Premier League Round 13 in Review Part 1

12 November 2007

Hello, just another quick update on my dad. He is doing much better and out of Heart Recovery and into his own room (and in the making me jealous moment, with his own Plasma TV). It looks like it will be Tuesday before he is allowed to come home as his blood pressure overnight Friday and into Saturday dipped dangerously low. However he is now making a sound recovery.

I've decided to make a slight tweak to my match review and after letting a couple of people have a look they have told me it's the most concise one yet. I hope you enjoy and remember all feedback is welcome and appreciated. Tonight I take a look at the three games from Saturday.

Sunderland v Newcastle United: The Stadium of Light saw a very entertaining second half as James Milner's cross that ended up in the back of the net canceled out Danny Higginbotham opener in a game that ended 1-1. The first half really didn't see too many serious chances on goal, but the second half and more importantly the final twenty minutes saw some exciting stuff to watch. Sunderland have to be the more upset side as they dominated huge chunks of this game, however their failure to capitalize on their scoring chances was to their undoing in getting all three points. I was very impressed with Chopra and Leadbitter as they linked up well together, and with Kenwyne Jones as he frustrated Newcastle in the midfield. As for Newcastle United, they will to feel very very fortunate to get one point out of this game. They were out played in every aspect of this game and only had one true spell of lasting possession in the second half. Their goal looked a cross and the play of David Rozehnal was simply shocking. Teams have figured out if you can frustrated Newcastle in the midfield, they have a very good chance of getting all three points. It also didn't help that Martins wasn't able to come on until late due to an illness. Though you would have expected him to be on the park right after Newcastle equalized to give them an added spark.
Defining Moments
Minutes 5-6: Free kick to Sunderland after Joey Barton gives away a cheap foul. First real chance of the game to either side and it's Leadbitter to take and blows the chance as his free kick goes right into the wall. They keep possession and earn a corner that Leadbitter gets on the end of, but Taylor blocks. For first chances, talk about rather tame ones at that.
Minute 15: Ross Wallace in plenty of space off the cross in as Taylor went to mark Jones inside the far post. Instead of setting the ball, Wallace volleys an effort well over the crossbar. Wallace has to do better with chances like that as he was in all alone with Harper. Had he played that and Harper raced off his line, it's an open goal and chipping over a downed keeper wouldn't have been that difficult from as close as Wallace was.
Minute 24: Yellow Card Michael Chopra. Charles N'Zogbia on a nice run gets clipped from behind by Chopra who wasn't making a play on the ball. Free kick comes to zero.
Minute 25: Danny Collins on for the injured Nyron Nosworthy. The only defender Sunderland have on the bench.
Minute 27-28: First chances for Newcastle N'Zogbia's cross goes to Owen at the far post and Gordon denies. Difficult angle for Owen and even more difficult decision to give a corner when the replay showed it looked in. Doesn't matter as the corner is easily cleared by Sunderland.
Minute 32: Two golden chances by Sunderland denied on the line. Edwards's cross finds Harte who's shot far post is saved by Harper before Chopra can mop up. The second attempt comes from Grant Leadbitter who sees shot blocked by Alan Smith. You have to do better with chances like those.
Minute 36: Yellow Card Abdoulaye Faye. Kenwyne Jones and Faye get their feet tangled right in the edge of the penalty area. At first glance it looks the right call, but on second look, I can't understand why a yellow was given. Nothing malicious in the challenge as they were going for a fifty fifty ball and was marking very well. Doesn't matter in the end as the free kick goes the other way.
Minute 44: Excellent save from Steve Harper to deny Chopra. Collins dispossesses Barton in the midfield and finds Chopra heading to the end of the penalty area. Chopra then gets into position on the edge of the penalty area and forces Harper to go far post to make the save. Harper does well to save, but was cheated too much on the near post. Chopra though, had Leadbitter central and didn't bother to make the pass.
Minute 52: GOAL SUNDERLAND, GOAL DANNY HIGGINBOTHAM. David Rozehnal poorly concedes a corner not trying to play the ball against an on rush Jones, who dispossessed Taylor in midfield. Newcastle are not set and Sunderland quickly take the corner. Jones taps to Leadbitter who sees Higginbotham rushing far post after beating James Milner and crosses in. Higginbotham latches onto the header and scores sending the ball center of the goal. Harper goes to ground and the closest man to the goal scorer was Steven Taylor. What was Rozehnal thinking as this goal is all on him. Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 0.
Minute 62: Habib Beye on for the injured Abdoulaye Faye. Faye looked to tweak the hammy there.
Minute 65: GOAL NEWCASTLE UNITED GOAL JAMES MILNER. James Milner takes the pass down the left wing plays a 1-2 before getting to the edge of the penalty area. His shot looks like a cross on goal but he isn't going to care as it bounces in far post. Paul McShane nearly got a foot to it, but the fact Gordon didn't bother trying to go after the ball bothers me. Granted I don't think he would have gotten to that ball, he still should have made a play on it. Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 1.
Minute 66: Kenwyne Jones so close to giving Sunderland the lead in great reply. Didn't get fully turned as his shot goes wide of the far post. Couldn't have asked for more there but to score.
Minute 68: Michael Owen takes the long ball, beats the central defense, but gets too wide and loses his balance before shooting. He had the defenders turned and should have set up his body before shooting that one. In the end it was so tame Gordon had the easiest of saves.
Minute 70: Yellow Card Steven Taylor. Steven Taylor flails the arm and catches Chopra in the face. Obvious booking. Sunderland's free kick taken by Leadbitter ends up hit with too much pace and out for a goal kick. Has to do better with that free kick as they had plenty of options on the far post.
Minute 77: How is Kenwyne Jones called for a foul when Harper doesn't get control of the football? Martin Atkinson was just a little too quick with the whistle there when he shouldn't have been.
Minute 82: Corner to Sunderland that is taken by Harte. Harte goes far post and Chopra is very unfortunate to see that ball end up on the underside of the crossbar and out. Vaduka was there to mark and didn't do a good job of it. Had Chopra been half a yard in, that's 2-1 to Sunderland.

Derby County v West Ham United: Pride Park saw Derby County taken behind the woodshed and simply beaten senseless as West Ham United took a late first half goal and turned it into a 5-0 thumping of Derby County. West Ham though were under a little pressure early in the first half, but it was the late first half goal, that was controversial at best that sent Derby County into a tail spin.
I just have one question for Billy Davies. Can you please explain to your supporters why you feel the need to man mark when at this point zonal marking would save you a lot of the trouble you currently have? It was depressing seeing Mears and Moore just beaten time after time. I was simply shocked at how the Derby backs just gave up on three of the five goals. It really does make you wonder if Billy Davies will be around much longer. West Ham United just simply took advantage of the opportunities given to them. And after last weekend, took out their frustrations with ease. I would be cautiously optimistic about West Ham after this game however. This was just too easy. However for West Ham, this is a great building block to a mixed bag season. Even with that said, Bowyer, Etherington, Cole and Solano just had excellent games.
Defining Moments
Minute 11: Pearson is just unable to latch onto an Andy Griffin cross. Too much pace on the cross in but Pearson has to make a better play to reach that ball.
Minute 20: Yellow Card Matt Oakley. Just a very nasty challenge that never got the ball, just the lower leg of Matthew Etherington. It almost border lined on a lunging challenge and an instant red card. The yellow was justified.
Minute 24: Andy Griffin nearly has his legs broken thanks to a John Pantsil challenge. Pantsil lunged at Griffin and Griffin leaps up just in time not get hit straight on. Pantsil tries the old 'I'm hurt worse bit' and he ought to be thankful that Griffin jumped. Had he not, it could have very well been a red card. Still a reckless challenge that was yellow justified.
Minute 30-31: Andy Griffin gets caught for handball off a Boa Morte pass. Griffin has to be lucky that it was a yard outside the penalty area and not inside the penalty area as that was a handball that was deliberate. The free kick taken by Solano sees the underside of the crossbar and bounces out. So close to bending that ball in, however if he had been a yard or two further back, that may have been off the near post.
Minute 34: Yellow Card Lee Bowyer. Clips Giles Barnes from behind with no play on the ball. Lucky for Barnes the studs weren't showing and even lucky for Bowyer there were no studs in that one as red would have been the only card that could have been shown.
Minute 42:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, GOAL LEE BOWYER. No marking whatsoever on this one. Solano's cross finds Carlton Cole who spots Bowyer running unmarked in the box. Cole's header ends up being played off the arm and chest of Bowyer. Bowyer gets into a shooting position all alone with Bywater, and slots home near post. No marking whatsoever on the play and Bywater went to ground way too soon. It wouldn't have mattered though, as Bowyer placed it where Bywater wasn't going to save it. Rushing a one on one chance does have it's curses, and that was one of them. Derby County 0 West Ham United 1.
Minute 47: Boa Morte has to make it 2-0. Darren Moore is caught out of position as Boa Morte runs right by him. The shot is is saved by Bywater and out for a corner. The resulting corner ends up off the crossbar from a Upson rocket and eventually cleared.
Minute 50: Kenny Miller simply has to do better with the shot going far post. Eddie Lewis does well to keep the ball in and spots Miller unmarked and off the cross, just pushes the header a couple of yards wide of
Minute 51:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, GOAL MATTHEW ETHERINGTON. Off the goal kick, West Ham attacks with ease. Matthew Etherington plays a one two with Bowyer from a Pantsil cross in. Etherington then gets Tyrone Mears turned around and slots home at the near post. The marking again fails and gives Etherington all the time in the world to set and shoot. Bywater though has to make a better effort to save that shot. Derby County 0 West Ham United 2.
Minute 54:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, OWN GOAL EDDIE LEWIS. Solano's corner goes off Moore right to Jonathan Spector. Spector sets and shoots and Lewis looks to save the ball off the line. However Lewis's foot ends up back heeling the ball in. When it rains it pours for Derby County as Lewis does stop the Spector shot, but doesn't clear the ball, just puts it into own net. Derby County 0 West Ham United 3.
Minute 59:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, GOAL LEE BOWYER. Carlton Cole latches onto a pass from Upson and spots Bowyer running right past Tyrone Mears. Darren Moore was the other man who could be consider close to him, but it didn't matter. Bowyer one times the shot right into the back of the net with pace, Bywater never having a chance to save. It's a recording on how bad Derby County's marking has been. Derby County 0 West Ham United 4.
Minute 67: Matt Oakley is very lucky to not be given his second yellow card for a challenge on Etherington. That tackle was late and to be frank should have been shown a yellow card. It is absolute BS that what would be a yellow card for a player not on one, isn't a second yellow card for one who does have one.
Minute 69:
GOAL WEST HAM UNITED, GOAL NOLBERTO SOLANO. Free kick to West Ham that Solano is just ready to take. From 23 from goal on the edge of the penalty area fires a shot that no wall would block and no keeper would save right into the far post. Just a perfect indefensible free kick. Derby County 0 West Ham United 5.

Liverpool v Fulham: It may not have been 8-0, but Liverpool controlled the entire game against Fulham. However it still took two goals in the final ten minutes to see off Fulham 2-0 in a one sided affair at Anfield. It took the substitutions of Ryan Babel and Fernando Torres to make the difference for Liverpool.
Liverpool looked like they were never in trouble, but still missed too many chances they should have finished. Liverpool passed the ball around with ease, and it was when they upped the tempo when they got their better chances on goal. Voronin though I was shocked wasn't substituted sooner as he was just dire when he had chances to score. Crouch looked more settled than he had in a long time in a Liverpool shirt, and did well to set up chances inside the box. For Rafa, this was a good start. He stuck with the same 11 as he did midweek, and the only thing I could see doing to the lineup to finalize it would be to start Torres along with Crouch...which looks the likely paring once Torres is fully fit. Fulham are just an 80 minute team. Every time I have seen them play they have looked simply dead on their feet in the final ten minutes. Until then though, they were simply given a masterclass and did too much defending for their own good. Dempsey was closed down extremely well and so were any hopes of Fulham getting any quality chances on goal. Fulham simply have to find a second man to partner with Dempsey because teams are figuring out if you close down Dempsey, you close down Fulham's attack. They just can't the ball to the forwards without getting it though Dempsey.
Defining Moments
Minute 6: Antti Niemi makes a good save from a Sami Hyypia shot taken from a short free kick and shot that Liverpool seem to have perfected. The resulting corner though comes to nothing.
Minute 13: Steven Gerrard takes Riise's pass and gets a good first touch into shooting position, however he puts too much power into the shot and goes over the crossbar. That has to be taken better and at least make Niemi work. He knew the second it was shot that it was going over.
Minute 27-28: Liverpool get two good crosses into the penalty area for players to connect on, however both times the link up players fail to get a proper first touch on the ball. It was almost comical the way it happened. Voronin fails to get a proper chest down and Benayoun can't control the ball with his foot.
Minute 35: Dejan Stefanovic with a poor clearance deep inside the penalty area, however he will feel very fortunate that Peter Crouch didn't clean that up the way it should have been. His header was weak and Niemi easily collects. Crouch has to do better with that header and at least put some pace into it.
Minute 42: David Healy does well to get to the end line, however his cross in met the outside of the near post and out for a goal kick. Besides a half in the fifteenth from Danny Murphy, this was the closest they have come to anything that would resemble a chance on goal.
Minute 45+1: Fabio Aurelio fouled by Danny Murphy gives Aurelio a free kick in a decent place. The cross in finds Peter Crouch who had Niemi beaten, but saved off the crossbar. So close to the equalizer on the stroke of halftime.
Minute 47: Gerrard finds Crouch at the far post who heads a great ball to Voronin just inside the eighteen. Voronin sets up for the volley, but Niemi does well to collect. Great link up play from Liverpool, but Voronin's positioning on the volley was that there was only one place for it to go and Niemi was already there when he shot.
Minute 54: Yellow Card Danny Murphy. Steven Gerrard central in open space is taken down from behind by Murphy. Obvious yellow card and Murphy must be thankful the studs weren't out. Gerrard's free kick is saved well from Niemi's parry, but Benayoun and Arbeloa get in each other's way and the follow up from five yards out goes over the cross bar. Had Benayoun or Arbeloa called the other off, it was a tap in goal as Gerrard got Niemi out of position off the free kick.
Minute 58: Andriy Voronin plays a good one-two with Crouch. Crouch then sets up the pick for Voronin who has his shot saved by Niemi over for a corner. Liverpool's corner results in another corner, the second one completely wasted as Fulham clear with ease. Voronin's first effort was simply just well saved. Liverpool on the set pieces were simply awful.
Minute 63: Ryan Babel finds Benayoun who just mis hits the delicate shot to the far post. It still makes Niemi work to make the save. It's a recording off the corner as it is cleared without any problem by Fulham.
Minute 67: Benayoun does well to find Voronin on the diagonal run. However Voronin gets too much of the ball and his shot goes wide of the far post. Voronin was marked well on the run and had to semi-rush the shot. Still not bad considering the angle.
Minute 78: Peter Crouch clears a Fulham free kick for a Fulham corner. Davies takes for Fulham and in the end Reina saves. The only set piece opportunity I can think of where Fulham remotely threatened goal...and they really didn't in the end.
Minute 81:
GOAL LIVERPOOL, GOAL FERNANDO TORRES. Torres plays the long ball from Reina and on four touches gets into position. The shot looks rather harmless however Niemi doesn't make a play on the ball. It's not an excuse, but Niemi must have assumed that Hughes would block the shot, however it went right through the five hole. Niemi though should have at least looked like he would at least try and make a save. Liverpool 1 Fulham 0.
Minute 84-85:
PENALTY LIVERPOOL, GOAL STEVEN GERRARD. Crouch takes Babel's pass and miss hits the first touch. However Crouch right on the edge of the penalty area is barely clipped by Carlos Bocanegra, and barely clipped could be kind. The replay shows it should have been a free kick, but penalty was given. It was so tight I can forgive Steve Tanner for missing that one. Steven Gerrard takes the penalty and goes bottom right with the shot while Niemi goes to Gerrard's left. The penalty decision looked to be in the same vein of the one Russia got at home to England and Gerrard finished with ease. Liverpool 2 Fulham 0.


I'll be back tomorrow with a couple of matches from Sunday. Until then, may the debate begin!

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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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