Arsenal Manger Arséne Wenger completely lost the plot in his side’s defeat to United at the weekend. Wenger started the week lashing out at UEFA for threatening to ban the cheat Eduardo, and ended it blaming the referee, fourth official, Elvis and the Man in the Moon for his side’s 2-1 loss. Wenger defended Eduardo’s outrageous dive against Celtic, and then did the same went Emmanuel Eboué repeated the trick against United. Confirmed liar Wenger seems to be losing the plot…
Manchester United will commence the defence of their Carling Cup with a home tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford after the third round draw. The tie is likely to be played at 8pm on Wednesday September 23rd.
The match against one of the Premier League’s new boys will give manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s reserves and fringe players another chance to build on last year’s successful experience. Youngsters including Fabio da Silva, Darron Gibson, Ritchie de Laet, Craig Cathcart, Federico Macheda, and Danny Welbeck are likely to play.
Carling Cup third round draw:
Arsenal v West Brom
Chelsea v QPR
Bolton v West Ham
Barnsley v Burnley
Hull v Everton
Leeds v Liverpool
MANCHESTER UNITED v Wolves
Manchester City v Fulham
Sunderland v Birmingham
Peterborough v Newcastle
Carlisle v Portsmouth
Nottingham Forest v Blackburn
Stoke v Blackpool
Scunthorpe v Port Vale
Preston v Tottenham
Aston Villa v Cardiff
Ties will be played week commencing Monday, 21 September
Wayne Rooney is more than happy to take United’s penalty kicks this season after scoring against Arsenal at the weekend. With Michael Carrick having missed in United’s defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor, Rooney resumed duties on Saturday, sending Manuel Almunia the wrong way in scoring United’s equaliser. It was Rooney’s fourth goal in as many Premier League matches this season. Rooney won the penalty after being fouled by the Arsenal ‘keeper.
“No-one really knew who was our penalty taker. Then we got one at Burnley but Michael Carrick unfortunately missed it so from then on I said I’d take them – and thankfully I scored,” said Rooney after the game.
“There was no doubt over the penalty. The ‘keeper’s come and took my legs from me and I had no option,” he added.
Rooney has now scored four and missed two of the penalties he has taken in a United shirt; this being the first of the six he has dispatched to the ‘keeper’s left. Assuming that Rooney has now taken up penalty taking duties for the season, it should add five to eight additional goals to this season’s tally.
United’s record in matches against the top four last season was poor, so Sir Alex Ferguson will have been delighted to walk away from Saturday evening’s match against Arsenal with all three points. With luck on their side, Ferguson’s men got away with a mediocre performance that required a penalty and an own goal to take the honours. But if the manner of the victory was fortunate, then United contributed to its own problems by deploying Wayne Rooney as a lone striker, which left the forward isolated and played into Arsenal’s hands.
United entered the match having played with two strikers throughout seven pre-season games, the Community Shield and three Premier League matches. It was a suprise then when Fergie reverted to type for United’s biggest test of the season, deploying Rooney alone up-front. Ferguson had talked beforehand about countering Arsenal’s new tendency to use three through the centre of midifield. The theory being that Nani and Valencia from the wings would provide ample support. But it was a decision that almost backfired, with Rooney often 30 yards from his nearest team-mates in the opening period, and United’s midfield reduced to punting long balls forward as Arsenal outpassed the home side.
The visitors probably deserved their lead at half-time after Andrei Arshavin’s wonderful strike. Ben Foster, who got both hands to the ball, couldn’t direct the 30-yard effort wide. But Ferguson is a winner and he breeds the same mentality in his troops. United may not have been playing well – possession was lost far too easily in the first 45 – but the team wasn’t about to be beaten meekly. Ferguson’s side, led by the peerless Ryan Giggs, increased the tempo after half time. While the result was certainly not “beyond belief” as Wenger whinged, it was one of those days when the details fell right for United. On other occasions the home side would have paid the price for such sloppy use of the ball.
While Valencia was anonymous on the right wing and Michael Carrick strangely wasteful in possession, Ryan Giggs was superb through the centre of the park. At 35 Giggs’ career should be winding down but on this evidence Fergie can ill afford to leave the Welshman out of the team. Giggs’ ability to change the pace of the game was central to United’s ability to force its way back into the match.
The penalty that brought United back into the game was fortunate but only in so far as Manuel Almunia had no sane reason to make the challenge. Racing out to meet Rooney, who was running away from goal, the Spaniard was always going to make heavy contact. The referee’s decision was spot on, no matter how much Arséne Wenger tries to blow smoke over his own side’s outrageous cheating in the past week.
Indeed, Emmanuel Eboué’s fully deserved yellow card for a blatant dive in the second half exposed the hypocrisy of monsieur Wenger’s faux rage at officialdom in the past week. That Eboué chose to target Evra, who had already been booked, demonstrates the depths to which this Arsenal team is prepared sink. Encouraged by Wenger’s ability to consistently defend the indefensible, the Frenchman’s team has evolved beyond a siege mentality to now act as if they are above all sanction. UEFA and the FA have surely taken note.
There was then some sense of justice in United’s – albeit outrageously lucky – winner. Abou Diaby will forever be an Old Trafford hero for the quality of his headed finish from Giggs’ right wing free kick. That no United player was within yards of the midfielder summed up Diaby’s performance, which was woeful from start to finish. It was a fortunate break but against Wenger’s obduracy all the more satisfying. The Arsenal manager talked about lack of experience in the post-match debrief. Boys against men indeed.
Then came the dénouement and there can have been few funnier scenes at Old Trafford than Wenger’s last-minute dismissal from the touchline. Born of frustration, Wenger booted a water bottle across his technical area. His sanction was obvious but the Frenchman’s refusal to sit in the stands – standing arms outstretched in-between the opposing dugouts – should be met with a lengthy ban. While the League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan has stated the Arsenal manager will “receive an apology from the FA,” he also recognised that the decision to send off Wenger was “correct in law.”
That Wenger’s myopia again failed to observe a correct decision by the officials – ruling van Persie’s goal offside – is utterly unsurprising. The man who would be king has become a national embarrassment.
United then will be able to bask in the satisfaction of victory over Arsenal during the two-week international break. It was a hard won match, if an unspectacular performance. But these are the points – and matches – upon which a fourth title in a row may just be built. It could also reignite the old United-Arsenal rivalry, which has been somewhat lukewarm in recent years.
In episode three of Rant Cast regulars Ed & Paul talk about:
- The Champions League draw
- Wigan 0 – 5 United
- Anderson’s attitude problem
- Liverpool’s poor start
- Saturday’s Arsenal match
- John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher and Carlos Tevez
Stream the episode below or click here to download the podcast (right click > save as).
Email all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves will return to Old Trafford from long term rehabilitation in the United States on September 23, according to the club. Hargreaves, who hasn’t played for United in over a year, had operations on both knees to cure a long term tendinitis problem that has put his career at risk. Although no date has been set for the player’s return to the team, the news is some light at the end of the tunnel for a player who has appeared just 25 times for the club since his £18 million move from Bayern Munich over two years ago.
“He’ll come with Owen for a week for the change-over so we can jointly understand the treatment and rehabilitation he’s been doing. That’s straightforward. The difficulty is getting him back into football work. I say difficult because we’ve not seen him all this time. We’re relying on information we get from the States. We’re certain that his fitness work will be good, we just have to gauge the right time to bring him into football training. You don’t have a player out for a year and then just throw him straight into the fire.
“The important thing is to get him back playing to his level, which is a very good level.”
Winging liar Carlos Tevez has accused Manchester United of showing him no respect, in an interview with Loaded magazine.
The striker, who signed for big spending Manchester City in a £25.5 million deal this summer, made the claims in the September issue of the top shelf men’s magazine.
“I think I deserved more respect than what was shown,” said Tevez. “It was very strange. In the first year everything went
very well – I was part of the team and felt like I was important to the coach and the club. But in the second, there was a big change. There was no communication with the manager and I began to feel as if I was not wanted. Every footballer will say that if they do not feel wanted, then it is the beginning of the end.”
Strange then that Tevez, who earns £150,000 per week at City, said of manager Sir Alex Ferguson that he “treated me with respect from the moment I arrived,” as recently as April this year.
Sir Alex Ferguson has backed new signing Michael Owen to beat the five Premier League goals that Tevez scored last season, as well as saying that the Argentine isn’t worth the money City spent on him.
Manchester United will not face a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo after the draw for the Champions League group stage was made in Monaco today. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men avoid Real Madrid, but instead were drawn to play CSKA Moscow, Besiktas and Wolfsburg in Group B as the team looks to reach a third successive final. Ferguson’s side will open with a tough away tie at Besiktas on September 15, and conclude the group stage with a match on December 8.
“These are difficult ties especially the trips to Russia and Turkey,” Sir Alex told ManUtd.com. “CSKA have developed strongly in the last few years and games in Turkey are always difficult. We also know the quality that we’re up against with Wolfsburg, with what they achieved in the Bundesliga last season.”
Sir Alex Ferguson will have mixed feelings about the draw, as it pits his team against some of Europe’s lesser lights, but includes dangerous German champions Wolfsburg and a long trip to Moscow. CSKA were among the lowest ranked teams that United could have drawn from pot two in the Monaco ceremony, but Wolfsburg with no European history were the toughest of the pot four teams. With two of the four sides set to qualify for the first knock-out round, United will still expect to qualify, but will be unhappy with two long midweek trips to Russia and Turkey.
United’s opening tie, away at Besiktas, comes just a few days prior to the first Manchester derby of the season. The final game is away at Wolfsburg on December 8.
Last season’s champions Barcelona has been drawn against Inter Milan, Dinamo Kiev, and Russian champions Rubin Kazan. Meanwhile big-spending Real Madrid’s Kaká will face a trip back to AC Milan, as well as games against Marseille, and FC Zurich.
The final will take place on May 22, 2010 at Real Madrid’s home ground Santiago Bernabeu.
Full Group Draw
Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa
Group B: MANCHESTER UNITED, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg
Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich
Group D: Chelsea, FC Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel Nicosia
Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debrecen
Group F: FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dinamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan
Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni
Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege
Manchester United is “using August as a testing ground for the current squad and may sign players at the 11th hour,” club sources told Sky Sports News’ James Cooper today. With the transfer deadline next Tuesday at 5pm GMT, United has less than a week to conclude any deals.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson and managing director David Gill have both said that United will make no more signings in the current transfer window. “We’ve done everything we plan to do and it’s not easy doing business at this stage,” Gill told the channel shortly after the Champions League draw. However, the channel reports that the club is willing to move quickly if Ferguson feel the squad needs strengthening this late in the window.
With question marks hanging over several players in the squad – Anderson and Carrick were both left out of the squad taken to Wigan Athletic at the weekend – Ferguson may still decide to dip into the market despite multiple denials to the contrary. The club has recently been linked with former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben, who is available from Real Madrid for a fee of around £22 million.
United signed Dimitar Berbatov for £30.75 million past midnight on the final day of the summer transfer window 2008.
Rio Ferdinand is beginning to feel his age as injuries kick in, he told club channel MUTV. Ferdinand, whose languid playing style has often been compared to legend Paolo Maldini, said that he cannot see himself matching the Italian and playing into his 40s after suffering a series of back injuries last season.
“You could not play to 41 in the Premier League,” he told MUTV. “Games are a lot slower in Italy and they don’t play as many. When anyone comes here from another country they always say they can’t believe how fast it is. It takes a couple of years off your career.”
Ferdinand, who has been suffering with a thigh injury, said he expects to be fit in time for United’s away game against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on September 12. He has missed all of United’s games this season after picking up the knock in training prior to the Community Shield.
“I had never been injured before last season,” said Ferdinand. “I still played 45 games but it was the first time I have had time off and I found it really frustrating.”