Thank God the dreaded international break is over and more importantly those pesky breaks have ended for the year 2013. My heart goes out to nations who wont make the showpiece event in Brazil next year such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden, a spirited Ukranian side and Burkina Faso who had a tremendous year but failed to cap it off by qualifying to Brazil. Speaking of which, Zlatan has promised the world cup will be boring without him and he's right; we will definitely sleep through the tournament. Sore Loser!!! Back to club football, Bayern travelled to the Signal Iduna Park while Arsenal welcomed Southampton in the top the table clash.
In ENGLAND, the Merseyside derby lived up to the hype and reputation as Everton and Liverpool played out a pulsating 3-3 draw at Goodison park. The match once again highlighted Luis Suarez's brilliance with a brilliant freekick and energetic all round display. Anyone who argues he isn't the best player in the EPL is clearly on crack and not the good kind. The other stand out performer was Romelu Lukaku who scored two goals and used his physicality to trouble Liverpool's defence all afternoon. It baffles me why he's currently on loan with his obvious talents; he should be at Chelsea where they could do with him. With a manager like Mourinho though, he'd rot on the bench. The villain of the match was Kevin Mirallas who made a shocking challenge on Luis Suarez but somehow managed to escape with only a yellow card. The decision was as shocking as the tackle; Suarez was left with several nasty cuts.
Arsenal continued their title hunt with a 2-0 triumph over Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton. The match, very much dominated by Arsenal came to life when madness descended on Saints keeper, Artur Boruc. Deciding he could dribble Oliver Giroud, he made a mess of an easy clearance and Giroud's persistence paid off as he robbed the ball off the stunned keeper and rolled it into an empty net. It was stupid and completely uncalled for and a four match ban isn't out of order; that will drive home how stupid he was. Southampton huffed and puffed but couldnt break down a resolute Arsenal back four and the gunners ensured victory with an Oliver Giroud penalty late on. Four point lead restored and Arsenal fans can dare to dream but its early days yet as the league is still pretty anyone's at this stage. Chelsea got back to winning ways with 3-0 victory over London rivals West Ham. It was a profesional display that was executed by the evergeen Frank Lampard who seems to be ageing like fine wine. Cesar Azpilicueta is blossoming in his new left back role which means Ashley Cole may remain on the bench longer. Man United's resurgence was dealt a huge blow thanks to a late equaliser from Cardiff to bring the match to 2-2. Man United had taken the lead through Rooney but Cardiff equalised then United took the lead right before halftime courtesy of Evra.The Red Devil's had a number of chances to extend their lead but were wasteful. The ominous feeling that Cardiff would draw level was in the air and they did just that, breaking United hearts on 90 mins thanks to Bo Kyung Kim. It was reminiscent of the game against Southampton where United should have wrapped up the game earlier but wasted clear goal scoring chances. Moyes needs to work out a strategy on how to see out games or else more precious points will be dropped.
The match of the weekend saw AVB's Tottenham travel to the Etihad to face Manchester City who could boast of an 100% home record. Spurs were dealt a psychological blow as Jesus Navas opened scoring less than a minute into kick off. From then it was mission improbable as Spurs poured forward much to City's delight, capitalising on terrible defending. An own goal from Sandro, a brace from Sergio Aguero, another from Jesus Navas with Alvaro Negredo joining the party saw City run out 6-0 winners to complete a humiliating afternoon for Spurs and AVB. Before it was Spurs inability to score goals that was raising concerns but to concede 6 goals show signs of much deeper problems. With over a 100 million spent on transfers, AVB in my opinion is the manager under the most pressure in the league and anything less than a top four finish or another result like this will surely see him fired ASAP. He needs his team to start scoring more and concede less. Emmanuel Adebayor made a shock return to the team and maybe he could solve their goal scoring crisis. Highly unlikely though.
In SPAIN, Barce continued their La Liga dominace with a 4- 0 mauling of Granada. Barce were without Dani Alves, Victor Valdes, Jordi Alba and of course Lionel Messi but still managed to make lightwork of a dismal Granada. Iniesta and Fabregas both scored penalties while Sanchez and Pedro joined the jamboree. A relatively easy win that wasn't particularly pretty but effective in essentials. Martino is trying to shake up things to make them less one dimensional and very difficult to break down defensively. So far, its working. Real Madrid trounced Almeria 5-0 to make sure they kept up the chase in La Liga. Ronaldo opened scoring but withdrew in the second half due to a slight thigh strain; apparently it isn't serious. Karim Benzema, Isco, Gareth Bale and the impressive Alvaro Morata who scored an audacious chip completed a routine win. Sami Khedira's absence was not really felt and Modric, Di Maria, Marcelo, Coentrao didnt take part. Alonso and Illarramendi formed a solid midfield while the delightful Isco was simply a joy to behold. Its a scary squad Madrid possess and so far Ancellotti has done a decent job in rotating it. Atletico Madrid recorded the win of the weekend with a 7-0 demolition of a sorry Getafe. Ironically it was a derby and i must say i have never seen a more one sided one in my life. All this was done with Diego Costa on the bench who came on to score a brilliant goal to put gloss on an impressive display. I'm saying it right now, Atletcio are genuine title contenders and i tip them to do a Malaga in the Champions League and maybe even go further; they are that good. Villarreal continued their resurgence with a surprising 3-0 away win at a difficult Levante; this proves how solid they are.
In GERMANY, the Clasico of Germany ( De Klasiker) between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich was arguably the biggest match in the world over the weekend, watched by over 200 countries around the globe. Dortmund are currently enduring an injury crisis; Mats Hummels is out until January while Neven Subotic is out for six months. Ilkay Gundogan is still out with a back problem. On Thursday the club signed Manuel Friedrich to fill in the void left by Subotic. Bayern were also without Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger. The match was evenly balanced in the first half with Dortmud creating the better chances but failed to convert. In the second half however, Pep's tactical superiority showed as a number of changes saw former Dortmund poster boy Mario Gotze opened the scoring to silence his former fans. He sensibly chose not to celebrate but that gesture would have done nothing to appease the seething Dortmund fans. Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller scored two more to earn Bayern a convincing 3-0 win much to Klopp's dismay who later claimed Bayern didn't deserve the scoreline. In my opinion, BVB need Gundogan As Soon As Possible. His influnece cant be quantified and runs that midfield like no one else. Also the likes of Lewandowski and Aubameyang have flattered to decieve occasionally with the before looking uninterested in proceedings. The current back four looks shambolic to say the least so Klopp has his work cut out for him with Napoli visiting on Tuesday in a crunch Champions league tie. In other matches. Borussia Moechengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen registered wins while Frankfurt and Schalke played out a roler coaster 3-3 draw.
In ITALY, Juventus continued their relentless march on the Scudetto with a 2-0 win away to Livorno thanks to the revitalised Ferando Llorente and Carlos Tevez. AC Milan continued their poor run with a 1-1 draw at home to Genoa. They took the lead through Kaka who scored an impressive goal but were pegged back instantly thanks to Alberto Gilardino's leveller. Mario Balotelli once again stole the headlines with another missed penalty. Milan still couldnt carve out a win even though Manfredini had been sent off on 35 mins for Genoa. In summary, this Milan team is terrible and i'm shocked Allegri hasn't been fired but in fairness any manager would have a tough time managing these mediocre set of players. The squad is just too average and currently languish in 13th place, an embarassing position for a top club like Milan. Allegri needs to leave because maybe a fresh face with fresh ideas may be just what Milan need. Napoli fell to a shock home 1-0 loss to Parma to record back to back losses.If there is one thing Napoli have learnt under Benitez, its definitely inconsistency. Bologna forced Inter Milan to a 1-1 draw while Udinese beat Fiorentina 1-0.
Thats it folks. See you next week as i wrap up the major leagues around Europe. Ciao