Premier League Roundup: Gunners-Red Devils stalemate, Liverpool gain ground, Spurs impress at Newcastle

Leave a comment

Wednesday’s focus was destined to be at the top of the table, with Chelsea’s Tuesday slip at West Brom opening the door for Arsenal and Manchester City. But when the Gunners were held by a rival at the Emirates and City’s game was called off, Liverpool ended up the big beneficiary of Chelsea’s misstep. After a comeback win at Craven Cottage, the Reds are only four points off the top.

While those may have been the day’s most important results, the most impressive came at St. James’ Park. Continuing their rise under Tim Sherwood, Spurs posted a lopsided result on Newcastle, who have now been outscored 10-0 in their last three games.

Latest Premier League Standings

With weather forcing two matches to be postponed, Wednesday may not have been as busy as anticipated, but with the title race continuing to tighten, the close of the mid-week match day still helped intensify the drama at the top of the Premier League.

Here’s the lowdown:

Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United

Given how Arsène Wenger and David Moyes have approached recent big games, this result is more unsatisfying than outright surprising. With neither team showing the urgency you’d expect given their places in the table, both sides were left a disappointing result. Arsenal missed their chance to exploit a weaker opponent to go first in the Premier League, while United failed to take advantage of a relatively reserved Arsenal to keep up with Liverpool.

Fulham 2-3 Liverpool

Kolo Touré’s comical own goal put the visitors down early, but thanks to a long ball from Steve Gerrard that put Daniel Sturridge in on goal, Liverpool was able to equalize just before intermission. Goals from Kieran Richardson and Philippe Coutinho had the sides even in the 72nd minute, but just before full-time, a Sescha Riether foul on Sturridge in the right of the Fulham area gave Liverpool a reward for their control. Finishing off David Stockdale’s right upright, Gerrard gave Liverpool a 3-2 win that pulled them within four points of Chelsea at the top of the table.

Newcastle 0-4 Tottenham

Spurs pounced on a third straight disappointing performance by Newcastle to stay within three points of Liverpool for England’s final Champions League spot. Two more goals from Emmanuel Adebayor along with tallies from Paulinho and Nacer Chadli sent the Magpies to their worst loss since the season’s opening round,  leaving Newcastle unable to reclaim eighth place from Southampton

Stoke City 1-1 Swansea City

An early goal from Peter Crouch send the Potters into halftime up one, but seven minutes into the second half, Swansea capitalized on their large edge in possession to score through Chico Flores. With close calls from Wilfried Bony and Jonathan De Guzman late, the visitors had two chances to take full points. Come full-time, Stoke had pushed their unbeaten streak to three while Swansea claimed their second result under player-coach Garry Monk.

Postponed

Everton vs. Crystal Palace
Manchester City vs. Sunderland

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

AP Photo/Felipe Dana
Leave a comment

A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Leave a comment

This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
1 Comment

Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.

Report: Guardiola close to adding $43m Benfica goalkeeper

@edersonmoraes93
Leave a comment

Year Two of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City could feature another big goalkeeper purchase.

Claudio Bravo hasn’t panned out in sky blue, and Joe Hart doesn’t look likely to be coming back. Wily Caballero is getting the lion’s share of the minutes right now, playing every minute aside from a trio of FA Cup matches since February.

[ MORE: Podolski scores screamer in German finale ]

$43 million is the fee noted by Abola when it comes to the latest target for Guardiola, a neck-tattooed Brazilian by the name of Ederson.

The Benfica backstop, 23, has 20 clean sheets in 32 appearances this season. He signed a new six-year deal in late January, but money may talk here.