Monday, January 15, 2007

Premiership Weekend Roundup: January 13-14

Watford 0 - 3 Liverpool
If you had to pick a team to play after two morale-sapping defeats, Watford would almost certainly be at the top of the list. Face with such obliging oppositions, Rafa Benitez fielded an unorthodox 3-4-3 formation (and by unorthodox, I mean "Whichever 11 players are fit and haven't totally sucked recently").

The first half of the game -- as you might expect, from one team playing an unfamiliar system and another propping up the bottom of the Premiership -- was pretty messy, although Craig Bellamy scored a well-deserved goal. Peter Crouch also popped in a couple, on either side of halftime -- probably two of the easiest he's ever scored; no spectacular bicycle kicks here. Bottom line: A comfortable win and, perhaps more importantly, no new injuries as they gear up to face Chelsea this weekend.

Manchester United 3 - 1 Aston Villa
Villa must be glad that they don't have to face United again this season, having now lost by a cumulative total of 8-2. It certainly didn't help that their defence was an absolute shambles for the first 15 minutes of the match; after that they began to show a few signs of the challenge they'd mounted in the FA Cup last week, but by then they were two goals down and it was already too late.

As for Wayne Rooney, he's still not scoring. The rest of his game looks fine -- no question that he's working hard -- but the goal-scoring touch just isn't there, although he did ping one shot off the crossbar towards the end of the match. You know who did score, though? Michael Carrick. Probably just to shut me up after I criticized him a week ago.

Chelsea 4 - 0 Wigan
A brief lull in the ongoing schadenfreudelicious saga at Chelsea, thanks to Wigan essentially self-destructing in front of them. A free kick that should've been easily stopped, a suicidal back-pass and an, two, three goals, thank you very much. Plus one more for good measure in stoppage time, from Didier Drogba, who I think I actually hate more now that he's obnoxious and a very good players, rather than just obnoxious and falling over a lot.

Apart from the comedy of wondering how Wigan would shoot themselves in the foot next and watching Jose Mourinho's series of petulant faces on the sidelines, the actual game was dire. Still, the win is all that really matters for Chelsea, after four draws in five games. And Mourinho's decision to leave out Andriy Shevchenko appears to have worked, as he came away with both the three points and a promise from the board that they'll loosen the purse strings. Damnit.

Blackburn 0 - 2 Arsenal
Just for the record, I still don't like Arsenal. But I think that right now I dislike Blackburn more. They really are a deeply unpleasant team. Maybe not quite as bad as last year, since Craig Bellamy and Paul Dickov aren't running around like annoying little yappy dogs anymore, but Robbie Savage is enough of a git all on his own.

I thought Gilberto Silva's sending off -- for kicking out at Savage after he'd been fouled -- was kind of harsh, especially considering that Pascal Chimbonda slapping Nicky Butt in the Tottenham-Newcastle game only merited a yellow card (maybe if Butt had gone down like Arjen Robben does...). Justice of a sort was done, though, as even with 10 men for most of the game, Arsenal were still the better team, putting the cap on a scrappy win with a stupendous goal from Thierry Henry.

Other results
Everton 1 - 1 Reading
Tottenham 2 3 Newcastle
Bolton 0 0 Manchester City
Charlton 1 3 Middlesbrough
Sheffield United 1 - 1 Portsmouth
West Ham 3 - 3 Fulham

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