Premiership weekend review - 11-12/11/06
Arsenal 3 v Liverpool 0
Another defeat away from home to make it five consecutive losses for Liverpool and another comprehensive match in which bad mistakes have cost us dearly. The game began well for both sides, chances and possession was shared until the 41st minute when Aleksander Hleb dragged John Arne Riise wide and then came inside, going past Mark Gonzalez and passing inside the box for Cesc Fabregas to collect and square for Mathieu Flamini to add a touch for the ball to go in. Replays showed the possibility of offside on Flamini, nonetheless the goal stood minutes before half time. With the single goal disadvantage, Liverpool should have stepped up a gear to level the score but some ten minutes into the second half the ball was won by Arsenal and with quick passing Robin Van Persie was found, mis-controlling at first but was allowed time to pass for the running Kolo Toure to collect, Sami Hyypia caught napping, the Ivorian defender slotting under Pepe Reina for no.2.
Ten minutes from time a Van Persie corner came over and our corner nemesis, William Gallas, was free to nod in no.3, Steven Gerrard and Riise at odds as to who should have picked up the Frenchman. It was the points that moved the Gunners into third place behind the leading two, making up the three top teams in the three top places. Liverpool have a major task in restructuring their away form which is deteriorating their league progress. Our defending particularly has taken a hammering, and it is up to the players, not solely Rafael Benitez, to correct this slump in form. In his first season, Liverpool lost 14 times, 11 away. Last season it was narrowed down to six, five losses away. We have already matched last season's loss tally, and for some reason, which I don't feel is down to Gerrard's positioning, we are playing defensive kamikaze away from home and not being sharp enough in front of goal. I do feel that certain players will have to put more effort into their game to improve this abysmal away form.
Sheff Utd 2 v Bolton 2
The home side did very well to pull this game back from defeat against a Bolton side who usually hold a lead well away from home. El Hadji-Diouf latched onto a high ball and outmuscled Phil Jagielka to slot past Paddy Kenny. Bolton doubled the lead on the hour as Idan Tal squared across the box for Kevin Davies to drill low into the corner and it looked a high and dry away win on the cards. But Utd came alive after the second goal and took the initiative, where perhaps Bolton felt the game was won and held back to see out Utd's attacks. On 70mins Mikele Leigertwood crossed from the right which was met by a superb Rob Hulse header that left the keeper with no chance of stopping. Three minutes later another Utd attack found Jussi Jaaskelainen coming out to clear the ball, which found its way to Colin Kazim-Richards, who instead of chipping into the box simply touched the ball with a curl right around the players in front to catch the keeper unaware.
Reading 3 v Spurs 1
The North London sides found themselves live on Sky for the second consecutive week with contrasting fortunes and swapped schedules. Spurs were first up away to Reading having not scored an away goal thus far. They certainly began well with quick attacks and chances going amiss after sharp passing, and with Robbie Keane in form his balls into the box were opening up the Reading defence. One such ball found Hossam Ghaly entering the box and a rash tackle by Ibrahim Sonko brought down the Egyptian, with little excuse. Keane stepped up to score Spurs' first away goal. It wasn't until half way through the half that Reading upped their attacks and orchestrated a number of openings on their right through Glen Little. It was from there the ball was kept and then passed across to Nicky Shorey, who shot low from outside the box past Matt Dawson and Paul Robinson to equalise.
A Reading corner in injury time came across a static Spurs defence and found the foot of Steve Sidwell as he came from behind Ledley King for no.2. Replays showed how at least six Spurs players were around before the corner was taken and none of them picked up on Kevin Doyle nor Sidwell. With Jermaine Defoe on the England striker was played in and shot at the side netting, and the goal kick that ensued was nodded on by Leroy Lita for Doyle to run onto and slice left-footed across Robinson for no.3. Spurs came forward to forge another Defoe opportunity that he struck to come off the inside of the far post and across the goal away from danger. With no disrespect to Reading, Spurs came from a sturdy test last week to give in this week. I wondered if the chances and attacks Spurs made in the first 20+mins made them too confident that they had Reading in control.
Everton 0 v Aston villa 1
Tim Cahill was injured badly from an accidental contact by teammate Lee Carsley, who went in to tackle but instead had pushed Cahill's right knee to hyperextend, the Australian stretchered off as a precaution. Three minutes from half time Isaiah Osbourne chipped a ball into the box where Chris Sutton remained and nodded on past Tim Howard for his first for Villa and their first away win.
Man City 0 v Newcastle 0
This match was live on Sky and had its moments of good football and chances, unfortunately they were few and far between and at times the quality of play dulled to a bore. City scored through sub Georgios Samaras but the referee spotted a foul by Bernando Corradi on Stephen Carr, which looked six of one and half dozen of the other but the goal was cancelled. Frustratingly a number of attacks were formed well by City with Hatem Trabelsi coming forward from midfield but the final ball was very lacking. Newcastle formed one of their best attacks with good link-up that resulted in Antoine Sibierski breaking into the box to be denied by a timely intervention.
Chelsea 4 v Watford 0
The defeat at White Hart Lane came like a slap rather than an uppercut to the Blues. They scored four in midweek and they repeated it again and once again it is Didier Drogba who is ghosting around the defence with a spirit that could carry him alone through teams, much less with the others in assistance. Every week the Ivorian captain is on bustling form, if he is not defending he is tormenting the defence, if not that he is peacemaker. Geremi attacked down the right before crossing low, Andriy Shevchenko missed the ball yet had dragged Danny Shittu and Lloyd Doyley, leaving Drogba to touch in mere inches from goal. Next, a superb attack, Drogba collected a pass from midfield and found Shevchenko, who held the ball as Shittu tried to call offside on Drogba's run but two defenders had failed the trap, leaving Drogba to collect the return pass to slot in no.2.
In the second half, Shevchenko got in on the rout as Drogba simply bounced off Shittu to control the ball on his chest and turn, touching the ball over the defence for the Ukrainian to chest past Ben Foster and score. Finally Drogba gained his hat-trick as Geremi yet again crossed from the right for the striker to simply touch in the ball unmarked. I must admit Watford were defensively non-existent, even if it was against Chelsea.
Middlesbrough 1 v West Ham 0
Two good home results that seemed to emphasise a return to basics and good form that was ended by a sngle Massimo Maccarone goal. West Ham failed to clear under attack, the ball came back into the box and the Italian held well to go round Robert Green and slot in from an angle.
Blackburn 0 v Man Utd 1
The pressure was on the Red Devils after Chelsea had romped at home and perhaps it may have told where Wayne Rooney was concerned, after he made numerous chances for himself to no avail. Blackburn could have gone through to score as they became better in the second half. Zurab Khizanishvili glanced Morten Gamst Pedersen's in-swinging free kick just wide, Morten Gamst Pedersen had his corner come off the crossbar. But past the hour came the telling moment when John O'Shea crossed from the right and Ryan Giggs touched it across from the left for Louis Saha to hit in.
Portsmouth 1 v Fulham 1
A home draw that almost turned into a home defeat for Pompey. Pompey tested Fulham well for the majority of the game, particularly through Lomano LuaLua and Antii Niemi had earned his pay keeping out Nwankwo Kanu's header from close range. Fulham took the lead from a Claus Jensen corner that Zat Knight aimed a head at and deflected the ball off Dejan Stefanovic. Harry Redknapp went for broke in bringing on Andy Cole and it paid off. The ball came into the box and players from both sides kicked at it, with Niemi not getting a firm grip on the ball at two attempts. Cole kicked at it and it came to him, and though he was on the ground he managed to aim it diagonally a second time to score.
Wigan 3 v Charlton 2
Another London side mini-revival that fell short, and now Iain Dowie has left after just twelve matches that made up eight defeats, two draws and two wins. Charlton have fallen further than at any time in the Premiership where they are rooted at the bottom and I think a good cause was the inefficiency of the players. The BBC site states Charlton only kept one clean sheet when in fact it is so far four, against Bolton, Watford and Man City at home, and away to Newcastle. It has not been Charlton at the least. It is burning to have dropped so low but there are 25+ games to go and they are in the league cup, much less the FA Cup so there is still promise. What there isn't is the opportunity for Dowie to get those players he brought in to blend with the others and raise the side back up the table. England players in Luke Young, Scott Carson and Darren Bent shows the quality the side has and it is one big battle.
In the match, Chris Kirkland pumped the ball upfield that eluded Souleymane Diawara and Lee McCulloch took advantage and ran on to score past Carson. Henri Camara obliged a carbon copy as Kirkland's kick was missed by the defence again and the Senegalese forward volleyed no.2. Charlton came back through an own goal by Arjan de Zeeuw as he came to block out Bent and the Addicks looked to be back into the game, but fifteen minutes from time Kevin Kilbane delivered a freekick from the right that Matt Jackson headed in unmarked. Charlton pulled one back again as Herman Hreidarsson's pass found Marcus Bent and he controlled to shot past Kirkland deep into stoppage time.