Reuters Soccer Blog
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A fine Wednesday to you all, and a few statistics to begin with. Attendance at the Nou Camp: 95,486. Estimated crowd noise (in decibels): 121.8. Estimated noise of a referee’s whistle (in decibels): 121.8.
The operative word above is estimated, because of course we have no idea, but a quick dig around on the internet shows some debate about whether Robin van Persie could have heard Massimo Busacca’s whistle despite the defeaning noise at the Nou Camp.
Sending-off or no sending-off, here’s another statistic for you from the Champions League thriller. Completed passes: Barcelona – 738 ; Arsenal – 199. The Londoners did mighty well to hang in there and can be proud of their efforts, but the Catalan team’s superiority told in the end. Few teams could touch them in that mood.
Do you think 11 against 11 would have seen Arsenal through? Or was the red card just a mere sideshow?
By James Illingworth
Sympathy for the plight of their rivals may be kept to an absolute minimum by the red and blue halves of Liverpool but even the staunchest of Kopites should spare a thought for David Moyes.
Having seen his side claim partial revenge for their 2009 FA Cup final defeat by knocking Chelsea out on penalties last month, Moyes could not prevent first division Reading ending Everton’s cup run in the fifth round on Tuesday.
Wayne Rooney has been taking, and largely ignoring, abuse from Everton supporters for six years but Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson decided on Saturday that a garnish of tabloid tittle-tattle on top the traditional “Judas” fare was too much.
“He gets terrible abuse here and I’m not going to subject him to that,” Ferguson said when explaining his decision to leave the England striker out of the remarkable 3-3 draw.
Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at home to Manchester United last weekend has led many of our panel to predict similar gloom for Arsene Wenger’s men at Chelsea this Sunday.
It’s been a tough run of fixtures for the Gunners but for most of our “experts” here at Reuters Soccer blog, it’s been painful throughout the season. Do you think you would be better than our panel at predicting the Premier League scores each weekend? Believe me, it’s not hard to beat us.
Everton hope to complete the signing of Landon Donovan on loan from Major League Soccer’s L.A Galaxy, a move which has generated plenty of excitement among North American soccer fans.
The move makes a lot of sense for Everton manager David Moyes – it gives him no-risk attacking cover, particularly useful while Nigerian Yakubu Aiyegbeni is away throughout January at the African Nations Cup. What is less obvious is why a short term loan spell is a good move for Donovan.
Monday update: You would think 14 games into the season we would have learnt who was likely to beat who in the Premier League. Sadly not. I did OK for a change but only Martyn Herman really covered himself in glory with two five pointers for Villa 1-1 Spurs and Manchester City collecting yet another draw against Hull City.
But I wouldn’t celebrate like Jimmy Bullard just yet, Martyn, you’re still third bottom.
Our leader, Paul Radford, managed an unhappy three points this week … and look, who’s that chap who has sneaked through to replace him at the top? That was not the most impressive display of the week, however … for that look at one Julien Pretot, our new signing from the Paris bureau who leapt in with a 14 in his first week!
Very few of our panel should be enjoying their English Bank Holiday Monday. Most must hang their heads in shame.
Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal was an eventful game to say the least, with a penalty, bizarre own goal, a late strike disallowed for offside and Arsene Wenger harshly being sent to the stands where he didn’t have a seat.
There’s been a fair bit of speculation, here and elsewhere, about whether Manchester City could actually win the Premier League title but a more realistic goal is a top four finish. That being the case, the summer spending spree seen by some as being brash and uncoordinated is actually very shrewd.
Look carefully, and what City have managed to do, with the recruitment of Gareth Barry from Aston Villa and Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure from Arsenal, is to weaken two of their rivals for fourth place.
Football nostalgia is not what it used to be but there were times on Saturday when the Champions League, 120,000 pounds-a-week contracts and “the business of the game” were forgotten in a return to the days when the FA Cup was the only thing that mattered.
As I walked down Wembley Way towards the stadium, the massed Everton fans out to squeeze every last drop from the day brought back memories of countless other sunny Saturdays in May, when everything stopped for the Cup final.