Luis Suarez, Thierry Henry, EPL Highlight Fantastic Week in World Football
After ringing in the new year last Sunday, the first full week of 2012 was an interesting week.
We saw the Premier League race get even more insane, David Beckham announce he's staying, Luis Suarez say he's accepting his suspension, Thierry Henry officially rejoin Arsenal and Paul Scholes come out of retirement.
We also saw the return of football in both Serie A and La Liga, with the competition levels only getting stronger in the weeks ahead.
With the start of a new year, here is my recap of the first week of 2012.
Jan. 2: Arsenal Lose at Fulham
Arsenal 1, Fulham 2
It was Arsenal's first match of 2012, and the Gunners were able to get on the board early thanks to a tally from Laurent Koscielny. However, Arsenal were denied any more goals thanks to the heroics of Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale.
Late in the second half, Johan Djourou was sent off for a second bookable offense for bringing down Bobby Zamora. This decision was able to spur Fulham on, and former Arsenal reject Steve Sidwell scored the tying goal for Fulham five minutes from time.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Zamora secured the win for Fulham with a shot from six yards out, that easily found its way into goal.
Jan. 3: David Beckham Announces He Will Re-Sign with the Galaxy
He has been the most famous name in MLS throughout the past five years, and David Beckham announced that he is going to remain with the Los Angeles Galaxy instead of moving to Paris Saint-Germain.
The move to keep Beckham is a significant win for MLS, who keeps its biggest star and helps to grow the game in a league that is still in a developmental stage.
Jan. 3: Luis Suarez Announces He Won't Appeal His Eight-Match Ban
After getting his eight-match suspension several weeks ago for racially abusing Patrice Evra back in October, no one knew what Luis Suarez was going to do.
Initially, it seemed that Liverpool would probably appeal the decision, knowing that there was at least a chance that the suspension could get reduced.
However, Liverpool announced before match at Manchester City that they were not going to appeal Suarez's suspension.
Suarez will return to Liverpool's lineup in their match at Old Trafford on Feb. 11.
Jan. 3: Liverpool Get Wrecked at Manchester City
Manchester City 3, Liverpool 0
With the news that Luis Suarez was going to miss his next six matches, no one knew exactly what was going to happen with Liverpool. The same was true with Manchester City, but in a different way, after losing 1-0 on a late winner by Ji Dong-Won.
However, Man City were able to get early goals from Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure to put themselves up comfortably against Liverpool. Even after losing Gareth Berry to a red card, James Milner was able to score to give City a 3-0 win over their northern foes.
The win gave City a three-point lead in the table.
Jan. 4: Mario Goetze Won't Leave During This Winter Transfer Window
One of the top emerging players in the world, it was announced that Mario Goetze was not going to leave Dortmund in 2012.
Dortmund's sporting director Michael Zorc announced:
We have agreed with Mario that he will be playing for Borussia Dortmund during the new season... We have no need to sell him.
Goetze is positioned to star with Germany in Euro 2012, and this basically only will raise his price for future negotiations.
Jan. 4: Newcastle Defeat Manchester United
Newcastle 3, Manchester United 0
After United failed to take all three points against Newcastle at Old Trafford several weeks ago and the Red Devils' New Year's Eve loss to Blackburn, it was expected that United would respond with a win at St. James Park.
However, Demba Ba and Newcastle had completely different plans.
In his final match before the African Cup of Nations, Ba scored a fantastic strike to give Newcastle a 3-0 lead at the half. The Toon doubled their score in the first minutes of the second half on a superb free kick by Yohan Cabaye.
Newcastle sealed the win in the 90th minute on an own goal by Phil Jones that was a result of some horrible communication.
Jan. 4: Tim Howard Scores for Everton
Everton 1, Bolton 2
It is not often that goalkeepers score in the Premier League. However, Everton's Tim Howard became the first keeper in the EPL to score since Paul Robinson did so back in 2007.
With the ball passed back to him, Howard cleared the ball, where it traveled over 70 yards before taking a giant bounce that flew over Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan and into the net.
Howard became the second American goalkeeper to score in the Premier League (Brad Friedel did so in 2004), but similar to Friedel, Howard went on to lose the match thanks to goals from David Ngog and Gary Cahill.
Jan. 5: Luis Suarez Apologizes, but Not to Patrice Evra
Luis Suarez announced that he was sorry for using a racially insensitive word that he said to Patrice Evra, but he did not apologize to Evra for his actions back in Oct. 2011.
I admitted to the commission that I said a word in Spanish once, and only once.
I never, ever used this word in a derogatory way, and if it offends anyone, then I want to apologize for that.
He added, "I told the panel members that I will not use it again on a football pitch in England."
Jan. 6: Thierry Henry Returns on Loan to Arsenal
It's not often that you see the greatest player in a club's history return after a four-plus-year absence, yet Thierry Henry officially rejoined Arsenal on a temporary loan on Jan. 6.
Henry will remain with Arsenal until the end of February, when he will rejoin the New York Red Bulls.
Henry could make his first appearance for Arsenal on Jan. 9 against Leeds United in the third round of the FA Cup.
When discussing the move, Henry said the following:
It is unreal, to be honest. But when it comes to Arsenal, my heart will always do the talking.
Jan. 6: Wayne Rooney Is Not Going to Leave Manchester United
He is Manchester United's biggest star, and there was a rumor that Wayne Rooney was going to leave Manchester United over this winter transfer window.
However, Rooney stepped in on Friday night and said on Twitter that he was not going to leave the club, and the reports that said otherwise were wrong.
Jan. 7: FA Cup Upsets
A record 763 sides have entered the FA Cup this season, yet the first day of the FA Cup brought some memorable results.
This was most notably highlighted by Wigan Athletic falling out of the competition to League Two side Swindon by a 2-1 scoreline thanks to goals from Alan Connell and Paul Benson.
Two other Premier League sides were held to draws by weaker opponents. Bolton drew 2-2 with Macclesfield Town, while QPR drew 1-1 with MK Dons, with the Premier League side starting many of their regulars.
Jan. 7: La Liga Returns
Levante 0, Mallocra 0
Racing Santander 1, Real Zaragoza 0
Real Sociedad 0, Osasuna 0
Real Madrid 5, Granada 1
Malaga 0, Atletico Madrid 0
Play in La Liga once again returned after its winter hiatus with five matches, with Real Madrid being the most notable side in action.
Karim Benzema was able to score his 50th goal for Real Madrid in all competitions in the win, which puts Real Madrid up six points in La Liga's table.
Jan. 7: Serie A Returns
Siena 4, Lazio 0
Inter Milan 5, Parma 0
Serie A joined La Liga and returned after its winter break on Jan, 7 with two matches that turned out to be blowouts.
Siena came out and put in a shocking 4-0 win to help their fight against relegation, while Inter won 5-0 to keep their chances of qualifying for next year's Champions League alive.
Jan. 8: Paul Scholes Comes out of Retirement
It's not often that we see a legendary player such as a Paul Scholes come out of retirement, yet that is what we saw before Manchester United's match with Manchester City in the FA Cup.
There were rumors throughout the week that Scholes could return to United, but very few people could have imagined in their wildest dreams that Scholes would begin the match on the bench wearing No. 22, a number he had not worn since the mid-1990s.
Scholes came on in as a substitute and played for over 30 minutes.
Jan. 8: Manchester United Knock Manchester City out of the FA Cup
Manchester City 2, Manchester United 3
It was one of the highest billed FA Cup matches in recent years, and this Manchester Derby certainly lived up to expectations.
A brace by Wayne Rooney highlighted a fantastic first half for United, who were able to score all three of their goals in the first half.
City were able to get two goals back in the second half through Aleksandar Kolarov and Sergio Aguero, though it was not enough for City to come back.
Jan. 8: Manchester United vs. Liverpool Highlights FA Cup Fourth-Round Matchups
It's rare that a club gets two straight matchups against arch rivals, yet Manchester United and Liverpool will meet at Anfield on either Jan. 28, 29 or 30.
Not all of the matchups are official yet, but another strong matchup could happen if QPR win their replay with MK Dons. They will then face Chelsea at Loftus Road in what could be John Terry's return to the ground after allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand there during a Premier League match earlier this season.
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