Tag Archive | "Arsenal"

Gunning For A Title



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Can Captain Cesc lead Arsenal to glory?

Can Captain Cesc lead Arsenal to glory?

After Stoke City’s Ricardo Fuller nodded in two goals last weekend to send the Britannia into euphoria, Arsenal are now in contention for only two major trophies this season and that could be a blessing for them. The distraction of the FA Cup would certainly be a pleasurable one to have, but I’m curious to see them go at the English title with everything they’ve got. If they can remain injury free and manage to stay clear of letdowns against underdog opposition, this fiery bunch of lads could challenge at least for second place and give the favorites something to think about.

The next two weeks will go a long way in determining the Gunner’s BPL fate. Starting with Manchester United this morning, Arsenal go on to face Chelsea and Liverpool in their next two league matches—a daunting task indeed. United present the challenge of stopping Wayne Rooney (he of the 13 goals in his last 13 matches), while Chelsea welcome back their African Nations Cup stars, and Liverpool is always a tough match—regardless of their league position.

Today’s match against United should be a humdinger and if Arsenal doesn’t want their title aspirations dashed, they need to continue the fine defensive form they have recently displayed against Sir Alex’s squad. William Gallas and his merry men have only conceded ONE natural goal in open play to United in their last THREE league meetings. That should prove to be a little more difficult with Gallas’ running mate Thomas Vermaelen out injured, leaving the ancient Sol Campbell to fill his boots. And those who saw Campbell’s performance against Stoke should not be filled with confidence.

And it isn’t just in defense that the Gunner’s have suffered injury. Robin Van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner, and Samir Nasri have all missed extensive time this season. But it doesn’t matter. Arsenal has one thing no other team in the league has—Cesc Fabregas. Believe me when I tell you that I’m about as partial to this kid as Michael Vick is to French poodles, but it’s near impossible not to admit his improvement since the summer break. Last season, I thought the Spaniard was just another overzealous youngster with nothing more than an occasional eye for the crossbar. But this season, he seems to have come out from underneath his big brother’s ball box to play Geppetto in the Arsenal midfield. His goals have been crucial and his pinpoint passes have provided his non-injured teammates excellent chances on goal.

There’s a lot of good to be said for this talented bunch of lads. In fact, I’d go as far as to wager a second place bet in favor of the Arsenal. I believe they’re going to continue to score goals and as long as the rocky back four that played against Stoke City in the FA Cup are never again assembled on a football pitch until the day an Avatar is President, they should be fine defensively. So going into this very difficult couple of weeks, every Gunner should be excited, but they should also be aware that a loss to United tomorrow could lead to another trophy-less year at the Emirates.

M. Junia Stainbank

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He’s Andrey McFly



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He’s owned Liverpool on the pitch the past two years, now check out this hilarious clip of Arsenal’s Andrey Arshavin doing it to them Back to the Future style.

Posted in Steve MartinComments Off

When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go



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Stuttgart’s keeper, the always entertaining Jens Lehmann, couldn’t wait for a break in action during yesterday’s Champions League match against Unirea Urziceni to relieve himself. Instead, the crafty veteran decided to duck behind the advertising signs to take care of business. Unfortunately, it looks like the former Arsenal man couldn’t fully shake it out before action headed back his way.

Posted in Jason ParkerComments (1)

Did I Do That?



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FAMILY MATTERS

Do you remember the early 90s sitcom Family Matters? You probably remember it as the Steve Urkel show. And you may remember his catch phrase ‘Did I do that?’ Well, that’s what’s the news is like today, a bunch of people making some bad decisions.

French club Rennes has been charged with poaching teenager Tongo Hamed Doumbia from Châteauroux, a Ligue 2 side. It wouldn’t be so funny if they hadn’t accused Manchester City of doing the same thing to them. Maybe someone needs to translate the old adage about people in glass houses into French.

It looks like there’s been a little bust-up at Aston Villa between manager Martin O’Neill and disgruntled midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. Some reports say that Reo-Coker got physical and pushed and choked O’Neill. The manager denies Reo-Coker went all Latrell Spreewell, but he did give the hot-headed midfielder the weekend off.

Liverpool may be sitting in fifth place and seven points behind BPL leaders Chelsea, but that doesn’t worry Steven Gerrard. Captain Liverpool feels the club is starting to heat up and that the African Cup of Nations will work in the Reds favor. There’s nothing like back-to-back victories over powerhouses Burnley and Debrecen to fill up one’s cup of confidence.

Arsene Wenger might want to move on from ‘Manu-Gate,’ but it’s still fresh in Cesc Fabregas’ mind. The Arsenal captain claims the out-of-control Adebayor made a reckless tackle that left him with stud marks and a three inch gash on his shin. I don’t think this story will ever die—unfortunately.

On the subject of hot-heads, the real reason for Wayne Rooney’s temper tantrum after being substituted during Manchester United’s 1-0 win at Besiktas mid-week has been revealed. Apparently he was spat on by some Besiktas fans. It’s a good thing we’ve nipped this potential ‘Gate’ in the bud.

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Drunk’s Champions League Picks: Day Two



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Who knew APOEL was good?

Who knew APOEL was good?

So what? I stand by yesterday’s picks. I went a respectable 4-4. It’s not like you lost money (not that we support gambling—Ed.) So I’m back today to give you a remarkable EIGHT winners. Read the full story

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The Latest In Controversy Is ‘Manu-Gate’



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emmanueladeboyorcelebrate

As we discussed last week, this young season has been full of controversy. First, we had ‘Eduardo-gate’ (now resolved), then ‘Kiddie-gate’, and now ‘Manu-gate’. Yes, I am over-using the ‘Gate’ thing, but can you over-do something that’s so overdone? And if you can, I don’t care, adding ‘Gate’ to things is fun to me.

In case you didn’t notice this weekend, ex-Arsenal and current Manchester City ‘star’ Emmanuel Adebayor took on his former team. And let’s just say that he had a full game. He scored a goal, kicked ex-teammate Robin Van Persie in the face and taunted the Arsenal fans with his goal celebration. And for all of this, he’s facing some serious suspensions. This story has it all, Adebayor is confused by all of the furor over his actions, manager Mark Hughes defends his player’s actions, Van Persie doesn’t accept Manu’s apology and even Roy Keane has given his two cents. La Liga might have the world’s top players, but the BPL has all of the drama. F*ck the new Melrose Place, this is must see TV.

In non-face stomping Arsenal news, Andrei Arshavin has put a gag order on his wife’s loose lips. Just thought you’d like to know.

Good news for Liverpool fans. After reporting on Liverpool ending their sponsorship agreement with Carlsberg, the club has reached an agreement with Standard Chartered Bank for an astounding £80m for four years. Word is the deal will enable the club to build their long rumored new stadium and even buy a player or two. Why do I think neither of these things will happen? Oh, right because it’s the Hicks and Gillett run Liverpool.

Roman Abromovich isn’t one known to be shy to splash the cash, but apparently all the money in the world won’t help you tackle Mount Kilimanjaro. After reportedly suffering from altitude related sickness, Chelsea has released a statement refuting that. Why they felt the need to do so, I have no idea. But in a world of 24-hour news coverage, ‘Altitude-gate’ is a story.

In some more money-related news, English clubs have pocketed nearly twice as much Champions League money as Spanish sides over the past six seasons. In fact England’s ‘Big Four’ hold the top four places among all Champions League clubs. Now those are some figures to make one dizzy, and then distribute a press release saying that you weren’t.

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A Bolt Of Lightning Everywhere



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usainbolt

Well it’s the last day of the international break and let’s hope our favorite players don’t get Tevezed before they return to their clubs. While club football may have been on a break, conspiracy theories and over-inflated egos didn’t. Nor did we take a break (don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.)

The world’s fastest man and, apparently, the world’s number one celebrity football supporter, Usain Bolt, will be a guest of the English FA as England take on Croatia in a World Cup qualifier. Not that long after palling around with best mate Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid last week, he’ll be at Wembley rooting on England. The Jamaican sprinter is such an England fan he even used the word ‘we’ when talking about today’s match.

He may not be as fast of foot as Bolt, but Didier Drogba is quick to pat himself on the back. The former want away striker, who has now declared himself Chelsea-for-life, claims that he’s an unselfish player who doesn’t, ‘look at my scoring statistics.’ I agree with him. The way he got himself red carded during the 2008 Champions League final so that John Terry could be forced to take a penalty was definitely soulless selfless.

Another man who doesn’t mind taking one for the team is Manchester United midfielder and Scottish captain Darren Fletcher. The hard-nosed player has encouraged his teammates to question their opposite number if they’re ‘up for a battle?’ He also goes on to say he’ll be ‘in your face and kicking at your ankles.’ I’m sure those are comforting words for Arsene Wenger after he questioned Fletcher‘s role on the pitch during the last Manchester United v. Arsenal match.

Wenger’s problems with the Scottish aren’t restricted to the playing field. He blames the Eduardo diving suspension on, ‘Scottish people working at UEFA.’ David Gold, former chief executive of the Scottish FA and current UEFA general secretary, has come out and explained that, ‘It’s not all pals together’ at UEFA. No word if he was having a glass of red wine with Sir Alex Ferguson at the time of the statement.

Old pal Juande Ramos has been tipped for a return to football. After resurrecting his reputation at Real Madrid after his Tottenham debacle, the Spaniard is rumored to replace Leonardo at AC Milan. Like Martin Jol (now at Ajax after a successful stint at Hamburg), Ramos is finding that being fired from White Hart Lane might be the best thing to happen to a manager.

And let’s end on a truly joyous note (for once). Liverpool fan Michael Shields, who was incarcerated four years for a crime he didn’t commit after Liverpool’s Champions League victory in Turkey in 2005, has been released from prison today. Congratulations Michael.

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One Country For Old Men



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He should come looking for some of Italy's aging stars.

He should come looking for some of Italy's aging stars.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen a Serie A match recently that Italy’s domestic league is home to the world’s oldest players and the least amount of club-trained players of any of the top five leagues in Europe. The Annual Review of the European Football Players Labour Movement, published by The Professional Football Players’ Observatory, found that players for the top Italian clubs were almost two years older than their counterparts in the other leagues (27.5:25.9). The study also shows that Italy has the least amount of club-trained players (12.5) and the highest number of players who move around the most (4.24 transfers every ten years). These should be alarming stats for any fan of Italian football as the study concludes that a starting eleven full of club-trained players who have been with the club for a number of years is the key to success—aging journeymen, not so much. Here are some clubs that have have high percentages of veteran club-trained players—Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal. Hmm, sounds like the names of some successful Champions League performers. Are you paying attention Italian football executives?

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Very Funny Papa Bendtner



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'My Dad thinks I'm great.'

'My Dad thinks I'm great.'

After signing a five-year extension with Arsenal, Nicklas Bendtner’s father/agent, Thomas, claimed that some of the ‘biggest clubs in the world’ (i.e. Barcelona, Inter Milan, Bayern München) were after the not-so-great Dane. Of course, Bendtner turned them down to stay with Arsenal, where he has developed ‘both on and off the pitch.’ (Nightclub episodes aside.) I find it hard to believe that any of those clubs would look at his 14 goals in 61 matches for Arsenal and would line up to sign him. But stranger things have happened—Real Madrid did sign Julien Faubert last season.

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Thank God That’s Over



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jonhheitinga

Everton's big signing?

In a rather unexciting end to the summer transfer season (Johnny Heitinga to Everton!) it only seems proper that today’s news is a little lacking in excitement as well. But it’s the news roundup and it’s what we do at Natural Hat Trick. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to get more of our wonderful ramblings.

In the great diving case of 2009, Arsenal vow to appeal striker Eduardo’s two match Champions League ban. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering they’ve spent the better part of a week saying that they would. The real shocker here is that Scotland and Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon says diving is worth it if it can advance you in a major tournament. Maybe Arsene Wenger should take Gordon with him to the UEFA offices when they go for their appeal. And I’m sure Mr. Gordon has endeared himself to his fellow keepers with those remarks.

On the subject of goalkeepers, David James, the only decent Portsmouth player not allowed to leave the club, is worried that playing for relegation fodder Pompey will hurt his chances of being England’s number one keeper in South Africa. In a move that I can only believe will make James feel worse, chief executive Peter Storrie has told James that instead of worrying about England, there’s plenty of competition at Pompey he has to worry about. I’ll bet that James won’t take it too kindly that the competition he should be worried about is Asmir Begovic, Antti Niemi and Jamie Ashdown. I can see David shaking in his boots as we speak.

One Portsmouth player who did manage to escape the sinking ship, Niko Kranjcar, has announced he is not at Tottenham to replace the injured Luka Modric. That’s strange since no one mentioned him going to Spurs until after Modric broke his leg.

In other overconfident news, newly acquired Sylvinho has announced that Manchester City teammate Robinho is one of the five best players in the world. He claims that City’s summer signings have surrounded the striker with better players that will help him shine. Funny, I thought the Real Madrid team that Robinho was forced out of had some fairly decent players.

And we end with some ‘where are they now’ news. Former Paris-Saint-Germain and Newcastle star David Ginola has been charged with being a deadbeat father in France. He’s facing hefty fines and a two year prison sentence. He, of course, denies the allegations. Looks like he better hope they make a Finding Nemo 2 so he can make a little extra cash.

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