Monday, 7 February 2011

Premier League Review - Match Day 26

Whoa, what a weekend? Leaders losing to relegation battlers, goal records being broken and possibly the best ever come back in Premier League history. Here's a round-up of all ten games and a star man for each.

This was one of five games that had at least four goals this weekend. Although both teams will be happy scoring two goals, Villa in particular need to learn how not to concede. The Midlanders only sit three points above the relegation places and one bad result draw them back into the mire. John Pantsil scored his third own goal of the season to give Villa the lead before they lost the lead; for the first time, to an Andy Johnson goal.

The home side took it to 2-1 through Kyle Walker who scored a smasher to get his first Premier League goal. The youngster is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur and has been called up to the senior England squad, so I imagine he's a happy bunny right now. Steve Sidwell looks to be settling well into Mark Hughes team and was involved in much of their attacking play. American Clint Dempsey scored his tenth goal of the season to take Fulham level on 78 minutes.

STAR MAN: Andy Johnson - Looking more like the player of old, really nice to see him in the goals again.

Much of the post-match chat has been about a poor debut for Fernando Torres, I personally disagree. He's had mere days to train with his new teammates, not to mention the fact that he is being asked to play in a completely foreign formation. I honestly don't think Chelsea fans need to worry, the Spaniard will get them goals. And when him and Didier Drogba get in sync there will be nothing to worry about. More worrying for them right now is the lack of communication on show between Petr Cech and his defenders yesterday. With a particular angry exchange between the goalkeeper and Branislav Ivanovic after they both went for the same ball.

Yes, Chelsea had more chances but Liverpool were the better team. The whole Chelsea team clearly struggled with the new formation and Liverpool took advantage of this by whipping crosses in the box at every opportunity. One such cross from Stevie G led to the goal with Raul Meireles scoring at the near post after Dirk Kuyt touched the ball on for him. Chelsea could have had a penalty late on when Glen Johnson shoulder barged Ivanovic, the England defender was clearly not interested in the ball and how it was missed I do not know.

STAR MAN: Jamie Carragher - If passion equated to skill, this guy would be the best player in the world. Hope he remembers to tell the wife to take Torres out of his pocket before she does the washing.

One of two eight goal thrillers on Saturday, understandably I found this one more enjoyable. It seems to be a trend in the PL that teams know how to attack yet cannot fathom what to do in defence, Blackpool are probably the biggest example of this. At 64 minutes Blackpool were 3-2 up, before Louis Saha completed his hat-trick and added a fourth with Jermaine Beckford getting a worldy in between the two. This was Saha's first hat-trick in the PL and he is the second Frenchman to score four goals in a top flight match, the other being the Thierry Henry.

Ian Holloway had made changes after the loss against West Ham with Paul Rachubka replacing Richard Kingson for his first league start and new signings James Beattie and James Puncheon also in the starting-11. This seemed to work as the Seasiders came back into the match after being 2-1 down. But with all their players attacking the Toffees too their chances and scored three in eight minutes to put the game beyond Blackpool's reach. Everton now rise to 13th, while Blackpool slip closer to the bottom of the table.

STAR MAN: Louis Saha - Are we finally seeing him become the player SirAlex raved about.

This turned out to be Roberto Di Matteo's last match as West Brom manager after he was relieved of his duties on Sunday morning. Again the world of football amazes me as another manager is hung out to dry by his employers after they leave him starving in the transfer window. But back to the game, this was once again the Carlos Tevez show as he got a hat-trick which included two penalties on what was his 27th birthday.

David Silva is linking up better and better with the Argentine as he set up Tevez' second goal. Jerome Thomas was at fault for the second penalty as he had a moment of madness with a silly handball in the box. The second half was all West Brom though as they tried to get something from the game. They had four shots on target but Joe Hart was back to his best to deny them. Unfortunately a spirited second half display wasn't enough to save Di Matteo.

STAR MAN: Carlos Tevez - *Felix cumplea├▒os Carlos, el juego limpio. Pr├│ximo hacia arriba Manchester United.

I hate to use cliche's but this was definitely 'a game of two halves'. One of which I had a huge grin and the other where I seriously wanted to cry. Contrary to popular belief I don't belief the sending off was the key point of the match, Johan Djourou's injury was. Alongside him Laurent Koscielny looks far calmer and composed than he does against Sebastian Squillaci. And with the news that Djourou may be out for 4-6 weeks, I weep some more.

I have no idea what Alan Pardew said to his team at half-time but I doubt it contained the two words Andy Carroll. Everyone seems to forget that the striker wouldn't even have been playing as he is still injured so Lineaker, Shearer, Hansen and the rest: Get over it! Whether or not Arsenal should have lost the lead is purely academic now, they did and by the end of ninety minutes, Newcastle's 45 minutes of hard work deserved a point.

STAR MAN: Wojciech Szczesny - Some great saves in the second half prevented Newcastle from taking the lead.

Not a match for the purists but that won't bother Tony Pulis as his men came from behind with two Robert Huth goals in the final eight minutes. Kieran Richardson gave the Black Cats the lead after Asamoah Gyan's touched the ball and it fell right to him in the penalty area. Not surprisingly Stoke's first equaliser came from a set piece, after bouncing around the box John Carew toe poked home his first goal for the club.

Gyan grabbed the away teams second a couple of minutes into half time after a great ball forward from Sulley Muntari. It did look like they were heading for the win until Huth put on his strikers shoes after some good work from Jermaine Pennant on the wing. Steve Bruce will not be best pleased with Crag Gordon's role in the goals they conceded.

STAR MAN: Robert Huth - Two goals and an assist, not a bad days work.

A extra-time screamer from forgotten man Niko Kranjcar gave Spurs the points against Owen Coyle's resilient Bolton boys. Leading score Rafael Van der Vaart put the home team in the lead with a sixth minute penalty. The team were awarded another penalty which the Dutchman took and scored before being told to take it again and missing his second go. I can imagine 'Arry had a lot to say about the matter, none of which I can print here.

Bolton were their normal hardworking self. Giving nothing away and attacking in the more attractive way that Owen Coyle has got them playing. Daniel Sturridge scored his second in two games and they looked to be heading for the draw before Kranjcar game off the bench and gave 'Arry something else to think about.

STAR MAN: Niko Kranjcar - Came on and changed the game.

Happy birthday Mr Grant or not as the case may be. Avram Grant and Alec McLeish must be sick of the sight of each other after their third meeting in four weeks, particularly as Brum have now won two of those. Right now West Ham are about as predictable as the weather. After battering Blackpool in midweek, they were toothless against City. The forwards seemed scared of the box which made all Mark Noble and Scott Parker's hardwork wasteful.

City are still waiting on Obafemi Martins to join them from Nigeria where he is waiting on paperwork so hopefully he will arrive sometime this season. But they didn't need him as the Premier League's tallest player Nikola Zigic scored from a Sebastian Larsson free-kick. David Bentley won that and the free kick that preceded it. You would have thought the Hammers had learnt from their previous games against Birmingham, but it appears not.

STAR MAN: Roger Johnson - Was a man mountain at the back. I wonder if he could do a job for England?

A great win for Roberto Martinez and his team when you look at the results of those around them although they still sit in the relegation zone and are one goal from safety. His team scored their four goals in a thirty minute spell with two coming from exciting midfirlder James McCarthy. Admittedly Rovers were the better team for much of the first half with Jason Roberts scoring the first goal on 23 minutes.

This is Rovers third defeat in a row but they are playing a less physical game under Steve Kean and the players seem to have responded. Hugo Rodellega and Ben Watson scored the home teams' other goals. While captain Christopher Samba got one before David Dunn scored one of the eight penalties awarded on a busy Saturday.

STAR MAN: James McCarthy - With each game he is becoming a more complete player.


I can't believe that after my preview I didn't bet on Wolves to win and halt United's unbeaten run as I can always do with a new pair of shoes. Anyway, Mick Mac looked like a guy who had dodged a bullet after another win against a top fur side. If only they could play like this against the teams that surround them.

United had a third minute lead after a great run, dummy and shot from Nani who still needs to be at his best more consistantly. Don't be disillusioned; this was merely a blip for United, they will be back to their best for the Manchester derby next week. As for Wolves, a great full hearted performance from front to back. They blocked, they chased and they took their chances. A few more shows like this and who knows what they may achieve.

STAR MAN: George Elokobi - Great at the back and the front. One of many stars for the home side.

*Happy birthday Carlos, fair play. Next up Manchester United.

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