Tales From Istanbul.

This is awesome.


Galatasaray vs. Chelsea : 26 February 2014.

I’m a lucky bugger. I’ve always loved travel. I’ve always loved football. Being able to combine these two passions is perfect. I remember scanning the remaining clubs still participating in this season’s Champions League, ahead of the draw for the “Round of 16,” and highlighting Galatasaray as one the teams that I favoured being paired against. Of all the European cities that I was yet to visit, Istanbul undoubtedly topped the list. Back in 2008, I decided not to travel out to the largest and most exciting city in Turkey when Chelsea was paired with Fenerbahce. It was a decision that I immediately regretted as soon as I heard about the city – and the city’s passion for football – from my friends who had decided to go.

Amid their reports of the city’s hustle and bustle, one comment stayed with me; the…

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5 star Berbatov thrashes Blackburn

A 5-star 5 goal performance from Dimitar Berbatov put United in 1st place

Here’s a little trivia for you: coming into today’s match, Dimitar Berbatov hadn’t scored in his last 798 minutes of play for the Red Devils. With 25 missed attempts since his last goal, it only took the Bulgarian one attempt and 1 minute to get himself on the score sheet again as the clock for minutes gone without scoring ticked on to 800. Dimitar Berbatov ended the game with 5 goals today and was chasing the double hat-trick, but was denied the opportunity to join the likes of George Best.
From the start of the match today United were running on all four cylinders. United’s passing was brilliant to say the least, with 85% of their passes being successful (the Red Devils knocked the ball around 627 times). It was their passing that allowed them to move the ball around and hold the ball for 65% of the possession. While Berbatov was putting on a show of his own, all the other United players played phenomenally as well. Wayne Rooney has been the subject of heavy criticism over the past few weeks but today he showed that he’s still capable of playing the center role. Rooney distributed the ball to all four corners of the park with over 90 passes and had a brilliant assist in the first half to Park Ji-Sung. Anderson also had a brilliant performance today and was heavily involved in all of United’s attacks. Rio Ferdiand and Nemanja Vidic were a force to be reckoned with in the back as the duo prevented Blackburn from putting a single shot on target. Nani had the 2 minutes of his life in the 47th & 48th minutes as he helped Berbatov record his hat-trick and followed the assist with a goal of his own.
Berbatov’s 5 goal display makes him the Premier Leagues top scorer with 11 goals, followed by old teammate Carlos Tevez who trails with 9 goals on the season. Today’s win puts United on the top of the table with 31 pts and increases their goal differential to 19. This puts the pressure on Chelsea who still have a game in hand and travel to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle tomorrow. United travel to Upton Park on Tuesday to face West Ham in a Carling Cup tie. West Ham will be eager to win this tie as their future in the Championship is starting to look more like a reality and less a probability.

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4 reasons why Arsenal fans don’t need to worry.

1. It’s not like we lost total control when it comes to standings. We are 2 points behind the leader and its still November. Spurs won’t go anywhere; Man United and Chelsea are our only threats. Why do I think Spurs won’t go anywhere? Because they’re not a real threat to the top 3 teams in the league. When any of those 3 teams play at their best, Spurs are no match. They did beat Arsenal last weekend at the Emirates but it couldn’t really have come at the best moment of the season. This is when Arsenal players need to step it up and realize that closing games is something that they are lacking. It is also a sign for Wenger to sign a world class defender to bolster our defense and fix our problems in the back. Thank you Spurs for the wakeup call, I am relishing the FA Cup defeat when Arsenal would just run all over you guys because you couldn’t have given us a better reason to do so.

2. The loss to Braga was a bit of a shock to us but honestly, Braga weren’t playing football. I think they got the wrong memo, maybe next time we should translate to Portuguese so they know next time that Arsenal isn’t a rugby team. Our next game is a must win against Partizan Belgrade in Arsenal Stadium in order to advance to the round of 16. I am 100 percent sure that we will win this game and advance for many reason but three of the most important reasons are 1. We are playing at home 2. When it comes to a time in need, Arsenal will pull it off 3. Partizan Belgrade have zero points in Group H.

3. Wenger really needs to pull one move this January to ensure that Arsenal and that move is signing Vertonghen from Ajax. Reuniting him with his former teammate and bringing him at this time of need is the best option that Wenger has. Having a strong backline with 4 top class defenders at the same time would be the best thing that Arsenal has done since the invincible era and we all remember what happened when we had an invincible squad.

4. In Arsene We Trust. This is something that fans need to realize. You can’t blame Wenger because the ref didn’t call the penalty against Braga or because our lack of mental strength helped Spurs score 3 goals in the second half. It’s up to the players if they want to win. Wenger has done all of the right things to do. He brought in Wilshere, Nasri, Fabregas, Chamakh and many other world class players, it’s up to them if they want it or not and with the new attitude of Wenger, they will produce.

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Manchester Derby…Failure?

Great article from ESPNSoccerNet.com on the latest edition of the Manchester derby that did not impress many, particularly the blue side of the city.


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Gunners proving to be a threat

A must win game for Arsenal turned into a teaching lesson for the Eastland players. To be fair though, the sending off of the 19 year old Belgian Dedryck Boyata gave the Gunners the edge in the game but the confidence we have gained is enormous. There are many things to talk about after watching the game like 3 teams by now and examining what went right for Arsenal.

Arsenal ahead | Samir Nasri celebrates his opener

  1. Fabianski played amazing today and deserves to be our top keeper for the rest of the season. His great reflexes and timing proves why a great keeper on a top that competes in top flight competitions needs a top class keeper and Fabianski’s performance today and his past starts are a living proof.
  2. A strong midfield is key in a team’s performance. Denilson and Song were solid in both defense and attack. Many people will argue that if Song was booked for the first challenge he committed in the game then he would have been booked a red assuming that he committed his second foul which was a yellow a card. But its assuming that he will commit his second foul. Usually after a first yellow card many players cool down and play more cautious which is what Song did. His goal in the second half surprised everyone including himself. Usually defensive midfielders don’t attack in the same fashion as Song does but his endurance and skills allow him to push up and score which he has down in the past two games. Denilson proved why he is still an asset to the team and many sport writers believed that Diaby would start over Denilson but Wenger had other plans.
  3. Fabregas’ leadership, performance and desire to win every ball proves to be the difference every time he plays. He is Arsenal’s best player and is one of the best midfielders in the game. When asked after the game if he deserved to be Man of the Match, his response ‘I missed a penalty, I don’t deserve it.’
  4. When Nasri is one fire, he is really on fire. Scoring the first goal and assisting the third goal to seal the victory, Samir Nasri is at time unstoppable at times and at times seems to be a good replacement for Fabregas when nursing an injury. The best part about this kid is that he is still young and has much more success coming his way.
  5. Our defense was above average but not good enough if Tevez was still able to play and City were not a man down. I speak mainly to our central defenders who are tough when they need to be tough but seem to over commit and times when not needed. Hopefully Vermaelen will be back by the end of this month and rumors are that Gary Cahill is heading to North London to add to our roster. As far as Sagna and Clichy, they performed great, attacked when needed and defended when needed as well, very solid performances from the two Frenchmen.
  6. Chamakh is adapting to the game perfectly and has showed why he is an important asset to our team. Although not scoring a goal today, he has been a threat to City’s defense will his aerial attack and his ability to run down the flanks and chase long passes from our midfielders. We obviously do miss RVP but Chamakh is probably the best replacement that we have found in the transfer market.

Samir Nasri celebrates with Maraoune Chamakh

Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski: (8) Played amazing today and might receive the number one spot after his two great performances the past week. His first save in the game was vital to Arsenal’s win today and it seems that it has boosted his confidence to produce better appearances for Arsenal.

Bacary Sagna: (7.5) Great performance down the flank and is playing like he played when he first arrived at Arsenal.

Sebastian Squillaci: (7) Held the Man City attack well with his experience and was fearless against the attack.

Johan Djourou: (6) Solid yet did get caught sometimes with his tendency to over commit. He should have scored off of the set piece.

Gael Clichy: (7.5) Showed great awareness and touch. Attacked when needed and defended with toughness.

Alex Song: (8.0) The unique Alex Song was once again unique. Attacking and defending with great skills and endurance. His second goal was vital to securing the Arsenal lead.

Cesc Fabregas: (8.5) Showed why Wenger wanted to keep him, instrumental in the Boyata sending off and gave his heart out for the team. Probably deserves a rating 9 but the missed penalty must be taken into account.

Denilson: (7.5) Needed to calm down in the beginning of the game, committing stupid fouls and not playing smart. But towards the end, he seemed to cool down and control the game a bit more with Song and Fabregas.

Andrei Arshavin: (6.5) Seemed very lazy in the beginning of the match, not wanting to do anything. As the game progressed he also progressed and assisted the first goal. Yet he did waste some opportunities that could have put Arsenal up front early in the match.

Samir Nasri: (8.5) Seven goals in seven games. His one touch passes creates many opportunities for Arsenal, hence the first goal. This guy is truly amazing and is getting better and better.

Marouane Chamakh: (7.0) Good performance but should take more shot on goal. His threat was something that Man City knew which allowed Nasri to flourish.


Tomas Rosicky: (6.5) Looked good for the 20 minutes he was one, hard to believe that Wenger was going to sell him during the summer.

Theo Walcott: (N/A) Didn’t really do much and wasn’t much of a threat with his speed.

Nicklas Bendter: (6.5) His goal which sealed the victory gave him the confidence to perform better in the upcoming games.

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Wayne Rooney Signs New Deal

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=wayne+rooney&iid=9965192″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9965192/wayne-rooney-manchester/wayne-rooney-manchester.jpg?size=500&imageId=9965192″ width=”234″ height=”266″ /] I guess all that speculation about Wayne Rooney heading off to the blue side of Manchester or the Bernabeu was just that. Rooney will remain with the Red Devils for at least the next five years as United’s highest paid player ever.

Full story here: http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/news/_/id/5713732/wayne-rooney-manchester-united-agree-5-year-contract

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Wayne Rooney Declares Intention to Leave United

Look for an opinion piece later this week but this is big news that could cause some interesting shock-waves throughout the Premiership and world football.


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