Posts Tagged Andres Iniesta

The Perilous Plain Arsenal Treads: Fàbregas, Season 4


The protracted tussle between nascent Premier League underachievers Arsenal and world conquering Barcelona to have midfielder Francesc Fàbregas in their respective teams is currently seeing its fourth season play out; complete with the usual rumoured agreements behind the scenes and blown out of proportion comments among other plots in a number of episodes in this saga.

This season’s tussle actually set off in the run up to the last UEFA Champions League final with Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique posing with a picture of Fàbregas taken down from a wall at the Arsenal training ground; an opportunity that came about with the Gunners granting the Catalan side access to its training facilities ahead of the win at Wembley over Manchester United.

This same duo, along with Liverpool keeper Jose Reina, also succeeded in forcing a Barça jersey on Fàbregas after the Spanish national team lifted the 2010 World Cup at South Africa; a campaign that saw Fàbregas contribute to the success even in his bit part role.

Back then (Fàbregas: Season Three if you may), Arsenal was going to have none of it as regards negotiating any fee for his transfer to the Nou Camp. Currently, the stance has changed with the Gunners willing to negotiate having set their asking price at a staggering £60m.

Importantly and fortunately for Barça and otherwise for Arsenal, what has not changed is the silverware cabinet at the Emirates Stadium, which bolsters Barça’s approach for Arsenal’s talismatic midfielder coupled with the fact that the Nou Camp (with all bitterness in admitting so) is Fàbregas’ home.

Arsenal’s move; however perilous it is, to appear as lending a listening ear to Barça’s approach for the player may well be what will keep Fàbregas at North London since it puts the Gunners in the light of not forcing Cesc to stay at the club (the perilous part of it), which then puts Barça in the light of being desperate for a player it in reality has no need of with the likes of Seydou Keita and Ibrahim Afellay behind the spotlight of Xavi and Andres Iniesta just as Thiago Alcantra is staking his claim to more appearances in the Barça first team especially on the back of his sterling performances at the recently concluded European U-21 Championships that Spain won.

Hence, by holding out for a fee that is obviously well out of Barça’s valuation of the player as well as what the club can afford, Arsenal has somewhat put itself in a win-win situation and put the courting Spaniards in a win-at-a-great-cost position.

Again, Arsenal’s position here is precarious due to Arsène Wenger’s transfer policy of not spending more than a footballer’s valuation in his economic view. So should Fàbregas join Barça because the Catalan giants actually meet Arsenal’s valuation or Arsenal accept Barça’s reported next offer of £35m, Wenger’s policy would mean the already disgruntled and disillusioned Arsenal fans would have to endure a seventh, eighth and perhaps ninth season without a trophy.

The second part of this piece will elucidate why I say this…

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And there was Ovrebo


Now I thought it was just the English referees that made farceful decisions on the football field and like Polly, along came Tom Henning Ovrebo who wore the all black in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg between Chelsea and Barcelona.

Drogba falling under Abidal's challenge in the box

Drogba falling under Abidal's challenge in the box

First though, a few classic referee decisions. In the 2006 World Cup against who was it again, Croatia had a player sent off by a referee from Queensland but that was after the Croat got three yellow cards.

Then there was the other ref who turned a blind eye to Cristiano Ronaldo taking his shirt off in celebration against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League very recently.

But none comes better in farce than Ovrebo’s display at Stamford Bridge; and before you all go “why’s this Gooner sulking” and so on, the ref even got a decision or two wrong on Barcelona’s part. First Florent Malouda being pulled by Dani Alves.

Maybe the referee felt a bit of Malouda’s toe was outside the box so the foul did not warrant a penalty. That’s the only excuse I can think of for Orvedo as the Norwegian cannot possibly claim he had no clear view of the foul…he was right in the action.

Then there were the two shouts for penalty by Drogba. I’ve actually seen both given but I’m tempted to say being Drobga, you kinda lose a good bit of credibility when you fall under challenge in the area and we all know how the Drog is along with Cristiano Ronaldo and maybe Fillippo Inzaghi.

Then came Abidal’s red card. It would be easy to say it was deserved but emotions aside, Abidal was not the last man as Yaya Toure was closing in on Nicholas Anelka when Abidal and Anelka tripped each other; though Abidal feels he was the one tripped. Eitherway, that was no red card, and as a matter of fact, no card at all!

Red Card or not?

Red Card or not?Orvedo took the farce to new heights when Anelka's flick to get past Gerard Pique was caught by the Spanish defender's outstretched arm, 10 out of 10 those have been given but welcome to the new generation of referees fathered by Orvedo. After that, you just got the feeling Barcelona would score somehow and like we all say, the rest is history.Andres Iniesta turns the night Blue at the Bridge

There however was time for one more controversial decision as Ballack’s stoppage time volley deflected off Seydou Keita. Now I wouldn’t say that was a definite penalty, let’s just leave that at that.

In all, I felt like I was watching the CAF Champions League (no offense) as clearly, something just was not right about the ref…or maybe UEFA and/or FIFA aren’t fans of watching a consecutive all-English final?

Whatever it is, the referee totally spoiled the spirit of the match and made the champions league semi-finals, in all, a total no-contest; yes Arsenal put up nothing like a broom let alone a challenge against United!

So now, I’ll just do with watching Kano Pillars and Heartland rep Naija in the CAF Champions League. I think at least one of them would make the final stages of the competition. you?

Drogba bearing his mind out to Ovrebo

Drogba bearing his mind out to Ovrebo

Last word, Drogba’s theatrics after the final whistle was totally immature and unwarranted but can you really blame him? Yes the world will say yes he was wrong (and somehow I found his show quite comical)  but then being Drogba; known for his theatrics in the box, no one would take him seriously. Anyhow, here’s hoping for a clean and true final…I’m backing United on this one, going by my earlier prediction and not by sentiments.

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Top 10 Players of 2008/09 Part One


Lionel Messi
Touted as the next World Footballer of the Year, the Messiless
Argentine ace has been in devastating form for his equalling
devastating club Barcelona this season, being the main force behind
the Trinity at the Camp Nou.

His case for football’s top individual prize is given more credence
with his status as top scorer in the ongoing UEFA Champions League
though winning the trophy itself would all but ensure he gets the
crown he so much craves.

CR7 vs. Messiless Lionel

CR7 vs. Messiless Lionel

Cristiano Ronaldo
The current World Footballer of the Year has not had the same season like he did last season but 25 goals in all competitions so far by a right winger’s standard is a very good season; that’s how much we all love to hate the Portuguese who scored 44 goals last season.

Yes he started the season slow but he has picked up ever since,
becoming top scorer in the Premier League but most importantly, he
actually has begun performing in the big matches, last year’s
Champions League final was the first of such. Besides, Messi has not
scored 30 goals in all competitions this season has he?

Xavi Hernandez
In the walloping of Real Madrid (El whatever else but Clasico), Xavi
returned a 93% record for passes completed in that match, including
the ones that directly led to four of the six goals that night.

That is how influential the longest serving Blaugrana player has
been this season, contributing a few crucial goals as well along the
way.

Andres Iniesta
Lionel Messi may be the trigger, Xavi may be the heart but Andres
Iniesta is the brain of Barcelona this season, silently doing the
hard work of creating opportunities and scoring a few as well.

If the fans had their way with the selection of the Player of the
Year, I get the feeling Iniesta would win or in the worst case give
Barca teammate Messi a good run for his money but we all know that
low scoring midfielders hadly ever get the nod, pity.

Steven Gerrard
Captain Fantastic is a better leader than Rafael Benitez on and off
the pitch as he has created goals especially for Fernando “El-Nino”
Torres and scored a good amount for the club.

Stsven Gerrard with manager Rafa Benitez

Stsven Gerrard with manager Rafa Benitez

It then is unfortunate that all his good work would come to nothing
largely to the big mouth of his gaffer as arch-rivals Manchester
United edge ever closer to a record equalling 18th league title win,
extending Liverpool’s league title drought to 20 years as a result.

The next five players will be revealed soon enough but truth is I
have just two players more to definitely make the top ten and a few
probables to choose from.

After this article, there will be the top ten clubs of the season
which will include a few clubs you don’t get to mention every now
and then. Top ten matches of the season should also raise a few
brows right?

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