Tag Archives: arsenal

Friday musing – Arsenal, Sepp Blatter, Adam Goodes & Adam Voges

Chris Barwin HillsWell it was great to see Arsenal salute in last weeks FA Cup final and what a comprehensive result. I don’t think Aston Vila had a shot on target for the entire game, whereas the Gunners put four past their goal keeper and he also made several good saves. This now makes the Gunners the most successful club in FA Cup history and whilethe Cup doesn’t carry the aura that it once had, it is still a significant alexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813piece of silverware. The goal from Alexis Sanchez had to be seen to be believed and it certainly caught the Vila goal keeper by surprise. I thought I would not see a better goal for quite sometime, until I saw Lionel Messi’s slalom effort in the Spanish Cup final, unbelievable!

While we are on the World Game, it was no real surprise to see Sepp Blatter re-elected last Friday, but it was a big surprise to see him resign by Tuesday. He clearly has caught wind of further Unknown-1investigations which may involve him and yesterday we hear that Jack Warner from Trinidad & Tobago may be tipping the bucket on him. With 14 arrests already this organisation is clearly toxic and it will take someone of extreme integrity and resolve to sort it all out.

I was not going to weigh in on the Adam Goodes situation, but his behaviour last Friday night probably demands some comment. I have no particular issue with him doing the dance during the indigenous round, but it was clearly directed towards the Carlton supporters in the crowd. I have not booed Adam Goodes and nobody can say with certainty the booing is not racist, but for me it is his on-Adam-Coodesfield demeanour, coupled with his ability to escape suspension for issues that other players get weeks for which I don’t like about him. He is self congratulatory and a bit of a “look at me” character, you notice it at the ground particularly after he kicks a goal, he actually goes looking for his team mates to give him high-tens. He is also not the first and won’t be the last player to get booed consistently and most of the time those players that do get booed are absolute champions, like Wayne Carey and Diesel Williams. I think Goodes is a fantastic player and I don’t think the Hawthorn crowd that booed him would do so for racist reasons given they have at least three indigenous players in their ranks, including Cyril Rioli who is just about their most popular player.

It was great to see a 35 year old debutante make a century on debut over night in the West Indies. I saw Adam Voges playing in a domestic one-dayer about ten years ago and thought I had just seen the next Adam Gilchrist. Well that didn’t quite pan out as I expected,Unknown but he finally got his chance at test level and scored a remarkable century given no one else in the team could get past 39 and that was the number 11. This reminiscent of Mike Hussey and Chris Rogers coming into the team in their 30s and making a strong contribution.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – AFL, Premier League…..

Chris Barwin HillsThere has been a lot of discussion about the substitution rule in AFL recently and I am a bit bemused by some of the comments coming from coaches and ex-players who would have been familiar with the operation of the old 19th & 20th man which existed until 1978. I can see the merit in the current rule, but having spent time on the bench as a 19th or 20th man, I think reverting to the old interchange rule is best for all concerned. I would also cap the number of interchanges to twenty a quarter. If the number of interchanges allowable was higher perhaps you restrict the number of times an individual player could be interchanged in any one quarter.

Sticking with the AFL, I was very surprised to see the Gold Coast player Stephen May suspended for his bump with Tom Rockliff.It looked like both players were going for the ball and May did not line up Rockliff to hit or bump him, but they came together in a jostle for the ball. I didn’t see the front on vision or any slow motion footage, but on vision shown to explain the decision I did not see a problem and clearly neither did the umpire as no free kick was paid.

Well Chelsea have secured the EPL crown with three weeks to go and while I find Jose Mourinho annoying, you cannot doubt his quality as a manager. He has now led Chelsea to the title three times and also did the same with Inter Milan, Real Madrid and FC Porto. You also cannot doubt Chelsea is a justified title holder given they have the most miserly defence and are second behind Manchester City for goals scored. The race is now on for second and fingers crossed the Gunners can get there and then secure their second FA Cup in a row which would be a good stepping stone to the next Premier League season.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – ICC World Cup, Sheffield Shield, EPL, Golden Slipper….

Chris Barwin HillsWell after six long drawn out weeks we are down to the last two teams in the ICC World Cup and it involves the two co-hosts. The only host team to win on their home turf was India in the previous World Cup. Sri Lanka won as a co-host in 1996, but the final was played in Pakistan. I think Australia should start favourite entering their 7th final, whereas New Zealand are playing their first game outside New Zealand in this tournament, in their first final.

Australia are also playing on the MCG and the Kiwis have not played there for quite some time, so the visitors will be out of their comfort zone. If it is a close game, I think New Zealand could come out on top as they have found a way to win the close ones, but if one side wins comfortably that is more likely to be Australia. I will be at the game on Sunday, so I would like to see a close game with Australia winning!

Turning to domestic cricket it was great to see the Vics get up in the Sheffield Shield during the week, but you have to question the tactics adopted by Western Australia. The WA team had to win the game, however, not only did they not declare towards the end of the fourth day and have thirty minutes at Victoria, they also continued to bat and knock up a further forty to fifty runs on the last day. They had the upper hand and didn’t push their advantage. They had to bowl Victoria out to win the Shield, but did not give themselves every chance to do so. All in all the Bushrangers were a worthy winner.

alexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813Looking at the EPL, with Manchester United beating Liverpool during the week, the top four is almost set with eight games remaining. In the next round Arsenal play Liverpool at home and should Liverpool lose that would put them almost out of contention despite their very good form since the new year. Go the Gunners!

On the international stage, I didn’t see the game, but it was great to see Australia draw 2-2 with Germany in the friendly the other night. Maybe they are starting to turn the corner and be in a position to replicate their 2006 results at the next World Cup. Fingers crossed.

Finally, I watched the Golden Slipper last week and without any luck in the running and an average ride from the jockey, Vancouver proved that he was the best 2yo in Australia being able to draw away from the field in the final 50-100m. It was not an easy run and if I 6338076-3x2-700x467was one of the connections I would not be in a hurry to risk him in the Sires Produce Stakes next week. He is a magnificent looking animal and would have breeders licking their lips, so I would be putting him away until the spring.

Have a great weekend!

3 things to contemplate on a Friday – Arsenal, NRL, Tiger Woods

Feb 20 2011 0061. Being an Arsenal fan is a tough gig. Having risen to third place in the Premier League, the Gunners had the ‘user friendly’ Monaco as their last sixteen opponent in the Champions League yesterday and a home ground advantage. The unexpected 1-3 result now leaves Arsene Wenger’s team the task of winning by at least 3-0 away to make the final eight.

Coach Wenger described the team’s play as ‘It looks like we lost our nerve and rationality’.

Arsenal are the true Jekyll and Hyde team if you compare this performance with the stunning win away against title contenders Manchester City several weeks ago.

Life is certainly a roller coaster for the fans.

2. NRL boss Dave Smith is kidding himself if he believes his recent mantra ‘Let’s keep it in perspective’, regarding the drug woes of five of the Gold Coast Titan’s players, is how we should see the issue. Five players make up 16% of the list and two of those players in Greg Bird and David Taylor are State of Origin representatives. In addition, the issue precipitated the NRL taking over the Club.

With the press indicating that there may be further names revealed by the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission including implications for League players across the border in NSW, I think we have enough of the perspective to know this is not a small matter!

3. Tiger Woods has completed his first golf course design – that is good news for the former World number one. With his golf game struggling (he hit a career high 82 two weeks ago) and his physical health in question (a back injury prevented him finishing a recent tournament at Torrey Pines), it seems like time for Tiger to take on less onerous pursuits that don’t require swinging a club to make a living.

As predicted on Sportsman Radio several years ago, Jack Nicklaus’ career majors win total is in no danger at all!

Friday musing – AFL, final eight, Arsenal, Champions League…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell with one round of the AFL season to go there is still a great deal of interest in the final positions in the final eight.

Should the results go as expected it will be a battle between Adelaide and West Coast on percentage for the final position, but Richmond have their fate in their own hands so it is the position you want to be in from a Richmond point of view. If the game was in Melbourne I would give them a genuine chance, but being in Sydney I think I will have to favour the home team. That being said, the Swans will know the equation necessary to hold top spot as Hawthorn play Collingwood tonight and a big win by Hawthorn and a loss to Sydney could see the Swans lose top spot.

Looking to the other games, Geelong should beat Brisbane at home, but if you cast your mind back to the corresponding game last year Brisbane lost by a kick in controversial circumstances. Geelong have won a lot of games this year by small margins and have not played out four quarters many times and if they lose and Fremantle win, Geelong could drop to fourth. Fremantle need to win to at least hold fourth spot as a loss to Port Adelaide will see Port take fourth spot.

North Melbourne looks to be the only team that cannot go up or down, they are a game and 16% below Port and a game and 10% ahead of Essendon, so they look like retaining sixth position with a home final. Essendon need to beat Carlton to retain seventh position to play North in Melbourne, or run the risk that a loss to Carlton and a win by Richmond could see them head interstate to play Freo or Port.

It is a great last round as so many positions could change, but I am predicting the status quo and games going with the favourites, so that will leave Adelaide and West Coast to fight out eighth position on percentage. My tip is Adelaide to just get there and play a home final against Port in the first week of the finals.

Also great to see the Gunners make it through to the Champions League again. They have drawn a reasonable group and should at least get through to the next round.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – EPL, Champions League, Cricket, AFL……

Chris Barwin HillsWell we’re back to Fridays after two consecutive Thursday Musings.

The big interest this week was the state of the EPL. With two games still to go everything is still up for grabs. No team has sewn up the title, no team has been definitely relegated and while the Gunners looked to have solidified fourth position, the last Champions League position has also yet to be decided. That is what you want in a competition. Hopefully everything is still up for grabs on the last day of competition when they all play at the same time.

It must also be said that with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both qualifying for the Champions League final and Valencia and Sevilla vying for a position in the final of the Europa League, that Spanish soccer is in a lot better shape than the Spanish economy!

I was somewhat bemused to hear that the Australian Cricket team had gone back to the top of the world Test rankings. While they did well against England in Australia and beat South Africa away, the two previous series they went down to England 3-0 and lost to India 4-0, both away. You have got to question a table or a rankings system in which you can turn things around so quickly or does beating the rankings leader on their home turf carry that much weight? It does confirm that bowlers win test matches and with Australia’s fast bowling stocks looking healthy going into the future, perhaps we are in for another period of success.

The recently completed horse racing “championships” in Sydney also require some comment. They have tried to emulate the Melbourne Spring Carnival by drastically increasing the prize money. Well judging from afar, I think the standard of horse racing was right up there, however, the crowds must have been a disappointment to the administrators. Yes, they had problems with the weather, but I am sure they would have gotten similar crowds without the increase in prize money. The big advantages the Melbourne Spring Carnival has over Sydney is first the tradition and secondly, the timing. The Spring Carnival does not have to compete with the football codes.

In the AFL all the games look quite straightforward this week, but rest assured there will be a couple of upsets and it is a matter of trying to pick which ones. I think Essendon will be vulnerable to the Western Bulldogs and I think Richmond will put in an improved performance against Geelong. That being said I am picking the favourites.

Thursday musing – AFL, Arsenal, FA Cup, Premier League…..

Chris Barwin HillsDue to coming public holidays this is the first in a series of two Thursday musings!

With Good Friday tomorrow, the attention turns to the AFL and the “will they/won’t they” sanction a game for next year. I must say that I used to be against it on the basis that the day was always sport free. However, now that other sports are cashing in on the day, I would be happy to be able to sit down on Good Friday night and watch a game of football. Having said that, I would prefer that my team was not playing.

Sticking to football, this one is slightly out of left field. Since Dale “Daisy” Thomas cut off his hair he has hardly played a good game having previously been one of the better players in the AFL. My solution is that he grows his hair back. ou take away someone’s trademark and they are not the player they used to be. I also cite the historical reference to Stephen “strawbs” O’Dwyer who used to play for Melbourne, he had very prominent ears, but as soon as he had his ears pinned back he hardly played a good game. I am sure there other ones as well, like Keith Greig’s ankle bandages, although I doubt he ever removed them.

Better news for the Arsenal fans over the last couple of days. They scraped into the FA Cup final and then in the Premier League they beat West Ham and Everton lose to Crystal Palace to allow the Gunners to reclaim the all important 4th position. They now have their destiny in their own hands and it would be a great finish to the year to take out the first bit of silver wear for 9 years and qualify again for the Champions League. It also looks like Liverpool are favourite to now take out the League title with Man City only getting a draw against Sunderland. What an amazing turnaround from last year when I think they finished 7th.

Have a great Easter!

Friday musing – US Masters, Adam Scott, Arsenal, Patrick Vieira…..

Chris Barwin HillsWith the US Masters now started, I thought it was worth remarking about those two fantastic shots from Matt Jones to qualify him for the Masters. First he drained a 45ft putt to make the play off and then he wins it by chipping in from off the green. Two miracle shots. My original selection for the Masters was Jason Day as I have selected him to win a major this year, however, his first round would indicate that he may not have recovered from his thumb injury so I will have to revert to the reigning champion, Adam Scott.

On a different note, I was thinking about the way Bomber Thompson is coaching at the moment and it brought to mind the change in the Australian Cricket team performance once Darren Lehman took over. Both men take a relaxed approach to their coaching which appears to bring about the best in their teams. One thing I have noticed about the Essendon team this year is that their disposal efficiency has improved immeasurably from previous years. Maintaining that efficiency throughout the season will be the big test as, like my EPL team, Arsenal, they have fallen away at the end of the season recently.

While on the football it is worth commenting on “the bump”. I think everyone who has seen the Nathan Fyffe bump and the Daniel Merrett forearm cannot believe they have been graded the same. Fyffe’s bump was an accidental clash of heads which resulted in a charge under the new AFL rules, whereas Merrett’s was an old fashioned whack which should have gotten four weeks. I think if there are many more incidents akin to the Fyffe suspension, the AFL will need to amend the rules, because in a contact game you cannot or at least should not be suspended for something which was accidental. Australian Rules football is a contact sport and accidents will still happen.

A very disappointing result for Arsenal in the EPL last week losing 3-0 to Everton and now jeopardising their Champions League position. Should they lose the fourth position to Everton and not win the FA Cup, there is every chance that Arsene Wenger will not be asked to continue with the team which would be a shame in my opinion. The owners are finally loosening the purse strings and he may miss out on building the team up again. I also read an interesting article in The Age during the week about Patrick Vieira the last Arsenal captain to raise a trophy. He is working with the Manchester City Under 21 team and enjoying the role. I am not suggesting he is a manager in waiting as it would seem he is a long way off that, but worth keeping an eye on his progress.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Premier League, AFL, MLB……..

Chris Barwin HillsNot much has grabbed me this week on the sporting front although I must say that the Gunners have left me feeling a little flat after a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea and a draw at home with Swansea. With a game coming up against Manchester City I will just have to focus all my attention on the FA Cup.

One thing that has piqued my interest is how the AFL pundits are prepared to make prognostications about various teams seasons on the back of one performance. Some people had North Melbourne finishing in the top four and now they are gone, Carlton’s recruiting is all wrong and they are destined for mediocrity, the Bombers were in for a poor season, but they could finish in the top four. I think the reality is that you cannot make a judgement based on one performance. Essendon had a good win last week, but they get the reality check this week against Hawthorn. The Kangaroos played badly last week, but should bounce back this week against the Bulldogs. Carlton also played well last week and if they had kicked straight should have won the game with a number of their first picked players not available. One game does not define a season and you need to wait until at least half way before you can write someone off.

I didn’t get to watch any of the Major League baseball from Sydney last week, however, the ground looked amazing and as I understand it, the game was a success so it will be interesting to see if more Major League games come to Australia.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing…..the Ashes, Australian Open, Hewitt, Arsenal…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Aussies wrapped up the Ashes in record time and in the end it was great to win and win well, but it was something of an anti-climax given the meek way the English capitulated. Clearly their batting let them down throughout the series and the only ones who could put their hands up would be Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes. Michael Carberry was passable, but he got a lot of starts at the top of the order and only once went on to make a 50. He reminded me a bit of Usman Khwaja, not how he batted, but the fact he continued to get a start and didn’t go on and post a decent score.

One of the quirkiest statistics from the recent series was the batting performance of Nathan Lyon. He batted six times for sixty runs, but was not dismissed in any of those six innings and as a result did not have a series average. I am not sure about the record for the most consecutive number of “not outs” in Test cricket, but it must be right up there.

While the Aussies won the series 5-0, their batting was still brittle at times and the forthcoming series against South Africa will reveal how much progress has been made. It has been widely discussed how well Brad Haddin batted in the series and I think he was the first batsman ever to score greater than fifty in five consecutive first innings of a series. Certainly he was the first to do it in an Ashes series. If Australia need to rely on him and the tail to bale them out in South Africa we will be in for a rude shock. Rogers, Warner, Clarke & Smith all made two centuries in the Ashes series, but to be successful against the Proteas we will need more partnerships. I doubt we can win the series, but it would be good to be competitive.

Moving away from the cricket to the tennis, it was good to see Lleyton Hewitt win a tournament in Australia last weekend. I have never been a particular Hewitt fan, but there is no doubting his competitiveness, his passion for the game and his passion for the Davis Cup. He has battled a lot of injuries over the last five years and most other sportsmen would have given up by now. It is hard to think of too many former Number 1 players who have hung around well after their star has dimmed. Good on him and I hope he does well in the Australian Open.

Bad news about Theo Walcott from last weekend, but one small positive is that at least it happened in January so they can utilise the transfer window if they wish. Better news with Oxlade-Chamberlain fit to resume, Giroud & Ozil likely to play and Ramsay & Gibbs pretty close. It is time to extract revenge on Aston Villa after that poor start to the season.

Have a great weekend.