Monday, September 17, 2007

Premeirship Weekend Review

We are going to start this week with another excellent and comprehensive look at the weekend that was in the Premiership with my good friend Matt. In this column he explores the idea of the “good” draw and the “bad” draw, and also asks if Rafa really has the Premiership title in mind, or if his eyes are again turned towards Europe.

Also, this week marks the start of the group stages of the Champion’s league, and we will spend much of the rest of the week previewing and then reviewing the start of the most entertaining club competition in the world. Now, onto Matt…


A few weeks back, Liverpool played Chelsea at Anfield, and what should have been a win for the Scousers ended as a draw when Chelsea were awarded a dubious penalty on a non-existent foul in the box, and which Frank "I ate all the pies" Lampard slotted home for the 1-1 draw. At the time, Liverpool were furious, and Mourinho couldn't comment because he didn't have the opportunity to see a video replay. Despite most pundits calling for replay to be introduced to fix these poor referee decisions, most also agreed that these calls and decisions even themselves out over the course of the season. That statement bore fruition this weekend, when a perfectly good goal by Salomon Kalou was disallowed because of a mistaken offside decision by the ref. As a result, Chelsea were left feeling blue as their game with Blackburn ended nil-nil. Not that I'm complaining.

Chelsea's style of play usually puts me to sleep, although I must say they did attack the goal quite a lot, and were stopped from scoring by a combination of good goalkeeping from Brad Friedel, poor marksmanship from Shevchenko, and the above erroneous call. It was funny to see that Jose Mourinho had a video replay device at hand this time to show the 4th official that they got it wrong on the disallowed goal. It must have been the fact that he was at home that he had the capability to have this device available.

Speaking of Stamford Bridge, I couldn't help to think of the difference between a good draw and a bad one. Here the draw was certainly not bad for Blackburn considering they were on the road, but it was certainly a disaster for Chelsea as they blew 2 points in a game in which they dominated, and to a team that they should beat at home. It was a result that might come to haunt them at the end of the season.

Carrying on the topics of both bad draws and blowing points that may lead to losing the title race, I move to the equally bland 0-0 result between Liverpool and Portsmouth. I guess Liverpool should be thankful that they got the draw after Kanu choked on his penalty shot on what was once again a poor decision by the referee (is anyone noticing a pattern here?). And while it is true that Liverpool got a point on the road at Fratton Park and did so without Kuyt playing or Gerrard and Torres starting, I can't feel that Rafa's boys threw away an additional 2 points against Pompey, and the blame should go to Mr. Benitez. It was his rotation policy that kept their above mentioned best players on the bench to start the game so that they can be fresh for the Champions League game this week against Porto. But Liverpool fans aren't craving Champions League as much as they want to win their first Premiership title, and his decisions should be made with that in mind by putting forth his best team in League matches. If Liverpool fails to win the league, this game will certainly be looked back upon on contributing to the failure.

Which leads me to Man United, and their match at Goodison Park against Everton. For anyone who watched the game, Man U still does not look all that good.

Tevez can't seem to do anything, and they aren't jelling like they did last season. I know they have had their injuries and suspensions, but I just don't think they are going to do it this season, and see it as a transition year of out with the old of Neville, Scholes, and Giggs and allowing players such as Anderson and Nani to grow into their replacements. Be that as it may, Man U did something this weekend that championship teams do; they found a way to win on the road even when they didn't play so well. Everton deserved a draw, but the Red Devils found a way to knick a goal from a Vidic header to get a crucial 3 points in 1-0 victory over the Toffees, and put themselves back in the title race. Liverpool, I hope your paying attention and taking note of this.

Now on to what I thought was the game of the week: the North London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal. Wow. What a fun game to watch, with both all the goals, and the saves. Seriously this game could have ended up 6-5 to Arsenal, but for the great goalkeeping in the first half by Paul Robinson, and the equally poor finishing of Keane, Berbatov, and the 16 MILLION pound man, Darren Bent, in the second half. Instead the result was a 3-1 victory to Arsenal as Robinson came back to earth in the second half. The Spurs took the lead on a beautiful free kick from Gareth Bale, but a strong header from Adebayor, a cracker of a shot from early player of the year candidate Cesc Fabregas, and then a goal of the year candidate once again from Adebayor, gave Arsenal both the win, and sole possession atop the Premiership table. Keep it up Arsenal. Your by far the most entertaining team to watch, and this is coming from a Newcastle fan. As for Martin Jol, I'd get my things packed because me thinks you might be gone before the end of the week. Maybe you should have spent that 16 million on some more defenders. But don't worry, they will be a position waiting for you at Bolton in a few days.

Lastly a quick shout out to Deuce. Once again Clint Dempsey scored a goal, and is quickly becoming both a fan favorite at Craven Cottage and the best current American outfield player in the world (Sorry Landy-Cakes). Unfortunately, Fulham gave up a late equalizer and had to settle for a draw again. I just hope they find a way to win a few games so that this great talent isn't playing in the Football League Championship next season. Then again, if they are, maybe he will be sold to Newcastle and experiencing European football with them in the Champions League.

Don't laugh!! With a win against Derby on Monday, the Magpies will be sitting in the fourth spot and the last Champions League birth. As they say, Fourth is the new First!!!

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