Posts Tagged ‘Paul Scholes’

A third away win for Manchester United in this season and that puts the gap between them and Arsenal at 5 points. Arsenal, meanwhile, on the same day, ended up booking a place at Wember-ley for the Carling Cup final. We now know that their opponents on that day will be Birmingham City who beat West Ham 4-3 on aggregate.

More on that in a bit, but first lets start off with Man United’s terrible first half performance at Bloomfield Road.

You know there’s something wrong with a United performance when Nemanja Vidic almost scores an own goal. I don’t even know where to start. The defence, the midfield, Wayne Rooney? I don’t even understand why Sir Alex started with the 4-3-3 formation when the 4-4-2 has been working wonders thus far. Of course, it was changed before half time with Rooney playing up front with Berba and Gibson moving to the left leaving Scholes and Fletcher in the center of midfield. After that they played as if their life depended on it. Those of you who don’t sense sarcasm in that statement can kindly kill yourself in a painful manner.

As woeful as United’s first half was, Blackpool’s was fantastic. Charlie Adam was spreading the ball here, there and everywhere, and more often than not, Patrice Evra was caught of out position leading to Blackpool attacks. Evra was perhaps at fault for the second goal after he was caught ballwatching while DJ Campbell headed it into the back of the net. What’s worrying for United is that defending from set pieces has traditionally been one of their strengths, but this time the marking was all over the place.

What changed it in the second half was the introduction of Ryan Giggs who brought more urgency into the game. Another pivotal moment was the removal of the ineffective Shrek, for whom a certain Javier Hernandez came on. If Rooney continues playing like this, United fans will have to change his chant slightly from “White Pele” to “White Adebayor” perhaps.

By the way, Berbatov is top scorer for United with 19 goals and Hernandez has 8. Nani has more goals than Shrek who has only netted 3 in the season. Why on earth aren’t Berbatov and Hernandez United’s front pairing? Its a question only the gum chewing bespectacled wise old man can answer.

Entertaining - but he might pay the price for it

In the end, it finished 3-2 in favour of United. This was perhaps as much because of Ian Holloway’s policy of attacking as because of United’s policy of attacking. Towards the end, United were easily breaking and stretching Blackpool. Its definitely entertaining football, but will it help them fight off relegation this season is anyone’s guess. After all they’re only 6 points clear of 18th placed Wigan.

Arsenal are going to Wember-ley

Its been so long since Arsenal have gone to Wembley that their coach driver claims he’s forgotten the way. He was quoted as saying “I think I’ll have to go and buy a map. But the problem is, the mapmakers are holding out for a buck and Arsene [Wenger] has said that he won’t pay more than 50 pence.”

The crisis was resolved after the map paid the other 50 pence.

By the way, this blog (and me specifically) predicted that Arsenal would end their trophy drought this season. So I hope they beat Birmingham.

Richard Keys is doing too much Crystal Meth
“There are some dark forces at work here. I asked if we could make people aware of the fact that [Massey and Keys] had had a conversation and thought it was best for both parties to move on. I was told ‘no’. And 24 hours passed, by which time the world had gone mad. I don’t know why I was told ‘no’… I remember saying to Sian ‘I need to make this official, on behalf of Andy and myself we unreservedly apologise for our behaviour. It was wrong.’

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Careful with that meth, Keysey

That’s part of the official apology tendered by Richard Keys. Who on earth are the dark forces here? Sauron? Voldemort? Silly me, of course he’s referring to the Sith Lord Palpatine.

Fact of the matter is – Keys was wrong. I don’t know what difference it would’ve made if he’s apologized on Monday or on Tuesday, so long as this Monday are Tuesday isn’t a year, five or twenty down the line.


 

 

 

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The week has been pretty good for the top 4. Wait, I think its best to say top 3, don’t know who the fourth is – Tottenham, City or Liverpool? I think we’ll give it to Spurs considering they DID finish fourth last season. But if Spurs are included, then they had their ups and they had their downs as well.

Weekend was United versus Spurs and within 3 minutes of the game Park Ji Sung hit the upright. I was expecting a flowing game and it came. Lets be quite honest, I was on the edge up until Nani scored United’s second. Perhaps one of the most controversial goals ever scored in the Premier League era, but in my opinion it was a legitimate goal. Clattenburg made an absolute meal of it. He has it in for United versus Spurs game – Pedro Mendes’ goal being disallowed, giving United a penalty in the 2006/7 season incorrectly and then failing to give Spurs one even though Gary Neville was holding on to Chimbonda in the penalty box.

Clattenburg made a complete mess of things

The goal was good though. However what I really noticed was that Nani had to be told by Scholes to shoot. Some of you may say it wasn’t sportsman like behaviour for Scholes to ask Nani to shoot. I don’t know about that, but what I’d really like to draw your attention to is the fact that Scholes brain works really really quickly.

While perhaps all the other players on the pitch were pretty sure that it was a free kick, it was Scholes who realised that the ref hadn’t blown the whistle therefore the game was still in play due to the advantage given to Spurs (either that or he understood what Clattenburg meant with his shrug). Its fantastic how he figured it out in the heat of the game, but then we all know he has a cool head on his shoulders except when he needs to make a tackle.

Chelsea won away at Blackburn which was definitely a tough fixture and Arsenal managed to win in the dying moments of the game against West Ham. The Hammers would have been quite disappointed especially after Robert Green making some fantastic saves during the game. Nonetheless, Song managed to win it in the end for Arsenal and therefore they remain second in the Premier League standings 5 points behind Chelsea and on level with United but with better goal difference (+2).

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Gareth Bale rips apart Inter Milan again

Bale ripped apart Inter Milan in the first leg at the San Siro but since the final result was Inter 4 – 3 Spurs, it wasn’t talked about too much. Bale then repeated his performance at White Hart Lane in front of the Tottenham faithful and I’ll bet they’d love to make a DVD out of this!

Humbler of Maicon

Beating the reigning European Champions can have a very satisfying feeling. But absolutely hammering the reigning European Champions gives you a sense of euphoria. Spurs are pretty sure to go through barring some unforgivable mistakes.

Credit to Harry Redknapp for always playing attacking football and you see the results. Bale absolutely ripped apart Maicon twice and has trampled all over his reputation of being the best right back in the world. Rafael Da Silva (Manchester United’s young full back, also Brazilian) did a much better job of containing Bale at Old Trafford.

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Other Champions League shizz bizz..

Real Madrid managed to draw 2-2 against AC Milan at the San Siro. Two goals by Pippo Inzaghi (the second one was perhaps offside.. then again he was born offside, wasn’t he?) for Milan and a goal each from Higuain and Pedro Leon (in the end) to put Madrid through to the group stages. Still unbeaten in Europe, Real Madrid.

Group G

Teams Pld Pts
1 Real Madrid CF Real Madrid 4 10
2 AC Milan Milan 4 5
3 AFC Ajax Ajax 4 4
4 AJ Auxerre Auxerre 4 3

Arsenal missed a brilliant chance to cement their place in the last 16 of the Competition after losing 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk. The Gunners went in front through Walcott and then were 1-1 due to an Eastmond own goal. Following this Eduardo came back to haunt his old club (as I mentioned he might). 2-1 to Shakhtar on the night, although Arsenal are still favourites to go through.

Group H

Teams Pld Pts
1 Arsenal FC Arsenal 4 9
2 FC Shakhtar Donetsk Shakhtar Donetsk 4 9
3 SC Braga Braga 4 6
4 FK Partizan Partizan 4 0

Chelsea has booked its place in the last sixteen and don’t really have much to worry about having conceded only 1 goal in the European encounters. The battle for second between Spartak Moskva and Marseille will be interesting after Marseille hit Zilina for 7.

Bayern Munich also are assured of a last 16 place after getting maximum points from their four games in Group E. Roma are second with six points.

Barcelona drew 1-1 at Kobenhavn with Jesper Gronkjaer pretty much running through Barcelona and “holding his own in the battle of number tens”, as the commentator said. They’re on 8, Copenhagen are on 7 points. On our blog we had expected Rubin Kazan to go through but Copenhagen seems to be favourites to take the second place in Group D.

In Group C Manchester United are on 10 points and Valencia on 7. This seems pretty much like what we expected it to be.

Group A is pretty much wide open. There’s no room for error in that group.

Group A

Teams Pld Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur FC Tottenham 4 7
2 FC Internazionale Milano Internazionale 4 7
3 FC Twente Twente 4 5
4 SV Werder Bremen Bremen 4 2

 

Spurs are on 7, Inter on 7. Twente on 5. I think its pretty safe to say that Bremen are not going to go through although it isn’t impossible either. You never know what happens in the Champions League though.

 

Manchester United versus Liverpool. It always turns out to be a fiesty affair. There’s no love lost between these two teams and this time out, both of them are pretty desperate for a win.

No love lost - Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher

Liverpool have taken only 5 points from a possible 12 and United have drawn two matches (against Fulham and Everton) which they really should have won. Its still early in the season of course, but the reason that this game is a must win (especially for United, since its at Old Trafford) is more psychological than anything else.

Chelsea are clocking 3 points after 3 points after their relatively easier fixtures in the start of the season. Arsenal too have started really well and are now strengthened by the return of Cesc Fabregas to their team. Expect them to continue doing well (until they do an Arsenal, sometime mid season).

Liverpool have just come off a really poor season where they didn’t qualify for the Champions League. I’m not going to dwell upon that, you all already know about it. But over here, I’m going to take a minute to catch my breath, because I can’t help but laugh at that. My apologies to all the Liverpool fans. Anyway, and their present season hasn’t started off great either.

Drawing against Arsenal when they should have won, getting hammered by Manchester City, an expected win against West Bromwich Albion and a draw against Birmingham where Barry Ferguson looked like Paul Scholes and Birmingham completely dominated a game in which it looked like Liverpool had no midfield players.

It is very important for Liverpool not to lose their next game against their ultimate rivals. A loss would surely send them home disappointed and then after two games against Sunderland and Blackpool, they go to Goodison to face Everton. To be fair, their fixture list doesn’t look really nice, but then again, it seems to me that the league has just become that much tougher, which is why its becoming increasingly difficult to get 3 points against supposedly lower league opponents.

United have had their usual hot and cold start to a season. Most United fans are beginning to worry, but the ones who have seen it all aren’t too fussed because they know this is how United always start a season. A convincing 3-0 win against Newcastle was followed up by a good display against Fulham, but still the Red Devils managed to get only a point thanks to Hangeland’s late equaliser. The demolition of West Ham was quite expected and was followed up by a ridiculous draw at Goodison Park where the defence seemed non-existent in the final minute of the game. A Champions League game at home against Rangers followed where most expected United to pick up all three points against their Scottish opponents, but failed to do break down their defence. A horrible injury to Valencia marred the night and was terrible news to digest along with the goal-less draw.

Both United and Liverpool will be looking at this game as a very important one. Not just for the sake of old rivalries, but for the morale of their players and the fans. Liverpool would no doubt be overjoyed with a win at Old Trafford and I actually think it might be beyond them. They aren’t really playing well. Raul Meireles seems a good addition to their team for whatever little he played against Birmingham, but will he be enough for Liverpool to gain a foothold in the centre of the park where no doubt the veteran Scholes will be deployed by Ferguson. I’m sure most Liverpool fans would prefer him played there instead of watching the Lucas show.

Will he make the difference?

The main reason for United’s failure to create against Rangers was the lack of creativity. With both Scholes and Berbatov missing, United lacked two players who could cut open most defences. Berbatov has been in stunning form for the Red Devils and will most definitely start against Liverpool (especially with news of an ankle injury to Rooney). United will definitely want to win this one, and they should express that desire with the way they play their football on Sunday.

Striking while the iron is hot

United also need to show a display that asserts their mental strength after the injury to Valencia. Remember how Arsenal’s season crumbled after the Eduardo injury? United fans believe that their players are made of stronger stuff than Arsenal’s. We’ll soon find out.

Most likely the affair will be cagey. Neither team willing to risk too much and both of them cancelling each other out. Or I could be completely wrong and both teams will play end to end football and surprise us all. I wouldn’t count on it though.

So I was reading this article. It talks about how Scholes snubbed Capello when he was given the opportunity to go to South Africa with the England squad and blah blah.

We all know the story – Franco Baldini called up Scholes and asked him to come out of retirement, Scholes was apparently given only two hours to decide whether he wanted to go and he said no. Now he regrets his decision.

The only part where I agree with the aforementioned article is where the writer says “It was his decision”. Yes it was, so Scholes shouldn’t really regret it. Anyway, what’s done is done.

Here’s where I disagree. Scholes was switched to the left hand side of midfield. Why on earth would you do that? In my honest opinion, Scholes is a far better midfielder than both Gerrard and Lampard. The only place where you play Scholes is in the center of the park. There is no other place you can make him play (unless he’s 21 and you’re playing him as second striker).

So what if Gerrard and Lampard decided that they would play for England even when they’re played out of position.

1) They’re not as good as Scholes

2) Let us be frank, when a player is played out of position, he generally doesn’t play like he would if he was played in the right position. Scholes was getting on in terms of age after Euro 04 and he chose not to play for England where he couldn’t give his best and focussed on his club career where he WAS being played in the right position and thereby being more useful.

3) The real problem here for England is the fact that they have absolutely nobody to play on the left wing.

4) I’m not entirely sure that Sir Alex Ferguson would’ve been too happy if Scholes had gone for the World Cup in South Africa. Although SAF claims that he told Scholes to go with his gut instinct, I’m not so sure if he would have been too happy if Scholes’ gut instinct said “Alright, let us see if I can make England do something this World Cup”. I’m pretty sure that this would have had an influence on Scholes’ decision to stay out of the international scene.

5) Scholes is better than Lampard and Gerrard (wait, did I mention that already?)