Thursday, 30 December 2010

Premier League Review - Match Day 20

Many fans and the clubs they support can't wait to see the back of 2010 in the hope certain managers New Years resolutions are 'to win more games'. Either way it's been a sterling first half to the season and here's my last round-up of this years last Match Day, that I decided to entitle:

                                                Handballs at Dawn


Apparently women and children were leaving the stadium first to miss the aftermath of Sir Alex spontaneously combusting. Or maybe, that was a dream!

Lee Bowyer netted his 55th PL goal to maintain the home sides record of one loss at home. Kudos has to go to Brum who played to their strengths to frustrate the Red Devils and their travelling fans. Birmingham took the game to the visitors before the 20th minute, when Ryan Giggs has Ben Foster showing why Sir Alex rated him so highly.

Three of the last four games between these two have ended 1-0 to United and this game looked to be going the same way after Dimitar Berbatov's 14th goal of the season. But as we have see many times before you cannot underestimate Alex McLeish's men and even though the goal was controversial it epitomises the mentality of the boys from St. Andrews. Lee Bowyer scored after an alleged Nikola Zigic handball and foul on Rio Ferdinand to give Birmingham a point.

Dimitar Berbatov - Finally looking like the player Sir Alex envisigned.

Bolton had most of the early chances and Owen Coyle was disappointed his men didn't take their chances when they had them. Matt Taylor had a shot run across the goal line after a poor clearance by eyebrow-man aka Jose Bosingwa. Chelsea spent most of the first 45 minutes camped in their own half. Previously, no one got the chance to attack them now it seemed as though they were happy to let players through in the hope they would miss or Petr Cech would save the day.

It would be interesting to know who said what at half-time because the home team emerged from the changing room early and clearly raring to go. Didier Drogba hit the post and Mchael Essien took a weak chance that went straight into the keepers hands. Before Essien charged through Bolton's midfield like a bull, Drogba played the offside trap perfectly and Florent Malouda scored the goal to give Chelsea a much needed win. His celebration with the back room staff showed how much the goal and subsequent three points meant.

STAR MAN: Sam Ricketts - Was unlucky to be on the losing team.

In my last post I tipped Wolves to go down but if they go to Anfield every week they will be fine. It was their first goal at Anfield in 26 years, their first win in 60 years. Stevie G was back after his injury but Fernando Torres was virtually anonymous. Yes the player may be unhappy, yes he may want to leave but his lack of interest is embarrassing to everyone. But mostly to himself. And all it does is pour even more stress on the back of the unfortunate Roy Hodgson.

But back to Wolves, they played well and the return of Matthew Jarvis clearly gave them a lift. They attacked so much that Pepe Reina touched the ball 31 times in the first-half. Torres touched it 19. Stephen Ward's goal came after great work from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake who sent a pass that cut through the Liverpool defense. Ward nearly had a second later after more good play by the away team. Martin Skrtal did put the ball in the net on 88 minutes after a Stevie G free-kick but it was rightly ruled offside.

The away fans were cheering so much at the end you could barely hear the boys from the Anfield faithful. After only 14 wins in 2010, 2011 can't come soon enough for Stevie G, Jamie Carragher and co.

STAR MAN: Stephen Ward - Great awareness for goal and impressive throughout.

The mystery that is Mario Balotelli continues as the unpredictable striker scored a hat-trick at Eastlands. He became only the 4th Italian to do this in the PL after legends Gianfranco Zola, Gianluca Vialli and Ravinelli, so for once he can talk about himself in such illustrious company. Two of his goals came from penalties given away by Eric Lichaj (who?) and Mark Albrighton after the latter brought down Adam Johnson. Both times he showed his arrogance confidence by waiting for Brad Friedel to commit before hitting the ball.

His other was a cheeky tap-in while Joleon Lescot scored with a debatable header. And what to say of Villa? They don't look good, in fact every time I see them they look worse. They sit just three points above bottom side West Ham and you have to concede they are candidates for relegation. Gerard Houllier has a month to open his wallet and pull something out of his hat. Otherwise the only way for Villa, will be down. And as for why, Barry Bannan, their shortest player was on the line for Lescott's goal? I have no idea!

STAR MAN: Mario Balotelli - Simple but good hat-trick. If he channels his ego onto the pitch the boy will be amazing.

This was Fulham's first away win since the first day of LAST season so this was a great way to end the year for Mark Hughes' team. Stoke weren't at their best although they still presented Fulham will a decent enough challenge.

Both goals were scored by Chris Baird; the first a powerful drive to beat the keeper and the second an impressive free-kick. Tony Pulis can console himself with the fact he has signed Jermaine Pennant from Real Zaragoza and it was amusing to see his pitiful excuse for a handshake, but I doubt Hughes will lose sleep over it.

STAR MAN: Chris Baird - Exactly what the Londoners needed.

Ian Holloway and his team of merry men continue to make the PL smile as they end 2010 on a high, with a second-half DJ Campbell double at the Stadium of Light. Steve Bruce's side had TWENTY-THREE shots yet could not hit the target. With Jordan Henderson, Asamoah Gyan and Darren Bent all experiencing one of those days. In their defense, at least making the chances and that bodes wells for future fixtures; but on Tuesday they found the post, bar and goalkeeper Richard Kingson in uncompromising form.

Matt Phillips, a young find from Wycombe Wanderers looked very bright after he came on and it was his pinpoint cross that set Campbell up for the second goal. both teams should go into the New Year happy as they sit 7th and 8th in the league and are over halfway to the key 40 points.

STAR MAN: Richard Kingson - Had no intention of losing his clean sheet.
*Special mention to Matt Phillips who looks pacy and has a good eye for a penetrating cross.


Tottenham continue their fight to achieve CL qualification two years running with a hard fought win against the Geordies. Again, they finished the game with ten men after Younes Kaboul was sent off for a head-nudge on Cheik Tiote, a disappointment for 'Arry as Kaboul was having a good game until that point. The defender must have been taking lessons from Joe Jordan who was energeticlly remistrating with Newcastle goalkeeping coach, Andy Woodman following the red card.

In my opinion, Alan Pardew doesn't need to alter his squad too much. The key difference between the two were that Spurs were more clinical. Aaron Lennon got the 1st after his 57th minute shot took a deflection off the unfortunate James Perch. Three minutes before the whistle Gareth Bale made a fool of Steven Taylor to double the home teams lead. Newcastle didn't lay down though and continued to press with that boy Andy Carroll the main culprit but Heurelho Gomes kept his clean sheet, ably helped by Bale who headed a Barton shot of the line.

STAR MAN: Gareth Bale - Great ability to make and score the second goal.

Steve Kean got his first win as manager of Blackburn Rovers to send them to ninth in the table and 4 points away from a European place. Chris Samba's absence continued due to an ankle injury although Kean says the player is happy to stay at the club and see what occurs in the transfer window. Rovers took the lead within two minutes with a Nikola Klinic goal. West Brom attacked through Graham Dorrans and Peter Odemwingie but it was obvious they were missing the absent Chris Brunt.

The home team drew level 16 minutes into this eventful encounter with a goal from Jerome Thomas after a cross from Somen Tcoyi. Kalinic gave Rovers the lead again after Ryan Nelsen connected to Mornt Gamst Pedersen's header. Pedersen was again involved in their third goal with his corner reaching El-Hadji Diouf set up Manchester United loanee, Mame Diouf.

Unfortunately I have to say Klinic went from to hero to zero after his sickening tackle on Paul Scharner shortly after the last goal which earned him a straight red. Thankfully Scharner somehow escaped unscathed.

KEY MAN: Perdersen - Set up two goals.
(Can't pick Kalinic because of the tackle)


Neither side would've plumped for the draw but beggars can't be choosers when they're in such a precarious position. After he scored two in the last match Avram Grant left Carlton Cole on the bench and replaced him with Victor Obinna. And people say he doesn't know what he's doing!
The fact the Hammers had ZERO shot on targets makes that point seem even more curious.

Tony Hibbert gave the home team their goal, just as he did last season while Seamus Coleman scored for the Toffees. Both sides were error prone and neither really deserved to win. Marouane Fellaini had a good header saved instinctively by Robert Green.

But both teams are calling out for new faces in the transfer window, Grant apparently has money to spend while David Moyes will be working on loan schemes. As it stands, both teams have players too good to go down but they need to actually start playing like that.

STAR MAN: Marouane Fellaini - Lively and involved.

In my last post I said it was key that Arsenal weren't complacent and they weren't completely. But it didn't help that Charles N'Zogbia dived to win Wigan's penalty which Ben Watson converted and there was a handball on the edge of the box that should have yielded a card. But, hey ho. Anyway, nothing that can be done about that now. People will look to the eight changes Mr Wenger made but that shouldn't make a big difference to a top team like Arsenal. Last nights result again rose doubts about the quality of the squad.

Everything Wigan did went through their key player N'Zogbia and he was giving the Arsenal midfield a run for their money until he got sent off for head butting lil Jack Wilshere. Andrey Arshavin drew Arsenal level with a acrobatic side bicycle kick before Niclas Bendtner used power and pace to send his ball past Ali Al-Habsi. The keeper had another good game and holding onto him would be a good move for Roberto Martinez. The leveller was an own goal by Sebastian Squillaci, who is reminding me more of Pascal Cygan with every passing day!

STAR MAN: Andrey Arshavin - Had a good game! Yeah, I know me too!

So Natasha Says:
Hey all,
Thanks for reading in 2010. I'll see you all next year.

Natasha x

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