Premier League Reviews Matchday 2 Batch 1

25 August 2008

Blackburn Rovers v Hull City: Richard Garcia's equalizer five minutes from halftime makes sure the game ends honors even at Ewood Park 1-1.

The offsides trap can be a tricky thing and it was the root cause of both goals. Michael Turner keeping Jason Roberts on for the opener and Andre Ooijer keeping Richard Garcia on for the equalizer.

Blackburn controlled possession, but Hull City was resolute at the back. With the exception of Roque Santa Cruz's effort in the seventy-fifth minute, Blackburn didn't get a real clear cut chance on goal. The only thing about Hull City though was they were unable to do anything on their counter attack.

Stuart Atwell has to be commended for a great day as man in the middle. From my vantage point, there was only one call he had a tough decision on and I think he got that one right. It would have been very harsh to have awarded Blackburn a penalty for Michael Turner's accidental handball. However, it was a decision that could have gone either way and I wouldn't have faulted him for it.

Hull City have been entertaining to watch in the first couple of games. Let's all hope it stays that way. Blackburn though, needs to take advantage of the possession they are given.

Liverpool v Middlesbrough
: Steven Gerrard's strike at the end of the fourth minute of injury time provided the difference as Liverpool narrowly defeat Middlesbrough 2-1 at Anfield.

You can look at this game two ways. The first being it was unfortunate for Middlesbrough to lose after taking the lead and having an own goal being the equalizer. The second being Liverpool ground out three points that should have been one. I subscribe to the second point of view because in all honesty, this was an evenly balanced game. The lone exception is Middlesbrough did not create nearly enough chances to put this game away and their best chance went right to Pepe Reina.

Robbie Keane is starting to find Fernando Torres better with his passes and from the looks of things it's just a matter of time before that becomes a lethal partnership. Liverpool are still not at their strongest eleven and once Babel and Mascherano are able to play the full ninety, Liverpool will be just fine. It's a bit premature to write their title chances off after two games. Hell they are one of only two teams with six points from a possible six.

At the end when the ping pong action at the top of the penalty area settled for Steven Gerrard to strike towards goal, it was one of those instinctive things where I knew it was a goal.

Mido is proving to be a great super sub, but is it worrying that Alfonso Alves hasn't lasted ninety minutes in both games? However Mido unnecessarily started time wasting eleven minutes from the ninety. It was almost a bad omen for Boro.

Middlesbrough are showing they will be no pushover this season. Though one thing that is worrisome is two of the three goals allowed have been own goals. That is borderline on reckless and needs to stop pronto.

Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland
: On his Premier League return, Djibril Cisse heads Sunderland to all three points and a 2-1 win at White Hart Lane.

This Sunderland did just enough on the day, and depending on your perspective that's a good or a bad thing. Good in the sense that it's three points in the bag, bad in a sense that this Tottenham side at present isn't all that good and they struggled to beat them. The one thing that surprised me was Sunderland didn't go for the killer blow after going a goal up. They shouldn't have held back and doing so gave Tottenham the impetus to attack...and that they did.

Tottenham right now have the players to get the ball forward, but no one to score them. With no natural striker coming off the bench, teams have an easy blueprint to beat them...get a quick couple of goals and defend in numbers.

That said about Spurs, they had chances to score, in fact enough chances they could have gotten a point. Two chances stick out in my mind in particular. Bent's miss in the seventeenth minute off a Spurs corner and then the fact Jonathan Woodgate or Gareth Bale couldn't finish up a Craig Gordon miss in the sixty-first.

With Cisse at Sunderland, you could say they have two forwards that can get the job done. Roy Keane has to be complimented for building this squad that isn't going to give up and will every team they play this season a fight. Tottenham need strikers stat and an ending to the Dimitar Berbatov saga. It seem those two going hand in hand are the only way for Tottenham to have any chance this season. Berbatov will more than likely be gone this week (okay it's red top fodder but it makes sense...hell he wasn't even in the 18 on Saturday), but time's ticking away to bringing in forwards that can get the job done.

Newcastle United v Bolton Wanderers
: Michael Owen's header 13 minutes after Shay Given denied Kevin Nolan's penalty was the difference as Newcastle build on their opening weekend performance and defeat Bolton 1-0.

Tense battle for sure, as both sides held their lines relatively well and did a decent job closing down. Quality chances were few and far between and simply put, Newcastle took advantage of theirs, Bolton didn't.

I thought the penalty was the right call. Steven Taylor's arm played the ball not once, but ended up twice. I wonder if Steve Bennett called the first one because the second one looked red card bad to me. Nolan's penalty though was point blank bad and there's no other way to put it.

I'm still trying to figure out what Bolton was doing on Michael Owen's goal. How Geremi was given that much space to cross in was shocking, but even more shocking was how Owen ran unopposed on goal. Jussi Jaaskelainen simply was frozen in his tracks as he could do nothing about it.

Newcastle United have to hope Obafemi Martins groin injury isn't serious. With Michael Owen not yet completely match fit, forwards are at a premium. I thought Jonas Gutierrez played well in the midfield. Shay Given is looking more and more likely by the game to keep that number one spot as his performance was very good.

Hopefully Elmander's injury isn't too serious as without him, I don't see where they get goals from. However their resolute defense and the keeping of Jaaskelainen will make it difficult for any opponent to break down. Two mental lapses did them in today. You can maybe get away with one, you don't get away with two.

These are my thoughts, what are yours?

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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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