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Monday, November 21, 2005

Weekend Premiership action

Wigan v Arsenal

T has written on this game, with particular praise for Wigan and their approach, and I concur his thoughts. I was confused on the rule regarding the quick free-kick. Clearly against Chelsea last season Graeme Poll allowed Thierry Henry to take it quick and he scored; Saturday, he decided against the quick taking, leaving Henry, and myself, slightly bemused as to why. Still, the free-kick was executed by the Frenchman, but what is the rule? It is left up to the referee's discretion?

Spurs v West Ham

Something told me this wouldn't be an away win, more a home win. Yet while West Ham defended against pressure, they were not being executed by Spurs' finishing, found wanting on many occasions. One fan was heard saying they need to pick up on finishing teams more often, Martin Jol echoed those words by stating it wasn't Spurs' day. The thing is if you fail to finish off good chances, the risk increases that you will pay for it. Considering current form, Spurs were to edge this match and worryingly Jermaine Defoe is not scoring, much less consistently, why he managed to only have 10mins or so coming on.

To the West Ham fans chanting at Ahmed Mido, are you now looking to revert to racist chanting? Mido was subjected to racist chanting connected to his Muslim faith. Football fans are better than that, it's had it's day, it's illegal and very tasteless. The Spurs fans applauded Teddy Sheringham.

Liverpool v Portsmouth

From my POV, excellent for Liverpool to finally emerge into the top half after such a while. We are still yet to find the current form we deserve, with the players we have, and so far it is looking very well and still some way to go in the league. We performed as expected against a side who have found their defence and forward line weakened with the departures of Arjan De Zeeuw and Ayegbeni Yakubu and minus their impressive skipper Dejan Stefanovic. Time will come when Peter Crouch will score, the striker needs to avert the media's attention elsewhere and focus on playing, get early into positions and snatch at opportunities, and he will. Nice for Cisse and Morientes to continue to add to our goals, the Spaniard scored for Spain in the break, which lifted him all the more.

It is harsh for Alain Perrin to be given the Anfield game and subsequent games to change things around. Milan Mandaric couldn't have chosen a tougher run of matches to form a miracle from, with Chelsea at Fratton Park next and then Man Utd and Spurs away. Portsmouth do not have a consistent scorer as they did with Yakubu, Lomano LuaLua received little to attack with, Robert wasn't active enough, and it seemed they were not in good shape mentally to come at us as they have done in the past. If they utilise Richard Hughes and Gary O'Neil in central midfield, LuaLua and Lauren Robert wide, Matt Taylor supporting behind the forward man, Stefanovic and Linvoy Primus at the back, it will provide a better shape.

Sunderland v Aston Villa

Difficult to analyse Portsmouth's answer, here it is practically impossible. Sunderland began the season against Charlton at home and should have given better resistence then, instead of gifting Darren Bent too much space. No one is prepared to step forward enough to pressurise the opponent's goal and teams are given time and space to come at them. Surviving 0-0, they seemed to capitulate in the second 45mins and almost completely from the same area, Kevin Phillips and Gareth Barry scored easily when the ball came across behind the defence. They miss Julio Arca's invention and loanee Anthony Le Tallec seems the only player with the potential to score. Dean Whitehead hadn't played enough to deserve taking the ball from John Stead, who himself didn't deserve the penalty, providing little consolation for the North East side. Unfortunately, I cannot see any progress for Sunderland, which is hard to imagine given their best performance against Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough v Fulham

This was a game that played below Premiership standard in the first half, the only enlightening point being Collins John's goal, well taken. Constant squandering of possession from both sides made it frustrating to enjoy even for a neutral in me. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Yakubu threatened with the strength and pace but the end effort was lacking on a number of occasions. But come the second half Boro kept up their persistence as Fulham dropped their focus and this allowed the home side back into the game twice and then go on to win it.

I felt Boro's 2nd goal was legitimate and while the work rate of Moritz Volz and Steed Malbranque stood out the most in the West London side, they held little innovation going forward, with squandered possession accompanied by the number of slips onto the grass while attacking, meaning they only made an impact in the 2nd half from a set-piece. Had Luis Boa Morte been playing he would have made more of the possession Fulham had, particularly in the 1st half.

Chelsea v Newcastle

I wondered if the international break would hit Chelsea more than Newcastle. Coming down to Stamford Bridge without Alan Shearer and Michael Owen, Newcastle still provided a gutsy approach through Shola Ameobi's presence. What was Claude Makelele doing with his foot so high??? Replay showed he looked at the ball and then sensed Scott Parker coming forward and aimed his foot at him. Nonetheless, he came off the worse, with Michael Essien replacing him. Didier Drogba suspended, Hernan Crespo had a chance to shine after the international friendly. So did Eidur Gudjohnsen, ahead of Essien.

While Newcastle have added to a sturdy midfield and forward line, their defence is very questionable, the central partnership of Titus Bramble and Jean-Alain Boumsong needs to sharpen up, considerably. They miss Stephen Carr, all of which left Shay Given with little chance against Chelsea's goals. Crucially without Shearer and Owen, they fared very little against a renowned Chelsea back line. If Shearer finally quits and Owen becomes unfit too regularly, Graeme Souness may have to rely on his midfielders for goals.

West Brom v Everton

To think Everton would come away with a point seemed the least of probable results as they enjoyed a draw against Chelsea and two consecutive wins against Birmingham and Middlesbrough, whereas West Brom lost their previous three. But as people questioned Nathan Ellington's arrival from a side now currently Chelsea's best rivals for the title, and his scoring rate of 0, the striker came good twice to coincide with the birth of his baby. His and Albion's first came from a very dubious penalty decision, Tony Hibbert making contact with Ellington clearly outside the box, the right-back even had his feet in position, in good view of Dermot Gallagher. A cool penalty followed.

Everton followed with some good attacks, seeking the equaliser but come the 2nd half they were snuffed out when Neil Clement headed in and Ellington completed a brace with a left foot curling finish low past Nigel Martyn. The usually reliable Kevin Kilbane compounded the woe as he awfully passed back to David Weir, the Scotsman had no chance as the pass went by into empty space and Robert Earnshaw's pace set him up for Albion's 4th.

Man City v Blackburn

Man City are very stubborn to get a win over at the City of Manchester Stadium, ask Sam Allardyce. One defeat and a draw is all from 6 home games, so Blackburn, coming from a 4-2 finish last week, still had their work cut out for them. Despite the majority of the attacks going City's way, they couldn't penetrate Blackburn. It was a non-eventful score draw, the highlight of which was Stuart Pearce. With his attitude he is a prime candidate for England coach by the time Sven Goran Eriksson relinquishes the role. Steven Reid held onto the ball for too long in Pearce's opinion and after attempting to get the attention of ref Martin Atkinson to the issue, Pearce simply sprinted on towards Reid to get the ball, with Reid duly and quickly obliging before Pearce could get to him. Later, a free kick was given to Blackburn and as it seemed they were taking too long to set it up, Pearce came on again to pick up the rolling ball and place it where it should be, to the smiles of Robbie Savage. Atkinson came over for a quiet word, which Pearce respected.

Charlton v Man United

I would estimate Arsenal and Man City would be pleased at Roy Keane's departure from OT for good. Well, practically anyone not connected to the club. But where there were questions regarding the shape of the squad as a result, they were answered well at The Valley. I question Ruud Van Nistelrooy's leadership, but he is the appropriate person in Gary Neville's absence. Wayne Rooney provided enough supporting play for VNR, when he emerged into the box to flick across for the Dutchman to chest and turn then volley in. Great goal. Two in a row, the consistency will be monitored with immense scrutiny by the media.

Keane surely wouldn't come back in the Premiership, and that would rule him out of the Championship too. If Celtic prefer a wage cut to sign him, it could well happen. Currently, talk says Juventus are interested. Tying him up alongside nemesis Patrick Vieira?!? He maybe able to play for a further 5 years, the Italians appreciate veteran players more than the Premiership, and his desire for the game would be an asset to any side. But I can't see it.

George Best:

Legend George Best enters into a critical 24 hr period in his battle against a lung infection, a second setback coming after the development previously of a kidney infection. It's critical in terms of his survival and the consequence on his health as a result. Needless to emphasise EFT's wishes to him and his family and friends during this critical moment.



Blogger T said...

If anyone failed to catch the weekend's football, then you are not going to find a better summary anywhere.. great stuff Redsman!

I was happy to see Robbie Keane get into the first team because I really believe he and Defoe is the way forward for Spurs, alongside ditching over-use of the long ball option. Spurs should have killed off the Hammers', but scoring more than one goal per match has been a problem for them in recent games and again it came back to haunt them.

I was unaware that some Hammers' fans directed racist chants at Mido... when will some people grow up??

11/21/2005 11:38 am

Anonymous atheistyid said...

I was at the Lane on sunday and honestly couldn't hear any rascist chants so would hope those responsible were in a despicable minority.

As far as the game was concerned I too would like to see Keano starting more games, but West Ham? Surely this was prime opportunity for Defoe to get back to scoring ways against his former employers...The key was that Spurs lost control in the final half hour. The midfield stopped being able to put pressure on the Hammers (whether this is due to fatigue in the case of Davids or simply poor organisation I am not sure) and couldn't keep control of the ball which is disappointing as I feel we have made a lot of progress in this respect since BMJ took over. Keane was a bit off the pace and considering that the right flank was severely lacking until the introduction of Lennon maybe could have drifted out wide a little more. West Ham were crap, I'm sorry but they were. Very scrappy, no organisation or control of play and we let that get the better of us as the game descended into a circus of wayward passing, panicky clearances and a general lack of composure on both sides.

Get it down and play. Find space. This is the key to the great teams these days and, despite being much improved and well on track for our whole 3 year plan, we are still a work in progress. More positively, Jenas impressed me with his passing and time on the ball, Carrick, of course, is the same and this bodes very well. Ledley really should be deposing Ferdinand for England though!!

11/21/2005 12:28 pm

Blogger Skippy said...

Liverpool are creaping up the table and are looking dangerous.

If take away the chelsea game, they would have conceded only 4 goals in the premiership in 11 games. Now they are starting to score as well, I really fancy Liverpool to keep up this run of good form

11/21/2005 2:27 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

atheistyid - 'BMJ' is Big Martin Jol? Excuse my naivety! Spurs continued to look a mid-table side, good potential but not enough application. Now the additions have gelled well (good purchasing by the Dutchman), the potential is back on and high. Maybe not Champions League but their UEFA Cup place has to be the least they achieve. Jenas was overhyped at Newcastle and since his move has turned a better centre midfielder. Carrick is a ball player, someone looking in the same vein as Alonso, and David's reputation exceeds him. Tenacious isnt the word, passing and shooting are other added qualities fo the former Barca man. And this is just the centre.

Keane wants to impress to play and Defoe is giving Jol little choice but to play Keane ahead of him. Mido has pace, height, strength and remains 1st choice. The jury is still out on Dawson, he seemed unstable for the U21s' against France, though they clearly should have not suffered at such a dive. But King is leading well and with the England no.1 at the back, Spurs have a better outlook for the seasons to come.


11/21/2005 5:41 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Let me add here that at the weekend was the big La Liga game of Real Madrid v Barcelona, and if you happened to miss it, I'm sorry for you. Real were made to look 2nd best from practically start to finish, and it came to a stage that Barca were in training mode. Real's touch in Barca's third was found to be very lacking, Ronaldo was culprit for a lacklustre showing. Raul was ever the pursuing captain, injured his knee and came off, possibly out for 2-4 months. Beckham tried too, as he was for England, another who gave half his ability was Zidane.

In contrast, everytime Ronaldinho, Eto'o, Messi or Xavi attacked, you felt a goal was coming, and if they preferred to execute rather than walk the ball in, it would have made for a rugby score. Ronaldinho particularly on occasion left Sergio Ramos as if he was comatose and Helguera fared as little too. Pablo Garcia is seen as a defensive midfielder but he was more effective in fouling than preventing. Casillas was left high and dry by his defence, and even the Bernabeu fans applauded Ronaldinho after his 2nd and Barca's 3rd.

How Luxemburgo is remaining as coach still is amazing, considering the politics had simmers in the background of Spanish football. If they felt that they did not need Owen, they certainly felt otherwise on Saturday evening.


11/21/2005 5:41 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks Atheist for good Spurs feedback.

Skipper, I agree that Liverpool are- in sinister fashion- creeping their way up the table, chiefly beacuse their defence is finally able to keep clean sheets on a regular basis in the Premiership. My brother calls your club Livencia: Benitez is recreating the Pool in the image of his Valencia team which was defensively strong, had a really tall guy up front, was not afraid to be direct, etc.

Redsman, on Madrid... to lose 3-0 at home is no surprise... they have lost at home to so many other la liga teams in the last couple of seasons. Its a shame because under Del Bosque they were a proper team with proper tactics and were brilliant to watch.

11/21/2005 11:46 pm


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