Burnley defeat underlines lack of United defensive cover

Perhaps Burnley where somewhat fortuitous in the nature of their 1-0 win over Manchester United at Turf Moor last night.

Robbie Blake’s fine volley stole all three points for the home side but if the Red Devils converted their chances – including a Michael Carrick penalty – they would not have returned to Old Trafford empty handed.

For the majority of the transfer window Utd have been pursuing replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo and Cralos Tevez but perhaps they should be looking for acquisitions further back.

Even though United were on for an unprecedented quintuple last season they looked less than assured in defence when they were without Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic through injury.

Last night, with a rusty Wes Brown and Jonny Evans at the heart of their usually solid defence, they always looked as if they might concede a goal.

Rafael and Fabio da Silva will ensure that United have plenty in reserve at full back but their lack of quality centre backs could prove to be a headache – especially if Ferdinand and Vidic do not remain fit for the entire season.

With 11 days left in the transfer window, Sir Alex Ferguson may have to go back to the market to secure one high quality central defender.

After all, Utd will face much sterner away tests between now and May.


Champoholics Anonymous

Tidying my room last week and flicking through various CDs and games I came over all nostalgic when I realised that I had at least three 2D soccer simulation gems.
It pains me to admit that I still occasionally play Football Manager 2008 but nothing could beat the heady days of gambling away your future by starting up a game of Champ at the most inopportune moment.
My GCSE revision was interrupted on by my love for CM9798, playing the diamond with Barcelona and Juventus and buying in gems like Ibrahima Bakayoko, Richard Wright and Tom Youngs.
While doing my A Levels it was Championship Manager 3 and the new interface that was probably a contributing factor to my failure to make it to Nottingham Law School.
And even my degree suffered as I managed to take lowly Stevenage Borough through the league system from the Conference to the Uefa Cup on Football Manager 2005.
There were times when I would play for days at time – barely moving for the computer and only stopping to eat.

At times the love of the game can reduce the most civilized man into an unwashed, gibbering fool who is more interested in gaining promotion with York City than doing something more useful.
But who wouldn’t prefer comparing the merits of Luis Figo (20 for passing) and Zinedine Zidane (18 for shooting) than memorise a detailed history of equity and trust case law.
The worst thing about Champ addiction is that it blurs the lines of reality and fiction – at times I have had to remind my self that Arsenal didn’t sign Fernando Torres in 2006 and then go on to win back to back quadruples.
I’m going to have to write to the manufacturers and ask them to slip a sticker on the front cover. Warning: Champ ruins lives.
Better still we could all get together (and I know there is a lot of us) and start up a support group – Champoholics Anonymous.
“My name’s Leigh…. And I’m a Champoholic.”

Arsenal throw down title gauntlet

Despite being heavily tipped for a finish outside the Champions League places in the Premier League this season Arsenal fired a warning shot to their rivals with a thumping 6-1 reverse at Everton.

Arsene Wenger’s charges outplayed the home side at Goodison Park who remain largely unchanged from last season when they took 5th place.

While many pundits, notably Steve Claridge, have doubted whether Arsenal can still compete with Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool (and the nouveau riche Manchester City) the Gunners showed that they can amaze as well as frustrate.

It is easy to get carried away with on the opening day of the season and it is important to remember that the season is played over a full 38 games but Arsenal showed that they are too good to be taken lightly.

Combine that with the fact that Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd were all unconvincing in their opening games and we could be on for one of the closest title races since the Premier League began.