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Holland Send Brazil Packing

The Netherlands showed Brazil the exit door while beating the overhyped and overblown South Americans 2-1. Brazil also had a player sent off.

Robinho gave the Brazilians the lead on Felipe Melo’s brilliant low pass up the middle of the field that the striker put home with a low shot. Wesley Snijder was hugely instrumental, setting up the first and scoring the second. The Dutch levelled out of the blue in the 53rd minute after a rare mistake from Brazil’s usually impenetrable defence, as Felipe Melo headed Sneijder’s cross into his own goal.

Then Sneijder headed a winner as the Dutch, battling to their 13th successive World Cup win to maintain a perfect record in the qualifiers and finals, avenged a quarter-final defeat in 1994 and a semi-final defeat four years later. Brazil were not able to shutout the Dutch, who took charge in the second half and showed their desire. Brazil paid dearly in the 68th minute when Dirk Kuyt flicked on Arjen Robben’s corner at the near post and Sneijder headed into the net.

Shortly afterwards, Felipe Melo was sent off for stamping on Robben.

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Ready For The Quarter-Finals?

Well that was an eventful & interesting group stage & round of 16. England goes out in the pre-quarters, losing a controversial match 1-4 to Germany. The Asian challengers South Korea and Japan also bow out losing to Uruguay & Paraguay respectively. The US faced the lone African team left and lost; Ghana is the cinderella team of this World Cup.

So here are the quarter-final lineups and the two matches setup in the middle look very appetizing –  Netherlands vs Brazil and Germany vs Argentina. Everyone says that it’s the Argentines tournament to lose, they having been the most impressive side so far. For established nations they have Brazil, Germany & Holland in the offing but don’t count out the South American teams of Uruguay and Paraguay just yet. And can Ghana spring more surprises and proceed to the final and possible win the finals? Who will triumph in the end?

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A World Cup 2010 Update – 3

What an interesting World Cup it has been so far

  • Uruguay and Mexico finish 1st & 2nd place in their group A after 3 matches. Hosts South Africa unfortunately fail to cross the group stage and finish in 3rd place with 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss.
  • What about France? 1998 champs and 2006 finalists, the French were abysmal and were chucked out of the Cup, with 1 draw and 2 defeats. Atleast they scored a goal unlike in 2002!
  • Argentina had too much talent & class in group B and finished with 3 wins, but South Korea trumps over both Greece and my fav African team Nigeria to finish 2nd in the group.
  • One surprise in group C; it’s the USA who top the group with 5 points – two draws and a win. England finally hemmed and hawed and after two draws they finally got a win against Slovenia that gave them 5 points and finished second to go through to the next stage.
  • Group D saw Germany defeated by Serbia but still 6 points from wins in the other 2 games were enough to see them top  the group. Surprisingly Ghana, who will be the lone African side in the round of 16, finished 2nd in the group over Australia & Serbia.
  • Group E sees the Netherlands win all 3 matches without much fuss and top the group. Japan trumped over Denmark last night and finish second. Cameroon finished last in E.
  • Group F and how them mighty have fallen. Defending champions Italy finish last in the group with 2 draws and a loss to Slovakia. Paraguay finish top  in the group followed by Slovakia. Even New Zealand had more points than Italy!

There’s still 2 more groups to finish the 3d matches but so much has happened that I just had to post this.

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A World Cup 2010 Update

  • Well England is doing badly, drawing with both the US and Algeria.
  • France are but pale imitations of the side that won the 1998 World Cup and went to the finals in 2006.
  • Germany started well beating Australia 4-0 but then with a silly send off for striker Klose, they lost to Serbia.
  • Argentina seem to have a fire lit under them after a 1-0 win against Nigeria, they went on to beat South Korea 4-1.
  • Holland won 2-0 against Denmark and then this evening beat Japan by a solitary goal.
  • USA versus Slovenia was an energetic & exciting 2-2 draw
  • Nigeria are almost out with 0-1 & 1-2 losses to Argentina & Greece respectively
  • And Mexico have a 1-1 draw with hosts South Africa and a 2-0 win over France

And the second round of the group phase is not over yet!

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Arsenal Sign 16 Year Old Dutch Midfielder

Arsenal have agreed a deal to sign Feyenoord’s Dutch under-17s midfielder Kyle Ebecilio, 16, when he becomes available on July 1. Ebecilio was also wanted by Chelsea but Arsenal beat their London rivals and will only have to pay compensation for his training costs of around £500,000.

Feyenoord technical director Leo Beenhakker said: “We did what we could do by offering the kid a contract on time. But he wanted to wait, again this is his right. That he now goes to Arsenal, means that we only get a training allowance.”  The 16-year-old midfielder is free to leave the Dutch club on July 1stand has been courted by a number of top Premier League clubs in recent months. However, despite interest from the current English champions, the Netherlands under-17 international has chosen Arsenal because of Arsene Wenger’s proven track record in bringing young players through into the first team.

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Why I Support The Netherlands

Guess which is the real reason as to why I always support the Netherlands at the football World Cups!

  1. The fact that a lot of my favourite players of all time are Dutch.
  2. The exciting, speeding attacking style of their wingers through the years
  3. Their goalies and their defence
  4. Their emphasis on Total Football
  5. Her!

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A World Cup Update

I’m unable to watch the World Cup at home; reason being that I have an old, old Sony tv, given to me by my uncle. It cannot tune in S band channels. The tv that my parents have died and so this is the only one we can watch stuff on. Since I bought the laptop I can’t afford to get a new tv at the moment. So this tv will have to do but it also means not being able to get ESPN and hence no World Cup.

So I’m not able to watch matches and instead read the scores and reviews the next day in either the papers or online. I am happy to note that the two teams that I usually support – Holland & Argentina – have both won their opening games. Argentina did not look impressive at all but still managed to ward off the challenge by Nigeria. Lionel Messi missing a lot of chances and giving coach Diego Marradona a lot to worry about. They have South Korea & Greece to play in the two remaining group B games.

The Netherlands played yesterday evening Indian Standard time and I was able to catch 20 minutes of the match on tv at the office. Glad to say that the Dutch won 2-0 against Denmark – an own goal by Danish defender Simon Poulsen and an 85th minute goal by Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt. The Dutch will next play Japan and then Cameroon in Group E and I hope they do well and advance past the group stage as toppers.

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Arsenal 1 Blackburn Rovers 2

Things go from bad to worse to downright shitty for the Gunners. Chris Samba scored the winner as Blackburn came from behind to defeat Arsenal, who must wait to secure third place in the Premier League.

Robin van Persie put Arsenal ahead with a header from six yards but Blackburn equalised when David Dunn tapped home after a corner was not cleared. Lukasz Fabianski saved from Morten Gamst Pedersen and Junior Hoilett. But Rovers bombarded the Arsenal keeper with high balls, and it was from a corner that Samba headed the winner.

The home team are assured of a mid-table finish after moving from 13th to 10th in the table. But Arsenal’s aim of finishing third – and therefore avoiding having to qualify for the group stage of next season’s Champions League – could go down to the final day. The Gunners have one game left to play, but Manchester City and Tottenham, who play each other on Wednesday, lead the chasing pack and could still potentially catch Arsenal.

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Wenger Stresses Focus on League

The Champions League has left us behind. Despite a good 2-2 draw in the first leg against the defending champs, Barcelona were too good on their home ground and won 4-1 and 6-3 on aggregate. And now, like manager Arsene Wenger has stated, Arsenel needs to focus their complete attention to the English league.

The Gunners are 3 points away from Chelsea FC and the top of the table and will face local rivals Tottenham Hotspurs on Wednesday. Wenger believes his third-placed side must bounce back with a win at White Hart Lane on 14 April if they are to keep alive their hopes of avoiding a fifth successive season with any silverware. Manchester United has a point advantage over Arsenal and sit in second place.

Their visit to White Hart Lane is one of two remaining matches against teams in the top half of the table for Arsenal this season, with Manchester City coming to the Emirates on 24 April. Their fixture list is completed by away trips to Blackburn and Fulham and a final-day clash with Fulham at the Emirates.

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Arsenal 1 Wolves 0

Arsenal’s title chances were kept alive by a late injury time goal by striker Nicklas Bendtner as the Gunners snatched a victory over 10 men Wolverhampton. The London side seemed set to drop decisive points until substitute Bendtner rose to head home Bacary Sagna’s cross. The hosts dominated the game but were frustrated by their own inability in front of goal and Wolves’ commitment.

Even after Karl Henry’s dismissal for a lunge on Tomas Rosicky, Wolves battled hard but have nothing to show for it. Once again Arsenal were thankful to the late contribution of Bendtner, who scored a last-minute winner at Hull last month and who came off the bench here to score a goal that keeps the Gunners three points behind leaders Chelsea, who won 2-1 at Manchester United in Saturday’s early kick-off.

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Multiple Injury Setbacks For Gunner

Captain Cesc Fabregas, who had been a doubt for Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Barcelona after suffering severe bruising to his knee and leg at Birmingham, sustained the small fracture when fouled by Carles Puyol for the crucial late penalty which earned Arsenal a 2-2 draw. He will be out for at least six weeks with a cracked bone in his right fibula.

It means the Arsenal skipper will miss the rest of the Premier League season and is a serious doubt for the World Cup finals. The midfielder will still be injured when Spain have to announce their provisional squad on May 12.

While the loss of Fabregas may not be quite so damaging for Spain, with the 22-year-old starting only three of his country’s World Cup qualifiers, Arsenal will surely find it difficult to challenge for honours at home and in Europe without their talismanic captain. Although he was able to get up and fire home from the spot he was immediately in discomfort during his celebration. Fabregas left Emirates Stadium on crutches and had admitted he feared the worst.

Arsenal trail Premier League leaders Manchester United by four points, and while they may have favourable fixtures the loss of Fabregas, as well as William Gallas, for the rest of the campaign will make their task difficult. Andrei Arshavin also went off injured against Barcelona and will be out for most of April.

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Arsenal 1 Birmingham City 1

A stoppage time equalizer scored by Kevin Phillips blasted a big dent in Arsenal’s title hopes as they failed to secure a victory over Birmingham City. The match ended 1-1 and left the Gunners 4 points below Manchester United and 3 below Chelsea.

The Gunners took the lead in the 81st minute when Samir Nasri fired into the far corner from the edge of the area. But deep into added-time, a Bacary Sagna clearance struck Phillips and flew through Manuel Almunia’s hands. Phillips raced away in delight after the 250th goal of his impressive career, but he knew little about the strike which hit his head and was parried by Almunia before looping in.

United had a resounding 4-0 win over Bolton while Chelsea hammed Aston Villa 7-1.

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Wenger Out To Sign Two Defenders?

With William Gallas, Mikaël Silvestre and Sol Campbell are all out of contract at the end of the season, coach Arsene Wenger is making defense his priority. Talks with Gallas, who would like the security of a two-year contract extension, remain ongoing, although the France defender’s negotiating position is hardly being helped by what Wenger described as an “endless calf strain”. Gallas will be 33 in August, but has not played since the 1-0 win against Liverpool more than a month ago and is a major doubt for the first leg of Arsenal’s Champions League quarter-final, on March 30 or 31.

Silvestre is also due to hold contract talks this month, while Campbell, who has been generally deputising for Gallas in the most difficult matches, is likely to wait until the end of the season before finalising his future. With Johan Djourou still recovering from a long-term knee injury and Philippe Sender’s on loan at Everton, it leaves Thomas Vermaelen as the only fit and available centre-back whose long-term future is settled.

Wenger has been monitoring Fulham’s Brede Hangeland and, with Arsenal having recently recorded pre-tax profits of £35.2 million, he could certainly afford one major signing.Wenger has shown interest in bringing both Hangeland and Neven Subotic to the Emirates and this summer he would do well to invest a large chunk of any transfer warchest in strengthening and rejuvenating an ageing and stuttering back line. However Fulham’s towering Norwegian could well be a good signing and the type of player Wenger could get the most out of. Borussia Dortmund centre back Subotic is one for the future and the 21 year old Serbian may be a youthful prospect but he has already shown himself to have quality during his stint in the Bundesliga.

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Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0

Arsenal welcomed fellow London club West Ham United to the Emirates Stadium and after 5 minutes & some smart interplay between Denilson and Bendtner resulted in the little Brazilian scoring a neatly taken goal, slotting the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Arsenal were off to a good start. And then….

Just before half-time, Arsenal conceded a penalty and Vermaelen was sent off. But fortunately, like the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal, our goalkeeper saved the resulting penalty and we went into the break 1-0 up. After that Song dropped into the back line, and as a team we defended excellently. Cesc clipped the ball up onto Upson’s arm in the 82nd minute, and scored the resulting penalty, 2-0.

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Arsenal 2 Hull City 1

It took an injury time goal by Nicklas Bendtner to give Arsenal the whole 3 points and bring the club level with Chelsea on 64 points at the top of the league table. The 2-1 win was looking very improbable right until the end and Twitter updates had almost all Arsenal fans groaning that this was the kind of match that usually spell doom for the Gunners. We are so glad to be wrong.

Arsenal struck first with a typically incisive move that ended with Andrey Arshavin firing in from close range. Sol Campbell’s foul on what looked an offside Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink allowed Jimmy Bullard to fire Hull level from the penalty spot. Hull battled well after George Boateng was sent off but Bendtner fired home in injury time to give Arsenal victory.

It was a vintage performance from Arsenal and it wasn’t pretty. Doesn’t matter, we need to win the odd ugly match here and there.

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Great Dane’s Hattrick Vitalizes Arsenal

That’s the way we gotta do it boys. Arsenal came back from losing the first leg of their round of 16 of the Champions League against Porto to pummel their opponents 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner – heavily criticised after a succession of misses in Saturday’s win against Burnley – scored twice in the first half & once in the second to wipe out the 2-1 lead Porto were protecting from the first game in Portugal.

Andrey Arshavin was instrumental in both first half goals as Bendtner added the final flourishes to Arsenal’s flowing attacking moves that enabled them to take control almost instantly. Samir Nasri, taking on Cesc Fabregas’ midfield mantle in the absence of Arsenal’s inspirational captain through injury, embarked on a weaving, angled solo run that took him past a succession of Porto defenders to score.

Substitute Emmanuel Eboue quickly added the fourth as Arsenal launched a sweeping counter-attack from a Porto corner, Arshavin again making life easy for his team-mate to go around Porto goalie Helton and score.

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Arsenal 3 Burnley 1

Arsenal defeated Burnely 3-1 last night to level on points with second-placed Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring when he slotted in from close range but soon afterwards he was forced off injured. Burnley equalised when David Nugent latched on to Leon Cort’s header and looped the ball over Manuel Almunia.

Theo Walcott curled in a sublime shot to ease the embarrassment of Nicklas Bendtner’s awful finishing before Andrey Arshavin rifled in a third. The result takes Arsenal to within two points of leaders Manchester United, who won at Wolves 1-0 later on Saturday. The Gunners are level on points with Chelsea but have an inferior goal difference and have played one game more than both their title rivals.

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Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1

Arsenal defeated Stoke City away but the match was marred by the horrific injury to young Welsh talent Aaron Ramsey. The Gunners midfielder’s ankle buckled under a challenge by Ryan Shawcross, who was sent off and departed in tears. Shawcross took a heavy touch and caught Ramsey just above the ankle as he stretched for the ball. The Welshman collapsed on contact and he was left writhing on the floor, with his right foot appearing to hang at an unnatural angle. Shawcross, who was later called up to the England squad, was shown a straight red card and while Ramsey received lengthy treatment, several Arsenal players looked visibly shaken.

Stoke had taken the lead when Danny Pugh headed in from Rory Delap’s long throw-in but Nicklas Bendtner levelled with a fine header back across goal. Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty before Thomas Vermaelen tapped in, as Arsenal moved to only three points off Chelsea, who lost 2-4 to Manchester City and have 61 points. Manchester United have 60 points.

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