The irony of my week-long layoff is that some great football has been played. On Saturday in Italy Roma and Napoli played to a 4-4 draw that was one of the best matches I've seen in ages. And in Madrid on Wednesday Real Madrid cam back from a 2-1 deficit to win 4-2 in the Champions league. That match might finally be the club-level coming-out party for Robinho, who dominated the game.
In the meantime, my buddy Matt has a little belated but very interesting look at last week's action in the Premiership and in English football. It was a busy week in England (Martin Jol finally left Spurs) but Matt helps us unravel everything, including what could be a very good title race.
Although not much has changed among the placement of teams in the standings, things are starting to come cleared as a quarter of the season has come to the end. Manchester United have seemed to found last season’s form with another spectacular victory at Aston Villa by the score of 4-1. Meanwhile, Arsenal continued their winning ways at the top of the league with a 2-0 victory over Bolton. It wasn’t the usual flair of an Arsenal game, but one in which they showed they could get stuck in, and respond to tough tackling by fighting back with similar tactics. But there is no need to worry that they will change their ways and start to play like Chelsea as Tuesday’s Champions League 7-0 victory showed. And what about Theo Walcott? With Van Persie out for 4-6 weeks, he will get his chance to continue to shine and display his blinding pace, that was shown in Arsenal’s last 2 games. Arsenal’s opponents this weekend, Liverpool, got an extremely lucky win this past weekend over Everton to keep them in 4th place and on pace for a run at the title. I have to laugh at that last statement because I don’t think Liverpool will challenge for the title event though I picked them as my pre-season favorites to do so. The only reason they won last week was because they had the ref in their back pocket, and while they did deserve the 2 penalties they were rewarded, they should have had 2 red cards against themselves for a flying tackle by Kuyt on Phil Neville, and for Jamie Carragher’s take down of Lescott in the box. The later should have given Everton a penalty kick, and a chance to get a point from a draw in this derby. However, it seems that Liverpool’s luck may have run out based on their defeat to Besiktas this past Wednesday in the Champions League. Maybe this loss combined with the subbing of Gerrard in the Everton derby will cause the eventual sacking of Benitez and his stupid rotational policy. Arsenal can help him on his way if they thrash Liverpool at Anfield this weekend like they did last year.
Speaking of sackings, Sammy Lee and now Martin Jol have joined the unemployment line. I’m happy to say that it was Newcastle’s fine display at St. James in their 3-1 victory over Tottenham on Monday that hammered the final nails in the coffin of Mr. Jol. Although it didn’t help that Berbatov started on the bench with a sour look on his face, and couldn’t be bothered to warm up or really participate when he eventually got on the pitch. Maybe it was the Bulgarian’s reaction to his benching that really caused the board at Spurs to get rid of Jol. In any event, it seems the next manager to go in the sacking race is between Billy Davies at Derby, Lawrie Sanchez at Fulham, and Gareth Southgate at Middlesbrough. But I’m sure there are Liverpool supporters out there, that feel as I do, and are hoping that Mr. Benitez soon takes pole position.