Arsenal – The Song Remains The Same

October 3, 2012


“It has been a mixed start to the season for Arsenal, as promising away performances at champions Manchester City and a rejuvenated Liverpool have been balanced against a disappointing home defeat to Chelsea. However, there is an air of quiet optimism among the fans that Arsène Wenger’s new-look side will be able to mount a challenge once the new players have fully gelled. It certainly feels better than last year when the Gunners were on the wrong end of an 8-2 thrashing by Manchester United. In fact, Arsenal recovered well after that disastrous start to finish in a creditable third position, securing qualification for the Champions League for a hugely impressive 15 seasons in a row.” Swiss Rambler


Big-spending Zenit face Milan under strain of divisions and defeats

October 3, 2012

“It’s not difficult to pinpoint where it started to go wrong for Zenit. Last season they won the league by 13 points, lifting the title for the second time in succession. Although they were beaten in the Super Cup by Rubin, they began this season with four straight wins, despite a fixture list that looked testing: there was a 3-1 triumph at CSKA and then a 5-0 demolition of Spartak. At that stage, it looked as though Zenit might cruise to a hat-trick of Russian titles.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


HH2: The Other Herrera

October 3, 2012

“An autocratic manager of South American descent, a success in Spain but enjoying his peak years at the sharp end of catenaccio-fuelled 1960s Serie A. Articles about the well documented life and times of Signor Herrera are not exactly thin on the ground, but this time Helenio takes only an unfamiliar supporting role. This is actually the story of one of his main managerial contemporaries, the unrelated Paraguayan Heriberto Herrera, or HH2 as he was to be christened by the Italian press. He was a manager who is barely known today despite a career that reads like a diluted and histrionic free version of Helenio’s. He may not have amassed the prodigious trophy haul nor the media adulation of HH, but he did joust gamely with ‘il mago’ and bloody his nose on several occasions.” In Bed With Maradona


Time to stop complaining about time?

October 3, 2012


“Sir Alex Ferguson was exceptionally grumpy on Saturday night. His Manchester United side was trying to mount a furious comeback against Tottenham and ran out of time: The referee gave four minutes of injury time, added a handful of seconds and that was that. ‘The biggest insult is the wasted time,’ Sir Alex fumed. ‘It’s an insult to the game. It’s denying you the proper chance to win a football match.'” ESPN


Carles Puyol injury mars Barcelona’s Champions League win over Benfica

October 3, 2012

“Lionel Messi set up goals for Alexis Sánchez and Cesc Fábregas in Barcelona’s 2-0 Champions League Group G victory over Benfica on Tuesday but their victory was overshadowed by a serious-looking arm injury sustained by their captain, Carles Puyol. The Catalans had Sergio Busquets dismissed two minutes from time but will be more concerned about Puyol, who landed awkwardly after leaping for a ball and was carried off on a stretcher in obvious pain on 78 minutes. The Spain international was playing his first match since recovering from a knee problem. The club said later he had dislocated his elbow.” Guardian


Inconsistent Arsenal still lacks ‘moral courage’ despite changes

October 3, 2012

“Some things never change. All season the question has been whether Arsenal had, at last, found the defensive resolve to make it a genuine threat for honors. A 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Saturday provided the answer; the same old flaws, the same old weaknesses persist. It can seem, at the highest level, as though soccer is primarily about control of midfield: dominate there, and the chances will come. But that is assuming all else is equal, and for Arsenal it rarely is.” SI – Jonathan Wilson