First one of mine for the year and it was an entertaining weekend, more or less. Three dismissals, one which was a substitution that lasted for mere seconds and a bad injury.Man City 0 v Blackburn 3
Having had Joey Barton speculated to be an interest for Everton, and Micah Richards, speculated to be an interest for Chelsea, both declare their intentions to stay at Eastlands as the club is going somewhere, this result is a slap on the face. Barton was suspended and comments he made in regard to the central midfield area for England have rubbed a couple of shoulders the wrong way, coming amongst opinion Barton could be considered for the Spain friendly. Richards is possibly another contender for selection but yesterday made little to enhance that. Morten Gamst Pedersen headed in well from Richards' area and deposited a curling freekick to notch his brace. New kid Matt Derbyshire came on and wriggled Stephen Jordan this way and that to gain a closer approach to Nicky Weaver and beat the keeper at his near post. Blackburn defender Andre Ooijer had his left leg fibula broken and angle ligament damage as Bernado Corradi fell onto his ankle. I imagine the break occurred near the ankle and therefore could heal quicker than the usual break further up the bone. All the best to the Dutchman.Reading 3 v Sheff Utd 1
An old Championship clash and the home side appeared more alive and more cunning than their guests to relinquish three points. Steve Sidwell ran on and had his cross cleared but deflect off him to Shane Long to poked ahead to score. Ulises de la Cruz went on a run from left-back across the pitch, the ball was dispossessed but came to James Harper who found de la Cruz still running and found him, the Ecuadorian using his right to slot in. Keith Gillespie came on and seconds later got into a set-to with Hunt and then stuck out an elbow to Hunt's face. Mark Halsey was debriefed by the linesman and Gillespie was off. I'm certain it took longer to put his kit on. Gillespie then came to Hunt to shove an elbow onto his chest before Phil Jagielka ushered him off. Neil Warnock was incensed but kept reserve, gesturing with a raised foot coming down to indicate Sidwell's tackle earlier on Chris Armstrong deserved equal sanction. Reading first-team coach Wally Downes took offensive at the gesture as an interpretation for someone to go in hard on Hunt in retaliation, and came over to shove Warnock, who didn't retaliate.
An immediate melee ensued from both benches, resulting in Downes and Warnock being dismissed from the benches. It was a bad gesture regardless of it's intention. Hunt then added a third by touching back the ball into the net after Sidwell had his effort on goal blocked. Christian Node scored a consolation from a delivered freekick that had Reading running out but failing to implement the offside trap properly.Fulham 1 v Spurs 1
Fulham for me have been the draw specialists, 11 of them in the league if I remember correctly and the most memorable one was Vicarage Road, Watford leading 2-0 and ended 3-3. As the home side greeted Steed Malbranque with boos upon his everyt ouch, the Frenchman went on the run down the left flank past two players until Heidur Helguson upended him. The Icelander was rightly booked but he received a second for coming over from the side to challenge Tom Huddlestone with studs showing, although it appeared a challenge to block the ball rather than anything malicious. So down to 10-men, Fulham earned a penalty as Brian McBride aimed a shot at goal that was blocked by Matt Dawson. Replays showed the defender influenced the touch with his right side, the ball coming off the arm, so the defender was booked and new face Vincenzo Montella took the kick for 1-0. Spurs turned the pressure on Fulham for the equaliser, with six minutes remaining. A delivered freekick was not dealt with properly and came to Pascal Chimbonda, who controlled and squirmed a right foot effort that Jan Lastuvka could only parry in.Liverpool 2 v Chelsea 0
Much has been mentioned in regard to how it is Chelsea have leaked goals more openly than before, with opinion swaying towards the absence of John Terry. Nonetheless the main thing was they were not losing, as comforting to the Chelsea fans as that can be, but to the club they want more. Alongside Terry, Ricardo Carvalho has been impressive. Without Terry he has to lead and whoever it is who has come into Carvalho's space has struggled to match Carvalho. Yesterday Chelsea had to do without Carvalho, taken ill Friday night, and had to assemble a back four out of two central midfielders and a right back in a central role. My colleague T estimated Liverpool would use Peter Crouch's aerial advantage to put pressure on Carvalho and leave either Craig Bellamy or Dirk Kuyt to work on perhaps a nervy central defender. Michael Essien partnered Paulo Ferreira in the middle and I wouldn't call them nervy, just unorganised.
Two goals in the first twenty minutes. Jamie Carragher launches a ball to Crouch, who added the slightest of touches which found Ferreira slow to react, allowing Kuyt to capitalise with chest controll and slotting past a headgear protected Petr Cech. The second came via a Steven Gerrard ball into the box aimed for Crouch but cleared by Essien to Jermaine Pennant. Pennant controlled and then teed up a volleyover Cech, not an easy feat over a 6ft 5in keeper. John Arne Riise was at left wing with Fabio Aurelio at left back, so the Norweigan was allowed closer rein to ran at Chelsea, which he did with some aplomb, cracking a 40-yard effort off the crossbar.Newcastle 2 v West Ham 2
West Ham for their woes started the brighter with two goals from Carlton Cole and Marlon Harewood. Newcastle failed to clear a Yossi Benayoun corner and allowed Calum Davenport to head across to Cole. Harewood then turned on Peter Ramage to run on and slot in number two, West Ham looking in cruise control. However James Milner gathered on the right and aimed a shot that found Scott Parker in an offside position, the skipper allowing the ball to go through his legs and past Roy Carroll. It was arguable that Parker took advantage by impeding the line of vision of the keeper and therefore was clearly offside, and the linesman had flagged at the time but ref Uriah Rennie disagreed and allowed the goal.
My opinion is the decision is a tight one. Parker is not interfering with play but did he impede Carroll's vision? I say Carroll looked on Parker to do something with the ball as it headed in Parker's direction but nonetheless Carroll didn't move. Parker jumped a little and opened his legs. He is in an offside position but not interfering with play and had not impeded the keeper in any way. So say the rules, which I think should simply revert to the original rule of one being in a position regardless if they were not interfering, getting an advantage or making toast. With one pulled back before the break, Luis Boa Morte handled a corner and Nolberto Solano coolly scored from the spot.Portsmouth 0 v Charlton 1
Massive win for Charlton in consideration. It seemed unlikely with Portsmouth at home and the likes of Sol Campbell, new recruit Lauren, Nwankwo Kanu partnered with Andy Cole, and the usuals of Matt Taylor, Pedro Mendes and Sean Davis included. But Charlton were carving out chances while Portsmouth were slow to react. The home fans got behind Charlton new boy Ben Thatcher at every touch, however it was former Pompey player Amdy Faye who stole the credits as he went through to play a one-two with Bryan hughes and scoffed a shot at goal via Campbell's challenge, the ball going up and spinning past David James.Question: Glen Johnson played after having accepted a police fine of £80 for theft from a DIY store with another player in Millwall's Ben May. Why did he do it, out of the two of them, while receiving a footballer's salary?? Would this be a possible indication of debt?Aston Villa 2 v Watford 0
Both sides battled and toiled to score but couldn't, Milan Baros and Hameur Bouazza going the closest. It took a corner and then a Gavin McCann shot to break the deadlock, McCann's shot coming off Malky Malkay then Gavin Mahon past Ben Foster, who simply kept out Villa on his own with some good keepering. Next Danny Shittu was slow to react to the ball going over him and then tumbled to the ground as Gabriel Agbonhalor showed his renowned pace to collect then deposit the ball past Foster late into injury time. The promising Ashley Young was excluded from Adrian Boothroyd's selection, penning a way for him to join Villa for under £10m. A confidant Boothroyd had earlier said Young would be going nowhere and all bids were rejected. A reluctant Boothroyd accepted his player is wanted and therefore desired to leave. Perhaps young may remain at Watofrd until the end of season why the deal eventually goes through.Middlesbrough 5 v Bolton 1
My, my, when the going gets tough at The Riverside, Boro can get going. The last score of this magnitude came at White Hart Lane at the expense of lowly Charlton, not to be expected from a Bolton side vying for a European place. Three Boro goals in under twenty five minutes. A stewart Downing freekick came off Abel Xavier's head, the pst then Gary Speed for the first, the Portguese nearly knocking out one of the management team in celebration (as well as Gareth Southgate); Downing again crossed for Xavier to head a superb effort past Jussi Jaaskelainen and then he went on the run and came inside to strike with his right foot for number three.
A Bolton attack found Kevins' Davies and Nolan combining for the captain to pull one back with a low curling shot, only for Downing to again come inside and cross with the outside of his left foot for Mark Viduka to touch in at the far post. The second half brought one more goal, courtesy of Viduka again. Lee Catterole got the better of Ricardo Gardner with some ease and pulled back for the Australian to slot in his second with six minutes to go. El-Hadji Diouf argued a point with ref Alan Wiley and became the third Premiership dismissal on the afternoon for foul and abusive language.RedsMan.