Monday, April 09, 2007

Premiership Weekend Roundup: April 6-7

Portsmouth 2 - 1 Manchester United
What the hell, United. WHAT THE HELL.

Yes, they're making me all yelly again. Sorry. But they basically shot themselves in the foot against Portsmouth. The same Portsmouth team, let me point out, that just went out today and got beat 4-2 by Watford.

After the game, Sir Alex claimed they were tired from playing a man down for an hour against Roma earlier in the week. And they did look sluggish. Cristiano Ronaldo certainly didn't have one of his best games -- it was one of those days where things just weren't coming off for him. But that doesn't excuse Darren Fletcher and Kieran Richardson, who should have been fresh but instead were just crap. Richardson was caught in possession to lead to the first Portsmouth goal, but it was compounded by a series of errors from Rio Ferdinand, who got muscled off the ball by Matthew Taylor, and Edwin van der Sar, who parried Benjani's shot down into his path -- agonizingly similar to the first goal against Roma. I know neither of those was an easy stop to make, but if you're supposed to be one of the best keepers in the world, you're also supposed to do better than just whacking the ball straight at an opposing player.

As for Rio, who fucked up yet again later in the game to gift Pompey their second goal with the world's worst back-pass (Gary Neville will be pleased to relinquish his title, at least), I would just like to remind him of the cardinal rule of defending: CLEAR THE FUCKING BALL. Simple, right? Something even his little pea-sized brain ought to be able to remember.

At the other end of the pitch, meanwhile, Portsmouth were doing an excellent job of showing up United's shortcomings, with Linvoy Primus making a couple of fantastic tackles on Wayne Rooney and David James pulling off several great saves -- although he also spilled an easy shot that let John O'Shea pull one back for United.

Y'all had better hope that they win tomorrow, or I'm going to be frothing at the mouth all over here. Just warning you in advance.

Reading 1 - 2 Liverpool
I was a bit surprised by the lineup, but it looked like Rafa was resting some players for the second leg against PSV. Yeah, the one they're currently leading 3-0. But then, Liverpool of all teams know that a three-goal lead is never entirely safe.

Reading, as usual, looked lively, pinning Liverpool back in their own end for periods of the game. But the Reds didn't panic and they eventually got the three points, after a couple smart substitutions, with Jermaine Pennant and Dirk Kuyt coming off the bench to combine for the winning goal. Bringing on Pennant was especially important, I think, because although Stevie G was nominally playing on the right up until then, he was doing his usual thing where he just sort of stampedes all over the pitch, leaving them essentially without a winger. They've really got to fix that in the summer, because I suspect that Rafa doesn't think Pennant is good enough.

Pleasant surprise: the opening goal from Alvaro Arbeloa, playing out of position at left-back again. It's reassuring to see him performing well there, especially now that Aurelio is injured, because I don't quite trust Riise defensively. So the versatility is welcome, on top of providing some back-up for Steve Finnan and his bionic legs.

Chelsea 1 - 0 Tottenham
I knew I never liked Ricardo Carvalho and his stupid floppy perm. Bah.

Right, so, Chelsea have narrowed the gap with United to three points. Bully for them. They still don't look like champions to me. They don't look like winning much of anything other than the Carling Cup this year, actually. Probably that's sour grapes on my part, but my point is that even that grudging admiration I had for them when they were grinding out mediocre wins before is gone now.

(Also, I am so tired of Frank Lampard and his hotpants. Seriously. WHY.)

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


Michael said...

Hi there.
You seem very knowledgeable in the ways of the force, oh I mean football. Very nice to read your columns. Unfortunately, having grown up in the United States, never seeing a proper football match until I was 18, I still have little to say for way of tactics and the like. All I know is the Liverpool can do no wrong in my eyes! Truly, I trusted Gerard Houllier when the ship was crashing and I blindly follow Benitez wherever he takes us. That being said, I feel that Liverpool would disintegrate if he left; his Spanish contingent would either leave or their performances would diminish. I look forward to continue reading your blog and conversing with you. Oh and I do have a comment about tactics... Frank Lampard should be benched for the England team, let Gerrard reign over the England midfield and maybe Steve McClaren can keep his job!

Patrick said...

Rio doesn't miss from there!