Sunday, January 21, 2007

E.P.L. Spoiler Alert (Arsenal - Man. Utd.) -- If you are planning to catch a replay of the Arsenal-Manchester United tilt, and don't want to know the result, click off this page immediately! This was a game played at the highest levels of skill, and intensity. Two clubs among the world's elite lived up to their billings. A hard fought scoreless draw at the half turned into a thrilling second half. The league-leading Manchester squad struck first, to the dismay of the fans at Arsenal's new Emirates stadium. Patrice Evra, who showed great skill throughout the game, whipped in a cross from the far wing, and a diving Wayne Rooney headed it home for the game's first goal. Arsenal keeper Jens Lehman looked a little hesitant, or slow in getting across his goal mouth, and had no chance to make the save, once Rooney had sent his shot on goal.

Arsenal, though, wasn't going to go down without a fight. Still trailing with ten minutes to go, two Arsenal attackers, Fabregas and Rosicky, fought doggedly for a loose ball just outside the Manchester box. Fabregas emerged with control, passed to Rosicky, who then knocked the ball towards Thierry Henry in the middle, but Henry gave the dummy, allowing the ball to pass through to the onrushing Robbie van Persie. A late substitute with a lot energy, van Persie slid at the ball, and knocked it into the top of the goal netting, beyond the reach of the outstretched Edwin Van der Sar.

In the waning moments, Manchester looked the more dangerous side, until deep into added time, a cross from Emmanuel Eboue found the head of the French star, Henry. Not noted as a vary dangerous scorer with his head, Henry was able to deliver a sharp, powerful header that van der Sar had no chance of stopping. The Gunners' fans exploded with delirium. Just when they seemed to be facing an impending defeat to their longtime rivals, Arsenal rallied and somehow managed to pull off the victory. Great stuff!

With 14 games to play, Manchester leads Chelsea by six points, Liverpool is in third place, trailing by 11 points, and Arsenal is one point behind Liverpool, in forth place. Bolton stands in fifth place with an outside chance of cracking the top four and getting a chance at qualifying for European Champions League play.

Later today: the U.S. under-20 squad takes on Panama as they fight to advance in the U-20 Cup qualifying for this summer's tournament in Canada.

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