Emptying out the top-drawer; thoughts on soccer world March 2011

By Kevin Koczwara

This will be a monthly column, I hope, where I dump out the random thoughts I have accrued over the last month. These thoughts are the ones I’ve tried to write columns about and have failed to materialize into anything tangible or readable.

Let’s begin with Arsenal.

Arsenal boggle the mind. The Gunners lose to Birmingham City in the League Cup final on one of the year’s most laughable goals. Then they go on and smash Leyton Orient in what should have been an unneeded FA Cup replay, 5-0, and Nicklas Bendtner scores a hat-trick. Why is the thrashing of Orient a surprise? Well, Bendtner scored a hat-trick. That’s why. It’s an absolute shock he can put together three goals in one game at times. He fumbles over his feet, misplaces passes more often Jake Delhomme, and he isn’t very good int he air despite his height.

What tricks will Arsene Wenger’s boys play next Tuesday when they head to the Camp Nou in the second Leg of a Champions League tie they lead, 2-1? Barcelona is the best team on the planet, and Arsenal’s unpredictable showings could work to the Gunners advantage. This game could end in a blow-out either way, but I can see Arsenal getting the away goals needed to beat the best team on the planet, just to get its fans hopes up again and crush them later.

Keeping on the English Premier League theme, what about Sir Alex Ferguson’s tirade? Knowing his love affair with the FA, the Scot will get away with a slap on the wrist compared to what someone like Ryan Babel got. Tweeting=bad. But bad mouthing referees in the media without jokes=good. We need the FA to loosen up a bit, get with the Twitter craze and quiet the old guys.

Is there a better rivalry than the Old Firm? Can there be anything better than Rangers and Celtic going at it? No. I say not this season. The Diouf man has brought an extra something to the matches in recent weeks as well, and I don’t mean playing wise.

Neil Lennon and Kenny Dalglish have saved their respective clubs. Celtic and Liverpool both needed managers who loved the jersey more than life itself to bring the dying giants back to life. It’s been great to watch them both celebrate like boys on the field again, and in Lennon’s case, fight the opposition with everything he has.

Chelsea cannot retain the Premier League title. Give it up Frank Lampard. It’s a two team race between Manchester United and Arsenal.

http://www.footytube.com/v/NzQ5MTM=

Moving to the States, Real Salt Lake could possibly win the CONCACAF Champions League. The Royals have a deep and talented midfield with players who understand their roles and excel in the positions they’re put in. In a two-leaf contest, if Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales can avoid getting suspended, RSL can beat just about anyone above the Equator and in the Western Hemisphere.

It’s about time the New England Revolution resigned Tim Murray and Zak Boggs. Murray is a valuable third goalkeeper and Boggs would run through a brick wall if he had to for Steve Nicol. If Boggs can avoid another concussion, he could be a surprise player for the Revs, especially if Kevin Alston’s hamstring keeps hampering his playing time.

What exactly happened that night in Orlando, Fla. when Shalrie Joseph got arrested? What was said? Are we missing something? Joseph may be in the right here, no matter his recent track record.

The MLS playoffs need an overhaul. If more teams get in than get left out, the regular season becomes almost worthless. Teams should have to fight for the chance. Top four teams sounds good to me. Oh yeah, remove he stupid East and West thing, teams play a balanced schedule as is, and as it should be.

Someone tell CONCACAF to please promote it’s Champions League. This is the competition to establish the best team in the CONCACAF region and it’s lost in the shuffle. This should be a bigger deal.

Arjen Robben can be the best player on the planet if he ever stays healthy for more than two weeks at a time. But he’s like Samuel L. Jackson in “Unbreakable”.

Real Madrid can’t catch Barcelona in La Liga after drawing with Deportivo.

Daniel Aranzubia, Deportivo’s goalkeeper, was the best player on the planet the last two weeks. On 20 Feburary, he became the first goalkeeper to score from open play in La Liga. In the 95th minute from a corner kick, Aranzubia headed in the tying goal against UD Almeria. He followed that up with one of the most impressive goalkeeping performances of the season by shutting out super powered Real Madrid with superhuman stops.

Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesoccerguysonline.com.

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