A Saturday round up covering all the major football stories in England, Germany, Italy and Spain.
In the English Premiership Arsenal won away at Ewood Park against Blackburn Rovers, one of the tougher fixtures in the domestic season. They did so largely thanks to Theo Walcott who continued the fine form he displayed last week, when he scored a hat trick against Blackpool, scoring today with a cracking finish to open the scoring. Chelsea also won, against Stoke City, but England regulars John Terry and Frank Lampard both picked up injuries. Neither injuries are particularly worrying and both players should return to full fitness fairly soon, although Frank Lampard’s injury did involve surgery on his hernia immediately after the match. Frank Lampard had missed a penalty during the game. In the late kick off Manchester United defeated West Ham 3-0 with a very comfortable display where they rarely ventured beyond second gear. Most impressive in the performance were Dimitar Berbatov, scorer of the third goal, and Nani, scorer of the second. The two combined continuously and rarely let the West Ham defence settle. Wayne Rooney scored a penalty during the match, his first goal of any kind since March 30th when he scored against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
In the afternoon there was also confirmation that Liverpool had completed the signing of Raul Meireles for around £11 million as a replacement for Javier Mascherano. The player might even make his debut on Sunday against West Bromwich Albion although if Christian Poulsen and Lucas Leiva are fit, it would seem unlikely. Tottenham are seemingly close to signing Scott Parker from West Ham for £9 million, confirmation or denial of which is expected on Sunday afternoon. While the Tottenham chairmen Daniel Levy was in transfer discussions his team were losing 1-0 at home to Wigan, despite defeating the same team by several goals last season and Wigan losing their opening two games by an aggregate score of 10-0. Hugo Rodallega scoring the only goal for Wigan towards the end of the match.
In Germany Steve McClaren, the ex England manager, saw his team Wolfsburg take a 3-0 lead thanks to two goals from Edin Dzeko, the striker every major team in Europe would sign if his transfer value were just a little lower, and one from new signing from Juventus, Diego. The 3-0 lead ended up counting for nothing as Wolfsburg lost 3-4. Steve McClaren has now lost his first two matches in charge of Wolfsburg. The previous evening Kaiserslautern, newly promoted to the Bundesliga, defeated German champions Bayern Munich 2-0 in a big surprise.
In Spain the La Liga season commenced and Valencia were the most impressive, winning 3-1 against Malaga away from their home stadium, the Vincente Calderon. On Sunday Real Madrid and Barcelona will both play their first fixtures of the season and the whole world will be watching to see how Mourinho fares in the capital and how David Villa fits in at Barcelona. The player David Villa is replacing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, was today officially recognised as an AC Milan player. Ibrahimovic had cost Barcelona around £60 million just one year previously but was signed on Saturday by AC Milan for close to £20 million. How a player who scores twenty one goals in a season can lost two thirds of his value, £40 million, is something nobody will ever know.
AC Milan begin their Serie A campaign on Sunday and Ibrahimovic will join Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato in the AC Milan attack. On Saturday, in the opening matches, Roma were held to a goalless draw at home by newly promoted Cesena. In football the surprises never cease.
photo credit: Nelson Cruz