Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Wenger deserves to stand with Fergie after reaching landmark

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Arsene Wenger has not collected trophies quite as greedily as his Manchester United counterpart Alex Ferguson but in terms of his impact on English football he has no equal.

Ferguson transformed an under-achieving United into the most succesful club in English football but Wenger has set the benchmark for modern-day club football in terms of style.

Like the great Dutch sides of yesteryear, Arsenal’s players, whichever part of the globe they come from, are schooled in Wenger’s philosophy of pure football, one-touch passing and dazzling counter-attacking.

They have evolved from a side built on the traditional English assets of power, grit and workrate to become among the slickest footballing teams in Europe. On their day they are the best team in the world to watch and are a textbook for how the game should be played.

Feared by the Blues, Loved by the Reds, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs…

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Manchester United played Stoke City off the park on Saturday yet for 62 minutes they lacked the cutting edge to turn their superiority into goals.

Enter Ryan Giggs.

The veteran Welshman was introduced as a substitute for the often infuriating Nani after 57 minutes and took just five more to provide the pass from which Dimitar Berbatov broke the
deadlock.

Owen, a busted flush or another inspirational Ferguson signing

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Most Manchester United fans will not have been excited when they heard of the club’s plans to sign Michael Owen. The experienced England striker certainly did not fit the usual profile of Alex Ferguson’s signings, at too old and far too injury-prone.

But could Owen prove to be another one of Ferguson’s transfer masterstrokes to rank alongside the likes of Eric Cantona and Henrik Larsson?

Will United live to regret missed chances?

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Arsenal played poorly at Manchester United on Wednesday but escaped with a 1-0 defeat that leaves them still in with a chance of reaching the Champions League final.When you consider that they haven’t conceded a goal at home in the competition all season, the situation doesn’t look half bad. After all, they have already beaten United in north London this season and there is no reason why they can’t do it again.First though, their big performers need to turn up, because they went missing at Old Trafford. Theo Walcott barely got a kick, Emmanuel Adebayor was subdued and Cesc Fabregas was overwhelmed in midfield.It will also help if Robin van Persie is fit after missing the first leg. Without the Dutchman, and the ineligible Andrey Arshavin, they looked lightweight in attack.United were not at their best either and will be frustrated at not putting the tie to bed. However, they did not allow Arsenal an away goal and so will start clear favourites to reach Rome and a possible re-match with Chelsea.Remember, they were in far worse shape after drawing 2-2 at home with Porto in the quarter-final, first leg. And with such a plethora of attacking options, Alex Fergsuon’s side will be confident of breaching Arsenal’s Emirates fortress.PHOTO: Manchester United’s John O’Shea (C) celebrates with Darren Fletcher (L) and Rio Ferdinand (R) after scoring during their Champions League semi-final, first leg against Arsenal at Old Trafford, April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Another 4-4 draw for Liverpool, another trophy chance gone?

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4-4 is the sort of scoreline that delights neutrals, TV companies and marketing executives but it‘s not one that Liverpool fans will remember with any fondness.

A point from Tuesday night’s draw with Arsenal at Anfield was enough to take Liverpool top of the Premier League table on goal difference from Manchester United, but seeing as Alex Ferguson’s side have two games in hand it’s hard to see the title ending up anywhere but at Old Trafford.

Everton’s heart deserving of final reward

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There is not much romantic about Everton’s current lineup, especially now they are operating without injured Spaniard Mikel Arteta, but the unceasingly honest boys in blue certainly injected some desperately-needed colour to this season’s FA Cup with their penalty-shootout win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Yes it was an awful semi-final, with neither team really testing the opposing goalkeeper, but at least Everton, and their fans, took it seriously.

East Stirlingshire give up on fair play convention

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I’m not sure if Alex Ferguson would approve of a decision taken by one of his old clubs but East Stirlingshire, where he began his managerial career as a 32-year-old in 1974, have just taken a very controversial stand against “sporting behaviour”.

The modest club, whose major objective in the recent past was to avoid
finishing bottom of the Scottish Third Division, but are currently third in the table, have ordered their players NOT to kick the ball out of play if one of their opponents is down injured.

United could afford to drop points but manner of defeat must hurt

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Please don’t try and tell me that a 4-1 defeat at home to your arch-rivals does not affect you — it must do.

At lunchtime on Saturday Manchester United knew they could probably afford to lose against Liverpool and still claim another Premier League title but does the manner of their capitulation offer hope to the chasing pack?

What are United’s quintuple chances now?

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Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson dismissed the suggestion in his usual style.

After beating Spurs on penalties to win the English League Cup final on Sunday he was asked if United could complete a “quintuple” of trophies.

Is Ferguson being generous saying it’s a two horse race?

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Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has dismissed Chelsea’s Premier League title hopes, but given his side’s run of form he is perhaps being generous to Liverpool by saying they still have a chance.

“The title race now is going to be between ourselves and Liverpool,” Ferguson wrote in the programme for the 3-0 home win over Fulham that sent the champions five points clear of Liverpool and 10 ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea.

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