SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, September 01, 2013

For Anyone Who Thinks Soccer is Boring. . .

They didn't watch either the Liverpool-ManU game yesterday or the Arsenal-Tottenham game today.    Liverpool honored its legendary manager, Bill Shankly, and then went out, scored early, and held off a somewhat listless bitter rival.  Somehow, ManU didn't seem the same without the fiery Wayne Rooney on the pitch threatening to score with every touch near the box.  Liverpool's red-hot Daniel Sturridge scored early, its new goalie Simon Mignolet played well, and they got the three points.

Tottenham went into today's match undefeated, 2-0, although it hadn't scored a goal other than on penalty kicks by its newly acquired striker, Soldado (and last game's was controversial, coming off what charitably can be called a dive by a fellow striker).  They have made a big splash in the international market, signing some good players, all the while waiting for their megastar, Gareth Bale, to be sold to Real Madrid.  Spurs have good players, although they looked to play a very right-footed game, starting almost every offensive run through their talented right back, Kyle Walker.

Arsenal scored in the first half on a textbook play, a great clear to past midfield from their captain, center back Per Mertesacker, to the most improved center midfielder in the game, Aaron Ramsey, who spun once and put the ball to the near-right side and on the foot of veteran midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who then sent it out wide to the speedy right winger, Theo Walcott.  Walcott dashed in about ten yards and hit a cross to striker Olivier Giroud, who, on a perfectly timed run, put the ball past giving Spurs' goaltender Hugo Lloris, who excelled in goal today for the visitors.  1-0 Arsenal, which is how it would end (despite all oddsmakers predicting a draw).

What fascinated the fans was that Tottenham put on a blistering surge late, peppering Arsenal's defense with run after run, pass after pass, but the Gunners' defense held up well enough for the victory in what they say is a North London darby (actually spelled derby) along the lines, in the U.S., of a "subway series."  The win gave Arsenal three points and thrust them into the EPL's top 10, tied with Spurs, as both now have two wins and one loss.

Meanwhile, the deadline for transfers is tomorrow, and Arsenal hasn't spent a pound of a vast war chest, while Tottenham has spent well on the likes of Soldado and the young Argentine striker Erik Lamela (not to mention the talented Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen).  Look for the Gunners to make a big splash by the time the deadline expires, adding a few more pieces to fill voids that injured players have created and to help them make a deeper run in the EPL.  Rumors abound, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a crafty old fox, so look for him to deliver some good news up for the faithful at Emirates Stadium very soon.

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