A recap of the key stories from the last two days.
Manchester United lost to Southend in a match that highlighted everything that is wrong with the club.
The plus points for Manchester United? David Jones got a valuable game in, Ronaldo revelled in the responsibility shown to him and Ferguson reacted with some respect, despite having seen his side play against a team that defended deep and heavy for most of the match.
Ronaldo lacked support against Southend
I’ll write a bit more about this in the preview for our weekend match, so stay tuned. Suffice to say that a lot of the criticism levelled at Manchester United is justified, but on the same note a lot of it is over-analysis and exaggerated as well.
Freddy Adu is going to train at Manchester United for two weeks – catch videos of the player here.
Momo Sissoko’s injury is a blow to Liverpool’s title hopes, although not as severe as people think.
It will mean that Pennant has an extended spell on the right and will allow Gerrard to return to central midfield in his preferred role. The team’s balance will improve, and with Carragher, Agger and Hyppia in good form, all Liverpool need is some consistency from Alonso to make their team challenge for top honours again.
As it stands, Liverpool have a must-win game against Arsenal in 3 days time, one that will determine where Liverpool stand in the title race. Lose, and they would have lost all 3 away games to their key rivals, and that’s not an advantage you should be giving away so early in the season.
Win? Can Liverpool win? The team is in good form and is slowly picking up from where it left off last season, but I don’t expect them to seriously challenge for the title this year. It would take slumps from two sides (Manchester United and Chelsea) and a phenomenal run by Liverpool to win the title, and that’s 3 ‘ifs’ that are unlikely.
They’re not going to give up just now, obviously, and they shouldn’t. I just don’t see them winning if they don’t step their game up a notch.
Chelsea’s win in the Carling Cup (an emphatic 4-0 thumping of Aston Villa) was predictable – Mourinho’s team was stung by their loss on the weekend and they got back in spectacular style, showing that when it matters, Chelsea deliver. O’Neill talks about Chelsea having a powerful team and he’s not far off the mark – with Essien, Drogba, Terry, Lampard, Ballack and Makelele in the lineup, there’s class and physical strength all over the park.
It also helps when Terry, Drogba and co. have to gang-up on the ref…
The good news is that Cech’s much better, and was spotted at the Carling Cup tie against Aston Villa.
Good luck in your recovery mate.
Wenger and Pardew have been hit by FA charges – not surprising, but completely needless. The FA needs a lot more flexibility in its dealings, but they’re not willing to show that. Instead, every single time they’ve been called upon to make a decision they’ve either over-reacted or not reacted at all.
Wenger’s still not spoken about it, which is not surprising – maybe he’ll speak before the Liverpool game, but I doubt it.
Arsenal won their Carling Cup game (which has taken the headlines because of Graham Poll and Everton’s penalty claims) but the focus is still on the fallout from the match against West Ham – this time its Fabregas and Sheringham, and what’s ridiculous is people are talking shit without even knowing what went on.
If Fab’s father is that interested, he really should have told us what he knew about the incident (he’s saying everything else in the interview) – looks like he knows nothing and most like The Sun twisted his words around and made it all sound something totally different.
Arsenal play Liverpool on the weekend, and a win is a must if they want to compete with Manchester United and Chelsea for the title. I’m hoping Arsenal lose, but only because I want a two-horse race and not a three-way title race. The fewer teams we have to contend with, the easier it’s going to be.
Fabio Capello says that Beckham was badly affected by McClaren’s decision to dump him from the England squad. He’s right, but that has nothing to do with Capello dropping him to the bench, although we’re not at training and we don’t know if Capello genuinely thought Becks was a bit off during training or not.
When a player dives after coming on the pitch in the 66th minute in a desperate attempt to win a free kick and show his worth, you know he’s in trouble.
Oh and, if you haven’t, read my open letter to David Beckham.
Michel Platini believes that involving more clubs into the Champions League – by giving clubs from lesser leagues a chance at the expense of clubs from England, Spain and Italy – is a good idea. I’m not sure how good an idea it is, because in my view the Champions League is supposed to be a competition between the best clubs in Europe, and as such the teams involved should be reduced across the board to ensure that only the top ranked teams play against each other.
Of course, money’s always a concern, and that sucks the life out of these competitions, just as money has made the UEFA Cup into an unmanageable beast.
And last, but not least – Newcastle United finally won a game, albeit on penalties.
If you’re interested in writing about your club, please read this.