Jol and Lee increasingly edge the plank
Spurs 1 Arsenal 3
Martin Jol has found his position as coach under such scrutiny and pressure that he is now one result from a dismissal. He is not the only one, however that is scant consolation after yesterday's derby defeat in his own garden. What could be are the next four fixtures scattered around the following fortnight. Thursday is UEFA Cup, Sunday is away to Bolton, facing another manager with a perilous position, then Wednesday is the Carling Cup with Middlesbrough at home and so to is their next league game with Aston Villa on Monday.
Spurs' defending was woeful where they were opened up by the spread of Arsenal's passing, Arsenal looked more the comfortable home side. Spurs opened the scoring through Gareth Bale's curling freekick that Manuel Almunia should have gotten to better but probably saw late. Arsenal almost answered immediately as Emmanuel Adebayor stole ahead of Michael Dawson to force Paul Robinson into a save, one of a few the England stopper had to do against the Togolese forward. Good news for England.
But Spurs were undone when a Cesc Fabregas freekick curled for Adebayor to head in, aided by Robinson coming out and totally getting nowhere near the ball. Worrying for England. Dimitar Berbatov had a great chance to make it 2-0 before then when a superb through ball found him with Kolo Toure alone, the Bulgarian rounding the advancing Almunia but choosing to go further and try the same with the Arsenal captain and instead getting stopped.
Arsenal took the lead with Robin Van Persie and Alexander Hleb combining to slot in Fabregas, who went on to hit a strike from 20-25 yards past Robinson, reminiscent to the Christian Pander goal for Germany. Berbatov almost equalised from a corner as his header came off Gael Clichy on the post and a second header went over. But Arsenal wrapped up a miserable afternoon for the home side as Fabregas, again, found Adebayor, who tipped then struck a volley past Robinson which is going to be up there for goal of the month.
For me the purchase of Darren Bent has so far shown that despite the headlines, spending money does not necessarily get you your dividends. Bent, Robbie Keane, Berbatov and Jermaine Defoe are renowned scorers yet they are not engaging teams at the front, meaning that the midfield and defence are engaged and if either of those tiers are weak, they will leak goals. Dawson and Younes Kaboul were non-existent. Bent missed a sitter of a chance when put through similarly to Berbatov earlier, his effort scuffed diagonally across goal.
Birmingham 1 Bolton 0
Sammy Lee is the other manager who is one defeat away from a dismissal. Bolton cannot carrying on picking up defeats and as nice as Lee is, if he cannot pick up three points, or fails to pick up any in Bolton's next league game, then it's curtains. Ironically that game is away to Spurs. If it is a draw then it's destiny intervening. Olivier Kapo picked up the points for the home side as Sebastian Larsson chipped over a freekick for the former Juventus midfielder to poke the ball towards goal.
Portsmouth 0 Liverpool 0
Rafael Benitez faced criticism for leaving out certain faces from the line-up and the result being Liverpool were not as formidable as before. Despite that, those who featured were still capable enough to earn a win yesterday, particularly with Peter Crouch starting alongside Andriy Voronin. Tony Adams said Liverpool would be happy with a point, which for me shows what he knew about the game. Portsmouth had good chances to score following Alvaro Arbeloa's pull on Nwankwo Kanu in the box which resulted in a penalty, saved by Pepe Reina. John Utaka went well close in the second half with the ball fractionally missing the goal. Voronin almost played in Jermaine Pennant in the first half and missed out on a cross ball by Fernando Torres in the second. Torres was put through on his left by Steven Gerrard but skyed the effort. All in all it was just that not only did both sides draw, but neither conceded, contrary to Adam's comment.
Everton 0 Man Utd 1
The visitors seemed lively from the start with Everton looking less lively than before. Interestingly Paul Scholes was booked for dissent in fisting the ball away and could have seen red when he went in to tackle Mikel Arteta. But other than that it was a quiet affair between the two until seven minutes from time when Nani's corner was headed in superbly by Nemanja Vidic, who has some technique when it comes to corners. As Alan Hansen pointed out well on Match Of The Day, Andy Johnson got ahead of Christiano Ronaldo and away from his marker Ryan Giggs to head on a corner that was goalbound except for Scholes' clearance. Vidic got away from his marker Joseph Yobo and ahead of Tony Hibbert to head in the winning goal. A lesson for defending corners no doubt.
Chelsea 0 Blackburn 0
With no Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, and Claudio Pizarro, Chelsea brought in Andriy Shevchenko upfront and the Ukrainian almost scored when put through by Joe Cole but for his two touches that gave Brad Friedel time to smother his danger. Chelsea scored in the second half when Juliano Belletti cut across the box for Salomon Kalou to tap in, only to have it disallowed for offside. Jose Mourinho and the Chelsea bench were furious with the decision, which seemed to me to be just right, although on MOTD they used a technical line for before the move but not so for the actual offending positioning, which made it all the more inconclusive.
West Ham 3 Middlesbrough 0
Alan Curbishley finally enjoyed a thorough home win as West Ham went wild in the second half. Lee Bowyer latched onto a Carlton Cole pass to touch in the ball just after the kick-off. Cole was on hand to pressure Luke Young into intervening a pass which inadvertently put the ball past Mark Schwarzer and Dean Ashton got on the end of a Matthew Etherington cross to make it three. West Ham are now fifth in the table, amazing what one big win does for league positioning. Dean Ashton thinks he could do what Emile Heskey did for England recently, I beg to differ. Some of the home fans were allegedly booing Cole in the first half. Can anyone tell me why? Maybe it sparked him into life to contributed to the first two goals but how does a player feel if even his home fans boo and jeer him?
Sunderland 2 Reading 1
After a fitting tribute to the passing of Ian Porterfield, who scored in the FA Cup final against Leeds in 1973 to victory, who died on Tuesday. The very team-mates from that final gathered in the centre circle and applauded with the whole ground as the commentary from that final was played out along the speakers. The scoreboard displayed the result. As all appreciated one goal hero, another could be in the making for Sunderland. Kenwyne Jones featured for the first time since signing from Southampton and he came up with the first goal, receiving a pass from Grant Leadbitter, tipping it to his left and then striking it low past Marcus Hahnemann.
Jones could have had a hat-trick in the first half, heading wide a Danny Collins cross and then heading another down and over the bar. He did get to the byline to cut back across goal, Michael Chopra missing and do did two Reading defenders, leaving Ross Wallace to come in and slot home for number two. Reading decided to rally and their pressure paid off as a Nicky Shorey freekick was nodded in by Dave Kitson.
Wigan 1 Fulham 1
Heskey was in the limelight after his good showing for England, only to go off in the first ten minutes with what could be a broken foot bone. Maybe following Wayne Rooney's broken foot football will have to investigate whether it is the ground, the training or the boots worn that contribute to broken bone injuries, the main occurrence being the metatarsal injuries. However Fulham got on with proceedings as a slight scramble in the box found Clint Dempsey who was yards from goal to slot in the opener. Wigan equalised as Mario Melchiot ran into the box and was upended by Hameur Bouazza, Jason Koumas slotting the spot-kick.