Monday, September 24, 2007

Premiership Review

After a very exciting weekend of games, we have my friend Matt's typically excellent summary of weekend action in the Premiership. See below for his thoughts on who already has the league wrapped up in a bow and also what Sammy Lee can do for work after he gets the sack.

Readers of the blog will know I am not as careful a follower of the EPL as Matt; I try to distribute my game watchin' between England, Italy and Spain. I did watch a bunch of Premiership games this weekend, however, and I must say I was entertained by a number of them. Three games in particular were wildly different in style, but I found all three to be great:

1). Fulham v. Man City: Any 3-3 draw with that much back-and-forth action is going to be fun to watch. Lots of entertaining players on display as well, including Dempsey, Richards and David Healy. Conventionally, the "best " game of the weekend.

2). Arsenal v. Derby: By any conventional measurement, conversely, a 5-0 drubbing would be a bore, but I have found Arsenal riveting in recent weeks. They play gorgeous football with gorgeous passing. The beautiful game, anyone?

3). Man United v. Chelsea: Essentially a 1-0 game with a lousy penalty scored at the end, the supposed highlight game of the weekend seems to have been a dud. But in fact I enjoyed the game immensely; not for the goal chances created but for the skill on display at virtually every position for both teams on the field. The television announcers correctly noted that it took players some time to sub-in to the games; that is essentially because the ball never went out of bounds. Also, Avarm Grant kind of scares me.

Don't think I'm going soft on the Premiership, however. The best game in Europe this weekend was still probably the Juve-Roma thriller which ended in a 2-2 draw. But that is digression; I do hope you enjoy Matt's excellent Premiership review.


Before I begin this week's review, I wanted to inform the readers why I talk about certain teams. For starters, I'm a Newcastle fan, so despite who they play I will watch the game, and despite how bad of a result, I will usually have something to say on the matter. I then follow other teams that either have a player I like to watch and follow, like Clint Dempsey at Fulham and David Bentley at Blackburn, or who not only have a player I like, but also have a history I'm fascinated with (Steven Gerrard and Liverpool) or love their style of play (Fabregas and Van Persie and the lovely football of Arsenal). Besides that I tend to watch and comment on the big games of the weekend, which usually feature the big 4 or teams that believe they should be in the big 4. So you most likely won't see me writing about the likes of Wigan, Derby, Reading, Bolton, Portsmouth, or Birmingham unless they involve the teams above. With that in mind, here is my weekend review.

I start with the best team right now in the Premier League, who also have the current best player in the League: Arsenal and Cesc Fabregas. I know it is still early in the year, but both are my current choice for champions of the league and player of the year. While the chances of Arsenal winning the Premier League will be discussed further in a little bit, I wanted to begin discussing the amazing talent of one Mr.

Fabregas. In a word WOW!!! This 20 year old is simple amazing, and is quickly making Arsenal fans forget about the departure of Thierry Henry. Now some may say I'm a bit biased based on my previously mentioned feelings on the player, but it can't be debated how well his form has been lately. This is a player that his manager, Arsene Wenger, this week compared to the great Michel Platini, which is quiet a complement, and hopefully that rings true for both fans of Arsenal and Spain. The past couple of years, Fabregas has reminded me of Cristiano Ronaldo, prior to Ronaldo's season last year and minus the latter’s penchant for diving. Fabregas has always had pin point passing, but the thing that was missing was his finishing, much like Ronaldo prior to last season.

However this has clearly been cured with Cesc seeming to score in every game he plays, and usually with some amazing shots. He was at it again this weekend, when Arsenal demolished Derby 5-0 (that's what you get Derby when you beat my beloved Newcastle). While Adebayor led the way with a hat trick, and Diaby had a beautiful goal to get the route started, it was once again Fabregas tearing apart the Derby defense with his pin point killer passing from midfield. Arsenal looked like champions, and did so while playing entertaining football. Also the continued success of Gael Clichy at left back has made Arsenal fans forget about Cashley Cole. The only thing I see stopping Arsenal to the title is some shady defense by Phillipe Senderos and not so strong goal keeping by Manuel Almunia, but that should be taken care of when William Gallas returns from injury and Jens Lehmann get his game back on if not from the January transfer window (maybe they will get out of favor goal keeper Shay Given from Newcastle).

Now I know that before the season began I predicted Liverpool to win the league, but at that time I thought Rafa Benitez had decided to given up on his rotational system and focus on winning the league title. I couldn't have been more wrong. Picking up a topic from last week, Liverpool dropped two points again, this time at home to lowly Birmingham.

BIRMINGHAM!!! AT ANFIELD!!! Not only did they drop two points, they couldn't even score a goal in a very poor and boring 0-0 score line. How could this be?? Well look no further than the gaffer, who decided to start Kuyt with Voronin, while leaving the 27 million pound summer transfer hit-man Fernando Torres on the bench. Didn't Benitez learn anything from last week's nil nil result at Pompey, when the star striker started the game on the bench there as well. Why spend all that money on a striker if you aren't going to start him? You can't tell me that his was resting him for the "big" league cup draw this week with Reading. As I mentioned last week, it doesn't appear that Rafa is focusing on winning the title, and I don't think it will be long before the Kop end start chanting that he be sacked. Furthermore, if his plan was to get the ball into the box by playing wide, why did he wait till the 80 minute before putting Peter Crouch in who would be his best target man?? What is this gaffer thinking?

One further note from the game is that Steven Gerrard was given man of the match. For what??? I love Gerrard, he is one of my favorite players, and god knows he tries hard and wanted to win the match badly, but he played poorly. There simply didn't deserve to be a man of the match in this lackluster display by Liverpool.

Then after these 2 games, I checked on the best American playing soccer right now. Mr. Clint Dempsey.

Unfortunately the team he plays for isn't that good, but they never give up and keep on fighting. The Fulham v. Man City match was probably the best of the weekend as Fulham came back from a goal down to earn a point in an exciting 3-3 draw keeping them just above the relegation zone. Although Clint couldn't score a goal in his 4th straight game, it was interesting to see him and Micah Richards go head to head (literally) in a heated dispute. I wonder what they said to each other, but I'm sure they weren't congratulating each other on their recent form.

In other notable games, Middlesbrough and Sunderland drew 2-2 in their northeastern derby, but we all know that the real team from far up north is the Toon Army.After a disastrous display this past Monday when they lost to the worst team in the league, Newcastle bounced back with a 3-1 win at home over West Ham. Mark Viduka decided he wanted to play, and scored 2 goals, Martins , who started on the bench in favor of Michael Owen missed an open net, and speaking of Mr.Owen, he got hurt. AGAIN! Big surprise. The Jekyll and Hyde team of the premier League currently sit in 5th place. Also it the battle of which gaffer will get the sack next, Sammy Lee's Bolton came back to draw 1-1 with Martin Jol's Tottenham to keep both teams in the relegation zone. How about both teams sack them both tomorrow, the Spurs can hire Mourinho (although I doubt he would go there), Jol can go to Bolton, and Sammy Lee can be Gary Busey's stunt double in his next straight to video film.

Speaking of the Special One, I am sad to see him go. Believe me, I won't be missing his boring style of play while in charge of Chelsea, but I will miss his quotes and his attacks on Ferguson, Wenger, and Benitez. It seems that the Big 4 have just dropped to the big 3 with his departure. Which leads me to the so called "game of the weekend". I must say last week I wasn't looking forward to this match as I figured that with Chelsea's style of play and the poor start from Man U we would be looking at a dull 0-0 game. However with Mourinho leaving Chelsea, I was curios to see how they would react at Old Trafford and the game wasn't all that bad. Ok it wasn't great, but at least there was some attacking from Chelsea until Mikel Jon Obi (whose first and last names have switched over the past couple of weeks) was unjustifiably dismissed with a Red card. Carlos Tevez scored his first goal as a Red Devil, and someone in the stands shot Louis Saha while he was in the penalty box, allowing him to make 2-0 from the spot and secure Man United 3 points. Although the win puts Man U in second place, they still don't look all that good to me. As for Chelsea, it looks like they might not get a Champions league spot this year, but both teams have a plethora of good players that I can count either one out at this time. You never know what will happen when Saturday comes.

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