Premiership review 23rd December 2006
Hello all and welcome to the last EPL review of 2006. Because the festive season has thrown up so many games in a short space of days, I will only look to any talking points from the various games. My colleague T has supplied an in-depth look over the Arsenal v Blackburn match so leave your comments in regard to that match along his article. Needless to say the Gunners publicly stuffed their Lancashire turkey for the celebrations.
Newcastle 3 v Spurs 1
Believe me, honest to God and on all sacred and holy, I watched the Gillette Soccer Saturday and thought back to when Newcastle won 7-1 against Spurs, which was ten years ago on the 30th December, I think Les Ferdinand was playing for Newcastle then. Something told me it would end in a 3-1 home win but I thought nothing more of it. Pity, they should perhaps work the lottery on the scores instead of the pools.
Jermaine Defoe injured his knee in the warm-up so he was excluded. Newcastle went ahead through Kieron Dyer as he took on Ledley King and then dinked a ball around him into the goal. Then controversy as James Milner went to cross and it was deflected to Scott Parker, who was blatantly offside by the lane of grass he was in. He was the nearest person to goal but it was strangely not spotted and he crossed for Obafemi Martins to head in an excellent header. Funny thing was Spurs had a break in Dimitar Berbatov, who was just offside, but that too wasn't given albeit the Bulgarian couldn't score.
But Spurs earned their bite back as the ball came across the box and Danny Murphy's kick deflected off Steven Taylor past Shay Given. But Newcastle regained their two-goal cushion as Milner's freekick was spilled by Paul Robinson and after a short melee of a scramble between Matt Dawson and Martins, the ball span into the air for Scott Parker to head in. Four goals within 35mins of the start, should have been the same in the second half that would have made this game the one of the weekend. One thing for certain, if Dyer continues in this vein of form, he must be included in the national squad.
Pavel Srnicek came on for Given to a raptuous appreciation from the St James' Park crowd and the Irishman may not be fit for the next game, paving the way for Srnicek to return to his old haunt.
Reading 0 v Everton 2
Reading had little to contain the Merseyside Blues and particularly Andy Johnson. Mikel Arteta ran down the right and crossed for Johnson to aim a shot that deflected off Ibrahima Sonko into the net. That advantage into the second half was doubled through Johnson again as he chased the bouncing ball after Ivar Ingimarsson and pounced on the Icelander's hesitency to pass for James McFadden to poise and score well. Reading made a shout for a penalty when Seol Ki-Hyeon turned Gary Naysmith too quickly for the Scotsman to impede him, but replays showed it was just on the line of the penalty box, so Reading should have had a freekick.
The BBC web-site report on the match had this: "Arteta was the creator with a cross from the right flank, Portsmouth allowing the England striker too much time to turn and score via a slight deflection off Ibrahima Sonko." I was watching Reading, right? Or had Sonko beaten the January transfer window, something which would have delighted Lord Stevens into actually reporting something.
Liverpool 2 v Watford 0
Watford have not endured a comfy ride at all in their first season in the Premiership and most had predicted a comfortable home win but any manager, well most, would say there is little of such a thing in existence until after 90mins+. Indeed, albeit Ben Foster had to act on a number of chances coming his way, Watford held out the Reds well into the first half. After the break Liverpool broke through as Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy combined for the Welshman to pick up in the box and turn to finish.
That was forty-seven minutes and we almost tok that time to add a second after a wave of chances went awry. Dirk Kuyt bustled for the ball in his half and ran on to aim a lame shot that was blocked, so he picked up the rebound and fed Xabi Alonso to strike a shot at goal, Foster getting a hand to it to no avail.
Aston Villa 0 v Man Utd 3
Former manager Ron Saunders made an appearance before the 42,000 plus at Villa Park, twenty five years after his departure from Villa when he won the title. The honour after then was bestowed onto one player, Christiano Ronaldo. We are constantly reminded of the Ronaldo-Wayne Rooney moment in the World Cup, how it would lead to Ronaldo leaving, he stated a need to go to Spain. Frankly Ronaldo was not responsible for anything in the World Cup and the two have not worked together better. As for Ronaldo, he spluttered to rise from the beginning, changed boots and then it was 'MEEP MEEP!!', as he seemed to gallop all over the pitch.
Goalless for the first half, first goal, first blood to Utd on the hour as Villa's resistence finally broke. Ronaldo broke free on the left as Villa struggled to keep up much less detain him. He veered to the right and shot, which was blocked, and was given a second bite of the cherry from which he scored high past Gabor Kiraly. Next, a corner was cleared out and Paul Scholes simply unleashed yet another of his superb volleys up and over Kiraly for number two. Finally on the break Rooney was found on the right, he passed into the box that eluded all but Ronaldo at the back, unmarked, unchallenged, unfazed.
Portsmouth 3 v Sheff Utd 1
The visitors almost started on their way to another victory as Derek Geary crossed over Sol Campbell for Rob Hulse to head in but Portsmouth had other ideas than capitulation. Bizarrely, Benjamin Mwaruwari crossed at the touchline for Phil Jagielka to miskick, apparently Rob Kuzlok was credited with the own goal, though I felt it fell to Jagielka. Then Campbell came round the defence in a crowded penalty are to head in higher than all and Noe Paramot produced another firm header to cement the win. Redknapp for England manager?!?!?!??!?
Wigan 2 v Chelsea 3
Eight goals at The Emirates stadium seemd a sure bet for live TV but that fell to this fixture, and rightly too. Five goals instead of eight but how they came was superb. Arjen Robben drew fear on the right and as he stalled, he played in Frank Lampard onside and the vice skipper made no mistake. Corner for Chelsea and Mohammed Kalou, who played superbly, got ahead quickly to head in a superb goal. Emile Heskey had a personal vendetta for Chelsea and earned a freekick from the touch of Khalid Boulahrouz more from his theatrical face than the contact. Up chipped Josip Skoko and Heskey got ahead of Didier Drogba to pull Wigan back.
Then Wigan started the second half on the onslaught and Chelsea buckled, albeit under controversy. The ball played in and headed out by Boulahrouz under Heskey's challenge, Boulahrouz came off the field due to his momentum but Heskey was quickly back on, Michael Essien allowed Danny Landzaat time to shoot at goal, Heskey deflecting it in. But in the dying moments of injury time Chelsea did it again. Robben on the right hand side, slowly coming in, cutting inside onto his left and that can spell danger. One left foot strike later and Chelsea had snatched the victory.
Middlesbrough 2 v Charlton 0
Middlesbrough needed a boost after losing to Fulham and gained an advantage through Mark Viduka running at the Charlton defence, passing short to James Morrison who passed to Aiyegbeni Yakubu. Yakubu then used quick feet to evade a challenge and slot in past Scott Carson. Boro doubled the lead from a Stewart Downing corner that was headed back by Viduka, Julio Arca was unmarked to score from 18 yards. Charlton had moments, Bryan Hughes aimed at the goal after Mark Schwarzer came and failed to collect, but Emmanuel Pogatetz cleared in front of goal. It didnt help that Darren Bent went across Hughes' line of fire.
Alan Pardew has made a rapid recovery from the JobCentre to replace Less Reed, who left under mutual consent. This comes after chairman Richard Murray said: "It's unfair on Les at the moment. His record is similar to Iain's but are both at fault? We will spend in January but we will wheel and deal Les is getting hammered at the moment and it is tough spell for the club. Very tough." This was Thursday gone. Charlton have the former Hammers boss, and vice versa. With the results of Charlton and a good manager out of work, Reed's number was up. It's the battle of the London side as to who stays up and who doesn't.
Man City 0 v Bolton 2
It ended on another sour note at home for City and even more so for Joey Barton. Nicolas Anelka had haunted old club Arsenal and he was at it again to net a brace under a chorus of boos from the home fans who must have regretted it afterwards. First Kevin Nolan found Nicky Hunt on the right and Hunt's pass was picked up by Anelka to slot inside Nicky Weaver's near post. Second, Henrik Pedersen ran down the Bolton left and came inside to touch the ball across the penalty area, where either of El-Hadji Diouf or Anelka could have had a chance but the Frenchman called for the ball and scored his and Bolton's second.
Frustration boiled over for Barton as he aimed but lost out on the ball to Abdoulaye Faye and then followed with what I would call a lunge at the Senegalese defender with his right foot roughly reaching waist level as he did. He received a straight red. I initially understood it to be a two-footed tackle according to the immediate reports over the radio but now I say it was one but a clumsy challenge and worthy of a booking only. I urge that the FA agree with me.
Fulham 0 v West Ham 0
It's a well earned point for the Hammers and their fortunes are early in rising but they certainly did not deserve to have Paul Konchesky sent off for what was a clear touch of the ball before making contact with Wayne Routledge. Replays showed Chris Foy was behind catching up but not too far and he made the decision clearly without consultation with the linesman, who made no indication of a foul whatsoever. Foy doesn't have to consult the linesman but I can't see how his vision could be 100% for he would have clearly seen the touch on the ball. That too should be rescinded.
To all who have come to EFT, to look and/or contribute, a Merry Xmas. Mind how you all go over the festive spirits and look forward to you all returning.