Monday, May 14, 2007

Premiership Weekend Roundup: May 13

With things at the top of the table already settled, this last round of games was all about the relegation battle between West Ham, Wigan and Sheffield United, as well as the teams fighting it out for a spot in Europe next season. (Yesterday was also one of my favourite things: the players doing a lap of honour with their families. Footballers + kids = my version of kryptonite. I am defenceless against the cute, y'all.)

  • Manchester United 0 - 1 West Ham: Of course it had to be Carlos Tevez who scored for West Ham to keep them up. The focus of all the controversy, he's been a one-man survival campaign for the Hammers, driving them to wins in 7 of their last 9 games. I find it hard to begrudge them their place in the Premiership after a recovery like that, although I know a lot of people will disagree. And a lot of people will also disagree with United's team selection -- after saying that he wasn't going to field a weakened team, Sir Alex didn't bring on Giggs, Scholes and Ronaldo until the last half-hour, with Vidic still on the bench and Ferdinand left out entirely. On the other hand, they did have 28 shots on goal to West Ham's 6, so you could argue that the starting XI should have been strong enough to win the game.

  • Sheffield United 1 - 2 Wigan: Sheffield United are understandably bitter today, after losing the game -- and their place in the Premiership -- by one measly goal. And they do have legitimate cause for complaint. But the fact remains that their fate was in their own hands. All they needed to do was not lose, at home in their final game of the season, with their opponents having a man sent off in the secnd half. And instead they choked. Meanwhile, Paul Jewell has quit, despite Wigan managing to salvage their season; odds are that he's off to Manchester City, as the managerial merry-go-round cranks up again.

  • Liverpool 2 - 2 Charlton: Captaining Liverpool in his last game at Anfield, Robbie Fowler was substituted to a standing ovation in the 89th minute. Very nice, yes? Except that about 30 seconds later, Liverpool were awarded a penalty that Fowler surely would have taken had he been on the pitch. Instead he had to watch from the bench as Harry Kewell converted the spot-kick (miraculously managing not to tweak his groin in the process) to tie the game for Liverpool. Apart from the emotional significance of the Kop's farewell to "God," it wasn't much of a game, with some atrocious finishing from both sides. Liverpool were lucky that Charlton didn't do more to punish their mistakes; they'll need to sharpen up a lot to have any kind of chance in Athens.

  • Chelsea 1 - 1 Everton: The draw means that Chelsea equalled Liverpool's record of 68 unbeaten home games (bah). They also lost Jon Obi Mikel to an ankle injury (yay), which could be good news for United before the FA Cup final. Oh, and Didier Drogba scored his 20th goal of the season, to make him officially the Premiership's top scorer. He celebrated by collapsing dramatically to the ground.

  • Tottenham 2 - 1 Manchester City: Tottenham clawed their way back up to fifth, finishing in the same spot as last season, but with the additional stress of competing in the UEFA Cup. That experience should help them next year -- as will hanging on to Dimitar Berbatov, who's been one of the outstanding new players in the Premiership. As for City, about the only good thing you can say is that they avoided relegation. Stuart Pearce was sacked this afternoon to put the cap on a disappointing season.

  • Portsmouth 0 - 0 Arsenal: I'm sure you'll all be shocked to hear that Arsenal wasted a lot of good chances in this game. It's just so unlike them. Anyway, they finish 4th behind Liverpool on goal difference. The big story, though, is Graham Poll having disallowed a goal by Niko Kranjcar that would have earned Portsmouth a spot in the UEFA Cup for the first time ever. Poll is apparently going to retire at the end of this season, which is sad news for those of us who enjoy snarking about bad referees.

  • Bolton 2 - 2 Aston Villa: And another shocking result: a draw for Aston Villa! Blah. So, Bolton are into the UEFA Cup for the second year in a row. Villa miss out, but not by much -- and I wouldn't be surprised to see their league positions reversed next season.

  • Blackburn 3 - 3 Reading: I guess Reading will be happy to have just missed out on the European places. Steve Coppell's reserve team can rest up instead of having to jet off to Outer Slobovia or wherever. Blackburn are just the opposite: they'll be gratefully taking their Intertoto Cup spot (which makes me wonder why Portsmouth didn't do the same, if playing in the UEFA Cup was really so important to them).

  • Watford 1 - 1 Newcastle: YNBA thinks that Michael Owen is under some kind of gypsy curse, and I think she may be right. The poor guy was stretchered off with a concussion yesterday after colliding with a teammate. Newcastle ended up drawing with Watford, which is an appropriately mediocre way to end their season.

  • Middlesbrough 3 - 1 Fulham: I think this one wins the prize for Least Meaningful Game. Anyway, two goals from Mark Viduka, who could be leaving the Riverside this summer, helped Boro to a 12th-place finish. Woo.

So that's it for this season, although I may do some kind of league wrap-up if I'm feeling particularly motivated. And of course there's the FA Cup and Champions League finals, which I promise I am going to be unabashedly partisan about, despite my recent fondness for Paolo Maldini.

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