Thursday, September 24, 2009
After the match Baggies manager Roberto Di Matteo hit out at Arsenal teenager Jack Wilshere for his part in Jerome Thomas' sending-off.
"Thomas went to shake hands with Wilshere, he refused and Thomas reacted, so it was a red card," Di Matteo said. "But there was an exchange of words and there was a reaction. I am disappointed Wilshere did not accept his hand, of a fellow colleague, but that is part of the game."
Di Matteo maintained that until then his side had been in control.
"That was the turning point," he said. "I felt before Thomas got sent off, we were starting to get on top of them. We were just getting control of the game, and I thought we had a good chance to win tonight. But well done to Arsenal. They are very talented and congratulations to them."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger maintained he could not shed much light on the incident.
"My eyes are not great and my ears are even worse," quipped the Arsenal manager. "I could not hear anything from the touchline. Thomas has reacted, and in these cases you always need to control your nerves, whether he has any excuses, I do not know. Jack said he had been kicked.
"Certainly it would have been a great game if had stayed 11 against 11."
Wenger worked with Thomas, 26, while he was a youngster at Arsenal, but eventually the attack-minded midfielder decided to press for first-team football elsewhere.
"Thomas was very talented, sometimes nervy and impatient as well because he had a lot of talent," said Wenger. "I am happy he is coming to the top level now, because he always had something special and on his day was exceptional player. He lacked a bit of confidence, but looks to have found that now."
Mexico international Vela had missed the start of the season because of an ankle problem. However, the 20-year-old proved the difference between the sides.
"When Vela came on, straight away he made a difference," said Wenger. "He is dangerous in his control, movement and class. He gives you something special. However, he was not ready to start tonight and still has work to do on his fitness. But he is in my plans for the first team - he can play wide left, wide right or central. He gives you plenty of options."
The 19-year-old marked his return from an ankle injury when his shot set up Sanchez Watt for the opener in the 68th minute and then added a tap-in after Mark Randall's clever chip came back off the crossbar.
After a positive start the Championship leaders were up against it after former Gunner Jerome Thomas - who twice won the FA Youth Cup while at Arsenal - was sent off after 37 minutes for a needless slap on Jack Wilshere.
Wenger had once again given youth a chance, his team with an average age of just over 20, while also bringing in experienced defender Philippe Senderos - starting for the first time since May 2008 after a loan spell at AC Milan - and veteran Mikael Silvestre captained the side. And Senderos - who could have joined Everton during the transfer window - had an early chance when he headed over at the near post following a corner from the left.
With Watt and French teenager Gilles Sunu Arsenal certainly had plenty of pace in attack, while Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey - both with plenty of first-team experience already - provided the trademark quick passing through the midfield.
Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, 19, made the first meaningful contribution on his debut when punching a corner clear at the near post and he was stretching in the 15th minute as Robert Koren's angled 20-yard drive flew just wide. Watt came within inches of opening his Arsenal account minutes later when he stabbed Wilshere's cutback goalwards, only for the ball to bounce agonisingly off the inside of the post and into Dean Kiely's grateful arms.
The match had suddenly sparked into life, West Brom midfielder Simon Cox the next to test Szczesny with a low drive. The Pole produced another fine stop to turn Koren's shot behind, which was creeping in. The youngsters were rattled - and Kerrea Gilbert hacked the ball off the line after a corner caused panic in the Arsenal six-yard box.
Arsenal responded well, with Wilshere again driving at the Baggies rearguard. On 31 minutes, Wilshere again made space for himself with another positive run, and his 20-yard shot was just off-target.
West Brom swung a free-kick into the area which Szczesny dropped under pressure at the far post from Leon Barnett, but fortunately Kieran Gibbs - who had played in the Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester United last season - was on hand to clear.
West Brom continued to look dangerous on the break, with Thomas' run down the left forcing Szczesny to make an important block. However, the 26-year-old was shown a straight red card in the 37th minute after he clashed with Wilshere, before then slapping the midfielder in the face while he was on the floor.
Cox also went into referee Lee Mason's book for his protests. The midfielder headed over for the first real chance of the second half when well placed in the six-yard box before Wenger made a change in the 58th minute - introducing Mexican striker Vela and Randall to replace Sunu and Francis Coquelin.
The game continued to be scrappy, as the visitors closed down the space quickly. It took a moment of Premier League quality from Vela to finally help break the deadlock. The 19-year-old showed great close control to create space for a shot from the edge of the penalty area, which Kiely palmed wide, and Watt followed up to smash in his first senior Arsenal goal.
The Mexican then got the goal he deserved after 75 minutes. Randall's 20-yard chip came back off the underside of the bar - and Vela was alert enough to get in between Barnett and Kiely before knocking the ball over the line.
The Baggies missed the chance to pull a goal back with 10 minutes to go when substitute Chris Wood fired wide at the far post - which just about summed up their night.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Centre-half Philippe Senderos should provide some experience at the back after remaining at Emirates Stadium despite the chance to leave during the transfer window, along with veteran Mikael Silvestre, who has made just one appearance so far this season.
Sanchez Watt, 18, was on the bench for the Champions League game at Standard Liege and could start, while Kieran Gibbs, Fran Merida, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere may also feature as they stake a claim for a regular first-team place.
Watt intends to keep himself very much in the mind of Wenger by helping fire the young Gunners to Carling Cup glory.
He may have just turned 18 earlier this year, but the pacy forward has already enjoyed a taste of life with the first team during pre-season and was on the bench for the Champions League Group H opener away to Standard Liege last week.
Although competition is fierce among the Arsenal starlets, who last season won the FA Youth Cup, London-born Watt is firmly focused on making an impression.
"I train with the first team a lot, but it was great to get the chance to play in pre-season,'' said Watt, who can operate out wide or in attack.
"However, I don't want to be a name who just played in the Emirates Cup - I want to be there in Arsene Wenger's mind.''
Watt added: "Arsene Wenger watches you off the ball too, so you have to be switched on, tactically and mentally.
"You just have to work hard.
"I hope to be picked for the Carling Cup and am just going to keep on trying. If I get the shout, I will try my best.
"It is about whoever is hot at that precise moment, and whoever gets that chance to do well.''
Wenger indicated 19-year-old Poland keeper Wojciech Szczesny was set to make his first-team debut, given Vito Mannone had been standing in for Manuel Almunia, who was out with a virus, and Lukasz Fabianski is still recovering from a knee injury.
That may then open the way for Under-18 keeper James Shea to take a place on the bench.
"It will be a much younger team against West Brom,'' Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.
"We will be faithful to our tradition and try to find a good balance between youth and experience - Wilshere, Ramsey, Sanchez Watt, Wojciech [Szczesny].
"We will have as well Senderos and Silvestre as experienced players, Kieran Gibbs will play.
"I believe we will have a good mixture between experience and youth.''
Wenger feels the progress of players like Nicklas Bendtner and Denilson go to show just how important the Carling Cup is for Arsenal's next generation of talent - with current captain Cesc Fabregas having made his debut in the much-maligned competition against Rotherham at Highbury back during October 2003 when he became the youngest player to represent the first team aged just 16 years and 177 days.
"If you look at the players who were on the pitch against Celtic in the Champions League, they all played in the Carling Cup - Bendtner, [Alex] Song, Denilson, Fabregas even [Gael] Clichy,'' Wenger said.
"They all started in the Carling Cup. That shows you how important it is to go through this stage.''
Gonzalo Jara could finally make his long-awaited West Brom debut.
The Chile international defender has been unable to feature for his new employers as he awaited a work visa to enter the country but he was finally granted clearance towards the end of last week.
However, he still missed Saturday`s stunning 5-0 triumph at Middlesbrough as he only arrived in England on Friday.
His availability could be perfect timing for head coach Roberto Di Matteo with the news left-back Joe Mattock will be out with an ankle injury while the left-sided Marek Cech also remains sidelined with an ankle problem of his own.
Influential midfielder Chris Brunt (knee) has also been ruled out while long-term absentees James Morrison (heel), Neil Clement and Ishmael Miller (both knee) are still missing.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
How's it going? Do you still remember about an online soccer store that I've reviewed before this?Just wanted to keep you updated on some awesome things going on at SoccerPro.com
They are currently working closely with the to promote their 2009 games that started on September 6th and run through the 13th. SoccerPro has partnered with Calle to make some awesome tee shirts just for the HWC. The designs of the tee shirts are pretty cool as you can see at the top of this post. SoccerPro will be the only website selling them and all proceeds will go directly to the Homeless World Cup. If you don’t know what HWC is visit their website (http://www.homelessworldcup.org) what they're doing is great and we're really excited to help them out.
SoccerPro has also just launched their SoccerPro "Awesomeness" Scholarship. They are looking for college students who are actively involved in soccer and want to share their awesomeness with them. We think that this is going to really take off.
For those who still don't know about Homeless World Cup, here are some videos about the so-called football tournament :
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Eduardo proved to be the matchwinner for the Gunners, who scored twice in the final 12 minutes in the Stade Maurice Dufrasne.
Robin van Persie, Andrey Arshavin, Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri were all missing for the Gunners, while Vito Mannone started in goal in place of injured duo Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski.
The home side, the Belgian champions, were without star midfielder Steve Defour due to a foot injury, but they still made a flying start to the game.
Eduardo gave the ball away on the edge of the area following the first corner of the game and Eliaquim Mangala fired home a low, left-foot shot from 20 yards out.
That was after a mere two minutes and three minutes later it was 2-0 to Standard after Milan Jovanovic went down under the challenge of William Gallas.
Jovanovic picked himself up to despatch the spot-kick with some ease, sending the unfortunate Mannone the right way.
Having made a perfect start, Standard sat back and invited some pressure, but a strangely wayward Gunners passing game caused them few problems.
However, that changed right on the stroke of half-time as Abou Diaby played in Nicklas Bendtner on the right and he drilled a low shot through the legs of Sinan Bolat and into the far corner of the net.
Straight after the restart Dieumerci Mbokani had a shot blocked after Igor De Camargo made ground through the Gunners defence.
Soon after Bendtner ran clear at the other end, but Mangala made a superb recovery tackle to prevent an equaliser.
The game then dropped in tempo and there were few chances at either end, before the Gunners suddenly turned the game on its head as it drew to a close.
Twelve minutes from time a Cesc Fabregas free-kick from the left reached the far post and Thomas Vermaelen bundled the ball home from inches out, despite protests for offside and handball by Alex Song.
Three minutes later and Arsenal grabbed a winner as a Fabregas corner from the left was missed by several defenders and Eduardo poked the ball home from close range.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The former Arsenal player ran the length of the pitch to taunt the away support after scoring City's third goal and had earlier appeared to kick his old team-mate Robin van Persie in the face.
Watmore told the BBC: "I was pretty unimpressed really because the problems between the Arsenal fans and Adebayor are well documented, and he ran the whole length of the field to celebrate, so I think we're going to have a good close look at that one on Monday when we see it properly in the cold light of day."
Referee Mark Clattenburg booked the Togo striker for his goal celebration, which provoked fury among many Arsenal fans who had to be restrained by pitchside stewards, one of whom needed hospital treatment after being hit by a flying object in the melee.
"I thought the stewards did a great job of calming the situation down and it was to Manchester City's credit nothing worse happened," Watmore added.
Adebayor's clash with van Persie left his former colleague with a gashed face and the Dutchman later claimed he had been the victim of a "mindless and malicious stamp".
However, Watmore refused to be drawn on the possible extent of any punishment which could be meted out to Adebayor, saying: "Our governance team will take a good look at both of the incidents that have been highlighted and will come to the media with the answers early next week. The punishments are the decision of the individual commission, if we get that far."
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporter's Federation, bemoaned the possible effects of Adebayor's actions in front of the Gunners supporters in the wake of the recent fan trouble between West Ham United and Millwall.
"The kindest thing you could say about this is that it was unwise,'' he said. "It was a very silly thing to do. It's likely to add to the risk of incidents in the future and it doesn't help eliminate the elements of disorder.
"I think most supporters, particularly following the West Ham and Millwall situation, would agree that this was a very unwise thing to do.
"Footballers get paid a lot of money to perform on a public stage so it is not realistic to judge players and fans on the same standards."