Birmingham City 0 Chelsea 0Jonathan Pearce: "[Ricardo] Carvalhoooo.....Oh! What a chance! What an opportunity for Chelsea to win...free header...7 yards out...didn't hit the target. Carvalho knows it would have taken Chelsea a step nearer the title retention, it would have been very hard on Birmingham."
Goodness, wouldn't have, and didn't, banked on this happening. Not only a draw but Birmingham kept Chelsea out of their goal. They took the game to the visitors in the first half, and then Chelsea came out in the second as if they had been blasted by Jose Mourinho. But the home fans must have been happy to see no further capitulation and a better, home performance.
Mourinho gave credit to Birmingham, felt they deserved the point presumablybecause Chelsea didnt get to score, and I agree. But the Chelsea boss was adamant the goals should have stood when in fact they were rightly cancelled, he may not have seen the replays. For the first one, Carvalho came from an offside position actively, for the second Damian Duff was offside along with Didier Drogba.Birmingham fans: A p
erformance just as important as the point, now Steve Bruce needs equal support, if not more, for the Tuesday home game against Bolton.Chelsea fans:
Players tried and tried but could not blow the house down. Yet considering the players around and the league position, few would hesitate changing places. Man Utd clawed back points against Newcastle in 1995-96, and Arsenal in 2002-03, to win the league, albeit it happened in the remaining three months of the respective seasons. It would be an amazing feat if it occurred in two.Bolton Wanderers 1 Manchester United 2Simon Brotherton: "Oh, it's an easy goal from Ruud Van Nistelrooy! It's 150 for him for Manchester United, and it could be the goal that keeps the pressure on Chelsea."
No one has won yet at the Reebok Stadium this season since the opening game against Everton, Arsenal had lost, Liverpool drew, Spurs lost, Chelsea are due to play there next. Following Chelsea's opening draw, Utd came to gain more on the Blues and keep further from the Reds. So when Kevin Davies picks up the ball by the penalty box D and cleanly nutmegs Rio Ferdinand on his way to score, it looked bad. But Mikael Silvestre and Louis Saha combined for the defender to send a through ball down behind Joey O'Brien for Saha to run onto and strike with the outside of his LEFT foot for 1-1. VNR comes on to a welcome from the away fans and suddenly Utd are in major threat of a breakthrough as chance after chance is denied, until Silvestre passed to John O'Shea, who sends a through ball to Saha, who squares for VNR's winner.Bolton fans:
Two defeats back-to-back, one in which an impressive home record is dented for the 2nd time this season, just by the single goal. Going away to a Chelsea-denying Birmingham at St Andrews could make or break for the trip to Anfield.Man Utd fans:
More delight from an eighth successive win and with Chelsea dropping pts leaves both teams on equal games. The run-in seems more difficult for Utd with Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea to come. See last sentence in 'Chelsea fans' above.Fulham 1 Portsmouth 3Alastair Mann: "[Michael] Brown is going to get sent off....his challenge on Davis....automatic red for a dangerous tackle"
The proverbial football gravy train? No one at Portsmouth are getting off with Harry Redknapp driving. Yesterday they rode through Fulham's lacking defence and played as if they were the home side. An attack in the first minute up the left side found Benjani Mwaruwari on the ball and his cross eluded Wayne Bridge, who made a poor attempt to make it, and Gary O'Neil mis-hit the ball to bounce it over Mark Crossley. Steed Malbranque has turned great form recently and it was his dummy that created space for a 25-yard shot that curled enough to go in off the post. Benjani Mwaruwari collected on the right side and fed a sweet through ball for Lomano LuaLua, who, despite Zat Knight's clumsy attempt to pull him, kept upright and shrugged off enough to score.
In the second half, Fulham upped the pressure and went very close through Collins John, but it was made harder when O'Neil's shot deflected off Philippe Christanval over Crossley for Portsmouth's third. To compound Fulham's fall, Brown dives in on former cottage boy Sean Davis with what would describe as one of the few horrific two-footed lunges I've ever seen. Had Davis' leg not rolled with it, his studs caught on the grass or was trapped for another reason, it would have been broken. What in good sensed mentality possessed Brown to produce such conduct, because it was not a tackle, would put it with the mysteries of the universe in the category 'Questions of considerably immense analysis'.
Portsmouth had some fortune, I refer to John above with Dean Kiely to beat, Heidur Helguson came on John and cut inside Andy O'Brien to meet a through ball, only to be off-balance and aim high. Then with Kiely coming out to the edge of the box and failing to gather a shot, the Icelander picked it up, pushed past Kiely and seemed locked on to score, but for O'Brien's last-gasp intervention.Fulham fans:
I suspect Fulham need to reconstruct the central defence, while Volz is sufficient, Bridge is likely to return to the Bridge. Otherwise, with Malbranque, John, McBride, Radzinski, Boa Morte, Helguson, Pembridge, Papa Dioup, you could add a central midfielder too and be sharper in the league. Warner is key in goal as I feel Niemi and Crossley are going to be surplus in a couple of years.Portsmouth fans:
Early days with three consecutive wins, but the revival is feeling strong and home games are an advantage numerically over the other relegation-threatened sides. A consistent run kept up and no injuries can certainly prove Harry is better than Houdini.West Bromwich Albion 0 Liverpool 2John Motson: "This is becoming a one-man show, and that's not the [West Brom] goalkeeper I'm talking about, it's Djibril Cisse."
Having the advantage of seeing Man Utd play first showed Liverpool the chase continues and nothing less than three points would do at The Hawthorns. The home side thought likewise after Pompey's away win and Birmingham's draw. But it was a better start for the away side once Xabi Alonso's through ball evaded Paul Robinson, reached Cisse, who ran on and saw Robbie Fowler free on the left, crossing it for Fowler to score. First there was a question over a possible handball Cisse handball, then Cisse was possibly offside, then Fowler's position was questioned. However, none of those points concerned ref nor linesman. Liverpool's second goal came from an Alonso ball over all, for Cisse to run onto, round Tomasz Kuszczak and score.
It wasn't all Liverpool's way, Diomansy Kamara had an effort gathered by Pepe Reina, West Brom worked Jonathan Greening into good positions but two efforts from him missed the target, Zoltan Gera broke down the right and curled just away from goal, as Liverpool seemed to take their foot off the pedal. Cisse could have added a third when latching onto another through ball from Jamie Carragher, only for the Polish keeper to impressively block the shot. Mohamed Sissoko survived a handball claim that Uriah Rennie saw as more likely an Andy Johnson push on the Mail man.West Brom fans:
A setback, but from the games against particularly Chelsea, Man Utd and yesterday they have the edge to fight to come back in the game. It's the kind of spirit that would emulate last season's grit that kept them up, and it's a stern test of a run-in in the remaining games with Arsenal, West Ham, Newcastle and Everton among the opponents.Liverpool fans:
Good response without Gerrard to add to that last week and keeps us going to consolidate at least third place. The timing seems adequate enough, for I'd prefer Gerrard to miss this game and be ready for Bolton's visit. Importantly is the team effort, for it's not the same ones who shine, more are coming forward with positiveness. Alonso commandeered, Sissoko enforced well, and with Cisse, Fowler, Morientes and Crouch we have a forward line that can be devastating. Fowler could make way for another striker in pre-season.Newcastle United 3 Tottenham Hotspur 1Guy Mowbray: "And Jermaine Jenas with a chance...and he will score, surely......Oh my word!! Oh dear, oh dear! Well, he knew he would have a difficult day....for difficult, now read miserable."[After another Dawson foul on Alan Shearer]: "Now there might be, er, trouble here for Michael Dawson...already booked, it's a second yellow card. Spurs' task has just been made doubly difficult."
Spurs seemed destined for another win with their luck of runs, two tight victories previously against Birmingham and West Brom, as Newcastle faced up to a fifth potential collapse since losing to Man Utd, and now losing Scott Parker to glandular fever for the season. But nothing of the sort happened, as Spurs caught contagious chills instead. Charles N'Zogbia was one I stated before as a player to watch for Newcastle, and his runs and left foot aided the cause again, combining with Shearer and Nolberto Solano to sprint down the left and cut back for the equally sprinting Lee Bowyer to score. It's the best I've seen from Bowyer for Newcastle.
Spurs replied when Aaron Lennon showed more jinks near goal to cross for the solid Robbie Keane to head the equaliser. Keane's form additional with Ahmed Mido's form and height, it's little wonder Jermaine Defoe is on the bench. But Spurs gave in again when Solano's shot was parried by Paul Robinson, and Shola Ameobi tucked away the rebound. Matters worsened when Edgar Davids, of all midfielders, showed he was having a task keeping with the ever-running Bowyer, as Solano crossed into the box. The ball came nearer them but Davids shoved Bowyer and gave away the penalty, coolly slotted by none other than the captain.
After Keane had hit the post before half-time, Jenas went further and appeased the home fans as much as he agonised the away ones. After a corner, Spurs went on the counter through home-born Michael Carrick's run, Jenas sprinting through the middle. Carrick's ball was overhit, Robbie Elliott mis-headed terribly into Jenas' path and, despite Bowyer's desperate tackle from behind and Shay Given coming out, Jenas evaded both with the open goal in plain sight and Keane glaringly free to his far right. He ended up inexplicably missing both, the home supporters booing his every touch after his choice words on leaving Newcastle, now cheered as Jeans missed in front of his former fans.
To compound Spurs' effort, Dawson pulled on Shearer as a high ball bounced over them, it was his second bookable one on Shearer and he was dismissed. I wonder if Ledley King's supervision was the reason why Spurs didn't have that solidified look.Newcastle fans:
A good answer against a top team after four defeats. There is pride and passion to play for, and the fans respect that much with little else to play for. That and the fact this is Shearer's last season.Spurs' fans:
The stability not displayed yesterday could be said to have been lacking against West Brom, leading to the opening goal then. Without King, the coordination of central defence went awry, possibly leading to Dawson's dismissal, in similar fashion to that against Fulham. Keane is to start but Martin Jol may need to have Mido and Defoe on from the start as well in a revitalising new angle to spearhead their campaign to remain in Champions League position.Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0John Roder: "[Arsenal] have been so much in command in this match, Villa have been given a footballing lesson at Highbury. What now for David O'Leary?"
I started this article with 'Goodness', I need another superlative for this match. From the scoreline, it's impressive. From the host team, it understandably looks impressive. From the goals, it was mesmerising. The goals, two of which were sublime and inevitably came from the feet of Thierry Henry. He made the first, running onto yet another through ball, Thomas Sorensen came out and palmed it away, Henry turned and chipped it towards goal, it was headed away poorly by Aaron Hughes, Emmanuel Adebayor headed it back towards goal, it came off the crossbar, off Hughes, into the net. Then Henry's sublime first, Arsenal's second, came with a overhead ball from Jose Antonio Reyes, Henry reacted as usual the fastest, controlled it sweetly with a mid-air jump, then his second touch lobbed it over the advancing Sorensen.
In the second half, the two Emmanuels', Eboue and Adebayor, combined for another sublime goal. Eboue's long ball chased Adebayor and he back-heeled it to Henry as the Frenchman pulled back from attack. Henry collected, aimed and sent a dipping ball over Sorensen for no.3. It was thought Arsenal would miss Lauren, but Eboue is yet another great find by Arsene Wenger. Nuff said. Robin Van Persie came on for Henry and scored himself, chasing a Robert Pires ball down the right, tipped past Sorensen, tight angle, he then swapped the ball from left foot to right, back onto his left, shot and scored. Adebayor then dazzled Hughes to send a ball over to Vasiriki Abou Diaby to touch past the probably now despairing Sorensen.Arsenal fans:
A much revival of fortunes, very much in time for Champions League aspirations and the push for a Champions League place, particularly with a game in hand on Spurs and their defeat to Newcastle. Concern in Eboue out and potentially Fabregas for the visit to Turin, potentially Djourou will move Toure to right-back, and a stern 0-0 at the least will see the Gunners through. RVP looks raw again.Aston Villa fans:
Well, to face Arsenal in their current form and confidence, with only a point from four games now since their Portsmouth win, 10pts out of last 36, you need to reshape defensively. The midfield is good with McCann, Hendrie, Barry and Steven Davis but Wilfred Bouma is out of position on the wide. I said O'Leary is nearing the sack with recent results and this could be the straw, for a change in management could be key to changing Aston Villa. Henry is difficult for most teams, but yesterday he managed to step back from play and be free for chances with embarrassing ease.Everton 2 Sunderland 2Tony Gubba: "Well, he's a hero once, Rory Delap, with that headed equaliser, but my goodness me, they'd have given him the freedom of Sunderland if that had gone in."
Gone, gone....no, not yet going. With West Brom winning against Liverpool, Sunderland would have been officially relegated. I wonder what went through their minds when Gary Naysmith crossed on the left, James Beattie mis-hit it back, it missed Simon Davies but was touched by Leon Osman for the opener. But nothing seemed to effect Sunderland after, as John Stead shot an effort that was saved away by Richard Wright for a corner, taken by Grant Leadbitter, headed on by Chris Brown, touched in from yards by Stead, his first for 1,383mins, according to Mr Gubba. I'm led to believe on decent authority (my own recall and research!!) that it was Stead's first since April 30th 2005, when he scored in a 4-1 loss to Birmingham City at St. Andrews last season in Blackburn Rovers' penultimate game.
However, relief was short-lived when Phil Neville's throw reached James McFadden and he turned his marker well to score. Tim Cahill and McFadden had chances to extend their lead but they failed to make sufficient use of their opportunities. Sunderland did not. Dean Whitehead came down the right and crossed deep for Rory Delap to head in the equaliser, then the Irishman ran on to fire a shot that just missed it's target, something that could have produced a shock win.Everton fans:
Moyes rues not taking advantage last week against 10-men Liverpool and in holding Sunderland until the 80th minute, but the last time they lost and draw was to Newcastle and West Ham respectively, then wins followed against Fulham and Aston Villa. Their next games are away to Charlton and home to Spurs.Sunderland fans:
Like Birmingham, this was a good point against an in-form side, particularly at Goodison Park. Kevin Ball should push for a repeat in the remaining six games. The results maybe academic against the likes of Man Utd and Arsenal, a derby against Newcastle, and a relegation-battler with Portsmouth, but the fight would be monumental to the fans. The Championship may beckon even more, but West Brom's defeat should now give more impetus and inspiration.
Mark Lawrenson stated John Stead went 1,399mins without a goal before yesterday. Commentary stated 1,383. Also the Premiership table at the end of Match Of The Day showed Liverpool level on games with Chelsea and Man Utd with thirty-two, and eight points behind Man Utd. I'm not sure about Stead's statistics (apart from what I detailed above), but the table mistake shows that the best of us can make mistakes. To those who insist EFT is 'elite', as in 100% flawless! We do our best.