Goals, excitement, drama, a tedious debate about goal-line technology – what more do you want from your Monday night football? Well, good officiating and an ability to defend a long ball would be a start. Everton and Newcastle played out a cracking 2-2 draw at Goodison Park last night, but the Toffees will feel it was harsh on them as they had three goals ruled out, two of which they can feel aggrieved about.
Jelavic’s was rightly ruled out for offside. Fellaini’s neat run and finish was incorrectly flagged for offside, but at full speed very thin margins and with that hair, it’s possibly understandable. Victor Anichebe later headed a goal, but the same referee’s assistant didn’t notice that the ball had crossed the line, which it had. Under the ‘whole of the ball over the whole of the line’, it was a very close call, but there was still little doubt it was in.
The reports say ‘David Moyes fumed’ in the aftermath, but he didn’t. Not really by David Moyes standards at least. He basically said ‘you would like if the referee’s assistants saw the ball went over the line, but they didn’t, so we have to accept that’.
The Champions League group stages begin tonight and in a break with tradition, there’s some fascinating matches right from the start. Pick of tonight’s bunch is the money bags of Real Madrid hosting the also money bags of Manchester City. Roberto Mancini thinks City can win the competition and Jose Mourinho agrees, just not with Roberto Mancini in charge.
“I don’t know if it will be this season or next season, whether with Roberto or somebody else, but in the future, normally, in the direction the club are going, sooner or later they can win the big cup, the Special One needled.
The last time Olivier Giroud scored a goal that wasn’t in training or on a Playstation he was a Montpellier player in Ligue 1. Eleven club and international games have passed since then and he’s now an Arsenal player making the return home in the night’s other game of Premier League interest. The Gunners will be without Wojciech Szczesny for the trip, but after his blunder at the weekend, that may not be a bad thing. Mannone will start in goal, but he’s about as convincing as a Tom Cruise marriage. The visitors are 23/20 to win, thanks in part to their good form, but thanks a lot to their hosts poor form. Last season’s French champions are fifth from bottom after five games and already trail leaders, Marseille by 11 points.
- Betting: Real Madrid v Manchester City
- Betting: Montpellier v Arsenal
- Betting: Champions League coupon
- Betting: Champions League outright
The Twenty20 World Cup begins in Sri Lanka later today with the hosts expected to begin by beating Zimbabwe. Considering how unpredictable Twenty20 can be, maybe they shouldn’t have that expectation. Here’s a run through of the teams contesting the wide-open tournament in 20 words each.
England are the defending champions, but their challenge is undoubtedly weakened by the absence of Kevin Pietersen. The magnitude of that weakening is largely overstated, but he’s still a nice option to have swinging the willow when the run rate is creeping up. Stuart Broad leads the team in the shortest form of the game and it’s 13/2 that he’s the captain holding the trophy aloft in about three weeks time.
We’ll know later this morning if Pietersen has been allowed to return to the Test side. The door is open for a return following the retirement of Andrew Strauss in the aftermath of the ‘text messages’ furore, but that’s no guarantee that he’ll be welcomed back. England tour India this winter and although you’d like a player of his talent in any team, the hassle and grumbling he brings with him might be best ignoring.