Friday, February 24, 2012

Former Gunner Adebayor Fit To Return To Haunt Arsenal

Former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor is set to face a late fitness test with the Spurs medical staff this weekend - but should still be able to shake off the ill effects of a recent knee injury in a bid to return to the Tottenham lineup to face bitter North London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday. The Togo striker has been in excellent form for Harry Redknapp's side this season following his loan move from Manchester City - notching up 10 goals and as many assists in 22 Premier League appearances this season as Tottenham have mounted a surprise title challenge. Former Arsenal hero Adebayor turned villain for Gunners fans following his big money move to Manchester City - and relations with their former hitman hit fever pitch when the striker ran the full length of the pitch to celebrate in front of them following his goal at Eastlands back in September 2009.
     While Redknapp will hope Adebayor can again return to haunt Arsene Wenger's side, and fulfill every Tottenham fan's dreams by helping them to win and gain local bragging rights in the North London Derby, the wider footballing and financial implications of the game are much bigger for both clubs as they battle to secure Champions League qualification next season. Tottenham - currently 3rd in the Premier League - sit some 10 points ahead of their rivals who remain 4th in the standings, while Arsenal look to hold off the challenge of the recently faltering Chelsea to ensure they qualify for club football's biggest event.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Could Milan Mauling be the Final Nail in Wenger's Coffin?

Arsenal face a near impossible task in their bid to advance in the 2012 UEFA Champions League following their humiliation at the hands of Italian giants AC Milan last night. Outclassed in every department against experienced European opposition, an agitated Arsene Wenger condemned and lamented his side's performance - conceding that Arsenal failed to acquit themselves during any stage of the tie and were adequately punished by their superior opposition.
     Wenger has already faced away day humiliation earlier this season having seen his side torn apart 8-2 at Old Trafford in August, but this defeat in many ways emphasised his team's shortcomings to an even greater extent than that memorable afternoon in Manchester - in spite of a marginally less outlandish looking scoreline.
     Arsenal's defensive frailties - so often an Achilles heel of the team as a whole under Wenger - were highlighted throughout the fixture and continuously exploited by Milan, while even in attack The Gunners were unusually ineffective against what proved to be stereotypically well drilled and highly organized Italian opposition. Even Robin Van Persie - so often a prolific goal scorer, the “Go To” player and to some extent, a beacon of hope for Arsenal in a fast fading this season - proved woefully ineffective, and was replaced by an aging Thierry Henry at the half way point. The substitution was not to have any bearing on the result however, and left the French forward (with what will surely now be his last appearance for the club at which he excelled on countless occasions) with a final Arsenal sendoff he would surely rather forget.
     The English sporting press this morning were unsparingly scathing of the Arsenal manager – with The Daily Telegraph dubbing last night's performance a "watershed filled with tears" for Arsene Wenger - for so long now regarded as a continually successful, pioneering and forward thinking figure in the English game. However, unless Arsenal can rally quickly for their now all important FA cup tie against a resurgent Sunderland side this weekend, Wenger- for so long a staunch defender of his football philosophy of developing youth and promoting attacking flair (sometimes critics would argue at the expense of winning trophies) - must surely now face up to the almost inconceivable prospect of leaving his post at the end of the current campaign as Arsenal look to reassess and rebuild.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Never Say Die" Rooney Inspires Man United Fightback

England striker Wayne Rooney scored 2 penalties and produced an inspiring second half display as Manchester United fought back from a seemingly hopeless position at Stanford Bridge. Trailing by a single goal at half time, even the most die hard of United supporters must have thought all was lost when a disastrous start to the second half saw early goals from Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata (who buried a stunning volley) and a deflected set piece header from centre back David Luiz treble the home side's advantage in a sequence of events that all Chelsea fan's must surely have believed would put the game to bed as a contest.
     However, Rooney was to once again prove the driving force for the reds with a determined performance of both grit and technique in equal quantity - picking up the man of the match award and proving that there would be no greater football boots for manager Sir Alex Ferguson to try and fill should the Liverpool born forward pick up an injury during United's end of season title run in.
     Following the final whistle Chelsea fans vented there frustration at seeing yet another opportunity to make up ground on the Premier League front runners pass them by, whilst in contrast a beaming Rooney suggested in his post match interview that the response from his team was typical of his club's attitude and approach -  even when all seems lost. The game was to prove a fantastic advert for English football, and a great indication of Manchester United's team spirit and unerring desire to succeed in their pursuit of yet another Premier League title.