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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Man Utd & Chelsea get further; Charlton & B'ham hit another setback

Aston Villa 0 Manchester United 2 - The VNR and Rooney show

John Motson: "Villa are all over the place and Rooney is causing havoc."

RedsMan MOTM: Wayne Rooney

Crisis? What crisis? It is thought that when a team exits a competition they can focus all the more on the league campaign. Utd remain in the league cup fixtures but a lot can go into the Champs League preparations, which are now, for them, sadly no more. It was a blow, the first time they failed to make the knock-out stages for a decade in the competition, but if they form the form they have had in the games after as a result, they can mount an even more serious challenge to Chelsea. I mentioned they may get 5pts out of three games following from the draw against Everton, but they are bang on for the full set with a rollercoaster ride in their forward line.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy pounced on a through ball and enjoys better form right now to put it away. Rooney tormented the Villa defence almost every time he advanced and he was played in for his goal, the Villa defence static in numbers around him.

Everton 0 Bolton 4 - Ups and downs for the Toffees' inconsistent late 2005

Guy Mowbray: "Everton are well and truly finished....they have folded....and Bolton are taking full advantage, they just switched off, Everton."

RedsMan MOTM: Stelios Giannakopoulos

Guy Mowbray described an implosion, which seemed fitting as the home side notched their 5th home defeat out of 8, their 10th defeat overall so far. Kevin Davies looped a header into goal that was rightly judged over the line, which made me wonder why Everton had striker James Beattie defending when they have adequate defenders to do so already. But this came on the half hour mark and Bolton's second didn't come until 15mins from time in the 2nd half, which is why the Everton fans were extremely frustrated. Three goals in 5mins. Personally I favour Kevin Kilbane over Simon Davies, Kilbane for me was instrumental for Everton at Old Trafford and is a faithful servant to the club.

Ricardo Vas Te is continuing to make a mark from the bench, 2mins on and he bursted through an open Everton defence to feed Giannakopoulos for Bolton's 2nd. Nuno Valente is said to have his arms around Davies in the box to give away the penalty for Bolton's 3rd and then the scoreline is completed when Gary Speed hard-tackles, the ball spills to Giannakopoulos, who slips Joseph Yobo, slips David Weir and hits a nice shot in. David Moyes called three of the goals 'park goals'. Couldn't be in terms of their quality, but in terms pf how they were defended.

Fulham 2 Blackburn Rovers 1 - Blackburn failing to release full potential

Martin Fisher: "Blackburn have found goals so hard to come by away from home, I suppose it's fitting that it's a member of the opposition that gets them the goal here today."

RedsMan MOTM: Luis Boa Morte

Blackburn are made to battle with a side which has good potential but fail because they cannot comprehend how to gel as a unit. Defensively it is a matter of clearing the ball rather than any thought into how to distribute calmly and accurately, particularly on the counter-attack. So on occasion they fail to read the movements of others, which breaks down their attack and they are open on the counter. Fulham are quite good in bursting on the counter, Steed Malbranque, Luis Boa Morte, Papa Dioup, Collins John are particularly capable of breaking out in pace, with Boa Morte and John eager to finish. I'm not aware of the impact of the captaincy on Boa Morte but he has a zest for play that Chris Coleman can ill-afford to do without. His freekick was delivered in for Dioup to head and score.

Fulham followed that with Heidur Helguson finding Boa Morte in the box and the Portuguese man finished off with a goal. Blackburn came back when Paul Dickov aimed to cross and Zat Knight headed in in an attempt to clear. It can happen but a decent defender doesn't do that as poorly. Blackburn started this match the brighter but failed to make more use of their possession, which opened John to force a good save out of Brad Friedel with a header some 20mins into the 1st half. Mark Hughes has Shefki Kuqi on the bench and opted for Bentley to partner Dickov. He needs to bring on Kuqi more from the start, Dickov could do with his energy and running to feed or to feed off.

Manchester City 4 Birmingham City 1 - Better response to WBA defeat for Pearce

Dan O'Hagan: "Jiri Jarosik with a shot....and a goal! It's a consolation, mere consolation, finishing start and his side have been woefully short of that this afternoon."

RedsMan MOTM: Joey Barton

Birmingham aimed to continue the blessed win they obtained last weekend against Fulham but turned up a different side with a different temperament. City were rampant from the start, David Sommeil taking the opportunity, after a melee in the box following a corner, to score. Keeper Nico Vaesen upended Darius Vassell for the penalty that led to Joey Barton's goal and City's 2nd. Antoine Sibierski outjumped all to head in City's 3rd on 38mins. Man City were not messing around, Stuart Pearce giving a little air punch and turning around to greet fans behind him when the first goal went in. The home side increased their lead when Bradley Wright-Phillips came on on 68mins and ran on 2mins later to meet Sibierski's knock-down to score.

With two substitutes in the 1st half, Steve Bruce had one more to go and put on Jarosik for Walter Pandiani and 3mins later the Czech ran on and sent a low shot round David James as, in the commentator's words, "mere consolation". To compound Birmingham's afternoon, Bradley-Phillips chased a ball into the box which Vaesen came to meet and held, then spilled and hastily grabbed again, judged to have happened outside the box. It was the keeper's 2nd booking.

Portsmouth 1 West Brom 0 - An awaited homecoming for manager and club

Jonathan Pearce: "This is Todorovvvvvvvv.....Svetoslav Todorov scores for Portsmouth!!.....for the first time since May 2003 when he got a hat-trick at Bradford."

[at the end]: "What a crucial moment for Portsmouth, for the roars that signal the referee's whistle and Harry Redknapp's return to Fratton Park as manager is greeted with a valuable, valuable victory."

RedsMan MOTM: Lomano LuaLua

After succumbing to Spurs on Monday, this was the type of effort Redknapp wanted displayed at home, at least, to bring some relief to the club. This was their 3rd win of the season, and their defeat record is equal to that of Everton, the difference being 2 places between 18th and 16th respectively. If Redknapp can keep the defence filled with Linvoy Primus, Andy O'Brien and Dejan Stefanovic throughout the season, they can have some kind of backbone to stabilise the wound of conceding. One bright spark is to recall Lauren Robert, for love him or hate him, he has a tasty left-foot on him and skill and can be the difference in a game if you can employ him usefully enough.

Another spark is Lomano LuaLua, robbing Neil Clement he ran on to square for Todorov to chip delicately over the keeper. I'm not sure about Todorov but Redknapp is familiar with him from West Ham and with Vincent Pericard injured, the Bulgarian Redknapp moved from West Ham to Portsmouth back in 2002 could revitalise not only his season, but that of Portsmouth and the manager. His goals aided Portsmouth's promotion in 2002 and they could well start to aid them now.

West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 4 - And for Owen's next (hat) trick.....

Simon Brotherton: "And [Newcastle] could wrap it up now....with Faye....and a chance for the hat-trick for Owen....Owen's hat-trick and the easiest goal of the three. Finally Newcastle put the game to bed."

Alan Pardew [post-match interview]: "We've controlled this game from start to finish almost.....we've shot ourselves in the foot with mistakes that have been costly today....but I couldn't fault my team's application to the game."

RedsMan MOTM: Michael Owen

I disagree with Alan Pardew, and therefore agree with Alan Shearer. It didn't look as if West Ham had such control, and by their defending of the goals, they had control only when going forward. Pardew mentioned West Ham's wonderful excellent play against Everton on Wednesday and again I didn't see that. Against Newcastle, typically Matthew Etherington and Marlon Harewood make 100m sprints in attack, but defensively West Ham were scattered. Shearer receives the ball and threads for Owen on the left, who finishes with his left. West Ham came back when a ball into the box was met by Titus Bramble but richoceted off Nolberto Solano and past Shay Given. Yet West Ham failed again to mark Owen and he rose to a floated ball for it to come off his shoulder and in. Owen returned the compliment to Shearer and fed him in the 2nd half neatly for the captain to score, only for Shola Ameobi afterwards to bizarrely give away a penalty with a slack hand to ball in the box. Harewood coolly dispatched the spot kick.

But deep into injury time found Roy Carroll pushing up to add to the numbers and suddenly Newcastle looked to break out. The ball was sent long down the right, Amdy Faye picked it up and with Owen frantically hailing a taxi on the left, the Senegalese midfielder found him with a perfect ball, Carroll by now had made his position way over to the right and therefore left space for Owen to gather with his left and finish with his right. I wonder if Newcastle are better off when Owen returns from injury. Statistics prove they certainly benefit more from his presence than his absence.

Wigan Athletic 3 Charlton Athletic 0 - And for Camara's next (hat) trick.....

Tony Gubba: "And it is the hat-trick and Camara has done it....and it's the 1st time Wigan have ever scored 3 goals in the Premiership and Charlton are battered and beaten."

RedsMan MOTM: Henri Camara

Wigan endured Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United consecutively but not in that order. It's a line-up of fixtures that gives cause for big concerns and Paul Jewell came out fo them like a wounded hero, cut, bruised, defeated but nonetheless spirited and defiant and prepared to go through it all again with valour. It's what he would expect from his players too and being their first time ever in the top flight, it has been a baptism that they still look comfortable from. They had 8 wins and 2 losses out of 11 before the five consecutive defeats but they didn't look like it against Charlton. How Harry Redknapp could do with Henri Camara again. How Jewell would fight to keep him.

Ten minutes in, Lee McCulloch picked up the throw in the box and turned to rifle a fierce volley that smacked the crossbar, Camara steadied himself to half-volley the rebound in. Charlton had a good chance in Darren Bent to score but was denied by Mike Pollitt. Wigan held well until the 2nd half, where they went better. Jason Roberts headed on a high ball and Herman Hreidarsson hesitated too long for Camara to come in and slightly steer the ball past the advancing Dean Kiely. Then after the hour, Camara was free to run on and then tap into an empty net when Kiely misses the ball. Charlton was another team who looked to add to a home win, against Sunderland, but at the JJB stadium they were lacklustre. Very. And they have Arsenal next.

Middlesbrough 3 Spurs 3 - Very entertaining game for neutrals

RedsMan MOTM: Aiyegbeni Yabuku

Superb game that had goals aplenty. A ball into the Boro box was challenged by Mark Schwarzer and Ahmed Mido, the ball spills and Robbie Keane is exactly that, keenly onto the ball to put it in. The Irishman is playing instinctively similar to Jermaine Defoe, why the England striker is being kept out. Boro equalise when James Morrison delivers a cross, Paul Saltieri watches Yakubu, leaves him, Lee Young-Pyo watches the Nigerian, leaves him, so by the time the ball comes across via a header, Yakubu smacks in a volley unmarked. Then Morrison goes on a run, no one shuts him down and within 30 yards he hits a fierce shot past Paul Robinson.

In the 2nd half, Boro concede a free-kick, from which Spurs fluff the set-up but get another chance as Yakubu brings down Edgar Davids. As he did expertly against Man United at Old Trafford, Jermaine Jenas stepped up with a dinky hop and unleashed a curled effort away from Schwarzer's outstretched right hand and in. Yet Boro gained the lead again through Franck Queudrue's header, judged to have rightly gone over the line, and then relinquished it when a corner for Spurs was met with a fine header by Mido. Morrison was rendered unconscious when Keane's right boot connected with his face, and worringly it looked serious but eventually the player was stretchered off and came to in the dressing room, with a black eye.

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 - Chelsea's first double over the Gunners for decades

RedsMan MOTM: Joe Cole

Chelsea came at Arsenal in the first 20mins and the Gunners back four looked very edgy. But despite the pressure Arsenal almost scored when Thierry Henry fashioned a great chance opening and instead of getting to curl the ball, aimed it straight and it came off the far post. Didier Drogba was happy to insert his usual strong sturdy self on the defence and proved to be something of a handful on the attack. He set up Arjen Robben on 38mins on the left, the Arsenal defence too open, the Dutchman sprinting on to slot in under Jens Lehmann. Robin Van Persie was unfortunate to not have his goal allowed through offside, which seemed dubious when he appeared level with William Gallas with Henry being offside but not interfering. Perhaps an over zealous linesman. Impressively for Arsenal was Kolo Toure making bursting runs on the right but not supported enough by Freddie Ljungberg. Chelsea registered their second courtesy of poor hesitation by Lauren which allowed Joe Cole to rob him and outmuscle him, turning past Sol Campbell and hitting a low left-foot effort to come off the post and in.

Arsenal gave a heartening response to Chelsea and considerably they could have gone down through further chances. At times they struggled somewhat to contain Chelsea's attack but responded with a taste of their own football to trouble the Blues, sadly to no avail. Their first home defeat this season, their sixth so far, their third consecutive one for the first time since March 1995 and their third consecutive league game without scoring, amazing facts when you consider they scored for fun seasons back. Too much talk on being out of the title race, they and any other team are out when it is mathematically impossible. Today was crucial to Chelsea as they aimed to restore their 9-pt lead at the top and when you have John Terry behind you, the skipper typifies the cause and hardly has an off-day. Something Arsenal are still missing in Patrick Vieira's absence. Henry took a little while to acclimatise to the game.

For a game like this, I felt it was more appropriate for Robert Pires to feature from the start. Ljungberg wasn't impressive enough from the start and what Arsenal needed was their midfield to dig in and keep some influence in the middle to frustrate Chelsea and break down their wings. Mathieu Flamini and Cesc Fabregas are not strong enough central midfielders yet and with Gilberto Silva missing, it was asking quite a task from them against rugged Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Claude Makelele. Perhaps Arsene Wenger could have done better with Pires instead of Ljungberg but still the central midfield would have been asked many questions.



Blogger T said...

Quality stuff as ever Redsman.

It's good to see Owen and Shearer lifting Newcastle. The stats on the game actually backed up Pardew's comments as West Ham dominated possession and shots.

Shearer's description of Bolton on MOTD was excellent: 'they're physical, direct, and no-one wants to play them!' (By the way, Shearer was great as a pundit- far better than Lawrenson, Le Saux, etc.). Stelios reminds me of Freddie Ljungberg of past seasons. Apart from him they have big, fit players all over the park and it is a definite ploy by big Allardyce to exert a power game. It's not football as I want to see it, but its effective.

I may or may not write about the Arsenal game in a separate article. IMO, what was seen yesterday was Chelsea's well-drilled full team against a somewhat makeshift/experimental 4-5-1 Arsenal team and this is what made the difference.

You have to accept the referee's decison but boy we needed to score the first goal yesterday and it was hard not to get a slight sinking feeling when RVP's legitimate goal was ruled out.

Toure was excellent at RB doing the work of both a defender and a winger, but was at fault for allowing Robben to get away for him for the first goal.

Lauren also gave his all at LB - and courageously put behind him the news that he had lost a tooth after a challenge with Essien - but his relative discomfort on his left foot led him to walk the ball with his right foot into the path of Cole who then finished superbly to finish the game.

In the end it was a comfortable and deserved win for Chelsea: their first in the league at Highbury for 15 years. However, as mentioned above this was not a settled Arsenal team that Chelsea beat. In particular our defence had three of the four defenders out of their regular position- and it was this lack of drilling in new positions that proved costly.

Well done BJ- but I hope we can get you in the cup and redeem ourselves!

12/19/2005 10:28 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Brave comments, T, especially looking to seek Chelsea's company once again, you may get your wish come the Champs League QF's.

I have to see the stats myself for West Ham seemed very open defensively and Owen was poorly marked on each occasion he scored, and could have had at least one more.

I understand about the Arsenal back four, though I wouldn't think swapping central defensive position would make much of a difference. You made a good note on Lauren being caught off-guard on his left leading to Cole exploiting the handicap.

With Rooney and Cole in good form, and Owen seeming better from his lay-off, England's attacking prowess looks sharper come the end of 2005. Gerrard is doing well too and Frank Lampard is sturdy in midfield, so with Beckham this forward six are shaping up in time for Germany next year. Add to that Terry's form, Ledley King and Paul Robinson doing well for Spurs, and our starting XI look promising to make big waves in the WC.


12/19/2005 11:02 am

Blogger BlindJak said...

Thanks for the comments T. Your right in your assessment that our win was undoubtedly aided by the depletion of the first team through injury. But having seen Highbury be the death of many a kernel of optimism over the past decade and a half I’ll take any win we can get!

12/19/2005 1:33 pm


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