Premiership weekend review 02-03/12/06
Wigan 0 v Liverpool 4
Well, at last an away win and not only one away goal but three, four including a helping hand...or leg. Craig Bellamy may have been troubled by the attention of the authorities and the pending court appearance to the degree of affecting his performance. That may have not been the case internationally but domestically Bellamy tried and tried. Now with it all over and behind him, he came into this fixture and delivered a brace towards winning the game, and an assist for Dirk Kuyt. Steven Gerrard had a hand in two of the goals at least and it was a good day for the Reds as it was bad for Wigan and Lee McCullouch.
Arsenal 3 v Spurs 0
Having lost two in a row away from home and the beginnings of a fall-out rumour where Thierry Henry is said to have been upset at not being selected for the derby, Arsenal aimed to revitalise their current fortunes. Henry himself was fashionably clad in black and sat behind the bench. Spurs' away form has been troubling at best and they came from a goal behind at home to beat Wigan with three well taken goals of their own. Without Henry and with the two defeats, Spurs looked to enhance on the Gunner woes.
All three of the goals are questionable. Dimitar Berbatov was ruled offside at one point and the margin shown seemed very slim, yet by the same token Emmanuel Adebayor was ruled onside and slipped away the first goal. When tomas Rosicky was through on goal but was challenged, replays showed Pascal Chimbonda had touched the ball and not the player, which in a sense meant Rosicky made more of the challenge. Graeme Poll ruled for a penalty and acting skipper Gilberto Silva coolly deposited the spot-kick. Robin van Persie was being chased by Ledley King and Jermaine Jenas, though Jenas should have dealt with the high ball comfortably but instead allowed the Dutch international to gain more advantage on him. In the process replays showed van Persie had handballed with his right hand, nothing given. Jenas unintentionally caught van Persie but he didn't go down until a second after. Nonetheless, from the initial contact another penalty was given and again the captain slotted home the ball.
With the Gunners back into winning ways, Martin Jol was creditable for not bring attention to the referee and instead blamed his side for not playing.
Everton 2 v West Ham 0
Having watched this game live, I witnessed West Ham playing some really good football and attacking to come at Everton in their own garden. What they couldn't do is execute the final ball in their opponents' half to score, their best chance coming from a Lee Bowyer effort that went towards Tim Howard. Also on display was Carlos Tevez' best display for some time, in any shirt much less a Hammers' one. Tevez took on players, cut inside, went outside, tried shots, played others in and frankly deserved something from his performance.
As West Ham enjoyed the first half, they came unstuck in the second. Joseph Yobo hit a pass that seemed to be too hard, yet James Beattie chased it and managed to guide it into the box for Leo osman to control and strike past Robert Green. That was with 6mins of the second half gone so there was time for an equaliser, however sub James Vaughan ran on down the left in injury time and was given too much angle by Jonathan Spector. He drilled a low shot under Green's body for Everton's second.
Sheff Utd 2 v Charlton 1
Watching the highlights to this game, I wondered if it was a wise decision to have departed with Iain Dowie. The statement given was that after some careful thought and discussion, it was advised and agreed that the club should dismiss the manager in consideration of recent performances and results. To do that for improvement and to see improvement would have made that decision a superb one. But did the club actually feel they had sufficient insight into Dowie's potential to lift the club and his relations with the players to sense they were going to make the right decision? Reason I say that is the man had twelve games in charge and eight defeats out of the twelve is a loud statistic. The objective from that point on is to lift Charlton from relegation, and could Dowie do that in appropriate time? No doubt it has been the club's worst run in the top flight.
Les Reed seems to currently fare no better. He has players who are well versed in the EPL in Talal El Karkouri, Andy Reid, Matt Holland, Luke Young, Darren and Marcus Bent, Herman Hreidarsson, Darren Ambrose, Kevin Lisbie, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. What do Charlton need now to change their fortunes round? Perhaps if I had the certified guarantee of an answer I could apply to move out Mr Reed. Perhaps they didn't have the kind of resolve they should have to matched that of Utd, who came at their visitors after conceding. Charlton scrambled their goal through Reid, but Chris Morgan raised well to head excellently for the equaliser. Keith Gillespie poised himself to volley the winner from outside the box. Were it not for Scott Carson in goal, the score could have been more for Utd.
Middlesbrough 1 v Man Utd 2
Utd scrambled this win through another Louis Saha finish and Darren Fletcher, either side of James Morrison's well taken low effort, but predominately Christiano Ronaldo featured more for his diving than his qualities. Awful was his fall when Mark Schwarzer came out as they both went to greet a sublime Saha through-ball, Schwarzer made no contact with Ronaldo. MOTD's Mark Lawrenson described the moment accurately, Ronaldo waited for the contact and none came dropped shortly thereafter. I seriously doubt the refereeing in that decision. Saha scored from the spot. Equally in doubt was the decision of George Boateng foulling Ronaldo, with replays showing Ronaldo caught his foot on Boateng's rather than the foul was created. From the freekick, Ronaldo struck the ball superbly for Schwarzer to save away.
Boro equalised when Stewart Downing crossed for Gabriel Heinze to head over into the path of Morrison, however two minutes later Wayne Rooney was on the ball and passed for the sprinting Ronaldo to collect, turning away from goal and then passing back to Ryan Giggs. Giggs' cross found Fletcher in the centre with a header to win the game.
Portsmouth 2 v Aston Villa 2
This was a good game, two top sides cancelling each other almost similarly to that of Man Utd and Chelsea last week. First blood went to Villa, when Gabriel Agbonlahor raced on to guide the ball past David James, who brought him down. The question was whether the striker would have slid the ball in despite the recovery of Sol Campbell and Pedro Mendes, or was the angle he would have had to have faced made the opportunity all the more difficult to score from? The referee said a booking and a penalty, which Gareth Barry scored from. Villa held the advantage until the 52nd minute when a superb cross came over for Matt Taylor to head in. Ten minutes later Barry was judged to have handballed in the area and Taylor scored from the penalty and the home side looked to record three points after going behind, but Juan Pablo Angel shot a deflected shot off Campbell to equalise deep into normal time.
Reading 1 v Bolton 0
Wigan went on a excellent run last season as a promoted side, Reading are doing the same. Keeper Marcus Hahnemann said Martin Jol's words before the game against Spurs motivated the players for a win, and since that game Reading have now won four on the trot, having lost four consecutively before Spurs. Steve Coppell said he isn't getting carried away with it and that is good for the season has long to go. But looking at themselves in sixth place must keep the Reading faithful beaming and full of good expectation of certainly not going back to the Championship. John Oster worked well down the right and diped a cross for Kevin Doyle to add to his tally, which I believe makes him the joint top scorer. It is looking good, at the moment.