Category Archives: arsenal

Sunday’s Fantasy Review

Ryan Shotton Ryan Shotton of Stoke City celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City at The Hawthorns on August 28, 2011 in West Bromwich, England.Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal- An absolute obliteration, I couldn’t dream of covering all angles. Assists and goals were in bountiful supply, with Rooney and Young the chief perpetrators.

On the other side of the coin though, villains were everywhere in the Arsenal team – shameful performances from all their defenders, a penalty miss by Robin Van Persie and a red card for Carl Jenkinson.

MOTM: Ashely Young- Two goals, a number of assits and now the game’s most valuable midfielder.
FOTM: Johan Djourou- Many would have thought Jenkison, but he was saved by an assist.

Tottenham 1-5 Manchester City- Another sensational result, attacking point scoreres were once again prevalent. Dzeko netted four and Aguero one, while a hat trick of assists for Samir Nasri earned him is first major fantasy haul of the season.

A goal from defense for Younes Kaboul made his score respectable, with Van Der Vaart’s corner making him Tottenham’s most dangerous attacking player.

MOTM: Edin Dzeko- Need I explain…
FOTM: Benoit Assou Ekotto- Five conceded and a yellow card.

Newcastle 2-1 Fulham- Newcastle get their second consecutive win, but no clean sheet for early front runners Ryan and Steven Taylor. Leon Best was the undoubted attacking hero, scoring two goals.

For Fulham, Clint Dempsey scored his first of the season, while popular defenders like Riise, Hughes and Hangelaand remain stuck on one clean sheet.

MOTM: Leon Best- Two goals, an easy pick.
FOTM: Brede Hangelaand- Could have been any Fulham defender, but he is the most popular.

West Brom 0-1 Stoke- West Brom’s unfortunate start to the season continued with another unlucky loss. Ryan Shotton was the hero, in a game – interestingly – without a single yellow card.

Shotton took advantage of a Ben Foster error, consinging the former Manchester United keeper to a third match without a clean sheet.
MOTM: Ryan Shotton- Scorer of the winning goal.
FOTM: Ben Foster- Not terrible in fantasy terms, but it was his mistake which lost the match.
Enjoy the rest of our fantasy coverage.

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Manchester Sends Out A Remarkable Message

Somewhere, an Arsenal fan just hanged himself. The malaise which the Gunners have slipped into over the past couple weeks was one that most saw coming – a function of questionable transfer business and an unfortunate series of injuries.

However, to concede eight goals, even at a venue like Old Trafford, is an unprecedented feat of self destruction. If he stays, Wenger better make sure he hasn’t got plans for Thursday nights anytime over the next eighteen months.

In many ways, playing in the Europa League is more manifestly demoralizing than not participating in Europe at all. Every week critics are reminded that their favorite punching bag dropped down a tier or so – just look at pre Kenny Dalglish Liverpool…

For all the goals and excitement, Sunday was a somber day of football. On the East coast of the US at least, all that happened was engulfed in the surreal atmosphere of a New Jersey hurricane, one which managed to deny this writer his fill of Premier League action. Moreover, the nature of North London’s demise was anything but pleasurable. What was once a set of closely fought fixtures began to gravitate towards the farcical – Roy of the Rovers stuff from Edin Dzeko but just the opposite from Arsene Wenger…

Both Spurs and Arsenal will seek comfort in the other’s annihilation – Tottenham fans pointing to the six goal margin, Arsenal ones to the White Hart Lane venue. Neither set of supporters can take much solace in their teams’ transfer activity though. If Harry Redknapp plans to replace a clearly unsettled Luka Modric with Scott Parker then, possibly, Park Chu Young won’t be labeled the least able replacement of the summer.

Clearly, there are problems in key areas that need solving. Spurs have yet to be vindicated in their purchase on loan of Emmanuel Adebayor, while Arsenal continue to toil in their quest for a central defender. In certain Manchester nemeses, no such weaknesses are apparent.

Rather than expose new signing David De Gea, Manchester United’s supposed “crisis” at the back resulted in the delivery of an ominous message. Jones and Smalling are both in Fabio Capello’s England squad for qualifiers coming up next month – two savvy buys by Ferguson, more proof that the Scotsman will never let his team grow stale.

Danny Welbeck too has made waves, now tied as the league’s second most prolific Englishman, the academy product is just a hat trick off teammate Wayne Rooney. His rise over the last seven days has been remarkable, unfortunate then that he was omitted from the England squad due to an injury

Across town Manchester City’s depth comes from money rather than development, with new acquisitions like Aguero continuing to shine brightly, and old ones like Dzeko just starting to. Their attacking fluidity is reminiscent of Arsenal at their best, though the support which Fabregas and Nasri never had at The Emirates is provided by a healthy backbone of Toure, De Jong and Kompany.

City may have taken multiple tries to get to the top, but in the end their hit and hope approach to market usage has trumped Arsenal’s measured and conservative one. Perhaps the success of Mancini, Sheikh Mansour and Gary Cook is indicative of the modern game – the long term rewards that City’s money will bring should stretch out farther even than Wenger’s infamous six years.

At the Etihad Stadium, City are poised for a shot at greatness. They have well and truly out muscled their adversaries. No longer will Spurs catch them at the death to claim Champions League qualification, no longer even will Arsenal worry them in pursuit of prizes yet grander.

And in that truth, there is sadness. Call it nostalgia if you will, but the destruction of two teams once celebrated is one not worthy of jubilation. Many find joy in others’ misfortune – the Germans even have a word for it – but no matter how many goals Manchester racked up, there was never going to be any happiness about Sunday’s striking bonanza.

Samir Nasri Adds Fuel To Derby Fire

When Manchester City were taken over by Sheikh Mansour on September 1st 2008, we could feel the tectonic plates of football shifting. With City’s takeover, a new era of football in England began, one which would clearly go some way to changing the guard in the upper echelons of the English game. 

All of a sudden there was a new player in the Champions League qualification race, a team determined to dethrone the legendary big four, determined to match and then surpass their rivals achievements. From day one of the new ownership, Manchester City have been actively trying to forge themselves a place alongside English football’s elites, the signing of Robinho was just the start of an almighty revolution. 
It took City more than a year to finally begin competing for the Champions League place that they had so craved, 2008/09 proved to be a year of transition more than anything else, early talk of silverware was soon washed away by a wave of mediocrity. 
In 09/10 the Citizens continued to fight; under the stewardship of first Mark Hughes and then Roberto Mancini their rivalry with neighbors Manchester United began to intensify. First to ignite what was a bristling rivalry, was an epic 4-3 loss at Old Trafford which sowed the seeds of Mark Hughes departure, prompted fits of delirium from United supporters everywhere, and had every known reporter sitting in front of a TV with their stopwatches going…
Later that same season, with Mancini at the helm, City clashed with United again, this time in the Carling Cup. Rarely had a League Cup semi final been as hotly anticipated as this one, both United and City dearly wanted to win, and a two-one victory at Eastlands for City had set the tie up for a brilliant second leg at Old Trafford. Again, a late Red Devils show helped Fergie’s team to prevail, as a Rooney header early in stoppage time sent United to Wembley, and City to another trophy less season. A year later though, City would finally have their revenge.
 It is difficult to put into words the pain felt by supporters of Manchester City throughout their long, long barren spell. Watching their rivals, year after year, parade trophy after trophy through the streets of Manchester must have been a chastening experience, one that produced much frustration; frustration that was soon to be released. Victory in the FA Cup semi final of 2011 was the first major achievement of the “new City.” The noisy neighbors had finally broken down the Old Trafford door, and let the dog out to urinate on the lawn to boot. A win over Stoke a month later in the final confirmed the ending of an era, as City at last claimed that sought after trophy. Additionally, qualification to the Champions League just days earlier meant that the men from Manchester could finally count themselves as part of Europe’s elite. 
However, for all their battles in the league, cup competitions and in the stands, we have never really had a true Manchester transfer tug of war. Yes, Dimitar Berbatov was briefly in line to figurehead the City revolution, but the lateness of City’s bid insured that there was never any destination other than Old Trafford that was feasible for the lanky Bulgarian. Carlos Tevez as well, left United to join City, but he was never directly sold, the Argentinean joined the Sky Blues as part of a bizarre contractual permutation far too complicated for any honest football fan to claim they understood fully. Even Yaya Toure, who came out after signing for the Sky Blues to denounce United, was never as clear and important a target to United as he was to City. 
In Samir Nasri though, we have finally found our transfer battle, one that could become so fierce as to warrant mention in the history books mapping this ever growing rivalry. Nasri is the type of player needed by Manchester United, a versatile creator capable of playing on either wing or through the middle, just the man to provide the Devils with the innovative spark they so lacked last season. For City, the signing of Nasri would represent a statement of intent, a coup large enough to give them a realistic chance of Premier League success, and to insure progress to the latter stages of the Champions League. 
What transpires in the next couple of weeks between United and City, will give us a realistic idea of where City lie in Manchester’s monumental power struggle, for the first time a player will have the opportunity to publicly turn down United for City, an opportunity to let the entire footballing World know that the Sky Blues mean business. 
If United and City needed anymore motivation to beat each other, then this latest battle will provide it. Those two have already locked horns on the playing field, and now their perpetual struggle has been translated to the transfer game as well.


This article was originally published by The Chairman on Football Speak
Follow The Chairman on Twitter @INFTH
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