Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Premier League Review - Match Day 16

There was only one game called of this weekend due to weather although some players looked as if they were still playing with their snow boots on!

Here's a rundown of the winners and Mike Ashley's during Match Day 16.

Arsenal, like so many times before had the majority of the chances in the first half, with the home team doing all the attacking. Andrey Arshavin was clearly still buzzing from Zurich as he made chances for himself and Samir Nasri, the latter sending a shot just wide of the post. It was Nasri that broke the deadlock with a great piece of skill after being played in by the Russian captain.

But as this was Arsenal it was no surprise when they conceded a mere 15 minute later. A lack of clarity between Sebastian Squallaci and Laurent Koscielny saw the former head-butt his defensive partner, thus giving Diomansy Kamara a chance to level the scores. Mr Wenger was unhappy that Chris Foy allowed play to continue but in all fairness to the ref Koscielny did attempt to carry on before falling to the floor with concussion. He was replaced by Johan Djourou who was again unlucky to be left out of the starting line-up.

Mark Hughes' men came out all guns blazing for the second half and many Arsenal fans may have felt an inkling of de ja vu again. Fulham had a couple of chances, with Robin Van Persie hacking one ball off the line. But it was all over in the 75th minute with an absolutely beautiful goal from man of the moment Nasri. Some good link up play between Arshavin and RVP led to Nasri who tricked his way between four defenders before scoring from an angle reminiscent of a Nwankwo Kanu goal against Chelsea years ago.

STAR MAN: Samir Nasri - I don't possess the vocabulary to describe that second goal so I will just say: WOW!

Jermaine Defoe started his first game since August in a match 'Arry and his boys clearly wanted to win. Alex McLeish dropped his Carling Cup scorers with Cameron Jerome keeping his place up front. Spurs were their normal attacking selves with Gareth Bale's hard work setting up the goal. Liam Ridgewell's shirt pulling gave the away team a free kick, Bale took it and his shot was beaten away by Ben Foster, but only as far as Sebastian Bassong who scored.

Birmingham came out in the second half looking far more determined and Craig Gardner had a header which was saved by Heurelo Gomes. Jermaine Defoe may have had a penalty after a push from Stephen Carr in the box. Gardner was the man to give Brum a point with a sweet header into the bottom left corner after Gomes was caught out of his goal. Admittedly they deserved the draw after their good play in the second half although 'Arry won't be happy that his team haven't kept a clean sheet since the first day of the season.

Birmingham have made St. Andrews a fortress and this will be exactly why they stay up rather than fall foul of 'second season syndrome'. A good back line makes it easier for the forward players to go about their job without worrying although they need to improve their away form. Spurs need to find some consistency, to keep hold of their Champions League spot, 'Arry will feel more relieved once they get some of their players back from injury.

STAR MAN: Roger Johnson - Doesn't look out of place again sme of the Premier League's top strikers.

The disappointed continues for Mick Mac as he they seem unable of taking their chances, which is never good when you continue to concede in large numbers. Wolves had a few chances in the first half and it was a mixture of poor finishing and great goalkeeping that prevented them from taking the lead. Morten Gamst Pedersen won a corner which Ryan Nelsen headed into the action from the back post for the revitalised David Dunn to score his first goal of the season. One Wolves player tried to hook the goal out which is no use when 'YOU'RE BEHIND THE LINE!'

This just gave Blackburn the momentum they needed and they were 2-0 up just before half-time. There were doubts that Jason Roberts when he passed the ball to Brett Emerton who scored the goal to give Rovers a comfortable lead. The away tea started the second half pretty much the same way they started the first, testing former England man Paul Robinson from all angles, with a one handed save from Kevin Doyle catching the eye. But on 55 minutes it was all over when Milijas gave away a free kick, which gave Ryan Nelsen the chance to get his second goal of the season.

Wolves clearly have an attacking mentality but they need to convert their chances and it will be interesting to see if Mick Mac is able to delve into the transfer market come January. If not, Stephen Hunt, Doyle and the rest better get themselves some extra shooting practice. Blackburn looked a different team from the one at Old Trafford and although the fans can take heart from this performance, they will face far sterner tests this season.

STAR MAN: Paul Robinson - Looks like the man who was once England's no.1, he was composed, strong and agile for 90 minutes.

Firstly I would like to say a big thank you to Jermaine Beckford for winning me a nice little wedge by being the next goalscorer, now onto the match report ;-) Everton began the game fairly deep in their own half, clearly cautious of being on the receiving end of a Chelsea backlash that never materialised. I don't believe Chelsea are in crisis but they are not performing the way it has become expected of them. To me there seems to be a malaise running through the team, no one seems to have that passion that has become a part of their play.

Even John Terry and Michael Essien looked subdued, not something I say often about those two. After Ivanovic made a couple of mistakes it was clear Everton had a chance to get something if they took it. Before Didier Drogba's penalty, the only real chance was a Terry shot that hit the crossbar. Nicolas Anelka was racing towards goal when Tim Howard came out and more or less obstructed him after an awful backpass by captain Phil Neville. Some thought he should have got a red card instead the ref awarded him a yellow and Anelka gave him a bruise on his face for his troubles.

David Moyes obviously sensed blood in the air at Stamford Bridge and he sent his team out with a more direct game plan for the next 45 minutes. Leighton Baines went racing down the wing, sending in a sweet cross which led to Jack Rodwell hitting the post. Chelsea's discomfort grew as the Toffees took the game to them with Baines using his pace against their more mature defence. Replacing Saha with the lighter footed Beckford paid dividends as they drew level on 86 minutes. Baines beat 4 players as his cross was met by Tim Cahill who directed it to Beckford, who couldn't fail to score with a header.

Grumbles continue to grow in West London as the champions league form continues to be indifferent and disappointing. This unfortunate set of results has coincided with Ray Wilkins sacking from the club and that only leads outsiders like myself to ask more questions about what really went on. Again Everton have had a difficult start to the season but there is always light at the end of the tunnel with Moyes in charge. hopefully Beckford's goal against such high profile opposition will give him the confidence he needs to stat scoring regularly.

STAR MAN: Leighton Baines - Great second half performance to help his team to a well deserved point.

Gerard Houiller, return, disappointing, blah, blah blah. I'm sure you've already read all that so I won't bother covering it as I have nothing different to say! But I will say congratulations to Fernando Torres and his wife Olalla on the birth of their second child.

A much needed win for Liverpool as they look to return to the Champions League next season and a welcome relief for their manager Roy Hodgson. With Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Jamie Carragher missing this was a good test for other players to show they could cope without their talismen. David Ngog scored the first with a close range header on 13 minutes, while forgotten man Ryan Babel doubled their league with a very nice finish.

Aston Villa didn't seen to have any reply to Liverpool's play and David Dunne will want to wipe another match from his memory after a less than perfect display. In fairness to Villa they have their own injury worries and are playing with a group of players not steeped in Premier League experience. Maxi Rodriguez netted the third and it will please the supporters that this was very much a team performance rather than a one man rampage. Liverpool return to the top half of the table and we all agree that is where they need to make sure they stay.

STAR MAN: Raul Meireles - Looking more composed as he has got an extended run in the team and starting to show what Roy Hodgson saw in him.

City captain Carlos Tevez scored in the 4th minute to give his team a lead which they hung on to. Jussi Jaaskelainen came out too far and the Argentine took advantage to score from a Yaya Toure pass. City had their fair share of chances but they found Bolton hard to penetrate although there was good chances from Tevez and David Silva, who seems to be settling into English football. Bolton were more on the defensive side but they had a good chance when Joe Hart missed the ball and had to be saved by Vincent Kompany.

Aleksandar Kolarov had a good shot in the second half that hit the side netting. Although he left the pitch not long later after a second yellow for a two footed lunge on Ricketts. A definite sending off offence but there is a lack of consistency as Luis Boa Morte made a similar challenge in West Ham's match which only got a yellow card in return. Unfortunately it wasn't until the sending off that Bolton really started to attack and their manager agreed that it wasn't one of their best performances.

STAR MAN: Carlos Tevez - Great awareness for his goal and blatent passion for his team. Some may not like his reaction - stand up Robbie Savage - but at least he actually cares for his club.

West Ham continue to be as hot and cold as the English weather and I can't quite decide if they really unlucky or just simply, very bad. It was all Sunderland with their 7 shots on target to the Hammers one. Steve Bruce started with Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan upfront and the Hammers travelling fans must have feared the worst. That's not to say that West Ham didn't attack, they did just not as well as Sunderland. Victor Obinna looks a bright spark and if others had his mindset, they might not be where they are now.

Bruce will be pleased with the way Gyan has slotted into the team and it was him that set up Jordan Henderson for his first goal on his 50th league appearance. It was clear how much it meant to the youngster as he celebrated with his teammates. Kieran Dyer still doesn't look quite right and Avram Grant replaced him with Frederic Piquionne although it was too little too late. By then the Mackems were in full control and if it wasn't for Robert Green they may have finished the match with a bigger scoreline.

Sunderland are unbeaten at home in eight games and they look like they could finish in the top half, especially with their forward line of Bent and Gyan who looks like a very good buy. With West Ham there are times when some of the players just don't look good enough unless you are planning for a future in the Championship. Lets hope the two David's keep their word and support their manager in the transfer window.

STAR MAN: Lee Cattermole - when he is not making reckless tackles we can see what a good young layer he is. Bruce is clearly whispering the right things in his ears.

This match had everything except a winner but I don't think that would've been fair on either team who gave the 15,100 fans at the DW Stadium lots to cheer about. Four goals from two teams who love to attack though two teams who don't appear to love defending so much, something I am sure will be discussed in training this week. If they want to keep their Premier League status than neither can continue to play a openly as this. Neither goalkeeper was really at fault for the goals with three of the four being deflections.

Charles N'Zogbia was the main man and while he didn't get on the score sheet - although he clipped the post - he was at the heart of all Wigan's good work. Matthew Etherington played his 200th game as I imagine he played his first. Both teams show they don't have to rely on the long ball it's about playing as neccessary at that time.

STAR MAN: Charles N'Zogbia - Good passer and getting better at working for his team.

I don't know much about cricket but I'm guessing Sol Campbell should have been 500 and out with this performance, the worst I remember since his traumatic last few days at Arsenal. The first time around. The Baggies were passing the ball so sweetly that Newcastle at times looked like the piggy in the middle. Scott Carson didn't have much to do but what he did was done with the least amount of fuss. The away team clearly weren't at the races and there were a few half-hearted challenges on show. The first was very much a team goal with Chris Brunt, Somen Tchoyi and Jerome Thomas involved in play before Peter Odemwingie scored after coming back from a non-interfering offside position.

Newcastle looked brighter in the second half with Wayne Routledge crossing to Steven Taylor who had his header saved by Carson. It was Odemwingie who got the second goal after a slip by Danny Guthrie and Campbell which led Tim Krul to rush out leaving the West Brom forward with a pretty easy shot. Odemwingie got another before Peter Loverkrands consolation on 90 minutes.

The records will say that Chris Houghton lost his job as Newcastle because of this match but football fans far and wide know the truth. Today's dismissal has left us all calling for a ounce of decorum to return to the world of football. It's one thing to sack an employee but it's another to sack him with stories coming out that you were plotting for months behind his back. Mr Houghton: You are better off out of it! Okay, rant over.
NB: West Brom WILL stay up this year.

STAR MAN: Somen Tchoyi - Looks better and better with every match. definitely a player you want on your side in a fight.


Arsene Wenger: "The goal came from the flexibility in his hips."

Samir Nasri: Lush (the 2nd goal)

Chelsea's lacklustre showing. Not befitting of Champions.


Carlos Tevez: He looked so serious but he looked like a 15 year old who wasn't allowed to go to the 'big' party.

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