What a night for United and especially for Paul Scholes. Scoring only his 2nd goal of the campaign but what a goal it has turned out to be. I might have criticized Paul Scholes for the awkward challenge on Messi at the edge of the box in the first minute. Luckily, the referee judged it correctly and didn’t give a penalty. He made up for this with a devastating curling shot from 25 yards thanks to a little bit of help from Zambrotta. United were without Vidic and Rooney but they settled well in the opening minutes. We could have been 2-0 up had Park been a bit more clinical with the strike. Barcelona enjoyed superior possession and there danger man was Messi. Everytime he had the ball, i was nervous. Even though Barcelona had a lot of possession, they were reduced to shots from outside the area with the only danger being of Messi who had a decent shot saved by Van Der Sar. Nani was guilty of missing a great chance when he headed wide from 8 yards after a great cross by Park.
The premiership battle is going to go to the final two games now as Chelsea beat Man Utd 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. It was a must win game for Chelsea if they wanted to have any hope of retaining the premiership crown. Chelsea started brightly in the first half and started creating chances since the opening minutes. Manchester United who had rested Ronaldo, Tevez, Scholes for this match found hard to find there rhythm and Rooney who was playing as a lone forward was not getting the type of service he wants. Joe Cole was a constant thorn for United defense and he was unlucky not to have scored when his shot hit the post. Things got bad for United as they lost Vidic to injury. United looked like the same team that were tamed by Barcelona in the mid week. Chelsea got there opening goal when Ballack headed in just at the end of first half.It was the goal that we might say that Chelsea deserved.
Chelsea started well in the second half well but were soon shocked when a defensive error by Carvalho allowed Rooney to race clear through and draw United level. United them began taking control and only a good save from Cech prevented Giggs from giving United the lead. When it seemed as if the match will end in a draw, Chelsea got a penalty after Carrick’s handball in the area and Ballack stepped up to score a very important goal in the 86th minute. United didn’t give up and only two goal line clearance from Cole and Shivchenko kept United from equalizing and ensuring that Chelsea got the three points to keep the title race alive.
United and Chelsea are both level at points now but United have an advantage due to there superior goal difference. With only two games to go, it is now an open goal. Chelsea face Newcastle away and Bolton at home while United take on West Ham at home and Wigan away. In the end the team who wont get blown away by the pressure will win the title. Although i am bit skeptical, i have a feeling that United will go on to win the title.
Chelsea may finally accomplish what Jose Mourinho failed to do during his time at Chelsea. They have lost to Liverpool twice in the champions league semifinal, thanks to a Luis Garcia’s controversial goal and the defeat on penalties. On both the ties, the luck seemed to have favored Liverpool and that may change this time as Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield thanks to Riise’s own goal at injury time.
In a match that was dominated by Liverpool, they looked set for a win when the much maligned Dirk Kuyt’s finish three minutes before the interval gave them the lead. Liverpool had some good chances but Peter Cech was there to save well from Gerrard and Torres. But the tie suddenly turned to Chelsea’s side as Riise scored an own goal from Kalou’s free kick five minutes into injury time.
Chelsea have been unable to get past Liverpool twice in the same stage but it seems Avram Grant may finally accomplish what Mourinho failed to do. The return leg is at Stamford Bridge where Liverpool have failed to score at 8 outings and Chelsea are also unbeaten there. But this time, Liverpool know that they have to score and things look set for a pulsating tie .
I had a nervy feeling before the game which almost proved to be correct. Man Utd needed a win if they wanted to remove some pressure of them before the game against Chelsea next week. Keeping in mind, the game against Barcelona at midweek, Man Utd made four changes to the side with Vidic returning and Kuszczak playing in place of Van Der Sar. There were some nervous moments at the back as Kuszczak rushed to save from Jason Roberts after just six minutes. Minutes later, United had an opportunity to take the lead but Tevez failed to apply finish to a wonderful cross by Rooney.
And it was United who were made to suffer after 21 minutes when some confusion at the defense between Vidic and Ferdinand after Pedersen’s throw allowed Santa Cruz to score his 20th goal of the season from 12 yards. And the title race was thrown wide open at that time. Sensing confidence, Blackburn started attacking and Kuszczak tipped over a shot from Bentley from 25 yards. In the past days, Capello had suggested that Rooney had all the ingredients to be a future England captain but Rooney led his frustration get to him as he launched a dangerous tackle on Samba for not being allowed a penalty. He was lucky to get only a yellow card. One player, that has kept United out of the game was Brad Friedel and he produced a fantastic save again to deny Ronaldo from Giggs corner.
When February started, Arsenal was comfortably sitting at the top of Premier League with a 5 point lead over Manchester United and a 3 point lead over Chelsea. They were playing wonderful attacking football and it was difficult to see how anyone can defeat them. But today, they are out of the title race. Even there superb victory against AC Milan at champions league seems blurred now considering the loss against Liverpool. Wenger says that a combination of refereeing decisions, bad luck and injuries are to blame for there bad season. But considering they have gone three seasons without any trophy, something else must be wrong. Here we will look at some reasons why Arsenal failed to win any trophy.
1) Lack of players
The current Arsenal squad has enough quality to win trophies but they are definitely lacking in numbers. After the sale of Henry to Barcelona, it didn’t look like Arsenal would really challenge for anything but they did well. Adebayor, Van Persie and Fabregas kept the gunners season alive with superb performance. But look at what happened when Arsenal fielded a weakened side at the Carling Cup match against Tottenham. They were beaten 5 – 1 and that was the sign of things to come. In the FA cup, another weakened side faced Manchester United and were heavily beaten 4-0. Adebayor, Fabregas have played almost all the games this season and they will tire out.
2) The squad is not strong enough ?
Arsenal faced a lot of injury problems this season. Rosicky and Van Persie have missed most of the season through injury. Eduardo suffered a horrific injury and there was no backup. Bendtner has really failed to convince and Walcott has been mainly used a substitute. Instead of buying players in the January window, Arsenal sold Lasanna Diarra to Portsmouth to further reduce the squad size. Wenger claimed that the squad was good enough to win the championship but that has clearly been proved wrong. Due to injuries, many players got over burdened.
3) Inexperience of young players.
Though Arsenal youngsters have shown enough quality and unity to fight for the championship, they clearly lack experience. They have failed to beat the big teams such as Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool. Look at teams such as Man Utd and Chelsea. They got a good blend of young and experienced players.
4)The Birmingham Game
Yes, the infamous game in which Eduardo got injured. It somehow had a psychological effect on the team. Arsenal downfall started after this game.
5) Getting Key Decisions wrong
Many people have said that Wenger have got some key decisions wrong. One of them will be playing Toure at Right back instead of Center back. Playing Senderos at Center back was a poor decision considering the mistakes he made against Liverpool. Even Walcott who has impressed as substitute haven’t been given a starting place by Wenger.
Clearly Wenger needs to see that he needs to buy a few quality players. The Arsenal squad is likely to reduce in the summer to. The ageing Lehmann and Gilberto who are unsettled will definitely leave . Fabregas has also been attracting the interest of major clubs such as Real Madrid. If this were to happen, Arsenal certainly need a lot of players to challenge for the titles next season.
Chelsea title dream may be over after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. Before the game, Chelsea were 3 points behind Man Utd and needed a win to have any hope of challenging Man Utd for the title whom they face on 26th April at home. Now with the gap at 5 points, and Chelsea facing Everton on Thursday, the title could be over by the time Chelsea play Man Utd.
Chelsea gave rest to several key players in view of the tough match against Everton. They had several chances to score in the first half but they failed to find the net. Chelsea were finally rewarded when Essien scored in the 53rd minute. Chelsea attacked but they couldn’t find the second goal to kill of the game. And they were stunned when an Wigan scored in the injury time through an Emile Heskey volley which may have just ended there title hopes. To add insult to injury, they were booed by there own fans after the final whistle.
Now it definitely looks that Chelsea will finish the season without any silverware. I have an intution that they will either lose or draw against Everton and the title race will be over on Saturday. One question that no doubt comes to my mind is that who will manage Chelsea next season. I don’t think Abromovich will give Grant a second chance. And with Barcelona performing poorly in the Spanish League, Frank Rijkard might make the switch.