Monday, October 31, 2005

Premiership Weekend Roundup: October 29-30

Ok, boys and girls, this week's lesson is The Importance of a Strong Midfield.

Middlesbrough 4-1 Manchester United
That was just painful to watch. United were uniformly terrible from one end of the pitch to the other -- from Van der Sar letting in a couple of goals that he should have stopped, to Rio Ferdinand once again falling asleep in the middle of the game, to Rooney and Van Nistelrooy still unable to find the net.

I think the biggest problem was in the midfield, though. Boro played 3-5-2 against United's 4-4-2, and whether it was the extra man in the middle or simply because they played harder, United were overwhelmed. Park and Fletcher were useless on the wings, and Scholes and Smith were practically invisible in the centre. Boro came out hard right from the beginning of the game; United were rocked back on their heels and never recovered. You just know that somewhere, Roy Keane is fuming.

(And in more frivolous concerns, who came up with that away kit? It's horrible. They look like giant blueberries.)

Liverpool 2-0 West Ham
At least one of my teams got a good result this weekend. Rafa Benitez took a bit of a chance and shook up his midfield, playing Steven Gerrard out on the right with Alonso and Sissoko in the centre, where they controlled the play all game. Liverpool still has problems up front -- Morientes was trying hard, but neither he nor Cisse managed a goal. But the encouraging thing was how well they were able to dominate possession and put pressure on West Ham, and that all comes from strong midfielders -- get to the ball first, close down your opponents when they have possession, make the clean pass rather than giving the ball away. It doesn't sound that hard, right? Tell that to United.

In other news, my rec team got slaughtered 6-2 on Saturday. Why? You guessed it: Our midfield, which was ineffective to the point of being non-existent.

Other results
Birmingham 0-1 Everton
Charlton 0-1 Bolton
Chelsea 4-2 Blackburn (shut up, Jose Mourinho)
Sunderland 1-4 Portsmouth
Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal
Wigan 1-0 Fulham
West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Newcastle

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