Liverpool 4 Arsenal 4

What a game there was at display. 7 second half goals and yet not a winner…

Arsenal took the lead from a delightful team move following a error by Mascherano. Nasri took the ball and played a measured pass to Fabregas who then set it up for Arshavin to slot it in the middle for the opening goal of the game.

That was the only goal of the first half. Liverpool dominated the half but Arsenal got the lead.

Liverpool came all guns blazing in the second half and scored 2 goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half through some more defensive errors via a Torres header and a scrappy little finish by Benayoun.

Arsenal got the lead again after Arshavin completed his hat-trick by scoring a quick double, the first of which was a stunning finish to blast the ball across Reina’s goal and past him.

Then Arshavin scored a late goal at the stroke of 90 minutes for Arsenal his 4th of the game and the game was all but won by Arsene Wengers team.

But the Arsenal defense which at times has seemed liked one of the worst defenses in the premier league shattered again to allow Benayoun to score the equalizer in injury time.

Arsenal defense including the young keeper Fabianski looked completely below average throughout the game.

I dont understand what Wenger saw in Fabianski and why he has not gone and bought a decent keeper in the summer or at least the January window.

I sincerely hope Wenger buys a good first team keeper in the summer and also a couple of good defenders.

Arsenal might be cursing themselves to have given away 2 points as they gave away the lead three times after leading at 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3.

Well all said and done the amazing run of games for Arsenal in the premiership continues as they are now unbeaten in 19 consecutive league games.

Bendtnar for me was the weak link as he hardly managed to touch the ball all evening. If there is a player who is lazier than Berbatov it will have to be Bendtnar. He just tries to put on a show of moving around but somehow managed to hardly get a decent possesion of the ball even once…

I am not such a big fan of Adebayor and dont regard him all that highly, but after seeing Bendtnar today i have started to realize why Arsenal fans around the globe regard Adebayor as such a great player.

Wenger, please sell Bendtnar, Denilson and Fabianski in the Summer and buy at least 1 good defender and a good Keeper. Another versatile defender might not be so bad i guess…

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Barcelona v Chelsea semifinal it is then!!!

What an amazing game of football did we see last night… Chelsea were caught napping in the first half to go down by 2 goals and almost give the Kops a chance to go through…
Gus Hiddink must have had some magic words to say to his team at half time coz the chelsea that turned up in th beginning of the second half was something else… They scored 3 goals to put the game beyond Liverpool..
But i’d have to agree with a lot of pundits out there that Liverpool is one of thos sides that you can never write off in Europe. They scored 2 late goals in around 2 minutes to put the score at 4-3.
The game was there for the taking again, Liverpool needed just 1 more goal to go through.
But it wasnt meant to be for Liverpool, they came so close and yet it wasnt meant for them to go through to the Semi finals. Lampard scored a late goal to make it 4-4 and put the tie well beyond Liverpool’s reach.
But chelsea were looking a distant shadow of the side that so comfortably outplayed Liverpool in all facets of the game last week.
Petr Cech in particular looked like he had been drunk at times. He really was a bag of nerves, unsure where his goal post was and unable to catch hold of the ball or punch it clear into safety.
Alex scored a stunning goal through a free kick.The pace and power of his free licks remind me of another Brazilian free kick legend Roberto Carlos.
Lampard had 2 goals against his name by the end of the match. Drogba was lucky and helped in a big way for his goal by Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.
For Liverpool, Aurelio scored a great goal to break the dead lock in the game through a stunning free kick. Xabi alonso doubled the liverpool lead from the spot when he was brought down in the box by Ivanovic.
Lucas was lucky to have his shot deflected into goal for Liverpool’s third and Dirk Kuyt headed in Liverpool’s 4th from a Riera cross.
The final score was 4-4 and we witnessed a stunning night of European football.
Liverpool have crashed out of the Chmpions League alright, but they go out with their heads held high and with the utmost dignity of a side that was up to any challenge but it just wasnt there night to be.

In the other game of the night Barca went through comfortably into the Semi final after a 5-1 aggregate score following a tame 1-1 draw in the second leg at Bayern Munich.
Today predictions: –

Manchester united to crash out… (Which i hope they dont)
Arsenal to go through on penalties… (Which i hope they do)

See ya after the games tonight…

Barcelona v Chelsea Semi Final!!!

Another Splendid night of European Football…

Barcelona – Bayern Munich:  4-0

Barcelona thrashed Bayern for 4-0 at home..That went right with my prediction… The tie is all done now and beyond Bayern’s reach.

Bayern were caught napping in the first half as Barca started scoring for fun.  It was as if Bayern defense did not do any homework for the Barca Trinity. They looked dazed at the ease at which Barca started scoring.

Messi & co. lead Barca closer to the Semi Final

Messi & co. lead Barca closer to the Semi Final

Messi led the Barca attack scoring 2 of the 4 goals and Eto and Henry shared 1 each.

Liverpool v Chelsea:  1-3

Look at Xabi alonso, he typifes Liverpools performance: Caught Sleeping

Look at Xabi alonso, he typifes Liverpools performance: Caught Sleeping

In Liverpool the story was much different.. Where inspite of the early Lead Benitez’s men could not keep their nerve’s and Branislav Ivanovic was the unlikely hero as he slid 2 from 2 corners past Pepe Reina in the Liverpool Goal. Drogba , the big match player that he is, scored the third for Chelsea from a delightful team effort to make it 1-3 for Chelsea. This tie too is almost beyond Liverpool now as they cannot be expected to go to Chelsea and win 3-0.

Ivanovic: Unlikely Hero for the Night...

Ivanovic: Unlikely Hero for the Night...

Chelsea showed great character to comeback so strongly from being 1 down. They were helped strongly by the unlikely hero of the night Branislav Ivanovic who put two delightful headers past Reina.

So what have we got at the end of the first leg of the Quarter finals. 2 teams that are more or less through , 1 team which has all the chance of making it there and 1 which has a tough task ahead to make it to the next stage.

I feel Arsenal will sail through and Man U might struggle. But this is Champions league my friend, the tournament where you can seldom predict the outcome, the tournament of tactics, the tournament of away goal rules and where away goals rule…

So lets just wait for a week and know for sure…

Champions League Quarter finals Preview

Yesterday’s matches both ended in a draw. Will tonight be any different?

Lets take a look at the would be squads and the history to see if it actually might be any different.

Liverpool v Chelsea: –

The drawback of playing in one of the most competitive leagues in the world is that sometimes you have to face one of your local adversaries in Europe much earlier than you would like. And this precisely is no new thing to Chelsea and Liverpool.

Chelsea will travel to Liverpool in a bid to advance further in the Knock out stages of the championship. But the impetus will surely be with the home team who are currently on a roll of good form and have already beaten Chelsea in their own backyard earlier in this season.

Mentally it would be tough for the blues to forget how Liverpool broke one of the longest standing records in Premiership history when they defeated Chelsea at home, who had been undefeated for years…

Here are the team details as per The Telegraph:

Team details

Liverpool (4-2-3-1, r-l): Reina; Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio; Alonso, Lucas; Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera; Torres.
Chelsea (4-3-3, r-l): Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, A Cole; Mikel, Essien, Lampard; Kalou, Drogba, Malouda.
Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark)

Gerrard- Torres combo is sure on fire for Liverpool off late and I am sure they will be key if Liverpool is to take any advantage to Stamford Bridge in the second Leg.

Dangerous Duo, Beware Europe

Dangerous Duo, Beware Europe

For Chelsea it would be the midfield which will be very crucial. Lampard, Essien and Mikel will have to dictate the tempo of the game and control it to Chelsea’s favor. Would be interesting to see how Drogba performs tonight. He is the type of player who usually performs in big matches, and does it get bigger than this?

Lampard and Essien will have to dominate the midfield

Lampard and Essien will have to dominate the midfield

I feel Liverpool will have an edge, more due to the tremendous recent form they have had both in the European competition and the Barclays Premier League.

 Barcelona v Bayern Munich: –

Even before i start discussing the two teams its better we take a look at the teams first. So here ar ethe team details once again thanks to The Telegraph:

Team details

Barcelona (probable, 4-1-2-3): Valdes; Alves, Marquez, Pique, Puyol; Xavi; Keita, Iniesta; Messi, Eto’o, Henry.
Bayern Munich (probable, 4-3-3): Rensing; Oddo, Demichelis, Van Buyten, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Ze Roberto, Van Bommel; Ribery, Toni, Podolski.
Referee: H Webb (England).

Well both sides here are extremely good on paper stuffed with world class players and its difficult to choose one. Then again its difficult to choose on paper. Anyone following the La liga will know of the sheer domination Pep Guardiola’s team has had on the Spanish league this season.

So my pick would be Barcelona. They would be playing at home and if all goes will the tie would be decided in the first leg itself (assuming they score 4/5 goals). But underestimating Bayern would be a mistake as Guardiola would know that Jorgen Klinsmann’s men could well dent the Barcelona defense and get the crucial away goals so coveted in this stage of the tournament.

Messi holds the key for Barca going forward and he has been in the form of his life. Luckily he hasn’t had any major injuries this season and so he has been able to reach the high expectations people have set for him. Lot would be expected from him again this time as he would be up against the wily & crafty Phillip Lahm who is no stranger to the tricks of the trade.

Messi, the man in form

Messi, the man in form

For Bayern Ribery would be the man to be watched for. He is on the target-list of all the top clubs of Europe with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona themselves interested in signing the player. He would definitely like to impress one of his prospective suitors with a dazzling performance.

Ribery, the man to watch out for

Ribery, the man to watch out for

All in all, I think Barca would have just a little too much going for them to be able to be stopped by Bayern.

Will update final score after the match… Till then Adieus!!! 

 

 

 

 

Champions League Quarter Final draws are out!!!

Arsenal and Manchester United were handed relatively easy ties against Villareal and Porto while Liverpool face off Chelsea and Barcelona go against German giants Bayern Munich.

Below is a table depicting the dates and the home and away teams from the UEFA website:

UEFA Champions League quarter-finals
1st leg: 07/08 April; 2nd leg: 14/15 April 
1 Villarreal CF (ESP) v Arsenal FC (ENG)
2 Manchester United FC (ENG, holders) v FC Porto (POR)
3 Liverpool FC (ENG) v Chelsea FC (ENG)
4 FC Barcelona (ESP) v FC Bayern München (GER)

One sad news for the English teams is that either Chelseas or Liverpool will not reach the Semi’s yet again. Last time Chelsea pipped Liverpool out in the Semi’s, but on the current form doesnt look like that would be easy this time. Man United in my view have got the easiest opponents of the lot. They really should not face much difficulty going through to the Semi finals.

Also Arsenal seem to have got another of the easy opponents. I would expect them too to go through to the Semi’s. The sad thing for Arsenal is that even though they get through to the Semi’s they might end up facing current Champions Manchester United and ther challenge might be put to an end at the hands of their English rivals.

In form Barcelona will face another in form team in Bayern Munich. The winner of this fixture will either meet Liverpool or Chelsea in the other Semi Final as depicted in the table below.

UEFA Champions League semi-finals
1st leg: 28/29 April; 2nd leg: 5/6 May 
1 Winner quarter-final 2 v Winner quarter-final 1
2 Winner quarter-final 4 v Winner quarter-final 3

Great fixtures over all. Should be interesting to see some great football…

Things seem to be looking bright for Arsenal…Finally!!!

Arsenal on the rise again?

Arsenal on the rise again?

Arsenal defeated Hull city 2-1 yesterday night to go through to the FA cup semi final. Before that they defeated Blackburn comprehensively to regain the coveted 4th place and qualification for the Champions League. Also just a few days earlier they defeated FC Roma on penalties in the knock out stages of the Champions league to qualify for the quarter finals of the Champions League.

Thus as of now all seems well placed for Arsenal. If only the EPL season ended today I would be glad. I don’t trust Aston Villa (they might topple us from the 4th place)  and more importantly I dont trust Arsenal (the inconsistent performances over the last 2 years are to blame). With EPL and the pressure to qualify for the Champions League out we could concentrate on the FA cup and Champions league and try and get some silverware at the club after a long time.

Things are bright as of now for sure but the road ahead is not as rosy. We face Chelsea in the FA cup Semi finals and some very tough teams are lined up in the Champions league quarter finals draw.

I strongly believe that Arsenal will reach the Semi-finals of the Champions League, more so if we get Porto or Villareal in the Quarters, Even Bayern we might handle. But if we face any other English club or Barcelona, then we are doomed for sure.

Even the Premier league fixtures are gonna get tougher as the season comes to a close.

Date Team   Team home/away
21st March 2009
Newcastle
vs Arsenal away
4th April 2009 Arsenal vs Man City home 
11th April 2009 Wigan vs Arsenal away
26th April 2009 Arsenal vs Middlesbrough  home 
2nd May 2009 Portsmouth  vs Arsenal away
9th May 2009 Arsenal vs Chelsea  home 
16th May 2009 Manchester United  vs Arsenal away
24th May 2009 Arsenal vs Stoke City  home 
to be scheduled Liverpool vs Arsenal away

As you can see, Arsenal has to face 3 of the top 4 teams in the last 9 fixtures pending. So each match is gonna be a tough ask on the Gunners. I think the Gunners can maximum take 4 points out of those 3 fixtures. Which leaves very little scope to drop any more points in the other 6 fixtures.  

 Stoke, Middlesborough, Wigan and Newcastle are the fixtures that i think we will get the maximum points from. The Portsmouth & Man City fixtures would be tricky ones and i see us struggling to win.

Lets hope Aston Villa’s champions league hopes are deflated when our rivals Liverpool and Manchester United take lead from one of our other rivals Tottenham and beat Aston Villa. That would not only deflate their hopes of the champions league place, but also the morale of the team-mates who already look jaded and drained out from a long hard season. Aston villa have a small squad and the results of not rotation are showing with a decline in form for players like Agbonlahor and Young who were at the peak of their forms at the begining of the season.

All in all I think the 4th place finish will go down to the wire and Arsenal will just nip fellow contendors Villa and Everton to qualify for Champions league 2009-10.

Vidic & co. let the devils down

It was a sorry scoreline and a sorry performance for Manchester United against Liverpool. I mean this is a team that might have had the most 1-0 victories of the last two seasons. And after scoring the first goal off a Ronaldo penalty I was sure they’d seal the match off even if they didnt score another goal. How wrong was i gonna be…

Coz Liverpool did manage to bring things even through a superb Torres goal. He is one of those players you want to hate as they are not in the team you support but cant help like cause of the sheer quality they show on the field.

The ball was cleared under pressure from the Liverpool defense and Vidic who should’ve cleared the ball at the first chance he got, mistimed the header and let torres in on a one on one with Van der sar who could do much to the aptly put ball in the corner of the Man United goal.

Torres gets away from a struggling Vidic to score Kop's first goal
Torres gets away from a struggling Vidic to score Kop’s first goal

Next it was Evra’s turn to let his team down. He slid in with a tackle which saw none of the ball but instead some of Gerrard’s leg. Down went Gerrard and the referee pointed out to the spot. Gerrard misses quite rarely from the spot and sure was not gonna miss one in a match of this magnitude.

Evra brings down Gerrard to give Liverpool a penalty and a 1-2 lead
Evra brings down Gerrard to give Liverpool a penalty and a 1-2 lead
Gerrard's joy knows no bounds as he kisses the Camera!!!

Gerrard's joy knows no bounds as he kisses the Camera!!!

Next Vidic is the culprit again. As he brings Torres down just outside the box to not just be sent off but also allow Fabio Aurelio to place a perfectly taken free kick to give Liverpool the 3-1 lead and an extra person’s advantage.

Aurelio slots in the perfect free kick after Vidic is sent off
Aurelio slots in the perfect free kick after Vidic is sent off

Finally Dossena scored his second late goal in so many games for Liverpool to finish the match off at an incredible 1-4 scoreline after Ferdinand’s faliure to clear the ball. Dossena’s finishing is much better than Bendtnar and he’s just a left back.

Manchester united supporters leave the ground as liverpool take a 4-1 lead
Manchester united supporters leave the ground as liverpool take a 4-1 lead

Vidic has arguably been the best player for United this season and he didnt look half that player in this game. He was completely overshadowed by Torres in this match and looked a little scared of the striker to be frank.

That goes for the whole of United back four. The United defense has been the best in the whole of Barclays Premier League this season. But they never turned up in this match. Maybe they were tired with the sheer number of matches that they’ve had to play in the last couple of weeks. Maybe the mind games that Gerrard, Torres, Rafa and co. were playing got to them. Or maybe this was one of those off days that every person has once in a while. Now that the damage is done, i hope its the latter. Lets hope it was a one off day that the United defense had and that they will bounce off well next week against Fulham.

I have a strong feeling that the team will bounce back after receiving the hairdryer treatment from Sir Alex Ferguson. Fulham will be the poor team that bears the brunt.

 Buck up Manchester United…Falling is no evil, falling and not standing up sure is:)