Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Soccer Week In Review

Arsenal has always seemed soft to me. They play a very pretty game. Probably the most fun team to watch in England, but they've just kind of got an Indianapolis Colts-like lack of grit that pops up at the worst possible times. This past weekend may have been one of those times. The Gunners' EPL title hopes took a big hit when Birmingham's Kevin Phillips' injury time header gave Birmingham a 1-1 draw against Arsenal. Arsenal, who has been coming on strong in the last month, now finds themselves 4 points back of Man U for first place and 3 points back of Chelsea for second.

Chelsea had been rocked by their ouster in the round of 16 against Jose Mourinho and Inter. They pulled it together big time last week though. How does 6 points and 12 goals in 2 matches sound? The Blues took apart Portsmouth during the week, like they should, 5-0, and followed it up with a really impressive 7-1 demolition of a pretty decent Aston Villa team on the weekend. Frank Lampard had 4 goals in that match BTW. Chelsea is now one point back of Man U, which put on a clinic of their own this weekend in a 4-0 rout of Bolton sans Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, who were being rested in anticipation of the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal matchup with Bayern Munich that starts today. Dimitar Berbatov had two goals for the Devils' JV.

The race for 4th place and a spot in the Champions League remains tight. Tottenham is now 2 points clear in that race following a week that saw them beat Portsmouth (and also advance in the FA Cup by beating Fulham). Man City is 2 points back.

Real and Barca remained locked in a death struggle for 1st place. Real picked up 6 points last week, but didn't exactly look super impressive doing it. They gave up 4 goals combined in wins over middle of the pack Getafe and Atletico Madrid. Barca kept pace with a 2-0 midweek win over Osasuna, and a gritty 1-0 win at 4th place Mallorca, who was 12-1-0 at home heading into the match. Valencia is safely ensconced in 3rd place 6 points ahead of Mallorca, and barring disaster will head to the Champions League next fall.

Mourinho and Inter seem to have a laser like focus on winning the Champions League this year, and seem to have a relatively realistic shot of doing so. Will it cost them the Scudetto though? AS Roma pulled within a point of the lead with a 2-1 win over Inter. Luca Toni struck in the 72nd minute to give Roma the win. Inter maybe looking ahead to this weekend's CL match against CSKA. AC Milan had a golden opportunity to put even more pressure on the leaders, but could manage only a point out of a 1-1 draw at home against Lazio, who is fighting to avoid relegation.

There are SIX teams within 3 points of first place in France's league, which is enjoying a banner year. Both of the top teams lost to other teams in the scramble, with Bordeaux falling 3-1 to Marseille, and Montpellier losing 4-1 to Lille. Auxerre vaulted into a 3 way tie for the lead with a scoreless draw against Monaco, and perennial powerhouse Lyon lurks 2 points off the lead.

Schalke 04 rebounded from a 1-0 loss in the DFB Pokal (German Cup) to Bayern Munich earlier in the week to win 2-0 over Bayer Leverkusen on the weekend and stay atop the Bundesliga. The loss was a big blow to Leverkusen's title hopes, as they now find themselves in 3rd place, 5 points back. Bayern Munich is in second, and suffered their second consecutive league defeat, this time falling 2-1 at home against Stuttgart.

America's league narrowly avoided what would have been a crippling work stoppage and got their season underway last week. Seattle won the season opener 2-0 over the expansion Philadelphia Union, while defending champs Real Salt Lake got a pair of goals from Argentinian Javier Morales in an impressive 3-0 win over San Jose. The runner up LA Galaxy started life without Beckham with a 1-0 win over New England, New York opened its new stadium with a 1-0 win over Chicago, Kansas City demolished DC United 4-0, Columbus beat Toronto 2-0, and Houston and Dallas played to a 1-1 draw.

Chivas is tops in the league with 27 points, and has 10 goals in 11 matches from Javier Hernandez Balcazar. Defending Champs Monterrey lead their group, and Santos de Laguna is on top of theirs.

If it's the window between NFL Free Agency and the NFL Draft, it must be NFL Police Blotter time! Santonio Holmes is following in the footsteps of his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, in the off field misadventures arena. He's also been busy telling people on Twitter to kill themselves. What a great bunch of guys those Steelers! America's Team 2000!

- Donovan McNabb has stated that were the Eagles to trade him, he'd wanted to be traded to the Vikings. The Vikings have responded by being all like "uhhhhh, that's great, but we're really not all that interested". So now we're hearing all kinds of Donovan McNabb to the Raiders rumors. Wow, if McNabb is really as great as the liberal media has said he is all these years, why aren't teams falling all over themselves to try and make a play for him now that he's available. Could he really be overrated? Nooooo. That can't be.

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