Premier League Thoughts: Newcastle Rocking, Where Was Aston Villa, Cottage Woes For Manchester United

23 August 2010

Newcastle s Andy Carroll Celebrates Scoring His Side's Third Goal Against Aston Villa Sunday. Newcastle United Won 6-0. (Credit Image: © Imago/
What a difference a week makes.

On Monday, Newcastle United looked lifeless and scared against Manchester United. On Saturday, Aston Villa tore West Ham United apart with crisp, concise passing that gave away the impression they would easily make the Europa League group stages and make this weekend's game a walk in the park. On Sunday, Newcastle looked like the team that was making regular trips into Europe, while Aston Villa looked a side that was so beaten down from the events of the past two weeks they mentally checked out.

The thing about Aston Villa's performance that was so stunning was how quickly the players collectively checked out of the game. The defensive players all checked out when John Carew decided a tryout for the Newcastle Falcons was a better idea than slotting home an obvious penalty. That was only after ten minutes, and Joey Barton made them pay three minutes later. The attacking players all checked out when Ashley Young was incorrectly flagged offside in the twenty-fourth. Kevin Nolan made them pay for that eight minutes later.

However, this was the Andy Carroll show. When I first saw him, I only saw him as an incredibly mediocre forward. Today was the day he paid Chris Hughton back for the belief he had in him. Yet, there was something about all three of his goals today that make me not want to get overly excited about him. As an attacker, you should be taking advantage of simple elementary mistakes a defense makes. Carroll made Ciaran Clark and Richard Dunne pay for their failure to clear a corner in the thirty-fourth. Carroll's second goal took perfect advantage of a defense that was out of position after failing to clear the ball out of the eighteen yard box. Carroll turned the statue Stewart Downing into a pillar of salt for his hat trick. What's even sadder is Friedel can only be blamed for one of the six goals.

Meanwhile, the weekend's most entertaining game happened at Craven Cottage, where Manchester United failed again in picking up three points. For the opening fifteen minutes, it did look like the jinx United had when playing there the previous two seasons was going to be easily lifted. Paul Scholes opening goal was the result of the perfect layoff, and the perfect reflection to how slow Fulham started.

Then chinks started to form in the Red Devil armor. While they lasted until halftime up a goal to nil, the way they were conceding the initiative showed their lead wasn't going to last for long. United's midfield was being easily played through, and the wider Fulham played, the easier they found it to break down Manchester United. With Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic out of position in the fifty-seventh, Simon Davies put all the power he had into a shot that sneaked in far post.

At this point, Peter Walton became a bigger influence in proceedings than he had any right to be. In the sixty-fourth, a penalty should have been awarded to Fulham when Vidic felt a blatant grab of Dembele's shirt was the best course of action with dealing with a ball into the penalty area. After Hangeland didn't try to clear a ball, but instead turned away and had the ball bounce off his leg into the net, Walton then awarded a penalty for something Damien Duff couldn't avoid. Sure the ball went off Duff's arm, but there was no way he could get his arm out of the way when Duff played the ball off his knee. It was only poetic justice Stockdale saved Nani's effort. At least Hangeland was able to make up for his own goal by getting by Vidic on his way to a free header as the regulation ninety wound down.

With the four teams involved in action Sunday, it's still difficult to judge them in full. With Wayne Rooney out of Manchester United's lineup, they were hamstrung. Fulham continue to show the fight that Mark Hughes's sides always show, but at some point they need to find a way to turn draws into wins. As for Newcastle United, if you show that much heart at home, you may be safe by proxy. Aston Villa right now need to figure out who they want to be their manager. Villa needs leadership at the top and it seems like they have already quit on the message Kevin MacDonald is trying to preach.


About This Blog

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.

Get In Touch

If you have any questions regarding content on the blog, wanting to write on the blog, or to potentially advertise on the blog, email

Donate to The Third Half

  © Blogger template Leaving by 2008

Back to TOP