Monday, November 06, 2006

Premiership Weekend Roundup: November 4-5

Manchester United 3 - 0 Portsmouth
This is United's current strategy: Take a 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes or so, and then go into cruise control for the rest of the game. Make one of the teams at the top of the table look foolish in the process. In this case, it was 42 minutes into the first half before Edwin Van Der Sar even had to make a save, which pretty much says it all. Whereas David James had a very busy game at the other end of the pitch, because the Portsmouth defence, after a couple of changes to their regular lineup, basically fell apart in front of him. Which meant that the United players could basically entertain themselves for much of the game, trying to create a goal for Gary Neville.

Actually, the best thing about the game -- aside from Cristiano Ronaldo's free kick, which was absolutely gorgeous, and why can't the pouty one do that all the time? -- was watching how hard United worked to close down players all over the pitch. This is how you win back possession if you don't have a proper defensive midfielder: put the other team under pressure and force them into errors. Nevertheless, most welcome rumour of the day is that Bayern Munich will consider selling Owen Hargreaves to Man United, but they want John O'Shea in return. Has somebody in Germany fallen down and hit their head on something hard?

Liverpool 2 - 0 Reading
Finally Liverpool have managed to string together two clean sheets in a row, and it's about damn time, too. Now if only they can keep both the defence and the attack clicking for the game against Arsenal next week. On a purely selfish level, I'm happy to see Dirk Kuyt scoring, because I picked him for my fantasy football team before Liverpool had even finalized the deal. I'm less happy that the announcers can't seem to get his name right -- on Saturday they kept referring to him as "Kraut," as if he and Peter Crouch have somehow morphed into a single giant blond striker, and that's a terrifying mental image, thanks.

Reading started the game strongly, and they had another good spell to start the second half, but they couldn't keep it up, and they gave Liverpool too much space in attack -- especially considering that Reading were essentially playing 5-4-1. Steven Gerrard got his chance to start at centre mid, and he and Xabi Alonso controlled the game well. I don't think that Rafa will stick with that combination, though, for a couple reasons: their wingers didn't see enough of the ball, because everything went through the middle of the park, and there was often a gaping hole in front of the defence because Stevie G had gone off on one of his runs. Or been distracted by something shiny.

Tottenham 2 - 1 Chelsea
Claude Makelele scored for the first time in, um, practically ever, but it wasn't enough to give Chelsea the win. They also had a goal by Didier Drogba disallowed for a foul, because it's not a proper Chelsea game without giving Jose Mourinho something to complain about. This game was an embarrassment of riches in that regard, thanks to John Terry getting sent off after two bookings in less than two minutes. I like to imagine that he went home and cried himself to sleep with his Luther Vandross albums.

West Ham 1 - 0 Arsenal
Arsenal continue to be unable to find the net, Robin Van Persie gets clocked by a coin thrown from the crowd, and West Ham score in the dying minutes of the game Whereupon Alan Pardew and Arsene Wenger nearly get into a fistfight on the touchline. Brilliant. Who says the Premiership is boring?

Other results
Villa bounced back from their defeat against Liverpool, thanks to a questionable penalty and a defensive fuckup that gifed them two goals. Watford finally racked up their first Premiership win, 2-0 over Middlesbrough, and pulled themselves out of the bottom three. Other than that, the weekend was a series of ever-so-thrilling one-nil wins for mediocre teams. Yay.

Aston Villa 2 - 0 Blackburn
Bolton 0 - 1 Wigan
Charlton 1 - 0 Manchester City
Fulham 1 - 0 Everton
Newcastle 0 - 1 Sheff United
Watford 2 - 0 Middlesbrough


Anonymous said...

I'm developing an enormous dislike for Fulham. I am, generally speaking, a fan of the smaller clubs, but I just don't really get what they're for. There are too many Premiership clubs in London - I just wish they'd do the decent thing and get themselves relegated.

footie girl said...

Fulham aren't really worth disliking, to me -- not like Chelsea -- but I agree with you that they're sort of useless. Kind of like Charlton, although the Addicks look likely to go down this year and save me having to think about them.

Drewcatt said...

I agree whole-heartedly 200%.

However, can we start trimming the London fat by getting rid of Arsenal and Chelsea?