Didier Drogba

If Chelsea’s Champions League final win last night could be told through one man it would be Didier Drogba. Eight years as a Chelsea player and eight years as their talisman was encapsulated in one breathtaking performance. Of course, if possession statistics could win … Continue reading

A Premier League Hangover

The weeks after the Premier League season finishes are a tough test for football fans. They know that a nine -month long discussion of great goals, footballing tactics and controversial chickens must come to an end, leaving football fans with a terrible hangover.  So, it is a natural reaction … Continue reading

Van Persie’s form down to his ‘lucky pen’

Last night, I was extremely fortunate to be invited to the Football Writers’ Assosciation gala dinner, where Robin Van Persie received his Footballer of the Year award. The entire evening was celebratory as Fabrice Muamba, accompanied by his fiancee Shauna … Continue reading

Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola: The master or his pupil?

Pep Guardiola’s resignation this week, although not a complete shock, marks the end of a stunning era at Barcelona. His philosophy of how the game should be played has ultimately developed one of the greatest teams ever to grace the planet. … Continue reading

A Clasico weekend of sport – here’s a roundup

For all of us sporting fans, the last weekend has been essential viewing. There have been so many talking points that I thought it best to provide a brief roundup on what’s been going on.

Blue is the colour at Wembley

We all know that Sunday’s FA cup semi-final will be remembered for Chelsea’s controversial second goal that never was. The back pages in today’s papers have predictably been dominated by this moment in the game. However, the debate over goal line technology is one that will rumble on until July at least, when the International FA Board meeting is scheduled. So until then I would like to leave it at that.

What shouldn’t be forgotten are the two standout goals of the game.

To start things off, Didier Drogba’s classy strike was a vintage goal. In his signature style, Drogba shrugged off the figure of William Gallas before spinning towards goal to smash the ball into the top corner. The power and speed of the shot made it unstoppable and added a piece of brilliance to a game that was failing to reach its high expectations.

Didier Drogba scores the first goal in the FA Cup semi-final, his seventh goal at the New Wembley.
Source: http://heraldsun.com.au

Lampard’s free kick was also one to savour. With some spectators convinced that the goalkeeper had been deceived by a deflection, the replays showed this to be untrue. Lampard had perfectly placed the ball into the bottom corner and it was a stroke of genius.  His free kick was one that both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would have been proud of.

Frank Lampard scores the free kick to make the score 4-1 to Chelsea
Source: AP Photo/Tom Hevezi

It was a game with two great goals and a weekend with two great FA Cup semi-final ties. So let’s try to forget the controversy surrounding Sunday’s game and look forward to a fantasic final that could make or break the season for Chelsea or Liverpool.

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Arsène Wenger: the Premier League manager of the season?

Arsenal’s 2011-2012 season has rightly been described as a ‘rollercoaster ride’ by all that follow the club. Arsène Wenger has arguably faced the most serious rumblings of discontent since his North London arrival in 1996 and the 8-2 loss against Manchester United seemed to … Continue reading

Countdown to London 2012: Should there be a Team GB football team?

Since the announcement that Team GB would field a team for London 2012 there has been much debate about the selection process, especially regarding whether non-English players will participate. The resistance of Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish representatives is understandable; their independant status within FIFA could be threatened as a result. However, I still think that there are many positives to be taken from Team GB’s involvement and these will outweigh the negatives. So, I’ve put together my thoughts on why football and Team GB deserve their shot at Olympic Glory.

The two Team GB football coaches: Hope Powell and Stuart Pearce
Source: http://www.metro.co.uk/olympics/

Football is the most watched sport in the UK and so there should be a team to represent that fact. London 2012 will show Great Britain as a true sporting nation and football is such a major part of this. This is why Team GB is right to acknowlegde Britain’s love for the game and put a team forward.

The Olympic event will also highlight the popularity of  Women’s football in the UK. In terms of participation, Women’s football is one of the fastest growing sports in Britain and this should be celebrated. Since the first inclusion of the event at the Olympics in 1996 there has never been a women’s team chosen to represent Great Britain. What a fantastic opportunity to show the talent of the Team GB women to the world.

Team GB stand together in the Beijing opening ceremony
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk

The men’s tournament will also, as Stuart Pearce has rightly pointed out, provide invaluable experience for the youngsters who will be playing with the constant support of a home crowd. In fact, without the overbearing pressure from the media that so often surrounds our Home Nations in the big tournaments, Team GB could do well in this competition.

On that note, I have to discuss the opinion of certain critics who say that the Olympic football tournament should not be included at all. Their main reason is that the World Cup and European Championships represent the pinnacle of the international game and that the Olympic football event does not. I think that this comment can only stem from a football commentary as it disregards the spirit of the Olympic games.  The Olympics is the pinnacle of the sporting world; the inclusion of the many sports that take part are what makes it so special.  The football tournament may not be on the front pages daily but this does not make it less worthy as an Olympic event. Even so, if Team GB play well the British public will support them and they might even win Team GB a medal!

LIVE EVENT: The HPA Gaucho International Polo

On Wednesday night the O2 arena, which is now world-renowned as a music entertainment venue, hosted something slightly different and in my opinion a little bit special. The HPA Gaucho International Polo Event delivered two interesting ties for the arena crowd: Ireland vs Scotland and England vs Argentina. Even though certain newspapers may have only been interested in those who were in the crowd at the O2, (Katie Price and members of the cast of TOWIE were there, if you have to know) what happened on the playing field was much more exciting.

Source: 'The HPA Gaucho International Polo: The Official Guide 2012'

The first match, between Scotland and Ireland, was closely contested but admittedly it felt like the supporting act before the main event. The match allowed spectators to adjust to the rapid pace of the live game and any newcomers were introduced to the rules of Arena Polo by the commentary, which was played to the audience through the speaker system. This was a good addition, even if the commentator’s claim that this match was ‘just like the Six Nations’ was slightly far-fetched. The final score was a win for Scotland by 15 goals to 12.

Source: 'The HPA Gaucho International Polo: The Official Guide 2012'

So, after a musical interval, it was time for England vs Argentina; a match to win The Churchill Cup. If you are a fan of the high drama that International Football provides, then this game of Polo was great entertainment. There were missed penalties and spectacular goals, and England came to win with a remarkable comeback. The Argentinian team certainly deserve a place on Play with Flair, they are extremely talented. Argentina’s Nacho Figueras is without doubt the star attraction, as a Ralph Lauren model he gets a lot of female attention from the crowd . Yet, his scoring ability is incredible; at one point he managed to score directly from the corner of the field, an angle that appeared impossible. Argentina had a 4-goal advantage on numerous occasions but England came back to level the match at 15-15. The England team, led by Jamie Morrison, miraculously completed their comeback in the penalty shootout.

This was the first time that I have attended any Polo event and the matches themselves were enjoyable. Watching the flair of Argentina is something that I won’t forget in a hurry, I’m still not sure how England won. However, it’s a shame that the portrayal of Polo as a game for the wealthy hasn’t appeared to have changed. The game itself is as entertaining as many of the other popular sports, but I can see how the luxury that surrounds the game would be off-putting for many sports fans. I want to encourage everyone to watch a Polo match for themselves; most of the tickets for this event were actually much cheaper than for most Premier League football matches. Who knows? One day Polo may become a game for the masses but there is a long way to go.

Take a look at the action below:

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