Just because football season is over, doesn’t mean I won’t be covering the OTHER football….the one where you kick the ball with your foot!
There is not a whole lot to talk about for over half of the Premier League games, because out of 9 played over the weekend I’m sure 4 of them would’ve cured insomnia. The other 5 though do carry some significance in the Barclays Premier League title race and relegation fight.
Manchester United 2 Blackburn 1: This was probably not a well-deserved victory for the champions and current league-leaders. Roque Santa Cruz canceled out Wayne Rooney’s opening goal in the 23rd minute, with a 32nd minute goal of his own. It ended United’s 22 hour run of not conceding a single goal in the Premier League, a new record. Horrible defending in their own half led to a giveaway (Nani and Paul Scholes, well done), Santa Cruz was fed the ball through, rounding goalkeeper Tomasz Kusczak and hitting the back of the net. Blackburn nearly took the lead in the 2nd half when Ryan Nelsen struck the post, and El-Hadj Diouf’s follow up shot was saved. Moments later, Cristiano Ronaldo’s glorious free kick provided the winner. The win meant United’s lead at the Premier League table was stretched to 8 points over rivals Liverpool, who had a chance to close that gap to 5 the next day.
Liverpool 1 Manchester City 1: Well they couldn’t. It was the 6th home draw for Rafa Benitez’s Reds and 2 crucial points dropped to the Citizens. Despite kamikaze defending from City, it was Craig Bellamy who scored against his old club on a deflected shot in the 2nd half. It was later marked an own goal by Alvaro Arbeloa, and the Reds were in danger of losing their first home game of the season at the worst possible time. Instead, they were given a luck goal off a Fernando Torres mishit, which Dirk Kuyt collected and equalized. They had chances to win it at the end but City goalkeeper Shay Given was up to the task, and held on for a point. Liverpool are now 7 points behind Man United after leading the league for much of the season. One has to wonder if Rafa Benitez’s job is on the line with his lack of success in England, only having an FA Cup trophy to his name. You can’t just bring in talent at the striker position then decide to play conservative football as if you’re the Spanish version of Mike Holmgren! It’s time for a change on Merseyside, but wait until AFTER Manchester United win the title!
Chelsea 1 Aston Villa 0: The 13 game unbeaten run in the Premier League for Aston Villa, a club record, stopped at home to Chelsea under new manager Guus Hiddink. Nicolas Anelka scored the only goal in the 19th minute, and it was Aston Villa that had the better of the chances the rest of the way. Ashley Young’s stunning free kick hit the crossbar, and Petr Cech stopped anything that Villa threw at him. They were unlucky to come away with no points because they really outplayed Chelsea in many parts of the game, but they drop to 4th while Chelsea get off to a winning start under their temporary manager and move to 3rd.
Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0: Arsenal haven’t scored a goal in the league this month. Andrei Arshavin, their new star, was probably their only scoring threat in this match, and came away with their 3rd successive draw. Sunderland were keen on defending, and got the result they wanted. Arsenal sit in 5th place, 6 points off the pace of the final UEFA Champions League spot occupied by Aston Villa. Did anyone expect Arsenal to be playing in the UEFA Europa League instead of the Champions League? I didn’t, and they clearly miss Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Cesc Fabregas.
Fulham 2 West Bromwich Albion 0: Fulham probably should’ve won this game 7-0. They hit the crossbar three times and the post twice, and West Brom’s Scott Carson made some spectacular saves in front of the watching England manager Fabio Capello. However, Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson broke through in the 2nd half to complete a much deserved win for the surprising Fulham side, who now sit in 8th. West Brom were just awful throughout the match, missed a penalty kick towards the end of the match, and are dead last in the standings. Relegation is looking more and more likely for a side that hasn’t won since December.
Newcastle 0 Everton 0: A horrible display of football means I was right in skipping this game. Newcastle did play with 10 men for over half of the match, after Kevin Nolan made a horrible challenge on Everton’s Victor Anichebe. The result was a straight red card and he was off. While Anichebe wasn’t seriously injured, their star midfielder Mikel Arteta was. He is now out for the season with a knee injury suffered after he landed awkwardly on the ground. Everton are in 6th place, still with an outside shot of landing a UEFA Europa League spot. Losing Arteta though really dents their chances.
Middlesbrough 0 Wigan 0: There was NOTHING exciting from this game. Wigan are in 7th, Middlesbrough are in the relegation zone in 19th position.
Bolton 2 West Ham 1: You can’t just give up 2 early goals in rapid succession and expect to win. That’s what West Ham did, and never climbed out of the hole.
Stoke 2 Portsmouth 2: The first 70 minutes provided some dreadful football and pathetic attacking play. The last 20 minutes featured all of the goals and excitement! Niko Kranjcar broke the deadlock for visiting Pompey in a crucial relegation battle, only to see them behind 5 minutes later. First, an erroneously called penalty on Glen Johnson for a handball in the penalty area led to James Beattie’s goal from the spot. Second, Beattie deflecting what looked like a shot from a fellow teammate into the net just 2 minutes later. Portsmouth were seeing their world fall apart, but an OWN GOAL by Ryan Shawcross in an attempt to clear a shot by Herman Hreidarsson (which was already going wide) meant the two sides had to share the spoils. Both of them are currently just above the relegation zone, which is made up of Blackburn, Middlesbrough, and West Brom.
Hull City play Tottenham later today.
Just a quick mention, this is post #1000 for this blog. Rejoice!