Friday, 21 December 2012

Friday Review - Capital One Cup and UEFA CL Draws along with match analysis:

Hello and welcome to my latest installment of my blog.
In this blog post, with only 4 days until Christmas, the last Capital One Cup Quarter-Final was played between Leeds and Chelsea, along with another match in the EPL on Monday night between Arsenal and Reading.

EPL Monday Night: Reading 2 Arsenal 5

This match was played at The Madejski Stadium, between the hosts Reading, who are stuck in a relegation battle in their first season back in the EPL where they find themselves in 20th place with only 9 points. They host an under-fire Arsenal side who crashed out of the Capital One Cup last Tuesday to League 2 side Bradford City.

In the 12th minute, the home side broke the deadlock thanks to a flash of genius by full-back Kieran Gibbs who weaved in and out past a defender on the wing before delivering an inch perfect ball into the box for striker Lukas Podolski to score after taking a touch before striking on the half-volley.

Podolski made an assist 20 minutes later in the exact same position as Gibbs but this time, his dipping cross found superb signing Santi Cazorla who did a diving header to double The Gunners lead. 

It was 3-0 to the away side 2 minutes later when Walcott's cross into the box found the head of Gibbs who directed his header back towards the penalty area. The ball fell to Cazorla again, and he did not waste any time with a clean finish.

On the hour mark, Arsenal showed their old ways with a lovely pass and move action.
First, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had the ball at his feet. He played the ball to fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere, who played a through ball towards the wing for Podolski on the run.

Podolski cut inside the Reading defence before squaring the ball to Cazorla with an open goal to contend with to score his 3rd of the game and complete his hat-trick.

A mis-placed pass by Kieran Gibbs on the wing went straight to Reading midfielder Jay Tabb who ran on the counter attack before getting past Aaron Ramsey. 

He split the Arsenal defence in half with a through ball straight to striker Adam Le Fondre who went around goalkeeper Wojiech Szczesny before tapping the ball into the net for a consolation goal in the 66th minute.

Arsenal's defensive cracks started to show, 5 minutes later when Hal Robson-Kanu passed the ball through to Jimmy Kebe who cooly slotted the ball past Sczczesny to make it 4-2.

Wanted winger Theo Walcott ended the match with a goal in the 80th minute after a great pass by Cazorla found him with space and time to pick his spot and finish to score his 5th EPL goal this season.

Wednesday Night:

COCup Quarter-Final - Leeds 1 Chelsea 5: 

This match was played at Elland Road, as Leeds hosted a down-beat Chelsea side who had lost in the final of the Club World Cup on Sunday against Corinthians in Japan, and had just come back from Japan on Tuesday fatigued and with morale low in the squad.

Thursday morning/afternoon's UEFA Champions League and Europa League Draws:

UEFA Champions League Draw:

Galatasaray vs Schalke 04
Celtic vs Juventus
Arsenal vs Bayern Munich
Shakthar Donetsk vs Borussia Dortmund
AC Milan vs Barcelona
Real Madrid vs Manchester United
Valencia vs PSG
Porto vs Malaga 

Interesting Last 16 ties in this season's Champions League.
Looks as though the 2 last standing English teams are unfortunately out, unless United and Arsenal can provide shocks against two of the best sides in the world in Real and Bayern (respectively). 
Barcelona, Dortmund, Schalke and PSG should all be able to cruise through, while Celtic will be hoping to carry on their amazing journey in the CL after beating Italian giants Juventus
Porto vs Malaga will be an interesting match as both sides are evenly matched.

My predictions for the Last 8:
Schalke 04
Real Madrid

UEFA Europa League Last 32 Draw:

BATE Borisov vs Fenerbahce
Inter Milan vs Cluj
Levante vs Olympiacos
Zenit St. Petersburg vs Liverpool
Dynamo Kiev vs Bordeaux
Bayer Leverkusen vs Benfica
Newcastle United vs Metalist Kharkiv
Stuttgart vs Genk
Atletico Madrid vs Rubin Kazan
Ajax vs Steaua Bucharest
Basel vs Dnipro
Anzhi Makhachkala vs Hannover 96
Sparta Prague vs Chelsea
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Lazio
Tottenham Hotspur vs Lyon
Napoli vs Viktoria Plzen 

Another set of interesting ties, this time in the Europa League. Certain ties look worthy of CL status including Tottenham vs Lyon, where Hugo Lloris gets to go back home to France to play against his former club that he left in August to join Spurs.

Newcastle and Chelsea should both get into the Last 16 with relative ease, however Liverpool and Tottenham have their work cut out to reach that stage of the competition.

Tomorrow's EPL matches (3pm unless stated):

Arsenal vs Wigan Athletic: LIVE at 12:45pm

The Gunners host an 18th placed Wigan side who are desperate to get out of the bottom three. It will be hard for them away from home against The Gunners who have momemtum on their side and can move into 3rd placed with a win at home (provided Tottenham and Chelsea both lose). 

Manchester City vs Reading:

A thrashing could be on the cards for Reading away from home at The Ethiad Stadium tomorrow.
Manchester City are 6 points behind local rivals Manchester United, and need a win tomorrow at home if they are to keep up the pressure on United for the title challenge.
It looks as though they will push past anyone in their way to retain their EPL crown, and unfortunately for Reading, they are in the way. 
A shock or a thrashing either way.

Newcastle vs QPR:

This match will be played at The Sports Direct Arena, as out-of-form Newcastle host a QPR side buzzing from their first win of the season at home last weekend against Fulham.
The hosts will be disappointed after losing to Manchester City last Saturday, but will be determined to win all 3 points in a match that should be easy for them.

Southampton vs Sunderland:

17th placed vs 16th in the table. Evenly matched sides at the bottom half of the table. A win for either side will see them move further away from the relegation battle. It just depends on which side wants the 3 points more.  

Tottenham Hotspur vs Stoke City:

4th placed Tottenham can move past Chelsea with a win against Stoke tomorrow. It will not be easy against Tony Pulis' men, who have drawn 9 and lost 3 matches away from home but it will be a test for AVB's side to see if they can cope.

West Bromwich Albion vs Norwich City:

This match will be played at The Hawthorns as 7th placed West Brom host 8th placed Norwich. Both sides have played well so far this season, and this match will be interesting as it will show 2 of the surprises of the season going head-to-head for 3 points. 

West Brom can go into the TOP 4 with a win, and Noriwhc can move up into 5th place (provided results going their way elsewhere).  

West Ham United vs Everton:

This match will be played at Upton Park, as West Ham host an Everton side who have drawn 9 matches this season, and if they had won 3 of those matches, they would be in 3rd place just behind the Manchester clubs.
The away side will be without talisman Marouane Fellaini who starts his first of three match suspension after accepting a charge of headbutting Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross. West Ham will be happy, but can they finish the job?
Liverpool vs Fulham: LIVE at 17:30pm

The Reds will be buzzing after the good news about 18-year-old winger Raheem Sterling's new contract deal amid speculation of a move to Arsenal or Manchester United. They host a Fulham side 1 place below them in 13th place, and a win will see Brendan Rodgers' men fly into the top half.