Asamoah Gyan Dances at Stamford Bridge–and So Does Bolo Zenden

November 15, 2010 — by Suman2

Asamoah Gyan's School of Dance

Up until a couple weeks ago, it seemed as if Chelsea were going to run away with the Premier League title (even the Special One chimed in all the way from Madrid to that effect!), as they rolled through the first 10 games of the season: 8 wins (a few of them blowouts), a draw, and a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Man City.  Then came a surprising 2-0 loss to Liverpool.  Perhaps that could be explained away: the game was away at Anfield Park, Liverpool is actually a “big club” (according to tradition if not the current table), and Fernando Torres suddenly rediscovered his scoring touch.  But after yesterday’s shocking result–a 3-0 loss at home to Sunderland!–Chelsea no longer looks invincible, and we have at least a 3-horse race for the title.

Sunderland had performed doggedly but modestly through their first 9 games–2 wins, 1 loss…and 6 ties.  Then came an embarrassing 5-1 loss against their rivals Newcastle.  That’s the kind of loss that can derail a season–but they bounced back with a win against Stoke City and a draw against Spurs last week.  Still, no one expected them to go into Stamford Bridge and dominate the mighty Blues.

An odd Sunderland stat: all of their mere 10 goals in the 12 games prior to yesterday had been scored by only 2 players: Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan.  But that changed yesterday, as Nedum Onuoha waltzed through the Chelsea defense to score first for Sunderland, and Danny Welbeck finished nicely for their third. (Onuoha, incidentally, is a 24-year-old defender, born in Nigeria and raised in Manchester, on loan to Sunderland from Man City. Welbeck is a 20-year-old winger/striker, born in England to Ghanaian parents, on loan from Man Utd. Both have appeared for England’s U21 team–we may see them in the future for the senior squad.)

But in between those two goals, Gyan got his fourth goal in the past three games–he’d scored all of Sunderland’s goals in their games against Stoke and Spurs.  (In fact, these have been the first three starts of Gyan’s nascent Premier League career, as Bent had been starting ahead of him until he went down with an injury.  It’ll be interesting to see if Sunderland manager Steve Bruce finds a way to get them both on the field from the beginning, once Bent recovers.)

And so Gyan did his dance at Stamford Bridge–a dance we may be seeing in England with some regularity in the future, if Gyan can keep up this sort of finishing.  See all three goals here:


Johan Danon Djourou-Gbadjere

October 28, 2010 — by Sean

Continuing on this week’s theme of all things Arsenal, we take a very quick look at Johan Djourou, Swiss defender for the Gunners. You may ask, “Isn’t he a little dark for a Swiss, and that name, it’s so African.”

Of course he’s not Swiss-born. The 23 yr-old was born in the Côte d’Ivoire, then brought by his father’s Swiss wife (not his mother) to Geneva before his 2nd birthday. Arsenal held his contract for a number of years, but we’re only seeing him now (unless you caught him for one of his very few appearances for the Swiss).

You’d think being a Swiss center back would mean he’d be a great defensive player. But having seen him beaten to too many balls during his time covering for injured starters, that’s simply not the case. He’s got good foot skills, but is surprisingly slow for a young back on Arsenal, who have some speedy players in the rear. What makes his lack of pace most glaring is his uncomfortable positioning. He’s too often caught out and has to track back in a wild dash to try and poke the ball away. Not a good tactic when you’re dealing with the olympic sprinters playing up front for opposing sides.

He won’t be playing once everyone is healthy, but he does have potential as long as he can get his head around the game.


Players of African Origin: Chelsea v Arsenal

October 3, 2010 — by Suman2

African power: Drogba spreads his wings

We here at CultFootball have been kicking around the idea of doing a series of post focusing on African football: its players, its nations, its history, its future.

For a quick start, note that today’s highly anticipated Premier League clash between Arsenal and Chelsea will prominently feature a number of African players:


Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) and Michael Essien (Ghana) are among Chelsea’s stars, and keys to their success; John Miel Obi (Nigeria) is also starting today, while Salomon Kalou (also Ivory Coast) may come off the bench.


Arsenal’s Bacary Song and Abou Diaby are both of French nationality, but are of Senegalese and Ivorian descent, respectively. Emmanuel Eboué is also Ivorian, while Alex Song is Cameroonian. Both Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh were born in France but of North African descent (Algerian and Moroccan, respectively)–Nasri has chosen to play the French national team, while Chamakh opted for Morocco.