Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday Open Thread

I think everyone else has a severe case of, well, something bad. Let's get Saturday started. Cisse has already put Sunderland up. Arsenal surprised Manchester United. What else is going on? That's for you to fill in. Interesting games after the break.

Wigan and Stoke drew at nil.
Arsenal defeated United on two Nasri goals. Hope SAF had his tin hat on.

EPL (10.00 EST)
West Ham-Everton
Liverpool-West Brom (12.30 EST)

Championship (10.00 EST)
Coventry-Crystal Palace

SPL (10.00 EST)
Dundee United-Aberdeen (already 2-0, ugh)
St Mirren-Hearts

Also, lots of FA Cup first round action, which I'll not spoil because of the tape delays that FSC are showing.

Read more on "Saturday Open Thread"...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Backpasses: Lies ahead

Absolutely, positively the last run of days like this. Promise (maybe).
SAF makes sure the air is clear before Arsenal game [Soccerway]
Football's most pointless jobs [Eurosport]
Just go ahead and get here, son [SI]

Another one in a series [Naples News]
How does one stop Rory Delap's throws? [Guardian]
Subbuteo memories [Guardian]

And, finally:
Maradona visits Man U, gives Rio a birthday present. A certain Norwich fan is livid that no one kicked the munchkin in the nuts [Soccerway]

Read more on "Friday Backpasses: Lies ahead"...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday Backpasses: Hey, what happened?

Here's hoping I never get forced to play Stone Soccer (2nd item) [Boston Phoenix]
Dutch player headed to jail for being pissy to police officer []
Suspended ref's Porsche got trashed by his ex [The Sun]

And, finally:
Fergie's top 10 feuds [Mirror]

Read more on "Thursday Backpasses: Hey, what happened?"...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday Backpasses: Boom goes the dynamite

Tevez's girl admits to being obsessed with football players. In the bed [Newspost Online]
Harry Redknapp's instructions to Pavs last weekend, as passed through the interpreter: "just f**king run about" [Soccernet]
Well, that took a day [Daily Mail]

Pulis pwnz Wenger in American history terms[Soccernet]
Article on why a promising MLS player chose Mali over USA []

And, finally:
Dramatic pictures out of Ireland. Player gets hit by missile right before it explodes [Daily Mail]

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AAAAAGHOpen Thread

Careful, lads. Gerrard's fired up today, practically falling all over himself in desperation to get in on the action.

Honestly though, do Celtic have a chance in hell? Do either of these games even matter?

Group E
AaB v Villarreal
Celtic v Man Utd

Group F
Fiorentina v Bayern Munich
Lyon v Steaua Bucuresti

Group G
Arsenal v Fenerbahce
Dynamo Kiev v FC Porto

Group H
BATE v Zenit St Petersburg
Real Madrid v Juventus


Celtic v. Man United
Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Wilson, Hartley, Scott Brown, Robson, Maloney, McDonald, Sheridan.
Subs: Mark Brown, Naylor, Donati, Hutchinson, Nakamura, O'Dea, Caddis.

Man Utd: Foster, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, O'Shea, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Carrick, Nani, Tevez, Giggs.
Subs: Kuszczak, Evra, Anderson, Berbatov, Rooney, Park, Evans.

Arsenal v. Fenerbahce
Arsenal: Fabianski, Toure, Djourou, Silvestre, Clichy, Ramsey, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri, Bendtner, Van Persie.
Subs: Mannone, Diaby, Sagna, Vela, Song Billong, Wilshere, Gibbs.

Fenerbahce: Demirel, Gonul, Edu Dracena, Lugano, Roberto Carlos, Maldonado, Sahin, Boral, Kazim-Richards, Senturk, Guiza.
Subs: Babacan, Wederson, Yilmaz, Josico, Bilgin, Cakmak, Deivid.

Read more on "AAAAAGHOpen Thread"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Who knew Germany was such fertile ground for these things? Hot on the heels of 1860 Munich and Eintracht Braunschweig comes this gem of a shirt from the club ESV Greifswald. Don't go searching for the team, it no longer exists, having merged with another club. The new club plays in the fifth level of German soccer.

With good reason, too. When you start pulling out shirts like this week's, then you may as well fold.

If it were not right there in front of me, I would have a hard time believing this shirt existed. But then, if it were not right here in front of me, who would try to explain it?

"Well, you see, it's got the red and black stripes, kind of like AC Milan, but running at an angle. But they're not all over. No, they just run from one shoulder to the opposite hip. But the stripes are not solid, either. They are interrupted by a white space for the sponsor, which is bordered above by red, then black, then white again. Oh, and there are polka dots--kind of, they're not really round--on the rib cage opposite the side where the AC Milan stripes end up. Can you picture it now?"

Uh, no.

Then there is the back of the shirt

I'm sure I have many rules for shirts stored away in my head. Every once in a while, one of them pops up. The one that does so here is: whenever you have to put the number at an angle, you have done something greatly wrong. Also, what's up with German clubs and the club names on the backs of shirts? Does that happen anywhere else?

So, if you want to remember the time you took that trip to the Northeast corner of Germany hard up against the Baltic sea, you could buy this shirt. Or you could just drink yourself into a stupor. Your call.

Read more on "The Good, The Bad, The WTF"...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday Backpasses: What is there to say?

Not much to put in here today. As I stated before, we were all a little preoccupied by other things. I do have a nice picture of the foul on Steven Gerrard that Precious Roy worked up for us.
Arsenal to rotate the eight-year-olds into the squad tomorrow [Guardian]
Rafa fears that title race will be derailed by not resigning certain players. No mention of losing to last place teams [Guardian]
A takeover bid for Liverpool fell through [The Sun]
Which may be why Gillett is "embarrassed" by his club's finances [SI]

And finally:
Cristiano Ronaldo is one sweaty dude [Sports Crackle Pop]

Read more on "Tuesday Backpasses: What is there to say?"...

CL Open Thread

Where will Kun Aguero end up in January?

Election Day in the USA is more important, as u75 brought up. But it's still my civic duty to provide a libel-free clearinghouse for CL-related observations!

On Tap Today:
CFR Cluj v Bordeaux
Roma v Chelsea

Anorthosis Famagusta v Inter Milan
Werder Bremen v Panathinaikos

Barcelona v Basle
Sporting v Shakhtar Donetsk

Liverpool v Atletico Madrid
Marseille v PSV Eindhoven

If LFC beat Atletico and PSV fail to beat Marseille, LFC secure passage into the next round.

For Chelsea, they'd need a lot to lock it up today. I'll let Fletch from the BBC explain:"However - if they beat Roma and CFR Cluj draw with Bordeaux - the only way the London outfit could slip up would be if they lost both their remaining CL games and Bordeaux and Cluj won both their remaining games, with Bordeaux beating Chelsea by five clear goals (or 4-0, in which case it would come down to goals scored in the whole qualifying campaign)."

So there you have it.

LFC v. Atletico Madrid
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Mascherano, Alonso, Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera, Keane.

Subs: Cavalieri, Dossena, Benayoun, Babel, Leiva Lucas, Ngog, Degen.

Atletico Madrid: Franco, Lopez, Perea, Heitinga, Pernia, Garcia, Paulo, Simao, Assuncao, Maniche, Maxi, Forlan.

Subs: Coupet, Luis Garcia, Aguero, Sinama Pongolle, Banega, Pablo, Camacho.

Roma v. Chelsea
Roma: Doni, Cicinho, Mexes, Juan, Panucci, Perrotta, De Rossi, Brighi, Pizarro, Totti, Vucinic.

Subs: Artur, Taddei, Loria, Riise, Julio Baptista, Tonetto, Menez.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, Bridge, Deco, Mikel, Lampard, Joe Cole, Anelka, Malouda.

Subs: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Drogba, Ferreira, Kalou, Belletti.

Read more on "CL Open Thread"...

MLS Dying Before Our Eyes

Of course the solution then is to gouge out our own eyes, no?

So it's a bit of a massive hyperbole—I mean the league has seven quality bids on the table for its next round of expansion—but MLS attendance numbers are in, and they are down from last year.

It's okay, the sky is still up there. The drop was a modest 1.8% to an average of 16,459 a game. The league essentially tried to pin it on Kansas City playing in a 10,000 seat stadium—eating your own, bad strategy—but the Sports Business Journal article claims that even factoring out Kansas City for the past two years shows a drop in 2008.

The Galaxy led the league (duh) by averaging 26,000, which was up 7.2% from last year. Additionally they also drew well away from home as they broke their own road attendance record from last season. Basically, even though the team sucks, people still turn up to see David Beckham. Soccer in America, folks.

The biggest drag was FC Dallas. They had a drop of over 14.00%. Citing the article: "A spokesperson for FC Dallas said the team reduced the number of complimentary tickets offered this season and televised all home games for the first time, which affected attendance." Also, while Pizza Hut Park is a nice facility, it is at least a 30 minute haul (and a few bucks in tolls) from downtown Dallas. When gas is $4 a gallon, that shit matters.

Then there's this fun fact: The season ender between the Dynamo and Chivas USA, on Fox Soccer Channel, it got a Blutarsky. "The last game of the season on [FSC] between the Dynamo and Chivas USA delivered a 0.0 cable rating and 24,000 viewers." Awesome.

We're not bashing MLS. It might look like it, but we're not. Look here's a qualifier: That Dynamo v. Chivas game, it was totally meaningless in terms of regular season standings and playoffs, so of course it's not going to draw a big number. Both the Dynamo and Chivas USA saw their season attendance numbers go up about 6.5% and 5.5% respectively (particularly amazing for the Dynamo because Robertson Stadium is a bit of a dump). So yippee!

We actually want MLS to succeed. And why not? The better the league is, the more goal keepers we can continue to send to the EPL (suck it, Barlcays). It's just that, well, MLS attendance numbers are hardly the most reliable things to begin with. The San Diego Union Tribune covered this well a couple of years ago (see here and here). And when figures are possibly padded to begin with, what's a 1.8% drop really mean?

Read more on "MLS Dying Before Our Eyes"...


I'm just going to say it. There are things I am much more interested in today than the beautiful game. Sure, Champions League matches will be a nice diversion (no Torres, 'Pool fans), but that's what they are today, a diversion.

If you are in America and eligible, I hope you have voted. I don't care for whom (unless you voted for Cynthia McKinney. Woman's a dingbat), just as long as you did so. If you have, feel free to take one of these stickers my home state prints out.

Join us later for some CL fun, and we will be back to full force tomorrow.

Read more on "Well"...

Why Yes, He Does Have a Copy of the Tulsa Roughnecks v. the Edmonton Drillers

If you head east on Academy Drive in Austin, Texas you pass what used to be the Austin Opera House. The only clue the place used to be a live music venue is the oversized parking lot. And looking at the nondescript office buildings, you'd never guess they occupy the same space where Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded parts of Live Alive, the world premier of the cult classic Ninja Bachelor Party took place, and Spamarama spent a couple of its formative and awkwardly less successful years.

Similarly, just a couple of blocks up the street sits a modern looking house that no passerby would think for a second holds one of the most peculiar soccer libraries on the planet. It's the home of Dave Wasser, and inside is what has to be world's most extensive collection of NASL game tapes.

The North American Soccer League is the "failed" American soccer past from which MLS are trying to avoid being doomed to repeat. Running from 1968 until it closed up shop in 1984, the league really did put soccer on the map in this country, if only for a couple of years when Pele arrived in New York to play for the Cosmos. But overexpansion, low attendance, etc... most every soccer fan in this country knows the story, if not, go check out this movie.

"I grew up in New York and used to love watching the Cosmos games when I was a kid," says Wasser. "Then about 15 years ago, I thought, 'You know, I'd love to get my hands on copies of those games, they have to be around some place.''"

Place? No. Places? Yes. "Over the years I have contacted over a thousand people associated with the NASL—players, coaches, referees, team executives, even the announcers on the local NASL broadcasts. For every 10 or 15 people I contacted, one of them would have a stash of old tapes. That's how I started collecting."

When the league offices shut down in 1985, someone from the office called around to various players and coaches saying, "We've got these tapes of the games you were in, do you want them." The problem was that they were on 3/4" tape. Your standard home VCR is 1/2" tape. People had footage of themselves they had literally never seen because they didn't have the equipment. So, a decade later, as Wasser is following the league tracks, he's telling people, "I can play those tapes, do you want me to copy them for you?"

In 1997 Wasser put up his website ( At the time he had about 50 NASL games on tape. Since then, the collection has grown to over 300 NASL matches, and the entire library is several hundred beyond that. There is a complete list on the site, but it is by no means exhaustive. Are there tapes anywhere of the San Antonio Thunder? What about the Miami Gatos?

"There are some classic games that I have never found. The 1978 Minnesota-New York playoff series is at the top of my 'Want List,'" says Wasser, who is also the head of the NASL Alumni Association. Additionally, some known collections stay out of reach. Elliot Hoffman, the former owner as well as gatekeeper and keymaster of the Philadelphia Fury, hasn't been willing to make copies of his tapes "for any reason" in Wasser's experience.

Wasser also has the world's most exhaustive archive of the US Men's National Team—an additional 250 matches worth of shelf space. How complete is it? When people call US Soccer looking for tape, they tell them to call Wasser. In fact when US Soccer is looking for tape, they do the same.

He says: "A lot of people don't realize that the first broadcast of a US National Team game in this country wasn't until 1984—the last year of the NASL—and it was on NBC." Wasser has a couple of games that pre-date that (foreign matches with the language call to boot). "I wish some games had been broadcast in the 1970s. I know many of the guys who played for the US National Team in the 1970s. They would love to see tapes of games they played in."

As the work of just one guy with a strangely undying love for a league long since dead, the library is, in a word (okay, three), pretty fucking cool. All of the tapes are available for trade or for order. There is contact information for ordering on his homepage if you've nothing to trade but still have to have the '79 overtime thriller between Rochester Lancers and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Read more on "Why Yes, He Does Have a Copy of the Tulsa Roughnecks v. the Edmonton Drillers"...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Backpasses: When you have nothing good to say . . .

Brooks Mileson, the man who bankrolled Gretna to the SPL, only to withdraw his money which led to the club's dissolution, has died. Without getting too much into it, he was a flawed man, both good and bad [BBC]
Next season would fulfill his MLS contract, if Becks wants it that way [SI]
The XI of Doom. That Edmundo guy is awesome [Dirty Tackle]

Graham Poll, Mr. Three Cards, comments on come refs from this past weekend [Daily Mail]
Aidy Boothroyd, once everyone's favorite young English manager, out at Watford [BBC]
Wayne Rooney, coming off a brace in Belarus, immediately went to gamble to keep his hot streak going. It didn't work. He lost over $100K in two hours [Mirror]

And finally:
The site LB has been visiting in his free time lately [fans-online]

Read more on "Monday Backpasses: When you have nothing good to say . . ."...

Franco-American Relations Are Mixed

Given that my boy Jozy Altidore (the Haitian Sensation! - TM by The NY Kid) got the first goal for an American in La Liga, I thought it would be interesting to get an update on how the Americans in Ligue 1 are doing. The results are mixed, if not a little predictable.

Carlos Bocanegra, the 29 year-old defender, plays for Stade Rennais F.C. who are currently 6th in Ligue 1. The former Fulhamerica player has started all 12 matches for his new club, and played a total of 1,071 minutes (an average of 89.25 minutes per match). Although he scored 8 goals for Fulham (in 116 appearances) and has 10 goals for the USMNT (in 62 appearances), the defender has yet to score or even register an assist for Rennes. He does, however, have 1 yellow card.

Freddy Adu, the 19 year-old striker and supposed wunderkind, plays for AS Monaco FC (on loan from Benfica) who currently sit 13th in Ligue 1. After becoming the youngest US athlete to sign a professional contract in over 100 years when he signed with DC United at the age of 14, Freddy scored 13 goals in 98 MLS matches (11 in 87 with DC United, and 2 in 11 with Real Salt Lake). He spent 1 year with Benfica, where he fired in 5 goals in 11 matches. However, Freddy has languished with Monaco, appearing in only 5 Ligue 1 matches (as a substitute each time) for a total of 46 minutes with 0 goals. He also started a Ligue Cup match and played 69 minutes, but also failed to score. Considering that Freddy has 0 goals in 11 appearances with the USMNT, this is perhaps unsurprising, but it seems like he was supposed to see a little more pitch time at Monaco (after all, was that not the purpose for the loan). Unfortunately for Freddy, Monaco's strike force of Alexandre Licata, Frederic Nimani, and especially the revelatory Park Chu-Young have kept him on the bench.

It seems that Bocanegra has a solid starting role in the Rennes defense, and he should be there for the forseeable future, while Freddy's time at Monaco may turn out to be a waste for all involved in the loan.

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Altidore and the Duck

The duck lost as Jozy Altidore put the finishing touches on Villareal's 4-1 victory over Atletico Bilbao with a goal at the close of the match. With the goal, Jozy became the first American to score in La Liga.

[Editor's Note: After thinking about this, Jozy is not the first American to score in La Liga, that honor goes to the Benedict Arnold Giuseppe Rossi, a New Jersey born Italian-American who has chosen to cast his lot with the Italian national team rather than the USMNT.]

Congratulations Jozy! We wish you many more.

Altidore came on in the 90th minute and managed to score within 30 seconds. With that sort of production, clearly he should be starting.

Read more on "Altidore and the Duck"...

Scotland Update

Apparently, I find it too difficult to do this on a weekly basis. So, in order not to cheat those who actually click the link for a Scotland post, I'll expand the one I do. SPL, SFL, Highland League, and whatever else I can fit in after the break.

As per usual in the SPL, it was a six game slate this weekend.

Rangers 5-0 Inverness CT
Rangers won the fast start award, knocking in five first half goals against Inverness Caley Thistle. The home fans were undoubtedly thrilled to see a hat trick from Kris Boyd in between the opener from never-to-be-a-Scot-international Nacho Novo and the final goal from Kenny Miller. For the American readers, Beasley came in on 74 minutes, while Edu did not leave the subs' bench.

Aberdeen 1-0 Kilmarnock
Sone Aluko fired home for the Dons to earn the team's first home win in six tries this season. Aberdeen had a flurry of chances around the half-hour mark, but wouldn't find the net until shortly after half-time. Aluko peeled in from the left and blasted a shot from a rather tight angle in the 50th minute. Killie had some late chances after Aberdeen failed to expand their lead, but (thankfully) Aberdeen held on with a nervous win.

Motherwell 2-0 Hamilton Academical
Chris Porter scored once in each half for the home side as Hamilton fell further behind at the foot of the table. Porter's first half goal was a redirect of a Bob Malcolm free kick. His second came at the expense of the offside rule, apparently. Still, the goal counted, and Hamilton had no reply. On the back of Porter's brace, Motherwell move up to third in the table. Hamilton have lost six straight and eight out of nine.

Falkirk 0-0 Dundee United
St Mirren 0-0 Hibernian
*yawn* What is this, Ligue 1 from two seasons back? Score some goals, you tossers. That's right, on Saturday 10 teams played, and eight goals were scored by three teams. I'm not even going to attempt to find something to talk about from these matches.

Hearts 0-2 Celtic
Hey, an away team scored goals! On Sunday, Celtic took over Tynecastle. In a surprise to none, Celtic had already put the game out of reach on twenty minutes, when Gary Caldwell scored Celtic's second. Hearts went a man down early in the second, but acquitted themselves well in not collapsing completely. In fact, they had some attempts on goal, but Boruc was always equal to the task.

Celtic top the SPL table on 28 points from 11 games. Rangers are on 25 points, but have a game in hand and, thanks to those five goals, are even on GD with Celtic. Motherwell lead a pack of six who are on between 14 and 16 points, while Hamilton are starting to drift off the back.

In other SPL news, UEFA announced that next season, should Rangers blow it again in CL qualifying, they will go directly into the Europa League instead of being dumped out of Europe entirely. (Yes, that means Rangers are finishing second. Got a problem with that?)

St Johnstone lead the First Division by two points over Queen of the South. The Johnnies picked up first place by defeating Dunfermline over the weekend, while QotS lost to Partick Thistle. Morton are propping up the table, two points behind Clyde.

Raith currently top the Second Division on goal difference over Brechin City. Brechin lost first place on Saturday after a humiliating 5-1 loss to fifth-place Peterhead. Ratih took over the top spot after a twelve minute flurry of three second-half goals to defeat Alloa. Arbroath sit at the bottom with six points from twelve game, three points below Straraer.

Stenhousemuir maintained their Third Division lead over Dumbarton with 3-0 away win over fifth-placed Montrose. Dumbarton kept pace on points, though, by defeating struggling Berwick Rangers 5-2. Berwick are in ninth place, right above Elgin City, but still behind the fading newbies Annan Athletic

In the Highland League, Inverurie Locos are unbeaten in seven to start the season and beat Rothes on Saturday 5-2. Cove Rangers and Deveronvale are also off to hot starts this season with both teams sitting just two points back of the league leaders. Rothes are one of the two bottom teams, joined by the always-woeful Fort William FC on one point.

Finally, in the second round of the Scottish Cup, Spartans of Edinburgh were able to extract some revenge on Annan Athletic, who beat them out for the offseason's SFL spot, by winning 2-1 on the road. Of course, it's small consolation when the team that finished five spots below you in competition last season gets picked to jump ahead of you in league status, but they will take what they can get.

Read more on "Scotland Update"...

Chelsea--A Hobby That May Just Run Its Course?

Roman's new taste?

Since 2003, Chelsea FC has been the place where great players congregate to get paid immense sums and there has been no such thing as budget. That has finally changed this year. First, Chelsea gets outbid by Manchester City and its oil barons for Robinho. Now, The Guardian reports that Chelsea is cutting its 25 man scouting division by 15.

The economic credit crunch is believed partially at fault, as is its woeful performance. There hasn't been a significant development from Chelsea's youth squads to the senior squad that I can recall. Given Chelsea's style on proven players--overpay them--you would think the same would occur for the youth teams. Clearly, that isn't the case or the scouts are truly awful and waste the money.

And now, British courts have ruled that Roman Abramovich's interest in Chelsea is purely a hobby. Despite proclamations that Roman wants to make Chelsea profitable, the court has had its say, and it says that is just a pipe dream.

Abramovich has poured hundreds of millions into the club but Clarke described his involvement as a "hobby and a leisure interest ... It is not a business investment. The sums that Mr Abramovich has given to the club far exceed any return that could possibly be expected".

The Guardian article details much of Abramovich's wealth that came out during a court case where Roman argued British courts did not have jurisdiction over him. It's a fascinating laundry list of chalets, villas, art and a fortune built off of shady business dealings.

So, what happens when Roman's tastes change? Does the $500 billion dollar interest free loan to

Is it all a sign the Roman Abramovich's interest in Chelsea is waning? If so, what does it mean for Chelsea? Will the $500 million dollar interest free loan be called in? What happens?

Read more on "Chelsea--A Hobby That May Just Run Its Course?"...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ligue 1 Weekend Review

SM Caen get the win of the week with their Saturday victory over Toulouse, which prevent the latter club from moving to second in the table. Not as much scoring this week, perhaps due to the mid-week slate of games that were responsible for numerous changes on the pitch by many clubs.

Saturday, November 1st:

Auxerre 0-0 Valenciennes - Valenciennes was unable to get off a single shot on target and had only 38% of the possession, but they still managed to steal a point off Auxerre. Bezzaz almost got things started for Valenciennes in the 11th minute with a blast over the crossbar, but after that it was all Auxerre, all the time. Valenciennes GK Penneteau was called upon to make a double-save on Niculae in the 13th minute, and was threatened by Oliech soon after. Auxerre almost stole the full 3 points in the 92nd minute, but Penneateau tipped the shot over the bar and the resulting corner was cleared easily.

Lille 2-0 Nantes - In a match featuring 55 total fouls (30-25), Lille managed to outlast a listless Nantes for the full 3 points. Da Rocha was the only one who seemed dangerous, having a shot cleared off the line by Mavuba in the first half, and forcing Lille GK Malicki into a nice save in the second half. Lille got on the board when Rami got a touch on an Obraniak free-kick (which may have gone in even without the touch) in the 39th minute. Almost immediately after the start of the second half, Favergue used a long run to score the game's only other goal.

Lorient 1-1 Grenoble - Lorient had the better chances in this match, keeping Grenoble GK Wimbee extremely busy starting with a strike from Abriel in the 7th minute that was well-saved. The first half was relatively uneventful, but the second half started quickly with Courtois forcing a great save from Lorient GK Cappone. A short while later, in the 53rd minute, Courtois scored on a vicious volley off a cross from Feghouli. The action continued with Robin taking down Gameiro in the box, with Abriel slotting home the PK in the 59th minute. Gameiro was involved again minutes later, as he beat Wimbee, but the shot was cleared off the line by Robin. Lorient then was given an incredible opportunity when Courtois was sent off with a straight red card for a late tackle on Amalfitano in the 71st minute, giving him this week's "Goal-scorer to get carded" award. Unfortunately for Lorient, they were unable to capitalize on the 1-man advantage, and Wimbee preserved the point in injury time when he stopped a well-struck header from Soro.

Nancy 1-0 Bordeaux - Although they dominated the match, Bordeaux suffered their first defeat in their last 7 league tilts. Things started off very poorly for Bordeaux in the 1st minute when Henrique was called for a handball, and their performance continued to slide downwards. The situation worsened when Bordeaux GK Rame was injured in the 22nd minute during a collision off a Nancy corner kick. The match settled down, but back-up GK Valverde still looked unsure in the 70th minute when Hadji intercepted a sloppy pass and sent home his shot from 20 yards out for the win.

Nice 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain - Nice got off 10 shots on goal, and all it took was for 1 of them to count for the 3 points. Now unbeaten in 5 matches, Nice actually started off slowly. Hoarau was put through on a strong ball from Sessegnon, but Nice GK Letizi made an excellent stop. Letizi was called upon again almost immediately, this time to stop Sessegnon. Bamogo finally got off a good shot for Nice in the 25th minute, but it was well-saved by PSG GK Landreau. The increased pressure paid off in the 39th minute when Mouloungui headed home a Hellebuyck corner. Things were more even in the second half, as Landreau tipped a shot by Fae over the bar in the 58th minute, and Letizi made a great save on a shot from Giuly in the 66th minute.

Toulouse 0-1 Caen - In a fairly surprising result, Caen managed to prevent Toulouse from moving up to second in the table with their first away win of the season. The vast majority of the pressure for Caen came from Savidan and Nivet, who made the Toulouse defense look foolish throughout most of the match. The best chance for Toulouse came from Didot, who forced a save from Plante. After that Savidan forced Toulouse GK Carasso into numerous saves (and sent a few chances just wide). Nivet was a substitute in the 75th minute, and 4 minutes later he was played through by a clever back-heel from Savidan and sent his shot from 25 yards out into the upper 90.

Marseille 3-1 Saint-Etienne - This match was statistically dominated by L'OM (shots on goal 9-2, possession 62%-38%) and it finally showed on the scoresheet. Saint-Etienne GK Janot saw his busiest game of the season, with much of the pressure applied by Ben Arfa. It began early, when Janot was called into action to make a save on a Ziani free-kick in the 10th minute. In the 20th minute, Ben Arfa sent in a corner that was headed home by Cheyrou for the first goal of the match. Saint-Etienne equalized almost immediately when Gomis sent a blistering shot through the defense and a stunned Mandada in the 22nd minute. Ben Arfa then got loose in the 30th minute, forcing Janot into yet another save. When Janot took down Kone in the box in the 37th minute, Ben Arfa stepped up to calmly slot the PK home. Ben Arfa almost beat Janot again, but the Saint-Etienne made an outstanding save in the 55th minute. But the youngster was determined to finish off Saint-Etienne, and in the 71st minute Taiwo headed home another excellent Ben Arfa corner.

Sunday, November 2nd:

Le Havre 2-3 Monaco - Monaco put 12 shots on goal (Le Havre had only 6), and they needed every one of them to come out of the match with 3 points. Monaco started off more quickly, with Park (who has been in outstanding form over the past few matches) forcing Havre GK Revault into saves in the 12th and 13th minutes. In the 20th minute Cufre headed home a Mollo corner, and the scoring was opened. Revault stopped Park again in the 24th and 26th minutes before Le Havre finally got their first shot on goal through Lesage, who was stopped by Monaco GK Ruffier. In the 40th minute, Licata was unmarked and received the pass for an easy goal and Monaco went into the half with a 2-goal lead. Almost immediately after the start of the second half, Nestor scored his first Ligue 1 goal off a cross from Ben Idir to pull 1 goal back for Le Havre. Just 3 minutes later, in the 50th minute, Park finally beat Revault with a shot coming off an Alonso cross. Le Havre made things interesting in the 60th minute when Monaco GK Ruffier gave up a rebound on a Lesage shot and Alassane sent the shot home, but the rest of the second half was a continued Monaco assault, with Revault stopping Licata twice and Park once. Freddy Adu watch: Freddy didn't even make it on to the bench for this match.

Rennes 1-0 Sochaux - Ligue 1 basement dweller Sochaux, on just 6 points from 6 draws for the season, started off the match in the worst possible manner when Jokic fouled Sow in the box with 21 seconds elapsed. Briand drove home the resulting PK for the only goal of the match. Sochaux's season got even worse in the 8th minute when Erding, just returning from a thigh injury, had to come off due to a thigh injury. The rest of the match was an advertisement for the seemingly-new focus of Ligue 1 clubs on long-range shots. Mezague's shot from 35 yards forced a save from Rennes GK Douchez, while Pagis had an incredible 30-yard strike stopped by Sochaux GK Richert. The other action in the match came when Sochaux gaffer Francis Gillet was sent into the stands by the match officials for "unpleasantness."

Lyon 2-0 Le Mans - Lyon bossed Le Mans up and down the pitch for the entirety of the match, and the end result was never in doubt. The pressure started early from Benzema, Juninho, and Fred (who had his header saved by Le Mans GK Pele in the 16th minute). Toulalan then sent a long ball through for Benzema, who crashed it home off the left post in the 22nd minute. The best chance for Le Mans came in the 37th minute on a cross from Stromstad to Coutadeur, but Cris got his foot on the ball and it rolled back harmlessly to his GK Lloris. The pressure from Lyon continued after the second half, and they were rewarded in the 57th minute when Benzema sent a cross into Delgado, whose shot rebounded to Juninho for the easy finish. With the 2-0 lead secure, Lyon relaxed a bit, content to play keep-away.

So after Matchday 12, the top of the table looks like this: (1) Lyon, with 27 points on an 8-3-1 record and a +10 goal differential; (2) Marseille, with 23 points on a 6-5-1 record and a +9 goal differential; (3) Bordeaux, with 21 points on a 6-3-3 record and a +7 goal differential; and (4) Toulouse, with 21 points on a 6-3-3 record and a +1 goal differential.

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30 Goals... Wright? Bolton breathe deeply.

Former Arsenal net banger Ian Wright says Man City's Brazilian superstar Robinho can score 30 goals this season. He also said that Man City would have no trouble at the Reebok today. Man City lost 2-0 to Bolton earlier and Robinho didn't really get a sniff. So if the Brazilian is to meet his self imposed target of 30 he has some catching up to do.

If Robinho is to score 30 goals this season he will need 24 more. With 27 Premier League games left, 30 Prem goals would require nearly one every game. In fact an average of 0.8 goals a game is what's needed. Based on Man City's performance today I should think that THAT target is the stuff of fantasy. Quite frankly, if you march into the toughest league and declare you will score 30 goals, then you deserve to look a pratt on the last day of the season. Also as the games wear on it looks as if Robinho is being found out. Man City will certainly need to play more like a team instead of relying on the Brazilians one man show to win games. Man City have won ONE of their last five games.

Bolton's victory this afternoon was deserved but the goals were the product of some absolutely shocking defensive lapses. Ricardo Gardner did the damage on 77 mins as he was left unmarked to find an empty net before Richard Dunne sealed his teams fate, turning in Gardners cross from the left and handing Bolton 3 points that keep them outside of the bottom three. Gary Megson also gets to keep his job for another week.


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