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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Premiership weekend review - 31st Mar - 01st Apr

Title race:

Man Utd 4 Blackburn 1

A game of two halves. Utd went close through a Christiano Ronaldo strike and Wayne Rooney agonisingly failing to make the goal bulge after being mere yards from goal. Utd suffered two setbacks after the half hour mark. Nemanja Vidic landed awkwardly and appears to have dislocated his shoulder, something which is worrying me as an epidemic in the Premiership this season. Secondly, in-form Matt Derbyshire capitalised on a loose ball. Michael Carrick's attempt to cut out Morten Gamst Pedersen's cross diverted the ball towards goal but was stopped by Edwin van der Sar, only to set up for Derbyshire to strike high into the roof of the net.

One goal is never enough at Old Trafford and particularly away against Utd. It takes a strong resolve to keep them out when they come calling for an equaliser. Blackburn seemed to have gone to sleep in the second haf as Utd came at them. Paul Scholes latched onto a loose ball from a panicked Blackburn defence to dance past Ryan Nelsen and Neil Warnock to slot the equaliser. After Rio Ferdinand nearly knocked unconscious a fan while recklessly kicking the ball in frustration, and Ryan Giggs whacked the crossbar from yards, Carrick slotted in no.2. Ronaldo's freekick was too hot for Brad Friedel and Ji-Sung Park touched in the third, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came at the back to slot in the fourth.

Watford 0 Chelsea 1

I count Chelsea as being a tad fortunate to come away from Vicarage Road with three points. They had their chances almost equally to that of Watford, and it was one game they could ill-afford to leave with anything less. The funny thing for me was that which may have puzzled most, how Lampard cannot be fit to play on Wednesday but cleared to play for Chelsea. Perhaps Steve McClaren decided, wisely, to rest Lampard and not risk him for the Watford game, which would have frustrated Jose Mourinho because Mourinho wants all his best players available as possible. Chelsea look to count the blessing of a late late goal and Andriy Shevchenko for supplying the great chip for Saloman Kalou to pop up and nod in the winner.

Relegation threat:

Charlton 1 Wigan 0

The proverbial six-pointer. It came down to a penalty decision that some may say was cast-iron, others may see it as soft. The ball is floated in in the second half, Wigan's Fitz Hall challenges Herman Hreidarsson and apears to have impeded him, he goes down, then the loose ball is pounced on by Marcus Bent and Hall then sticks a leg out rashly and the striker goes down. The decision is given for the challenge on Bent. namesake Darren steps up and coolly slots the ball away past the agonising hand of John Filan that almost saved it. Now Charlton are a point behind Sheff Utd, three behind Wigan.

Newcastle 0 Man City 1

Seems that a revival of the senses is occurring with the Manchester Blues. An away win at The Riverside, another North-East away win at St James' Park. The fhome fans may well have booed the home side at the end but I felt they had bad luck in the chances they could not convert. Emile Mpenza had a shot come off the corssbar earlier before Joey Barton then Michael Johnson combined to find Mpenza, who shot across goal to beat Shay Given.

West Ham 2 Middlesbrough 0

Just as Man City have found some fortune in their last two games, so have West Ham. An away win at Ewood Park and a home visit from Boro has brought them six points that keeps them chasing Charlton out of the zone. With Javier Mascherano off to Anfield, Carlos Tevez is the new Teddy Sheringham, the talisman through whom passion, determination, fight and pride surges through for the Hammers. It was his cross that was deflected via two Boro players into the path of Bobby Zamora, who slotted in. Then a high ball was challenged by Tevez and a Boro player and then came off Andrew Taylor, who knew little of it, faling to Tevez to smash into the roof of the net.

Bolton 1 Sheff Utd 0

Bolton are chasing a UEFA place and are in a good position with that objective. Sheff Utd are in need of points for Premiership survival and are in a perilous position in that objective. Going to The Reebok stadium is tough for several sides, Liverpool and Arsenal spring to mind, and it was no picnic for the visitors. So they had Paddy Kenny in great form in goal as Bolton couldn't break through via Nicky Hunt, Kevin Davies and Nicolas Anelka but eventually anelka broke into the box and set up Davies for a shot that eluded Kenny.

3rd - 4th place:

Liverpool 4 Arsenal 1

Both sides had internationals on duty in the week and I wondered if particularly this would take its toil on the Liverpool players. It may have done on Steven Gerrard, who came off quite early in the second half and applied ice to his thigh. Hopefully that is a precaution with the CL game on Tuesday but with Gerrard playing behind the lone striker Peter Crouch, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso were forming superbly in midfield. Peter Crouch was missed due to his broken nose and questions have arisen as to whether he could actually grade with better defenders in front of him. His performance against Spain casted a cloud over his contribution for England and here on EFT he was referred to as "an overrated, static beanpole". On the form he produced yesterday, more than most have doubted Crouch at their loss.

Jermaine Pennant and Alvaro Arbeloa combined well for Pennant to deliver a low cross, to which Crouch beat Kolo Toure to touch past Jens Lehmann. Next, Crouch was fouled, Alonso took a quick freekick to Fabio Aurelio, and the Brazilian swung over a superb ball for Crouch to get onto and head clear past Lehmann. Emmanuel Adebayor came close with a header over the bar and Julio Baptista shot wide when the Togolese played him in. After Gerrard departed, Pennant was fouled and it was Aurelio again who delivered the freekick for Daniel Agger to glance a header in. Adebayor headed a good header on target but for the outstretched fingertips of Pepe Reina but Arsenal gained a corner from which Aleksander Hleb delivered, Toure nodded on and as Reina's tips got to the ball, Gallas guided the ball in.

Eighteen minutes remaining was enough for a comeback, bearing in mind how the Gunners came back against Man Utd at home, but then Crouch was brought into play again after the ball was played to him. He controlled with his right, skilled it across to his left and shot past Lehmann. It was an overdue show from Liverpool, and Crouch, and it was one which we now need to repeat seven more times to hopefully secure our place in the top four, and take into next season.

And that leaves.....

Fulham 1 Portsmouth 1

Chris Coleman isn't contemplating relegation fighting. Fulham seem a side that is past worrying about the drop and far more concerned about improving up the table. They have released Steed Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte, two good attacking players, and have had to do without Jimmy Bullard and Antii Niemi for periods. They went behind to a superb Niko Kranjcar curling effort that Niemi knew nothinhg about until it went past him. Yet having made three subs already, Ian Pearce suffered a knock to his foot and was limping through it when the ball came to him in the last minute and his shot deflected into the net past an otherwise unbeatable David James.

Spurs 1 Reading 0

I felt Spurs dominated the game overall and Reading also gave a good account of themselves away from home and at a ground where the hosts are very stubborn. Though Spurs attacked well with promise, it took a somewhat dubious penalty decision to seperate the sides. As Robbie Keane and Greg Halford challenged for the ball in the Reading box, it came up and contact was made with Halford's arm. The referee judged that it was handball with intent and gave the penalty, and I think it was a fair decision. Keane stepped up to score. Spurs was guilty of squandering chance after chance particularly in the second half and it could have paid heavily when Leroy Lita's header came off the crossbar, but Spurs held on.



Anonymous Nturtle said...

Well done on the win Redsman - iverpool had all the ball and all the luck...and Arsenal had players who looked distinctly disinterested and lacking in any fighting spirit..with the excepton of Adebayour who should have had a few goals to his name if not for the post and Reina!

Ah well...what can you do...toothless...and defenseless against the high quality performance from Crouch (sorry to say this...but I don't feel he is good enough for a hatrick like that...but credit taken anyway)!!!

Next season beckons too soon for us at Arsenal!

4/02/2007 11:42 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks Nturtle. I wouldnt say it was down to luck as I felt Crouch had taken his goals well, albeit his first could have been blocked or gone wide and Agger's touch could have gone elsewhere. But I felt he had played well enough to deserve a hat-trick, though one only needs to take their chances well to score three, regardless how they play.


4/02/2007 3:22 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

West Ham will survive, Charlton to go down with Watford and Wigan. You can write one of your stories on that when it happens.

4/03/2007 1:06 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, Arsenal got a right slapping. About time too, all the rubbish they come out with. You're not so good without henry after all, are you??

4/03/2007 1:07 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

HA! I agree Redsman about taking chances...and Arsenal just can't seem to do that this season..just saw that we were knocked out of the Youth Cup by Man U as well...injury time winner (114mins!!)...

Crouch is a handful and it was a bit tongue in cheek to say he didn't deserve a hatrick...but I said...a quality performance!

Uh..thanks anon of 1:07...great comment and we really miss Henry...particularly when we beat Man U without him's not just one player that makes the difference...what about missing Van Persie, Gilberto as well? What about the poor form in general of the players and lack of gusto? Of the defensive naievety? It's not down only to Henry for sure. Be a bit more creative when you criticise next time.

4/03/2007 4:53 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Hey, Nturtle, guess who the Man U youngsters are meeting in that final?...Liverpool. I thought you was pulling my chain about Crouch! Just wish he could deliver that kind of performance regularly.

Anon (1.07AM), my piece on Henry is that he is indeed a talisman for the Gunners and is missed very much, however Arsenal are well equipped with others who can almost equally score with, if not regularity, precision. They didnt appear at the races, so to speak, on Saturday but there are more matches to go without Henry and there is that battle to remain in 3rd/4th place for both Liverpool and Arsenal.

West Ham are in a fight of their own and the Hammers need those three points like a lifesaver, so that match on Saturday could be a very testing one for both sides. I pick up you are a Hammers fan, Anon, why you may implore the Gunners will be less without Henry.


4/03/2007 5:16 pm

Blogger Manish said...

Pretty annoying really, Arsenal's performance. After our 3 consecutive defeats (FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League), I think Arsenal just don't give a damn anymore. All they want to do is win a few, draw the rest and somehow end up fourth or with some luck, third.

We let in four goals - even with the best defence we have (though not with complete match fitness or practice). Toure and Clichy are always good, but the others looked sincerely disinterested. As for up front, where do I even begin. Baptista can book his ticket to Spain (one way, no one wants him in the Premier League except Portsmouth; they love all Arsenal players).

Arsenal have to find something to fight about, something to go into next season in winning form. We Gunners only have so much patience, trophy-less seasons don't help the cause.

We let you lousy scousers win this one - don't forget we've beaten you 3-0, 3-1, 6-3 already.


4/03/2007 8:24 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You stupid twat. Yeah, you won those three and where did it get ya?? So we out the FA Cup, won that last year, so we out the League Cup, get another chance next year and the year after that and the year after that. So what? You beat us 3-0 at the Higherates, so what? We beat you 4-1, so what? Sour bloody grapes man, ghet over it and stop blaming elsewhere other than your own players and your manager, thats why you lot are wankers and not liked. Like Spurs much more than you lot they dont moan when they get shown the door. Stupid Mommys boy dotn get your lollipop when you want it, go ask Mr Wenger why not twat and leave others alone always about Manure Chelski or the pool. Go in the bighead league where you have only one game all seasosn with yourselves.

4/04/2007 12:13 pm

Blogger T said...

Great review Redsman, and like Nturtle let me offer on EFT my congrats to your team. You were definitly deserved winners on the day... but on aggregate this season we come out 13-8 winners!! :)

No need to analyse the Arsenal performance. Mentally we were clearly not there as required- and as Wenger said after the match some of the players may have felt there is nothing left to play for this season and thus our mental level had lost the edge required for a big encounter. Wenger then said our players need to think again: 4th place is not guaranteed. I tend to agree with Wenger, while on the whole we are in a comfortable position re fourth place we still have big games to come against Bolton and Spurs and if we don't mentally turn up for these games the picture will change.

I think our players have had their wake-up call and we will see a properly focused Arsenal in the up-coming games.

I will also want to add that the game against Liverpool and the injuries we have up front cried out for us to revert to the 4-5-1 system that was successful on the road at Man Utd, Chelsea and away in Europe last season. I wonder why Wenger has totally abandoned it?

A note for Charlton and Alan Pardew- full credit to them for clawing their way to another vital win. Pardew is demonstrating a lot of coaching and managerial ability- just as he did last season at West Ham and before that at Reading. As I've said before- this is a manager to watch.

4/06/2007 9:59 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks, T, though 'Manish' above has already reminded us of the aggregate scores from Liverpool - Arsenal encounters this season. Seeing the provocative response drawn from thatcomment, I would have not repeated it, suffice to say Liverpool fans do not have a lack of memory!!


4/06/2007 2:29 pm

Blogger T said...

All in jest my esteemed EFT colleague...! :)

4/06/2007 4:10 pm


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