Old Futbol Buffet–Strikers, a Strike, amd Striking Gold

Saturday

Arsenal v Liverpool

I thought it was bad waking up at 7AM, dragging the boy out of bed and heading to work, but then I considered West Coast viewers, where the kick off for this match would have been 4:45AM. Ouch.

Sipping my first cup of coffee, I noticed that Nasri was starting for the Gunners. Hasn’t he signed for Man City yet? But Liverpool’s lineup was quite surprising, with Suarez, Maxi Rodríguez, Skrtel, and Meireles on the bench.

The first half started slowly, with Koscielny’s injury after only 15 minutes the only incident of note. But midway through the half the game sparked to life. A header from Carroll was well saved by Szczęsny; this was followed by a shot from Frimpong, making his league debut, being tipped around by Reina; on 35’ Nasri went on a great run but his shot went wide; finally there was a nice spell of play and pressure from Arsenal before halftime.

The second half started with rain was coming down in buckets. Again both teams started slowly, with Arsenal finally threatening Liverpool’s goal on 67’ as Arshavin may have fouled in the buildup to a shot by van Persie but Reina saved. Nasri continued to look bright, but both teams could use some crossing practice. On 70’ the game changed. Frimpong was sent off after a foul on Leiva, which earned him a second yellow. In the lull, Suarez and Meireles came on for Carroll and Kuyt and Lansbury entered for Arshavin. Suarez instantly changed the energy for the visitors, which led to the opening goal. His run created panic in the Arsenal rearguard and Miguel’s debut was spoiled as his clearance came off Ramsey’s chest and fell in. Suarez looked offside, which put the goal under some contention. Liverpool followed with a lovely second goal, Lucas setting up Mireles who squared it to Suarez.

Ian Darke summed it up with just minutes remaining: “Arsenal look tired and dispirited.” Bendtner running around and turning the ball over was never going to get them the goal. In the end, the red card and the subs changed the match, with the extra man and key players giving the visitors the impetus to grab the three points

Next up for Arsenal is Udinese away on Wednesday (Gunners up 1-0) and Manchester United on Sunday. By next Monday we could see the end of the Wenger era.

 

Sunday

Sunday was supposed to be the opening round of the Spanish Primera Division but a strike by the players union postponed the fixtures, which including Malaga v FCB, Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao and the Seville derby. The next round is in some doubt, which could delay FCB v Villarreal, scheduled for next Monday.

 

CCFC v Grand Saints

Our Over 30 game featured first versus second, as we went in five points clear with three to play. A win and we were league champs; lose and it would be squeaky bum time. Going into the match, we had several injuries and a couple of other players out of town. Our players slowly trickled in (as usual), and we would start the match with 13. As for our opponents, they only had eight at the coin flip, but it was eight of their best, including strong defenders and quality attackers. One more showed up at kick off, so at eleven against nine, we should have had the edge. They parked the bus and low pressured us to death. We weren’t sharp and took a while to find any rhythm. When they were able to attack, they kept a high line which drew us into a series of offsides. We finally broke the dead lock with a goal from moi. My center mid partner received the ball wide and I burst through the middle. My initial flick was saved but I popped up to ram it home. We bagged another before halftime when a scramble in front of the goal was finally knocked in. The second half started slowly and we had more of the ball, but our finishing was poor. They actually had a chance to grab one back as their bull of a forward shrugged off several challenges before hitting the post. Eventually our pacy forward got in a breakaway and sealed the game at 3-0. As Manchester United would say, We got our trophy back. Now we go for an undefeated league season (currently all wins and one draw) and the season ending tournament, a double we have not accomplished since 2007.

 

Monday

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur

This match was true Monday Night Football . Last season United’s home record was as follows: 19 played, 18 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses. Add to that the fact that Spurs have not beaten United since Clinton was in office, and there was only one result.

I loaded up the game on ESPN3.com but work kept me from most of the first half. I was able to catch some of the audio, while trying to get things done and it sounded pretty even, and I was thinking, I guess kids really don’t win anything. In the second half, the Red Devils came out with more determination and energy (shocker) and took it to Spurs. A couple of half chances went begging before Welbeck headed in the first then laid off a second for Anderson with a delightful back heel. Rooney joined the fun, heading in a delicate chip from Giggs, who had come on as a sub.

It was a performance from Welbeck, and it looks like Berba might just be a bit player this season. Young and Nani looked up for it, and with Valencia on the bench, there is plenty of pace and trickery on the wings. Spurs looked gassed by the end, and missing the opening match did not help. They must have their goals in Scotland, with van der Vaart, Lennon, Defore and Bale off the pace.

 

Podcasts

Beyond the Pitch, Serie A Insider

Anto and Matteo were joined by Roberto Gotta. It looks to be an interesting season in the capital, as Milan continue to refresh the squad in order to battle at home and abroad, while Inter are in transition.

Beyond the Pitch, Bundeliga Insider

Uli Hesse talked about the changing game in Germany, based on youth, technique and energy. Dortmund may not win the title but they should contend. As for Bayern, the soap opera continues. A coaching change, a mixed transfer season, and pressure of regaining the title and making the Champions League Final at Allianz Arena next May. The Bavarians grabbed a 1-0 win in round two and, after the podcast was released, they thrashed Hamburg 5-0

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