WBA Robinson out of order; San Siro sensation; Liverpool's progression in Europe
There will be no weekend review, unfortunately, as my schedule has caught up with me this week. However, there are a number of titbits I wish to mention as I don't want them to go unnoticed......
Paul Robinson of West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, against Birmingham, stretched to keep the ball in play and did so, and in the process this allowed the ball to be free for Birmingham's Damien Johnson to challenge for it. Robinson saw this and immediately got up to run toweards the ball and then unleashed a very physical jump for the ball that instead resulted in his elbow making impact with Johnson's jaw. Johnson was knocked to the ground where his face hit the ground first and was semi-conscious. Referee Nigel Miller cme out with the red card faster than Robinson's reckless action that earned it. Johnson's jaw was later confirmed as fractured. Birmingham manager Steve Bruce said "When I saw it again on TV, it was a horror show. He knew what he was doing." It was something very similar to the Ben Thatcher incident on Pedro Mendes, and is not a red straight and three match ban, rather a straight red and five-to-ten match ban. I wonder if the FA will introduce their 'exceptional powers' in this case.
One player who is impressing at St Andrews is Nicholas Bendtner, a young Danish internationalon on loan from Arsenal. another is Michael Chopra of Cardiff. I mentioned previously during a Newcastle match review that it was ironic the North East side were struggling for goals and a decent striker, maybe before Obafemi Martins was bought, yet sold an-eager-to-impress Chopra to Cardiff. He added two more to his tally against Sunderland last night to edge him out at the top of the goalscoring charts with ten.
Luton Town defender Sol Davis suffered a stroke on the coach to the Sunday game against Ipswich Town. That must have been a worrying moment for the players and management and staff to see and acknowledge and the team went on to a hard 5-0 defeat to the Suffolk side. I watched the game and though Luton tried to get in the game after the break, it wasn't going for them. Davis' stroke pales into significance the defeat and I wish him the very best in recovering. It will call for some strong resolve and nerves now to pull this side back into winning ways after their home victory against Leeds. They lost to Everton in the League Cup, then Ipswich and last night Burnley won 0-2. This side was impressive in League One and currently 9th in the Championship, I hope they can put back some bite into their campaign.
In the Premiership, I noticed a number of harsh decisions. I recall Everton's Mikel Arteta clambouring over Arsenal's William Gallas, the whistle blew for a foul and the Spaniard left his boot on the Frenchman, which provoked Gallas into a reaction of verbals but nothing physical. Arteta was rightly booked, Gallas was wrongly booked. Watford's impressive Ashley Young was onside when he ran onto the pass from another Watford impressive player, Hameur Bouazza, and saw his goal cancelled out, wrongly, by the linesman. The linesman strikes again. Man Utd were awesome, Wayne Rooney will now shave his beard as his 'London bus' patience after no goals has paid off as three came along. Liverpool played their best since the season began against a Villa side unbeaten and have held both Arsenal and Chelsea to a draw at their respective grounds. Charlton hung on for a brave battle on Wednesday against Bolton and did it again away to Newcastle, so the feeling is much better at The Valley that they can move away from relegation.
In Europe, particularly in Serie A, I watched the Milan derby at the San Siro and it was a superb match. Inter took the lead through Hernan Crespo's header from a Dejan Stankovic cross and then doubled it with a sweet strike from Stankovic as he controlled a Oliver Dacourt pass and then smacked the ball in an instant. This was officially a home match for Milan and it got worse for the 'hosts'. After the break, Inter broke forward and the ball came to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who chipped it past Georgian defender Kakha Kaladze and slid it underneath Dida for number three. Milan then took charge and came back through Clarence Seedorf as his shot deflected of Inter skipper Javier Zanetti to make it 3-1 with some fifty minutes on the clock. But Inter scored again through the somewhat controversial giant of Marco Materazzi, who headed in from a Stankovic freekick. Celebrating with his shirt partially over his head, as some like to do, he revealed a T-shirt underneath with a message, all of which was deemed a bookable offence that added to the yellow he had received earlier and ended in his dismissal. Reminiscent of Sunderland's Ross Wallace against Hull at the weekend.
That was on 68mins, Inter 1-4 up and expecting to hold down the play for the final whistle. Milan had other plans and went into action. Two minutes later sub Alberto Gilardino rose above Ivan Cordoba to head in Milan's second from a Cafu cross. Then into the first minute of five minutes' injury time, Cafu crossed and Inter's keeper Cesar failed to make enough contact, meaning he was out of position for Kaka to gather and lob him sweetly for 3-4. Before they could muster another chance to draw, the whistle blew. I thought the referee had a good game handling the play, the referee being none other than.....Stefano Farina, who officiated the Barcelona v Chelsea game last night!
Pleased for Liverpool's progression into the last sixteen, where a stupid, senseless act of violence occurred. A Bordeaux was on the ground and the referee made no indication to stop play, the ball went out for a throw, John Arne Riise took it quickly and the referee had to stop Luis Garcia on the attack as Riise was then attacked with a vicious headbutt from Fernando Menegazzo, who then went on as if he was also injured and that he had done little to Riise!! Riise had a gash that oozed blood! Bye bye, Menegazzo, for good hopefully. Garcia was on form again with a left foot half volley and a late finish either side of a superb Bolo Zenden ball for a Steven Gerrard first goal of the season. ITV teletext have been getting a number of stated facts wrong recently, stating PSV's win against Galatasaray did us a favour. The win was anything but, as beating them favoured the Dutch more than us after our win.
Chelsea only need a draw next time to go through, as Barca struggles under the weight of Werder Bremen's win in Bulgaria. Ten bookings in the Nou Camp makes it surprising no one was dismissed. Deco scored in the third minute, Frank Lampard equalised with a chip from an acute angle into the goal, Ronaldinho squared for Eidur Gudjohnsen to gain the lead back but Didier Drogba finished off a resurging injury time battle to touch in John Terry's head-down. Chelsea could do themselves and Barcelona a favour by beating Werder Bremen, if Barcelona win in Bulgaria. If they are to defend their trophy, the Catalans must. I don't see Chelsea losing, so the least is a draw in North West Germany, and a win against Levski Sofia would then leave the German and Spaniard sides to fight it out in the last game at the Nou Camp.