Over the Weekend: From Pistorius to Pantsil, Swans Claim Title & More

Following a crash course in Law coupled with a not so brief recap of the episodes of Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing and other bits of ‘suspense’, the Magistrate eventually, ultimately, after all said, analysed and recapped… finally ruled in favour of the blade runner and granted him bail.

While the R1m (one million rand) he’ll post as bail; along with a number of conditions which include no alcohol, eats a bit into Pistorius’ R5m annual earning, it puts the blade runner ahead at half time of this murder case which has its trial now scheduled to commence in June.

Beyond all that the family of Reeva Steenkamp labelled as meaning ‘nothing’ the bouquet of flowers received from Pistorius’ family, while her bereaved father commented that if Pistorius was lying, he would have to live with his conscience but if indeed he mistook her for a burglar, he may one day come round to forgiving him.

Not all concerned were as diplomatic however, many observers across the continent believe the paralympian is a murderer while a father figure to Reeva flat out said Pistorius should go to hell.

It is easy to believe Pistorius is guilty when his wealth and ability in disability are pointed at as swinging justice’s bias towards him, but if any person(s) is/are to blame it would be the prosecution that seemingly didn’t consider every scenario possible from the incident along with flawed witness account and tainted image of the previous chief investigator.

By the end of the trial, unless the prosecution have new and concrete evidence to add spine to their case; such as her head being bashed in with a cricket bat, Pistorius can expect to get manslaughter as final judgement… and you just know that would outrightly piss many people off.

Once again, may Reeva Steenkamp rest in peace.

Not to be outdone per se, Ghanaian international John Pantsil reportedly stabbed his wife in the eye but thankfully, it wasn’t fatal but bizarrely… they are back together.

Apparently, it was all a misunderstanding and all grievances between both have been settled. Right! We’ll just ignore the need for anger management with the Pantsils and ‘respect their privacy’.

Speaking of respect, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini took a swipe at Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger after stating ahead of his side’s crucial league match against Chelsea that unlike the Frenchman at Arsenal, he wants to win (trophies).

A bit disrespectful from Mancini who was at the dusk of his active football days when Wenger was appointed manager at Arsenal. But do I blame him? No. It is Wenger that has put himself in a position to be ridiculed by younger managers.

Jose Mourinho has done so before and I expect Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas to give it a go ahead of this weekend’s north London derby; Arsenal’s ‘Race to Fourth’ title match.

That said, Mancini’s side ended up doing Wenger and Arsenal a favour by claiming a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday in a match Sergio Agüero should’ve done much better and more importantly, a match in which Joe Hart saved Frank Lampard’s first half penalty.

That win leaves fifth placed Arsenal, on 47 points, just two points behind third placed Chelsea. And with Tottenham that is nicely tucked between the Blues and Gunners on 48 points set for a little London affair at West Ham United tonight, one need not say what side will have the most supporters in tonight’s match.

For all of Mancini’s talk, all gooners nonetheless were behind City to do exactly what was done, to the slight disappointment of fans of the Red Devils who were behind Chelsea though will remain happy to hold a dozen point advantage over their City rivals in the title race anyway.

Manchester United had earlier opened a 15-point gap on Saturday with a 2-0 win at destined for relegation Queens Park Rangers, but a fall-out from that win brought concern to the league leaders… Robin van Persie went off injured.

In unlikely manner, the Dutchman’s effort to keep the ball in meant he fell onto a camera at the near post of QPR and though he got Julio Cesar to make a good save minutes later, he was taken off for Danny Welbeck five minutes to half time as it became obvious he couldn’t manage the injury.

This brought much delight to many gooners who understandably haven’t moved on from the deal with the devil at the start of the season and hoped it was an injury that would keep him out for long.

Indeed some went about it in lighthearted manner, having no real intentions of seeing him put out for long, there were some who actually meant it and that is concerning. In the end, the van Persie situation can be likened to that of Barcelona whose scarce defeats get celebrated, it’s the cross of consistent performers. Besides, he’s only suffered a sore hip.

Anyway, Van Persie’s effort was not in vain however, as Rafael struck a bullet past Julio Cesar to put United in front moments after. A goal which a teammate nominated for goal of the season.

While former teammate Dimitar Berbatov’s well taken volley for Fulham at home to Stoke City; the only goal of that match, falls a tad short of Rafael’s, I think I enjoyed a few other goals more including Arouna Kone’s second in Wigan Athletic’s 3-0 win at Reading, gently lifting the ball over the Reading keeper and into the net off a glorious cross-field pass.

Another goal worth mentioning for goal of the weekend is Yaya Toure’s opener for Man. City, a low curling effort wickedly from Petr Cech’s blindside. Cech’s stretch to try keeping Yaya’s effort out made the goal all the more special for me… why punish yourself by trying to prevent that?

But the goal I enjoyed most has to be Papiss Demba Cisse’s bolt from range to put Newcastle United 2-1 up against Southampton. Much unlike last season’s second against Chelsea, this was a far less speculative effort yet almost as graceful and delightful.

In the end, Newcastle United won that match 4-2 to continue its recent renaissance inspired by its Francophone fellas that now sees the Magpies six points off the relegation zone. In this form, with a place in the Europa League some 10 points off, Newcastle truly can aspire.

Swansea meanwhile can play as freely as they want for the rest of the season in the league, after cruising to a 5-0 demolition of Bradford City to claim the Capital One Cup and qualify for next season’s Europa League.

And that feeling of no pressure on the back of the highs from Cup success can propel Michael Laudrup’s men to play some of its best football in the remaining 11 league matches. And when the Swans at their best, their tiki-taka acutely frustrates any opposition to the point of defeat.

One can say the last bit is a Nou Camp trademark but Barcelona in its last two matches have struggled, more so with Lionel Messi’s human side coming to fore though he got a goal, his 38th league goal this season, in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday.

There will be no rest for the Ballon d’Or holder and the rest of the Barcelona team who face Real Madrid at home on Tuesday in the decisive second leg of their Copa Del Rey semifinal clash before facing them again on Saturday in La Liga at the Bernabeu… cruelly followed by the return leg of their round of 16 Champions League tie with AC Milan days after.

Milan on its part played out a 1-1 draw in its Madonnina derby ‘away’ to Inter, a result that suited the latter more than the former but which suits fifth placed Lazio the most, with the Rome side set to rise to third place if it defeats Pescara tonight.

Juventus continued its charge towards defending its Scudetto with a 3-0 win over Siena, the highlight moment being Andrea Pirlo’s lobbed effort at goal… it was audacious and unfortunately, went wide.

And in France, Paris Saint Germain took a major step towards the Ligue Un title with a perhaps undeserved but more importantly crucial 2-0 win over archrivals Olympique Marseille in Le Clasique.

Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu was my man of the match, making a number of saves to keep l’OM at bay, but it was David Beckham that got most of the headlines as he made his PSG debut and somehow, some way, was involved in PSG’s second scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in stoppage time.

PSG’s win was the highlight of my football weekend which saw five of my six favourite European clubs play. Arsenal lifted the mood at the Emirates a bit with a nervous 2-1 win over Aston Villa. That was about it.

Deportivo La Coruña took the lead against Real Madrid but fell 2-1 at home, Hearts decided to lose 3-2 at home to Inverness after twice equalising while Werder Bremen was simply annihilated by Bayern Munich, going down to a 6-1 scoreline against a ‘second string’ Bayern side. Scary.

Lowest point of the weekend was the low profile the African Super Cup had, a match Champions League holders Al Ahly of Egypt won 2-1 against Confederations Cup holders AC Leopards of Republic of Congo.

A match to decide Africa’s representative at the Club World Championship later in the year should have had much more publicity than this one had, which was virtually non-existent.

On that note, it’s a wrap here. Napoli visit Udinese tonight in the Serie A, Lazio play Pescara tonight as well, just as Tottenham visit West Ham in the Premier League. That’s followed by an El Clasico in the Copa del Rey to make for a good start to the week for football.

Wishing you a great week ahead then.

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