a completely different context. The richly talented, if inconsistent, France international bore a faint resemblance to the human rights activist while posing for a moody portrait to accompany an interview with L’Equipe at Charles-De-Gaulle airport over the weekend. Ben Arfa’s beard and his choice of spectacles meant he certainly carried off the look of a freedom fighter, even if his behaviour has once again divided opinion.” (FourFourTwo)

Liverpool 1 – 1 Arsenal

August 15, 2010

Victory of Joshua over the Amalekites, Nicolas Poussin
“Jose Reina’s late howler enabled Arsenal to snatch a draw from a thrilling Premier League opener at 10-man Liverpool. The Liverpool goalkeeper saw the ball rebound off him after Marouane Chamakh had hit the post in the final minute at Anfield to cancel out a David Ngog strike. The goal was reward for a late spell of Arsenal pressure but it was unfortunate for Liverpool, who had survived most of the second half unscathed after the sending off of Joe Cole.” (ESPN)

A few thoughts on Liverpool’s draw with Arsenal
“Roy Hodgson would gain employment as a psychologist … The new Liverpool manager has made a greater impression on the morale of his club than on the shape or make-up of his team. Last season an early dismissal of a key player would have been the signal for moody introspection and finger-pointing, but today they responded superbly to adversity. Not even the timing and manner of Arsenal’s scrappy equaliser should disguise that fact. Liverpool played better with 10 and occasionally nine men on the pitch than they had done before Cole’s red card.” (Guardian)

Pepe Reina howler gives Arsenal a point against 10-man Liverpool
“This was a draw that felt as if it contained a season’s worth of incident. That was encapsulated in the figure of Laurent Koscielny, the centre-half making his competitive debut for Arsenal. He was fouled in the incident that brought a red card for Joe Cole, yet would be dismissed himself in the final moments with a second caution.” (Guardian)

Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats “It was a match that wasn’t pretty and ultimately was decided by poor goalkeeping on both sides. The match was about even in the first half with each team getting some chances but no goals. A turning point came just before halftime when Joe Cole was sent off for a late challenge. It was a red card as Cole had gone on with both feet and the referee had little choice (following the rules/guidelines set by the FA).” (The 90th Minute)

Presenting the Trophy: 1929, 1954 and 1958

August 15, 2010

“In 1929, the crowd are more specifically spectators, and less participants, than they are today, at least at Wembley. Wembley was strange turf – an away ground for everyone present, of course, and it would be interesting to have e.g. a ‘talking picture’ from Stamford Bridge, Burnden Park or Maine Road to contrast the 1929 Final with.” (More Than Mind Games)

Paulo’s discovery of attacking

August 15, 2010

“We are delighted to publish below our first guest post from David Bevan, Head Honcho of the estimable new Football League website, The Seventy Two. It has been an enjoyable few weeks sharing ideas with David and we look forward to further fruitful cooperation. Here is David’s take on the early days of Sousa-ism at the Walkers.” (thetwounfortunates)

Tottenham 0-0 Man City: Spurs dominate but Hart keeps it level

August 15, 2010

Roberto Mancini
“An excellent game to get the new Premier League season up and running. No goals, but tremendous entertainment and some interesting tactical elements too. Tottenham lined up with ten of the eleven who were involved in the penultimate game of last season against City – Vedran Corluka in for Younes Kaboul was the only changed. Roberto Mancini chose to field new signings Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva and Yaya Toure, in a defensive-minded 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 that essentially featured three holding midfielders.” (Zonal Marking)

Citizen’s Arrest(ed) Development?
“Manchester City are without doubt English football’s most rapidly rising force, but Roberto Mancini’s team of supremely gifted guns for hire are struggling to find a collective identity. In many ways this situation is not surprising, most of the players have only known one another for a matter of days, but it was a problem that also seemed to afflict the Eastlands outfit last season and has come, unfortunately, to be a defining feature of the Mancini era.” (The Equaliser)

The Premier League 2010/2011 – Just Football’s New Season Roundtable Discussion

August 15, 2010

“A month and a day after Andres Iniesta slammed the ball low and true past Maarten Stekelenburg to win the World Cup for Spain, the Premier League is back. Richard Keys and the boys have some shiny new suits and ties, the 20 competing teams are ready for a shot at the title (who are we kidding, Blackpool’s title odds of 10,000-1 to win the league says it all), and the phrase ‘best league in the world’ is being dusted down, showered, groomed and dressed ready for an outing roughly every single time any league game has more than 2 goals.” (Just Footballs)

France’s World Cup mutineers quick to move on

August 15, 2010

“Leaving the Stade de France after the Thierry Henry handball against the Republic of Ireland, a prominent figure from French politics, Philippe Seguin, remarked to a friend: ‘Even football isn’t what it was.’ Seguin, a former president of the French parliament, died a few weeks later. If he was glum about France’s dubious passage to the World Cup finals, one wonders what would he have thought had he lived to see the mutiny.” (WSC)

The Premier League Previews 2010/11, Part 20: Wolverhampton Wanderers – Age Before Beauty?

August 14, 2010

“For a team that won three league titles in the 1950s, and has four FA Cup wins to it’s name, last season was as good as it’s been for a whole generation of Wolverhampton Wanderers fans, seeing as it will be 29 years since the club last embarked on consecutive seasons in the top flight. Mick McCarthy made some controversial decisions last year – his fielding of a virtual reserve side at Old Trafford by far the most standout one. Some of his other decisions now seem hypocritical, considering how defensive Wolves were last season, and how McCarthy spent the last few weeks of June criticising every World Cup minnow who dared to play for a draw in the group stages.” (twohundredpercent)

The Premier League Previews 2010/11, Part 19: Wigan Athletic – International Men Of Mystery
“One of the dangers of writing these predictionless previews, as our Premier League previews have been on twohundredpercent this year, is that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of saying nice things about everyone. When it comes to football, my nature is always to look on the positive side anyway – I’m at a loss to explain this because I can assure you I’m one miserable git in every other walk of life, but on Saturday afternoons I become the eternal optimist. So it is that, while I’m in no sense a Wigan supporter, when I come to look at Roberto Martinez’s squad and make my best assessment of how they’ll do, it’s easy for me to look on the bright side and think – yeah, they’ll be fine.” (twohundredpercent)

The Premier League Previews 2010/11, Part 18: West Ham United – Owner Over-Occupied?
“It’s been an interesting few years when you look at the financial side, and the stewardship of West Ham United. When the club were last relegated in 2003, chairman Terence Brown played a canny hand when dealing with players exiting the club. Unlike other relegated clubs in previous seasons, who proclaimed a firesale the moment their fates had been sealed, and followed it up with almost weekly media proclamations that they had to sell players, thus reducing the value of said players, Brown made it clear: West Ham did not need to sell. Brown even went as far as turning down a transfer request from Jermain Defoe, submitted less than 24 hours after the Hammers had been relegated.” (twohundredpercent)

Announcing Pelé Week

August 14, 2010

“The Premier League season starts in about six minutes, so you’re probably expecting this site to revert back to blanket coverage of the tiny crinkle above Arsène Wenger’s nose. (‘It’s looking world-weary, Jim.’) But first, we’re going to make room for something else, because I keep thinking about the last post, and I’m convinced that this sad neglect of Pelé has to end.” (Run of Play)

The Joy of Six: great Liverpool v Arsenal moments and matches

August 14, 2010

“From Michael Thomas’s title-decider to Robbie Fowler playing Good Samaritan, via a spectacular John Barnes free-kick” (Guardian)

Scottish Premier League 2010/11 Preview

August 14, 2010

“Just in time for the new season, kicking off at lunchtime today, here’s the last of twohundredpercent’s pre-season previews: the SPL. Daft as it might sound for a league with only twelve teams, there are four separate battles or mini-leagues going on within the SPL these days. The title race which has long since been restricted to the big two; the battle for third, which I almost think of as the real Scottish Championship; the chase for any remaining spots in the top six, which might sound pretty trivial but it’s about extra revenue post-split as well as the chance to chase a European spot; and lastly the struggle to avoid the single relegation spot. There is a fair amount of fluidity between these groups of course, particularly the bottom two, and a good run post-Christmas can alter the targets for the season. But by and large it’ll be reasonably clear which battle each team is fighting before we’re very far into the season.” (twohundredpercent)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0 – 1 Celtic
“Paddy McCourt seized an early chance to prove he can fill Aiden McGeady’s boots as his superb strike earned Celtic a 1-0 winning start to their Clydesdale Bank Premier League campaign at Inverness.” (ESPN)

6 Players to Watch in Premier League 2010/11

August 14, 2010

Dani Pacheco
“Well it’s time for that obligatory Premier League Preview. However due to lack of time and the fact that several esteemed journalists (and some not at all esteemed) have previewed the league, I feel it’s best to highlight 6 players who have all the tools needed to be proficient and efficient in the Premier League. It’s been a strange transfer window really. Very quiet bar the big spenders Manchester City and also a case of ‘chase the hottest prospect around Europe’ game (Loic Remy, Mesut Ozil) in which several managers have participated in and ultimately coming up with no signing.” (6 Pointer)

2010-11 English Premier League Preview, Parts I-IV: EPL Talk Podcast

August 14, 2010

“We’re one day away from the start of the 2010-11 English Premier League season, and in response to your requests, we roll into the weekend with our full EPL preview. This podcast is all four of our preview shows edited into one file for your listening ease.” (EPL Talk)

There’s always last year ~ Premier League 2009-10

August 14, 2010

” The predicted Premier League table in the WSC guide for 2009-10 turned out to be right in only two positions: we had Man City to finish fifth and Hull second from bottom.” (WSC)

Expect another close EPL-title race

August 13, 2010

Antoine Caron, The Triumph of Mars
“With the Premier League season kicking off Saturday, here’s what the next nine months might have in store …” (SI)

Premiership season predictions
“With a week to go before the season begins, here is my read on how the 20 Premier League clubs will finish, with the caveat that rosters could still change because we’re in the midst of the transfer window.” (SI)

Fergie squanders Ozil money on Oliver Twist
“The new season is nearly upon us and Off The Ball will be scratching around the underbelly of professional football for some bizarre and often inexplicable revelations every step of the way. This week, we have Manchester United spending £7.4 million on some bloke from the Portuguese third division, Steven Gerrard claiming Joe Cole is better than Lionel Messi, Patrice Evra’s attack on Lillian Thuram and a referee running for his life.” (ESPN)

Pretenders eager to kick-off after poor pre-seasons
“It was a stroll in the sunshine, a chance to introduce new players to an appreciative audience. That, historically, was the role of the pre-season friendly. Now its definition has changed. It can become part of a global PR campaign, winning new friends and cementing distant allegiances. For the biggest clubs, it can be a lucrative interlude before the official start of business.” (ESPN)