Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Arsenal's Trashing = Tickets Refunded

Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger began Sunday’s late-afternoon disaster in Manchester wearing his familiar full-length down parka. By the end of the game, the coat was gone as Manchester United turned Old Trafford, often called the Theater of Dreams, into Wenger’s unabashed house of horrors.
If the damage from a record 8-2 loss in the English Premier League was not enough, Arsenal officials on Monday offered their thousands of traveling fans tangible payback for the team’s sad performance by offering to pay for their match ticket to another away game … if they dare go.
Led by Wayne Rooney’s hat trick, Manchester United sent Arsenal to its worst loss in the last century — the 19th century, as in 1896.
“We went about our job from the first minute all the way through to the last,” Manchester United’s Ashley Young, who scored twice, told his team’s television network. “We were terrific. We found an Arsenal team who weren’t so good on the day and we’ve punished them.”
With a break next weekend while his players are off on international duty, Wenger told the club’s Web site that “the players go away for two weeks and maybe that is a good thing.”

Arsenal returns to play at newly promoted Swansea City on Sept. 10.
“When they come back we’ll have to prepare,” Wenger said. “Big scores are humiliating and difficult to swallow, but I don’t think they have a special meaning. They are always under special circumstances. I can only apologize for the score. It hurts very much.”
The cerebral French coach (he has university degrees in electrical engineering and economics) is facing the biggest challenge since taking over the Gunners in 1996, a run that included the “Invincible” season of 2003-4, when the Gunners won the Premier League by 11 points without losing a game. But this year is different. For one, Arsenal has a new owner in the American businessman Stan Kroenke. Second, Wenger has been a net loser during the current transfer period, which ends on Wednesday. Cesc Fàbregas departed for Barcelona and Samir Nasri for Manchester City, both talking about the club’s failure to win any significant championship since the magical season that seems so long ago.
Sunday’s one-sided loss left Arsenal in 17th place in the 20-team Premier League, with a draw and two losses from three games, and a minus-8 goal differential. With the transfer period set to end Wednesday, Wenger and Arsenal will be under pressure to try and find help on defense, but they have little chance of finding suitable replacements for Fàbregas and Nasri. On Sunday, the Gunners were without several injured players, including Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna, and the suspended Gervinho, Alex Song and 
 Emmanuel Frimpong. And for the fourth third time in three games, another Arsenal player was shown a red card, this one going to Carl Jenkinson.
“This was the strongest team we had,” the captain Robin van Persie told Arsenal’s Web site. “We gave our maximum but it was clearly not good enough. I don’t think we can hide behind injuries or suspensions. It is no excuse. They had injuries too. This is football.”
As Arsenal struggles, one of the most surprising teams in the first month of the English season is also one of the 12 founding members of the Football League, in 1888 — Wolverhampton Wanderers.
After Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Aston Villa in Birmingham, Wolves are unbeaten and have seven points, as many as Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle.
One of the men behind the club’s resurgence from years living in the lower divisions has been Mick McCarthy, the former manager of Sunderland and Ireland’s national team.
“We’ve started well and have looked solid at the back, but I know how quickly that can change in this league,” McCarthy told the club’s Web site. “You can lose three, four, five games on the bounce even when you’re playing well. As I’ve already said, we’ll enjoy the start but be wary of the 35 games to come.”
Wolverhampton has been especially adept and successful grooming young players in its academy in recent years. Graduates include Robbie Keane (now with Los Angeles in M.L.S.), Joleon Lescott, Matt Murray and Lee Naylor. Current first-team starters, all younger than 25, include goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, Ashley Hemmings and Johnny Gorman. A handful of the club’s developing players are out on loan.
Could this be the start of something big? Stay tuned.
¶ After losing twice and tying three games in their last five, the Red Bulls actually “won” by not playing last weekend. Their sold-out match against visiting Los Angeles, scheduled to be played Sunday night, was postponed until Oct. 4 because of Hurricane Irene. But the idle Red Bulls saw their Eastern Conference rivals, all of whom had played fewer games, either lose or fail to notch three points. First-place Columbus was blitzed, 6-2, at Seattle; Sporting Kansas City gave up three goals in the final minutes, losing to Dallas, 3-2; and expansion Vancouver won only its fourth game of the season, beating Houston, 1-0. The Red Bulls (6-6-14) remain in fourth place and do not play again until Sept. 10 against the visiting Whitecaps. Coach Hans Backe has given the team off until Monday.
¶ Jamaica-born Jeff Cunningham, 35, a much-traveled striker who began his M.L.S. career with Columbus from 1998-2004 and played for four other clubs before returning to the Crew this year, eclipsed Jaime Moreno’s league career goal-scoring record when he converted a penalty kick in Saturday’s 6-2 loss at Seattle. It was the 134th goal of Cunningham’s M.L.S. career.
¶ The American midfielder Stuart Holden, who has missed six months because of a knee injury, will see his first action Tuesday since last season playing for Bolton’s reserves in a game against Fulham’s reserves. “I’m buzzin’,” Holden wrote on his Twitter feed. … Michael Bradley, 24, another American midfielder, is expected to sign with Chievo of Italy’s Serie A, leaving Borussia Mönchengladbach before the transfer period ends on Wednesday.

Source: New York Times

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