FA Cup Fallouts as Arsenal get Revenge and City break the Blues

By Daniel Laming posted 16th February 2014 3:43PM in Football

In a weekend that seemed to be more ‘Clash of the Titans’ than the FA Cup ‘norm’ – four big teams were pitted against each other including a ‘grudge match’ between two teams that racked up 6-goals last weekend – that was of course Arsenal vs Liverpool.

The first match on the cards was Manchester City vs Chelsea yesterday and it took 2 goals from Stevan Jovetic and Samir Nasri to put City through as the song ‘Blue Moon’ echoed round the Etihad stadium. Whilst Pellegrini still keeps his 4-title race alive, Mourinho looks to be further let down as his return to Stamford Bridge and Chelsea looks to be going down a very different path to his last attempt.

The second and perhaps highly-anticipated fixture of the weekend was Arsenal vs Liverpool. Having suffered a humiliating defeat to Liverpool just last week as the Gunners were subjected to a 5-1 rout, it was more nail-biting worries as Gerrard converted his penalty in the 59th minute but thankfully for Arsenal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski were on form and had already bagged 2 goals earlier in the game and they managed to hold on to this lead to see Liverpool knocked out the cup and their forfeit from the top position the previous week a little less humbling.

Whilst this result goes little way to defending how Arsenal performed last week, it will certainly leave Wenger smiling and the team getting a bit of a morale boost. But can they go on to regain their top spot in the Premier League? We look forward to watching them in action next week.

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Liverpool thrash Arsenal and Sochi gets underway

By Daniel Laming posted 9th February 2014 4:37PM in Football, Uncategorized

In a week that marked the start of the Winter Olympics – it was the Liverpool/Arsenal derby that stole the headlines today.

It took a brace by Martin Skrtel and Raheem Sterling to compound Arsenal to a defeat that would see them drop from the top spot into 2nd place. Daniel Sturridge added more misery with his goal and a consolation Arteta penalty did little to hide the fact that Arsenal were on the verge of an even bigger defeat.

The danger came when Arsenal found themselves 1-0 down in the first minute and 4-0 down by the 20th minute after Skrtel achieved his brace in just 10minutes. With the stats hiding the sheer disaster that Arsenal were facing, they were lucky not to concede a few more before half-time when Sturridge missed a rather easy finish and then Suarez was just a little too slow to reach a low cross that could have easily added 2 more to the tally. Perhaps the greatest salvation for Arsenal was Suarez hitting the angle moments later in what would surely have gone down as one of his greatest goals and Kolo missing the rebound.

The defeat leaves Wenger in a predicament as his team fights to claw back first place and not fall into their usual habit of dropping off in the latter end of a season.

Also this week, we had the start of the Winter Olympics, and with Putin lambasting public displays of homosexuality, it took little time to confuse us with the opening ceremony on Friday. Not only did we see Snowflakes and busty men chopping down trees make an appearance (like a cross between Swan Lake and the Village People), but Thomas Bach spoke openly to all who attended talking about how the games should not divide people but rather unite them – a clear message if there was one to Putin and his anti LGBT regime. We look forward to watching the games as they go on and watching Putin quietly sulk in the corner.

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Superbowl in Seattle – Seahawks claim first victory

By Daniel Laming posted 2nd February 2014 9:21AM in Uncategorized

For a team that has twice set the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd at both 136.6dBs and 137.6dBs, been the only American Football team to appear in both the AFC and NFC Championship games and sit as the only NFL team in the Pacific Northwest – it was only fitting that the Seattle Seahawks crushed the Broncos 43-8 to bring home their first Super Bowl title in what was a tremendous Super Bowl XLVIII.

From the 12 second mark the Seahawks were in the lead and it never really looked like they were going to have to fight for the win. The Broncos seemed slow and sloppy in most of their plays and it actually took until the final play of the 3rd quarter for the Denver Broncos to even get their name on the score sheet against the 12s and having not won a Super Bowl since their back to back seasons in 1997 and 1998, it looks like they will have to just keep on waiting till next year! Perhaps a year when they won’t be struggling from so many injuries or where they have to court controversy mid-season with one of their linebackers (cough Von Miller cough) getting a six-game suspension for drug violations.

Paul Allen, owner of the Seahawks and co-founder of Microsoft, was notably thrilled with the result tonight – his 4th attempt at winning this trophy. Having failed with the Seahawks in 2006 in Super Bowl XL and having led the Portland Trail Blazers to the final in both 1990 and 1992, this was his first taste of success and he seemed pretty content with it.

Whilst we have another year to wait for Super Bowl XLIX, we look forwards to the start of the next season in March and to seeing whether the Seahawks can retain their championship against a formidable set of opponents.

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Lamont Peterson retains his IBF title

By Daniel Laming posted 25th January 2014 11:45AM in Boxing, Sports

Lamont Peterson proved his critics wrong by retaining his IBF Junior Welterweight title against Dierry Jean on the Showtime from the DC Armory. Understandably, there was more than an element of doubt when assessing the fight, with regards to whether Lamont would be able to come back strong and confident after his last fight which was a non-title match with Lucas Matthysse in May 2013 where he took quite a beating. However, Lamont was back to his old self, and showed why his 32-2-1, 16 Knock Outs is an outstanding record reflecting his talent and determination.

The fight against Dierry Jean was a good test of Lamont’s discipline and match fitness. Jean Dierry also has an impressive record of 25-1, with 17 of those wins through knock-out. But as the boxing match against Peterson progressed, it was clear that Dierry was out of league on the night. Lamont was able to put in a sterling performance, not wavering from his fight strategy and remained focussed throughout the match and thus made certain that he made no mistakes that would have Jean take advantage.

At the end of the day, Jean was no walk over. But on the night, for whatever the reason, Lamont was firing on all cylinders, and Jean could not keep pace the IBF Junior Welterweight champion.

The Peterson win opens the door to fights with respect major opponents in the 140 pounds category. It also, more importantly, means a potential title unification match with WBC and WBA title holder Danny Garcia. This unification fight is what Lamont has always claimed to be his goal, and should be quite a good fight between two accomplished boxers.

Supporters of Lamont Peterson will be hoping this fight with Danny Garcia is the next match, especially after his boxing display against Jean.

 

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Chelsea give Man United the blues

By Daniel Laming posted 17th January 2014 7:59AM in Football, Sports

Manchester United’s disastrous season continues with yet another defeat, this time at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea eased past them with a final score of 3-1. Samuel Eto’o scored a hat-trick ensures that Jose Mourinho’s team maintains the pressure on Arsenal and Manchester City in the Premier League title race. Chelsea supporters will can’t help but think that this year could be when they get their hands back on the trophy, even though Jose is constantly stating that they don’t really stand a chance this season. The day was made perfect as the Chelsea manager recorded his 100th English Premier League win, and in so doing so, became the fastest manager to do it, with just 142 games – 20 less than Sir Alex Ferguson.

The match was yet another typical performance from United, and it was made even worse with Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney noted absence. Hernandez did score in the 78th minute of the game, but by then there was no way back for Manchester United. David Moyes’ players showed their frustration as Rafael, Valencia and Ashley Young received a yellow card,  and Vidic being sent off for a needless challenge on Eden Hazard.

The match reflected the highs and lows of the English Premier League. On one hand, you have the excitement and anticipation of every game The Blues are playing, as their consistency and determination, give them a fighting chance of the title, and on the other, we have United supporters who increasingly experience a feeling of despair and hopelessness when thinking Manchester United’s next game. Neutrals will say this is why the Premier League is the best in the world, with three to four teams with the chance of winning the title and looking at last season’s title holders lost in the middle of the table.

 

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Liverpool win at Stoke 3-5

By Daniel Laming posted 12th January 2014 7:03PM in Football, Sports

Brendan Rodgers Liverpool had their first win over Stoke in the Premier League, to bring The Reds five points behind Manchester City and in so doing  increase the pressure on the English Premier League leaders. Once again Suarez was in the middle of things, with two goals, one in each half. But the really good news for Liverpool and England fans is that Daniel Sturridge came on in the 66th minute, and literally five minutes later provided the assist for Luis Suarez’s second goal and then the English International managed to get  on the scoresheet with a goal in the 87th minute of the match.

Stoke did try to put up a fight, but it seemed that every time they got close in terms of equalising, Liverpool just scored again. Crouch scored with a header and Charlie Adam had a brilliant strike just before half time. What will be disappointing for Mark Hughes is that Stoke had only conceded seven goals in the last 10 games in the Premier League, so the manager will want to make sure they tighten up the back in time for the next fixture.

Brendan Rodgers has his own problems in defence, as his team has conceded at least two goals in seven of their last eight away games in the English Premier League. The Reds will need to tighten up their back line, if they are going to be serious contenders for the Premier League title. This flaw is being covered up by Suarez, but sooner or later, Rodgers will have to address his team’s lack of discipline at the back.

This year it is even more important for Brendan Rodgers to rectify his team’s obvious defensive flaws, as they in with a real chance of winning the Premier League title. Liverpool supporters will be praying that they can pull clear of Arsenal and Chelsea and really give City something to worry about, especially with Suarez and Sturridge back together again up front.

 

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Johnson wins Hyundai PGA

By Daniel Laming posted 5th January 2014 11:13AM in Golf

Since 2013 the Hyundai Tournament has not been the opening event of the PGA season, but that didn’t take away from the buzz. With a pot of over $5,000,000 and a 1st place prize pool of over $1.1m, it doesn’t take much to see why this tournament is highly-coveted.

Zach Johnson didn’t make his victory at this tournament look easy and it took until the fourth round for him to break away from the pack and seize the title. His 1st round was actually pretty average and left him a stroke away from Spieth and Simpson who were also Tournament front-runners. At 67 from the first round, it was his second round that helped him to initially pull to the front of the leader board with 7 birdies and a little help from some of the other top golfers hitting a few bogeys.

At the beginning of Round 3, Johnson looked a strong favourite to be honest – but a dreadful game with 2 bogeys and just 1 birdie took him off the top with a sub-par 74 stroke finish for the day and in need of a strong performance to get back into the mix. This is exactly what happened though as he birdied on 7 out of the 18 holes and finished his 4th round with a tally of 66 and an overall tally of 273 shots, just 1 shot fewer than Jordan Spieth and 2 below Webb Simpson and Kevin Streelman.

Additional kudos goes to Brian Gay whose 3rd round was the talk of the Tournament with an impressive 65 shots, including 7 birdies and an eagle on the 5th hole. Unfortunately this was on the back of a 2nd round where he fielded 3 bogeys and a double bogey.

We look forward to the Sony Open in Hawaii next week – until then – Congratulations again to Zach Johnson

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Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1

By Daniel Laming posted 29th December 2013 7:38PM in Football, Sports

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. This is now the second defeat in a row for Brendan Rodgers’ team, after losing to Manchester City. It means Liverpool is now fifth place in the English Premier League, and this is a trend they can’t seem to end, of starting s new year outside the top four in the Premier League since 2008/9 season. Chelsea, on the other hand, are now just two points the leaders, Arsenal and Jose Mourinho and Chelsea supporters will be hoping to keep up and be in with a chance of actually winning the title.

Liverpool started well as Martin Skrtel put them ahead in less than three minutes with a simple tap in, and Brendan Rodgers would have been thinking it was going to be an easy day at the office. However, Eden Hazard equalised in the 17th minutes with a thunderous shot from a distance, and then The Blues took the lead when Samuel Eto’o shot squeezed under Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool did have a few chances to get back into the game with a header from Mamadou Sakho which struck the bar and a couple of penalty appeals which were turned down. Liverpool’s star striker, Luis Suarez, was effectively contained by Jose Mourinho’s men, and one must admit that in general the London club dominated and controlled the game. And it scoreline could have been for Liverpool as Mignolet made some important saves for the visitors.

At the end of the game, Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers was still adamant that his team was still challenging for the title, but the reality is that they are currently six points behind the leaders, Arsenal and have six points from their last two games. As Chelsea proved on the day, if Luis Suarez can be contained, then any team playing against Liverpool has a strong chance of coming away from the game with points.

 

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Bayern Munich win FIFA Club World Cup Final

By Daniel Laming posted 21st December 2013 8:01PM in Football, Sports

Bayern Munich continue their winning ways with their fifth trophy of 2013, as they beat Raja Casablanca 2-0 in the FIFA Club World Cup Final. This trophy will be added to the overcrowded cupboard at the club, joining awards from the winning the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super League. It is an impressive haul for the team and manager Pep Guardiola, with a real expectation that there is very much more to come.

As expected the match was dominated from the start by the German Champions, and they had very little problems in securing the win against Casablanca. The first goal came within the first ten minutes of the game, with a solid strike from defender Dante, even though there was a hint of offside. The second goal came in the 22nd minute of the half, with a shot from Thiago Alcantara just inside the penalty area, which fired into the top corner of Askri’s goal. The second half a more improved Casablanca, but there was no real fear that they would ever get back into the game. Bayern effortlessly held on to win the game.

Under all the dominance of Bayern Munich the underdogs had very little choice to try their luck on the counter attack. But with the two early goals, it was always going to be a near impossible task. Casablanca had a chance to get back into the game, when Bayern’s goal keeper, Manual Neuer gave the ball to Chemseddine Chtibi, but he failed to take advantage of the opportunity and kicked the ball well wide of the target.

In the end, it was a fair and expected result of a the final. Pep Guardiola managed to achieve the clubs first title win in an international competition since 2001 when Bayern Munich lifted the Intercontinental Cup.

 

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Manchester City 6-3 win over The Gunners

By Daniel Laming posted 14th December 2013 4:21PM in Football, Sports

Manchester City awesome 6-3 win over Arsenal has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they still on course to win the English Premier League title. This impressive display over Arsene Wenger’s team means that Pellegrini’s City are only three points behind the leaders Arsenal. City fans will feel there is no one in the English Premier League more deserved of the title after the 6-0 annihilation of Tottenham Hotspurs prior to this game.

Aguero scored Manchester City’s first goal with less than fifteen minutes gone in the match, and even though Theo Walcott equalised, City ended the first half winning 2-1. Manchester City showed their strength in the second half, even without injured Aguero, goals still kept coming with Fernandinho, who scored twice, Silva and a Toure penalty in the dying seconds of the game.

Arsenal may want to argue that some offside decisions went against them, and they even had a penalty claim flatly rejected, however, there is question that The Gunners were completely overwhelmed by an offensive force that look impossible to contain. City have managed to score 58 consecutive English Premier League games at home, a run that began way back in November 2010.

The obvious problem which all teams face playing against The Blues is there is little one can do against a lethal combination of pace, power and skill coming from a number of players playing as one attacking force. That is why there is no surprise to see them as title favourites, in spite of being three points of the lead. Neutrals and supporters of the club alike will know that if Pellegrini replicate these performances away from home, the title is as good as won.

The only factor left to consider is whether the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea can find any flaws in the City armour, but one must admit that it seems very unlikely..

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