the holiday season is one of my favorite parts of the year, but not for the reasons you would expect. gifts under the christmas (or minora?) tree are nice and all, and getting to see the friends and family is great, too. but what really get’s me amped for this part of the year is the craziness that is the world of soccer.
there is the the jam-packed fixture list: midweek and weekend premier league matches, the oft overlooked club world cup, europa league games, and some midweek scottish premier league games as well (including a stunning goal from demarcus beasley a.k.a. lazarus — thanks to charlie fiction for the great nickname). there’s the looming shadow of the january transfer window too, so the rumor mill is running overtime accordingly. and of course there was today’s champions league round of 16 draw, which gave us some excellent fixtures to look forward to in the new year.
so with all of this going on, what better time is there to give you all another news round up?
KO is end of world for eddie – thesun.com.uk
amercia’s most overrated striker, eddie johnson, looks to have run out of luck in west london, as gaffer roy hodgson has placed him on the club’s transfer list. really, i’m not that surprised. johnson has played in eight matches at fulham (none as starts) without scoring a goal, and his loan at cardiff city last year yielded only 2 goals in 33 appearances. aside from a hot run of form before the 2006 world cup where he scored 7 goals in 6 qualifiers, and two decent MLS campaigns, i don’t think he’s really done that much to prove himself as a european calibre player.
fulham seem content to let him leave for the paltry sum of £1 million, and i doubt many teams in england would be willing to pay that for him. i wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up back in the states sometime soon, which may be the only way for eddie to resuscitate his unlikely bid for a world cup roster place.
lehmann banned for three games – skysports.com
stuttgart shot stopper jens lehmann is, hands down, the dumbest player in the game right now. i gave him the benefit of the doubt back in september when he was caught after a game at oktoberfest without his club’s permission. but i’m recanting my kindness, as it’s been nothing but down hill for the german keeper since because he keeps making the worst decisions ever.
last week he was caught taking a leak behind the sponsor boards during a champions league game (click here for video), and was somehow spared punishment — but not mockery. however, he really took the ticket this past weekend before, during and after his bundesliga match against mainz. first, he was rightly red carded for stomping on mainz’s aristade bance’s foot. he promptly stormed out of the stadium, where he stole a fan’s glasses during a confrontation. after finally giving the poor schmuck his glasses back, he proceeded to board the team bus… only to quickly change his mind and exit, hail a taxi to the airport, and then fly home to munich to presumably cry. all of this comes after refusing to pay a €40,000 fine for criticizing the club the week before for sacking manager markus babbel.
it might be time to for lehmann to follow the advice of oliver kahn, his former national side teammate, and retire — before he kills someone.
adidas to end newcastle united kit deal – footballshirtculture.com
rumors are circulating that adidas have grown tired of the bad press that mike ashley’s reign over st. james park has brought the club, and that the sportswear giant will be ending their sponsorship of newcastle united as a result. the “three stripes” have almost become synonymous with the iconic black and white striped kit, and adidas’ backing out is a slap in the face adding to the club’s continued fall from grace. puma is rumored to be picking up the club after this season, though many fans are justifiably worried that the big cat’s templates won’t suit the club’s style (i agree).
there was also an interesting tidbit at the end of the story about my spurs, who are rumored to be moving back to adidas next season after refusing to renew their contract with puma. i’m having mixed feelings about this; puma’s made some solid kits for tottenham over the last few years (especially the bad ass brown kits from a few years back) and i just don’t know how adidas’ cookie cutter kit designs and shoulder stripes will look on the yids.
catalonia call up cesc fàbregas – guardian.co.uk
none of you will likely be surprised to hear that arsenal manager arsene wenger is upset with a national team call-up for one of his players, as the frenchman is generally annoyed with any and all national team call ups for his players. however, for once i’m going to side with him completely. when wenger received notice that the catalonia coach johan cruyff had called in his captain, cesc fàbregas, for a friendly against argentina just before christmas, he was rightly irate. why? because the catalonia national team isn’t even a real national team! hell, catalonia isn’t even a real country… it’s a region in spain that wants to be it’s own country (like the spanish quebec). their football association isn’t even recognized by fifa or uefa, and all they can play are friendlies.
with arsenal’s busy upcoming december schedule, and cesc already nursing a hamstring injury, there is absolutely no reason that cruyff should have called him in. besides, the fake national team also called in six players from barcelona. to be honest, i see this as nothing more than a veiled recruiting trick by the catalonia FA to try to persuade fàbregas to join barcelona.
arshavin at anfield – youtube.com
it’s no secret that anytime andrei arshavin walks into anfield, the entire kop shudders. the arsenal ace has been a force in both of his visits to liverpool’s historic ground: he scored four times in his first visit last year, in addition to netting the winner just last weekend when the two sides met. to celebrate the russian’s pwnage of the kop, a clever arsenal fan went back to the future to create this funny youtube clip:
a special thanks to my buddy milky for pointing this out, as i know it was especially hard for him to forward this along with him being such a big liverpool supporter. as he put it, “if i don’t laugh, i’ll cry.”