Thursday, December 31, 2009

3 Successive Wins in the Last Days of 2009

No. 1: Conquering the Hull

London (12/19) - First it was at home against Hull City. Denilson, Eduardo, and Abou Diaby each contributed a goal to secure three points. It was a very essential victory to maintain Arsenal's chance of winning the Premier League, after being held by promoted club Burnley only in the previous match.

When Andrei Arshavin was fouled, the Gunners were awarded a free-kick. However, Samir Nasri was involved in an emotional as well as physical battle with the Hull players. Even Manuel Almunia had to help his teammates cool down. Nasri took the free-kick, but he failed to score.

Denilson brought the matter into his own hands when only a few moments later Arsenal was given another free-kick. He thrashed the net and gave Arsenal a 1-0 lead before half-time.

In the 56th minute, Mikael Silvestre's tug on Fagan's shirt granted a penalty kick for Hull but Almunia managed to save it. And three minutes later, it was again Arsenal who doubled the lead, Eduardo finishing Diaby's crossing with an accurate tap.

In the 80th minute, Arshavin, who had been kept quiet by the Hull players, gave his assist to Diaby, who then made it 3-0 for Arsenal.

Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey, who came for Eduardo and Nasri respectively, had chances in the last minutes but Arsenal secured the win 3-0.

No. 2: A Tale of Cesc's Carol

London (12/27) - To triumph over Aston Villa, who aimed to enter the Big Four, the Gunners even practiced in Christmas morning, being allowed to celebrate the holiday with their families in the evening. However, their sacrifice was not in vain.

Two days after Christmas, Cesc Fabregas gave his best to his team, even if it meant setting him back to another three-week absence due to an injury rearousal. He scored two goals in his just 27-minute appearance, bringing Arsenal to a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa.

Though definitely the better team, Arsenal was stagnant throughout the first half. The players had a number of chances but they could not produce even a single goal.

Then, seeing that his team desperately need a new spirit, Arsene Wenger risked the health of the still-recovering captain by pulling out Denilson in the 56th minute.

Wenger's strategy proved right. Only 9 minutes later, Fabregas ended the goalless state when his free-kick netted his eighth goal in the Premier League this season, making him Arsenal's top scorer, over Robin van Persie's 7 goals.

In the 81th minute, Armand Traore passed the ball to Theo Walcott, who in turn slid into the path of Fabregas. The Spaniard then charged past Brad Friedel to be Arsenal's top scorer with 12 goals in all competition, as well as Arsenal's top assist.

But in the middle of the crowd's joy, there was concern. Fabregas was hobbling as he celebrated, and he was almost immediately replaced by Aaron Ramsey, with the crowd giving him a deserved applause.

In the 81st minute, Abou Diaby came through the middle and added a third goal.

No. 3: In the Bottommost Land of Premier League

Portsmouth (12/30) - On Wednesday evening, the Gunners visited Fratton Park without Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, and Nicklas Bendtner.

Arsenal seemed to have no difficulty in earning the third consecutive win with a three-goal margin over the team at the bottom of the Premier League standings. But this time, the score was 4-1.

Eduardo struck the opening goal in the 27th minute. And Samir Nasri added a second in the 41st minute.

Three goals were created from the 68th minute to the 81th minute. Aaron Ramsey gave his team a 3-0 lead, but then Nadir Belhadj of Portsmouth gave a consolation finish 5 minutes later.

Alex Song, who will be out to defend Cameroon in African Cup, added a fourth in the 81st minute.

Now Arsenal is still four points behind leader Chelsea and two points behind Manchester United, but with a game on hand.

The Gunners can comfort themselves as the top scorer team in the Premier League with 51 goals and 30 goal differences, though.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Indonesia Dominates Badminton Final

Vientiane (12/17) - Indonesia won three badminton gold medals in 2009 Laos SEA Games. The three medals are from men's singles, men's doubles, and mixed doubles.

Indonesian mixed doubles pair, Nova Widhianto and Lilyana Natsir, contributed the first badminton individual gold medal after conquering Thailand's tenacious Songpol Anukritayawan/Kuchala Worawichitchaikul in three sets, 21-10, 20-22, and 21-9.

Simon Santoso added to Indonesia's gold medal tally and gained his first SEA Games gold with a 21-16 and 21-12 triumph over teammate Sony Dwi Kuncoro in 45 minute.

Finally, Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan confirmed Indonesia as the chief collector of badminton gold medals by winning their revenge on Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong. Markis/Hendra, who were beaten by Koo/Tan in the team event, successfully prevailed over the Malaysians in straight sets, 21-17 and 21-17.

Indonesia did not place any player in women's event. Thailand won gold and silver medals in women's singles. Salakjit Ponsana battled her compatriot Ratchanok Intanon in a 50-minute match to a 21-14, 18-21, and 21-10 victory.

In the women's doubles, Wong Pei Tty and Chin Eei Hui of Malaysia outshone Singaporean Shinta Mulya Sari and Yao Lei 21-12 and 21-11 to obtain their second SEA Games gold medal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Four to Final

Indonesia puts four contenders into 2009 Laos Sea Games finals. The most successful is men's singles with Sony Dwi Kuncoro facing compatriot Simon Santoso in the final. This is a repetition of 2005 Philippines Sea Games final in which Sony won.

Simon won an easy 21-7, 21-14 victory over Vietnamese Nguyen Hoang Hai whereas Sony strived to a 21-10, 18-21, and 21-17 win over Thailand's tough Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk.

In the women's singles, Thailand makes sure of a gold medal as Salakjit Ponsana and Ratchanok Intanon progress to the final, both defeating Malaysian players. Salakjit subdued Wong Mew Choo 21-18 and 21-14 while Ratchanok humbled Lydia Cheah, 21-15 and 23-21, leaving Malaysia two bronze medals. Wong's achievement in SEA Games dropped from gold in Vietnam and silver in the Philippines to bronze.

Malaysia must be satisfied with another two bronze medals from mixed doubles when 2005 bronze medalists, Koo Kien Keat and Wong Pei Tty, crashed out 15-21, 15-21 to 2005 gold winners of Indonesia, Nova Widhianto and Lilyana Natsir.

Nova/Lilyana will compete against Songpol Anukritayawan and Kuchala Worawichitchaikul of Thailand who subjugated Koo/Wong's teammates, Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, 21-18, 21-13.

In the men's doubles, Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia will face Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong again in the final. Markis/Hendra struggled to beat Malay Zakry/Tazari 27-25, 15-21, and 21-16. Meanwhile, Koo/Tan defeated Markis' brother Bona Septano and his partner Ahsan in straight sets, 21-16 and 21-10.

Laos SEA Games Semi-final Fixtures

Men's Singles
Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA) vs. Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA)
Simon Santoso (INA) vs. Nguyen Hoang Hai (VIE)

Women's Singles
Salakjit Ponsana (THA) vs. Wong Mew Choo (MAS)
Ratchanok Intanon (THA) vs. Lydia Cheah (MAS)

Men's Doubles
Markis Kido/Hendra Setiawan (INA) vs. M Zakry Abdul Latif/M Fairuzizuan Tazari (MAS)
Bona Septano/M Ahsan (INA) vs. Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong (MAS)

Women's Doubles
Savitree Amitrapai/Vacharaporn Munkit (THA) vs. Shinta Mulya Sari/Yao Lei (SIN)
Shendy Irawati /Meiliana Jauhari (INA) vs. Wong Pei Tty/Chin Eei Hui (MAS)

Mixed Doubles
Nova Widhianto/Lilyana Natsir (INA) vs. Koo Kien Keat/Wong Pei Tty (MAS)
Songpol Anukritayawan/Kuchala Worawichitchaikul (THA) vs. Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying (MAS)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Theo Praises Andrei


Theo Walcott has hailed the ever-reliable Andrei Arshavin after the Russian struck a superb match-winning goal at Anfield on Sunday.

Arshavin fired home his eighth goal of the season to see Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on a weekend after Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, and Manchester City all dropped points.

After the match, Walcott praised his fellow forward's contribution to Arsenal's attacking threat.

"If you put him in those positions, he is always going to put it away," said the 20-year-old.

"He has got plenty of pace as well. We can frighten the defenders at times but also you have to defend well and not always break forward.

"We have got so many attacking players and Andrei has done it yet again.

"He just seems to be relaxed. There is always a smile on his face when he is playing and to get a goal was very well deserved.

"You could put any goalkeeper in that position and he is never going to make the save.

"It was a fantastic finish."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Arshavin Astonishes Anfield

Liverpool (12/13) - The Big "RED" Match on Sunday at Anfield was a very crucial one.

Arsenal needed the win to stay on course of Premier League hunt, while Liverpool had to improve their performance to reach the big four.

Both teams played with full team. Arsenal put Andrei Arshavin and Cesc Fabregas in their starting line-up, and Liverpool had their depended-upon Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

In the first half, the Gunners had some opportunities, including two corner-kicks and two free-kicks. Similarly, the Reds gained the same amount of corner-kicks and three free-kicks. But none of these resulted in a goal.

Instead, it was Dirk Kuyt who brought Liverpool to a 1-0 lead in the 41st minute.

In the changing room, Arsene Wenger thundered at his team's incapability of using good chances to score. And his indignation served as a whiplash for his players.

Five minutes into the second half, Samir Nasri put a pressure on Glen Johnson, forcing the Liverpool player to net an own goal.

In the 58th minute, only 8 minutes later, Andrei Arshavin once again became the hero of Arsenal fans as well as a threat for the Liverpool fans when he struck the ball with a slightly injured foot into Jose Reina's net.

After that, Arsenal and Liverpool gained a few more chances to score but did not produce more goals. It was a 2-1 win for Arsenal.

One Gold Medal Only for Each Finalist

Both Indonesia and Malaysia won a gold and silver medal in Laos SEA Games in badminton team event. In the men's event, Indonesia beat Malaysia 3-1. Sony Dwi Kuncoro made Indonesia lead 1-0 as he defeated Muhammad Hafiz Hashim 22-20, 14-21, and 21-12.

However, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia equalized the score 1-1 with a 19-21, 22-20, and 21-10 victory of Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan.

Simon Santoso's 21-18, 21-13 triumph over Kuan Beng Hong made the score 2-1 for Indonesia. Ultimately, newly-made pair Nova Widhianto and Mohammad Ahsan secured the win after shocking old pair of Malaysia Zakry Abdul Latif/Fairuzizuan Tazari in straight sets, 21-18 and 21-17.

Nevertheless, Indonesia failed to clinch the women's gold, losing 1-3 to the same opponent. Malaysia's Wong Mew Choo subjugated Adrianti Firdasari 21-18 and 21-17. Wong Pei Tty/Chin Eei Hui added more point for Malaysia as they beat Shendy Irawati/Meiliana Jauhari 21-17 and 21-13.

Maria Kristin gave one point for Indonesia as she overpowered Lydia Cheah 21-8, 21-9 in just half an hour. But Lilyana Natsir and Greysia Polii could not equalize the score and gave up 21-19, 12-21, and 18-21 to Woon Khe Wei/Ng Hui Lin.

To summarize, Indonesia won 1 gold medal from men's team and 1 silver from women's team. Malaysia gained the same result as Indonesia, but the gold medal is from women's team and the silver medal is from men's team. Thailand and Singapore each obtained 2 bronze medals.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Double Battles

In 25th SEA Games in Laos, Indonesia will face Malaysia in badminton women's and men's final. Malaysia's women's singles team played Thailand in the first match of the day. They won 3-o. Wong Mew Choo gave the first point for her team by overcoming Salakjit Ponsana 21-15 and 21-17. It was the only two-set match in the Malaysia-Thailand match.

Wong Pei Tty/Chin Eei Hui added Malaysia's lead as they beat Duanganong Aroonkesorn/Kuchala Worawichitchaikul 19-21, 21-14, and 21-14. Lydia Cheah completed the match with a 19-21, 21-18, and 21-19 win over 18-year-old Porntip Buranaprasertsuk.

In the other semi-final, defending champion Indonesia beat Singapore 3-0 too. Indonesia's Adrianti Firdasari played the first match against Zhang Beiwen and won 21-14, 21-13.

Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda gave further lead as they beat Vanessa Neo/Shinta Sari in tough rubber sets, 23-21, 18-21, 21-10 in 42 minutes.

Finally, 2008 Olympic Games bronze-medalist Maria Kristin booked final ticket for Indonesia by vanquishing Xing Aiying in straight sets, 21-19 and 21-15.

Thailand's Fight

In the men's event, Indonesia proved they were better Thailand. They edge Thailand with a perfect score 3-0 to breeze to the final. However, Thailand was able to give great fight in the two men's singles as Boonsak Ponsana and Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk insisted Indonesian singles players to play in three sets.

2004 Olympic Games bronze-medalist, Sony Dwi Kuncoro, struggled hard to beat 2004 Olympic semi-finalist, Boonsak. Sony needed an hour to make Indonesia lead 1-0 with a 21-6, 11-21, and 21-14 victory.

2007 men's doubles champions, Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan, increased the point for Indonesia by downing Nutthapon Narkthong and Patiphat Chalardchalaem in easy 22-minute match, 21-12 and 21-12.

Simon Santoso conquered Tanongsak in rubber sets, 10-21, 21-15, 21-17, to bring Indonesia to the final. Next, Indonesia will take on Malaysia who defeat Singapore 3-0.

Muhammad Hafiz Hashim created a 1-0 lead as he defeated Derek Wong 21-15, 21-15. This is the first time Hafiz play as first singles because Malaysia's top men's singles player, Lee Chong Wei, withdrew due to injury.

Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong only played a 20-minute match to win over Hendri Saputra/Hendra Wijaya 21-19 and 1-0. The Singaporeans retired in the second set.

Kuan Beng Hong's 21-17, 21-17 victoy over Ashton Chen made Malaysia progress to the final.

By this result, Thailand and Singapore gained two bronze medals from badminton while Indonesia and Malaysia fight for gold medals tomorrow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Experience for the Young Gunners

Athens (12/9) - Win or loss, Arsenal has already qualified for Champions League's last 16 as the winner of Group H with 6 points lead over second-place Olympiakos.

As it is, Arsene Wenger decided to give his young players a Champions League experience by starting 3 reserve players - Kerrea Gilbert, Kyle Bartley, and Thomas Cruise - as well as the well-known Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, and Carlos Vela.

In fact, the only player who is in his 30s is Mikael Silvestre, and he was appointed captain that night. The average age was 21, the youngest Champions League team ever.

Experience was costly, and that night the "baby" Gunners had to pay the price. They were defeated that night 1-0 by Leonardo's goal in the 47th minute. But they succeeded to impress the spectators.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Three Titles in A Row

Johor Bahru - Perhaps Lee Yong-dae/Jung Jae-sung can be said as the most successful men's doubles pair in the last three tournaments. They won Super Series Finals title, following titles from Hong Kong and China last month, with a 21-15, 21-15 triumph over Carsten Mogensen and Mathias Boe of Denmark in 46 minutes.

Playing in the third match of the day, Yong-dae/Jae-sung played against Boe/Mogensen whom they defeated in China Open semi-final. In the first set, they chased each other's points as finally Yong-dae and Jae-sung left the Danish 15-12 and then took the first set 21-15.

In the second set, the world number three was 1-5 but they could equalize 8 all and left Boe/Mogensen 13-7 to win the second set 21-15 again.

Bright Yong-dae

Lee Yong-dae returns a shot

Lee Yong-dae, who shines in the last three tournaments with 3 men's doubles titles and one mixed doubles title, said, “I’m no superman. I’m very grateful that both my doubles partners (Jung Jae Sung in men’s and Lee Hyo Jung in mixed) are great partners.

“They have been great support and offered plenty of encouragement to me over these 2 years that has helped me to juggle playing in both doubles.”

Yong-dae did not play in mixed doubles because his partner Hyo-jung was injured. They were world number one mixed doubles pair.

Mew Choo Is Back

After two-year title drought, Malaysia's best women's singles player, Wong Mew Choo, conquered Juliane Schenk in easy two sets, 21-15 and 21-7, after fighting with injuries. She won 42 rallies and 10 smash winners to Schenk's 22 and 3.

“I am going to treat my teammates and coaches as they have been instrumental in helping my career,” said Mew Choo.

“Without their help, I will not be here today as they were pillars of support to me even when I was injured.”

Top Seeds' Victories

Top-seeded Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen of Denmark was crowned as mixed doubles winner as they humbled Indian Diju V and Jwala Gutta 21-14, 21-18 to receive $42,000 prize money.

“We will be playing at the Copenhagen Masters at the end of the month but winning the Masters Finals is a great way to end the season,” said Fischer Nielsen.

“It is a pity that some of the top pairs are not here but in today’s mixed doubles, there are seven to eight pairs who can win the title.

“I rate the Koreans (Lee Yong Dae-Lee Hyo Jung) as the best mixed doubles pair in the world right now and that is our aim – to beat them.”

World number five Wong Pei Tty/Chin Eei Hui maintained their women's doubles title as they prevailed over Danish Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Lena Frier Kristiansen 21-17, 21-14.

In the men's singles, top seed Lee Chong Wei, who plays in too many tournaments this year, beat Park Sung-hwan of Korea 21-17, 21-17. After the Super Series Finals, he will play in SEA Games.

No wonder he said, “But next year, I plan to be more selective in choosing the tournaments I want to compete in order to focus on major events.”

The defending champion also said: “After the Olympic Games in Beijing (2008), my form took a dip but I am very happy with the way the year has progressed.

“I’ve won six titles and now the Masters Finals title as well. As such, I am pleased with my performance.”

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Arsenal Returns to Winning Ways

London (12/5) - After 1-0 and 0-3 defeats to Sunderland and Chelsea respectively in the Premier League, as well as an English League Cup loss by Manchester City, Arsenal needed a victory very badly to restore the players' confidence.

And they had the opportunity to win an easy match against Stoke City, at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners attacked from the first minute. Andrei Arshavin was tripped inside the penalty area, but Cesc Fabregas was assigned to take the penalty-kick.

Unfortunately Thomas Sorensen saved it.

But it did not matter much because only five minutes later, Arshavin continued Fabregas' assist and struck straight into the net.

In the 54th minute, Emmanuel Eboue added to Arsenal's injury list and had to be replaced by Aaron Ramsey.

Just about 10 minutes before the final whistle, the 18-year-old Welsh fired his third Arsenal goal for this season and doubled the lead 2-0.

Arshavin could have made it 3-0, but Stoke's Andy Wilkinson prevented it.

This cheerful result put Arsenal back in winning ways, especially after Chelsea lost to Man City 1-2 on Sunday.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Unbeatable Winners into Final

Lee Yong-dae celebrates semi-final win with his partner Jung Jae-sung

2008 Super Series Finals men's doubles finalists, Lee Yong-dae and Jung jae-sung, reaches the final of Super Series Finals as they shattered the dream of local favorites, Zakry Abdul Latif/Fairuzizuan Tazari, in just two sets, 21-18 and 21-11.

The former world number one will face Denmark's Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen whom they beat in China Open final last month. Boe/Mogensen vanquished Group A winner Guo Zhendong/Xu Chen of China 21-19, 21-17.

Lee Yong-dae/Jung Jae-sung hopes to win their first Super Series Finals title with assuring results in Group B. They topped Group B by winning all matches without even losing a set. Boe/Mogensen were in the second position of Group B. Thus, no Group A contenders play in the final.

This final will be easier for Lee/Jung since the defending champions Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong were on the third position in Group A.

In women's singles, Wong Mew Choo achieves her first final in her Super Series Finals debute with a 21-10, 21-10 win over Yao Jie in the semi-final. Mew Choo only won a super series title, China Open 2007. Even though she was not ranked in top 8, she could play in Super Series Finals because many great players did not play.

Mew Choo will compete against unseeded Juliane Schenk in the final. In the semi-final, Schenk ousted top seed Sania Nehwal of India with a 21-18, 21-18 victory.

Local favorite Lee Chong Wei progresses to men's singles final after beating last year finalist Peter Gade in just straight sets, 21-17 and 21-16. He will play Korean Park Sung-hwan who surprisingly eliminated Bao Chunlai of China 21-14, 21-14.

Other semi-final results:

Women's Doubles
Kamila Rytter Juhl (DEN) def. 2-Cheng Wen-Hsing/Chien Yu-Chin (TPE) 21-17, 10-21, 21-16
1-Wong Pei Tty/Chin Eei Hui (MAS) def. Duanganong Aroonkesorn/Kuchala Worawichitchaikul (THA) 21-15, 21-18

Mixed Doubles
Diju V/Jwala Gutta (IND) def. Robert Mateusiak/Nadiezka Kostiuczyk (POL) 21-19, 21-11
Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (DEN) def. Anthony Clark/Donna Kellogg (ENG) 21-13, 21-17

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