Arsenal go top, The Carling Cup semi-finals, the Manchester rivalry heats up and a possible Africa Cup of Nations fix all feature in this week’s review of the football world in the good, the bad and the ugly section of the podcast. Vocabulary support can be found for the words in bold at the foot of the post.
Good for Arsenal in the Premier League who take over the number one spot in the top division in England after being written off early on in the season. Despite being criticised for not spending big money on big names in pre-season and the January transfer window – so far at least – Arsene Wenger has steered the London club quietly upwards. The Gunners haven’t lost since a 3-0 defeat by Chelsea in November 2009 and the recent back-to-back wins over Bolton have put them firmly back in the title race.
The much-maligned Carling Cup competition, the third domestic trophy in England, received a massive boost this week with two spectacular games taking place. First up Manchester City beat rivals Manchester United 2-1 in the first leg tie in an explosive game of football but that was nothing compared to the 6-4 victory by Aston Villa against Blackburn in the other semi-final. Villa have made the final where they await one of the teams from Manchester.
Naughty, as Gary Neville, Mr Manchester United, flips the finger to Tevez after the ex-United player scores for Manchester City in the Carling Cup semi-final clash. This was a reaction to the Argentinian’s gesture telling the Manchester United bench, and Neville and Ferguson to stop bad-mouthing him. The bad blood between Tevez and United, which started soon after his move across town to Manchester City and the famous poster of Tevez and Welcome to Manchester, shows no sign of abating in fact, Tevez has called Gary Neville a ‘boot-licking moron’. It isn’t just the players either as there were also reports that some Manchester United fans were stopped from entering Eastlands ground after golf balls and darts were found in their pockets. It should be an interesting second leg at Old Trafford.
We have previously featured corruption in Chinese football but it has usually involved club sides. However, news emerging this week of three officials from the Chinese Football Federation being arrested suggests that match-fixing is rife throughout the league system. These are troubled times for football in China with ESPN reporting that 20 payers, managers and officials have been arrested for similar offences in recent months.
In the African Cup of Nations Angola and Algeria played out a 0-0 draw – a result that suited both teams and saw them through to the quarter finals. Unfortunately this meant that Mali, 3-1 winners over Malawi, failed to qualify. Mali were left fuming as they believed it was a fix. and it certainly looks as though Algeria, as well as Angola, were happy to play for a draw. This despite the fact that the Algerians were the victims of a similar situation in the 1982 World Cup, when West Germany and Austria were also accused of fixing a match and playing for a 1-0 scoreline – eliminating Algeria from the competition. Realpolitik perhaps, but not very pretty from Algeria and Angola.
being written off: When many people feel a team has no chance at all
transfer window: The time to buy players – this occurs twice a year.
steered: To manage or direct a team
much-maligned: When many people criticise something over a long time, not liked by many people
bad-mouthing: To speak badly of someone
shows no sign of abating: The pressure does not look like it will ever stop, being reduced, to die down
Eastlands: The home stadium of Manchester City
second leg: The second game of a two-tie match
match-fixing: To decide the game’s result before the match takes place – corruption
rife: Extremely common
fuming: To be extremely angry
eliminating Algeria from: To knock Algeria out of a tournament