Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Rebirth of Villareal, Newcastle, and Lazio

This week I'm writing about three clubs from three different leagues, but they're all overachieving this beginning of the season. Villareal, Newcastle, and Lazio are all getting fantastic results this season, but the question is, can they continue this good form?

A group hug after a fantastic goal by Andre Dias

Lazio had a very disappointing 2009/10 season, they arrived 12th in the Serie A after a bad run in the Europa League as well. But this season the president Claudio Lotito reinforced, picking up important and talented players like the Brazilian central midfielder Hernanes, along with a fantastic coach, Eduardo Reja.

With only one loss so far this season, Lazio have picked up 22 points out of a possible 27, and this great record puts them top of the table. Lazio are first with a four point lead ahead of last year's Serie A champions Inter Milan, and it doesn't seem like the team will be stopping anytime soon.

Their latest result was a hard-fought 1-0 win over Palermo, and although they didn't play that well, they managed to find a goal with Andre Dias volleying a great ball into the top corner. But it's not like Lazio have been sneaking 1-0 wins to the top of the table, Edy Reja's side has been playing some fantastic football in order to arrive where they have.

So the question arises, can Lazio continue this run of good form, and win the scudetto? Well, I'm going to say no. Mainly because the squad is slightly lacking in depth, and an injury to Hernanes, Ledesma, or Zarate could cripple the side. But Lazio can certainly aim for fourth spot, and maybe even third. Sadly I think that as the season drags on, it'll become more and more difficult for the side to keep up with the "bigger sides", but maybe I'll be proved wrong.

The American/Italian Giuseppe Rossi

Villarreal is another side which didn't do very well in their domestic league last season. They arrived 7th, and while this might not seem that bad at first, the club was used to having the income of Champions League football, something that they'd have to do without this season. But they're looking better than ever now, and they find themselves 3rd in La Liga, behind the two giants of Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

And it's not like the "yellow submarine" is light-years behind Real and Barca, Villarreal is actually just two points away from second placed Barcelona, and three from first placed Real Madrid. While Villarreal are a pretty experienced side, with well-known players, they have some unique jewels in their forward line which have been scoring plenty of goals for the club this season.

Their main two talented forwards are the Brazilian Nilmar, and the American/Italian Giuseppe Rossi. And as backup to those two, there's the American international Jozy Altidore, who's just 20 years old. So far this season, Villarreal has scored 17 goals, of which five were scored by Giuseppe Rossi, and six by Nilmar, so it's evident that the strike partnership is one of the best in La Liga.

The yellow submarine's latest result was a tight 1-1 draw away against Sporting Gijon, first the away side scored with a penalty in the second half, but Villarreal pushed and got a penalty in the final minutes of the match. Giuseppe Rossi scored the penalty to make sure that his side which had been reduced to ten men because Gonzalo was sent off, got an important point.

So what can Villarreal achieve this season? Well, I think that third place for this side would be fantastic. They haven't got too much competition right now for the third place they're currently in, so it seems very possible that they'll be back in the Champions League next season. But can this side dream of splitting up Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top of the table? Not this season, but maybe with years to come, when they're talented youngsters have developed into world class players, we might even see Villarreal become the champions of Spain.

Newcastle United's Andy Carroll celebrates scoring against Aston Villa during their English Premier League soccer match in Newcastle in this August 22, 2010 file photo. Carroll has been charged with assaulting a teenage girl, police said on Monday. The 21-year-old forward is due to appear in court later on Monday.  REUTERS/Nigel Roddis/Files (BRITAINSPORT SOCCER - Tags: SPORT SOCCER CRIME LAW) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Andy Carroll has scored five goals this season for Newcastle

Newcastle spent last season in the Championship, fighting to get back into the Premier League for this season. And now that they're back in England's top league, they're really making themselves known to be dangerous opponents. They're currently 7th in the league right now, and they'll need all their strength to remain there considering that there are some tough sides which will fight for their spot in the top half of the table.

Their latest result must be mentioned, they played at home against their rivals Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby. The final result was a resounding 5-1 win for Newcastle, thoroughly humiliating their rivals with a hat trick by Kevin Nolan. But the question must be asked, with a match away at Arsenal coming up next week, could the tables turn on Chris Hughton's side, and could they be on the end of a humiliating spanking?

While I will leave that question unanswered until next weekend, I will reveal how I think Newcastle will do this season in the Premier League. I expect the side to arrive at least to 10th place, if not further up the table. They have a squad full of quality players, and their big forward Andy Carroll has been banging in goals and creating chances for his teammates. The true question is, after this season, how will Newcastle manage to push up into England's best clubs?

I'll leave that for you to think about, so please, comment below regarding any of these three clubs, or the weekend's action from anywhere around the world.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy 50th Birthday Maradona!

Just like I wrote about Pele's 70th birthday some time ago, I decided that it would be only fair to write about another legend of the game's 50th birthday. That legend is Diego Armando Maradona.

I thought that I'd start with a quote, one by probably our generation's best player, Lionel Messi who was inspired by Maradona. Here's what the Barcelona winger said about El Diego,
“Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona. Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been.”
- Lionel Messi 
Big words for a big man, Maradona practically achieved everything a man could want in his career. Diego started his career off at Argentinos Juniors, where he played 167 games and scored 115 goals for the club. From there he went to Argentina's big boys, Boca Juniors where he became well-known around the world for his speed, trickery, and goalscoring talent.

Diego was snapped up by Barcelona for 5 million Pounds, which at the time was a record setting transfer fee. In Spain, although Maradona scored goals,  he didn't have the best of times mainly because of getting his leg broken, which jeopardized his career. So Maradona moved again, and this time he went to where he'll be remembered best, Naples.

“To my generation he was the greatest we’d ever seen.”
- Pep Guardiola 

Maradona was transferred to Napoli for 6.9 million Pounds, again setting the record for the highest transfer fee paid for a soccer player at the time. It was in Italy where he reached the peak of his career, and he was the driving force which won Napoli their two and only scudetto's in the club's history in 1987 and 1990.

There isn't much more to tell about Maradona's club career, after Napoli he went to Sevilla, but didn't do very well with them, and so he returned to Argentina where he finished off his career. But Maradona did also did great things with the Argentinean national team, and some say that he was truly at his peak when he played in the 1986 World Cup for Argentina where he scored five goals and gave five assists. He scored probably two of the best remembered goals in the world, the hand of god, and the goal of the century, both against England in the quarter-finals.

“What Zidane could do with a ball, Maradona could do with an orange.”
- Michel Platini 

Maradona led Argentina to the nation's second World Cup victory having played every minute of every game of the 1986 World Cup, and today he is regarded as the best soccer player of all time by many. He inspired generations of players which are legends today like Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Raul, Paolo Maldini, and Figo.

I hope you've enjoyed this little article about Maradona and his 50th birthday. Considering that it's the birthday of a legend, go ahead an indulge today: start a random game of soccer in a local park, buy yourself a new jersey, or watch a match on TV. Just make sure you remember about the man who gave us so many emotions, a man of humble origins who became a legend of the beautiful game.

Happy Birthday Maradona.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nike Safari Collection Released!

Nike have released their latest colorway for their soccer cleats, and this time it's the Safari colorway! Cristiano Ronaldo is the posterboy for this campaign, and I'm not sure who else will be wearing these unique shoes.

Nike have only released three models with this colorway, the Mercurial Superfly II's, the Mercurial Vapor VI's, and the Lunar Gato! While you might know what the first two shoes are, the Lunar Gato are a "street" shoe, for those who love playing footy in the streets, wherever they go.

So you'll probably be asking, "What's the big deal about these new cleats?" Well, the main attention grabber is the fact that they're spotted.  But these cleats aren't just spotted, they feature shiny stripes on the side which you'll notice under certain lighting. These are supposed to flicker and make the player's feet more visible, therefore to the player passes will be more precise and accurate.

The other big feature with these new cleats is the fact that they were designed to the exact specifications of Cristiano Ronaldo. So it must feel pretty cool to wear the cleats designed with Cristiano Ronaldo's specifications. But this feature will probably make Nike raise the cost of the cleats, probably more than what most are willing to spend.

The stripes are on the inside and outside of the boot
Right now you can pre-order the boots, and they'll be available in shops on November 15th. While I don't know how many people will be willing to spend around 400$ for this new colorway, I think that it's a great move from Nike to introduce such a unique aspect in their gear.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be debuting the new cleats on November 7th when Real Madrid host Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu for the Madrid derby. While I don't think it'll be that noticeable compared to the Pink cleats that he's been wearing, I think he'll still be as flashy as ever in his new Nike cleats.

The video below is very interesting and it talks about the boots and how the design originated.

My personal opinion on these shoes isn't very critical. While some say that they're the ugliest boots they've ever seen, I actually don't mind them that much. But what about you? What do you think about these new Nike cleats? Please comment below!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ballon d'Or 2010: The 23 Nominees

Here are the 23 nominees for the Ballon d'Or of 2010, and there are also the 
World Coaches of the Year award nominees listed below as well. On December 6th 2010 the top three voted players (and coaches) will be announced, until then, we'll just have to analyze the nominees. 
But I 
won't mosey around, here are the Ballon d'Or of 2010 
nominees below:
Xabi Alonso

Daniel Alves  

Iker Casillas 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Didier Drogba 

Samuel Eto’o 

Cesc Fabregas 

Diego Forlan  

Asamoah Gyan 

Andres Iniesta

Julio Cesar 

Miroslav Klose

Philipp Lahm 


Lionel Messi

Thomas Muller

Mesut Ozil  

Carles Puyol

Arjen Robben 

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Wesley Sneijder 

David Villa 


There's also another award to be given out, and that's the World Coaches of the Year award, here are the 10 nominees below.
Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea), Vicente del Bosque (Spain), Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United), Pep Guardiola (Barcelona), Joachim Low (Germany), Jose Mourinho (Inter Milan/Real Madrid), Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay), Louis Van Gaal (Bayern Munich), Bert van Marwijk (Holland) and Arsene Wenger (Arsenal).

Who do you think will win the two awards? Comment below!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rangers Come Back Against Celtic to Win 3-1

Some great matches all around the world this weekend, and I've decided to take a small look at the Scottish league, something which I'm relatively unfamiliar with. Both teams had a 100% record going into this Old Firm Derby, and I have the feeling that the league will be mostly decided on this result, and when the return fixture at Ibrox Stadium comes around. 

Right now Rangers are first in the league after their win over Celtic who are three points behind the table leaders. The third placed team in the table is Motherwell who are already eight points behind second placed Celtic. While I personally believe that Rangers will win the Scottish title (especially after this win), it'll be interesting to see what happens in the future, especially in the Champions League. 

Celtic - Rangers

Rangers' Maurice Edu, Steven Naismith and Kenny Miller (L-R) celebrate their third goal against Celtic during their Scottish Premier League soccer match at Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland October 24, 2010. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Rangers player celebrating their third goal
Things were going perfectly for the home side at Celtic Park when Hooper scored a goal for Celtic in the 45th minute. A tap in at the back post which should've been closed down earlier by the distracted Rangers defence. But things began to slowly swing towards Rangers's way, and when Loovens directed a free kick into the back of his own net to equalize, Rangers had the momentum. Then, Kenny Miller took advantage of a disorganized Celtic defence to volley home Rangers's second goal. The third goal arrived after a pretty blatant dive by Broadfoot which was awarded with a penalty which Kenny Miller scored. Although Celtic will be unhappy with this mistake by referee William Collins, there were two, maybe three Celtic players who could've been sent off but weren't. 

So this away win seperates the two dominant sides in Scotland by three points right now, but can Celtic make a comeback? The only way for that to happen would be for Rangers to slip up in one of their games before the next Old Firm Derby at Ibrox. Although it seems very difficult for Neil Lennon's side, we'll just have to see whether the Scottish Premier League will provide us with a surprise this season.

But now onto the English Premier League, where Manchester United defeated Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium 2-1. This win comes after Wayne Rooney renewing his contract with United, but some speculate it's just a deal so that the club can get more money when they sell him in the upcoming summer. Here's what happened for a Rooney-less Manchester United which faced Stoke City.

Stoke City v Manchester United , Premier League 24/10/2010  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United celebrates scoring the late winning goal 1-2 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Chicharito celebrating his second goal
Stoke City - Manchester United

Although the red devils were missing Rooney, a different youngster scored to ensure that they would still get three points away at Stoke. It was Javier Hernandez a.k.a. "Chicarito"who scored a two goals for Manchester United. His first was a wild backwards header from a deep cross. The only way to describe the header is that Chicarito's body flopped awkwardly as he created the power to flick the ball into the net with the back of his head. 

The match was also influenced when Gary Neville should've been sent off after two bad tackles on Etherington. The first was sanctioned with a yellow card, but the second one which was probably the worse of the two, wasn't accompanied by the second yellow which should've been displayed to the United right-back on his 600th appearance for Manchester United.

Yet Stoke City fought back, and in the 81st minute substitute Tuncay scored a brilliant goal into the top left hand corner of Edwin van der Saar's net to equalize. But it was the young Mexican Chicharito who scored the winner for Manchester United in the 86th minute. He tipped Evra's shot past Sorensen and into the back of the net to make sure that Manchester United brought home three important points. 

Manchester City's Dedryck Boyata (R) was sent off for his challenge on Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh during their English Premier League soccer match in Manchester, northern England October 24, 2010. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Boyata was sent off for this challenge on Chamakh
Although United got three points to remain in the title race, Chelsea managed a 2-0 win over Wolves to stay five points ahead of everyone else. But the big match happened at Eastlands where Manchester City were defeated 3-0 by Arsenal.

The score flatters the gunners, and the game was highly influenced when Boyata was sent off five minutes into the match. From there Arsenal went on to score three, with Fabregas missing a penalty. It's a good win for Arsenal who will want to remain in the title race. It'll be interesting if we see Arsene Wenger's side go on a winning streak after this good win, can they challenge for the title? Share your thoughts below!

That's all I can manage for this week, if you're interested in what happened in the Serie A, be sure to visit Serie A Talk for in depth match reports on the Italian league. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy 70th Birthday Pele!

Well, a true legend of the game deserves to have his birthday celebrated by all. Pele has turned 70 today (Oct. 23rd 2010), and we have decided to wish him a happy birthday!

Pele played for only two clubs in his career, and he's best known for his achievements with the Brazilian National team. He first started with the Brazilian club Santos, where he had 1120 appearances for them and scored 1087 goals!

Pele left Santos in 1972, his 17th season with them, and in 1975 he came out of retirement to join the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League (NASL). He didn't disappoint in America, he played three seasons for the New York Cosmos where he scored 37 goals in 64 appearances.

The new New York Cosmos crest
Now, after all his legendary career, Pele is helping to revive the New York Cosmos. While the team won't be joining the MLS anytime soon, Pele is helping them out acting sort of as a mascot.

Right now Umbro are making some fantastic gear for the team, and in the image to the left you'll see their new crest/logo. I'm a big fan of Umbro apparel, and the new New York Cosmos jerseys look wonderful.

Maybe one day the Cosmos will return to the top level of American soccer, but for now they're mainly just a youth academy.

I hope you've enjoyed this little article about Pele and his 70th birthday. Considering that it's the birthday of a legend, go ahead an indulge today: start a random game of soccer in a local park, buy yourself a new jersey, or watch a match on TV. Just make sure you remember about the man who gave us so many emotions, a man of humble origins who became a legend of the beautiful game.

Happy birthday Pele.

Friday, October 22, 2010

7 Players Who Made the Difference in the Champions/Europa League

Instead of doing the usual wrap up where I tediously go mention every score of every game in the Champions and Europa League, of which there are 40 in total every midweek. I've decided that when there's midweek action in European tournaments, I'll be mentioning the most influential players which played in the tournaments. It'll usually be seven (could be more, could be less) players who truly made a difference in their Champions/Europa League games, and as the competitions progress out of the group stages, I'll focus more on match reports.

So here we go:

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale was the one-man team when Tottenham played against Inter Milan at the San Siro. Although his side was 4-0 down by halftime, thanks to an impressive display by Inter, accompanied by Tottenham's keeper Gomes being sent off, Bale managed to give the European champions a scare. He made an amazing run and finished wonderfully past Julio Cesar for his first around the 51st minute, and then in the final minutes of the match, he scored another similar goal, and then another great strike to end the match 4-3! He's truly become a fast, physical, and complete player who dominates the left flank for Tottenham, it'll be interesting if there might be any offers coming Tottenham's way for the Welshman around January.

Philippe Coutinho

Another player from the fantastic 4-3 match played out between Inter and Tottenham, and while he didn't have a massive impact like Bale did, Coutinho was instrumental in the match. The 18 year-old Brazilian didn't look out of his depth at all among all the star players and veterans which surrounded him, he was calm and composed, and he provided moments of individual brilliance. He kept possession with his smart passing, was always in the right spot to help teammates, and he was a constant threat for Tottenham. Although he didn't score, he provided Eto'o a fantastic through pass for Inter's fourth goal which the Cameroon forward finished a little sloppily. One to watch for the future, without a doubt.

Lionel Messi

While nobody can doubt the talent of this little Argentinean, it seemed like he'd had a slight dip in form recently. But it was Lionel Messi who singlehandedly secured three points for Barcelona against Copenhagen in their 2-0 over the Danish side. While we're used to seeing Messi curl in his shots with finesse, he showed that he has power in his shot as well with his first goal. A spectacular strike which flew up into the top left hand corner to give Barcelona the lead at the Camp Nou. His second goal wasn't as fantastic, just a simple tap-in, but still, Messi has shown that he can single-handedly dominate games yet again just like last season.

Emmanuel Adebayor Scores his 3rd goal Manchester City 2010/11 Manchester City V Lech Poznan (3-1) 21/10/10 UEFA Europa League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via NewscomAdebayor

Adebayor has often been criticized for being slightly lazy, but he was wonderful for Manchester City in their 3-1 win over Lech Poznan at Eastlands. In fact he scored all three goals for the English side, it was his first which was the best: a delightful spin past a defender and a perfect finish around the keeper. His second was a pinpoint header from David Silva's cross, and his third a tap-in from another one of Silva's crosses. A truly wonderful hat trick, and the situation becomes all the more interesting for Adebayor, especially because Manchester City will be facing Arsenal over the weekend...


Porto had to travel away to Besiktas, all the way in Istanbul for a difficult match, but having Hulk in their team made things a lot easier for the Portuguese side. Things started well for Porto, Falcao headed in from a corner to give them the lead, but their central defender Maicon was sent off before halftime for a silly foul. But that didn't matter to Hulk, the Brazilian scored two phenomenal goals, both of them being tracked by defenders as he finished with flair past the keeper. And while Porto were winning 3-0 with only ten men, they eventually got another sent off! Fernando was sent off when he got his second yellow card, and Besiktas managed to pull a goal back at the end of the match.

Maurice Edu

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho speaks during a news conference at the Valdebebas training grounds outside Madrid September 17, 2010. Mourinho will not accept an offer to take temporary charge of the struggling Portuguese national team for next month's Euro 2012 qualifiers, the Real Madrid coach said on Friday.REUTERS/Susana Vera (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER HEADSHOT PROFILE)Rangers faced Valencia at Ibrox Stadium in Scotland, and my choosing the American, Maurice Edu, as one of the influential players this matchday is slightly ironic. Things were going perfectly for Rangers when Edu headed in from a corner before halftime, a good goal for Rangers who haven't scored too many in the Champions League so far. But it was to be a sad day for Maurice Edu, because in the second half a low cross flicked off of his head and into the back of Rangers's net. An unlucky own goal which caused the match to end 1-1 for Rangers, who happen to be second in their group, behind Manchester United, and above Valencia and Bursaspor.

Jose Mourinho

While Jose Mourinho isn't a player, I felt like I had to include him in this list. The other massive clash in the Champions League which took place was Real Madrid - AC Milan, and while the 2-0 scoreline didn't illustrate much dominance from Mourinho's side, they were much better than the Italians. It seems like Jose Mourinho is the man who knows how to take vengeance on people, he's had his revenge against AC Milan, and mainly Ibrahimovic who snubbed him at Inter to go to Barcelona. I fully expect Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid to be drawn against Inter in one of the later stages of the competition, and guess what, I think he's gonna win. That's the type of guy he is.

I hope you've like this new format of reviewing the European midweek games, please share your thoughts below!

Monday, October 18, 2010

John W. Henry finally buys Liverpool only to Watch the Team Fail

John W Henry New Owner watches from the stands Liverpool 2010/11 Everton V Liverpool (2-0) 17/10/10 Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
The steely gaze of a winner...
Well, I've decided that after this weekend's action I'll be focussing on Liverpool a bit. Of course they'll be some coverage of the other leagues, but a little less than usual.

And before I begin, just in case you haven't already seen these posts, you should because they're getting insane amounts of views! I posted a Lightweight Soccer Cleats Review over the weekend comparing speed cleats on weight, price, durability, and anything else you can think about. And if you're interested in FREE STUFF, you probably want to check out the competition over at Soccer Cleats 101 to win a pair of Nike Mercurial Superfly II's.

A new era for Liverpool... which starts next week

But moving on to other things, Liverpool are (supposedly) moving on to better days now that John W. Henry has taken over with his New England Sports Ventures (or NESV) for 300 million British Pounds. Things are looking rosy for the red side of Merseyside now, especially because the new American is really trying to mend relationships with the fans which were undoubtedly damaged under the reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillet.

John W. Henry even went out to talk to fans and local MPs, and although he has surely reassured them, he didn't reveal anything regarding transfer funds, or a new stadium. Here's what he said regarding his meetings:

"It was great to finally get to work, we met with supporters' groups. No, we didn't give any assurances. We are here to listen and to learn from them and we learned a lot today. I think the biggest issue was a sense of disenfranchisement and their sense of not being part of their own club and that is what we discussed. This was a big first step today."
And so Liverpool fans now have an owner who will listen, all that we were missing was for the actual team to spank Everton in the Merseyside derby, but alas the situation isn't that perfect. Liverpool were defeated by Everton 2-0 at Goodison park, and while John W. Henry went to the match to learn more about this "soccer", he'll have understood that the team played pretty badly.

Tim Cahill Scores 1st goal past Liverpool's Pepe Reina Everton 2010/11 Everton V Liverpool 17/10/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Tim Cahill smacking in the first goal
Everton who have been playing well this season, but not getting results, finally got an important win which drags them up to 11th in the Premier League. They wen't ahead with Tim Cahill smashing a volley from close range, and then Mikel Arteta scored from outside of the box after a corner. After the two goals, Everton conceded possession to Liverpool, and while you'd expect Roy Hodgson's side to do something with it, they didn't.

It was undoubtedly a bad performance from Liverpool, one which some might say was lacking heart and spirit, but I think that maybe they're just lacking a lot of things in general. Starting with their manager, Roy Hodgson who could only stare at his watch instead of actually telling his team to do something with the ball.

Is Time Running Out for Roy Hodgson Manager Liverpool 2010/11 Everton V Liverpool (2-0) 17/10/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Roy must've looked at his watch the whole game...
If you disliked Benitez's defensive style back when he managed Liverpool, Roy Hodgson is taking it to another level. But I should stop talking about Liverpool's performance, and share with you what Roy thought about his side's performance:

"In the second half that's as good as I've seen a Liverpool team under my management play, that's for sure... and in my opinion from what I saw we dominated the second half. I thought the shape of the team was good, I thought the quality of our passing and movement was good, but we didn't score the goals and Everton did. But I refurse unfortunately to sit here and accept that we were in any way outplayed or in any way inferior."
Now even if you watched about 40 seconds of the match, you'd have had a better idea of how the teams played than Roy Hodgson did. And while he can talk about his team's "quality of passing", the point of the game is to score, and if you don't score, you don't win. Everton scored and Liverpool didn't, that should be enough to explain to Roy Hodgson that his side played poorly, but I guess it takes a new American owner who just watched his first match of soccer to explain that to him...

A happy Wayne Rooney on the Subs Bench Manchester United 2010/11 Manchester United V West Bromwich Albion (2-2) 16/10/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Manchester United - West Bromwhich Albion

Moving on to other things which happened this weekend, in the Premier League we saw Manchester United crumble to West Bromwich. While Ferguson's side took a 2-0 lead before halftime, Roberto Di Matteo inspired his side to pull back two goals and get a great 2-2 draw at Old Trafford. This result comes in a very bad time for Ferguson, especially because Wayne Rooney has decided to explain that he isn't injured, the manager just doesn't want to play him.

So the question is, Ferguson first decided not to play Rooney to protect him after the prostitution scandal, but now it seems like the Scotsman has taken things to another level. And doing so, Rooney has decided to look at other options instead of renewing his contract with Manchester United. It seems very possible that he'll be out of the club when January rolls around, with the main buyers being either Real Madrid or, wait for it... Manchester City!

So will Rooney join up with Ronaldo under Jose Mourinho over in Madrid, with Benzema possibly going the other way, or will he decide to truly betray Manchester United, just like Tevez did, and go to Manchester City. We'll just have to wait and see, whether the relationship will mend between player and manager, or whether it'll be another superstar which leaves Old Trafford.

Inter Milan's Samuel Eto'o celebrates after scoring against Cagliari during their Italian Serie A soccer match in Cagliari October 17, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Rosas (ITALY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Serie A time!

But it's not all English Premier League here, I've decided to talk a little about the Serie A. Especially since there was a match this weekend which was temporarily stopped due to racist chants. Cagliari at home against Inter Milan was filled with racist chants from Cagliari fans towards Samuel Eto'o, so the referee Tagliavento stopped the match, got the racist fans to stop chanting, and resumed the match. Well, the home fans got what they deserved, because the match finished 1-0 for Inter Milan, with a spectacular goal from  Samuel Eto'o.

Now Rafa Benitez can look forward to Wednesday when he'll have to face Tottenham in the Champions League. Inter Milan will surely be missing Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso, but the Spurs will be missing Rafael van der Vaart, so I guess both sides will be slightly weakened.

If you're interested in more coverage of the Serie A, I'd advise you to visit Serie A Talk, where I write a weekly Five things to Note from Serie A this weekend.

La Liga time!

In La Liga we saw two interesting matches, played out by guess who? Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The Catalans faced Valencia in a tough game where they came back to win 2-1 with a beautiful give-and-go by Xavi and Iniesta which ended with the latter slotting home an equalizer. The second goal was also impressive with Carlos Puyol showing us all how to do a bullet header, the caveman captain had his hair flying everywhere as he arched his body and headed the ball home for the winner.

But there's some bad news for Barca fans even with this win, it's that Xavi probably won't play in the Champions League midweek against Copenhagen. The midfielder has had recurring problems with his achilles tendon, and he hasn't been recovering very well. I hope this won't seriously jeopardize his career considering that he's the best passer of the ball which exists in the game today. We'll just have to wait and see.

Real Madrid on the other hand had a pretty easy win against Malaga with Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring doubles. Ozil assisted both of Ronaldo's goals, and Ronaldo assisted both of Higuain's goals, so I guess Mourinho has really developed a working system over in Madrid.

But the true test for Real arrives on Tuesday against AC Milan in the Champions League. This is going to be a fantastic match, and I can't wait to see whether Jose Mourinho will win against his former rivals, or whether Ibrahimovic will teach his former coach a lesson by scoring a couple of goals.

I hope you've enjoyed this wrap up of some of the weekend's news and results, please share your thoughts by commenting below!


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