A Race to the Finish

So the situation in the Barclays Premier League table looks like this:

TEAM||POINTS||GOAL DIFFERENCE||REMAINING FIXTURES
1. City ||83 pts. ||61 GD ||Newcastle; QPR
2. United ||83 pts. ||53 GD ||Swansea; Sunderland
3. Arsenal ||66 pts. ||24 GD ||Norwich; West Brom
4. Tottenham ||65 pts. ||23 GD ||Aston Villa; Fulham
5. Newcastle ||65 pts. ||9 GD ||Man. City; Everton
6. Chelsea ||61 pts. ||21 GD ||Liverpool; Blackburn

Arguably, Arsenal has the easiest remaining fixtures while Newcastle faces a tough stretch to the finish line.

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If City gets beaten by Newcastle, then the title is United’s to lose. If City beats either of the two, United will have to replicate the game against Arsenal where they scored a bountiful of goals in order to get the title.

Only a double win for Arsenal ensures them of a Champions league spot. Anything less than that may prove to be futile in trying to defend 3rd place.

Should Tottenham win both of the remaining games, they are ensured 4th place finisher in the league (unless of course the Toons beat the Citizens 10-0 and the Toffees 9-0).

Newcastle will only be a top 4 finisher if they beat Man. City and Everton convincingly as Tottenham has an easier two-match set against them. They will have to pray Tottenham drop points as well.

Chelsea – well, they need a miracle. The odds are stacked firmly against them to finish in 4th. HOWEVER, should they beat Bayern on May 19, then they will be ensured the precious Champions League spot – dropping whoever is 4th in the league.

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On a slightly different and biased note, COME ON YOU SPURS! 🙂

My thoughts are with Fabrice Muamba

Minutes before the crucial quarter-final match between Spurs and Bolton, I prepared some food to eat so I can enjoy the game. It started off horribly unlucky for us which has seen Bolton take the lead with just 6 minutes into the game, thanks to another hapless marking in set-pieces. Thankfully, after Bale’s own goal, he made amends 5 minutes later with a delightful cross that Walker guided at the back of the net with his head – 1 apiece.

Minutes passed by and the game started to flow evenly for both teams, with chances back and forth either way. But at the 42nd minute mark, just when Bogdan was about to take the goal kick, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba was found lying with his face on the floor. According to those who have witnessed it, there was nobody near him and he just collapsed. I think this excerpt from the Guardian‘s feed should explain it:

7.07pm For those who did not experience the incident when it happened, there were no players near Muamba when he collapsed. Within 10 or 20 seconds it became apparent that something very serious had happened, and we soon found out that he had stopped breathing. He was treated on the field for almost 10 minutes, with a defibrilator used in an attempt to resuscitate him, before being taken off on a stretcher. Howard Webb took the players off the field, and the game was officially abandoned a few moments later.

The time that was written there is in GMT. White Hart Lane is dead silent for the next 10 minutes or so, with a couple of people chanting his name. According to the training staff of Bolton, he’s one of the fittest guys on the team, so everyone is still in a shock. The food I’m eating tasted bitter and I couldn’t even swallow it. ESPN coverage would not show the incident, but instead, showed almost all people in great pain and disbelief, may it be the players, the coaching staff, or the crowd. Some people were praying, some were crying, and eventually, he was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, together with team manager Owen Coyle and club captain Kevin Davies.

At this very moment, there have been tweets saying that they managed Muamba to get breathing again, but this is yet to be confirmed. What we do know is that even if we are not a fan, this is a matter of life and death situation and it’s nice to see that we are humans first before fans/rivals/footballers, especially after a couple of recent animosities shown in sports. The referee’s decision to suspend the match was, I believe, the correct move, and the behavior shown by the fans and the media is admirable.

What we can do for now is pray and hope that my next update is that he’s in a better condition now.

COYF! Come On You Fab! Hang in there!

I know I had to put this up either way:

UPDATE/8:04PM GMT: BBC, ESPN and Sky News are saying that he is somewhat stable now. Will update the links if I found one. Thank goodness!

UPDATE/8:11PM GMT: Here are the links to confirm: Sky News | Mirror Football | Telegraph UK

On 7th Heaven

It is quite impossible for me to not write about the Serie A fixture last night. The Aquile managed to beat the defending champs 3-1! It was a superb game and an impressive performance by both Hernanes and Mauro Zarate, who I think should be performing better (but getting on the scoresheet in the process ain’t that bad).

For some highlights of the game, you watch the preliminary video HERE.

More to come for the Biancocelesti next fixture against Juve. Let’s crush them! FORZA LAZIO!!!

On a side-note, the Philippines drew 1-1 to Singapore in the dying seconds of injury time in the ASEAN Football Champions Cup (or something like that). 🙂

Start of the End

Apparently, yes, this will be the start of the end of my magnificent, if not ‘almost perfect’ school life. In three weeks time, the second semester will start and from that day on, it’ll be less than 100 school days left (if I’m not mistaken). In lieu of this, I wish to enjoy my dying days as a student in ways I haven’t done before (but heck I’m just saying this. Wonder if it’ll really happen..) Anyway, I just want to enjoy and enjoy. My college life was certainly a blast because of dormitory life. It’s such a bliss having your friends with you the whole day, bumming and playing around.

When I first entered college, I thought things are gonna change, ‘cos ♫nobody said it was easy♪. But no! It was actually made easier because of the life waiting outside school! Now, I can’t even imagine myself living away from the comforts of our dormitory area and start living in the reality that is the huge, cruel, unfair world. But I guess that’s just one stage of life we all have to overcome. A new world awaits. It may take a little bit of time before I freely accept it though. I need a transition.

Meanwhile, our close friend Andre Maraña passed away last October 3 from a very unfortunate car accident. I do not wish to jot down the details here but I will be at peace when I get a sign that at least he’s very happy to where he is now – ‘cos that’s what exactly he deserves. ‘Til we meet again, Dre. 🙂

Also, today is the 17th of October. That means there are 13/14 days left before November. That consequently means that ^$*(&@)(*<>?! it’s NaNoWriMo already! Dang! I still have no clear idea what to do with the plot I had in mind but it’s still a very big picture and it badly needs details REAL SOON. I had joined this event 2 years ago and for those two attempts, I did not won (meaning, I did not manage to complete the 50k goal in a month). However, I am even more determined to win this year, as I will be dedicating this one to Dre.

This year, I’m planning to write about how a bunch of teens/college students overcome a tragedy in their own lives (each member has their own moment to forget) and use this as a springboard to their success (that’s their goal). They will meet each other (destined? still don’t know about how, when, where…) and they will find themselves liking the same type of music (I will probably change this.. or just liking plain music is fine, i guess) and that they themselves can actually play it, thus forming a band. Together, they will struggle and enjoy the life as a full-pledged band. Will they make it in the bright lights, or will this be another of their disappointing life chapter?

Hey, whaddayaknow? That’s a pretty good introductory paragraph. Haha. Anyway, I PROMISE to start snowflaking the details on or before Oct 20 (11 days from the start). I’ll be needing LOTS and LOTS of inspiration and motivation. If you have extra, could you please send them to me? THANK YOU IN ADVANCE. 🙂

(Hoorah for van der Vaart! Great form for Spurs. Lazio doing great as well. Forza Lazio. Sevilla, uhm.. I hope they can turn things around with their new manager. Let’s go Sevillistas! :D)

That’s it for now. Will update here details for my upcoming novel. 🙂

The WC Final: Holland vs Spain

Netherlands 0 – 1 Spain. 😦

The first half was like what most of us expected – with Spain dominating much of the possession. However, thanks to the resolute (and I must say brute) defending from the Dutch side, they were able to hold out the Spanish attackers at bay. The real chance for the Spanish outfit in the first half came from Sergio Ramos, but was blocked superbly by Maarten Stekelenburg.

On the other side of the pitch, Arjen Robben put Iker Casillas to the test with a blistering left-footed strike from just outside the box. A Wesley Sneijder free kick from an earlier play went through the shooting range of Joris Mathijsen, but he failed to have contact with the ball.

But the real highlight of the first half was the flurry of yellow cards. The two holding midfielders, Nigel de Jong (for a picture-perfect karate kick on Xabi Alonso) and Mark van Bommel (for a ruthless tackle from behind on Andres Iniesta) got booked early. One of them might have even be red-carded, but who wants a FIFA Final with a clear disadvantage right at the start anyway? On a side note, this was the dirtiest game the Oranje has been, and so far, I have liked what I saw. The only way to stop a prolific passing team was to disrupt the rhythm and get to the passing lane by being aggressive, really aggressive. At the half, we have a goalless draw.

The start of the second half was more lively though – in terms of goal-scoring attempts and tackles (as well as yellows). Carles Puyol’s header from a Xavi Hernandez corner found the path of Joan Capdevila, but he failed to make a good attempt out of it. Robben (and also a header from John Heitinga) had some nice shots as well, especially on a breakaway (Wesley Sneijder with the pass) with only the keeper to beat; but Casillas showed why he is Spain’s #1. Surely, a goal will separate these two?

On the other side, David Villa had an almost goal. But Maarten Stekelenburg will not be denied. It was a fantastic save. (By the way, Jesus Navas has been substituted in for Sergio Busquets and Eljero Elia for Dirk Kuyt). Then, a corner saw the head of full-back Sergio Ramos with nobody within yards, but it flies to the stands. From this point, I’m sure every football fan got their hearts pumping! From this point, 9 yellow cards have been handed already. Cesc Fabregas enters the game as well for Xabi Alonso. And then, end of regulation.

Cesc Fabregas has been the difference, creating chances for Spain in the 1st half of the extra time, but the defenders are resolute. Finally then, my main man Rafael van der Vaart was entered into the pitch for Nigel de Jong. Game on. 🙂

And then, just when we are playing “even” football, Heitinga gets sent off for a second yellow on Iniesta. Mark van Bommel drops as one of the center-halves. Gregory van der Wiel joins the yellow card fray as well. Spain looked dangerous in the last few minutes. And just when we are about to go on penalties, Andres Iniesta has made what probably the biggest shot of his career after the match-winning shot against Chelsea in the Champions League 2 years ago. And the whistle blows. Spain wins their first ever world cup.

Uruguay vs Netherlands

First off, YEAH!!! WE ARE GOING TO THE WORLD CUP FINALS! It was the most convincing win that the Dutch have displayed in this tournament SO FAR. This is the Oranje that I have been waiting for. Not only did we produce the result, but how they did it fascinated the football world once again. 3-2 to the Dutch side and they will be waiting for the result of Spain and Germany.

At the start of the game, there were little chances created by either side but an unbelievable screamer of a shot from captain Giovanni van Branckhorst saw its way to the top corner. No chance whatsoever for the keeper.

Diego Forlan however equalised just before halftime to pull things level, but in reality, it was a poor goal to concede. The defence was nowhere near him, knowing the threat that Forlan possesses. Stekelenburg was wrong footed as well. It went straight at him, and still no save. Oh well, game on.

At halftime, Demy de Zeeuw made way for creative midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, unarguably my favorite football player in the world. 🙂 Without bias, the Dutch team came to life on the attacking side of the pitch in the opening minutes, with Dirk Kuyt dropping a little deeper to make way for van der Vaart in the attacking half. As I have said before, the combination of Robben-van der Vaart-Sneijder-Robben would create problems to the opposition – and it did. They can exchange positions in transitions freely. van der Vaart nearly made it two with a beautiful play, but it was Sneijder who put the Dutch side ahead, with claims of offside from van Persie. Replays suggest however that he let the ball pass through his feet.

Forlan nearly equalised later with a curling free kick, but this time, Stekelenburg did well to save it at the bottom left corner. Robben then put the icing on the cake with a fine, placed header with a delicious cross from Kuyt. Game over.

What boggles me afterwards is that Forlan was substituted earlier than expected (or was anyone really expecting Forlan being substituted, knowing that Suarez was ineligible to play the game?) Anyway, Robben should have made it four with a breakaway, but that’s just as far as he goes as he heads to the bench for a breather, being replaced by the future of Holland winger, Eljero Elia. Robben played well, especially after facing 2 defenders when on the offensive at most times.

Mark van Bommel had a great game, winning balls out and wide, but he had to go off with an injury of some sort. Let’s hope he’s okay.

Uruguay are not be chalked off early though, as Uruguay pulled one goal back through Pereira in injury time. But that was all they could manage. If Forlan would have been there, it would be a different story. Good thing Mathijsen and Heitinga are winning headers inside the box everytme. Also, Stekelenburg’s positioning may be questioned here. But what’s done is done.

Fine game by Oranje there. We looked more ourselves since that Euro 2008 games and I feel more confident on taking that trophy! But the biggest, biggest, biggest match is yet to come. Stekelenburg will have to console his decisions from their trainer or from van der Sar. Should Spain make it through, shots will fly into his way. If Germany wins it, he will be bombed with one-on-ones with counter-attacks. This should be very, very exciting.

LET’S GO ORANJE!