Terrible defending let Inter score three on the trot with an own goal by William Gallas swinging his right leg at a free kick like Virender Sehwag chasing a fast ball outside off stump with equally disastrous results. Totally reckless. But it was left to Emmanuel Adebayor, his former Arsenal team mate to rectify the situation in extra time sliding in a spill off Samir Hamdanovic unable to hold onto Moussa Dembele's shot. Which meant in the next 24 minutes +, Inter had to come back with two more to ensure passage. A tall, very tall task.
The Milan club got one back from Ricky Alvarez in the 110th minute but Spurs were able to ride out the remainder without any further damage.
Antonio Banderas, the steely eyed killer in two of Roberto Rodriguez's gonzo Mexican trilogy, and CF Malaga's most famous fan watched with delirious delight his side beat CF Porto and book their place to the quarterfinals. In an interview to a local TV station, he described his joy:
" To be among the eight best teams in Europe this year for us is an incredible triumph for the fans. We have been suffering for many years. It's not only a fantastic thing for the team but for the city as well."
He was less happy about UEFA's decision in December to ban Malaga for four years from all UEFA competitions for non-payment to creditors and ordered the club to prove by March 31st that they had paid off all " overdue payables towards football clubs or towards employees and/or social/tax authorities," in accordance with the financial fair play rules.
" I think the decision is very misguided. It should have been taken at the end of the season giving the club time to settle these debts."
The club is appealing the decision and Banderas was hoping the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) would rule in their favour and remove the sanctions.
"I really hope CAS analyses the situation with a cool head and gives its backing to Malaga."
Otherwise, he just might do this, UEFA. Don't say we didn't warn you.
The club Arsenal loves to poach from made it to the quarter-finals and also thumbed their nose at UEFA at the same time. Isco, who I hope Arsenal can poach scored a beauty and old man Roque n' Roll Santa Cruz (Mark Hughes where are you?) scored four minutes after coming on as a sub.
Porto played a man down most of the second half as Steven Defour picked up his second booking when he tripped up Joaquin.
The UEFA draw on will be held this Friday. The eight marching onto the quarter-finals include Borussia Dortmund, CF Malaga, Bayern Munich, Paris St Germain, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Galatasaray, Juventus. Yes, no English club in there. For the first time in 17 years there will be no English representation in the last eight. Blip or trend?
In the end the Mario Mandzukic goal in the first leg proved to be the difference. Arsenal managed to win at the Allianz Arena against the Bundesliga giants, only the third side to do so this season, a feat worthy of celebration. Their victory was not enough to give them passage as the extra away goal advantage went to Bayern.
Parsing the euphoria reveals a more more sanguine story of a side struggling all match long to establish any fluency as the attack was pockmarked with poor ball retention, errant passes, and players frequently out of position. There appeared to be no desire to win despite all of Arsene Wenger's prematch brave talk.
Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky were particularly at fault with the Spaniard looking out of depth. Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud combined magnificently for the first very early goal but except for another near connection, the duo posed little threat. Giroud's first touch was heavier than any doom metal band and Walcott proved a pundit's very on the money prophesy of having no footballing brain.
With the customary short passing game deserting them, this was Stoke City as Arsenal lumped the ball up in the hopes Giroud who played deeper and deeper would get to it. Except he plays like a lightweight. There was a look on Wenger's face that could only be described as disgust when the French striker cheapened his stock speculatively blasting the ball into the stratosphere from 30 yards instead of working out an attack.
We have gone all season long without a recognized holding midfielder and at this point, Abou Diaby does not count. How we do this defies logic. Mikel Arteta has manfully given it a go and Ramsey's bewildered disposition (or is it dispossession?) is understandable. He's been asked to be the square peg. Left wing, right back, slot striker, holding midfielder, played out of position as others have leapfrogged over as attacking midfielder.
That was the bad part. We saw shining in that sludge, Arsenal's future defence, and it should feature Laurent Koscielny and Carl Jenkinson at all times. The French centre back was all snarling pit bull and Jenkinson was almost pitch perfect with his tackles. He stood up to Arjen Robben, an intimidating customer with his wheeling and dealing ( h/t to Clyde Frazier). The former Addick was also responsible for forcing Arjen Robben early into a shot as the Dutchman broke free onto goal. Fabianski intervening with his left foot to deflect his effort. They were Arsenal's two best players on the pitch.
The much criticized Fabianski coming back after months of rehabilitation turned in a good performance bringing off some fine saves and looking assertive on set pieces but there were nervy moments with his ball distribution. Out of the attackers, Gervinho deserves praise bringing off a near goal as he executed a series of trademark cutbacks and then poked the ball just wide off the far post. No Arsenal striker lurking to turn the ball in. Where was Giroud? The match was drifting to an inevitable conclusion till Koscielny's header off Cazorla's corner kick forced Bayern to endure a nerve wracking eight minutes to the end.
Arsenal did not suffer a humiliating defeat, instead eking out an unconvincing win, helped in dollops by Bayern Munich's wayward marksmanship. Lets hope Arsene Wenger's statement of "being proud of Arsenal's performance" is just for public consumption and he is applying more private objective measures reflective of what actually transpired on the pitch. His post match interviews sometimes have no bearing in reality.
Now comes the battle for fourth. Whether this is achievable is of course the biggest question. For the larger picture, is it even the right one? Even if we lock up a top four, will there be any change in philosophy other than the present one of benign neglect and ad-hocism.
From a commentator in the Guardian responding to Arsene Wenger's team selection for the Bayern CL second leg which includes a lot of second stringers with his focus on Swansea, a crucial weekend encounter in the race for the fourth and final league spot.
Question: Why are we resting players?
Answer: Because being fouth is more important.
Question: Why is being fourth important?
Answer: To be in the CL, the most prestigious and exciting of all comps, so as to rest players, so as to be in the CL...
This is called a vicious circle. Arsenal are now in this feedback loop as they fail to determine cause and effect. The manager earning £7.5m sees no problem, the board watching their share prices escalate see no problems, the players earning £60,000/week to sit on their haunches see no problems, but the fans who see problems get their ticket prices raised and are derided as unpatriotic.
You know what will break this cycle. If we fail to qualify for fourth, forcing us into actual re-building rather than the duct tape applications we've been fooling ourselves with these past seasons. We must also get out of the post Wenger apocalyptic scenarios which are the direct result of his infantilization of the club as everyone who is anyone defers to him for everything and anything Arsenal.
Peter Hill -Wood, the last time we heard from him: " We have run the club sensibly, and we haven't done badly; it's not as if we have been relegated."
We are earning a healthy profit, the stadium debt is down substantially, now is the time to turn our attention to performances on the pitch. The bottomline is if someone like Brian McDermott in his first PL season can go after losing four in a row on a shoestring budget, then Wenger is also expendable because of the historic lows he's achieved in his last two seasons with a transfer budget and wages that dwarf Reading.
The Seattle Sounders became the first MLS team to beat a Mexican side in the CONCACAF Champions League since its 2008 inception, when they eliminated Tigres yesterday at Century Link field, 3-1 in the quarter-finals second leg.
The heroes, rookie DeAndre Yedlin for his stunning volley fetching the equalizer, Djimi Traore's sweetly struck 30 yard half volley that clanged off the crossbar and into goal, and Eddie Johnson for his silky smooth, tightly worked finish off an impossible angle for the final goal in the 75th minute ensuring passage into the semi-finals.
Till then, Tigres were still riding pretty on the away goal scored by Elías Hernández off a move initiated by former US international, Jonathan Bornstein. Yes, he's still around, a bit more in the shadow since Bob Bradley left. That goal meant Sounders would have to score three and even Manuel Viniegra's sending off for his second booking made that possibility extremely remote. But history is meant to be re-written and the Sounders did exactly that.
They now await the winners of the Houston Dynamo vs Santos Lagune quarter-finals at Torreon with the MLS side leading, 1-0 in the first leg at home.
As Barca celebrates its historic comeback against Milan restoring that tarnished sheen in some style, their president Sandro Rosell finds himself under a bit of a cloud. Brazilian prosecutors after a three year investigation have leveled fraud charges against him in his role as organizer of a 2008 friendly between Portugal and Brazil played in Brasilia. If found guilty and convicted, Rosell could face upto eight years in prison time.
The Brazilian authorities allege that Ailanto, the company owned by Rosell bypassed the normal bidding process obtaining a false document awarding them the contract. The district governor, Jose Roberto Arruda has been accused of collusion. Ailanto received $4m for organizing and promoting the match. However, documents show only a receipted expenditure of $400,000 which in any case had been paid for by the FBF, the local affiliate of the CBF (Confederacion Brasiliano de Futebol).
Rosell's lawyer counters by saying that these are old charges which the police were unable to prove and the contract has to with "owning rights" which circumvented the usual bidding process. When you talk of multi-million dollar profits in the beautiful game and illegal means in Brazil then you have to look no further than Ricardo Teixeira, the former CBF president who resigned recently from the World Cup 2014 organizing committee after widespread allegations of financial irregularities and corruption.
Sure enough, Ailanto has been linked with Teixeira, although no new charges have been filed against the former CBF honcho but Rosell suspiciously as per said documents, deposited an amount of $2m in one of his daughter's bank accounts in 2011. Rosell moved to Brazil in 1999 as one of Nike's top executives with the responsibility of cultivating the powerful friendship of Teixeira and the CBF. The most intriguing point is Ailanto was set up just months before the match and soon after Rosell became a director there. As this Economist article reveals, the two men had their fingerprints on all kinds of sketchy financial deals and it invariably appeared to involve a payoff of some sort to Teixeira.
Barca in the last month or so have been buffeted by the news of their impending demise. Even to Sid Lowe, the keen observer of everything Liga, these were anxious signs of an indomitable era coming to an end. Leo Messi was in a fugue, a man in search of an oasis, a muse, a Red Bull infusion. Madrid was administering a death from a thousand cuts as Milan, their CL understudy was playing the perfect spoiler.
The Madrid press was carousing, their Catalan counterparts were talking off a shift of power, the media elsewhere was talking of death throes, and back in Argentina, everyone was offering a theory for Messi's disappearing act.
The truths still are: Barca is as dominant as ever. Real Madrid will always have to break the bank to keep up. Cristiano Ronado is the perfect athlete. Leo Messi is a f**king footballing genius.
Today's Nou Camp encounter saw an brilliant Leo Messi, an imperious Iniesta, and a relentless Xavi push and probe to spring new orifices in Milan's demeanour. Command and control, baby, with a death rattle at the end. Hit the reset button. Get your neuralizers out. They're back with leather chaps on and cat o'nine tails.
Messi got the show at home started with two imperceptible shifts of position. I remember Vivian Richards, the West Indian legend, blasting sixes all over the stadium with the barest twitch of a muscle, a figment of the imagination. The ball rocketed forward with tremendous velocity generated with the briefest of backlifts as Abbiati did not move a muscle. Xavi the provider. Sometimes seeing is not believing.
Five minutes before half time, Messi again as Iniesta dispossesses Ambrosini and slides a pass to the Argentinian who shifts the ball to his left, holds for a nano second, and lashes a low drive between Phillipe Mexes's legs and past the hapless Abbiati. The aggregate was all square. Milan had a golden chance before the second goal to make Barca break out in a light sweat as Javier Mascherano, playing like a rejiggered centre half, comically headed a long ball straight to M'baye Niang, who powered forward and with Valdes beaten, contrived to strike it straight at the far post.
The second half saw Barca establish a complete chokehold once again and this time David Villa, the forgotten man in the side, scored what was the winning goal as Milan were robbed again close to the box with Mascherano relaying the ball to Iniesta and thereon to Xavi. The no 4 connects with Villa on his right as Constant commits early and the striker finishes perfectly with an angled shot to the far post. The 2-3 aggregate now in favour strangely produced Barca's most vulnerable moments as Milan realizing they could still go ahead on the away goal rule pressed harder.
Barca would go into panic stations every time Milan went forward with Ignazio Abate active in exploiting the lack of composure with his runs down the right flank. Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol (coming in for Mascherano) regularly lost sight of the other and their offside enforcement became hit and miss. Milan's best chance came when former Barca man Bojan dummied Pique to slide his pass to Robinho and only a last ditch block by Jordi Alba saved that goal. The left back built on his heroics minutes later, providing the Cam Nou with the longest sigh of relief with his 90th minute goal, resulting from a misplaced Milan free kick which Messi finally captured and sprang Alexis Sanchez forward. Alba running parallel to the Chilean and on his left was at hand to sweep in his cross perfectly.
As scintillating as the attack was, there is no question that this back line needs replenishing. Dani Alves has been the subject of many transfer rumours and today's performance showed why as his trademark crossing skills let down Barca in scoring positions. Mascherano is not a centre half and Pique is not the force he was. Neither is Puyol, who reminds one of Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, forcing his beaten, aging body into one more final throwdown. Victor Valdes has not renewed his contract and he will be on the move next season.
Milan had its chances and till the 90th minute were right in it. But they also had a number of notable absentees. Stephan Al Shaarawy was a subdued presence down the left and the one clear chance was a tame effort with Valdes having no problems. A clearly frustrated Kevin Prince Boateng was booked for a series of rash challenges. Ambrosini was often befuddled by the swarming Barca midfield which would capture the ball right back as Iniesta did punishing the veteran.
Hamit Altintop's stunning 30 yard goal against his former club sparked Galatasaray into a match winning performance against Schalke. Burak Yilmaz's eighth goal in eight matches, a breakaway effort after Timo Hildebrand gambled and lost gave them the two away goal cushion as Schalke now had to score two more goals.
They added to Roman Neustatder's opener after Michel Bastos converted following a frantic goalmouth melee. An increasingly desperate German side poured it on and forced Fernando Muslera into some fine saves. But they left themselves exposed at the back and Umut Bulut on a counterattack gave the Turkish side the win and safe passage into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001. That was under Mircea Lucescu and this time Fatih Terim guides the Istanbul team in his third stint as coach. The club achieved its European pinnacle under Terim after beating Arsenal on penalties in the 2000 UEFA Cup final.
Wilshere is out for 3 weeks: Another in a long list of ankle injuries dogging the side
Some not so cheery news for Gunners. Jack Wilshere is out again with an injury, this time to his right ankle because of a bone bruising received in the Spurs match. He's estimated to be out for 3 weeks as a preventive measure which means he won't be available for tomorrow's Bayern return leg and the Swansea league match. He will also miss international duty for England.
Wilshere is the one player who gives a 110% and the danger here is that these niggling ankle injuries might become the norm because of his flying, take it to the limits, style of playing. Opponents try and slow him down snapping at his feet and it won't surprise to find he's one of the most tackled players in the league. Opta stats pegged him as the most fouled player with 7 in a single match when Arsenal met Man City two months ago. On the other hand, he's also not shy dishing it out which means his foot and ankle does a lot of clattering.
The added pressure of overcoming Arsenal's many shaky starts has fallen squarely on Wilshere and the perception he sometimes goes it alone to turn things around may not be misplaced. The increased tempo plays a huge part in the wear and tear on the joints, ligaments, and muscles. He was noticeably off during the Spurs match, misplacing passes, and running less hard. Arsenal's final third exertions were overall lacking demonstrating how crucial a fit Wilshere is to the side. The upshot is a Bayern upset which was a longer than long shot became a lot, lot longer than a longer than long shot.
Lukas Podolksi is also doubtful with an ankle injury. No return date available. So don't look for the former Bayern player to engage in return heroics. Which means Tomas Rosicky will get a start. Arsene Wenger has Abou Diaby and Kieran Gibbs back. Hopefully having Gibbs back improves the communication of the back line which was so badly exposed in the last two matches. The most intriguing possibility, Wojciech Szczesny maybe dropped in favour of Lukasz Fabianski, who after his shoulder injury that kept him out most of last season, fell victim to ruptured ankle ligaments. He's been declared match fit and is set to travel to the Allianz Arena.
Update: Kieran Gibbs, Abou Diaby, Andrey Arshavin, and Lukasz Fabianski have been included for Arsenal's CL cremation at the Allianz Arena.
The Blaugrana faithful will be showing their team spirit at the Camp Nou for the AC Milan showdown by displaying a mosaic of 90,000 cards reflecting the colours of the club and Catalonia with the centre reading, "We're a team".
Dani Alves has been very vocal about the side playing without fear and rising up to the comeback challenge. Which Barca has rarely had to do. This will be a historic night if they can erase the two goal deficit and win.
"If we don't take risks, we won´t win. We have to face up to this game with no fear." But Alves is ready to bet the kitchen sink "they will beat Milan."
In an interview, he also talks amongst other things, about Tito Vilanova's absence.
" It's weird. Obviously, with all due respect to the people in charge at the moment, we miss him. We didn't want any of this to happen, but it has and we can't let it get to us. We can get through this with hard work and by playing well. He is analysing the team, watching our games and trying to help. But it would be easier if he was here."
If you haven't already seen it, this critter gives the runaround to the Swiss League bringing a FC Thun vs FC Zurich match to a standstill till one of the players, Loris Benito took matters, ah, into his own hands almost costing him his finger.
The marten then scampered forth again but David Da Costa, Zurich's goalkeeper protected by his gloves made an important interception. Zurich also proved to be the better side beating Thun, 4-0, if you're into such mundane matters. For those interested in taxonomy, the pine martens are found extensively in N.Europe, belong to the same species as otter, mink, badger, wolverine, and weasel, and are a nuisance because they apparently love chewing the brake cables of parked cars.
One should be glad it wasn't the Arsenal defence, backpedaling away from the little fella all Scotty Parker like. They would have knocked their heads together and got their butts bitten.
The Montreal Impact is making an impact this season as it recorded its second away win, equaling its win total of its inaugural season last year. Hassoun Camara scored off a bicycle kick which makes it the goal of the week and possibly could contend for the season. Alright, don't let Wayne Rooney spoil it for you.
The Red Bulls seem to be going through a familiar theme. An inability to hold onto a lead. The season opener against the Portland Timbers saw the NE side comeback from a two goal deficit to draw 3-3.
Yesterday, on the road against San Jose, Eric Alexander volleyed them into the lead after Thierry Henry's floated a chip that was headed by Jason Hernandez straight to the right back sneaking in far post. The Red Bulls fought off the Quakes and their attack mainly because of Dax McCarty's midfield exertions. But the last 10 minutes brought on the sort of attentional lapses that left Mike Petke awaiting his first win.
First, Sam Cronin's whipping cross has Adam Jahn sticking his left foot out for the equalizer as the Red Bulls defence lose him far post. Then a corner finds Roy Miller handballing Jahn's header. Chris Wondolowski's PK was saved by Robles diving to his right but it was retaken because Miller had encroached (mildly put because it was more a stroll) the area before the kick. This time Wondolowski needed no further reprieve.
Reminds one of the Mick McCarthy sacking last year at Wolves. There was no point to that dismissal as there is in this one. With just 9 matches to go and upcoming fixtures against Utd and Arsenal? Whoever steps in McDermott's shoes will likely be going down with Reading. The owner Anton Zingarevich has made life harder for the club without the necessary cash infusion to buy much needed transfers.
McDermott who was hired as the interim manager in December 2009 after Brendan Rodgers left became permanent two months later and then almost guided Reading to the Premier League missing out to Swansea in the playoffs. He had greater success the next season earning promotion to the top echelon for only the second time in the club's history. On 30 October 2012, Reading and Arsenal engaged in a 12 goal blowout in the Capital One Cup which the Gunners won, 7-5 after trailing by four goals at the break. The Reading manager described it as "kamikaze football" and the "worst defeat of my career."
This weekend's 1-2 loss to Villa, Reading's fourth successive defeat seemed to have unsettled Zingarevich into making this incomprehensible decision. What bad timing. For those inquiring minds, Wolves are themselves battling relegation in the Championship.
Two of the league's most upwardly mobile sides boasting the two biggest marquees met in a crucial encounter and the result left the Reds celebrating with Spurs justifiably ruing a match they should have won but lost.
FSG, Liverpool's owners appear to be atoning for past mistakes and bringing in transfers who are delivering. Some older names like Steward Downing are beginning to gel and the midfield seems to have gained a cutting edge with the induction of Phillipe Coutinho. There is greater ambition under Brendan Rodgers, whose parables seem finally enlightening. "I will leave no stone unturned in my quest - and that quest will be relentless." But all this remains peripheral when you have Luis Suarez and his definitive season. Liverpool has scored 56 goals, nine more than all of last season, and the Uruguayan leads the league with 22 as RVP has faded somewhat. He's been a monster, all bite, no bark.
The match began with Coutinho releasing Jose Enrique, and the left back had to take a couple of touches to slip the ball past Michael Dawson to find Suarez. Automatic. That was much against the run of play because Spurs till then had looked very comfortable dominating the ball. Gareth Bale finds whipping in unplayable long balls when he is not scoring, very relaxing, and Jan Vertonghen was the beneficiary on both scoring occasions, first through a header and then crashing in a shot after the ball came to him through a deflection. Gylfi Sigurdsson should have put in a third after Bale engaged in a breathless windmill of legs and hands for a cross but Brad Jones managed to deflect the Icelandic man's shot onto the upright.
Spurs up by a goal, all sunshine of the spotless mind, till Kyle Walker decides that the match is not exciting enough, sweeps a dawdling long back pass toward Hugo Lloris, who rushes late and desperately tries hoofing the ball out. Downing motoring ahead blocks the shot and the ball breaks kindly for him and he finishes nutmegging Michael Dawson with aplomb. The Reds took full advantage of another kind offering as Jermaine Defoe, off a Gerrard free kick disastrously clips the ball back into the box where Benoit Assou Ekotto is forced to bring down the slippery Suarez. No problem for Gerrard as he converts the penalty and the Reds win to sneak up behind Arsenal. This season is wide open for spots 3rd to 8th.
This past week has proved tumultuous in Man Utd's other title aspirations. First, Nani's kamikaze tactics in the Champions League, 2nd leg left Utd short handed against an underachieving Real Madrid. Till then the possibility of a Madrid exit was palpably real. Luka Modric's introduction turned things around for the Merengues as Utd suffered the ignominy of conceding two quick goals which ushered them out of the competition. The post match theatrics continued with Sir A lex now a deeper shade of purple refusing to attend the post match interview.
Yesterday, it was Utd, going ahead through a nice bit of improvisation as Chicharito Hernandez, perceiving Petr Cech advancing off his line, adjusted to arc his header in a long loop over the Chelsea goalie. Well done. An unsighted Cech minutes later could do little to stop Wayne Rooney's free kick as it bounced awkwardly in front of goal and scooted into the far post. The FA Cup encounter was going swimmingly well for the Premier League champions in waiting as their opponents showed a catastrophic vulnerability at the back. For Rafa Benitez, both sets of fans were already clamouring for his head well before the match began.
The Chelsea manager, " the fat Spanish waiter" as less charitable Utd fans deride him made two key changes, taking off Frank Lampard and Victor Moises and bringing on Eden Hazard and John Obi Mikel. The second half was more Chelsea centric as they zipped the ball around more threateningly, coinciding with a dip in Utd's concentration and effort, the sequelae to the Hey Nani No! blues suffered midweek. Hazard who shows a propensity for the spectacular, scored from a beautifully placed curler seven minutes after his introduction. Chelsea was smelling blood as Utd's midfield fluency broke down. Following a counterattack orchestrated by David Luiz, Demba Be turned the ball loose to Oscar, relaying it to an advancing Ramires on the left who cut inside and dispatched an acutely angled shot under De Gea's groping hand. Utd looking decidedly frail have to thank De Gea for his last ditch heroics to save off Juan Mata in regulation time.
This would have been the second exit in less than a week but Utd will get to wage battle again at Stamford Bridge. Afterwards, Benitez revealed his cold war with Sir Alex had resumed. Just like the good old days. Rio Ferdinand meanwhile may face FA charges for sneakily pushing down an unsuspecting Fernando Torres from behind while off the ball.
Wigan make it look easy against Everton in their FA Cup quarter- finals. Maynor Figueroa, Callum McManaman, and Jordi Gomez were unanswerable as the Latics enter the semifinals for the first time in history.
Carlos Tevez should slow down, he would learn stuff like this: Hugh McDiarmid
Carlos Tevez faces jail time for driving his car while disqualified. He was driving his Porsche Cayenne when the police picked him up and found he should not legally been driving. The Argentinian was banned from driving when failing to respond to the Cheshire Constabulary notifying him of two other counts of speeding. At that time, Tevez did not have a proper UK drivers license. His plea, he knows the word police but not constabulary.
Tevez could face 6 months in jail but will probably end up doing community service instead. Roberto Mancini must be going ballistic. If Tevez is out, it is down to Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko for what they have left to offer Man Utd as a challenge. Also why was Tevez driving a Porsche? Because if there is anything that doesn't scream look at me on a country road, it's a Porsche. If only he had stuck to a Ford Escort.
Luis Suarez has been having a heck of a season pouring in 21 goals and counting for Liverpool. There is financial motivation for him to score. His FSG contract stipulated a wage increase from £80,000 to £100,000 per week on crossing a 20 goal threshold. Now, Suarez looks a player who needs little motivation but an additional £20,000 doesn't hurt, does it?
Soccerblog has already discussed why wages at Arsenal should be incentivized, i.e., vary the wages according to performance and not some one size fits all formula. It is strange their CEO comes from a league known for it's high GINI co-efficient where rookies are paid about minimum wage while the DP's get millions of dollars. Their majority owner is the Walmart heir, an organization notorious for its intolerance of labor laws, vigorous anti-unionization drives, and non-existent worker benefits. Their employees are poorly compensated, work long arduous hours, and are hired and fired at will.
These two co-exist with a manager, who controls with an iron fist, all transfer spending and wages, resembling a socialist paradise; minimally performing players are kept on for years on high wages, while top performers leave as their wages hit a glass ceiling. The result, stagnation. Think about Lukas Podolski coming in for £90,000 per week (about the top Arsenal salary) and then playing about 10 minutes off the bench in that Spurs match, as he's done in a number of matches this season. What message do you think he's internalizing? The wage bill at Arsenal is a wage bill gone amok. It does absolutely nothing to improve this team, offers no motivation, yet every season it goes up, as it falls on the supporters to pay more every season. This is where the rubber hits the road.
A soft penalty call as Ryan Bertrand put his arm across Raul Resescu as both go to intercept a long diagonal ball. The referee seemed to have no problem pointing to the spot and Resescu makes no mistake. Rafa Benitez's point is well taken. Why wasn't Bertrand given his marching orders? A sentiment echoed by Laurentiu Reghecampf, his Steaua counterpart. But Chelsea given all their talent should have been able to come back into this game.
SoccerBlog.com is a fan-driven site founded by Christian and Shourin. Our goal is to cover the beautiful game and talk about some of the issues that may not be covered elsewhere. Since we aren't any good at playing, we decided to talk about soccer instead!