Terry Lane - Monday 11.03.13, 19:44pm
Manchester City 5 Barnsley 0
Man City had a straightforward match against Barnsley (the last team to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup in open play) on Saturday and progressed into the semi-finals with a very comfortable 5-0 win at the Etihad Stadium including a hat-trick from Carlos Tevez. The gulf in class was clear for all to see. Other goals came from Kolarov & David Silva as the current Premier League Champions dispatched of the Yorkshire team currently bottom of the Championship without breaking sweat.
Millwall 0 Blackburn Rovers 0
The all-Championship FA Cup Quarter-Final tie between Millwall & Blackburn was a feisty affair with plenty of grit and determination. Both sides hit the woodwork but it was Millwall who looked more likely to score. Especially in the second half with wave after wave of attacking play. The best chance fell to striker Rob Hulse who somehow ballooned a perfect cross over the bar from about six yards out.
Everton 0 Wigan 3
This season’s FA Cup has already had its fair share of shock results, and the quarter-finals were no different as Wigan were hoping to progress to the semi-finals for the first time in their history. But awaiting them at Goodison Park was an inform Everton side, who were odds on to progress themselves. For whatever reason Everton didn’t appear to get going and Wigan took full advantage as they scored three times in the space of just four minutes – Figueroa (30mins), McManaman (31 mins) & Gomez (33 mins). There was no great fight back from David Moyes side who appeared as stunned as the disenchanted crowd.
Manchester United 2 Chelsea 2
The last of the four matches were between last year’s winners Chelsea and in form Manchester United, fresh from their defeat in midweek to Real Madrid. Before the match began I thought Chelsea were going to be on the end of a United backlash as they looked to put an exit from the Champions League out of their minds; and the match began exactly as I thought. Man Utd completely outwitted a lack lustre and somewhat dazzled looking Chelsea team whose passing was off and their passion appeared lacking. A sublime pass from Michael Carrick saw Hernandez react quicker than Petr Cech & Gary Cahill to opening the scoring with only 5 minutes played. Wayne Rooney increased Manchester United’s lead after 11 minutes with a free-kick that crept in the corner as everyone failed to make contact with the ball. Cech was at fault for both goals and at this point Chelsea looked like they were going to be on the end of a thumping.
But, a game of two halves it was. The second-half was a completely different story. United appeared to drop off at the same time as Chelsea began to pass the ball around and pen Man Utd in; and the game completely turned on its head when Rafa Benitez made a double substitution. Eden Hazard & Jon Obi Mikel came on for Frank Lampard & Victor Moses. Moses had a poor game but the Chelsea fans booed Frank Lampard’s departure. But the switch was a tactical one. Benitez’ attack minded substitutions gave Ramires the freedom to make his trademark surging runs. It changed the match. Chelsea dominated the second half and against all the odds came back to level the match with a fantastic shot from Hazard followed by a great counter-attack team goal finished by Ramires.
Man Utd don’t normally giveaway a two goal lead at Old Trafford, and following Sir Alex Ferguson’s side losing to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, it would have been untinkable to follow it by being knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea. But Juan Mata had the chance to win the game for Chelsea in the last minute of injury time but was denied by an amazing shot-stopping reaction save by fellow Spain international, David De Gea.
Danny Wellbeck & Robin Van Persie were sent on in the second-half but they had no effect on the match.
The match was followed by the draw for the FA Cup semi-finals which will both be played at Wembley Stadium next month with Man City playing either Chelsea or Man Utd and Wigan playing either Millwall or Blackburn Rovers.
Terry Lane - Wednesday 20.02.13, 09:14am
Following two embarrassing defeats to Bradford City in the League Cup & Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, most Arsenal fans were probably fearing the worst ahead of their Champions League 1st leg match against Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium last night. I missed the first 30 minutes and switched on as late as the Arsenal players, as the German champions and one of the favourites to win this season’s trophy, were two goals to the good.
The half-time whistle was met with a similar chorus of boos to the final whistle on Saturday; and for many loyal Arsenal fans calling Radio 5 after the match, it’s time for a change.
Arsenal began the second half much the brighter and appeared to be in the game for a while after Podolski took advantage of a rare Bayern Munich defensive mix-up to head into an almost empty goal against his former team-mates. And 2-1 wasn’t going to be such a bad result, considering the gulf between the two teams on the night. But Arsenal couldn’t hold on and Bayern scored a third with no reply which leaves the Gunners a mammoth task when they play the 2nd leg in Munich.
Where does this leave Arsene Wenger?
There is absolutely no doubt that Arsene Wenger has brought much to the Premier League and advanced English football in European ways; and because of the success he has brought Arsenal it will appear harsh if he is dismissed. However, eight seasons without a trophy is unacceptable for a club so used to success. In recent seasons, Arsenal has lost their place to Manchester City as one of the three main Premier League clubs. They are no longer the most successful London club, and if they don’t start winning more games they won’t even be the most successful club in north London.
Furthermore, if they finish outside the top 4 this season and fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, then and only then do I believe Arsenal will request Wenger to stand aside, probably with the offer to move “upstairs”.
So who do Arsenal fans want as their next manager?
Terry Lane - Monday 18.02.13, 15:33pm
With Arsenal suffering a shock home defeat to Championship team Blackburn Rovers 1-0 on Saturday, the top 3 teams in the Premier League are joined by clubs from the lower leagues in this season’s FA Cup quarter-finals. A loud chorus of boos rang out around the Emirates Stadium on the final whistle. Surely Arsene Wenger is surviving on borrowed time as Arsenal need to overcome Bayern Munich in the Champions League to avoid an eighth consecutive season without winning a trophy. The defeat to Blackburn follows a League Cup exit earlier in the season to Bradford City.
Roberto Mancini starts to beat his chest as he pronounces he is the best Premiership manager in the past 15 months. Manchester City thrashed Leeds United in a return to form that sees them progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals with a home tie to lower league Barnsley in what must be seen as a home banker to reach the semi-finals. Man City will play Barnsley in the quarter-finals after they beat MK Dons 1-3. I believe Mancini is feeling the heat as Manchester United look odds on to win the Premier League.
Man Utd can continue to dream of another treble ahead of their home cup tie to Reading this evening, knowing that if Chelsea can beat out-of-form Championship Middlesbro, the tie of the round awaits. Chelsea beat League One Brentford 4-0 in a Fourth Round replay at Stamford Bridge with goals from Juan Mata, Oscar, John Terry and Frank Lampard. In doing so, Lampard becomes the club’s top FA Cup goal scorer of all-time.
After beating Liverpool in Round 4, League One Oldham scored an injury time goal to force a replay with Everton. The winners of that game will play a home tie against Wigan Athletic. Huddersfield Town proved no threat of an upset as they crashed out 1-4 to Wigan.
Kenny Jacket’s Millwall also made it through to the quarter-finals by beating non-league Luton Town 3-0; a game which saw seven arrests for crowd disorder between two clubs with a history of trouble.
FA Cup quarter-final draw
Oldham Athletic or Everton v Wigan Athletic
Millwall v Blackburn Rovers
Manchester City v Barnsley
Manchester United or Reading v Middlesbrough or Chelsea
All FA Cup quarter-final ties will take place on the weekend of the 9th / 10th March.
Terry Lane - Thursday 03.01.13, 07:27am
Over the Christmas period I came across an unfinished article I began last April (2011) – Where Next for Rafa Benitez?
After being unceremoniously sacked by Inter Milan in the Autumn of 2010 after just six months in charge, Rafa Benitez made it publicly known he had returned to live in his family house in the North West of England. He appeared on BBC’s Football focus, stating he would be very interested in returning to the Premier League after losing his managerial position at Liverpool in May 2010.
I wrote that considering his previous employment, I believed Benitez would ideally be looking for a top club with the groundwork and hub of a good squad already in place, plus a reasonably high budget spend available to buy good quality European players.
I went on to say “I cannot see any of the current top six clubs in the Premier League (Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool) being interested in Rafa Benitez though come the end of the season there may be two or three teams that would consider approaching Rafa Benitez. Aston Villa and Sunderland, if the offer came with a transfer budget, would be of interest to Benitez; though there is one team that, if they avoid relegation, would be ideal, Blackburn Rovers.” How things have changed!
It was recently confirmed that on sacking Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea offered Rafa Benitez the position of Caretaker Manager until the end of the season before Roberto Di Matteo. In March 2011 Benitez declined the offer of a part-time role with Chelsea, supposedly keeping the position warm for former Barcelona Manager Pep Guardiola. But eight months later, following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, tail firmly between his legs, it appeared there were no other options on the table and Rafa Benitez succumbed to the position of Interim Chelsea Manager with a short-term contract until the end of the season.
It was always going to be a difficult job for Benitez to win over the Chelsea fans by replacing the very popular Roberto Di Matteo & following the remarks he made while manager of Liverpool. He was greeted to a chorus of booing and chants of “there’s only one Di Matteo” on his home debut against Manchester City, which ended 0-0. Three days later and another 0-0 draw, this time at home to Fulham, was followed by a shock 3-1 defeat at West Ham. But then following a string of good results including a 5-1 thrashing of Leeds to reach the Capital One League Cup semi-finals and an 8-0 drubbing of Aston Villa in the Premier League, the Chelsea fans began to turn; and it was poignant that at last Sunday’s match at Goodison Park there was no vocal support for Roberto Di Matteo as Chelsea beat an inform Everton team 2-1.
Furthermore, with Fernando Torres beginning to find some form, Rafael Benitez looked like cementing Chelsea’s grip on third position in the Premier League with a home game against bottom placed QPR. But just as Chelsea appeared to be playing gelling, Benitez took it upon himself to make four unforced changes leaving Ashley Cole and midfielders Edin Hazard, Juan Mata & Ramires on the bench. The ‘tinker man’ who managed Liverpool for 99 games before picking the same team in two consecutive matches got it wrong and ex-Chelsea player Shaun Wright-Phillips scored a late winner to give Harry Redknapp’s QPR a surprise 1-0 win and the shock result of the season.
Chelsea’s next match in the Premier League isn’t until Saturday 12th January when they will be away to Stoke. Before then, they are away to Southampton in the FA Cup 3rd Round followed by the first leg of the League Cup at home to Swansea. It’s not overstating the issue to say Rafa Benitez seriously needs Chelsea to play some attractive football & convincingly win all three if he wants to keep his job until the end of the season.
Edwin Huxley - Monday 12.11.12, 19:16pm
Game Changer: How The English Premier League Came To Dominate The World
Did you know that Sky offered goal-line technology 20 years ago?
Game Changer: How The English Premier League Came To Dominate The World is the story of how the English FA setup a breakaway league, made a deal with Sky TV and in the process, changed football forever.
The Premier League is often cited as the ‘best football league in the world’. Along with Sky Sports, the English Premier League has brought more live football on television than ever before, matches including some of the most talented footballers in the world, and 24/7 channels showing goals and fouls from more angles than you could ever have imagined… all for the price of a monthly TV channel subscription.
The Premier League has also introduced exponential wage rises, increased match ticket prices, corporate boxes and in the process priced out many lifetime football fans and pushed some football clubs into administration and collapse. The Premier League has become a world class, global brand but with all its vast television revenues has still managed to create a footballing underclass.
Game Changer is a fascinating and absorbing, well written account of how English football has changed over the past 20 years, and how it has created both winners and losers. Written by Mihir Bose, lead sports writer for the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard, he also specialises in the business of sport and was previously sports editor at BBC.
The book also covers some of the more fascinating stories of the past two decades such as racism in football, foreign ownership of clubs, the impact of transfers with the introduction of the Bosman Rule, the Eric Cantona disciplinary case; and more recently how Chris Powell has become a pioneer black manager and the sacking of Andy Gray from Sky Sports for making sexist remarks towards a lineswoman, or as they have become known, referee’s assistant!
Game Changer is for all fans of football whether you can remember the days of Saturday 3pm only kick-offs or not. Mihir Bose’s writes with authority and personal opinion that makes this an interesting book that looks at the Premier League from a business point of view.
Game Changer: How The English Premier League Came To Dominate The World – And Was Made To Pay For It by Mihir Bose is published by Marshall Cavendish.