Monday, May 12, 2008

Premiership Weekend Roundup: May 11


Wigan 0-2 Manchester United
You couldn't have scripted it any better, in the end. Cristiano Ronaldo, the player of the year by about a gazillion miles, scores the first and ultimately winning goal, and then Ryan Giggs -- making his 758th appearance for United and matching Bobby Charlton's record -- makes the win secure with a late second goal. And goes on to lift the Premiership trophy for the second year in a row (not to mention the 10th time in his career).

There were, alas, some rather questionable refereeing decisions along the way: a penalty not given to Wigan for a possible handball by Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes staying on the pitch when he could -- and probably should -- have been sent off for cross-checking Wilson Palacios. But the bad decisions weren't all in favour of United, as they could have had a second penalty awarded after Scholes was tripped in the box. So, yeah, Steve Bennett is incompetent, but somehow I think that United would have contrived to win the game regardless.

They certainly didn't make it easy on themselves; or rather, Wigan didn't make it easy for them. The Latics can be proud of the fight they put up, and Chris Kirkland pulled off several good saves to keep the score down. United took the lead after half an hour, a clear-cut penalty for a foul on Wayne Rooney, which Ronaldo coolly dispatched. But it got more and more nerve-wracking as the game went on and they still had only a one-goal advantage. It wasn't until the 80th minute that they could relax, as Rooney split the defence with a simple through ball to Giggs -- I think it was the hapless Titus Bramble playing Giggs onside, actually -- and he slotted it past Kirkland. (I did a little dance in my living room. This is why it's better that I watch the games by myself.)

Chelsea, meanwhile, ended up with a draw at Bolton and finished two points behind United, which means that their goal difference was a moot point, and we can forget Avram Grant's suggestion the title should be decided with a play-off instead (although just for the record, United beat them 3-2 on aggregate this season). Of course I'm going to say this because I'm a United fan, but it seems to me like goal difference is a pretty good way to decide between two teams. It sums up their season -- and in United's case, they both scored the highest number of goals and conceded the least. No question that they deserved the title. Chelsea will have their chance for revenge in Moscow next week, but in the meantime: SUCK IT.

Also: No love for The Score, who had some kind of fuck-up with the satellite feed from Wigan that meant we missed almost the whole first half. They claimed that whatever the problem was, it wasn't their fault, but I'm not really inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Nobody should have to listen to Brian Budd blather on for an extra 40 minutes; it's just cruel.

Other results
Birmingham 4-1 Blackburn
Chelsea 1-1 Bolton
Derby 0-4 Reading
Everton 3-1 Newcastle
Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City
Portsmouth 0-1 Fulham
Sunderland 0-1 Arsenal
Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool
West Ham 2-2 Aston Villa

  • Chelsea started their game against Bolton with a makeshift back line, and it got worse when John Terry was injured after just 10 minutes, dislocating his elbow in a collision with Petr Cech (you'd think he would have seen Cech coming, in that retina-scalding orange kit; it makes him look like a giant traffic cone). And their day got worse when news filtered through from Wigan that Manchester United were winning. A goal from substitute Andriy Shevchenko in the second half gave them some hope, but they were deflated by United's second goal against Wigan, and Bolton's stoppage-time equalizer finished them off.

  • All three teams caught in the relegation battle won (I'm discounting Derby, since they were already doomed), and Birmingham and Reading scored four goals apiece. But it was a futile effort, as Fulham capped an amazing recovery with a late winner from Danny Murphy against Portsmouth to earn their survival. That means Reading were relegated based on goal difference, while Birmingham finished just one point behind and were also sent down.

  • Everton guaranteed their spot in the UEFA Cup next year with a win over Newcastle, while Aston Villa will have to settle for the Intertoto Cup after drawing with West Ham.

  • Liverpool cruised to a comfortable win against Tottenham in a game that was notable only for Fernando Torres's 24th league goal, which is a record for a foreign player in his first Premiership season.

  • In another meaningless game, Theo Walcott scored Arsenal's only goal in their victory over Sunderland, as a season that started with so much promise ends without a trophy for the Gunners.

  • Middlesbrough versus Man City should have been forgettable as well, but that changed when Richard Dunne was sent off after 15 minutes. Stewart Downing scored the resulting penalty (his first of two goals), and City totally fell apart. Boro scored a mind-boggling eight goals, which I think it would take them about three months to do normally, including a hat-trick for Afonso Alves. I think the City players may have decided to go on strike early rather than waiting for that trip to Thailand.

1 comment:

TIET said...

Serious errors made on Bennett's part but like you said, Man U would've found some way to win it.

Next season, it is.