West Ham manager Avram Grant has put his religious beliefs before football and has refused to work on Saturday because of Yom Kippur. It means Grant will not be at the Stoke City game when West Ham look to stop their distrastrous run of four Premier League defeats on the trot.
West Ham bosses confirmed that Grant will be absent, fully respect and understand the situation. The club statement said, “Out of respect for the traditions, heritage and religious obligations of the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, Avram Grant will not be in the dug-out at Stoke City this Saturday.” It is very unusual for the day to clash with the fixture list.
Dating back thousands of years, Yom Kippur – or Day of Atonement – is the most significant day of the year. It is a strict day of fasting and abstaining that forbids all followers to work.
In Grant`s place will be assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic, senior coach Paul Groves and first-team coach Kevin Keen.
Chelsea maintained their 100 per cent record this season with a comfortable victory over Zilina by four goals to one in Slovakia. It was just what manager Carlo Ancelotti wanted for Chelsea`s start in their Champions League group opener. Chelsea took the lead on thirteen minutes through Essien and increased their lead further just nine minutes later when Nicolas Anelka angled in a shot and poked in from close range.
With Chelsea coasting at 2-0, it became damage limitation for Zilina, but Chelsea inflicted further damage on the home side just four minutes later when Anelka grabbed his second, John Terry headed a Malouda corner against the crossbar and Anelka was there to hit it home for Chelsea`s third.
Witin three minutes of the second half underway, Benayoun played another telling ball from midfield and the Israeli found Dean Sturridge he rounded keeper Dubravka before slotting in a left-foot shot. Zilina 0 Chelsea 4. But the home side didn`t give up, if they were not going to win, at least one goal for the home supporters would be better than nothing.
On fifty five minutes, Chelsea became complacent and Cech flapped as he missed a cross, which was sent goalwards off the head of Ivanovic, and Oravec slid in to get the final touch before the ball crossed the line.
At 4-1 there was no way Chelsea were going to lose and Carlo Ancelotti decided to give youngsters Gael Kakuta and Joshua McEachran a run out. A great start for Chelsea they sit at the top of their group ahead of Spartak Moscow on goal difference, Spartak beat Marseille 1-0.
Arsenal tormented FC Braga this evening and hammered the Portuguese side 6-0. Apart from the win and three crucial points to get Arsenal underway in their group, the six goals without conceding will be a great boost for the Gunners if goal difference becomes a deciding factor in qualification for the next stage.
Arsenal took the lead after just seven minutes, Fabregas converting a penalty, the Gunners went 2-0 up on thirty minutes, when Andrey Arshavin slammed in a precise Fabregas pass, then four minutes later Jack Wilshere superbly set up Chamakh to drill home to make it 3-0. With Arsenal going in at half-time three up it was game over.
From the re-start, Arsenal got the bit between their teeth and piled on more pressure and it was Fabregas again who scored Arsenal`s fourth, gaping holes in the Braga defence allowed Fabregas to head in Arshavin’s cross from the left. Arsenal not content with a 4-0 lead wanted more and Carlos Vela added their fifth on 69 minutes. And with just six minutes remaining, Vela added another to make it a double for him and six for Arsenal on the night.
Arsene Wenger was delighted with the result, but in fairness the Gunners were expected to win this game comfortably anyway. Stiffer opposition await Arsenal in the shape of Shakhtar Donetsk and Partizan Belgrade, but tonight beings to Arsenal as they sit proudly at the top of their group ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk on goal difference after Shaktar beat Partizan Belgrade 1-0.
Chelsea will take nothing for granted tonight against their opponents, Slovakian champions Zilina. Although Zilina have had to fight their way through three qualifying rounds to reach the group stage they are capable of springing surprises against top opposition.
Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech said, “Zilina had to go through qualification and the fact they have made it into the group stages shows their quality, underestimating any team in the Champions League can only damage you.” Zilina manager Pavel Hapal is determined to give Chelsea a run for their money by saying, “It’s a great challenge for me and I’m really looking forward to it. On the other hand, we won’t sell ourselves short, we want to show our supporters quality football and we’d like to get some points from our meeting with Chelsea.”
Chelsea welcome back Captain John Terry after a rib injury and boss Carlo Ancelloti has given a start to striker Daniel Sturridge as Didier Drogba is suspended. Lampard and Ashley Cole are out, Lampard has a hernia injury and Cole has been rested.
The Chelsea line-up for tonight`s game: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Zhirkov, Essien, Benayoun, Mikel, Sturridge, Malouda, Anelka. Subs (from): Turnbull, Hilario, Ferreira, Ramires, Kalou, Kakuta, Van Aanholt, Bruma.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has once again called for protection for his players following a growing injury list. His latest injury is Abou Diaby, a tackle from Bolton’s Paul Robinson last Saturday means Diaby will miss the games against Portuguese side FC Braga this evening and for the league trip to Sunderland on Saturday.
Wenger claimed it was a bad tackle, but his constant whinging about his players being treated fairly is falling on deaf ears. Er Arsene, when will you realise in 14 years of managing a Premier League team, that the Premier League is tough tackling, it`s part of the territory, it`s part of the game, if you don`t like it then maybe it`s time to seek pastures new or stop going on about it.
Strangely, Wenger said himself, “I don’t know if my views are taken seriously, the only thing I regret if I speak about it – it is only controversial and it is, “Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger. If I read, Wenger cries because his players are injured, why should I talk about it? People say, OK, it’s his team and he wants to protect his players and there is an interest there. No, I speak about football.”
Confused about what Wenger is on about? Yes we are too. Some advice Arsene, we love to listen when you speak about football, because usually you raise some interesting points, but please stop going on and on about your players being treated with “kid gloves” it won`t happen and you are getting boring, by constantly raising the issue.
As if Manchester United`s boring 0-0 draw with Rangers was bad enough for the United fans to suffer last night, they were left puzzled at Alex Ferguson`s team selection which could probably be best described as “United`s reserves” and now Antonio Valencia it is understood could be out for a number of games following an horrific ankle injury, he undergoes an operation later today.
Valencia was stretchered off and the pain the player was in was so bad he required oxygen as he left the field. Ferguson obviously is so confident United can qualify in what he feels is an easy group, he chose to make ten changes from the team that played against Everton on Saturday.
Rooney and Ferdinand were in the side, Rooney`s performance was about as useful as a Sunday league pub player, but let`s not have a go at Rooney he has enough on his plate at the moment. Instead, our attention must turn to Ferguson.
In an effort to decipher the team selection and mentality of United boss Ferguson at the moment, it appears he chose to rest a number of his players for last night`s game in preparation for the visit of Liverpool to Old Trafford this weekend. But his decision over team selection seems to have backfired.
Given that Ferguson has always advocated that the Champions League is his priority, why choose a team of “reserves” that included Hernandez and Chris Smalling for such an important game?
We raised the question on Saturday after United lost a 3-1 lead to Everton, as to why Ferguson decided to substitute Patrice Evra with 15 minutes to go and United leading 3-1, the United defence changed shape with Evra gone and the result? Everton scored twice. Again we think a bad decision by Ferguson taking Evra off, it cost his team two points.
Will Ferguson learn soon that he has to stop this arrogance? No we don`t think so, what we do think however is if Ferguson continues to make similar decisions in the future, Old Trafford won`t be seeing any silverware at all this season.
- Ferguson fears for Valencia (skysports.com)
- Antonio Valencia’s season over as United are held in Champions League (guardian.co.uk)