The UEFA Champions League group stage kicked off yesterday, but FIFA president Sepp Blatter stole the headlines. Today’s “Daily Ticker” will look back at Arsenal and Chelsea’s matches, look ahead to the games the Manchester clubs play today, and see why and when Blatter may step down.
EPL Teams in Europe:
Chelsea 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen 04
Andre Villas-Boas was brought to Chelsea to win the Champions League. The 33 year old tactician’s squad got off to a rough start, but ended up with three points. Villas-Boas changed the game when replacing Daniel Sturridge and Raul Meireles with Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka. Just moments after the substitution, David Luiz made a adventurous run forward after sending the ball to Ashley Cole. The Englishman slotted the ball to the struggling Torres who found the Brazilian who struck the bottom corner of the old onion bag from 15 yards.
Fernando Torres has scored just once in his career at Chelsea and the 50 million pound man should have put three away in the first half of the game. Receiving a ball from Mata, Torres’ cheeky back-heel headed toward goal, but Raul Meireles appeared to drag the ball back with his studs, giving the linesman no option, but to raise his flag. Torres redeemed himself in the second half, assisting Luiz in his goal and squaring a ball for Juan Mata to put away in the 90th minute. The striker was praised by his boss late last week for creating chances, but the Chelsea gaffer is unsure if the Spaniard will start in Sunday’s clash with Manchester United. “We have another couple of days to train, and he will compete with the other four for that position,” said Villas-Boas, “We have to take the best decision possible.”
Though Torres failed to score yesterday, there was some good news for the forward. The probe against him was dropped by the club after the former Liverpool star sat down with the Chelsea boss. “We had a chat and the situation is solved, the investigation is over. Hopefully these things won’t arise in the group again. If they do, it will be the manager who has to resolve it. ”
The former Porto gaffer added that Torres, “put in a good collective performance.”
Looking ahead to the showdown on Sunday, Villas-Boas told the press they are facing, “United perhaps in their most tremendous moment of motivation and flair and style.”
Chelsea’s new man in charge thinks his team can pull three points out of the match at Old Trafford if they are motivated properly and confident in their abilities.
Arsenal 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Robin van Persie scored for Arsenal, but it was not enough to secure three points for the Gunners. Ivan Perisic struck two minutes from time on a gorgeous volley to hold Arsenal in Germany. The German side dominated this one, enjoying 57% of the possession. In addition, Borussia Dortmund put 23 shots on goal and 6 on target, while Arsenal only managed to send 9 balls towards the net.
Arsene Wenger was in the stands for the entirety of the match, as he is serving his UEFA suspension. The Frenchman dropped Andrei Arshavin from the squad in favor of new signing Yossi Benayoun.
Wojciech Szczesny had five stops on the night to keep the Gunners ahead for most of the second half, but the Bundesliga sides’ pressure eventually broke down Arsenal, to savor the point at home.
Manchester United and Manchester City News:
When Sir Alex Ferguson mentions your name in the same sentence in which he has referred to Pele, you have made it to the top. “Look at Pele, he was a very aggressive attacker as well who could look after himself, so can Rooney,” said the United boss, “There are similarities that way in strength, speed and determination.”
The long time Red Devils’ manager said he has not yet picked his team, though Phil Jones and Jonny Evans will be the most likely central defenders, as Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are back in Manchester. Sir Alex will have to exhaust his entire squad in the coming weeks, with matches against Chelsea, Leeds, and Stoke forthcoming in addition to today’s game. The boss is cautiously optimistic ahead of their Champions League opener, telling the press, “It won’t be easy for us, it will be a difficult game. But it will be difficult for Benfica too.”
Michael Carrick also praised the former Everton lad, saying, “This is probably Wayne’s best season so far and I am expecting big things from him.”
To transition to City news, Ryan Giggs of the Red Devils went on the offensive yesterday, against the Citizens, telling the club’s television network, “I think the test is really the first season in the Champions League. Playing in a Champions League game, which takes so much out of you physically and emotionally, on a Wednesday, and then a tough league game on a Saturday, maybe away-that is the test. It is tough and you’ve got to have the squad to handle it.”
The midfielder added, “We’ll just see if City can do what Arsenal, Chelsea and ourselves have done over the years.”
Summer signing Gael Clichy believes confidence and experience will help his side in their match against Napoli. “The confidence is there, and we go into this competition with no fear,” said the City defender, “It’s not only me who has played in it before – Yaya has won it.
Clichy also previewed the challenges the club will face in their first UCL journey. “We want to get forward and play offensive football, but it is different. Napoli will get fouls given which maybe in the Premier League they would let go. It goes on, and we have to be aware of that,” he said.
The former Arsenal player also cited Napoli’s 3-5-2 as a possible concern, because few teams in the Premiership are capable and willing to play in this formation.
Today, Sergio Aguero will proudly showoff his new boots. The young striker recently signed a deal with Puma. We will see if the new PUMA v1.11 speed boot boosts the Argentine’s play against the Italian side.
Crystal Palace 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Ben Watson scored a consolation goal for the Latics in the dying minutes of their shocking League Cup defeat to Championship side Crystal Palace. Wigan had most of the possession, but Crystal Palace hit the target eight times. Goals by Darren Ambrose and Jonathan Williams dispatched Roberto Martinez’s men from the competition.
Premier League News:
Being a Liverpool right back makes you one of the most injury prone human beings on the planet. Glen Johnson is out of action for a month, and possibly more, after straining his hamstring again. The Englishman originally injured himself against Valencia, during the pre-season, and “done my hamstring again,” at the weekend, as a substitute against Stoke City. Martin Kelly is also out with the same injury.
Tomas Kuszczak has dropped into third place on the depth chart at Manchester United, in the goalkeeper position. The 29 year old is “angry and disappointed” that the club did not sell him during the last transfer window. Kuszczak said, “I had a few good offers. The problem was the club, who wanted to sell me for 4 million pounds.”
Looks like we are going to have another Premier League protest. Steve Kean is on the chopping block at Blackburn and 1,000 supporters will march, before Rovers’ play Arsenal this weekend, with the goal of getting the owners to axe Kean. “It’s going to be a peaceful march, but we want to make our point and there will be banners made,” said Glenn Mullan, the organizer of the protest, “It’s about time the owners listened to the fans.”
Four time winner of the FIFA presidential election, Sepp Blatter has allegedly struck a deal with UEFA head Michel Platini. The deal would get Blatter out of office two years early. ESPNsoccernet is reporting that, “There is now widespread conjecture within the European game that Blatter won’t be able to survive for the full four year term, which is already designated his last term before handing over to Platini.”
The supposed agreement between two of football’s most influential men would see Blatter leave FIFA in two years’ time. Blatter’s presidency has been littered with sexism, corruption, and controversy and it seems the long time leader of football’s governing body can no longer take the heat.
More of which, came from former FIFA vice president Chung Mung-Joon, whom wrote, “I think he is not an international gentleman and he is a little brat.”
The ex-VP also called out Blatter for attempting to shut down FIFA’s Executive Committee, which is in place to make sure the president does not abuse his powers. “Blatter is now attempting to take away the power of the executive committee and neutralize any effort to check his power. It’s a similar scheme that so many dictators have used in world history.”
However, Blatter is reported to have said that the exit rumors are nonsense.
The House of Commons will hold a debate on October 17 concerning the full release of government documents pertaining to the tragic Hillsborough disaster. A e-petition signed by nearly 140,000 people has caught the eye of the British government, and it seems those hurt most by that tragic event are close to finding out the truth behind what really happened on that terrible day. Justice for the 96!
Alexandre Pato rushed through Barcelona’s defense like a bull to score the fifth fastest goal in Champions League history, after 25 seconds of football. The goal was shocking to say the least, but the Catalans came back. Messi made a eloquent run through the Milan back four and somehow slid a ball across for Pedro to send home. David Villa added another goal on a mouthwatering free kick to put his side up 2-1. However, in classic Italian style, after absorbing attack after attack, AC Milan scored on a corner kick at the death, to walk away from Camp Nou with a point. During the match, Iniesta suffered a hamstring tear, which will the keep World Champion out of action for a month.
Ricardo Carvalho will not suit up for his nation for another year, after being slapped by the Portuguese FA with a 12 month ban. The defender retired from international football last month and walking out on his country is his crime. The FPF lightened the Real Madrid player’s suspension, considering his record, however, the player will not receive any benefits if the country qualifies for Euro 2012.