Sunday, November 06, 2005

Premiership Weekend Roundup: November 5-6

Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea
I have never been so happy to be wrong.

The game was on a channel that I don't get at home, so I headed to the pub up the street, which just happened to be full of people in United shirts. 11am kickoff + beer = perfect. Of course all the middle-aged British men in the pub felt it was necessary to warn me that there might be some foul language. I told them not to worry, because a lot of it would probably be coming from me.

Anyway, it was a great atmosphere to watch United grind out a win. It would have been good to see some more attacking flair from United -- Van Nistelrooy was pretty much useless. Ronaldo had Paulo Ferreira tied up in knots down the left wing all game, but his crosses weren't always the best -- even the one that led to Fletcher's goal looked as if it was heading out of play. But this kind of gritty performance -- particularly Alan Smith throwing himself into some crunching tackles in midfield -- is exactly what they needed. (And provided me with lots of opportunities to yell at Chelsea that they were "fucking wankers." Did I mention the 11am beer?)

So. It wasn't always pretty, but they did it. Roy Keane may have even cracked a smile.

Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool
You know, if I'm going to drag myself out of bed at 7:30am for a game, it had better be worth watching. This one really wasn't -- certainly not for the first 75 minutes or so. I still don't see what's so great about Peter Crouch, but at least he brought the game to life.

The Guardian, as usual, says it best:

If Sky want people to pay to view any more games such as this, they should consider making Roy Keane an offer he cannot refuse to continue his career as a pundit. The Manchester United captain's observations on Harry Kewell's new hairdo would have been more entertaining than anything this match produced and Keane could also have brought to bear his withering opinions on questions such as whether Cisse offers more style than substance, where Gerrard and Alonso were supposed to be playing and whether Villa were actually aware the game had kicked off for the first half-hour.

I would also like to know how Xabi Alonso's hair manages to stay so fluffy even after 90 minutes of football. It's one of the mysteries of the universe.

Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland
If only Arsenal had lost, this would have been a perfect football weekend from my point of view. Despite my Arsenal-hate, though, I have to admit that they can play some damn pretty football -- quick, precise passes, lovely flowing movement, and deadly finishing from Thierry Henry. You have to feel a little bit sorry for Sunderland, who were clearly overmatched. Even after they scored to make it 2-1, you could tell that Arsenal were just kind of toying with them, waiting for the chance to pounce and put the game out of reach.

Portsmouth 0-2 Wigan
Does it make me a total bandwagon-jumper if I say that I am kind of rooting for Wigan now? I'm sure they know that they're hardly the best team out there, but they are certainly playing their asses off, and you have to love that.

Most annoying thing about watching the game was that Sportsnet switched over to the Fox soccer feed, which meant that in addition to the score in the top left corner and the Sportsnet bug in the bottom right corner, it also had the FSC bug in the top right corner -- plus, for part of the time, a British Airways logo, for no reason that I can see other than to piss me off. You could barely see the field under all that crap. Although it was still less annoying than The Score on Sunday, where you had to deal with not only the ticker at the bottom of the screen but also that picture-in-picture thing where the anchor has to update you about games that nobody cares about -- or, if they did care, they could find out about by reading the stupid ticker in the first place.

Other results
West Ham 1-0 West Brom
Newcastle 1-0 Birmingham
Fulham 2-1 Manchester City
Blackburn 4-1 Charlton
Everton 1-0 Middlesbrough

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