Premiership weekend review
Charlton 0 v Watford 0
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was dropped for Jerome Thomas in this relegation-placed meeting, something which added more pace but couldn't produce a goal on Saturday. Talking points included Charlton's chances on goal but for the ability of Man Utd loanee Ben Foster keeping the ball out of danger. It may have been Ashley Young involved next as a chipped ball touched a Watford player's arm, and the referee Lee Mason gave a freekick for it. Replays showed the player stood within the penalty area, therefore it should have been a spot-kick decision, another decision Iain Dowie scowled at.
Watford had a gilt-edge chance to take the lead in the second half as Young raced towards the touchline and pulled back for Darius Henderson to strike from near the penalty spot but it went upwards and over the goal. Charlton called for another penalty decision as the ball came into the Watford box and Amdy Faye went down under a Hameur Bouazza challenge from behind, which consisted of the Watford man's arms appearing to pull back on Faye. Nothing given.
Everton 2 v Sheff Utd 0
Everton bounced back from their defeat at Boro into winning ways again. Phil Neville ran down the right to cross, Mikel Arteta jumped up to nod past Paddy Kenny on 13mins. Replays showed that was a push by Andy Johnson on Utd defender Claude Davis as he went to jump but it was not spotted by Dermot Gallagher. Twenty minutes later Johnson became a further scourge for Davis as he went to run onto a loose ball, he went down under Davis' challenge. Replays showed minimal contact and Johnson possibly went down easier than expected. Nonetheless James Beattie stepped up to deposited the penalty, giving the Toffees a good advantage by half time.
Sheff Utd came out the interval a better side and put pressure on Everton's goal. Leigh Bromby ran on into the box and rode a James McFadden challenge from which he could have easily gone down but instead found advantage in staying up and squared to Danny Webber, who missed. The thing is Chris Morgan was penalised for a similar, if not identical, tackle on Steven Gerrard at Bramall Lane so McFadden should have received the same decision.
Chelsea 2 v Portsmouth 1
David James made a first half performance that should have made a regular appearance some years ago while he was an international. His display in goal kept out Chelsea who found space through a Portsmouth defence which had been quite stingy. How long Portsmouth could withstand the pressure seemed impressive in the first half but eventually the home side made the breakthrough. Arjen Robben had constantly ran at Noe Paramot and again found himself onto another through ball from Frank Lampard or Michael Ballack, cutting back for Andriy Shevchenko to touch the ball towards goal, the ball deflecting off Sol Campbell's boot past James. James may well have otherwise stopped the ball but it counted as a Chelsea goal and he was one with the fans nearby, earning a booking for it. MOTD panel may disagree, Andy Gray always disagrees, but it is there in the rules to help prevent crowd disturbance that could result in injury or death.
Chelsea repeated the feat two minutes later. A cross into the Portsmouth box was headed back by Didier Drogba and Ballack timed his run to meet the ball with a firm header for 2-0. This was the Germany skipper's first in the EPL and he too was one with the fans, also earning a booking. Portsmouth came back in feisty style as they gained a consolation after Andy Cole's presence made for Benjani Mwaruwari to slot home.
Man Utd 2 v Liverpool 0
Livrpool have a poor away record that has gained one goal and a point out of five games, including this fixture. Much is made of Rafael Benitez' rotation policy and playing Gerrard out of position on the wings. Only time will now tell as to where Liverpool move from here on. From the heights of 3rd last season and several clean sheets down to their current form. The players were lethargic and uninspiring yesterday and Man Utd took good advantage. Paul Scholes played his 500th game and added a goal when he found Wayne Rooney on the left and then stole into the box unmarked to first touch the ball which deflected off Pepe Reina, and then tidied up in front of an open goal.
Twenty minutes into the second half Utd doubled the lead as Ryan Giggs took on Xabi Alonso down the left and crossed, the ball coming off Louis Saha, Jamie Carragher attempted to clear but looped the ball towards Rio Ferdinand, who dummied John Arne Riise and then shot with his left foot past Reina.
Reading 0 v Arsenal 4
This was a display of excellence from Arsenal against a side who had previously drawn against Man Utd and lost by one goal to Chelsea. For their first season Reading are doing very well currently in 9th place and have now faced the three top teams in the league. Cesc Fabregas did the running into the box, and as he did you could see Thierry Henry casually jog in and make himself free to receive, his effort placed past Marcus Hehnemann. Aleksander Hleb and Tomas Rosicky combined for the Belarussian to slam a fierce shot past the keeper for no.2. Henry was at hand again as he found Hleb running into the box and the midfielder cut the ball across for Robin Van Persie to score no.3, and finally Fabregas and Henry were involved in the last goal. The Spaniard ran on and reached the ball before Hehnemann and was brought down. Henry scored from the spot.
Spurs 1 v West Ham 0
The poor form for West Ham continues. Robert Green made a first appearance in goal, Javier Mascherano and Marlon Harewood started. Three talking points from this game. The goal, courtesy of Mido, who controlled Edgar Davids' centre ball with a flick then turned to shoot low past Green. The second is that Aaron Lennon put on a MOTM performance and gave a thorough testing of Paul Konchesky, someone who much was thought of as a potential international. The third was the incident between Jermaine Defoe and Mascherano. Defoe picked up the ball in the centre and was on a run until he was unceremoniously clipped by the Argentinian from behind. Defoe took offence and appeared to have aimed a bite at Mascherano, from which the midfielder was shot.
The action taken was a booking apiece, therefore the FA will not intervene with any disciplinary measures as the matter was seen by the referee. Nonetheless Defoe shouldn't be doing such conduct, it is not part of the game and he should have known much better than that.
Wigan 4 v Man City 0
A number of managers are finding it difficult to understand why their players are not performing as well as they should be, or have done. Man City had a superb beginning to their season last season but on Saturday they began the fixture and walked into a minefield. First explosion came via Emile Heskey as he turned to hook a shot off Emerson Boyce's centre ball, the effort going over Nicky Weaver. Minutes later Wigan had a freekick on the left and as it swung over, Richard Dunne headed it into his own net where I felt Weaver was placed to come and collect it. In the second half Leighton Baines ran into the box to square a Kevin Kilbane ball, Stephen Jordan went to clear but took so long Henri Camara came in to challenge and the ball went in off his contact. Heskey turned provider on the right as he found Colombian Luis Valencia running up and Valencia went further unchallenged to slam a fierce drive past Weaver for his first EPL goal.
Middlesbrough 1 v Newcastle 0
The North East derby between two sides who ached for three points. The match showed two sides who fought well to deny each other, though Newcastle had the majority of the chances. It threatened to run out as a no-score draw until Stewart Downing and Aiyegbeni Yakubu combined to gain the winner. Downing delivered a curling corner from which Yakubu juped the highest to head home.
Blackburn 0 v Bolton 1
Quite an entertaining match from this Lancashire derby, perhaps the most over the weekend with Bolton continuing their superb form home and away. Once again Ivan Campo has stepped up to head Bolton into the lead in the second half after Blackburn had attacked their visitors with a number of chances. El-Hadji Diouf delivered a corner from which the Spaniard jumped up and headed past Brad Friedel. Blackburn had two penalties granted, both won by Jason Roberts who had come on with 15mins to go. First Quinton Fortune, who was on himself for Abdoulaye Faye, went into a tackle that caught Roberts on his boot in the area. Benni McCarthy stepped up and Jaaskelainen guessed right to deny a tame effort. Next Nicky Hunt and Gary Speed sandwiched out Roberts as he turned in the box. Roberts was rapid in demanding the ball to take the penalty, and did so, but was denied by Jasskelainen's decision to go the same way.
Captain Kevin Nolan protested at the penalties and earned himself a booking. After the second penalty was saved and the ball went out for a corner, Nolan mentioned something again to Mike Dean, who immediately brought out the red card. I have read Nolan received two bookings but I saw him receive a straight red. That didn't mar Bolton, as a clean sheet, good saves, and two penalty saves aided the win and made Jaaskelainen the worthy saviour at Ewood Park.
Aston Villa 1 v Fulham 1
Villa remain the only unbeaten side in the Premiership. They should have had a penalty when Leroy Rosenior misjudged a cross and the ball came off his arm. It looked a penalty but referee Chris Foy judged it otherwise. However Villa gained a spot kick in a fashion which was less a penalty than the handball. Stilian Petrov took on Rosenior and as the right back and the Bulgarian made contact, Rosenior had his arms out to show he is making no intent with Petrov making more of the contact than the ball. Penalty given. Gareth Barry scored from the spot. But Villa had switched off a little and took on some Fulham pressure. This allowed a chance through Tomasz Radzinski on the left, who clipped over a ball that eluded all but Morice Volz, and having slipped his marker the German full back side-footed in.