Monday, August 21, 2006

Premiership Weekend Roundup: August 19-20

You know, I meant to do some sort of pre-season predictions, but basically this is what it would come down to: Chelsea win the league. They bore the shit out of everyone in the process. Jose Mourinho whines. The end.

Anyway, let's just pretend that I wasn't too lazy to write something up, and move on with the season. It's about damn time. I was so desperate that I actually watched a Toronto Lynx match on local cable the other day.

Sheffield United 1 - 1 Liverpool
I don't believe I got up at 7:30 in the morning to watch Liverpool play like this. Yeah, I was anxious to watch some proper football, but calling this game "proper football" is being generous. Especially considering that the two goals came courtesy of some terrible defending on a free kick and a slightly dodgy penalty. (Steven Gerrard really does have a terrible time with gravity, eh?)

I can understand Rafa's decision to start with a weaker lineup and save players for their must-win Champions' League game this week, but I think he underestimated the Blades' drive to win this one. And then injuries to Carragher and Riise forced his hand with the substitutions. The problem is that if you want to challenge Chelsea for the title, you have to assume they're going to win just about every game, and you can't afford to drop points right from the beginning of the season.

Oh well. At least Sean Bean is happy now.

Also: this is my current favourite photo caption.)

Manchester United 5 - 1 Fulham
Now that's how you start the season. (Liverpool, I'm looking at you.)

And this is why I'm a Man United fan, really: because when they want to, they play some gorgeous football. I know, I know, Fulham were terrible, but still, United looked deadly. Unfortunately, they've got to cope without Rooney and Scholes for their next three games, but if they keep playing this well they should be fine -- especially with the possibility that Michael Carrick will be fit again in time to face his old team next weekend.

Probably the best part of this game was seeing Cristiano Ronaldo actually passing the ball to his teammates, instead of just doing endless stepovers and falling over. Also a pleasant surprise: Patrice Evra confounding expectations by resolutely not sucking.

All in all, I'm more optimistic about the season than I was a week or so ago. But I'm still desperately hoping that they manage to pry Owen Hargreaves away from Bayern Munich, because they just can't go through the whole year with John O'Shea anchoring the midfield.

Other results

  • Chelsea 3 - 0 Man City: Now we know why Frank Lampard couldn't score during the World Cup: He was trying to actually shoot the ball at the net, instead of pinging it off another player on the way.

  • Newcastle 2 - 1 Wigan: Entertaining, but mostly because it looked like they were playing on a slip-n-slide rather than a football pitch.

  • Bolton 2 - 0 Tottenham: Tottenham are seriously cursed when it comes to games at the Reebok. And they don't even have the excuse of bad lasagna.

  • Arsenal 1 - 1 Aston Villa: Hey, look at that: Theo Walcott actually does exist! He's not just a figment of Sven's overheated imagination!

  • Everton 2 - 1 Watford: Everton get the win thanks to penalty awarded against Watford for handball...despite the fact that it actually hit the player on the head.

  • Portsmouth 3 - 0 Blackburn: Maybe Portsmouth don't suck as much as I thought? Meanwhile, Blackburn finished the game with nine men. This is not the way to challenge for a European place, guys.

  • West Ham 3 - 1 Charlton: Djimi Traore, the world's most unlikely Champions League winner, gets sent off after less than half an hour, in a stellar start to his post-Liverpool career.

  • Reading 3 - 2 Middlesbrough: Reading go down by two goals within the first 20 minutes but stage a fantastic comeback. Welcome to the Premiership, guppies.

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