Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
The pain for Arsenal fans just rolls on it would seem, as a trip to my office’s kitchen confirmed on Monday when I heard two voices grumbling about “Van Persie” and “not enough shots”.
The North London club’s woes of the last two weeks or so have been much publicised, but perhaps at last there is some news to cheer Gunners fans up in the return of former keeper Jens Lehmann? Who would you prefer in goal? Lehmann, or Arsenal’s only currently available goalie Manuel Almunia, in good form in the last two matches against Barcelona and Manchester United?
Keep a close eye out as the signing could be confirmed on Tuesday after Arsenal moved to sign the German late on Monday.
Some very recent news on the earthquake repercussions is that Japan’s J. League has been postponed indefinitely, while news on the international friendlies is due on Wednesday.
Liverpool’s current plight was laid bare on Monday when they were humbled 3-0 by Manchester City — a result which left Roy Hodgson’s side fourth bottom of the Premier League.
After just two games it would be churlish to suggest Liverpool will spend too long down in the bottom half of the table, but the feeling that the 18-times English champions are in danger of losing touch with the top four was inescapable.
England coach Fabio Capello would do well to take a transcript copy of Germany coach Joachim Loew’s post-match press conference – because in it he would find all the simple reasons why his side were trounced 4-1 and sent packing from the World Cup on Sunday.
In it, Loew rather clinically explained to the international press sat before him that his side were instructed to target John Terry, pull him out of position and pretty much walk into the huge gaps created in England’s snail-paced central rearguard.
After little more than four hours’ sleep, plenty of driving and the inevitable drop in adrenalin following a big game such as Saturday’s U.S. v England match, there were a few weary souls among the reporters following the United States when we headed to team HQ at Irene Farm on Sunday morning for a press conference with coach Bob Bradley and defender Steve Cherundolo.
There was no sign of jadedness from Bradley, though, who when touching upon Steven Gerrard’s fourth minute opener for England, described it in the following terms:
Madrid-based correspondent Martin Roberts writes:
One anniversary Liverpool fans will not be celebrating this summer will be the 20 years since their side last won a league title, a long wait that not only frustrates supporters but must dent any team’s claim to be more than also-rans.
It must be humiliating for those supporters who can remember when Liverpool had the League trophy ready and waiting if a home win sealed the title – all they had to do was fetch it down from the trophy room and give it a quick polish.
Last November Spurs beat Liverpool 2-1 at White Hart Lane just after Harry Redknapp took over a side that had slumped to the bottom of the table. Redknapp admitted after that game that Spurs had been lucky to win after being battered by Liverpool, who squandered an early lead and then hit the woodwork three times before losing.
Spurs beat Liverpool 2-1 at White Hart Lane again on Sunday and this time there was no doubting that Spurs deserved their victory.
Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs was voted Player of the Year for the first time by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) on Sunday.
Giggs has only made 12 Premier League starts this season, scoring a single goal, so I guess we really have to look at this award as recognition for his long years of service at United, for whom he’s made just shy of 800 appearances.
In Spain, the sports papers refer to the exodus of players during international weeks as the ‘FIFA virus’ and it will be interesting to see if Spanish Liverpool can cope with its effects this weekend.
To recap, Liverpool were in spectacular form before the latest interruption to the domestic season, banging in 13 goals in three games against Real Madrid in the Champions League and Manchester United and Aston Villa in the Premier League.
We all have those items that we simply cannot afford to lose, your wallet, phone, house keys, mp3 player etc, but for Rafa Benitez he will have to find space in his thoughts, if not on the bedside table, for his priceless Spanish striker Fernando Torres.
Bentitez’s willingness to allow Robbie Keane to return to Tottenham after only a few dismal months rather than stick with the Irishman, a proven goalscorer in the Premier league, leaves Liverpool desperately short of striking options, should Torres lose form or fitness in the title run in.
Liverpool seem to have got through their sticky patch and continued failures from Chelsea and Arsenal have limited the damage.
After convincing wins over Bolton and Newcastle Liverpool are clear at the top of the table and will stay there going into 2009.