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Monday, November 07, 2005

Arsenal drive the Van; Benitez's first back-to-back

Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1

Steve Wilson (Match of the Day): "And once he was there, there was only one real outcome."

Steve Wilson during commentary at Highbury. As Sol Campbell sent a long high ball, quite accurately and sweetly considering it was his left foot, and it dropped over the Sunderland defence in the path of Robin Van Persie, two touches and it was finished into the net. Wilson said the above words in the replay and he was spot on. Gunner fans on EFT stated he was more favourable to deputise upfront for Thierry Henry, or even alongside him, instead of Jose Reyes. Once the Frenchman returned, Bergkamp made way for his compatriot, Reyes into his comfortable left wing role. Henry wasn't to be outdone with two of his own, his second coming typically via rash movement by the defence that found the ball in Henry's path. Arsene Wenger said RVP was improving, and he should be starting regularly from now on.

I looked for some other comments from the other commentators on the programme which summed up the individual matches.

Portsmouth 0 Wigan 2

John Roder: "Portsmouth have committed plenty of players forward, and they might be paying the price here."

Portsmouth came into the game with home advantage and having hit Sunderland for 4. But their start began well then waned as a continuous display of passes going astray, attacks breaking down and possession given away pushed Wigan to aim at the goal often in the first half. Misses by Henri Camara and Damien Francis made me feel Portsmouth would be punished if they didn't grab a firmer grip on the game. Having the best defensive record in the league by conceding only 5 (2 less than Chelsea), Pompey needed to infiltrate Wigan more thoroughly than they were attempting to do. Lo and behold, in the second half, the concentration by the home side was lacking and was eventually punished, with poor marking by Brian Pirske allowed Pascal Chimbonda to head another goal to follow last week's against Fulham. Then Portsmouth were caught on the break in Wigan's half within the corner flag, with Chimbonda creating a superb one-two with Francis and sprinting up the wings to send a side ball to Jason Roberts to score. An earlier introduction of Lauren Robert and Lomano LuaLua could have given the width Pompey needed. I would like to hear from Pompey fans as to any concerns they have with the team.

Blackburn 4 Charlton 1

Guy Mowbray: "Richly deserved, and what a difference a fully fit Craig Bellamy is making to 4-goal Blackburn."

What it does to score early in a game, and how! Brett Emerton lashed his shot past keeper Stephan Andersen from a narrow angle. Lucas Neill crossed, deflecting off Jonathan Spector, which found Paul Dickov to head a second. Though in an offside position, deflecting off Spector meant the cross was legal, which fooled the Charlton defence. Charlton scrambled on back through Bryan Hughes and then found Blackburn coming at them again in the second half. Hermann Hreidarsson survived a blatant penalty claim when his arm happened to be in the path of the ball in the box, but Morten Gamst Pedersen scored with a touch off Stephen Reid's cross. Brad Friedel did well to deny Hreidarsson and former player Jay Bothroyd, only for Bellamy to round the match off after Shefki Kuqi nodded down a cross.

Fulham 2 Man City 1

Dan O'Hagan: "We have seen the best and the worse from David James."

The Prime Minister Tony Blair made an appearance on BBC1's Football Focus, and noted Steed Malbranque as one of three players who had recently caught his attention. It must have found its way to Craven Cottage because the Frenchman was MOTM. Luis Boa Morte was fast to intercept the ball within the City defence and his side ball found the equally sprinting Malbranque to score. New member Lee Croft equalised for his first City goal only for Malbranque to be released yet again by his skipper, rounding James with both feet and tidying away. Joey Barton reverted to a malicious overtone when he crashed into Malbranque, and was lucky to escape a red card. James saved twice from Collins John's shot and then at the feet of the in-coming Brian McBride.

But to add to a moment in the first half where he felt the ball would go off for a goal-kick but was sharply turned back across goal by a Fulham player, in the dying seconds of the second half injury time James went one further. Coming up for a freekick, the ball came to him and he aired his kick and then, gaining possession, blindly passed to a Fulham player, who found Malbranque on the right. The Frenchman sprinted towards goal, one of four Fulham players to do so matched by the lonely covering Sun Jihai. Malbranque then crossed unselfishly to Tomaz Radzinski, when he could have gone for his hat-trick. Radzinski then sent a lame lob towards goal that Jihai reached in time to clear. James, at this time, then came jogging, not sprinting, back to goal with a very sheepish grin on him. I don't know.

Aston Villa 0 Liverpool 2

Jonathan Pierce: "Steven Gerrard will take the penalty for Liverpool. And surely to win it. And Liverpool have had a bucketful of chances to do so."

Following from the 3-0 Anderlecht win, Liverpool took long to score but it wasn't through lack of chances. In the first half both sides enjoyed moments where they could have scored. Gerrard sent a superb goal over the defence in the path of Djibril Cisse, and with time, acres of land to grow corn, and Thomas Sorensen to beat, he hit the ball at the keeper, which was disappointing. I liked seeing Fernando Morientes and Cisse starting together, I think they are our best two strikers and the Spaniard could have added to his account. Luis Garcia, Morientes and Cisse came off for Bolo Zenden, Peter Crouch and Harry Kewell. Crouch met a Zenden cross with a free header straight at the keeper, but was given a penalty for a foul by Liam Ridgewell, which I thought was dubious. Gerrard stepped up to score. Xabi Alonso made certain with a shot that cannoned off Sorensen and in, winning our first back-to-back wins for the season.

Newcastle 1 Birmingham 0

Martin Fisher: "Birmingham looking for something in the shape of a goal."

Birmingham are looking a goal. They haven't scored since their defeat to Arsenal at Highbury four games before the visit to St James' Park. Saturday now makes it 1 win and 3 draws out of 12. Steve Bruce has added to the squad and helped the club up from the lower division. The likes of Emile Heskey, Mikael Forssell, and Walter Pandiani should be making chances, much less scoring. Bruce went 4-5-1 and Birmingham were strongly in favour of scoring, with two Jiri Jarosik efforts going very close. But after Emre was nicely set up for his goal, Maik Taylor may have been unsighted, the team changed to 4-3-3 some 4mins from full time when perhaps there should have changed earlier when they held dominance. Muzzy Izzet and Stan Lazaridis, rightly booked for diving under a keen Mike Dean eye, came off for Forssell and Pandiani, making a three with Heskey, Jermaine Pennant and Neil Kilkenny either side of Jarosik.



Blogger T said...

Redsman, you are a one man football-reporting machine! Can't add much more to your commentary on the weekend games, except to say that RVP is brilliantly showing everyone why so many Arsenal fans' like me have talked him up in recent weeks.

11/08/2005 12:07 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Absolutely agree with T - great reporting and quoting Redsman! Much appreciated!

11/09/2005 5:36 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks, people, pity I couldnt find anything on the Everton and Man Utd games - I missed the highlights!!


11/09/2005 12:35 pm


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