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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Liverpool lose as Chelsea are held and Sunderland win

Sky Sports

Man Utd 1 v Liverpool 0
The Man Utd v Liverpool game looked a tight fixture on paper and almost ended that way in reality. Liverpool kept restricting Utd their space and time as Man Utd's defence kept resolute and focused. Utd were winning a number of headers as Liverpool kept good build-up play for a couple of good chances from Peter Crouch and Djibril Cisse. Ruud Van Nistelrooy was through but offside and then again by Ryan Giggs but couldn't put power behind his left foot effort. And so it went on, both sides had possession and either side looked like scoring, so it would take something like a lapse of defending or a bad pass to make the kind of mistake to separate the two.

The ball nearly went over the line but for Rio Ferdinand's clearance and Harry Kewell hit the ball back into the box which Edwin Van Der Sar parried to Cisse, who then missed from mere yards. Wayne Rooney brought down sub Florent Sinama-Pongolle and I felt a John Arne Riise left foot would have curled an effort better than Steven Gerrard taking it. However, Utd had their freekick and didn't squander it. Ferdinand was unmarked for his headed goal off Gigg's ball, despite a great hand to it by Pepe Reina. A kick in the teeth, it would have been more justified for another no-score draw.

Chelsea 1 v Charlton 1
Alan Curbishley played a 4-5-1 to match Chelsea but I felt he could have been more ambitious and include new signing Marcus Bent to partner namesake Darren upfront, as Chelsea's back four were quite stalwart in watching one striker and with M Bent's height and pace, he could cause more problems for them. Damien Duff whipped in a delightful corner for Hernan Crespo to beat his marker and head down, Thomas Myhre almost got control of it but it spilled for Eidur Gudjohnson to push in. Charlton had so many in midfield it seemed very congested with mostly red shirts muddled with themselves as Chelsea played the ball quickly through the midfield. M Bent came on for the injured Dennis Rommedahl and so had a full 2nd half to make an impression. Looking to pounce, M Bent waited for Darren Ambrose to float a ball over the defence and got a head to it before Petr Cech and it lobbed in.

Match of the Day

Newcastle 0 v Blackburn 1

Simon Brotherton: "Morten Gamst Pedersen was claiming credit for the goal but as [Shefki] Kuqi knocked it goalwards, Pedersen was there....inadvertently or otherwise, that definitely went in off the Norwegian's hand."

The post-match protests were a main point of this match. I felt Michael Chopra was quite impressive, almost like Michael Owen in getting about and causing concern amongst the Blackburn defence. This was an even match, Brad Friedel kept out a number of shots and kept off Alan Shearer, while Shay Given dived down to superbly deny Paul Dickov. Lucas Neill chipped a ball across goal that came back down off Kuqi's shoulder and then bounce for Pedersen to guide off his hand. Lee Bowyer appealed at the time but to no avail and it made for the single goal that killed Newcastle at home. Ironically, the same happened to Souness as Blackburn manager at St James' Park, the ball went in off Paul Gallagher's hand. There are still 16 league games and the Cheltenham cup game next week to make more of their season. The fans chanted "There's only one Bobby Robson." And I'm afraid he is now occupied elsewhere.

Everton 1 v Arsenal 0

Steve Wilson: "And Alan Wiley has got a real task on his hands here, right at the end of the 90th minute of the game. A game which has always been fiercely contested, has just bubbled over completely."

[At the final whistle]: "Arsenal were outmuscled and outgunned by Everton, who were completely committed."

Arsene Wenger may look on this game as yet another physical game which ill-suited the Gunners. Leo Osman played behind James Beattie as David Moyes was content with four across the midfield. Beattie seemed very eager to get at the Arsenal defence that may have done well with the tenacity of Kolo Toure to match that of Beattie's. As the ball bounced towards goal, Beattie jumped onto it to capitalise on Phillippe Senderos's hesitancy to clear, Sol Campbell came to aid but Beattie had gotten across him and nudged the ball further, settling it up to tuck away pass Jens Lehmann.

Talking point came in the last minute of normal time as Thierry Henry teased Tim Cahill and went past him, the Australian's tackle seeming to aim to catch Henry late. Henry went back to speak to Cahill about it, in his own way, but Cesc Fabregas grabbed Cahill by the throat with his hand. Cahill goes down easily and a melee ensues. Fabregas is dismissed, Cahill booked. Little to discuss, both decisions were correct. Arsenal are in action in the Cup, another potential physical match against Bolton, though the Gunners have fared better in the competition at the The Reebok.

Spurs 0 v Aston Villa 0

Jonathan Pearce: "Well, they haven't been the most adventurous but David O'Leary will be happy if it stays like this, another solid away point."

Pearce was right. Spurs had the most of chances and couldn't make them count. Had it not been for Thomas Sorensen keeping out a number of shots, this could have been a well earned home win. Gareth Barry was caught out twice by Aaron Lennon's quick pace and was booked for both occasions.

Bolton 2 v Man City 0

Conor McNarama [as Nolan shapes to shoot]: "Nolan?!.....well, that really would have put the cap on a fine performance from Kevin Nolan....and from Bolton Wanderers."

Both managers have been touted for the England managerial position as if it was already free. Rightly, Pearce mentioned that when Man City were doing well, he was mentioned but when they were not, no mention of his name. Could this have been on his mind going into this game, or even future games? The possibility of coaching the national squad, for Pearce? Bolton have now conceded three goals in ten home games. It's a great emergence from the relegation fight that occurred routinely at The Reebok to the heights of the European places. If Newcastle want to bring Sam Allardyce to St James' Park, it may just take more than Newcastle have to do so. New captain Kevin Nolan has new vigour in him to lead Bolton to more European football.

Birmingham 5 v Portsmouth 0

John Motson: "It's David Dunn for Birmingham......and it's 5-0....ohh, its a landslide....and this is a drubbing for Portsmouth, and it's a jubilant day for Birmingham City."

I don't know what the odds were on this but I wouldn't have wagered on it happening. If form was a guide, the home side would shade this by a single goal, 2-1. But the fight to stay up has hit the wind out of Portsmouth recently. Harry Redknapp's recent return was expected to rejuvenate the club but it is a hard struggle at the moment. Results like this usually lead to relegation, sorry to say for Portsmouth fans. With the possibility of Sunderland and Portsmouth going down, Birmingham could drag West Brom into the zone to slug it out for the third team to go. Five goals and none conceded is a nice way to round off your football weekend but the next game is Reading next week and then a trip to Anfield, so the emphasis from Steve Bruce is to definitely keep such momentum going.

Middlesbrough 2 v Wigan 3

Guy Mowbray: "Neil Mellor's won it for Wigan!....It's prompted a mass exodus from the Middlesbrough fans inside the Riverside."

New signing in central defence, new captain, new players contributing, who were English. Paul Jewell is touted as potential manager for England. He signed Paul Scharner, Neil Mellor and David Thompson. Jason Roberts was gifted the kind of ball strikers thrive on to hammer past rookie Bradley Jones and Thompson came across to head home a cross to put the away side 0-2 at half-time. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink came on as the last sub at half-time and headed Boro back into the game, with Aiyebeni Yakubu touching their second to level the scores and even then Boro weren't done. But Mellor is known for scoring when least expected. He did so against Arsenal for Liverpool last season at Anfield and he did it again, nipping in to guide the ball from 5-6 yards in the last minute of the game.

Ugo Ehigou came on for Chris Riggott in the first half and was greeted with boos. Perhaps Boro fans can write in and say why, he isn't happy at the club, wanted to leave, was granted permission, passed a medical, both clubs agreed terms, he agreed terms and was due to practically sign when he was stopped from going any further, only to be given the green light eventually and now the deal is scuppered because Boro want him released on loan and WBA want to permanently sign him. That, to me, isn't a fault of the defender at all.

West Brom 0 v Sunderland 1

Ian Gwyn Hughes: "Last time the Sunderland support tasted victory, September 25th at Middlesbrough by two goals to nil....and they'll be celebrating this evening, the fans, as if they'd won the league rather than just won away from home for only the 2nd time this season."

Mick McCathy must have been thinking 'at last' when the final whistle went. Not only did it end West Brom's battle to equalise but signaled another vital win for the Black Cats. It was the kind of win that their desire deserved but desire cannot fuel victories often on its own. The goal may have been fortuitous, Paul Robinson and Steve Watson looking to thwart Anthony Le Tallec but The Frenchman swiped the ball and it deflected off Watson to go agonisingly past keeper Tomasz Kuszczak. You may remember the Pole made a excellent textbook dive across goal last week to deny Wigan's Jason Roberts to earn a vital away win for WBA but he was powerless to stop this goal. Sunderland managed to sit on the lead and ride out the storm that was West Brom coming to equalise. As I said above (Birmingham review), WBA could find themselves in a Midland scrap with Birmingham to avoid the drop.



Anonymous Nturtle said...

Great reports again Redsman...thanks for taking the time to do it!

Unbelievably...Arsenal slump to YET ANOTHER away loss...physical?!?! I don't believe it is...they have coped with similar players in the past years...and now I think it is down to mentality...and poor decisions by individuals.

Senderos and Cambell...key full backs...need to have a lesson from Gilbert whom I thought played admirably. DEFENDING = getting the ball clear...not fancy footwork or getting possession...or keeping is clear it out! Gilbert just gave away corners when he thought he was in trouble...what did Campbell and Senderos do when the high ball came over from Cahill? They just let it bounce and let Beattie in...crap defending...GO FOR THE BALL fellas!!!


No more to say..upset to see such a result...but we deserved it with the way we played. Didn't understand the formation either...or the lack of attacking options....all defensive players on the bench.

1/23/2006 1:37 am

Blogger Hamid said...

That's why the age-old axiom goes, "Soccer is a beautiful game". But it certainly is not for the faint-hearted as Liverpool slumped to a last-gasp (lazy) Rio Ferdinand header!

Liverpool were the much better team for much of the game. Controlling the game well and dictating the pace of the game from the starting whistle. They used the possesion cleverly, of which they had a lion's share for certain spells in the game. And even when Man Utd had the ball, Liverpool closed up all the channels effectively and typically. Such has been Benitez's artistry and immaculate nature of tactics. So why then did Liverpool lose? Did they deserve the loss?

Well, myself being a Liverpool fan could easily say that they did not deserve to lose but I beg to differ. May I stick my 'red' neck out and say that yes they indeed deserved to lose. No team can say that they did not deserve to lose if they had played well and had chances for 90 minutes of the game and went on to lose to a 91st minute goal! Everyone should know by now that at this level, every chance counts and you're just giving the opposition an invitation to bite the cherry if you do not take your chances. Liverpool were guilty of missing three gilt-edged chances last night. The first was a Steven Gerrard shot that failed to test Edwin Van de Saar. On another day the scoreboard would have read Liverpool 1 Man Utd 0. The next two fell to Djibril Cisse who by far was the worst player on the pitch on the day. The first was a glorious move set up by the industrious but reckless-at-times Momo Sissoko. Instead of tucking the ball into the corner of the net with his left foot, Cisse decided to use his right foot and made a hash of the chance. He was even more guilty with the second chance with the entire goalmouth beckoning from 8 yards out! Terrible pieces of finishing.

The only possible complains I have is of the refereeing. I was already puzzled when I read that Mike Riley was to officiate this match. He has already been under so much pressure and scrutiny for dishing out red cards to opposition players at Old Trafford and has in fact awarded 8 penalties out of 9 matches at Old Trafford. This statistics are hardly encouraging evidence that Riley would fit the bill for one of the biggest games of the season. I am not going to point out the dubious decisions that he made during the match but those who watched the game would know.

Even though it is easy to point to excuses right now, ultimately Liverpool were the main culprits as to why they left Manchester with 0 points when they feel they should have at least deserved a point out of the game.

Well, football is a beautiful game isn't it. Perhaps not as beautiful to others as it is to Chelsea right now.

1/23/2006 10:06 am

Blogger T said...

Redsman, great to see your weekend review back again and as good as ever!

Excellent point about it not being the first time that Blackburn has profitted from a handball goal at St James.... I said it earlier this month and I'll say it again: is Newcastle the unluckiest club in the Premiership?!

Had the radio on yesterday while cooking a meal after the OT match and a sensible Arsenal fan (Yep.... there's quite a few of us...! :))came on and put forward the opinion that deliberate handball goals should be retroactively rescinded after the match. In this case, Blackburn's goal would be disqualified from the record books and they would be awarded just one point from the Newcastle match instead of the maximum three.

The argument runs that to score with a deliberate handball is cheating of the highest order and should not be rewarded. It also should result in - in this specific instance - Pederson admitting his offence at the time in the knowledge that the goal will be scrapped from the records post-match.

I see a lot of merit in this suggestion!

Nturtle, I share your sigh at the AFC performance! V poor and another example of the 4-5-1 setting the wrong tone and wrong result. I'm going to post another article about the 4-5-1 later today... in the hope that someone at AFC reads it and tells Arsene that it is not working... desperate optimism!?! Senderos was sluggish for the goal but in my optimistic way I see it as a learning experience for the youngster who will now know in future to fully commit to a chase for a bouncing ball- and bring down the man if necessary to stop a goal.

Kung Ham It- great analysis from the Liverpool POV. For me Liverpool were efficient and bossed the midfield- which is unsurpising given the respective match-ups in this area of the pitch.

However, with all their possession they did not create enough chances and when that happens the sucker-punch is always a possibility. Ferdinand's header was outstanding and ironically zonal marking has again cost Liverpool dear at OT... last season the Pool conceded two goals conceded to Silvestre headers.

Is it me or did Mo Sissoko end up playing right midfield yesterday in the second half? And where did Gerrard go in the second-half- he was dominant in the first but I can't recall seeing much of him after the break.

1/23/2006 11:29 am

Blogger Hamid said...

Indeed there was a shuffle around in midfield where Steven Gerrard moved to middle of the park to partner Xabi Alonso while Momo Sissoko ployed down the right flank. Partly the reason why Evra and Richardson were more lively in the 2nd half.

1/23/2006 12:38 pm

Blogger SKG said...

Liverpool were great in defence and in midfield however they had nothing up front. This is their achilles heel. I recall the tv commentator hypothesising what Liverpool would be like if they had Man Utd's front two. Rafa needs to spend money this summer on two strikers otherwise Liverpool will not mount a serious challenge to Chelsea next season.

1/23/2006 1:40 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

All great comments. Kung Ham It, good review on the performance, and it has happened time and again. You may hold the majority of possession, the chances, the near misses, but if they do not count in goals, then Sod's Law says you will be suckered. But even then it wasn't from open play, it was from our approach within those few minutes. We gained a good positional freekick and squandered it, Utd got theirs some moments later and didn't. Giggs sent in the perfect bending ball, which is why I said Riise would have been better, being left-footed, to curl a shot as he has power or drop the ball in.

Then there was the marking, Ferdinand was free and with his height and power it was either luck he misses or he scores. And I feel he was hyped up for this because of the Eriksson tapes. We need to make more chances count, but we did give a good account of ourselves at OT - it isn't a foregone conclusion anymore about the result. We have a tie with Portsmouth to balance what happened and then a home game against Birmingham.

T, rescinding the handball goal - yes. But it doesn't seem to be in the FA's curriculum to administer for 24hr restitution. It would have made some difference in the reaction of the Newcastle fans to Souness.


1/23/2006 9:26 pm


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