Boxing Day Madness

26 December 2007

First off I hope you are enjoying the Christmas period. Mine could be alot better, but for the fear of saying something I shouldn’t say about a particular hospital, I’ll keep my mouth shut.

Having to work today, I was only able to catch the first half of the Chelsea/Aston Villa game and could do two things, curse Chelsea’s ineptness and praise the Villains for simply outworking Chelsea. However I was just about to turn the TV off and spend half an hour in the car slagging off everyone wearing the Chelsea kit, an extremely dubious penalty decision sees Zat Knight sent off for what looked to be the tiniest of contact on Michael Ballack. In reality and in real time it looked more dive than penalty, but nonetheless the game turned with Andriy Shevchenko scoring from the spot with was in essence the last kick of the first half.
The second half from reading the text commentary was nothing short of maddening. Shevchenko scores again, Chelsea take the lead only for Villa to level again. Then Chelsea see Ricardo Carvalho sent off for yet another lunging two footed challenge. Chelsea then somehow take the lead through Michael Ballack only for Ashley Cole to then screw it up with a deliberate hand ball red card and for Villa to level in second half stoppage time. Follow all that, it only gets better.

How on earth did Fulham come into the game with Spurs so unprepared? Did the hangover of Lawrie Sanchez finally get to them? I know Juande Ramos has Spurs playing much better football, but allowing five is simply nightmarish. Thanks to Wigan defeating the Hyde in Newcastle, Fulham are back in the relegation zone. It’s really beginning to look like Fulham’s years of escaping the drop may have finally come home to roost.

I really feel bad for Derby County, and I even feel more for those who were at Pride Park. Rafa Benitez fielding a B+ side (I can’t call them a B team as Reina, Carragher, Gerrard, Alonso and Torres were in the side) were given everything they could possibly handle and them some by Derby County. Something tells me by just following the text of this game (memo to self, enjoy catching up on 20 hours of football) Liverpool took their foot off the gas and when Derby County equalized scrambled to restart the engine. You really have to question what would have happened if Gerrard would have been subbed in this one.

Other quick thoughts:
While Everton didn’t score in the first half, was their match with Bolton ever in doubt?
Is it looking more and more obvious that Middlesbrough’s win against Arsenal was merely a one off instead of something they could have used to gain momentum into this busy season?
You have to give Reading all the credit in the world for hovering just above the threat of relegation. As long as they continue to nic the odd result here and there and gain points on the road, they will be just fine.

Look tonight for the ‘Match Reports’ page to be updated sometime between 9 and 11 eastern time. Until then, what were your thoughts on this wacky and crazy ride we saw this morning? 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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