Monday, April 30, 2007

Premiership Weekend Roundup: April 28-29

Mourinho, are you listening?
You'd better keep our trophy glistening.
We're coming in May to take it away...

Why, yes, I am still all gloaty today. Deal with it.

Everton 2 - 4 Manchester United
Four. That's the magic number: the number of points that Manchester United have to pick up, or Chelsea have to drop, for United to clinch the title. Four points over three games.

It wasn't looking good for United at halftime. They were down 1-0 after a deflected free kick -- and hadn't been playing well enough to suggest they were going to get back in the game -- while at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were beating Bolton 2-1. And it got even worse when they gave up a second goal just after the restart. And then sent in Kieran Richardson.

The turnaround was sparked by Everton's third-string keeper, Iain Turner -- only playing because of the terms of Tim Howard's loan -- spilling a corner right in front of John O'Shea. Who has apparently become some sort of crucial-goal-scoring predator, which is freaking me out more than a little. That was followed by an own goal from Phil Neville -- just to feed Mourinho's paranoid fantasies. After that it was all United. They looked like a completely different team for the last half-hour or so, with Ronaldo coming off the bench, and Scholes and Giggs taking control in midfield. Those 30 minutes of football may well turn out to be the most crucial of their whole season.

Chelsea 2 - 2 Bolton
How much did I love all those shots of the unhappy Chelsea fans? That was priceless.

I watched this game after the United-Everton one, so I already knew the result and I could just enjoy the schadenfreude. Mourinho was clearly attempting to rest a few players for the Champions League, and initially appeared to be working okay. Although they went behind early, they were up 2-1 by halftime thanks to two goals from Salomon Kalou (one of those technically an own goal by Jaskelainen). And then it all fell apart, and their title hopes most probably disappeared too. Even bringing Lampard, Drogba and Joe Cole all off the bench wasn't enough for the win, as the intrepid John Terry conceded a free kick in a dangerous position, and Kevin Davies was left totally unmarked to head home the equalizer. And I laughed.

The other blow to Chelsea -- aside from dropping three points -- was losing Carvalho to injury after half an hour. It seems that Mourinho would prefer to publicly make out with Rafa Benitez rather than play Khalid Boulahrouz, which means it's going to be Essien at centre-back again on Tuesday. That's a defensive weakness that Liverpool may be able to exploit, just as they did when they beat Chelsea in the league back in January. On the other hand, effectively conceding the Premiership title means that Chelsea will be totally focused on winning the Champions League now.

Portsmouth 2 - 1 Liverpool
This, right here? This is why Jerzy Dudek doesn't get picked anymore.

In addition to playing Dudek instead of Pepe Reina, Rafa rested almost his entire first XI. It was Xabi Alonso and the B-team, and poor Xabi looked awfully frustrated to be out there with the reserves. He even got booked for...I'm not really sure what. Being cranky, maybe.

So, yeah, it wasn't a great game for Liverpool. The defense was clearly not used to playing with each other; the Liverpool offside trap is normally a thing of beauty, but here it was a total mess for both Portsmouth goals. And nothing was working up front, either. They got better in the second half -- although it took Sami Hyypia to score their only goal -- but it didn't make much different and I don't think they'll care much about the result, as long as they can win on Tuesday.

Other results
Arsenal 3 - 1 Fulham
Blackburn 4 - 1 Charlton
Manchester City 0 - 2 Aston Villa
Middlesbrough 2 - 3 Tottenham
Sheffield United 1 - 0 Watford
Wigan 0 - 3 West Ham

1 comment:

rafs said...

Yay! Harry has made his comeback! Even if it was for the LFC's still something.

I can't wait until we play Chelsea in Anfield. It's gonna be amazing.