FREE KICK: While the Barclay’s Premier League was calm last weekend there was a whole lot of shakin’ going on at the international level. The goalkeeper of Ghana’s national team, Richard Kingson, claimed that he was offered a $300,000 bribe to throw his country’s 2006 World Cup match against the Czech Republic. While soccer’s governing body FIFA reacted to the bombshell with deafening silence, veteran soccer observers led by Declan Hill were aghast. Hill has been the central striker among soccer’s investigative journalism team. His book “The Fix” details numerous allegations of match fixing. More must be done to root out corruption at all levels of the beautiful game. If cheaters can try to influence a World Cup match, then no game is safe from thievery. Let's kick start this thing.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS vs CHELSEA
A dash of red pepper was added to this west London feud in the pregame when QPR's Anton Ferdinand refused to shake hands with Chelsea's John Terry and Ashley Cole. In summation Ferdinand charged that Terry uttered a racial slur at him, and Cole was called as one of Terry's character witnesses. Rush Limbaugh's tongue couldn't cut through the tension. Unfortunately the drama was only confined to the minutes prior to kickoff. Chelsea was the better side in the first 45, but QPR certainly had an opportunity to shine in the second 45 when Bobby Zamora went striker-on-keeper only to flub his shot. My main man Victor Moses made his Chelsea debut in the final stages of the match but failed to make an impact. If he's able to melt into the Chelsea attack, then the blues will be singing a happy tune at seasons' end. Chelsea-nil QPR-nil.
MANCHESTER UNITED vs WIGAN
No Robin Van Persie or Wayne Rooney in the starting eleven for Man U but after a scoreless first half the red devils pitch-forked Wigan into submission. Dany Welbeck was a force throughout the match although I could have done without his Tony award winning performance in earning a first half PK. Justice prevailed as Ali Al-Habsi made a terrific palm save of Chicarito's shot. Precision strikes from Paul Scholes, Chicarito, Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell satisfied Sir Alex Ferguson's and the home side's palate. Wigan boss Roberto Martinez admitted afterwards that his defense corps was intimidated. Cue up Annie Lennox! Who am I to disagree. Manchester United-4 Wigan-0.
ARSENAL vs SOUTHAMPTON
It was only three weeks ago when a number of Arsenal supporters sounded the alarm when their squad failed to dent the scoreboard in their first two games. Consider the fire extinguished. The Gunners absolutely torched an overwhelmed Southampton side. Lukas Podolski continues to impersonate the departed Robin Van Persie while Gervinho and Santi Cazorla tap danced through the opposing midfield. Arsenal waltzed to a second straight impressive victory. Arsenal-6 Southampton-1.
STOKE vs MANCHESTER CITY
The NBA season doesn't tip off for another month however Roberto Mancini would beg to differ. The Man City boss whistled Peter Crouch for a palming violation, however referee Mark Clattenburg failed to spot the blatant infraction. Stoke held on to their 1-0 advantage for the next 20 minutes until Javi Garcia tied the proceedings with a 35th minute head shot. Man City incorporated Garcia, Maicon and Scott Sinclair into their starting eleven. The Brock Lesnar of the premiership has become even stronger. Stoke-1 Manchester City-1.
SUNDERLAND vs LIVERPOOL
Once again Liverpool huffed and puffed but failed to blow over their opponent. Sunderland's Steven Fletcher put the home side on the board in the 29th. Craig Gardner put in the hard labor with Fletcher reaping the benefits from the doorstep. Liverpool's equalizer was scored in similar fashion. Midfielder Raheem Sterling, the premiership's rookie of the year up to this point, delivered an accurate cross that Luis Suarez fed into the back of the net. Four games into the season and the reds have failed to win. On paper Liverpool has the look of a team that should challenge for the premiership title; but hey a counterfeit $100 also looks good on paper. Until you have to spend it. Liverpool-1 Sunderland-1.
NORWICH CITH vs WEST HAM UNITED
With Andy Carroll sidelined with a hamstring injury WHU did more than just park the bus. They decided to jam the depot. WH netminder Jussi Jaaskelainen was the hero of the game Norwich City-0 West Ham-0.
READING vs TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Just too much Jermain Defoe for Reading to handle. The Spurs striker would net a pair and was absolutely toxic throughout the match. Spurs' unwrapped brand new forward Clint Dempsey in the final 20 minutes but the Texan failed to make an impression. Good luck to Dempsey in trying to unseat Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale or Moussa Dembele from a crowded midfield. Tottenham Hotspur-3 Reading-1.
FULHAM vs WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Fulham has the power of Thor at Craven Cottage and this past Saturday was no exception. Dimitar Berbatov scored a pair including a late first half tally from the PK spot. WBA was the 98-pound weakling on the afternoon, failing to deliver an offensive threat. Mark my words, Dempsey will look back and wonder why he demanded to leave Fulham. I'll re-visit this topic at the end of the season. Fulham-3 WBA-nil.
ASTON VILLA vs SWANSEA CITY
Classical music was more exciting than Swansea's effort on this day. It seemed they waved the white flag of surrender before the opening kickoff. Matthew Lawton's knuckle ball in the 16th was all that AV would need. His right-footed shot had more curves than Beyonce "body" of work. Other than that, this contest proved to be a snore fest. Aston Villa-2 Swansea-nil.
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