Monday, March 23, 2009

What a Wonderful Weekend of Football!!

Arsenal won big over Newcastle. Seattle Sounders opened their first season with an impressive win over New York. Manchester United lost big to Fulham! Chelsea went down to Tottenham. Liverpool embarrassed Aston Villa. There was plenty of great MLS action over the weekend and lots of goals! Burnley got the job done with a win over Plymouth Argyle. Barcelona and Real Madrid had big wins as well. Heading into the international break, I really couldn't have asked for more! I hope the next few weeks will hold just as much exciting action!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Seattle 3-0 NY, Sounders Shutout Red Bulls in Franchise Opener

Amidst a sea of green scarves, the Seattle Sounders played the "perfect" game, dismantling New York in a fantastic home opener. Fredy Montero was the talk of the town, scoring two goals and assisting a third. It was also an important win for goalkeeper Kasey Keller, a Washington native who produced a pair of fantastic saves. “It was everything you dreamed of,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said (SoundersFC.com). The upbeat, sell0ut Seattle crowd witnessed their team score in only 11 minutes as Sebastien Le Toux assisted Freddy Montero to score the Sounders first goal. Seattle dominated play throughout the match and Montero would repay the favor assisting midfielder Brad Evans with an incisive pass to a goal of his own in the 25th minute. The last goal would come 15 minutes from time as Montero again, in a sparkling solo effort, wrested the ball from Red Bull defenders, dummied the keeper and coolly placed it it the top right corner of the net. The perfect start to a promising season!

Arsenal 3-1 Newcastle, Gunners Explode at St. James Park

Arsenal produced another spectacular result this afternoon, gaining three points in style on a day that left defeated Manchester United and Chelsea shaking their heads. The first half proved to be a frenzied affair that saw good play by both sides. Spanish star goalkeeper Manuel Almunia made the save of the day as he staved off Obafemi Martins' attempt from the spot. Having recently proved himself in the Roma shootout, Almunia played a vital role in today's victory. The match began to sizzle in the second half as all four goals were scored in under twenty minutes from the restart. A nine minute explosion saw Bentner give Arsenal the lead (57), Newcastle draw level (58), and Van Persie assist Diaby (63) and Nasri (66) to shut the game down. Unbeaten in the last 16 Premier League matches, Arsenal have definitely regained their form and are on quite a run. Newcastle on the other hand seem to be making plans for a spell in the Championship next year. In other PL news, Man U lost their second in a row in a 2-0 shutout delivered by Fulham. Chelsea wasted the opportunity with their 1-0 loss to Tottenham. Aston Villa play Liverpool tomorrow, but it looks as if the Gunners are safe in fourth for the time being. Of today's positive result, Arsene Wenger commented: "It was a good opportunity today, to close in on those at the top. You never know, even in a one in a billion chance, we want to come back and fight to get as close to the team at the top."

Friday, March 20, 2009

UEFA Champions League & UEFA Cup Quarter Final Draws

UEFA Champions League QUARTER-FINALS:
Ties to be played April 7/8 & 14/15

Villarreal vs Arsenal

Manchester United v FC Porto

Liverpool v Chelsea

Barcelona v Bayern Munich

UEFA CUP QUARTER-FINALS:
Ties to be played April 9 & 16

Hamburg SV vs Manchester City

Paris Saint-Germain vs Dynamo Kiev

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Marseille

Werder Bremen vs Udinese

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Battery Winless in Carolina Challenge Cup

Perhaps the MLS is not as weak a league as many have billed it to be. The USL's Charleston Battery we're beaten 2-1 (TFC), 2-1 (RSL), and 2-0 (DCU) successively as the Battery hosted their annual Carolina Challenge Cup. Real Salt Lake took the cup, and Toronto F.C. put on a good show as well. These three MLS teams are by no means the cream of the crop, but perhaps it is a credit to the development of Major League Soccer that even the mediocre MLS clubs can put on a such a strong front, even in pre-season. “Overall, I’m pleased,” said Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “We found out some good things, and found out some things we need to work on before we open the season in three weeks.” (Charleston Battery official website) It looks to be another great season for the Battery this summer. With three new signings resulting from the CCC, Charleston are gearing up for their season opener away against the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday April 11th. Soccer may not be taking the US by storm, but it certainly has grown strong roots in American soil.

Arsenal 2-1 Hull City, Gunners on to FA Cup Semifinal

In a game overshadowed by conflict, Arsenal produced the right result in order to progress to Wembley. Hull scored early on in the 13th minute, with as much luck as anything else. The Tigers took the lead after an unfortunate deflection sent the ball over Arsenal keeper Fabianski and into the corner of the net. Hull maintained their lead throughout the first half despite repeated attempts by the Arsenal offense. While the Gunners hadn't played poorly before the break, they simply weren't winning the match. Happily, the second half was a different story. Arsenal dominated the second half of the match, creating chances and limiting the Hull attack. Assisted by Arshavin, Robin Van Persie found the net in the 74th minute, bringing the two teams to level pegging. Ten minutes later, Arsenal defender William Gallas nodded in a header from a wild "pinball" play. Hull immediately protested that Gallas had been offside, but the officials declined a review. There appears to have been a row between Francesc Fabregas (injured) and some of the Hull players and staff after full-time had been reached. There were also many accusations of Hull players wasting time throughout the match. It might not have been pretty, but the Gunners are through and will face Chelsea at Wembly on Sat. April 18th in the Semi-final of the FA Cup.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Difficult Week for PSG

It was a frustrating week for the Parisian team; one which held a scoreless draw against Braga in the UEFA cup, followed by a Ligue 1 defeat that saw them drop from 2nd to 3rd place. Although Paris-Saint Germain had most of the opportunities in their UEFA Cup tie, they ended up with nothing to show for it. They will play at Braga this thursday. The 3-1 loss to Marseille was particularly disheartening because not only are OM bitter rivals but a win would have taken them to the top of the table. Now, on account of goal differential, they have dropped a spot to Marseille. With the second fixture of their UEFA Cup tie this week, and another Ligue game this Sunday, PSG have the opportunity to redeem themselves and progress in the cup and also continue to climb the table.

Clarets Secure Two Solid Wins

Despite last being ousted by Arsenal in the F.A. Cup, Burnley produced good results this week in the English Championship. Winning 4-2 against Crystal Palace and a stunning 5-0 result against Nottingham Forrest, the Clarets moved into 5th place in the league, putting themselves in a good position for the promotion play-offs. Jay Rodriguez deserves credit for two of the nine goals total, scoring one in each match. In Saturday's sparkling performance, five different Burnley players each found the net. Tuesday the Clarets leave Turf Moore to play Ipswitch Town.

Arsenal thumps Blackburn 4-0

The Gunners defeated Blackburn Saturday afternoon to move into fourth place in the Premier League. It was the perfect end for what had been an important week of victories for Arsenal. The first goal came within 80 seconds as Walcott's cross was deflected in by Blackburn's own. In the second half, Andrei Arshavin opened his account by recording his first goal wearing an Arsenal jersey. Nick Bentner was a constant threat to the Blackburn defence but unfortunately was unable to convert any of his opportunities on goal. The late hero was Emmanuel Eboue, who came on with seven minutes remaining in regulation, scoring one and converting a penalty, bringing his tally to three goals in the last two games. After a tense week, and recent lackluster performances in the EPL, it was just what the doctor ordered for Gunner fans and players alike.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gunners through to final eight of Champions League

Last night Arsenal became the fourth English team to progress to the final eight of the UEFA Champions League. The 7-6 result came at the end of an aggregate tie and two periods of extra time. The two teams stayed level as Arsenal's Eduardo missed the first spot kick but Almunia saved a Roma attempt. In sudden death penalties, Diaby gave the Gunners an edge and Roma's Tonetto sealed the fixture by skying his shot over the crossbar. Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool also progressed, making it an English sweep to the final eight knockout round. Bayern Munich advanced with a record-setting demolition of Sporting Lisbon as Villareal defeated Panathinaikos. Porto and Barcelona are through, as former Gunner Thierry Henry scored two goals in as many minutes in Barca's 5-2 result over Lyon. The final eight draw will take place at 11am (UK) on Friday March 20.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome to The Beautiful Game! Expect to find the latest on some of the greatest football teams in the world. North London's Arsenal F.C. is my personal club of choice but I also closely follow the English Championship's Burnley Clarets, the French Ligue 1's Paris-Saint Germain, the German Bundesliga's Schalke 04, Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders, the A-League's Adelaide United, and the USL's Charleston Battery. The Beautiful Game will bring you news, results, and opinion from matches all over the globe, including the latest International & World Cup action. (Some content and/or information borrowed from 'espnsoccernet.com', 'arsenal.com', and 'charlestonbattery.com')

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