Amidst the hype of the new Scottish Premier League with the Celtic and Rangers rivalry already in full throttle, we’ve had friendlies galore from all the league teams who are raring to get started.
Man City breezed past Airtricity XI in Dublin with a comfortable 3-0 win. Fans of Man City, though they should be renamed ‘City reserves’ given the choice of players by Mancini- who were evidently not a first team squad, were made to wait until the second half to witness a goal or three. I don’t know if it can be blamed on a weak defence by Airtricity XI or just a highly superior attack by City, but the beautiful game was just that as Wright-Phillips, Johnson and Scapuzzi all demonstrated great flair and touch of the ball as they pounded the back of the net.
Elsewhere, Chelsea fought off Villa’s efforts to win the Premier League Asia Trophy. A 35 second opening strike from Andre Villas-Boas did not entirely deject Villa, who finished an acceptable 9th in the Premier League last season, and the team maintained a reasonable challenge throughout (arguably primarily down to Given). It was the Blues’ £50 million striker Torres, though, who demonstrated a slight justification of his price tag, when taken off the bench and given a brilliant assist by Malouda at 57 minutes.
Brighton’s Ashley Barnes christened the new Amex Community Stadium (which has a 22,500 capacity) with a goal sure to embarrass Spurs’ new goalie, Friedel. With counter goals from Kaboul and Corluka, the Seagull’s midfielder-on loan from Newcastle- LuaLua, executed a 20 yard morale boost. Spurs could not be jaded, however, and with world class football from the Welsh star, Bale, Livermore’s winning goal at 3-2 could not be unexpected.
Arsenal played host to New York Red Bulls, Paris Saint-Germain and Boca Juniors in the Emirates Cup. With wins in the past two Cup tournaments and Thierry Henry, the wayward Arsenal legend visiting with New York Red Bulls, Arsenal had a point to prove. An uneasy draw with Boca Juniors exposed an all too familiar Arsenal who fail to hold a lead; even with superb goals from Van Persie and Ramsey.
Wins were also demonstrated by Blackburn, Bolton, Everton, Norwich City, West Brom and Wolves who all hinted at a competitive and enthralling season ahead for the Premier League. With the opening weekend kicking off on the 13th the standards that are shown now will be essential to mental imagery for players, as well as the already nervous managers. Plus, I’m sure any sports betters out there will relish in a sneak preview.
After a brief spell in the Premier League in 2009/10, Burnley showed Sunderland why they should still be rivals in the same league. After numerous penalty appeals, Rodriguez was awarded a penalty at 32 minutes and netted the only goal of the game; though Burnley played with much gusto there could easily have been a second.
Elsewhere in football this weekend, the Carling Cup excitement began a little early with Crawley Town dashing AFC Wimbledon’s dreams in a fight to join the first round, which is taking place in the second week of August. The Red’s twice came from behind to book themselves a first round meeting with Crystal Palace with a 3-2 victory. Crawley’s winning goal was a confident volley from last season’s gem signing, Matt Tubbs.