Archive | March, 2009

Friedel gets red card rescinded, Rooney evades further FA action

24 Mar
Red - the color of the weekend

Red - the color of the weekend

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel had the red card he received in the game against Liverpool rescinded by the FA, which means that he will be available for the Premier League fixture against Manchester United on April 5.  It also means that he will continue his record streak of consecutive EPL appearances (currently at 182).  A good call I think because it was pretty obvious that Friedel wasn’t trying to take Torres out when he was open on goal – if anything, it looks like Friedel is trying to get out of his way so he won’t get called for anything.

Now on the other side of the ball, Mr. Wayne Rooney will not be playing against Aston Villa after receiving a red card against Fulham on Saturday.  Despite the complete disrespect and ridiculous reaction of Rooney, he will not be penalized any further by the FA.  Watch the clip and tell me you don’t think that deserves more than a one game ban.  Apparently he didn’t swear at the ref, but even so, he got in the ref’s face and it wasn’t pretty.  Even as you watch the clip, it looks like Rooney says ‘that’s bullshit’.  FA Respect campaign = FAIL.  Sorry for the long clip, but it shows his entire reaction, plus the play leading up to it.  If you start watching at about the 12:15 mark, you’ll see the whole Rooney fiasco – but if you want to watch Fulham embarass Man U, then by all means, watch the whole thing.

Fulham vs. Manchester United “Highlights”

Now forgive me the small rant, but it seems to me like refs are being treated like teachers in Baltimore.  The higher-ups say that they will take care of them and have their backs when the “students” do bad things, but then when something happens, there is no discipline.  It’s essentially like the teacher/ref doesn’t matter and their authority is nil.  Now maybe I’m being too sympathetic towards the refs, but I can’t help but feel like they are waging a losing battle against the excessive bitching of the primadonnas of football.

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Liverpool continue hot streak with 5-0 beating of Aston Villa

22 Mar
Steven Gerrard tallied his first ever Premier League hat trick in a 5-0 win over Aston Villa.

Steven Gerrard tallied his first ever Premier League hat trick in a 5-0 win over Aston Villa.

Liverpool continued their torrid run of form with a 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on Sunday. With the win, the Reds are just one point behind league leaders Manchester United, although MU has a game in hand.  Liverpool got a hat trick from skipper Steven Gerrard as well as goals from Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera. 

Kuyt got the goalfest started in the 8th minute when he put in a rebound off a Gerrard free kick.  Despite the early goal, Villa put pressure on the Liverpool defense and had a couple good opportunities denied.  The first half hour of the game was well played by both sides at a fast pace.  However, Riera gave the home side a 2-0 lead after a lovely volley on a long clearance from Pepe Reina.  You know things are going well for you when your keeper picks up an assist.  Gerrard added a penalty six minutes later after Riera was brought down in the box by Nigel Reo-Coker.

The Reds picked up right where they left off in the second half.  Gerrard tallied his second of the day as he placed a free kick in the lower right corner in the 48th minute.  By this point, it was pretty obvious that Villa was completely deflated and wanted the ref to put an early end to things.  The damage wasn’t quite done yet though.  In the 65th minute, Fernando Torres was clear on goal, but was fouled by Villa keeper Brad Friedel.  Friedel earned himself a red card, quite harshly I think, and fellow American Brad Guzan got to make his Premier League debut by facing a Gerrard penalty.  Welcome to the big leagues – Gerrard scored in pretty much identical form to the first penalty and bagged his first Premier League hat trick.

I continue to be amazed by the form Liverpool has shown in the past couple weeks.  They have scored 13 goals in three games against top flight competition (4.3 goals per game).  After the game, manager Rafa Benitez said that the team could be better and frankly, that is a scary thought.   With his hat trick, Gerrard has now hit the 20 goal mark for the season, only one shy of his total last year.  Also, due to his red card, Friedel will miss the next game for Villa, snapping a Premier League record of 180 (?) straight games played.

Manchester United, Chelsea falter, blow title race open

21 Mar

Manchester United's Paul Scholes was sent off for this blatant handball in the 18th minute..

Manchester United's Paul Scholes was sent off for this blatant handball in the 18th minute..

Current league leaders Manchester United dropped an ugly 2-0 decision to Fulham today.  The Red Devils finished the game with nine men after Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney were both sent off.  Scholes earned a red card in the 18th minute for stopping a goal-bound Bobby Zamora shot with his hands on the goal line.  Fulham’s Danny Murphy converted the subsequent penalty.  Zoltan Gera added a second in the 87th minute to put the game away.  Rooney was sent off a minute later for his second yellow, allowing his temper to get the best of him.

Manchester United has now lost two straight Premier League games.  Chelsea could have closed the gap to a single point, but the Blues fell to Tottenham 1-0 on a Luka Modric goal in the 50th minute. Manchester United still has a game in hand over title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool, but Liverpool could still make it a one-point race with a victory over Aston Villa tomorrow.

The Rest of Saturday’s Results

Newcastle 1 (Martins 58)
Arsenal 3 (Bendter 57, Diaby 64, Nasri 67)

Blackburn 1 (Andrews 51)
West Ham 1 (Noble 35)

Stoke 1 (Shawcross 85)
Middlesbrough 0

West Brom 1 (Shittu 87 – o.g.)
Bolton 1 (Taylor 67)

Portsmouth 2 (Crouch 22, 75)
Everton 1 (Baines 4)

Premier League Schedule for March 21-22

21 Mar

Saturday, March 21

Portsmouth vs. Everton

Blackburn vs. West Ham

Fulham vs. Manchester United

Stoke vs. Middlesbrough

Tottenham vs. Chelsea – 11 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel (Live)

West Brom vs. Bolton

Newcastle vs. Arsenal – 1:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel (Live)

Sunday, March 22

Wigan vs. Hull

Manchester City vs. Sunderland – 5:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel (Delayed)

Liverpool vs. Aston Villa – GAME OF THE WEEK – 12:00 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel (Live) – Liverpool looks to continue their tear after scoring eight goals on Real Madrid and Manchester United.  Things are looking up for the Reds as their form improves and Rafa Benitez signed a contract extension.  Gerrard’s assault charges were also dropped.  As for Aston Villa, they are in desperate need of a good result as they haven’t won a premier league game since Feb. 7.  Currently in fifth, a win would go a long way towards keeping them in the hunt for a top four spot.

Liverpool to face Chelsea in Champions League quarterfinals

20 Mar

uefa_champions_leagueLiverpool will play Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal with the first leg at Anfield on April 8 and the second at Stamford Bridge on April 14.  It is the fifth straight year that the two clubs have met in Champions League play.  Chelsea defeated Liverpool in last year’s semifinals, but the Reds have done the double on Chelsea in the Premier League this season.

The rest of the draw
Manchester United vs. Porto
Villarreal vs. Arsenal
Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich

The winner of Manchester United/Porto will play the winner of Villarreal/Arsenal in the semis.  Liverpool or Chelsea will face the winner of Barcelona/Bayern Munich.  I’m going to say that Liverpool’s half of the draw is slightly more challenging – not only do the Reds have to try to knock off a fellow EPL team in the quarters, but Bayern has been playing extremely well (they beat Sporting 12-1 on aggregate in the last round!) and Barcelona, well, Barcelona has Lionel Messi, who has been absolutely phenomenal this year.  Needless to say though, just like the NCAA tournament that is going on right now, anything can happen.

In some good news for Livepool, skipper Steven Gerrard had assault charges dropped and will now face only the lesser charges of affray in court on April 3.

Hallelujah! Benitez signs new deal with Liverpool

18 Mar

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has signed a new contract with the club that will keep him at Anfield until at least 2014.  Read more about it here.

Glad that the morons in charge of Liverpool finally got something right.  The extension comes after months of negoitations/rejections by Benitez.  

Liverpool finds out the Champions League quarterfinal draw on Friday, March 20.

And Chelsea goes second

15 Mar

Well, despite Liverpool’s absolute destruction of Manchester United yesterday, all Chelsea needed was a 1-0 win over Manchester City to move into second place on goal difference.  So it’s a three-team race with ManU, Chelsea and Liverpool ahead of fourth place Arsenal by nine points.

In the other match today, Tottenham defeated Aston Villa, 2-1.  Villa has not won a Premier League match since Feb. 7 – and they are in fifth behind Arsenal on goal difference.  They need to get back on the winning track if they want to keep hope of a Champions League spot alive.

Current Table

1. Manchester United – 65 pts.
2. Chelsea – 61 pts.
3. Liverpool – 61 pts.
4. Arsenal – 52 pts.
5. Aston Villa – 52 pts.
6. Everton – 48 pts.
7. West Ham – 39 pts.
8. Wigan – 38 pts.
9. Fulham – 37 pts.
10. Manchester City – 35 pts.
11. Tottenham – 35 pts.
12. Bolton – 33 pts.
13. Hull – 33 pts.
14. Sunderland – 32 pts.
15. Blackburn – 30 pts.
16. Newcastle – 29 pts.
17. Portsmouth – 29 pts.
18. Stoke – 29 pts.
19. Middlesbrough – 27 pts.
20. West Brom – 22 pts.