Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sat 1 September 2007

The week in review

Phew. What a week. So much going on everywhere, particularly here in dear old England. Lots to take in and much that's no doubt passed some of us by. Let's take a look back at an event-filled week of football that had plenty to catch the eye...

Carling Cup gathers momentum
The second round of the Carling Cup (that's the League Cup for older visitors) took place on Tuesday and Wednesday and it's the stage of the competition where most of the Premier League teams enter the field of battle - often with disastrous consequences.

So it was, too, as Blackpool eliminated Derby 7-6 on penalties after a 2-2 extra time draw. Also taking an enforced spell of 'concentrating on the League' were Sunderland who were comprehensive beaten 3-0 at Luton and Wigan who lost 1-0 at home to Hull.

The main news from Round 2, however, came from the match between Nottingham Forest and Leicester City where Leicester defender Clive Clark collapsed during half-time due to a heart attack and was rushed to hospital. The game was abandoned and will now take place on Tuesday 18th September, but the news, thankfully, is that Clarke is making a steady recovery. We hope to see him return to full health as soon as possible.

Fast forward to today and the draw for Round 3 took place with five all-Premier League being plucked from the hat (or unscrewed from a plastic ball, whatever it is they do these days).

Tie of the round is arguably Arsenal v Newcastle but other top-flighters coming face to face are Blackburn and Birmingham, Reading and Liverpool, Tottenham and Middlesbrough and Fulham and Bolton. Here's the full draw...

Blackburn v Birmingham; Reading v Liverpool; Manchester United v Coventry; Tottenham v Middlesbrough; Hull v Chelsea; Blackpool v Southend; West Ham v Plymouth; Arsenal v Newcastle; Luton v Charlton; Manchester City v Norwich; Sheffield United v Morecambe; Sheffield Wednesday v Everton; Fulham v Bolton; Burnley v Portsmouth; Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest or Leicester; West Brom v Cardiff.

Mexican's wave goodbye to Galaxy's SuperLiga hopes
Wednesday saw the Final take place of the very first SuperLiga competition in the USA. For those that don't know, it's intended to be a high-profile annual event where teams from the United States, Mexico and Canada battle it out to be the best in North America. In this first outing for the tournament, four teams from the USA and Mexico were invited to take part and the two teams that won through to this week's Final were Pachuca and LA Galaxy.

Anyway, we won't go into detail about what happened on Wednesday as we've already done that, but suffice to say Galaxy's star man David Beckham twisted his knee - a nice accompaniment to his recently injured ankle - and Pachuca ended up winning 4-3 after a sudden-death penalty shoot-out.

The tournament was a great success and you can count on next year's competition employing a qualification stage as many teams are now queuing up to be involved in 2008.

All aboard the Champions League Express
The draw for the main group stage of the 2007/08 European Champions League took place on Thursday and for some English teams there'll be a chance to renew some old acquaintances.

Manchester United face Roma for the second successive season, this year in Group F, and Roma will no doubt hope for a better result than the 7-1 thrashing Sir Alex Ferguson's men handed out in the previous competition. Sporting Lisbon and Dynamo Kiev complete the group.

Chelsea are pitted against Valencia in Group B - a repeat of the 2006/07 quarter final which Chelsea won. Elsewhere in the group are German new boys Schalke 04 and Norwegian regulars Rosenborg.

Last season's runners-up, Liverpool, find themselves in an interesting Group A. Porto are former winners and a perpetual threat to any team while Marseille find themselves going through a renaissance of sorts. Besiktas will also prove to be tricky opposition as Liverpool try to make it three finals out of the last four.

Arsenal, somewhat impressively, find themselves in the Champions League for a tenth successive season and they were drawn in Group H on Thursday. Having overcome Sparta Prague in the qualifying stages, they'll now face Slavia Prague along with the hard-to-beat Romanians Steaua Bucharest. Completing the group will be the winners of the Sevilla v AEK Athens qualifier on Monday which was postponed because of the tragic death of Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta. Sevilla lead 2-0 from the first leg of the tie.

Elsewhere, defending champions Milan stand in the way of Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk and Benfica (or is that the other way around?) in Group D, while Real Madrid head the nearest thing to a 'group of death' as they take on Werder Bremen, Lazio and Olympiakos in Group C.

Barcelona's Group E campaign could be far from easy as well with Stuttgart, Lyon and Rangers blocking their path while Group G has a distinctly 'east-west' look, featuring Inter, PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce.

Premier League Transfer Window shuts
Teams at the top of the tree in England had until Midnight on Friday to complete any transfers before the next window of opportunity opens on January 1st 2008.

Despite high expectations for a day of frenetic activity, there was relatively little to report on. Glen Johnson moved from Chelsea back to Portsmouth where Harry Redknapp employed him on loan last season. Harry also signed Papa Bouba Diop from Fulham on a three-year deal.

Fulham in turn became the next destination in Danny Murphy's dwindling career, leaving Tottenham where he failed to establish a regular place in the team. (Wait a minute - Lawrie Sanchez has signed someone who isn't a Northern Ireland international. Is this right?) Fulham also swapped Liam Rosenior for Seol-Ki-Hyeon to complete their deadline day dabblings.

Nolberto Solano finally got his move south as West Ham snapped him up along with Wigan's Henri Camara on a season-long loan and Sam Allardyce raided his old club as Abdoulaye Faye went from Bolton to Newcastle for one of many 'undisclosed fees.' Does money actually ever change hands these days where transfers are concerned?

Milan win muted Super Cup Final
Finally on Friday night, the Final of the UEFA Super Cup took place in Monaco between Milan and Sevilla. Understandably emotions were high following the death of Antonio Puerta but Sevilla decided to play the game with as much of the spirit that they'd normally employ, albeit to no avail.

Sevilla took the lead in the match when Renato haeded in from a corner after 13 minutes and for the rest of the first half the Spaniards looked the superior team. The second half was definitely Milan's, however, when Inzaghi headed home a Gatusso cross ten minutes after the interval. Seven minutes after that, Jankulowski volleyed in a Pirlo cross to make it 2-1 but the scoring was completed three minutes from the end.

Milan were awarded a penalty which Kaka took and missed, but the rebound that resulted from Palop's save enabled the Brazilian to head home a third to round off a well-deserved victory for the Italians on the night.

Yet the match, and to a large extent the whole week of football that took place, belonged to Antonio Puerta who showed that the players we all watch through our love of the game are to be appreciated and never to be taken for granted.

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