Feb 23, 2008

Saturday Summary, Feb. 23: A Gruesome Day For Gunners

You hate to see scenes like this on the soccer field and when it's the result of an intentional challenge by an opposing team's player it makes the whole thing even worse. I'm not going to provide any video links to Martin Taylor's vicious tackle of Eduardo da Silva. You know where to find them if that's your thing. Arsene Wenger has called for Taylor to receive a lifetime ban and for once I agree with him. The incident cast a dark cloud on what was otherwise a solid effort by Birmingham City and James McFadden at St. Andrews. Obviously Eduardo is lost for the season and also for the Euro championships that very well could have been a stage for his arrival as a soccer superstar. The 2-2 tie could also have wide-ranging consequences in the Premiership title hunt, as Man United's smackdown of Newcastle allowed Sir Alex' men to pull within three points of Gunners.

It was a dark day for the Fulhamericans as well, who were unlucky to lose to West Ham United in the first of two London derby matches this weekend. (The bigger one, of course, is at Wembley tomorrow). There is also another on tap for Wednesday, when Spurs and Chelsea play a rematch in EPL play. Here is how the London derby league looks going into tomorrow:

Arsenal 8 7 1 1 16 9 22
Chelsea 5 3 1 1 5 2 10
Tottenham 8 2 3 3 17 14 9
West Ham 6 2 3 1 4 6 7
Fulham 8 0 6 2 7 18 2

Besides being in serious and acute danger of being relegated from the Premiership, this also concludes Fulham's London campaign for the season. Maybe they'll be replaced by Charlton (I don't count Watford, a more solid candidate for promotion, as a London club). Unless Chelsea win both games with Spurs over the next week, Arsenal will clinch the "league." And West Ham? Alan Curbishley's men are ninth and could very well make Europe next season. The sixth- through eighth-placed teams are all even on 44 points. Hammers have 40.

Elsewhere, there was excitement in the Bundesliga, where Bayer Leverkusen beat Schalke to move into third place (Hamburg SV will displace them if they beat top-of-the-table Bayern Munich tomorrow, but that game is played in Bavaria, where HSV have barely won in the past 30 years). Werder Bremen, who had played so well in recent weeks, lost at Eintracht Frankfurt, who are now quietly seventh, which is I think the highest they've been in a generation. But the biggest Bundesliga game is still on tap tomorrow.

I don't know how this happened, but there were eight goals in a Serie A game today. I could have sworn there were entire weeks where there weren't eight goals in all of Serie A back in the catenaccio days. Torino and Parma were the teams in question and they shared the spoils in a 4-4 draw. Roberto Stellone (no relation to Sylvester, I don't think) and Andrea Gasbarro both had braces for Torino and Parma, respectively. In the other Serie A game today, Juventus are losing at Reggina.

Finally, the remaining Champions League representatives from Greece and Turkey both suffered setbacks in their respective leagues today. Fenerbahce Istanbul, who are neck-and-neck with Galatasaray in the Turkcell Super Lig lost at home to Bursaspor, a mid-table side. What is even more shocking is that this was Fener's first loss at home--in all competitions--this season. Olympiakos, meanwhile tied their game at PAOK Saloniki today. They still lead the Super League by two points over Panathinaikos, who play tomorrow.

Photo taken from Guardian.co.uk without permission.

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