Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Monday, 28 September 2009
The Premier League served plenty of action and entertainment over the weekend, as always:
Top game: I had to pick the biggest surprise: Chelsea succumbing to Wigan. The Blues defence was uncharacteristically all over the place, giving Wigan's Hugo Rodallega time and space to create chance after chance and conceding a penalty against him to top it all. Sensational win for the Latics, their first victory against a top four side at the 35th time of asking.
Top goal: If he meant it or not, Steven Gerrard's curl-shot from the left outside the box into the right corner of the net was sensational and topped the dominant victory for Liverpool. Man United's opener against Stoke just showed how crucial Ryan Giggs still is for his side, even after 21 of his 35 years at the club.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Monday, 21 September 2009
47 for 0 after 10 overs: England - Andrew Strauss and Joe Denly are helpes to a good start by some indifferent bowling with too many no-balls and wides of Brett Lee and Ben Hilfenhaus. Very negligent cricket by Australia, especially regarding the low total they have to defend.
Top game: Without a doubt, the Manchester derby grabbed most of the attention and headlines. End to end stuff, seven goals, not all quality and glory but enough action and reactions to create a flood of laud and curses. The referee shared the main part of the spotlight at the end, questioned about his maths and the minutes he added on. Alex Ferguson's, the press' and United fans' delight, more disgust and distraught for Mark Hughes and the City fans; great entertainment for the neutrals.
Top team: Chelsea rode the show against Tottenham. Expecting a feisty and competitive match, many fans will have been disappointed. After a evenly matched beginning, the Blues broke loose and never looked back, coming through with flying colours. With 19 attempts against a dire 6, 10 to 2 on target, Tottenham never looked a threat. Wolves were brilliant, gave their 100 per cent againt Fulham and fully deserved the win with 12 attempts against 4.
Top player: All bandaged up after a clash of heads, Birmingham's Christian Benitez continued very lively and created chance after chance. Hull City's goalkeeper Boaz Myhill had plenty to do and made wonderful saves to frustrate Benitez and Birmingham. West Ham's Zavon Hines was just as much of a bug for Liverpool, creating pressure and getting decisions his way, of no avail in the end though, his side losing out to the Reds in contrast to Birmingham, who netted all three points.
Top goal: Burnley's David Nugent showed great confidence. The turn-finish to his shot, past two-three defenders, gave the goalkeeper no chance, consolidated the win for his side and his position in the side. Thomas Vermaelen's left-footer for Arsenal was sweet aswell, curled past Wigan's Chris Kirkland after a exchanging play with Emmanuel Eboue. Dave Kitson's diagonal diamond-finish from the left into the right corner was an excellent finish for Stoke, too.
Flop game: I think the Manchester derby had as much good points as bad and cringe-worthy. It is only thanks to defensive errors City got back into the match on all three occasions, the first goal gifted to them by Ben Foster, the second given away by Patrice Evra and the third by Rio Ferdinand. Meanwhile United had chance after chance, could have made it 5, 6, 7 or 8 if it would not have been for great stops and saves by Shay Given, Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov with most of the chances. For City then to be in such uproar about the time added on and the points lost due to the last-breath goals, seems very odd, as they would have been very lucky to get away with a point. For Hughes not to recognise that and moan on about the referee instead, ist sad.
Flop team: Tottenham were very disappointing to me as I thought they would make more of a competition and fight of the derby. Blackburn were just as weak, especially in set-pieces, leaving Everton with the easy job of just tap-ins. Both games ended 3-0 against them, something they will have to look into.
Flop player: Stoke's Ricardo Fuller got booked for diving but then won a soft free kick which was saved well by Bolton's Jussi Jaaskelainen. He was very annoying to watch, I felt he let out the drama queen a couple of times too often.
Flop goal: As mentioned above, all three Man City goals were lucky, capitalising off United mistakes and give-aways. It shows too though, that the top teams have their leaks and weaknesses. But then again, City obviously showed more of that, as it could have been a much more condemning result against them, if it were not for their goalkeeper.
My Predictions - Actual Results:
Arsenal 4:1 Wigan - 4:0
Aston Villa 2:0 Portsmouth - 2:0
Bolton 1:1 Stoke - 1:1
Burnley 1:0 Sunderland - 3:1
Hull City 1:1 Birmingham - 0:1
West Ham 1:3 Liverpool - 2:3
Chelsea 3:2 Tottenham - 3:0
Everton 1:2 Blackburn - 3:0
Man Utd 2:2 Man City - 4:3
Wolves 0:2 Fulham - 2:1
Friday, 18 September 2009
Run of Play: Advantage to...
41 for 2 after 10 overs: England - The home side started well after being put out to field for the first time. The crowd are urging them on, desperate to see them do well. Thanks to James Anderson, England look much better after a shaky start, after he bowled Shane Watson for 4 and had captain Ricky Ponting caught by Ryan Sidebottom for 6.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Ricky Ponting led his side to a fifth straight victory at Trent Bridge. With his 26th one-day century and a 133-run partnership he shared with Michael Clarke (52), he kept Australia on course for a 7-0 whitewash.
England's captain Andrew Strauss won the toss for the ninth time out of ten this summer and selected to bat first. Every batsmen contributed, with half of them scoring over 30, but once again, the home side were missing a centurian or lasting partnership.
Australia were set a respectable, competitive target of 300 to win, but quickly extinguished any hopes England had to defend it, with superb batting displays and a solid partnership that carried them for nearly half the innings and total.
47 for 0 after 10 overs: England - Andrew Strauss and Joe Denly provided a solid start, great drives and boundary shots, good cricket all round, but England usually do that but have been unable to build something on it.
98 for 2 after 20 overs: England - AGAIN, a good start but worrying wickets and no long-lasting partnerships. Strauss tried a silly reverse sweep after he hit the previous ball for four and was caught out lbw to Nathan Hauritz - although it did look like the ball tickled his bat. Ravi Bopara served a comfortable catch to Hauritz off Shane Watson, a soft dismissal for just 18 off 21.208 for 5 after 40 overs: England - Prior was stumped, a beautiful move by wicket keeper Tim Paine and Shah's fine edge off Mitchell Johnson was caught behind. Any hopes of a big partnership were thereby once again demolished by some foolish and sloppy play. It is once again up to the lower half to create a competitive total.
299 all out after 50 overs: England - Australia capitulated the last couple of overs with overthrows, misses, just clumsiness, giving England extra runs and plenty of boundaries, Eoin Morgan smashing an entertaining half century. Wonderful late entertainment with a bit of everthing, fire, drama, runs, wickets, class and hiccups. At least England got a defendable total out of it, see if they can make the Aussies fight for it for a change.
50 for 1 after 10 overs: Australia - Another strong start from the Aussies, Paine the only wicket to fall, caught by Adil Rashid off Tim Bresnan for 16. Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom started off well, but Bresnan made the difference.
107 for 2 after 20 overs: Australia - And captain Ricky Ponting is smashing on, big hits and strokes, fours and sixes. Watson spooned the ball and was caught by Dimitri Mascharenhas at mid-on, out for 36, but Michael Clarke settled in nicely and silenced the crowd.
168 for 2 after 30 overs: Australia - Ponting and Clarke are in the rhythm and charging on, keeping the crowd silent and accumulating runs. A beautiful century partnership, something England have been missing, and Ponting's 27th ODI half century.
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Another action-packed weekend saw no game without a goal, 35 goals in total, no draws, six home wins and four away - unpredictable and breathtaking:
Top game: Man City's home win against Arsenal left hardly any time or room to blink or breath. The result is harsh on the Gunners, the had plenty of chances, misfortunes and decisions that did not go their way, they probably feel, they should have gotten more out of it. Man City were hungry and intimidating, intense and gripping to watch.
Top team: Liverpool had it the easiest, Man City and United were the most ruthless, productive and worth-every-penny, whilst Chelsea looked the cheekiest and luckiest, leaving both their goals deep into injury time of both halves against Stoke.
Top player: Emmanuel Adebayor drew most of the attention onto him, without a doubt. He was on fire, which can quickly spread and escalate matters, especially facing his former side, making the tension over-exasperating between them. Wayne Rooney starred for United, omnipresent and with a great individual effort goal.
Top goal: Tottenham could not have wished for a better start against United when Jermain Defoe's right-foot overhead kick gave them the lead in the first minute. Rooney's individual effort, nutmegging Spurs goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, finished off a great United break from their own half, the Scouser only having eyes for the back of the net. Great to see, especially after his side went down to ten men.
Top manager: Roy Hodgson's half time talk and changes were decisive in Fulham's turnaround of the game against Everton. Alex Ferguson's changes also kept United ahead eventhough they were down to ten men. He took Dimitar Berbatov off for Michael Carrick, keeping his side tight and compact, leaving no gaps for Tottenham to capitalise on. Genius - as usual.
Flop game: Wigan's win against West Ham needed a goal to wake the game, teams and crowd up, but the referee did not even give that when he blew the half time whistle and left Carlton Cole frustrated and with a sarcastic smile having netted the ball a split-second later. Cruel.
Flop team: Portsmouth have lost five out of five now after giving away the game to Bolton with a fragile defence and some embarrassing misses.
Flop player: Adebayor could not have acted more idiotic or shambolic, when he kicked his former team mate Robin van Persie in the face and then, to make things worse, running to the Arsenal end of the ground after he scored, causing all sorts of havoc. Consciously or not, both actions were unprofessional and should be punished. The referee Mark Clattenburg dealt with the latter situation professionally and brilliantly, further actions still pending.
Flop goal: Hull City defender Craig Fagan's clumsy handball cried for a penalty and conceded a goal. Kamil Zayatte gave away two more to Sunderland to thrash them, one own goal and letting off Darrent Bent unchallenged as if he had no care in the world. It proves that nightmares can come true.
Flop referee: As mentioned above, the half time whistle went at the same moment Carlton Cole scored for West Ham - how cruel can you be?! Especially when you regard how much the game needed a goal to brighten things up...
176 for 5 after 40 overs: Australia - Quality shots had become a rarity, England had nothing to get excited about but two beauty wickets: Prior was bowled by a perfect swinging yorker first ball back for Brett Lee and Eoin Morgan was stumped, a breathtaking move by wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
220 all out after 46.3 overs: Australia - Lee blew away the middle order after some promising whacks, pounces and shots of Shah and Luke Wright. Wright and Stuart Broad fell victim to Lee's missile-yorkers, Shah was caught mid-wicket off a Watson full toss. Adil Rashid was Lee's fifth and final victim and Mitchell Johnson finished the home side off bowling Ryan Sidebottom. To quote and agree with Pranav Soneji: England were "folded like an amateur poker player".
51 for 1 after 10 overs: Australia - It all looked too easy for the Aussies openers, hitting, smashing, wallopping and bashing one boundary after another. Watson eventually got trapped in front lbw by Tim Bresnan, but the threat did not last long.
110 for 2 after 20 overs: Australia - Paine and Ricky Ponting continued the knock-about, England unable to capitalise off the first wicket. Paine eventually fell, a needless sweep caught behind after his least convincing shot brought up his half century three balls earlier.
159 for 2 after 30 overs: Australia - More comfortable runs, no threat whatsoever for Australia.
198 for 3 after 40 overs: Australia - Out of nowhere, Ponting went for a big shot but drilled the drive straight to Bopara at short cover, causing great cheers around the ground. At least some joy for the crowd.
221 for 3 after 43.4 overs: Australia - The cheers did not last long for the English crowd, the Aussies winning with comfortable and solid runs. Michael Clarke's nice fluent innings was rewarded, an intelligent half century of him and obvious win for Australia, worries for England.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
England 5-1 Croatia
England erased bitter Euro 2008 memories by outclassing a poor Croatian side, beating them comprehensively 5-1 at Wembley to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, for the first time ever with two games to spare.
The second half did not see much change. Lampard and Gerrard both netted within the first 20 minutes: The prior converted a Glen Johnson headed cross from the right outiside the box into the centre of the goal, the latter heading in a rumbled Rooney cross cleverly over the goalkeeper.
Man of the match: Aaron Lennon
England Green; Johnson, Upson, Terry, Cole; Lennon (80 Beckham), Barry, Lampard, Gerrard (81 Milner); Rooney, Heskey (60 Defoe). Subs not used Foster, Brown, Bridge, Crouch. Bookings 85 Terry.
Croatia Runje; Srna, Krizanac, Simunic, Pranjic; Mandzukic, Vukojevic, Pokrivac (HT Rakitic), Kranjcar, Eduardo (73 Klasnic); Olic (HT Petric). Subs not used Subasic, Drpic, Calo, Leka. Bookings 44 Simunic.
Sky Sports Stats:
England - Croatia
On target: 9-5
Blocked shots: 0-2
Free kicks: 9-16
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Australia beat England comfortably by six wickets at the Rose Bowl to go 3-0 up in the series. Cameron White starred with his first one-day-international century and Michael Clarke (53) joined in to build an exemplary partnership of 143 runs. It was a crucial but simple factor England could not muster: A standing partnership with strength and stamina to hold the team.
50 for 2 after 10 overs: England - Ravi Bopara and Matt Prior both got caught out in consecutive overs, for 10 and 0 respectively, leaving it up to captain Andrew Strauss to keep the runs flowing and looking for someone to back him up and establish a partnership with.
87 for 3 after 20 overs: Australia - Paul Collingwood survived longer than his team mates to help his skipper after Owais Shah fell lbw to Mitchell Johnson for just eight runs, leaving England weak and struggling at 62 for 3. Runs were made hard to come by, England looking desperate.
127 for 4 after 30 overs: Australia - Finally Australia got who they wanted, Strauss caught at mid-wicket by Nathan Hauritz trying to get things going for England, but ended up out for 63. The run rate remained low, England are urged for an established partnership.
172 for 6 after 40 overs: Australia - England threw away a couple of wickets, Collingwood's tame chip was caught at mid-on by Nathan Bracken, out for 28, and Luke Wright slashed one right to the sub fielder Adam Voges in the covers, out for 9. England are crumbling.
228 for 9 after 50 overs: England - And it is the lower order that saves England from total embarrassment. The last wicket stand was the best of the day, 40 runs between Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom. See if the bowlers can do what the batsmen have failed to - get the Aussies worried!
29 for 1 after 10 overs: England - Australia started slowly and lost Shane Watson early on, trapped plumb lbw by James Anderson for 7. Tim Paine got a better start, but England will be the happier wiht their start, keeping the batsmen at bay - for now.
79 for 2 after 20 overs: Australia - Cameron White and Michael Clarke are hammering in the runs and boundaries. If England continue letting these two loose, this partnership will flourish and hurt the home side.
115 for 2 after 30 overs: Australia - White and Clarke continued their blast as feared, Australia are thriving, something England have been unable to do. White gets rewarded with only his second one-day half-century.
163 for 2 after 40 overs: Australia - Too many easy runs for the Aussies, not discrediting the 100-run partnership; White on 70, Clarke on 41 and both on a roll.
230 for 4 after 48.3 overs: Australia - England got couple of consolation wickets, Clarke bowled by Graeme Swann (52) and White caught by Sidebottom at extra cover off Wright after completing a wonderful and fully-deserved century. It left Callum Ferguson and Michael Hussey to finish England off, but it is out of question, the decisive difference between the two sides have been the big batting partnerships that built the main part of the team's consistency and threat.
Monday, 7 September 2009
The Aussies were put out to bat by England who served a decent performance on field and with the ball, keeping the opposition restrained, but eventually threw any advantage away with a weak batting display.
Run of Play: Advantage to...
169 for 5 after 40 overs: England - Ravi Bopara served his reputation as the partnership breaker having White caught behind for 42 off 66. Michael Hussey fell shortly afterwards, bowled by Graeme Swann for just 8. A crucial breakthrough for England and they have to continue putting the pressure on the Aussies if they want to stay in the match with a chance.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
"Lampard and Defoe secure friendly victory for Capello's men"