Just Gonna Stand Here and Watch Him Score: Carling Cup Round-Up

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I’ll be honest, I was still silently seething at the sheer injustice that happened during Sunday’s match. I have no idea why the football gods have suddenly developed an aversion to my prayers. However, my decision to not get up at an ungodly hour to watch the Carling Cup matches through the web, listen to live commentary or to just read text updates, stemmed from my desire to be a good employee (since I shall be taking a vacation leave in a day’s time) and not out of churlishness.

Cutting to the chase, here are the select matches and results from the Carling Cup:

Newcastle United 4-3 Chelsea

I have a soft spot for the Toon, I really do, but a sizeable part of me feared a thrashing from Chelsea, that’s why I’m so relieved and at the same time, gobsmacked to find out that the Magpies got the better of the Blues this time around. It was reportedly a see-saw affair that needed a last-minute goal from Shola Ameobi to seal off the match. Well played to the Toon for upsetting the odds. They are becoming “The Giantkillers” of the Season so far. I almost want to break out into the “We’re on the pitch if Shola scores!” chant. Almost.

For those who missed the action:

Newcastle United vs Chelsea Match Highlights

Liverpool 2-2 Northampton (Northampton win 4-2 on penalties)

Now for the bad news. Liverpool has crashed out of the Carling Cup. The fact that it happened barely 24 hours after city rivals Everton also crashed out does not console me at all. It was mostly Liverpool’s fringe players that featured in the match, but if you can’t depend on your B-team to kill off a less-than imposing rival team (no disrespect to the Cobblers), then how can you expect to get any decent results against the big fishes? Fair play to Northampton though, for keeping their nerves steady. They deserved to win that match. Clearly, something is very, very wrong with LFC right now. Although this is certainly not the worst patch that the team has been through, something needs to be sorted out before the Red ship begins a slow and painful descent. Walk, on lads.

For those who missed the action:

Liverpool FC vs Northampton Match Highlights


Manchester United 5-2 Scunthorpe

Lest we forget, Manchester United is the reigning Carling Cup Champions, thanks to a certain equalizing goal from a striker named Michael Owen in the Final against Aston Villa, who incidentally, is reportedly interested in signing him this January.

But, I digress.

Prior to this match, Owen has scored 7 goals in his last 9 Carling Cup appearances, and last night, he did not disappoint at all as he bagged a brace to send Scunthrope packing home.

Needless to say, I am pleased as a punch for the wee lad, especially after that infuriating snub during Sunday’s match, coupled with the miserable back-to-back losses of LFC. Anyone who dares count him out deserves to be whacked with his 2001 European Footballer of the Year Award, and for those who can’t stop hating, you can form a queue a la izquierda, por favor. Player preference and support is completely personal, and I shan’t ever apologize for it.  Comprende?

Owen + Ball = Back of the net. Twice. Image via One Michael Owen

How am I supposed to stay away, when you're scoring like that? Image via One Michael Owen

Interestingly, a male streaker also invaded the pitch. The photo is here if you want a peek. NSFW obviously. Also, you know you’re a full-fledged Owen fan when there’s a naked man in the foreground of the photo yet all you see is the blurry M.O. in the background. Just saying.

Note to the football gods: I may be pushing my luck here, but just the same, I’d like to know when it will be possible for me to celebrate both Liverpool and Michael Owen-related positive football results?

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For those who missed the action:

Manchester United vs Scunthorpe Match Highlights

MU (Owen) 3-1 SC

MU (Owen) 5-1 SC

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Stone(r)-Cold Win: The 2010 Aragon MotoGP Round-Up

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A Wheelie for the Win: Casey Stoner is finally back to his winning form. Image via GPUpdate.

He’s been called lots of things, from Rolling Stoner, Crashy Stoner to Stacey Moaner, but one thing about this Aussie is that he knows how to win in rampant style.

These are the relevant bits and pieces from the race for those who missed it:

1.0
Motorland Aragon made its MotoGP debut and it looks the boss. However, the inclusion of Aragon in MotoGP now makes it 4 Spanish tracks in a season, so perhaps either Jerez or Catalunya needs to be cut off, even for 1 trial season?

2.0
Prior to the race, this trivbit was disseminated across Social Networkingland: If Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo wins the race, the series is assured of a Spanish Champion, as only Honda rider Dani Pedrosa will be able to mathematically challenge him. Will Jorge be able to fulfill this?

3.0
Friday and Saturday.
Honda man Dani Pedrosa immediately threw down the gauntlet as he dominated in the early practice session. Casey Stoner was the surprise of the day as he topped the 2nd wet practice session.

4.0
Qualifying.
Casey Stoner continued to surprise as he denied both Spanish frontrunners the chance to be pole in their home turf. Jorge Lorenzo was 2nd and Dani Pedrosa 3rd. The 2nd Ducati of Nicky Hayden was 4th while Rising Star Ben Spies of Tech3 was 5th, while reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi had to line up at 7th.

5.0
Raceday.
The Aussie may have snuck in pole position, but majority of the crowd and fans still banked on a Spanish winner, and who can blame them, considering the Ducati’s mercurial characteristics, coupled with Stoner’s on-off form? However, any doubts over Stoner’s intent to win were promptly erased as he rocketed off the starting line, with Lorenzo following close and Hayden getting the better off his ex-teammate Pedrosa, who lost 3 places at the get-go.

6.0
If there’s anything that this season has proved, it’s the fact that the wee man of Honda has banished the ghost of his ‘timid on-track personality’ past, as he charged through the field like a man possessed, taking on Spies, Hayden, then Lorenzo to take 2nd position and started hunting down the Aussie in red.

7.0
For a few laps, Pedrosa started cutting down Stoner’s lead, but as the race went on, whatever the Honda man threw at Stoner, the Aussie man threw back at him two-fold, and as the latter part of the race drew on, it became clear that this was truly Stoner’s race to lose.

8.0
Cut to the battles that made the race:
Nicky Hayden never strayed beyond inches of Jorge Lorenzo’s rear tyre throughout the race, and in the last lap, the 2006 World Champion resurrected his once dominant form as he completed a ballsy pass on the Yamaha man to steal 3rd and the last podium position, much to the astonishment of the crowd.
Meanwhile, Ben Spies showed that he is worth Yamaha’s gamble, as his grit and sheer determination got him a well-deserved 5th place, ahead of Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso, who seemed to have been out-psyched by the Texan as he crashed out with barely a lap to go.

9.0
Interesting facts and questions from the race:
-It took Ducati 13 Rounds before winning a race this season.
-The last time that no Yamaha rider made it to the podium was in Valencia, 2007.
-This is the first time in 13 rounds that Jorge Lorenzo failed to make it to the podium (he allegedly was in a stroppy mood after the race and didn’t get to ‘properly’ acknowledge the fans as he rode back to Parc Ferme. How true is this?)
-Does Ducati’s win means their dry spell is coming to a close, and that Valentino Rossi is in ‘safe’ hands for 2011?
Colin Edwards has been confirmed by Tech 3 Yamaha for 2011. He will partner British rider and current Yamaha WSBK rider Cal Crutchlow.
Dani Pedrosa has cut down Lorenzo’s Championship lead to 56 points, with 5 rounds to go.
-Staying with Pedrosa, he has recently signed a 2-year contract with HRC, which means he’ll be Casey Stoner’s teammate for 2011. Who will win the #1 status at HRC?

There you have it. Stoner finally breaks his duck and takes the Duke to the top yet again. Will he shake things up between Lorenzo and Pedrosa, as Rossi continues his flirtation with anonymity, or will it be business as usual for the Spaniards in Motegi?

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For those who missed all the action (and talk):

A Tale of 2 Strikers: The Liverpool FC vs Manchester United Match Round-Up

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Meet Fernando Torres and Dimitar Berbatov.

Fernando is the Golden Boy of the Red Part of Merseyside. The new “Messiah” who has inherited the sacred #9 shirt, coupled with the unconditional adoration, of the former “God” Robbie Fowler. In contrast, Dimitar is the on-off Whipping Boy of Manchester United supporters and non-supporters alike, having been labeled as “Berba-flop” and often the subject of the “players that need to be sold” discussions.

Last Sunday, old and bitter rivals Liverpool FC and Manchester United met at Old Trafford, Manchester, for the first leg of their 2010-2011 Premier League clashes.

 

These are the moments that made their stories:

1.0
The first Torres Bitchface Moment came when they showed the Liverpool squad getting off their team bus. Actually, it wasn’t a full-on Bitchface, more like a three-fourths Bitchface and one-fourth “crap-this-match-is-hella-important-I-want-to-piss-in-my-trackpants” face.

2.0
The Prematch coverage started off brightly (heavy on sarcasm here) with the commentators launching scathing attacks on Torres in turn. He was called everything from uninspired to lackadaisical to just plain uninterested. This gave me an overwhelming sense of deja vu, as it was only 7-8 years ago when a certain Liverpool striker named Michael Owen was undergoing the same treatment from the media and fans alike for his supposed “goal drought”. When will the critics ever realize that it’s not a cake walk to carry a whole team’s goalscoring task on your muscled, physiotherapist-approved shoulders? They can shove all their acid words and armchair analysis up where the sun doesn’t shine, as far as I am concerned.

3.0
Man United immediately dictated the tempo of the match as soon as the opening whistle sounded. Portuguese winger Nani wins the award for Miss of the Match as he bungled a golden opportunity wide during the 9th minute.

4.0
In all honesty, the first half was completely not worth the hype. The way both teams played belied their Royal Status in World Football and the disorganization and disarray on the pitch was truly woeful.

5.0
Enter Dimitar Berbatov. He pounced on the ball on a set-piece and in a blink of an eye, put Manchester United 1-0 up. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that Fernando Torres was the player marking him when the set-piece transpired. What the hell was wrong with the Liverpool defenders, leaving Torres to mark Berbatov?! The man may be tall and imposing, but he’s a striker. Also, the less said of Paul Konchesky’s truly confusing non-defensive moment along the goalline, the better. In moments like that, you just cannot help but facepalm.
6.0
As usual, the commentators focused on Torres’ anonymity during the Halftime Analysis, but conveniently forget to mention just how ineffective Wayne Rooney was playing for the Mancs. Quelle Surprise.

Fernando Torres and Nemanja Vidic continue their on-pitch tango/paso doble. This time around though, Vidic avoids getting red-carded. Image via Liverpoolfc.tv

7.0
Second half.
Manchester United continued to boss the match, and with less than 15 minutes played, Berbatov made an astounding (some would call it plain lucky) overhead kick that thundered past Pepe Reina, and made it 2-0 to the Red Devils. Reina just stood there, dumbfounded, after the ball went in. He couldn’t have done anything to stop that.  Facepalm Moment #1005 for Liverpool Manager Roy Hodgson.

8.0
Fernando Torres then decided to wake up from his Bitchfacing stupor and made a blistering run into the box and was clipped by an overenthusiastic Jonny Evans. The 1st assistant blew his whistle and Howard Webb confirmed that a penalty kick is awarded to the Scousers.

9.0
Captain Steven Gerrard stepped up to the mark and coolly converted the penalty to make it 2-1. I’m not going to lie, I did feel annoyed when Gerrard took the pen and not Nando. It would have been apt for Nando to take and convert that pen to (partially) shut his critics’ pieholes.

10.0
Six minutes later, Torres made another trademark sprint to the goal, and just before he reached the box, he was pulled down by John O’Shea. The whistle blows, and as everyone stood up, expecting a straight sending-off for the Irishman that will reduce the Mancs to 10 men, Howard Webb pulls out a yellow card. The Mancs breathe a collective sigh of relief while the Scousers become incandescent.  You can practically read their thoughts as saying “Howard Webb’s objective? You’re ‘avin a laugh!”

11.0
Freekick given to Liverpool as a result of that foul. Captain Steven Gerrard surveys the Man United wall while Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar positions his players. As Gerrard takes the kick, Darren Fletcher moves away from the wall, enabling the ball to fit perfectly and catching van der Sar wrong-footed and helpless. 2-2. Gerrard promptly celebrates by kissing the camera.

Give us a kiss! Gerrard’s freekick levels the match. Image via Liverpoolfc.tv

12.0
The tension was so thick in the stadium, you can cut it with a chainsaw. Liverpool brought in David Ngog and Daniel Agger to bolster their squad. Agger and Nani promptly got involved in a mini-catfight that had to be broken up by Webb. Whoever said Scandinavians are mild-mannered sure haven’t met Danny Agger. then again, he’s practically a full-blooded Scouser now, so he’s both mild-mannered and well hard. A deadly combination.

13.0
Fourteen minutes after the last goal, the deadlock was finally broken, and Dimitar Berbatov’s day of heroism was finally cemented as he completed his hattrick to make the scoreline 3-2. FYI, Berbatov is the first Manchester United to score a hattrick against Liverpool FC since 1946. Damn. Even I have to give props to him for that feat.

14.0
And now, for The Moment That Didn’t Happen.

Part of my sheer and unadulterated excitement for this match stems from my desire to see two of my favorite strikers in the world, Fernando Torres and Michael Owen, play together on the same pitch. During the 80+ minute, when the score was still 2-2, the commentators casually mentioned that Owen has begun warming up, which means he will be getting ready to come on to the pitch at any given time. They even noted that it would be a notable moment if Owen goes on to score the winner in this match, considering his history with the opposition. Now, the mere mention of his name has already sent my heart into full on-palpitation mode. I even had my mobile phone camera ready, so I can capture the moment when Owen and Torres finally shares a pitch, on a historic match such as this. Alas, this dream of mine did not happen as Sir Alex Ferguson did not make Owen play, even though he took off Berbatov in the dying minutes, and instead opted for 2 non-strikers to come on.  Excuse me, but how can you make a player warm up if you don’t intend to play him? Don’t give me any bullshit about team politics or Owen being too controversial for this match. You’re at home and any subsequent abuse hurled at him from opposing fans will surely be drowned out by the home fans. Why trample my dream and rain on my parade like that, Sir Alex Ferguson?! Now I have to wait for the return fixture before I can realize that moment. Damn you. Rant over, thankyouverymuch.

15.0
So, the two strikers both influenced their team’s performance, but for this round, Golden Boy Fernando Torres has to play the Loser and the Forgotten Man Dimitar Berbatov emerged as the clear Winner. Talk about a complete Reversal of Fortunes.

From Forgotten Man to Man of the Match: Berbatov spares his team from Fergie’s infamous hairdryer sermons post-match.

Will this curious turn of events continue for these two strikers, or can they both sustain their newfound zest for the game and help their respective clubs cement their rightful place among the so-called Big Four?

Only time will tell. For the meantime, Berbatov better enjoy his moment while he can, as it’s only a matter of time before the El Niño of the old come charging back.
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An Open Letter to Kimi Raikkonen.

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krth

Exactly WHAT goes on in that stubborn, secretive, elusive pretty blonde head of yours?

Mr. Kimi Matias Raikkonen,

You’re unbelievable, you know that?

There are very few men in this world who can make my heart race and palpitate faster than a Koenigsegg CC going downhill with its brakes cut off–and yes, you’re very well one of those chosen few. The chosen few who can affect me and my entire week with a single headline.

How very dare you play with the hearts of your supporters for a second year in a row? Just when we were already on the brink of full acceptance and are comfortable with the thought of you staying in WRC, you go and dangle the possibility of an F1 return? Why?! Why make us go through months of speculation, reading-between-lines of confusing and sometimes downright insulting pseudo-journalism in the hopes of finding a clue as to where you’ll be next season?

It’s bad enough that we have to contend with the challenges of our everyday lives, and now you’re forcing us to frantically press F5 or Refresh on our web browsers to check on any Breaking Motorsport News.

For your information, I was fully intent on boycotting Formula One next year, and by boycotting, I mean crossing it out of my Travel Calendar in favor of going to a MotoGP or World Superbikes race, because I’ll have you know that you’re not the only racer I follow, and it’s high time I give them more attention and priority than you, you icy blue-eyed Flying Finn. This talk of an F1 return is completely out of my plan–do you have any idea how much it will cost me to go to a MotoGP race and an F1 race in 1 year? Do excuse me for being a struggling architect and not a multi-millionaire lazeabout.

So, this alleged return of yours, are you really sure you want this? They say you have approached Renault about a seat, correct? To be fair to them, they seem to be vastly improving, race-per-race, not to mention of course, they were WDC and WCC in 2005 and 2006. Let’s just conveniently forget that certain scandal in Singapore circa 2008, which was the fault of a certain Mr. Briatore, anyway. You said you’d only come back to F1 if you can drive a competitive car, and can the Renault deliver that? There’s even talks that a Mercedes drive is another possibility, as Schumacher seems to be leaning towards a swift, and permanent exit from F1. So in order to see you back in F1, I must lose Schumi all over again? Why must that be so?

I have to say though, that the prospect of you driving alongside Robert Kubica is a rather tantalizing one–The Former WDC Flying Finn and the Grounded, Hardworking Pole is certainly a partnership to be scared of. I just pity the poor journos who will most certainly have a hard time extracting quotable quotes and controversial statements from you guys. Hey, you can even have Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” as the unofficial team anthem if the partnership comes into fruition. See, I can still maintain humor in this time of confusion and sheer bewilderment.

To be completely honest, I don’t fully trust anything that the Renault bosses/PR team say at this point, at least not yet. The memory of that bungled McLaren deal at the end of the 2009 season is still a sore spot for me. I was so sure that you’d end up wearing the silver suit yet again, only to have my heart shattered in a million pieces when both camps announced that the deal fell through. The idea of Renault choosing Vitaly Petrov over you blows my mind, though. Actually, if they end up choosing him and not you for 2011, then it’s their loss. They can spout all the PR gloss all they want, but this time around, please make sure the team really wants you and will make the effort to listen to you and take care of you, not just a driver, nor a former WDC, but a respected individual. You deserve nothing less, Kimi. Never settle.

 On the other hand, if you do decide to reject Formula One yet again (clutches pearls) and stay on in WRC, I will not be against it and will support you still. Yes, I will be hurt and I will curse the racing gods for a while, but don’t worry, for I shall survive. At least you will continue to be shielded from the prying eyes and ears of the ruthless F1 press and still be able to battle it out with Racing Heavyweights such as Sebastian Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen. Oh, and sorry to tell you this, but if you do stay in WRC, then you’ll only be joint-top favorite driver of mine, as I’ve already pledged my undying loyalty to Mikko Hirvonen in this racing series years ago. After all, who would have thought that you would transfer to WRC so early in your career? So you can’t blame me for being fond of the Finns, okay? After all, it was Marcus Gronholm who first got me into WRC.

If he stays in WRC, we’ll see more of Relaxed Kimi as opposed to Icy Kimi. Hmmm.

Please Kimi, spare me, nay, spare us, the long and excruciating wait this time around. You cannot rely on your Paul Newman-meets-Bambi boyish good looks forever in appeasing us when times get tough and the burden of the silly season looms in the horizon.

I don’t want to jinx it but if you come back to F1 in 2011, I promise to be a really, really good (albeit destitute) fan.

Hang on, why am I grovelling and making promises to you? You should be the one making up for my broken heart and the impending destruction of my bank account. See the power you have over me?

Damn you, Kimi.

Damn you for being so awesome that I just lost an hour of my real life writing you this letter.

What the heck, you’re worth it. You’re totally and utterly worth the wait.

P.S.  No pressure, but hurry back to F1. Please?

Love,
Bouncebackabilitrix xoxo

Color Me Confused: The 2010 F1 Italian GP Round-Up

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An important win for Nando. Just about cements his status as #1 in Scuderia Ferrari. Image via GPUpdate

I should be happy with the result, but I’m not.

See, I’m a Ferrari fan. Or, I should say, I’m still a Ferrari fan–despite all the controversies and the forced exit of two of my favourite drivers, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen. I just cannot quit them. Not yet, anyway. However, last night’s race might just be the beginning of the end.

Usually, I look forward to the Italian GP, as this is Ferrari territory and the drivers I root for have always been fortunate enough to get good results there. Yesterday though, I cannot muster enough excitement to fully get into the spirit of the race–I even skipped most of the pre-race show to watch highlights of the Superleague Formula instead. It got worse when I chanced upon a pre-show montage of the past Italian GPs, and I saw the former “King of Monza” Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen clad in the Scarlet of Ferrari. I felt as if my heart was being squeezed by an iron hand.

Fast forward to the race: The Ferrari of Fernando Alonso was on pole and Felipe Massa was 3rd. Jenson Button of McLaren was in 2nd. Personally, I hoped for a Sebastian Vettel win, as it’s about time the lad gets a break from his bouts of recent bad luck. I also hoped for a good performance from Nico Hulkenberg, Jaime Alguersuari and of course, Michael Schumacher. If I can’t be bothered about the frontrunners, then I’d better just focus on the underdogs, no?

Anyway, here are some of the noteworthy parts of the race:

1.0 Championship leader Lewis Hamilton had to retire even before the end of the 1st Lap after banging wheels with Felipe Massa, which damaged his right front suspension. My evil side was pleased, as this meant he’s certain to lose the WDC lead at the end of the race.

 

2.0 Jenson Button scared the Tifosi when he promptly took the lead in the race. I wasn’t too worried though as I thought the McLaren car wasn’t as fast in straights as the Ferraris.

3.0 Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher, also known as Baby Schumi and Schumi, were quite anonymous in the first half of the race, as they languished in 8th and 9th.

4.0 For the 2nd race in a row, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari was given a penalty yet again, this time a drive-through, for being adjugded to have gained advantage by cutting through a chicane. Pobrecito just couldn’t get a break from the race officials.

5.0 I was completely ambivalent when the crucial part of the race happened– Alonso exiting the pitlane and just edging out Button for track position and effectively, the race lead. I was already channeling my energies into cheering for a certain Nico Hulkenberg.

6.0 Speaking of, this German driver named Nico Hulkenberg is well and truly the Driver of the Race for me. He held his bottle, kept his head down and refused to be bullied by a certain Mark Webber in giving up track position. The sight of Webber resorting to bratty hand gestures to show his frustration just cracked me up. It doesn’t hurt as well that Nico has the certain looks and aura of a driver whose name begins with Kimi and ends in Raikkonen. Watch out world, this lad may just be the Next Big Thing in F1.

Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg: He’s cool, he’s calm, and he drives like a Champ. Is he the 2nd Coming of Kimi Raikkonen? Image via GPUpdate.

7.0 Sakon Yamamoto of Hispania Racing reportedly ran over someone in their pit garage. Dear, oh dear. The image of his fellow Japanese Kazuki Nakajima plowing down one of his pit crew members in the 2007 Brazilian GP comes rushing back to me. Perhaps that was why the poor guy got so distracted afterwards that he got lapped numerous times and had to go through run-off areas. Time for a Karun Chandhok return?

8.0 Ferrari finished 1st and 3rd, with Button’s McLaren in 2nd. That win has effectively cemented Fernando Alonso’s #1 Driver Status in the Scuderia, not that it was in any danger, anyway. Poor Massa, is he destined to play Second Fiddle to ex-World Champions for the rest of his career? Loads of hugging and joking around in the holding area pre-Podium Ceremonies which only made me miss Kimi more. Anyway, Mark Webber is now leading the WDC Standings from Hamilton, and Alonso, Button and Vettel are all still in the fight for it.

Five drivers all have a chance of being crowned the 2010 World Drivers’ Championship. As I’ve told my friend V through SMS post-race, I honestly have no idea who’s going to win the Championship this year. That should be a good thing, right? Perhaps I’ll get some of my old excitement back when a driver I like either: a. Wins WDC or b. Comes back to F1.

Next up is Singapore, and I will personally be there for the 2nd year running, this time around for all 3 days of the event.  I will leave my Kimi Ferrari cap at home, though, in lieu of another piece of headgear. Which driver will I root for in the Lion City? What contraption will I wear in my head? Hint: I want a new race winner, and nobody better make me cross or else my headgear’s going to be used! See you, then! 😉

There’s Something in the Northern England Water…

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I was able to watch two Premier League matches this weekend, with 3 of the 4 clubs involved hailing from the North of England.

Manchester United 3-3 Everton


I shamelessly watched this for 3 reasons: 1. To see if Wayne Rooney would play and take the stick from his fellow Evertonians, following yet another cheating scandal involving a…woman of the night; 2. To see if Michael Owen would play, and 3. To see whether the Mancs would demolish the Toffees so I can laugh at them afterward.

Unfortunately, none of those were granted to me by the football gods, for some reason or another. Wayne Rooney was spared the blushes by Sir Alex Ferguson and did not travel with the team, Michael Owen was left a spectator in the bench, and most important, Everton managed a decent comeback to steal 2 points away from Manchester United in the dying minutes of the match.

Man United were 3-1 up, with less than 10 minutes in the clock, and frankly, they were cruising. Back-to-back goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta promptly spoiled their party and left them 4 points adrift from table-toppers Chelsea.

Will the Mancs rue those 2 unnecessary dropped points come May?

Liverpool 0-0 Birmingham City


Having had prior knowledge of the Man United slip-up, surely Liverpool would use this to their advantage and get back to winning ways against Birmingham City?

No chance. While I know that Brum has been one of Liverpool’s bogey teams of recent, on paper, the Merseysiders still have a huge advantage on talent and depth. Unfortunately, neither managed to shine through as the match ended in a dour goalless draw. On the positive side, Pepe Reina did manage to redeem himself from his Arsenal match blunder by producing a fine save to keep the match level.

These curious turns of events will come to a head as Liverpool and Manchester United face-off in Old Trafford next week. Tensions will be at an all-time high and both teams will want nothing less than 3 points and bragging rights. Buckle up, people, this might get ugly.

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Reversal of Fortunes: Real Madrid vs Barcelona Round 2

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Never be too sure about anything in football.

Barcelona 0-2 Hercules

Just when I thought that Barcelona was going to walk their match against newly-promoted side Hercules, they went and lost 2-0.

Yes, 2-0. The Primera Liga defending Champions, with no less than 5 World Cup-winning players on their squad, were soundly beaten by humble Hercules.

Operation Giant-killing is now well and truly underway in La Liga.

P.S. Gerard Pique continues to be hounded by unfortunate on-pitch incidents, as his clash with the Hercules goalkeeper resulted in quite a painful, bloody mess:

Don’t worry, Pique fangirls. He’s okay.

Real Madrid 1-0 Osasuna

Meanwhile, Real Madrid went into their match with Osasuna determined to forget the lackluster goalless draw with Mallorca during Week 1. Cristiano Ronaldo made an astounding recovery and came back from injury to feature in Mourinho’s side. Still, a goalfest has yet to be produced by the Los Blancos and ironically, it was new signing, Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho, that produced the match-winning goal.

Have a Xabi Alonso side-eye screencap, Madridistas:

Also, this post will not be complete without recognizing that Sunday was the 12th Anniversary of Real Madrid Captain Iker Casillas’ debut in the Primera Liga. All hail the man with probably one of the best profiles in the world:

For this round, Real Madrid wins. Current standing: Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid.

There you have it, a complete reversal of fortunes for the 2 Title Contenders in a span of a fortnight. To make things interesting, the club that sits atop the La Liga standings right now happens to be Atletico Madrid. I bet the Real Madrid blacksuits are just seething. Then again, it’s still early days so Atletico better enjoy their present standing while they can, for who knows, tomorrow or next week it just might be Hercules lodged in their place.

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