We had ice, snow, slush and lots of matches called of in Britain over the last few weeks, so it was great to see a thaw and some exciting football on television the last couple of days, and lots of goals-raining goals in fact!
In the afternoons we have Africa Cup of Nations from Angola, and the end of the first stage. Then in the evenings some passionate fans and playersin both cup and league. Tuesday we had the postponed first leg of The Carling Cup semi-final from Eastlands between a revived Manchester City and a stumbling United.
Fourty-seven thousand fans were packed into The City of Manchester Stadium, as the sky blue anthem 'Blue Moon' came over the loudspeaker. Nine thousand fans were wearing red and white, and what a cracker it was. Carlos Tevez scored twice and gave his Big Ears sign to the United hierachy. 'Topo Giglo' is a big-eared mouse on an Argentinian TV show.
As you all know he was let go at Old Trafford and signed by the new Arab backed big spenders, who put up billboards in the city with Tevez in a City shirt and 'Welcome to Manchester', as if his time across town didn't count. You could see Rooney mouth some words 'left,right, miss it' as he took his penalty kick against Edwin Van der Sar. The Dutchman practiced penalties with him on the training ground at Carrington while at United, and he usually hit it to the right. Edwin thought he would change and dived to the left. Tevez hit it down the middle! Ryan Giggs had equalised but with a 2-1 home result the second leg next Wednesday at Old Trafford will have us all glued to the TV sets.
Last night in Birmingham, Aston Villa carried a 1-0 away result from Ewood Park in the first leg, as Blackburn Rovers and Sam Allerdyce came to stately Villa Park in the other semi-final. Villa have had a splendid season and a complement to the coaching and man management of Martin O'Neil and his supportive American owner Randy Lerner. James Milner, the all rounder, is having his best ever season and a sure bet for a place on the England squad to South Africa. He scored the only goal last week in East Lancashire and a penalty in this leg. Rovers had other ideas and ran up a two goal lead. Three quick goals from Villa after half time and then two from the visitors and we had a real cup tie.
It finished 6-4 to Aston Villa, (7-4) on aggregate as they are Wembley bound and await either sky blue or red from Manchester. It was a credit to both teams and Rovers 'never say die' attitude with 10 men for 50 minutes.
Last night two Barclays Premier League clashes to switch channels between, for even more excitement. Liverpool have had a horrible time with strained relations with American owners and a foul mouth son, Tom Hicks Jr. He was sent packing and should probably do well 'mucking out' the stables at his dad's other sporting venue, the Mesquite Rodeo. One great thing about Liverpool fans-they support their team and manager through thick and thin, and it has been thin lately. With Torres and Gerrard out for a while Dirk Kuyt did the business and scored twice without reply, while Jamie Garragher led with distinction. Tottenham Hotspur just weren't good enough on the night as they went back home to the strains of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
Down south in London we had another manager who some had doubted recently. Arsene Wenger's team needed to win by 2 goals to go top of the EPL on goal average. The Emirates was shocked as Owen Coyle's Bolton Wanderers took a two goal lead in less than half an hour. The Gunners fought back, literally. Referee Alan Wiley should have sent of William Gallas for a studs first tackle on Mark Davies. He wasn't and Arsenal equalised through Fabregas. Goals from Vermaelen and Arshevin finished The Trotters off as Chelsea slipped to second, although they have a game in hand.