Rantlines: Grant the Nanny, Spurs Show How Not to Hire Managers, Marcus Should Stick to Keeping, Swearing Should be a Two Way Street. Plus More

31 October 2007

Well I owe everyone an apology for not getting up the Liverpool v Arsenal blog as promised last night. However life loves to change just when you look set to have a routine down. For those who haven't heard yet, my old man found out tonight that next Monday he's going for a heart scan and it's looking very likely that open heart bypass surgery within the next three weeks. As I have always done, once I have more information to pass on to you I will but it looks like we're heading to the watershed moment I've been dreading for months. I also have a little bit to tell at the end of this. To those who already know I thank you for your support and for those who don't know...well it's the perfect tease.

It's been a while since I've gotten around to one of these, but the plan for my blogging in the coming months and years to come are (and this is by day)...
Saturday and Sunday: Blogging as many games as humanly possible. Sunday night once the RSS Feeder updates with all the match reports, posting them like I was doing at the end of last season.
Monday: Rantlines from the weekend matches.
Tuesday: Finish off match reviews. To the games I am unable to get to, they will now also get some attention.
Wednesday: If there are Champions League matches going on, I will quickly recap those before hitting the rantlines again. If there aren't any Champions League matches going on, Well it will just be one long night of rants.
Thursday: Match previews that will be included with the EPL Talk Newsletter. It is highly recommended and you can sign up for it here. What will be different from what goes into the newsletter? Well I will be posting what I think the results will be along with why I think so.
Friday: Final set of rants for the week.

Now with that long preview out of the way, let's get on with the rants.
Avram Grant needs to learn one rule rather quickly. If you are saying that you are not there to babysit players, that's exactly what you are doing. Now granted these men are adults, however the last thing they want to be compared to is children. Quotes like "Look, we are talking about professional players. They need to handle everything - we are not baby-sitters of the players." are only going to give the media and other clubs all the ammo they need to just rip your club to shreds. It's the kind of line that could prevent players from coming to you club, and certainly will be used by clubs looking to take players from you. A second rule Grant needs to also quickly learn is would be to not fight battles with players in the court of the press. It's blatant double speak when your are saying your not going to discuss your players in public, yet in the same paragraph discuss matters players have at the moment. Either speak openly, or keep your mouth shut and keep things in house. Trying to play both ends against the middle never works.


If your a manager and looking for a job, would you even consider Tottenham after the way Martin Jol was sacked? How in the hell does it get leaked to the press before you've spoken to the man that he will be let go. And to continue that point, how in the hell do you not tell him directly the second you find out about said leak he is being let go? How would you like to be sitting on the touchline and get a text message from a friend telling you that you have been sacked the second the game is over? That has to be the ultimate betrayal that your own boss doesn't have the balls to tell you that your time has come at the club. And then to the final point, how would you like to know that the second the club isn't satisfied with your results they will start openly flaunting their next appointment? Spurs, congrats on earning every manager's mistrust in the world.
Now let's get on with the new manager Juande Ramos. Boy it must have been some kind of wake up call when you are told to either shape up or get the hell out. It should never be so obvious to someone coming in from the outside that players are not playing to the standard that had gotten them into the UEFA Cup. The manager's first order of business coming in should never be to have to do a double session. The manager's first order of business should be seeing the players being professional about the task at hand, not having to see who has the fitness of a pub league player.

A little note to Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann, I wouldn't be bothered too much about getting a new contract when your giving up the number of goals in the manner your giving up. Look you just signed a new contract at the end of last season and at 35 years of age, be thankful someone is willing to give you a rolling 1 year contract until the end of 2009. Why are you bothering about getting more money when your allowing 7 goals and 4 goals in games? Yes you can blame the defenders all you want and for the most part they have left you in no mans land, but until you can start helping your club at least secure mid table success (or keeping your side in games like Brad Friedel is doing), shut up about money and play some bloody football. Reading management has publicly stated that they aren't in a rush, and nor should they be.

I am absolutely livid at this one. Referee Danny McDermid has been charged by the FA with swearing at a manager and it looks like he will be getting the Clattenburg/Styles treatment. Yes it is the right thing to do, but why are players not getting booked for dissent or getting retroactive punishment for cursing at these same officials? The last time I checked, players managers and referees are professional, and being able to get your point out in a professional manner should be of the up most importance. If you watch a game of basketball, about 80 percent of the time if the player gets busted cursing at an official, it's an instant technical foul. I honestly feel that if you are caught by the official swearing at them, it should be an instant yellow card no ifs ands or buts about it. The only way this charge will make any sense is if it begins to happen from now on. It's high time these microphones are digitally recorded. At least then players who are swearing can be booked and the evidence picked up. Once these players know they will be booked for swearing at the officials in the same vein the referees are going to get retroactively charged for swearing at players/managers, they will stop faster than a Drogba dive.

Quick Rants:
So Micah Richards has been injured in Manchester City's Carling Cup fixture with Bolton. Not good for England and even worse for Manchester City as Richards has had to cover two positions lately. If Garrido is the best they have at left back, City are going to be set in free fall. Let's hope Richards isn't seriously injured.
So Harry Redknapp is back to his usual tricks? You would think he would learn by now that trying to tap up players is only going to get you in serious trouble.
Gareth Barry gets a testimonial at the age of 26? First off congrats at staying at the club for as long as you have, second off don't ruin it by leaving for another club. Your a rare breed staying at the same club for as long as you have and wouldn't be nice to know you stayed at the same club your whole career to go somewhere else.
I have to give Fernando Torres all the credit in the world. I'm totally shocked he loves sitting most of his games on the bench, then comes in when he isn't at full fitness, and then gets injured again! Look I know your trying to quell the rising tide of people who are slagging off Rafa's rotation policy, but when your injured isn't the best time to be telling the world that everything is peaches and cream.
Carlton Cole, I know you think you finally believe you can live up to the potential everyone knows you have. Just don't go and get yourself injured now.

So to make the announcement I teased at the top. The Third Half Podcast will be debuting very soon. What will The Third Half Podcast be all about? Simplistically it is going to be a bi-weekly no nonsense look at the Barclay's Premier League and beyond. A perfect compliment to the interviews done on the EPL Talk Podcast. So you ask yourself how is this going to be different from other podcasts online? Simple, it's going to be the most honest brunt analysis of the events at the weekend, cutting through the BS to get to the heart of the news, and a look at the other leagues around Europe and Major League Soccer. I would like to thank both Michael and David James for agreeing to being co-hosts on one of the shows and I am looking at one other EPL Talk Community member to be a co-host on the other (could you please send me your email address again). Once everything is in place, I will be announcing a debut date.

That's all the time I have for tonight. Remember all feedback is welcomed and appreciated. May the debate begin~!

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Premier League Reviews: Round 11 Batch 2. Chelsea v Man City, Tottenham v Blackburn. Plus Quick Hitters

30 October 2007

Here we go with another set of match reviews. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Match One: Chelsea v Manchester City
Chelsea Starting 11: 1 Petr Cech, 33 Alex, 35 Juliano Belletti, 6 Ricardo Carvalho, 20 Paulo Ferreira, 10 Joe Cole, 5 Michael Essien, 8 Frank Lampard, 12 John Obi Mikel, 11 Didier Drogba, 21 Salomon Kalou. Bench: 23 Carlo Cudicini, 22 Tal Ben-Haim, 4 Claude Makelele, 14 Claudio Pizarro, 7 Andriy Shevchenko.
Manchester City Starting 11: 25 Joe Hart, 16 Vedran Corluka, 22 Richard Dunne, 24 Javier Garrido, 2 Micah Richards, 11 Blumer Elano, 21 Dietmar Hamann, 7 Stephen Ireland, 6 Michael Johnson, 15 Martin Petrov, 20 Georgios Samaras. Bench: 1 Andreas Isaksson, 3 Michael Ball, 4 Nedum Onuoha, 10 Roaldno Bianchi, 12 Darius Vassell.
First Half (Note feed I was doing this review from did not have the time on screen, just the scoreline, except on goals).
Manchester City Kickoff.
Stephen Ireland nearly collects on Elano ball in but the ball was too heavy for him. Cech still had to intervene. Essien clears the corner.
Joe Hart does well to deny Essien from getting a touch on the ball from point blank range off a Chelsea corner.
I would like to know what Frank Lampard was thinking when he was shooting knowing that Stephen Ireland was practically in the same area he was intending to go with the ball. In the end it looked like he was passing the ball out past the byline for a goal kick.
Right idea from Samaras after getting past Alex and Carvalho, however the volley never got high enough to make Cech do any serious work to make the save...which he made rather comfortably.
Minute 16: GOAL CHELSEA! Joe Cole starts the play and the ball finds it's way to Mikel then Lampard. Lampard bets Garrido and Richards to get out of position for the on running Essien who takes Lampard's through ball and onto the far post. Chelsea just broke City down with their passing and Essien had an easy finish putting the ball where Joe Hart had no chance. Chelsea 1 Manchester City 0.
Good idea from Kalou, but he never was in the right position to put a proper header on goal.
Decent save to Cech to deny Petrov going to the far post. The ball dipped before the upper ninety that gave Cech the ability to parry out for the corner. The second corner is wasted for an offside.
YELLOW CARD MICHAEL ESSIEN. Essien took was holding and then clipped Elano's ankle with a scissors kick. Referee had no choice. Chelsea spring the counter off the free kick, but Drogba too wide to go near post, and found side netting. Drogba should have held that up and not be so straightforward.
YELLOW CARDS: MICAH RICHARDS AND FRANK LAMPARD. Micah Richards meet Frank Lampard. A little hand waving between the two England internationals ensue and despite the fan protests to have Richards sent off, both Lampard and Richards are shown yellow cards. Richards steps on Lampard and that was right for the booking. Lampard loses his temper and his retaliation was also ripe for a booking.
Minute 31: GOAL CHELSEA! Chelsea pick apart Manchester City in a way City was picking teams apart. Alex dispossesses Elano and finds Kalou. Kalou finds Lampard down the wing who then finds Drogba running free. Richards and Garrido are caught out of position and that doesn't help Joe Hart. Drogba though needs a bit of skill in getting it through the five hole and in. Pin point counter from Chelsea. Chelsea 2 Manchester City 0.
Stephen Ireland has to do better than putting an unmarked shot a yard wide of the far post. Extremely poor effort.
YELLOW CARD: MICHAEL JOHNSON. Just got Obi Mikel late without making an attempt at playing the ball.
Well what can't be said about Chelsea in the first half. It at times looked like they were mocking the tactics Manchester City had used the first ten games of their campaign. The passing crisp, the challenges on Joe Hart a plenty, and just like last weekend, passed the ball around to pick City's defenders apart. Manchester City looked shocked that Chelsea were not only coming after them, but playing them at their own game. The biggest problem is the back is playing out of sort and the midfield is getting caught forward giving Chelsea's midfield all the space they need on the counter.
Second Half
Joe Cole gives Salomon Kalou all the time he needs on the edge of the penalty area, but Kalou one times and makes it an extra point instead of a goal. Rushed that shot way too quickly.
Poor free kick from Petrov after Mikel concedes a free kick 22 from goal. Cech never moved as he knew it was always staying wide and high of the near post.
Minute 56: GOAL CHELSEA! Ferreira breaks from midfield and centers the ball. Drogba dummies the ball, but Kalou is challenged late. Lampard gets it and has his shot blocked by Hart, but Drogba is quickest to the ball, and shoots through shot is blocked by Hart and Drogba is there to grab the rebound and through the five hole central. The dummy by Drogba set this up as it put the central defense on Kalou. Since the challenge was made by the City defense, Lampard by default is onside. Drogba beats Corluka and Dunne to the rebound as the back four was a mess. Chelsea 3 Manchester City 0.
Minute 60: GOAL CHELSEA. Off the dispossession in the midfield. Drogba heads onto Cole who beats Richards and is in all alone with Hart. Joe Cole then from the edge of the penalty area knows Hart is unbalanced and just hits near post. Hart didn't have a prayer and Cole knew it when he hit it in on the near post. Again Chelsea cut City to shreads on the counter and where was the line...playing way too damn high. Chelsea 4 Manchester City 0.
Stephen Ireland comes off for Darius Vassell. Why in the hell is City going attack here when your four goals down and no prayer of coming back? Wouldn't you just wanna get out of Stamford Bridge only giving up 4 and trying to nic one of the counter?
Michael Ball on for Dietmar Hamann, now they go defensive.
Andriy Shevchenko on for Joe Cole. That's just what Manchester City want to see, another attacker...oh wait it's only the thirty million quid failure.
Shevchenko gets the ball in...and let's Dunne force him wide...and this has his shot blocked. Geez.
Roaldno Bianchi on for Elano. So let met get this straight City? Your going 5-2-3? That'll surely work?
Minute 75: GOAL CHELSEA! Salomon Kalou gets in behind Garrido who wasn't even paying attention. Mikel finds him and despite the angle, goes again between the five hole and in at the far post. This goal is solely on Garrido who simply has been asleep all game long. Chelsea 5 Manchester City 0.
Claudio Pizarro on, Didier Drogba off. Gets the standing obviation even despite the comments from last week. I guess you can say that is only yesterday's news.
Dunne does well to block Pizarro from getting to Kalou's cross. Shevchenko does have a gripe thought as upon replay, it showed he did keep the ball in play. Was a tight decision though.
Memo to Martin Tyler, please speak louder than the public address announcer. The fans at home don't need to know about how screwed supporters are leaving the ground trying to get onto the tube home.
Whoa, Cech got work? Bianchi chips one near post, but Cech doesn't have any problem to collect.
Minute 89: GOAL CHELSEA. Chelsera on the ball find Carvalho then Essien. Essien plays a little one-two with Pizarro before finding Shevchenko running unmarked between the back four Shevchenko takes Essien's pass before shooting towards central goal. Shevchenko just clinically gets in between Richards and Dunne and Hart never had a prayer. Can't believe honestly how easy that was for Shevchenko to score. Chelsea 6 (yes your read that right), Manchester City 0.
Final Analysis: It is better said now than after the first half, but Chelsea took Manchester City apart and did 80 percent of it by forcing Richards to cover for Garrido who was made to look an incompetent fool. Manchester City whenever they were on the ball played way too high a line and honestly had a keeper who forgot what it meant to close his legs. This was the first true whole Chelsea performance in a long long time. Manchester City looked totally outclassed and it sets up the first true watershed moment for them next weekend. They didn't make Cech work, didn't make the back four work, and were just way too soft. Sven has a tough task getting this team ready for next weekend, when their true character will be revealed.

Match Two: Tottenham v Blackburn Rovers

Tottenham Starting 11: 12 Radek Cerny, 2 Pascal Chimbonda, 20 Michael Dawson, 5 Younes Kaboul, 3 Young-Pyo Lee, 22 Tom Huddlestone, 25 Aaron Lennon, 15 Steed Malbranque, 4 Didier Zokora, 9 Dimitar Berbatov, 10 Robbie Keane. Bench: 27 Ben Alnwick, 7 Paul Stalteri, 6 Teemu Tainio, 23 Darren Bent, 18 Jermain Defoe.
Blackburn Rovers Starting 11: 1 Brad Friedel, 2 Andre Ooijer, 4 Christopher Samba, 3 Steven Warnock, 11 David Bentley, 19 David Dunn, 7 Brett Emerton, 5 Tugay, 8 Robbie Savage, 10 Benny McCarthy, 9 Roque Santa Cruz. Bench: 32 Jason Brown, 15 Aaron Mokoena, 6 Ryan Nelsen, 12 Morten Gamst Pedersen, 27 Matt Derbyshire.
First Half:
Minute 1: Tottenham kick off. Keane puts one right onto Brad Friedel who has no problem collecting.
Minute 3: Berbatov looks to take the volley, but it looked more high fly ball in the end and when he goes for the side volley, the Blackburn defense is set and block easily.
Minute 9: David Bentley, what kind of cross was that? It looked like something you would see in Rugby on a conversion after try.
Minute 10: Santa Cruz gets in deep, however Lee gets the challenge in before he can shoot. Then Bentley gets Lee to ground, turns and shoots way too soon. He had space to run into but simply failed to take advantage of the space provided when Lee was taken out of the equation.
Minute 17: So far while it's been an open game, it's been pretty much between the edge of both penalty areas.
Minute 18: Off Huddlestone's free kick, Lennon gets the deflection off Samba thinking he'll get a hand ball, but the ref slags that off rightfully so and Friedel collects.
Minute 20: Bentley does well to get the cross in, but Dunn fouls Chimbonda even though never got into the air.
Minute 21: Malbranque finds Lennon in behind Ooijer, but instead of going far post, goes near and Friedel blocks...
Minute 22: The ball goes out for a corner but after cleared, Robbie Keane forces Friedel into save number 2 and another corner...
Minute 23: That is cleared until McCarthy fouls Chimbonda for a free kick...that ends up in Friedel's arms. Wasted opportunities as they had 2 gifted chances.
Minute 24: David Dunn gets a make up call when Zokora is called for a cheeky foul, though it didn't look like one to me...
Minute 25: Bentley takes and what is up with all these free kicks being deflected off walls?
Minute 26: Andre Ooijer gives Berbatov a shoulder check, and Berbatov goes Arena Football and over the electronic advertising boards.
Minute 27: Brad Friedel does well to collect a cheeky little chip in that started to bend under the crossbar. He shouldn't have waited until late though to try and make a play.
Minute 34: Samba does a very good job covering Berbatov and forces him wide and his shot into the side netting.
Minute 39: Bentley does very well to force the ball off Lee for a Blackburn corner...wasted when they decide to shove in the box. This is not a Rugby maul.
Minute 41: Robbie Savage turns both his ankle and his knee on his challenge of Keane. That looked painful.
Minute 42: The free kick resulting is promptly wasted and sent back.
Minute 43: YELLOW CARD DAVID DUNN. Blatant hold.
Minute 45+1: Robbie Savage off, Aaron Mokoena on. Why not wait for the extra half a minute and making the sub to start the second half?
First Half Thoughts: Very open first half, but was spent between the penalty areas. Spurs had the best chances but Friedel did very well to keep them in the game. One sight for sore eyes though has to be the fact Tottenham blew countless set pieces. Blackburn looked good at the back and in the midfield keeping Spurs at bay, however Blackburn couldn't get the ball forward enough to look a threat. With Savage off the park, both sides should be able to open up the game more which is hopefully means getting quality chances inside the penalty area, something that was sorely lacking in the first half.
Second Half:
Minute 46: Blackburn kickoff.
Minute 48: PENALTY TO TOTTENHAM, YELLOW CARD TO STEVEN WARNOCK. Kaboul finds Keane who then finds Berbatov down the wing. Berbatov then gets behind Warnock and he has no choice but to challenge from behind holding him back. The referee has no choice but to give the penalty and a yellow card.
Minute 49: GOAL TOTTENHAM. Robbie Keane goes to his left and while Friedel guesses right, isn't tall enough to save. Well placed is all you can say. Tottenham 1 Blackburn Rovers 0.
Minute 53: Brad Friedel has to save Warnock again. Berbatov finds Lee on the run and Lee's shot is blocked out for a corner. The first corner goes out for corner number 2 and danger is averted when Friedel is fouled for a Blackburn free kick. Warnock is looking the shakiest at the back right now and the easiest to exploit.
Minute 59: Despite Blackburn having more of the possession since the goal, nothing of quality towards goal, as evident by Dunn's weak effort from 25 out.
Minute 60: Tugay off, Morten Gamst Pedersen on. Have to go for the goal and Pedersen can attack.
Minute 60: GOAL BLACKBURN ROVERS. This looks like only a quarter chance after Mokoena finds Bentley. Bentley is taken down but the ball finds McCarthy who then just picks the ball towards goal. Michael Dawson gets a boot to the ball which causes it to curl far post, off the far post, and in on the near post. Had Dawson not gotten a boot to that one, Cerny saves easily. McCarthy for once will be thankful he was marked the way he was. Tottenham 1 Blackburn Rovers 1.
Minute 62: YELLOW CARD TOM HUDDLESTONE. Bentley is taken to ground with a lunging leg and the referee has to book that when he's looking straight at it.
Minute 66: That it, I'm declaring Brad Friedel man of the match. Berbatov again forces Friedel to parry another chance over the crossbar to earn a corner that Blackburn eventually clear. Upon seeing the replay, Berbatov should have and has to put that ball from wince Friedel was coming.
Minute 70:
YELLOW CARD BENNI MCCARTHY. During open play, takes out Huddlestone with a shoulder to chest challenge never wanting the ball. The ref plays on correctly and shows it a few seconds later.
Minute 72: Two bits of good defending. Lennon springs a break after McCarthy passes right off the foot of the defender marking and then Lennon is unable to find Keane unmarked when his pass goes off a Blackburn defender.
Minute 74: Friedel beats Berbatov to the cross in from Lennon...
Minute 75: Then Friedel has to save his central defense when Keane was in all alone with the through ball. Friedel slides and makes the save.
Minute 76: Steed Malbranque off, Darren Bent on. Looks like both sides are going for a second now. May as well considering how open this game has been.
Minute 78: For the first time in the match, Friedel was caught on the line and Ooijer saves the keeper by clearing it out for a corner. Off the corner, the ball is cleared but Spurs get a free kick off a McCarthy hand ball. In the end, it's Tom Huddlestone who wastes it when he puts a ball into the penalty area with the weight of a pass from beyond the midfield line. Naturally that means it's out for a goal kick.
Minute 80: SHOVE FEST~! After Pedersen is taken down with a studs to leg tackle on Dawson, players get in a little pushing spell.
Minute 82:
YELLOW CARD MORTEN GAMST PEDERSEN, ROQUE SANTRA CRUZ AND DIDIER ZOKORA. Pedersen naturally for the challenge and then Cruz and Zokora for starting the little shoving match.
Minute 84: Matt Derbyshire on, David Dunn off. Blackburn looking more 4-2-4 now.
Minute 86: Free kick to Blackburn in a promising spot about 30 out. Well so much for promise as that looked American field goal than attempt on goal. Well over the crossbar.
Minute 89: Jermain Defoe on, Dimitar Berbatov off. Wrong move this late in the game considering they have been in a defensive shell without thinking about attacking.
Minute 90+2:
YELLOW CARD YOUNG-PYO LEE. Lee was fixing to be blown by from Derbyshire and just shoulder checks him...
Minute 90+3: GOAL BLACKBURN ROVERS: Off the free kick, the cross in finds it's way to Christopher Samba who from 20 yards out blasts one past Cerny at the far post. Pedersen wins the cross, Cruz sets Samba up and Samba does the rest. Pathetic defending as all Spurs had to do is just kick the ball out of the penalty area. Tottenham 1 Blackburn Rovers 2.
Minute 90+4:
YELLOW CARD JERMAIN DEFOE. Frustration challenged with malice and that was just stupid.
Final Analysis: How stupid and dumb can Tottenham be? The final ten minutes they let Blackburn bully them around after responding well to the Blackburn equalizer and it bites them in the rear end because of their one major fault this summer, they just can't get the ball away. Tottenham better have about 30 million available in January so they can get some help in the back, that's where they need all their help. Blackburn have to be commended for not getting down after giving up a bad penalty. Brad Friedel saved this team on five separate occasions and has to be the man of the match. Mark Hughes made the right substitutions to give his team the much needed spark they had to have. Blackburn also have to be commended for not doing what Tottenham did the final ten minutes of the game. This game was a microcosm of exactly why Blackburn are fifth and why Tottenham are still in relegation hell. Ramos has one hell of a rebuilding job to do if anything to instill some confidence in the back line.

Quick hitters on the other games.
Bolton 1 Aston Villa 1: Bolton leave the Sammy Lee era and go back to the same cynical football we all came to know and love under Sam Allardyce. Bolton still don't have any other scoring option beside Anelka and with a back four that still look disheveled, it doesn't look good. Villa still can't break the curse of playing away from Villa Park, and they have to do that or they will only slide down the table.
Derby County 0 Everton 2: Derby County are starting to remind me of Watford from last season. They will work hard, but the quality just isn't there. Everton were able to do the business only allowing Derby County 1 shot on goal. Everton coming off a UEFA Cup win midweek must have been happy they were playing a team they only had to do minimal work against.
Reading 2 Newcastle United 1: Newcastle United won't be coming close to competing for Europe until they can learn to win games like this. It doesn't help that you let Reading take this game to you. One thing I think we're learning about Newcastle right now is that when their midfield is having an average day, they just can't get the ball forward to Owen and Martins. Reading are doing an adequate job at home, see Aston Villa about their performances on the road.

If your wondering where Liverpool v Arsenal is, I will be back tomorrow night to give my full 90 minutes review on this game (knock on wood with pictures). Until then, all feedback is welcomed and appreciated. Let the debate begin~!~!


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Premier League Reviews: Round 11 Batch 1: Setanta Saturday

28 October 2007

Well I'm back for the first batch of weekend match reviews. This morning I take a look at the three games played on Setanta Sports today...Sunderland v Fulham, Birmingham City v Wigan Athletic and Manchester United v Middlesbrough. Enjoy!

Match One: Sunderland v Fulham

Sunderland Starting 11: 1 Craig Gordon, 15 Danny Collins, 2 Greg Halford, 14 Danny Higginbotham, 5 Nyron Nosworthy, 4 Dickson Etuhu, 18 Grant Leadbitter, 12 Liam Miller, 33 Ross Wallace, 16 Michael Chopra, 17 Kenwyne Jones. Bench: 13 Darren Ward, 3 Ian Harte, 31 David Connolly, 11 Daryl Murphy, 9 Anthony Stokes.
Fulham Starting 11: 29 Antti Niemi, 3 Carlos Bocanegra, 18 Aaron Hughes, 22 Ellot Omozusi, 6 Dejan Stefanovic, 25 Simon Davies, 10 Steven Davis, 23 Clint Dempsey, 27 Danny Murphy, 9 David Healy, 11 Diomansy Kamara. Bench: 12 Tony Warner, 38 Nathan Ashton, 7 Seol Ki-Hyeon, 8 Alexey Smertin, 14 Shefki Kugi.
First Half
Minute 1: Sunderland kick off.
Minute 4: Clint Dempsey takes Davies ball in and puts it right into the hands of Craig Gordon.
Minute 4: Free kick after Nyron Nosworthy is taken down by Dejan Stefanovic from behind. Wallace's delivery goes into a good position but is cleared away.
Minute 6: Corner to Sunderland after a blunder by Niemi. Danny Collins is unable to get to ball played into the far post.
Minute 9: Danny Higginbotham makes a serious mistake trying to clear the ball. However he goes right to David Healy who has an open net after Gordon goes out trying to punt the ball forward. Healy though misses an open net with the shot going just wide of the far post. Had Healy not rushed that, it's 1-0 to Fulham.
Minute 15: A quarter of an hour in and so far both sides look a little lost in the midfield and are relying on mistakes at the back for scoring chances. So far neither side has had any true spell on the ball.
Minute 16: Diomansy Kamara again unmarked in the box, but the cross into him from Davis is well off the mark.
Minute 17: Miller finds Halford, but his ball finds Hughes who clears for a Sunderland corner. Off the corner, Chopra is unable to do anything on the far post as his side volley attempt isn't the best hit ball in the world.
Minute 22: Miller does well to earn possession. His ball to Chopra is good, but Aaron Hughes forces him out wide and his centering pass goes right to Niemi. Promising start, pathetic end result.
Minute 24: Free kick to Fulham in a dangerous spot, but Stefanovic's shot is more extra point than shot on goal.
Minute 26: Yet another Fulham free kick. Simon Davies gets Bocanegra's ball in, goes wide, but his cross goes safely into Gordon's hands.
Minute 29: This is a recording, another free kick to Fulham in a promising position. Best looking one so far as Davis's ball in goes to Dempsey's head at the far post, and he doesn't miss by much.
Minute 31: Diomansy Kamara is incensed and rightfully so. He is clipped on the through ball from Dempsey by Danny Collins and as Gordon collects, the man in the middle waves off all protests. Poor poor decision.
Minute 32: GOAL FULHAM! Now Kamara gets a free kick. He's incensed but the referee does nothing about it. Simon Davies sets everyone up by playing everyone for a cross in, instead he goes near post and Craig Gordon didn't have a prayer. A deserved goal for the visitors as they have taken the game to the hosts for about the last fifteen minutes. Sunderland 0 Fulham 1.
Minute 35: YELLOW CARD GREG HALFORD. Carlos Bocanegra taken out by Greg Halford and if that isn't a yellow card, nothing is. Sliding in late taking out the legs without even an attempt for playing the ball. The free kick goes out for a corner and the corner is eventually cleared.
Minute 40: Kenwyne Jones tries to spark the attack, but Halford's ball into Chopra is too deep and Fulham finally clear the danger.
Minute 43: Halford, meet Etuhu's flailing arm. That looked painful.
Minute 45+1: YELLOW CARD CLINT DEMPSEY. Dickson Etuhu unable to play the ball on the edge of the penalty area and Fulham clear...until Clint Dempsey goes and chop blocks Michael Chopra...and gets a yellow card.
Minute 45+2: Wallace's free kick is cleared back to Miller but it results to nothing as Fulham ends up on the break before they got too quick for the counter.
Minute 45+3: Halford is just inches wide of Kenwyne Jones. So close but yet so far.
First Half Thoughts: Fulham controlled the first thirty eight minutes, however Sunderland finally started looking the home side at the end of the first half. The biggest beef you have to have with Sunderland right now is the lack of quality scoring chances, but when your crosses aren't into quality positions, what do you expect? Fulham really bulldogged their way into quality positions on set pieces and it finally paid off. The finish to the first half though has to be promising for Sunderland as they finally started to look lively.
Second Half
Minute 46: Fulham kick off.
Minute 47: Kenwyne Jones tries to do too much and has his shot blocked by Danny Murphy.
Minute 48: Hughes this time gets in on blocking a shot, this one from Grant Leadbitter. Then gets away with handball though it did look a very close decision.
Minute 49: YELLOW CARD SIMON DAVIES. Simon Davies clipping at the heels of Ross Wallace, and knew he was getting a yellow card for his effort, and got it.
Minute 50: The free kick is cleared by Hughes and cleared by Healy.
Minute 52: YELLOW CARD DEJAN STEFANOVIC. Jones out muscles Stefanovic for the ball. Stefanovic gets the yellow for deliberately holding Jones back. The free kick is punched away by Niemi for a corner. Clint Dempsey clears the corner for Fulham.
Minute 56: Dickson Etuhu header forces Niemi onto a diving save as Danny Collins is frozen at the far post. The ball goes off Stefanovic for a corner that produces a Fulham counter.
Minute 59: Dempsey gets in behind Halford who quickly takes down the American. The Fulham free kick is taken by Simon Davies and his cross in from the wing goes off Danny Collins and Dempsey's bicycle kick goes well over the bar. Halford nearly gifts Fulham a second.
Minute 60: Stefanovic heads the ball right onto the hand of Chopra (seriously the ball was the in the middle with both Stefanovic's head and Chopra's hand. Poor decision against Chopra for sure.
Minute 61: Anthony Stokes on, Dickson Etuhu off. More firing power. Daryl Murphy on, Michael Chopra off. Interesting there but Chopra has been pretty worthless in the game.
Minute 64: Free kick to Sunderland about 35 from goal. Leadbitter's free kick though ends up over everyone in a wasted opportunity.
Minute 67: RED CARD GREG HALFORD! Greg Halford tries to make love to David Healy and the official has no choice but to show the second yellow card there.
Minute 68: Free kick to Fulham obviously after the red card about 25 from goal. However Davies kick ends up in the empty stands behind Craig Gordon.
Minute 69: Kamara won't be getting his second goal. Nyron Nosworthy was being held back by Kamara after his second touch fails him.
Minute 69: David Off, Shefki Kugi on.
Minute 70: How in the hell does Antti Niemi save Leadbitter's shot. That was with pace from about 8 yards out off the side volley. Unbelievable save.
Minute 71: Ross Wallace off, Ian Harte on.
Minute 73: Stefanovic takes a nice tumble down.
Minute 77: Daryl Murphy with a weak cross and out for a goal kick. They have to do better than that.
Minute 80: Diomansy Kamara, meet leg cramp. Why don't they just get him off the park so this game can continue? After about half a minute, we finally get him off the pitch so the game can continue.
Minute 82: Diomansy Kamara off, Seol Ki-Hyeon on.
Minute 86: GOAL SUNDERLAND. After Omozusi concedes a Sunderland throw, Grant Leadbitter sends the cross in. Stefanovic fails to properly mark Jones and it's Kenwyne Jones with an open header from five yards out. Niemi didn't have a prayer. Poor marking from Dejan Stefanovic after what had been a very good game. Sunderland 1 Fulham 1.
Minute 87: Carlos Bocanegra sees the book for a challenge that never was intended to go for the ball.
Minute 89: Stokes's first touch fails him not once but twice and the second one costs Sunderland possession.
Minute 90: Sunderland get two corners in succession, and Jones has his header go off Omozusi for corner number 3 succession...
Minute 90+1: That is wasted off Leadbitter for a Fulham goal kick.
Minute 90+3: Anthony Stokes gets in behind Omozusi and then puts his shot...right on Niemi. He had the angle and the far post if he wanted it and Sunderland should be 2-1 up right now.
Full Time Thoughts: Fulham may have started the game all guns a blazin', but it was Sunderland who will feel unlucky they didn't steal this game in the end. Sunderland may have looked under pressure in the first half, but it was their game to lose, despite being down to ten men. The only thing I have to question with Sunderland is why is it they don't perform as well in the first half as they do in the second half. If it's because Roy Keane puts the fear of God into them, eventually that tact is going to wear itself thin. Fulham though have got to quit sitting on leads when they had all the incentive to kill this game off. I find it very hard to believe that they just don't have anyone who can finish off opposition.

Match Two: Birmingham City v Wigan Athletic.

Birmingham City Starting 11: 1 Maik Taylor, 2 Stephen Kelly, 15 Franck Queudrue, 6 Liam Ridgewell, 5 Rafael Schmitz, 20 Daniel De Ridder, 23 Olivier Kapo, 26 Fabrice Muamba, 12 Mehdi Nafti, 28 Wilson Palacios, 10 Cameron Jerome. Bench: 18 Richard Kingson, 17 Neil Danns, 7 Sebastian Larsson, 11 Gary McSheffrey, 8 Garry O'Connor.
Wigan Athletic Starting 11: 1 Chris Kirkland, 19 Titus Bramble, 4 Andreas Granqvist, 25 Mario Melchiot, 18 Paul Scharner, 8 Kevin Kilbane, 10 Jason Koumas, 14 Denny Landzaat, 6 Antoine Sibierski, 16 Antonio Valencia, 23 Marcus Bent. Bench: 12 Michael Pollitt, 17 Emmerson Boyce, 2 Ryan Taylor, 24 Josip Skoko, 15 Julius Aghahowa.
First Half:
Minute 1: Wigan Athletic kick off. Free kick to Birmingham City but De Ridder's cross is blocked and Jerome's shot after the ball finds its way through traffic at the far post is simply miss hit.
Minute 2: Jerome again with a shot that is blocked out for a corner off Granqvist. De Ridder was unmarked in the box. Yet he never got the ball back.
Minute 6: Jerome and De Ridder again get chances on goal, but Granqvist clears the danger.
Minute 8: Palacios plays a great pass to Jerome, but his first touch fails him and out for a Wigan goal kick.
Minute 13: Wigan earn a corner after Valencia gets two attempts to cross, Koumas and Landzaat get in the way of each other the first time and the second goes out. The corner is cleared after Taylor goes out to punch the ball away.
Minute 14: Corner to Birmingham after Kilbane's clearance goes over the byline. Schmitz takes De Ridder's ball in and wide of the far post.
Minute 15: Valencia beats Queudrue and has his centering ball cleared for a Wigan corner by Ridgewell. Taylor doesn't clear the corner and Valencia whiffs at an effort. Birmingham City break and Kapo is miles offside.
Minute 16: YELLOW CARD PAUL SCHARNER. Paul Scharner is booked for a challenge on the break that was about 2 seconds late.
Minute 19: Kilbane gets behind Muamba and Muamba just kicks out for a corner. Melchiot on the far post is unmarked, and his header is well side of the far post.
Minute 23: GOAL WIGAN ATHLETIC: Melchiot plays the long ball to Marcus Bent who simply blows by Liam Ridgewell. Bent takes it on the second bounce and volleys it far post. Ridgewell was simply poor as Melchiot played a very long ball in and Ridgewell got caught ball watching instead of playing the ball. Birmingham City 0 Wigan Athletic 1.
Minute 24: Granqvist gives up a Birmingham City throw after Muamba is given an old time hockey shoulder check. Off the free kick...
Minute 25: De Ridder forces Kirkland to tip the ball over though he could have caught that. De Ridder's corner is off the hand of Scharner and in those immortal words of Spanish TV...PENAL PENAL PENAL PENAL PENAL...PENALTY!
Minute 26: GOAL BIRMINGHAM CITY! Olivier Kapo goes down the middle while Kirkland dives a little bit to the right. Kirkland guessed before the shot was taken and Kapo just went the opposite direction. Birmingham City 1 Wigan Athletic 1.
Minute 30: Free kick to Wigan about 25 yards from goal. Koumas and Landzaat are talking and it's Koumas to take...and go about a yard high and wide of the near post.
Minute 31: Bramble is lucky his mistake didn't lead to a Birmingham City goal.
Minute 34: Good save from Kirkland to deny De Ridder.
Minute 35: Free kick for Birmingham about 27 yards from goal. Kapo takes and it is deflected off the wall and out for a corner. Kapo takes and doesn't get past the first defender.
Minute 40: Taylor goes off his line to deny Jason Koumas.
Minute 45: Valencia goes on the run and forces Schmitz to concede a Wigan corner...that is wasted away.
Minute 45+2. Kapo goes chip instead of drive and Kirkland gets his arms up and makes the catch.
First Half Thoughts: Both teams are basically trying the same tact and it's leading to a stalemate. Birmingham City are using De Ridder and Wigan are using Valencia. It's not been pretty at times and in points downright disappointing, but the 1-1 is the fair result. Both sides have wasted opportunities they will regret in the morning.
Second Half
Minute 46: Birmingham City kick off.
Minute 47: Valencia...runs right into Queudrue. Your not gonna get a free kick from that.
Minute 50: Free kick to Birmingham City after Koumas takes down Kelly. De Ridder takes and the cross towards Schmitz goes beyond the back post and Wigan clear...
Minute 51: Valencia breaks down the wing on the counter. The ball is played out for a throw. Birmingham clear off the throw.
Minute 52: Kapo and then Jerome have golden chances on goal, but neither can take advantage and Wigan clear the danger.
Minute 53: De Ridder goes down on the edge on the penalty area. The referee plays on and Muamba's centering ball is caught by Kirkland without a challenge.
Minute 56: I have no clue what Paul Scharner was thinking on the edge of the penalty area as his shot is well over the bar.
Minute 57: Free kick to Wigan after Bent is taken down by Nafti. Koumas and Landzaat nearly clash into each other before Koumas takes and Birmingham City clear. That was comical.
Minute 59: GOAL WIGAN ATHLETIC. Mario Melchiot overlaps Valencia and beats Queudrue. The Melchiot cross crosses up Kelly and Taylor who collide into each other. The ball dribbles towards the net and Marcus Bent is there to clean it up. Pathetic defending there from Birmingham as they were simply all over the place and about two steps too slow. Birmingham City 1 Wigan Athletic 2.
Minute 62: Fabrice Muamba off, Garry O'Connor on. Steve Bruce going for goals now...not like he doesn't have any other choice with his job on the line.
Minute 63: Cameron Jerome does well to force Kirkland into a good save giving Birmingham City a corner. The threat is averted when Kirkland makes the save.
Minute 64: Great cross from Kapo and Jerome and then O'Connor both should have had easy goals. The ball ends up between O'Connor's feet and Kirkland collects.
Minute 67: GOAL BIRMINGHAM CITY! Cameron Jerome and Granqvist go shoulder to shoulder and the ball goes out for a Birmingham City corner. The ball is played into Liam Ridgewell who beats Scharner to the spot and heads in from 12 yards out. Simply put poor marking and the inability for Kirkland to go after that ball as he is caught in traffic leads to that goal. It didn't help either that he was flat footed. Birmingham City 2 Wigan Athletic 2.
Minute 69: Corner to Wigan and the threat ends when Paul Scharner is called for his second handball.
Minute 73: Free kick to Wigan about 38 from goal and central. Koumas looks set to take and his ball for goal is deflected out by De Ridder for a corner.
Minute 74: Wigan's corner from Koumas had two chances from goal. However they are unable to do anything with it after Bent tries to center to Melchiot and Birmingham City clear.
Minute 77: Kilbane is suckered by De Ridder into conceding a free kick. Kapo's cross is lost by Kirkland and after Schmitz's shot is blocked, Wigan clear the danger.
Minute 78: Wilson Palacios Off, Sebastian Larsson on. Guy to clog the midfield and spring the counter it appears.
Minute 79: Valencia is forced to play back after there was no help. Kilbane ends up taking the pass and down the wing to the byline but gets too deep and the cross is right to Taylor.
Minute 80: Free kick to Birmingham after Bramble is busted for handball. The free kick is played in Queudrue and Kapo's header is just over the crossbar.
Minute 81: GOAL BIRMINGHAM CITY! The man who was fixing to be substituted, Olivier Kapo takes the ball from Nafti and through the five hole of Granqvist and past Kirkland going far post. Wigan were in shambles at the back and Kirkland didn't even move. You can't be shocked at a shot like that. Birmingham City 3 Wigan Athletic 2.
Minute 84: Julius Aghahowa on, Antoine Sibierski off. Wing and a prayer time up front for Wigan.
Minute 84: Kirkland does well to pick the ball from the feet of Garry O'Connor. What is it with Birmingham City players having the ball stuck between the feet?
Minute 89: Wigan have spent the lave five minutes desperately trying to get the ball forward...without any success.
Minute 90: O'Connor plays the ball down the wing and now Birmingham City are holding onto the ball while the fans start singing Steve Bruce's name.
Minute 90+1: Make that handball number 3 for Scharner.
Minute 90+2: It's Jerome and he meets the corner.
Minute 90+2: Time wasting as Daniel De Ridder is off for Gary McSheffrey.
Final Analysis: To be frank, for a 3-2 game there was only one spell of real exciting football. That spell, between Birmingham City's second and third goals. The rest of the time there wasn't much to the game but seeing two teams play with the same tactic and honestly not very good. The game in most spots was sloppy, hard on the eyes and shockingly poor on finishing. So your asking how the hell can I say for 3-2 the finishing was poor, well because the set pieces were awful. That said, Birmingham City have to be commended for not giving up. Darren Bent broke them twice and yet they still found a way to get back into this game. Steve Bruce was very wise to bring in Garry O'Connor and his presence up front really frustrated Wigan. Once Bruce brought O'Connor in, the back looked much more stable. Wigan are starting to leak goals again and that's not good at all. They don't have the fire power up front and Kirkland isn't that good of a keeper to bail them out time in and time out. Kirkland to be even franker should have saved that third goal. It was only to his right by only a yard.

Match Three: Manchester United v Middlesbrough

Manchester United Starting 11: 1 Edwin Van der Sar, 6 Wes Brown, 5 Rio Ferdinand, 22 John O'Shea, 15 Nemanja Vidic, 8 Oliveira Anderson, 4 Owen Hargreaves, 17 Luis Nani, 7 Cristiano Ronaldo, 10 Wayne Rooney, 32 Carlos Tevez. Bench: 29 Tomasz Kuszczak, 19 Gerald Pique, 25 Danny Simpson, 24 Darren Fletcher, 11 Ryan Giggs.
Middlesbrough Starting 11: 1 Mark Schwarzer, 33 Andrew Taylor, 31 David Wheater, 8 Jonathan Woodgate, 2 Luke Young, 27 Lee Cattermole, 19 Stewart Downing, 4 Gary O'Neil, 10 Fabio Rochemback, 11 Jeremie Aliadiere, 17 Tuncay Sanli. Bench: 21 Ross Turnbull, 38 Seb Hines, 7 George Boateng, 36 Ben Hutchinson, 18 Dong-Gook Lee.
First Half:
Minute 1: Middlesbrough kick off.
Minute 3: GOAL MANCHESTER UNITED! Hargreaves finds Nani on the wing who turns Cattermole around. Nani then gets the ball on his right foot before shooting from 35 yards our and seeing the ball curl right into the far post. Schwarzer was never going to save a shot of that quality. Nani though was given too much space and when he got past the first marker you knew what he was doing. Manchester United 1 Middlesbrough 0.
Minute 6: Carlos Tevez tries to flick the ball over Schwarzer, but the Boro keeper was in the right place to make the catch.
Minute 6: GOAL MIDDLESBROUGH! On the counter Tuncay turns John O'Shea on the right wing before crossing the ball to Jeremie Aliadiere. Aliadiere has absolutely no problems getting in between Vidic and Ferdinand and heading onto the far post. Van der Sar never had a prayer to save this one and to be quite honest he never should have had to make a play on the ball. The marking by the central defenders on this one was just pathetic and in all honesty should have taken care of this one for the keeper. Manchester United 1 Middlesbrough 1.
Minute 14: Free kick to Manchester United after Wes Brown is taken down by Andrew Taylor. The huddle commences and between Rooney, and Ronaldo, Rooney takes and hits the wall.
Minute 16: Andrew Taylor gambles and Mark Schwarzer beats Wayne Rooney to the ball. That was what you would be defined as an unnecessary back pass.
Minute 17: Vidic concedes a Boro corner. It's Downing to take, but it ends up right into the hands of Van der Sar.
Minute 20: Wes Brown gives Middlesbrough a free kick with a shoulder lunge at Tuncay. Rochemback takes from 35 yards out and the wall does it job. Tuncay ends up offside and the pressure is relieved.
Minute 23: Poor passing from Rochemback gives Nani another long distance shot. This time it's wide of the near post.
Minute 24: Tuncay down the right side finds Stewart Downing who got in behind Wes Brown. He looked offside from my view but it was all for naught as his header misses the far post, but only by inches.
Minute 28: Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo play a little game of one two. However David Wheater gets him just wide enough to go only inches wide of the far post.
Minute 33: GOAL MANCHESTER UNITED! Big mistake on the edge of the penalty area. Stewart Downing thinks he can be fancy free and after he loses his footing, Wayne Rooney dispossesses takes one touch and fires the ball with fury off Schwarzer's gloves and in going far post. That goal is 100 percent Downing's fault a simple clearance would have sufficed. Instead, Downing tried to be too cute and Rooney was there to pounce. Manchester United 2 Middlesbrough 1.
Minute 35: John O'Shea finds Ronaldo unmarked on the edge of the eighteen central. His shot however goes right to Schwarzer and Boro will feel fortunate.
Minute 41: Free kick to Manchester United after Ronaldo is taken down by Gary O'Neil. Ronaldo's cross goes right into the wall.
Minute 45: Free kick to Middlesbrough after Ronaldo takes down Aliadiere. Wheater is unable to get any power to the header and Manchester United break.
Minute 45+1: Schwarzer stops Tevez in his tracks and gets back into place when Ronaldo's unknowing touch lands at his feet.
First Half Thoughts: Manchester United are simply toying around with Middlesbrough right now. United are just having their way with the ball passing around the park and looking for the gaps. Manchester United will also feel like they should have gotten more than they two they did. They really only made one mistake at the back and took full advantage of the mistakes Middlesbrough made at the back. Middlesbrough simply look like a side that already looks beat. Sure they have gotten a couple of decent half chances, but they simply didn't put any pressure on Manchester United at all. They have been outclassed and look like mice being beaten around by a cat.
Second Half
Minute 46: Manchester United kick off. Rooney and Tevez play a little game of 1-2, but Rooney gets just a little too wide and is unable to produce a quality effort on goal.
Minute 48: Rooney finds Nani who ends up slipping as he sails his shot over the crossbar. It's just looking way too easy for Manchester United right now.
Minute 53: Lee Cattermole with a nice shot near post, but Edwin Van der Sar with an even better save tipping it over the crossbar for the corner. Rochemback's corner springs Ronaldo on the break...before Woodgate blocks his effort.
Minute 55: GOAL MANCEHSTER UNITED! After a rushed Woodgate clearance, Anderson finds Tevez. Tevez finds Rooney who lays the ball back with a back heel to Tevez who sees Schwarzer out of position and goes far post. Rooney took Wheater and Woodgate out of the equation for Tevez on that one. Manchester United 3 Middlesbrough 1.
Minute 56: Ben Hutchinson on for Jeremie Aliadiere.
Minute 58: Free kick to Manchester United. Ronaldo is standing over the ball and ends up hitting the wall yet again.
Minute 62: Rooney springs Tevez down the left who finds Ronaldo, but his shot is blocked by Rochemback. It's been pretty much one way traffic in this second half.
Minute 67: Darren Fletcher on, Owen Hargreaves off.
Minute 68: Hutchinson with what could be described as a quarter chance. Had he not felt the urge to rush the shot, it would at least made Van der Sar work.
Minute 70: Taylor concedes a Manchester United free kick. Nani takes and it's right as Schwarzer. Wasn't the best corner in the world.
Minute 73: Ronaldo does well down the center of the park to set up Wes Brown, but he is unable to get a quality cross in and it's out for a goal kick.
Minute 73: Rio Ferdinand off, Gerald Pique on.
Minute 74: YELLOW CARD LEE CATTERMOLE. Lee Cattermole goes two feet in to the ankle of Luis Nani. The man in the middle had no choice but to show the yellow for it.
Minute 78: Nani's cross on the left finds Rooney...who heads right at Schwarzer.
Minute 78: Anderson off, Ryan Giggs on.
Minute 80: Tuncay Sanli off, Dong-Gook Lee on. If that isn't a sign on conceding a game, nothing is.
Minute 82: Hutchinson wins a free kick when Pique impedes forward progress. Downing takes and doesn't miss the far post by much. Had that ball not sliced at the end, it was going upper ninety.
Minute 85 GOAL MANCHESTER UNITED! Ronaldo clicks onto Rooney who finds Tevez on the left. His shot goes off Andrew Taylor, turns into a high fly ball down the center of the park, and Schwarzer was unable to find it before it goes in the back of the net. Had Taylor not gotten to that ball first, Schwarzer was in prime position to make the save. Manchester United 4 Middlesbrough 1.
Minute 88: YELLOW CARD FABIO ROCHEMBACK. Appearantly during the build up to United's fourth, Rochemback got busted holding Rooney back.
Minute 90: When Wes Brown and Cristiano Ronaldo are have a pass about, you know it's not good for the opposition. Then Ronaldo has to blow by trying to be way too cute.
Minute 90+1: On a day where everyone wasn't being selfish, Luis Nani should have been from 8 yards out.
Minute 90+2: George Boateng on, Lee Cattermole off.
Final Analysis: You wanna know what this game reminded me of? Think FA Cup Third Round where the gulf in quality was so bad, the better side just passed the ball around and only went forward when the space was so gaping they had to. Well that's exactly what Manchester United did today. They spent of the ninety passing the ball around the park, and when they had to counter did so. It may not be the most 'attractive' to some, but to be frank, when your scoring 4 goals a game for the last 5 in all competitions, who gives a damn if it's attractive or not? Middlesbrough simply put have nothing of quality up front and the lack of quality crosses from the wing are going to spell to this club's downfall.

Will be back later in the day with more Premier League match reviews. Until then, feedback is welcomed and appreciated!

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Kansas City Wizards v Chivas USA Live 90 Minutes Commentary

27 October 2007

Sorry I am a little late getting this up. Had dinner and did dishes between the replay of Birmingham City v Wigan Athletic and the kickoff of this game.

KC Wizards Starting 11: 1 - Kevin Hartman (GK) 2 - Michael Harrington 3 - Nick Garcia 5 - Kerry Zavagnin 7 - Eddie Johnson 9 - Sasha Victorine 11 - Kurt Morsink 12 - Jimmy Conrad 14 - Jack Jewsbury 19 - Scott Sealy 22 - Davy Arnaud. Substitutes 24 - Eric Kronberg (GK) 6 - Jose Burciaga Jr. 16 - Eloy Colombano 20 - Tyson Wahl 21 - Lance Watson 26 - Ryan Raybould 29 - Ryan Pore
Chivas USA Starting 11: 18 - Brad Guzan (GK) 2 - Claudio Suarez 4 - Shavar Thomas 6 - Francisco Mendoza 10 - Laurent Merlin 13 - Jonathan Bornstein 15 - Jesse Marsch 16 - Sacha Kljestan 21 - Jason Hernandez 23 - Alex Zotinca 26 - Paulo Nagamura. Substitutes 22 - Preston Burpo (GK) 8 - Ramon Nunez 12 - John Cunliffe 17 - Rodrigo Lopez 19 - Jorge Flores 24 - Bobby Burling 32 - Anthony Hamilton
First Half
Minute 1: Chivas USA kick off.
Minute 2: Sealy springs the break. Victorine tries for Morsink but the ball is cleared out.
Minute 3: Sasha Victorine so close but out for a goal kick.
Minute 4: Jesse Marsch tries from distance, but Hartman easily collects.
Minute 5: Sasha Victorine goes for goal and Guzan collects without problem.
Minute 7: Free kick to KC about 30 from goal, Arnaud goes wide of the near post for a goal kick.
Minute 9: Nagamura goes to ground way too easily and the referee correctly plays on. However shouldn't that be a yellow for diving?
Minute 10: Ten minutes in and Chivas look like they are having trouble keeping possession. Even in the 4-5-1 they look in, Kansas City have gotten through a few times. KC are applying all the pressure right now.
Minute 12: Sealy in all alone, but 1 v 2. He works well to gain enough space to shoot and forces Guzan into making the save for a corner. Zavagnin takes the corner and Morsink goes well over the crossbar.
Minute 14: Off a KC throw, Scott Sealy gets yet another good scoring position, but puts his effort well wide and out for another goal kick. If Sealy keeps getting in those spots unmarked, he'll eventually punish you.
Minute 16: Michael Harrington down the wing and beats two defenders, but his pass to Morsink is poor and Chivas clear.
Minute 18: Kljestan tries to find Zotinca but the pass too heavy and Hartman collects.
Minute 19: Zotinca does a little screaming the official's way after getting called on the foul and is lucky he wasn't booked for dissent.
Minute 21: Francisco Mendoza fouled by Davy Arnaud giving Chivas it's best chance so far in the game. Kljestan to take the free kick. End result...Zavagnin clears being the first defender. Poor free kick.
Minute 23: Jewsbury, meet Merlin. Free kick to Kansas City.
Minute 34: Did I just see a 'Goat It's what's for dinner' banner? Meanwhile corner to Chivas.
Minute 25: Poor corner from Kljestan is all I know to say.
Minute 26: This game is starting to turn seven shades of sloppy and poor.
Minute 28: Sealy tries to spring Johnson, but when your 2 v 5 the odds are just that much against you.
Minute 29: Eddie Johnson unable to turn Suarez and he ends up putting the ball out to touch for a Chivas throw-in. If your wondering, the only other goal in the playoffs has been for FC Dallas.
Minute 31: Kljestan breaks and finds Mendoza. Mendoza though ends up waiting too late to shoot and puts it well wide of the far post. Best chance for Chvias in the game.
Minute 32: Eddie Johnson down the wing goes for Arnaud on the cross. However Arnaud unable to get to the fifty-fifty and Chivas clears.
Minute 34: GOAL KANSAS CITY, DAVY ARNAUD Johnson taken down by Nagamura, free kick to KC. Davy Arnaud takes and between heads of the wall and into the near post. Guzan was simply frozen. That's a way to get atmosphere in a 1/7th full stadium. KC Wizards 1 Chivas USA 0.
Minute 38: Chivas look totally lost in the midfield.
Minute 40: Finally some life from Chivas. Hartman parries out the first attempt from distance by Zotinca and Merlin unable to get a decent second effort as Garcia was back to cover.
Minute 42: Johnson down the wing but can't get his shot on target and it goes across the pitch for a Chivas throw.
Minute 44: Chivas with a little spell of possession near the end of the first half. Michael Harrington takes down Merlin from behind and sees yellow for it.
Minute 45: Kljestan goes far post but Hartman catches with ease. Morsink is taken down by Kljestan and KC can relieve the pressure.
Minute 45+1: Alex Zotinca sees yellow for a studs up challenge to Sasha Victorine. No attempt was made to play the ball and had to see the book for that.
Halftime: Kansas City Wizards 1 Chivas USA 0.
Quick First Half Thoughts: Chivas look a mess right now. They are not using the wide players to their benefit at all. They are doing more defending than attacking and are just not keeping possession at all. Kansas City didn't look much better, but they are playing more tight and using their pace up front to cut Chivas apart. It wouldn't hurt KC to go for a second goal and it wouldn't hurt Chivas to get out of the 4-5-1 and got 4-4-2 or even 4-1-4-1.
Quick scoring update. FC Dallas 1 Houston Dynamo 0, New York Red Bull 0 New England Revolution 0.
Second Half
Minute 46: Kansas City kick off.
Minute 48: Victorine takes Johnson's pass and shoots off Sealy. Arnaud goes far post and has it deflected out and Chivas clear.
Minute 51: Free kick to Morsink after Marsch takes him down. Zavagnin goes to Victorine, but his flick on goal was never heading near post and ends up out for a goal kick.
Minute 54: Booking to Nick Garcia for his challenge on Sacha Kljestan. The free kick by Kljestan and after a spell of possession...
Minute 56: KC Break through Arnaud but Victorine unable to keep the ball and out for a Chivas throw.
Minute 57: John Cunliffe on Zotinca off. Preki obviously had seen enough and brings on the extra striker.
Minute 59: Cunliffe unable to get the through ball through Nick Garcia's good defending.
Minute 61: Marsch from distance blocked by Zavagnin.
Minute 62: Chivas down the wing find Cunliffe who puts his shot off the bar. Nothing like a little familiarity to the formation to spark your side.
Minute 65: Sealy tries to find Johnson, but by the time the pass is made, Johnson ends up offside.
Minute 66: Davy Arnaud unable to find Scott Sealy and Chivas clear. Should have done better though.
Minute 67: For those wondering, New York 0 New England 0 full time. And Kljestan fouls Harrington for a KC free kick.
Minute 68: Arnaud finds Conrad on the free kick, but it doesn't amount to anything.
Minute 70: Ramon Nunez comes on...didn't catch who for.
Minute 71: Jewsbury mugged by Borstein and free kick to KC.
Minute 72: Kurt Morsink off, Ryan Pore on.
Minute 73: Kljestan should have been booked for diving as he literally flops to the ground in hope he'll get a penalty decision.
Minute 75: Still FC Dallas 1 Houston Dynamo 0. Game has grinded to near halt in Kansas City.
Minute 78: Mendoza with a very weak centering ball easily handled by KC.
Minute 80: Zavagnin too ambitious trying to find Sealy on the long ball. Guzan collects the cross with ease.
Minute 84: Chivas are trying to get forward but they are having no success whatsoever doing so.
Minute 85: Nunez in with space, but puts his shot a yard over the crossbar.
Minute 87: Jewsbury does well to deny Bornstein.
Minute 88: Kerry Zavagnin booked for a late tackle. Ryan Raybould on and Jack Jewsbury off. Jewsbury was starting to cramp.
Minute 90: John Cunliffe in on goal...until you realize he was offside. Nick Garcia did well to play him off.
Minute 90+1: Eddie Johnson on the counter tries to find Scott Sealy, but Guzan gets in the way of that.
Minute 90+2: KC free kick and they take their jolly sweet time taking it. Chivas get it and here they come on the attack. Bornstein open on the switch but KC defend well...
Minute 90+3: Davy Arnaud takes the ball and KC clear.
FULLTIME: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS 1 CHIVAS USA 0.
Full Time Thoughts: Chivas USA looked a team that didn't know how to attack without their two starting strikers on the park. Cunliffe did his part when he came on, but to be frank by then it was too late. Kansas City though with only one goal are going to have a hard time getting out of this with the aggregate win, but with the injuries up front for Chivas, you would think if they packed the ball in they should be able to get out of LA with a 0-0 draw. The second leg is going to be a very very tense affair.

Well that's all the time I have tonight. Thank you for reading and remember, feedback is always welcomed and appreciated.

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Chicago Fire v DC United Round 1 Leg 1 Live

25 October 2007

Full 90 minutes as done live.
Chicago Starting Lineup: 18 - Matt Pickens (GK) 2 - C.J. Brown 7 - Logan Pause 8 - Diego Gutierrez 9 - Chad Barrett 10 - Cuauhtemoc Blanco 14 - Chris Armas 17 - Chris Rolfe 22 - Wilman Conde 25 - Gonzalo Segares 32 - Dasan Robinson. Substitutes 1 - Jon Busch (GK) 3 - Calen Carr 4 - Bakary Soumare 11 - John Thorrington 12 - Paulo Wanchope 31 - Floyd Franks 35 - Bruno Menezes
DC United Starting Lineup: 1 - Troy Perkins (GK) 4 - Marc Burch 6 - Greg Vanney 7 - Fred 10 - Christian Gomez 14 - Ben Olsen 16 - Brian Carroll 18 - Devon McTavish 19 - Clyde Simms 20 - Guy-Roland Kpene 26 - Bryan Namoff. Substitutes 22 - Jay Nolly (GK) 11 - Luciano Emilio 12 - Domenic Mediate 15 - Rod Dyachenko 21 - Stephen deRoux 32 - Bobby Boswell 99 - Jaime Moreno

Pregame Thoughts: As I said on the Major League Soccer Talk Podcast, I am not sure where Chicago are going to get goals from. However the lineup DC United has put out tonight really helps Chicago. The one thing Chicago needs is a quick goal, maybe two. Then they can bunker down and force DC into some forced substitutions. From there if Chicago can shut DC down in the midfield, they should be able to counter with some success. Let's hope the attendance is respectable.

First Half:
Pre-Kickoff...Smart move ESPN2, remind the rest of the world that the World Series is on. And very wise to have Davis and Wynalda in the booth tonight.
Minute 1: DC United kicks off. Barrett unable to hold onto the ball inside the penalty are and DC United Clear.
Minute 2: Blanco...just a bit offside (cue bad Bob Ucker references). Then decides to put the ball up the jumper (cue bad Rugby references) and DC United earn a free kick.
Minute 3: Blacno's bad pass gives DC United their first long spell of possession.
Minute 6: Brian Carroll gives Chicago the first free kick. Blanco takes it and DC puts it off the side netting for corner number 2. Was a poor corner from Blanco and he'll get a second chance. DC clear the second attempt.
Minute 9: Segares finds Wolff down the wing. Wolff does well to get in behind McTavish, and his shot is tipped over the bar by Perkins for a corner. Segaras gets two crosses in, but the second one gets caught up in the wind and out for a goal kick.
Minute 10: Cande dispossessed at the edge of DC United's attacking third. However Conde does well to fight for the ball and then a free kick after the foul by Kpene.
Minute 11: Blanco taken down by Carroll and earns a free kick. Played through the midfield but it comes to nothing when Olsen is is taken by Gutierrez. Some words ensue and Gutierrez is shown the yellow. Can't be getting stupid bookings like one for dissent.
Minute 13: Brian Carroll always going high on his shot.
Minute 14: GOAL CHRIS ROLFE! CHICAGO TAKE THE LEAD OFF A MAJOR MISTAKE IN THE BACK. BARRETT FLICKS ON TO ROLFE AS DC'S DEFENSE TRIES TO WIN THE BALL IN THE AIR. ROLFE GETS IN BEHIND EVERYONE AND WHIPS THE BALL IN AT THE NEAR POST. PERKINS WAS HELPLESS. CHICAGO FIRE 1 DC UNITED 0.
Minute 16: Pickens has to save a mistake from the Chicago back four. DC gets a shot in but blocked and Chicago clear...for the moment.
Minute 17: Fred to Burch and his cross in ends up out for a goal kick. To the one who asked if I will be doing this for every playoff game. That is the plan as of right now. As long as games don't overlap.
Minute 18: Blanco should have done better and it should be 2-0 to Chicago. Perkins parries out and DC finally clear.
Minute 20: Olsen had a right idea to drive that shot through traffic, but mis hit that one and goes well wide of the far post.
Minute 22: Gomez tries a cheeky little flick on to goal picking the ball out of the air, but Pickens has no trouble with that one.
Minute 22: Blanco taken down by Brian Carroll. I don't know if it is yellow card worthy, but upon seeing the replay it was correct. Carroll was holding Blanco back and you just can't do that in front of the referee.
Minute 25: Game starting to get bogged down a little bit in the midfield. The pace though is just amazing.
Minute 26: Kpene with a cross in and Pickens just punches it out of the area. Off the throw in, Dasan Robinson gets the ball and then earns the Fire a throw in.
Minute 27: DC United with it's first spell of attack in this game, but a mix up gives Conde the ball and then a rash challenge gives Chicago a free kick.
Minute 30: Free kick to DC United. Birch goes far post but is cleared out. The shot in by Olsen is deflected and caught by Pickens.
Minute 32: Burch fouls Pause and Chicago gets a free kick in an interesting position, Blanco's ball in is cleared and Gomez on the break and his pass to Olsen is too heavy and Gutierrez's challenge was picture perfect and Chicago escape that one.
Minute 34: Armas does well to earn possess in the midfield, but the ball into Pause goes wide and Perkins is able to collect.
Minute 35: Free kick to DC United 10 yards in their attacking half. They keep possession but Robinson dispossess and is then promptly fouled. Wasted spell again from DC United.
Minute 37: The weather is starting to show in the quality on the park. It is getting very slippery.
Minute 39: DC finally switch play to Olsen. However the one-two being played back to him is hit with too much weight and out to touch for a Chicago throw-in.
Minute 41: Namoff concedes a corner kick to Chicago. Blanco to take and the ball in to the near post is out for a goal kick.
Minute 42: Fred goes for the volley and has it deflected out for a corner. Gomez takes and after a mad scramble, Chicago clear. DC Gets the ball back in, but DC is offside and it gives Chicago another free kick.
Minute 43: Free kick to DC United straight away, but blow it when Segares is rashly taken down.
Minute 45: Blanco loses it, gets it back, and then goes down to a Fred challenge. Free kick to Chicago on the edge of the penalty area. Into first half stoppage time. Segares in, Perkins punches out and Olsen clears.
Minute 45+1: Now Kpene is down but quickly gets back up. McTavish takes the free kick and Robinson clears it out for a corner. However before the corner can be taken, the first half whistle is blown.
HALFTIME: CHICAGO FIRE 1 DC UNITED 0.
First Half Thoughts: Well Chicago came out all guns a blazing and were justly rewarded with the goal. They had a golden chance through Blanco to get a second and he simply should have made it 2-0 to the Fire. DC though is starting to turn the screw a little bit but aren't getting any chances of true quality. The key for this second half is which side comes out and plays the opening fifteen minutes like the Fire did in the first half. If it isn't DC, I could see themselves going all attack the final half hour.

Second Half:
Pre-Second Half: Well it looks like DC United are not going to wait to make their first attacking substitution. Jamie Moreno is coming on in place of Guy-Roland Kpene.
Minute 46: Chicago kick off.
Minute 47: Barrett gets in behind McTavish and puts the ball where the three Fire players were not waiting. Perkins ends up getting the catch.
Minute 49: Segares fouls Gomez in a dangerous position for a DC United free kick. Gomez's free kick goes right off the wall and out for a throw. Danger averted when Olsen chests the ball out for a goal kick.
Minute 50: Moreno does well to make one man miss. He passes out wide and his centering ball goes all the way for a throw in.
Minute 51: Yellow Card CJ Brown. Kicks Gomez and then when Gomez gets up trades words. Looks like Brown may have said something to the man in the middle.
Minute 52: Simms fouls Blanco and a free kick awarded. Free kick goes out for a goal kick.
Minute 54: What a chippy start to the start of this second half. Conde finds Gutierrez then Blanco. Chicago move the ball back and Moreno ends up on the break. Fouled by Segares and DC United get a dangerous free kick...
Minute 56: Gomez to take from 32 yards out. Had power, but well wide of the far post. Goal kick to Chicago.
Minute 57: Nice challenge from Brown to save the ball down the wing. Chad Barrett down and DC put the ball into touch.
Minute 58: Christian Gomez goes offside. For all the possession they have had in the second half, have they had but only one half a chance?
Minute 59: Fred goes over the bar on a shot where he should have let the ball settle first.
Minute 60: This is a recording on Christian Gomez from minute 58.
Minute 61: Bryan Namoff picks the ball and out for a corner before Barrett can shoot. Blanco takes and doesn't get past the first defender. DC clear.
Minute 62-63: Fred goes down and it looked rather easily to me. Robinson didn't look to get much of Fred but the referee gives a free kick nonetheless. Gomez puts a shot right off the wall and McTavish can't keep the ball in and Chicago clear.
Minute 64: Chad Barrett off Calen Carr on. Speed speed speed. Can it kill on this wet night?
Minute 66: Getting only more physical now...is the powder keg going to explode?
Minute 67: Fred out wide and his shot is blocked by Carr. The ball is played very long to Blanco and he ends up getting called for a very accidental hand ball. Gomez on the header going right to Pickens.
Minute 68: Blanco fouled yet again and with the way he's counting aloud the number of times he has been fouled, it should have been a yellow card for dissent.
Minute 69: And Gomez makes three...times he's been offside in this half. Calen Carr off the set piece and the high line bites DC in the backside. Carr's Thorrington esque chip doesn't miss by much.
Minute 70: Corner to DC United as CJ Brown gets to a cross in from Burch before Olsen can. Gomez to take and...
Minute 71: Gomez's corner blows by everyone going out well wide of the far post.
Minute 72: DC take a quick throw and Moreno is in acres of space...until he goes too wide and out on the byline for a Chicago goal kick.
Minute 75: DC United go on the counter and Armas fouls Fred and concedes a free kick. Olsen is taken down by Gutierrez and DC get another free kick...
Minute 76: Burch blows the free kick and Chicago clears...though they are still piling on the pressure.
Minute 77: The atmosphere is starting to show through the muted microphones. Blanco finds Carr and it should have been a penalty. Perkins makes the save but Carr was being held all the way into the box by Namoff. Now DC break with Moreno. Moreno finds Burch. Rolfe is fouled by Fred and again danger averted.
Minute 78: Luciano Emilio on for Brian Carroll. It's all hands forward now for DC...if they can get forward.
Minute 80: We see Chris Rolfe lose a contact lens...is that what technology has come to?
Minute 81: Blanco gets past Vanney and his cross cleared. Blanco is dispossessed this time by Simms but he tries to do too much and Chicago punt it forward. Olsen tries to keep the ball in and is unsuccessful. This is getting frantic now.
Minute 83: DC with possession, but not really doing much with it. You do realize you have to shoot to win?
Minute 84: Blanco with a takedown of McTavish that would have gotten him 2 points in amateur wrestling. Now Blanco is fouled by Vanney and gets another free kick.
Minute 85: Blanco off, and the man who put Chicago into the playoffs in John Thorrington comes on.
Minute 86: Armas fouled and Chicago get the free kick, Gutierrez plays the ball in and Perkins collects. DC get into the box but Moreno fouls Conde in the box. DC want nothing of it and are demanding a hand ball. The linesman comes on to discuss and the play stands...as it rightfully should have. In all that Moreno is booked for dissent.
Minute 89: Conde's ball in just too tall and Pause's cross is blocked for a throw in.
Minute 90: DC United finally get the ball back on a free kick. Fred to Gomez to Simms. Sims to Emilio to Burch and the ball goes to Simms who miss hits the ball and we have four more minutes in this one.
Minute 90+1: Gomez to Moreno...and just unable to get to it before going across the byline.
Minute 90+2: Burch switches to Olsen. The Fire are just doing everything they can to keep the ball out of the penalty area...
Minute 90+3: Free kick to DC. Namoff finds Emilio. Burch finds fred and GOES BACKWARDS. Vanney's ball in find Moreno and his cross is out for a throw. Olsen gets is in and it is cleared...One more minute!
Minute 90+4: Simms tries to switch play and it ends up out for a goal kick...Pickens kicks AND THAT IS IT!
FIRST LEG RESULT: CHICAGO FIRE 1 DC UNITED 0.

Final Thoughts: Well DC had alot of the ball in the second half, but I seriously can't think of one serious chance they had on goal. They waited way too late to bring on Emilio and he didn't do much for DC either. Chicago though should be highly ticked off they were not given a penalty in the 77th Minute. That said, they had 2 legit chances for 2-0 and they simply didn't get it.
1-0 to the Fire right now probably helps DC United more. They get an extra week to get their players healthy and at home can get 2 goals. You would think though, the Fire would need 1 goal to ensure extra time and 2 goals to go onto the semi-finals.

Well I hope you have enjoyed this live blog tonight. Since the other three games are on Saturday and kicking off at either 7:30 or 8 Eastern, I will be focusing on the KC v Chivas USA game while trying to do the New York and New England game on delay sometime on Sunday.

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Rantline...Rafa v Gerrard; Clatters...Butters; Cech, the Fans Never Forget; Bolton, Wrong Part of the Table, and more.

23 October 2007

It's been a while that's for sure so let's see if I've still got the ranting touch.

The first story I want to take a look into is the one dealing with Jens Lehmann. So you feel humiliated, you aren't happy about being on the bench and you think you're going to be able to call out Arsene Wenger and get an answer in public about being on the bench? Who do you think you are... Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, or John Terry? Do you seriously think that Wenger hasn't forgotten how poor you were to start the season? Do you think the fans have forgotten how you gifted Fulham a goal just one minute into the season and how you gifted Blackburn a draw? Jens face the fact that you are no longer the best keeper at Arsenal. Now granted you could say their schedule has been favorable for a guy like Almunia, but the last time I checked (and please correct me if I'm wrong), he hasn't gifted goals away. Lehmann you have had a decent enough career at Arsenal, you are just no longer the top dog. Do yourself a favor and find a decent enough German club that will be happy to have you and go. I would be willing to put money that your time as Arsenal's number 1 is over.

While I'm on the subject of Arsenal, I am just having a laugh about the English press all of a sudden waking up and saying Theo Walcott is coming of age. First of congrats on the goals against Slavia Prague. However after the way you have made teams from Prague this Champions League campaign your personal little b*tches, I'd be just a little bit more reserved. Granted he may force me to eat my words ala I've had to do to an extent on Heskey and Sibierski, but let us not forget he is young and one game does a player not make.

Is everyone getting ready for the war between Steven Gerrard and Rafa Benetiz? I think we're safe in stating the obvious that Gerrard was far from happy when he was substituted out of the Merseyside Derby and it sure isn't going to help matters that Rafa has said that he would do it again. Rafa I think your rotation policy makes what Claudio Ranieri did at Chelsea look like a standard set of players and your starting to see cracks in it, even if it is in facial expressions. Please understand that you need a core set of starters if only to develop a true sense of chemistry. Only until you do that will you be able to make a serious threat for the playoffs.

I think it's time to have a little discussion about one Mark Clattenburg. If you saw my match review on this game, you saw how critical I was on his officiating in this game. I don't care what people say I have seen the play enough to honestly believe he bottled the second penalty decision. At times during the game he looked lost and was really taken to the bullying Steven Gerrard put on him. Now he's missing next weekend's fixture, but there are simply too many stories now going around about why he won't be. Some say he's taking a holiday, some say because he's officiating in the UEFA Cup he won't be officiating on the weekend, and the one I truly believe (and usually the first story to go about on matters like this is closest to truth) is he was suspended. Now if your an official and your taking a holiday during the football season, you need to find another profession. If it is true it's because he's officiating in Europe he will be missing this weekend, I can understand that to a degree. However the fact the story is out there he was suspended for only one weekend to me is comical at best. To me he fits the description of Butters of South Park fame (description from Wikipedia 'Butters is described by fans as having a warm and friendly personality. He is naïve for his age and his innocence is often a target for abuse. Butters is very submissive and gives into peer pressure very easily'). How he gave into Steven Gerrard the way he did is something I don't think I will understand for a long time to come.

Memo to Petr Cech. Look I understand you want to defend Didier Drogba and say his comments are a non-issue amongst teammates, however the comments he made will not be long forgotten by the fans. The way I see it is that if Drogba wants out, get the hell out and don't come back. However there is a serious problem with strikers at Chelsea, and Drogba knows this. I would almost be certain he will be gone at season's end but the reality is Chelsea need Drogba right now, there are simply not enough strikers on the team to do the job. It's a shame the thirty million quid failure won't even admit he hasn't been up to standard.

I am puzzled at Bolton's search for a new manager. Can someone please explain to me exactly why you are targeting a manager WHO IS CURRENTLY NINETEENTH IN THE COCA-COLA CHAMPIONSHIP? I know it's going to be slim pickings for a manager but I would almost be willing to put a fiver up that once Martin Jol is sacked at Spurs you will be able to pick him up.

Some mini-rants to go home by...
So Lassana Diarra isn't happy he's not getting first team football at Arsenal? Did you just expect to walk onto the team because your French and get an automatic starting spot? It doesn't work that way in the Premier League and if you were naive to think that, please go back to France.
Dida now only has a one game ban. I guess I should be happy with one game but will AC Milan appeal again like Juve did over the points? It should have been for the rest of the Champions League qualifiers and then on appeal cut to two, but that makes too much sense.
David Moyes, I know it's hard to move on after a tough loss Saturday. However if Clattenburg is willing to apologize, be enough of a man to accept it. If you don't want the referee's apology now, you may not get a call from him later in the season you may need as sad as that sounds.
Memo to Pascal Chimbonda, quit crying about your poor start at Spurs ruining your international career? Maybe if you weren't on a back line that leaked more goals than teams score sixes in a game of Twenty20, you'd have a prayer to get back onto the French National Team. There is a solution however, play for Arsenal...oh wait Lassana Diarra is learning that lesson the hard way.

The plan for the rest of the week is to blog England in the Champions League over the next couple of nights and Friday doing another set of rants, a delayed blog on the first MLS playoff first leg and the Premier League in review. Until then, may the debate begin~!

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EPL Reviews: Round 10 Arsenal v Bolton, Middlesbrough v Chelsea and Newcastle United v Tottenham

22 October 2007

Apologies for not having anything up sooner. Been fighting one bugger of a cold over the last couple of days. Do note the Newcastle United v Tottenham review was done as I was watching the game live so I may have missed a thing or two, forgive me.

Match One: Arsenal v Bolton Wanderers
Arsenal Starting 11: 24 Manuel Almunia, 22 Gael Clichy, 27 Emmanuel Eboue, 10 William Gallas, 3 Bacary Sagna, 5 Kolo Toure, 3 Cesc Fabregas, 16 Mathieu Flamini, 13 Alexander Hleb, 25 Emmanuel Adebayor, 9 Eduardo Da Silva. Bench: 21 Lukasz Fabianski, 19 Gilberto Silva, 2 Vassiriki Diaby, 7 Tomas Rosicky, 32 Theo Walcott.
Bolton Wanderers Starting 11: 22 Jussi Jaaskelainen, 5 Abdoulaye Meite, 31 Andrew O'Brien, 8 Ivan Campo, 11 Ricardo Gardner, 17 Danny Guthrie, 19 Gavin McCann, 4 Kevin Nolan, 24 Joey O'Brien, 14 Kevin Davies, 21 El-Hadji Diouf. Bench: 26 Ali Al Habsi, 15 Gerald Cit, 2 Nicky Hunt, 7 Stelios Giannakopoulos, 27 Daniel Braaten.
First Half:
Minute 1: Bolton kick off. Beautiful day in North London it appears. FSC take note...Setanta kicked off the game in time, showed the team sheet and then scrolled the starting 11's after kickoff.
Minute 5: Arsenal with their first real chance of the game...despite having all the possession. However Emmanuel Adebayor's effort goes across the face of goal and Bolton eventually clear.
Minute 8: Alexander Hleb finds Adebayor on the run, but Bolton have enough back to block the shot and again Bolton survive by the skin of their teeth.
Minute 9: Ivan Campo finds Davies with the long throw. However the flick on goes right to Almunia and not Diouf. First positive play from Bolton in the match.
Minute 13: Bolton win the first corner of the game, however Guthrie's delivery is shockingly poor and Arsenal clear with ease.
Minute 15: Guthrie lucky to not be booked for his challenge on Hleb. It looked a yellow card to me. Just gets off with a stern talking to.
Minute 17: So far Bolton have tried the earliest time wasting tactics I've ever seen. Really started in minute 9 but it's getting more obvious now with the tying of shoes when they are perfectly tied.
Minute 20: Yellow Cards: Gavin McCann, El Hadji Diouf and Cesc Fabregas. Gavin McCann with a scissors challenge on Bacary Sagna. That sparks off the players and quite frankly, Alan Wiley gets it right. El-Hadji Diouf decides to get into the official's face, rightfully getting booked, Fabregas gets booked for starting the fracas post foul and McCann gets booked though the fans are demanding he be sent off.
Minute 22: Had Cesc Fabregas not been booked a couple of minutes prior, he would have been booked for his challenge on Ivan Campo. It still should have been a second yellow card, even as cheaply as he would have gotten both bookings.
Minute 29: Andrew O'Brien does well to bounce the ball off Alexander Helb for a goal kick to Bolton. Arsenal haven't really had a sniff on goal in quite a while as Bolton are looking content to play nine behind the ball and dare Arsenal into breaking them down.
Minute 32: Emmanuel Adebayor wants a penalty, but Gavin McCann got the ball before he got the defender. Good no call there.
Minute 33: Diouf may have gotten the ball first before sliding through Sagna, however a free kick was the right call. However Diouf has to keep his mouth shut as dissent would be a poor way to be sent off.
Minute 36: Arsenal with three corners in succession and fail to do anything with them.
Minute 37: Joey O'Brien and Eduardo Da Silva jump slide for a ball. Da Silva tries to pull out at the last possible second and ends up the worst for wear. It was a fifty-fifty ball, a bit foolish, but a fifty-fifty nonetheless.
Minute 42: Emmanuel Adebayor has an open header and miss hits it going just wide. The cross in from Hleb was right on the nose and Adebayor misjudged the jump and caught the ball on the way down. He'll be regretting that chance.
The best way to describe this half would be Arsenal dominate, create a few good chances, a couple of exceptional chances but couldn't find the back of the net. Bolton are simply putting everyone with the exception of Kevin Davies behind the ball. However Arsenal are still finding spaces to shoot in and to be honest haven't had to do little if any defending at all. Bolton look content to just leave with a draw but that is it. Arsenal though if they are given all these chances will finally get one in...just like they did against Manchester City.
Second Half:
Minute 46: Arsenal kick off. They get the ball again in a positive place when McCann's poor clearance ends up at the feet of Emmanuel Eboue. However he wastes the chance as his shot was never a threat on target.
Minute 50: Breaking news, Bolton get a chance on goal. However the header off the corner weakly goes over the crossbar.
Minute 55: Emmanuel Eboue with a shout for a penalty against El-Hadji Diouf. Right on the no call as it was a fifty-fifty challenge going for the ball.
Minute 61: Again another good chance for Adebayor, however the ball curls wide of the near post.
Minute 62: Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky on, Emmanuel Eboue and Eduardo Da Silva off. Good substitutions to add more pace to the attack and midfield.
Minute 66: Corner for Arsenal and Jussi Jaaskelainen makes a save out of no where. Announcers scream hand ball but I can't see it.
Minute 67: GOAL ARSENAL! After Ivan Campo fouled Tomas Rosicky about 28 yards from goal, Fabregas touches, Flamini sets and Kolo Toure goes under the defense. That was a perfect set piece that did just what it was intended to do...break the wall up. Arsenal 1 Bolton Wanderers 0.
Minute 69: Daniel Braaten on, El-Hadji Diouf off. Don't know if he can do anything to spark this woeful attack of Bolton at the moment.
Minute 70: Theo Walcott does all the work down the wing, no one though can pick up the fruit of his labor as his centering pass finds no one.
Minute 71: Yellow Card, Kevin Nolan. Off a Cesc Fabregas free kick, he uses the arm to play the ball. Has to be given.
Minute 76: Emmanuel Adebayor gets the ball on the run, gets Andrew O'Brien and Jussi Jaaskelainen out of position, and then ends up too far out wide off the touch before slipping. Should have been 2-0 and he knew it.
Minute 77: Stelios Giannakopoulos on, Danny Guthrie off. Gives a little bit of fire power from the midfield, just not much.
Minute 80: GOAL ARSENAL! Arsenal keep possession and the ball eventually makes it way to Theo Walcott who stays on. He beats Gardner to the byline and then crosses into Tomas Rosicky who breaks between Joey and Andrew O'Brien and beating Jaaskelainen going far post. Wonderfully worked goal. Arsenal 2 Bolton Wanderers 0.
Minute 83: Joey O'Brien breaks up the 2 on 1 onslaught Arsenal were on.
Minute 87: Yellow Card: Kevin Davies. Just pushes Fabregas off the ball in frustration.
Minute 89: Vassiriki Diaby on, Alexander Hleb off. Nice way to give the fans a chance to applaud his effort.
Minute 90+1: Yellow Card Ivan Campo. Just more frustration from Bolton.
Final Analysis: Arsenal were frustrated for most of this game, but it was the subs of Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky that turned the balance of this game. Walcott generated the pace that Arsenal needed to break down Bolton. The first goal though was just a perfect free kick. The only worry for Arsenal on the day would have to be not finishing the chances they had. Bolton though simply missed Nicolas Anelka. They just didn't look like they had anyone up front who could score. Even though they packed nine behind the ball, they simply lost their shape way too many times to count. The performance has to be better if they want to get off the bottom, however without any serious firepower they are in serious trouble.

Match Two: Middlesbrough v Chelsea
Middlesbrough Starting 11: 1 Mark Schwarzer, 5 Chris Riggott, 33 Andrew Taylor, 8 Jonathan Woodgate, 2 Luke Young, 7 George Boateng, 19 Stewart Downing, 4 Gary O'Neil, 10 Fabio Rochemback, 9 Mido, 17 Tuncay Sanli. Bench: 21 Ross Turnbull, 31 David Wheater, 27 Lee Cattermole, 42 Tom Craddock, 18 Dong-Good Lee.
Chelsea Starting 11: 1 Petr Cech, 33 Alex, 35 Juliano Belletti, 6 Ricardo Carvalho, 20 Paulo Ferreira, 10 Joe Cole, 5 Michael Essien, 8 Frank Lampard, 15 Florent Malouda, 12 John Obi Mikel, 11 Didier Drogba. Bench: 23 Carlo Cudicini, 22 Tal Ben-Haim, 9 Steve Sidwell, 23 Shawn Wright-Phillips, 7 Andriy Shevchenko.
First Half:
Minute 1: Chelsea kick off.
Minute 3: Andrew Taylor does well to block Joe Cole's cross not once but twice and clear it away.
Minute 8: GOAL CHELSEA! Chelsea were just passing the ball along before Drogba plays a 1-2 with Lampard. Drogba gets in behind Luke Young before finding Schwarzer and going far post with the effort. They took their time with the possession they had and when they found the space to exploit did so with finesse. Middlesbrough 0 Chelsea 1.
Minute 11: Jonathan Woodgate does well to deny Drogba's centering pass looking for Frank Lampard and help clear the danger.
Minute 17: Petr Cech does well to deny Mido. Ferreira is beaten by Boateng and his cross is goes right to the perfect spot. The ball was swung in with pace, headed with pace and Cech did well to make the quick reaction save.
Minute 19: Mido does well to force Chelsea into conceding the corner kick. The corner is cleared by Essien only clears for the moment.
Minute 20: Carvalho blocks Mido from having an open effort on goal. Middlesbrough are starting to turn the screw despite giving up the early goal.
Minute 22: Woodgate and Downing block Drogba in, but Drogba wins Chelsea the corner. Malouda takes but Schwarzer punches out and Boro clear the pressure.
Minute 32: It's been a while eh? Well Jonathan Woodgate somehow escapes a booking after fouling Joe Cole. The indirect freekick ends up just wide of the near post.
Minute 35: Rochemback does well on the free kick to do Riggott, but Riggott isn't positioned well and heads the ball tamely wide.
Minute 37: Boy couldn't they just get Juliano Belletti off the park please and get on with this game?
Minute 45: Don't know what Chelsea were thinking trying to pass the ball into an empty wing.
Minute 45+1: Essien lucky to not be booked for his challenge on Tuncay. Boro's free kick is just kicked away by Belletti.
Chelsea were content to just pass the ball about in the first half and find the open spaces. However besides the one goal, they just didn't create chances. Sure they held most of the possession, but they didn't do much with it. Middlesbrough fended off Chelsea like a fly swatter to flies and only created one quality chance. They did show they can hold the ball and get into position to get chances, but were lacking the final touch. Boro are still in with a shout, they just have to do a better job upping the ante.
Second Half:
Minute 46: Middlesbrough kick off.
Minute 47: Paulo Ferreira concedes a Middlesbrough corner, but Chelsea clear and break...
Minute 48: Yellow Card George Boateng. On the break, Boateng gets on the wrong side of Ricardo Carvalho and takes him down. Was blatant and the referee shows the yellow. Lampard's free kick hits the wall.
Minute 49: Stewart Downing finds Mido on the cross, but the cross in doesn't give Mido anything to work with and the ball tamely lands in the chest of Petr Cech.
Minute 51: Drogba goes down after a challenge and embellishes it to the max. Help me out dear people when Drogba does things like this should I call him thumper or Bambi?
Minute 52: Was it hand ball from Jon Obi Mikel? The two looks on the replay show you just simply cannot tell.
Minute 53: Mido gives Boro another corner...cleared away.
Minute 55: Another Frank Lampard free kick that goes by the way side.
Minute 57: GOAL CHELSEA! Free kick to Chelsea after Michael Essien is taken down by Fabio Rochemback. Indirect free kick. Alex takes the Lampard first touch and it goes over the wall and knuckles in at the far post. The keeping was poor on this one as Schwarzer was five yards off the line when the kick was taken and then was too central to his wall. I don't think Alex will care. Middlesbrough 0 Chelsea 2.
Minute 60: Drogba with one nice cross into Joe Cole, and the official judges him offside even though the replay shows that Jonathan Woodgate played him on. Didn't matter in the end as Schwarzer collected.
Minute 64: Frank Lampard should have been booked for diving. The announcers from TWI can say Boateng got him, but if you look closely enough, he didn't and Lampard went to ground like a wounded duck. Upon looking at the close up replay the arms were tangled, but Boateng released and Lampard still went to ground.
Minute 67: Drogba tries a long 1-2 with Lampard...that fails miserably.
Minute 68: Lee Cattermole on, George Boateng off. Boro need the pace now to spring the attack from the midfield.
Minute 69: Florent Malouda is the one who makes Joe Cole look foolish and earns Chelsea a corner. However Malouda's corner ends up all the way out to the center circle and on the long ball into Drogba goes out for a goal kick. Wasted opportunity.
Minute 72: Yellow Card: Florent Malouda. Malouda plays the challenge studs up and promptly sees yellow for his troubles.
Minute 75: Chelsea had three men try and shoot on the same play...Belletti whiffs, Malouda is blocked and Lampard falls to his rump roast trickling to Schwarzer.
Minute 76: Shawn Wright-Phillips on, Florent Malouda off. Really like for like as Joe Cole will move left.
Minute 82: Steve Sidwell on, Michael Essien off. Interesting sub but since Essien returning to fitness from injury may as well get him off the park when the game looks decided.
Minute 85: Andriy Shevchenko on, Didier Drogba off. The thirty million quid failure just must love the fact he in all actuality is somewhere between third and fifth choice striker.
Minute 87: Gary O'Neil has a chance to make the finish interesting, but his first touch fails him. The ball goes further wide of the far post and O'Neil has to shoot on an obtuse angle and go over the cross bar.
Minute 89: Joe Cole concedes a Boro free kick and the wall does it's job. Boro went route one there and it didn't do the trick.
Minute 90+1: Never a good sign when the camera shows the mass of fans trying to beat the traffic.
Final Analysis: Middlesbrough were simply disappointing on the day. They had their moments when they had their chances but only had two serious threats on goal the entire ninety, and that isn't going to cut it. Mido looked frustrated as the service in to him wasn't there and the couple of times he did get chances he was out of position. Chelsea took their time and their passes finally started to look crisp. Drogba looked like he was sucking up to the crowd with the blue boots, but he did set up the first goal well. In what could be a telling sign, the absence on both Ashley Cole and John Terry actually may have helped the Chelsea backs...that or could have been Middlesbrough being simply that bad.

Match Three: Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Newcastle United Starting 11: 1 Shay Given, 21 Habib Beye, 6 Claudio Cacapa, 25 Abdoulaye Faye, 3 Sanchez Jose Enrique, 22 Nicky Butt, 5 Belozoglu Emre, 20 Geremi, 14 Charles N'Zogbia, 9 Obafemi Martins, 10 Michael Owen. Bench: 13 Steve Harper, 4 David Rozehnal, 7 Joey Barton, 16 James Milner, 23 Shola Ameobi.
Tottenham Starting 11: 12 Radek Cerny, 2 Pascal Chimbonda, 20 Michael Dawson, 5 Younes Kaboul, 3 Young-Pyo Lee. 16 Gareth Bale, 8 Jermaine Jenas, 15 Steed Malbranque, 4 Didier Zokora, 23 Darren Bent, 10 Robbie Keane. Bench: 31 Tommy Forecast, 30 Anthony Gardner, 25 Aaron Lennon, 6 Teemu Tainio, 9 Dimitar Berbatov.
First Half:
Minute 1: Tottenham kickoff.
Minute 4: After a frantic start, Abdoulaye Faye ends up clashing heads with Kaboul on a long throw.
Minute 6: Another long throw, Faye flicks on and Cerny will be happy to see that Steve Bennett blows the whistle on Owen's challenge.
Minute 7: Robbie Keane...has all the time to set and shoot and whiffs on the effort. Emre clears for a corner...that Jenas undershoots going far post.
Minute 8: Emre goes down and it looks like Newcastle are again turning into the walking MASH unit again. The bad boy of Manchester City Joey Barton starts to warm up.
Minute 10: Can the third long throw in be the charm for Newcastle? If you guessed no you would be correct. The same throw to the near post defended to perfection by Spurs. The ball ends up out tamely for a goal kick.
Minute 13: Yellow Card Gareth Bale. Gareth Bale concedes a corner when he thinks he's gotten a goal kick. He gets a yellow for his protest picking up the ball.
Minute 14: OFF THE POST! N'Zogbia whips the ball in near post and Abdoulaye Faye strikes it right off the crossbar. The keeper was soundly beaten and you could hear the force of that shot.
Minute 15: On the other end, Robbie Keane takes a quick free kick and had it not been for Habib Beye being practically on the line, it's 1-0 to Spurs in what would have been against the grain of play.
Minute 17: Nicky Butt nearly pulls off the spectacular dispossession of Didier Zokora.
Minute 18: Newcastle get two decent half chances, but the spell ends when Geremi overshoots the far post on a cross into the edge of the six.
Minute 20: Teemu Tainio on, Gareth Bale off. Bale took a stomp to the foot and didn't look the same afterwards.
Minute 22: Newcastle again with a promising spell on the edge of the eighteen, but they get caught up in the corner. They earn a throw in that Kaboul clears and Darren Bent breaks on.
Minute 23: Tottenham get the throw in deep in their attacking third but Jenas and Tianio have shots blocked and in the end Kaboul is dispossessed and Newcastle clear.
Minute 24: Sanchez Jose Enrique with one of the laziest passes you'll ever see.
Minute 25: How Jenas got away with no booking on his challenge of N'Zogbia, I'll never know. Malbranque off the free kick concedes the corner for Newcastle that is cleared for the moment.
Minute 27: Michael Owen gets into space after Dawson's first touch fails him. Owen had options but shoots instead of finding Martins on the forward run as well. Cerny does what Robinson wouldn't have done in parrying the ball out for a corner that is wasted away and Dawson will be thanking his lucky starts that didn't lead to 1-0 Newcastle.
Minute 29: Darren Bent flicks on to Keene nicely. However Keene got in too close to the byline and his shot is comfortably saved by Given.
Minute 31: Darren Bent tries to do too much twice in quick succession. First time he's easily dispossessed when he tries to touch the ball too often and the second time by going across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
Minute 36: Yellow Card: Pascal Chimbonda. Charles N'Zogbia goes for player and not ball and that will always see you in the book.
Minute 37: The free kick is over by Emre and Geremi.. Bennett isn't happy with the wall, start booking them then. Emre dummies and Geremi shoots and despite it going off Malbranque for a corner kick, it is out for a goal kick.
Minute 39: If Setanta Sports possession stat is to be believed (which I do because it's felt that way), Tottenham are playing way too cautiously.
Minute 40: Jenas and N'Zogbia try to hug and the official correctly sends the free kick Spurs way. Jenas did well to hold his ground.
Minute 43: Tottenham escape again when Martins is blocked by Cerny and Owen is blocked by Dawson.
Minute 45: GOAL NEWCASTLE UNITED. Obafemi Martins takes the ball in from Sanchez Jose Enrique's punt forward. Dawson goes for the ball and misses leaving Cerny in no man's land. Martins lets Cerny pick the direction he shoots in and it's far post. Horrific defending of the long ball. You have to do better with that. Newcastle United 1 Tottenham 0.
Second Half: James Milner on, Charles N'Zogbia on. Has to be purely tactical.
Minute 46: Newcastle kick off.
Minute 48: Robbie Keane kills off a great countering opportunity when his pass out wide for Darren Bent is hit well wide and out for a goal kick.
Minute 50: GOAL NEWCASTLE UNITED! Corner to Newcastle after Kaboul just dumps the ball out before Owen can play it. Emre takes the corner and over the first man it goes and Claudio Cacapa beats Michael Dawson in at the near post. Cerny was helpless to the corner as that ball was swung in with great pace. Newcastle United 2 Tottenham 0.
Minute 53: Finally Berbatov starts to warm up. Jon Champion on Setanta says he was told 3 times to get up and warns of the peril of keeping your starting striker off the park at St. James Park.
Minute 55: Darren Bent takes the long ball but plays it back out. Spurs waste it away to Martins. They look just too scared to shoot on sight. Not a good thing when your 2 goals down.
Minute 56: Berbatov goes and sits back down. Why am I getting the impression he won't be subbed in at this rate?
Minute 57: GOAL TOTTENHAM! The ball is played into Robbie Keane from Darren Bent who leaps over everyone in hitting that ball in at the near post. It really came from nothing but it was the spark that this game was so desparately lacking. Newcastle United 2 Tottenham 1.
Minute 59: Dimitar Berbatov on, Steed Malbranque off. They needed the pace up front and now they have it. And I was wrong.

Minute 59: Martins does too much with it and Dawson finally does something right.
Minute 61: Yellow Card: Abdoulaye Faye booked for his studs in challenge of Teemu Tainio.
Minute 62: The free kick ends up going across the pitch a couple of times before Keene tries to find in Darren Bent at the far post...but just puts too much touch on the ball and it's danger averted for the moment for Newcastle.
Minute 67: Nicky Butt concedes a corner to Tottenham. Bent is unable to get the ball towards goal and it whimpers out for a goal kick.
Minute 68: Free kick to Newcastle after hand ball. Milner sets up through traffic and despite the claims from the crowd the ball went off Dawson, it went through the five hole and out for a goal kick.
Minute 70: Martins tries to be greedy and Zokora up to the task. On the counter after Nicky Butt freels he's fouled by Zokora, Berbatov shows his skill in finding Bent. Bent on the other hand, doesn't show his skill and shoots over the cross bar. Upon further review on the play, Zokora may have gotten away with the challenge, but it was shoulder to shoulder.
Minute 71: Yellow Card: Nicky Butt insensed he didn't get the call is booked for dissent.
Minute 71: Joey Barton comes on and Emre comes off. Why are these fans cheering this pathetic thug?
Minute 73: GOAL NEWCASTLE UNITED. Obafemi Martins does extremely well to get this ball on the byline. The ball headed out by Kaboul and right to James Milner. Milner whiffs on his first shot attempt but the second time he doesn't miss and on the volley is stuck perfectly into the bottom corner far post. Cerny didn't have a prayer. Poor defending as no one went to mark Milner. Newcastle 3 Tottenham 1.
Minute 77: James Milner concedes a corner to Tottenham, but Given up to the task and catches. He springs the break through Martins, but Owen has a challenge seen out for a corner. See sub below. Enrique shoots and goes well over the crossbar.
Minute 78: Aaron Lennon on Darren Bent off. Like for like in one hell of a gamble.
Minute 79: David Rozehnal on, Michael Owen off. Just looking to protect this two goal lead.
Minute 81: This game all of a sudden has slowed way down.
Minute 81: Barton and Lee go for a fifty fifty and Tottenham earn a free kick. The ball goes into Chimbonda and his header far post doesn't miss by much, but don't tell that to Shay Given.
Minute 88: Kaboul is taken down by a studs to the gut challenge by Nicky Butt and why Butt is still on the park is beyond me.
Minute 90: Kaboul and Butt are into it again. Where's the boxing ring when you need one?
Minute 90: Lennon down the wing with pace. Faye concedes the corner that is wasted.
Minute 90+1: Martins on the break and when he realizes he stopped in his tracks, pulls the ball back.
Minute 90+3: Last chance corner for Tottenham to help to goal differential. The ball ends up across the pitch for a throw in and that should be murder she wrote.
Final Analysis: Newcastle took full advantage of Tottenham sitting everyone back and trying to counter. Martins and Owen may not have looked in sync, but after the performance tonight given time they could very well form a very formidable partnership. The back looked firm, the midfield held their shape well, and they obviously knew how to exploit Spurs for 3. Tottenham on the other hand need Ledley King back and the sooner the better. However one player does a whole team not make as that backline is simply atrocious and not one player is going to save that. As much as I like Jol, it's simply time for him to go...to Bolton!

Someone asked me on another post why I am not adding some things over to my EPL Talk Community blog? The best answer is there are certain things I want to make exclusive here (and if others who have already gotten my permission in advance) that I think will make this blog different enough from the stuff on the Community to keep people coming back.

I hope to be back later for more. If I am not, what I get to Tuesday will be all the time I have for this week before I blog Britain in Europe.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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