Liverpool won at West Brom last weekend in a very methodical display and were outplayed at times by promoted Swansea City at Anfield this one. The Kenny Dalglish acolytes in the media would have you believe that he has transformed the stodgy Liverpool of the Roy Hodgson reign into the free flowing Liverpool of the John Barnes era. Rubbish. There is no flair to the side and the reds are an injury to Luis Suarez from being average. Andy Carroll is a lumbering waste of money while Stuart Downing and Jordan Henderson have offered precious little to justify their transfer fees. Liverpool have improved but are a long way from being a top four side let alone title contenders.
The game of the week may have been at Stanford Bridge between Chelsea ‘03 and Arsenal, but the result of the week belongs to Man United. They went to Goodison Park, a ground where they usually struggle, on the back of their humiliating loss to Man City ‘08, to play Everton a team that has always caused them problems and ground out a 1-0 win. Arsenal’s win may have gleaned all the headlines, but United’s win and clean sheet is of the type that wins titles. As is their 1-0 win at home to Sunderland. Don’t crown City as champions just yet.
Chelsea ‘03 are in trouble on the evidence of their losses to QPR and Arsenal, their poor draw at Genk in the Champions League and their underwhelming performance in winning at Blackburn. The misfiring Fernando Torres has been a waste of money, John Terry is a major distraction, Peter Cech has been poor and despite a hat trick against Bolton, Frank Lampard is a shadow of his former self. They have missed Michael Essien, but perhaps they miss Ricardo Carvalho more. He made the back four tick and the blues have not looked the same since he left for Real Madrid. Judging by their recent performances never mind their results Chelsea ‘03 are as far away from winning their owner his Holy Grail, the Champions League as they have ever been.
It passed off unnoticed that FOX was awarded the English language rights to the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups. The contract is worth a staggering $400 million which again destroys the myth that the US is not a soccer nation. The viewing figures for EPL games on FOX Soccer Channel and ESPN also show healthy support for the game here. Throw in the fact the MLS’s average attendance of 17,780 is now better than that of the NBA and NHL and in the top 10 internationally and there is real cause for optimism for the future of the game in America.
Third party ownership has been assailed in the UK as against the integrity of the game. The banning of such ownership by the football authorities there will not stand the test of scrutiny if a case is brought before the European Community, or the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It will be another loss for football similar to the Bosman and the Charleroi cases. Changes are coming to English and European football and the game in five years’ time will be unrecognizable from the one in place today. Can you say Super League?
John Terry is an angel. He would never stoop so low as to make the comment he is alleged to have shouted at Anton Ferdinand. He never made alleged comments to Ledley King when being sent off at Spurs in 2008. His mom was never arrested for alleged shop lifting. His dad was never arrested for alleged drug dealing. Terry was never charged with an alleged assault when his close friend was charged with rape. He never got drunk the day after the September 11 attacks and verbally abused American tourists. He never slept with his team mate’s ex-girlfriend. And he never asked for money to lay on a behind the scenes tour of Chelsea 03’s training ground.
It was a great week for MLS with two excellent conference finals that showed all that is good about the game in America. Houston Dynamo went to Sporting Kansas and won 2-0 in front of a sold out and partisan crowd of 20,839. Kansas had their chances, but Carlo Costly’s late strike added to Andre Hainault’s opener to send the Dynamo to the final. There they will meet the LA Galaxy who finally overcame Real Salt Lake 3-1 in a scoreline that flattered LA. The Galaxy’s star players Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Keane were instrumental in the win and it will take a great display from Houston to stop them winning their first MLS title since 2005.
Gary Neville, Paul McGrath, Jaap Stam, Denis Irwin,
Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs
Eric Cantona, Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
Subs: Edwin Van der Saar, David Beckham, Mark Hughes, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Bryan Robson, Jasper Olsen and Wayne Rooney.