Premier League Weekend Review

Author: Paul Harper

There’s no such thing as a quiet weekend in the English Premier League as the end of the season is fast approaching its climax, and this weekend was no exception. There were some interesting games, some great goals and the battle to avoid the drop remains fascinating and extremely close. Without further ado, let’s get discussing it all.

The opening game of the weekend was at Old Trafford where title-chasing Manchester United faced Everton. The Toffees defended resolutely throughout as United threw the kitchen sink at them. They kept a clean sheet until the 83rd minute when the home side began throwing the bathroom sink too, and so the Everton defence cracked at last.

Javier Hernandez (I won’t call him Chicarito, I just don’t like the nickname) has had a great knack of being in the right place at the right time for United this season. He got on the end of a superb Fabio cross to head home past the outstanding Tim Howard to give the Red Devils the points. It could have been a cricket score without the American’s brilliance between the Everton posts as he made save after save to keep out Owen, Hernandez, Rooney and co.

Just to go back to Hernandez for a moment, in modern-day top-flight football, what an absolute bargain he was last summer. Fergie (or Sir Fergie as I suppose I should call him) has picked his fair share of poor foreign players (who remembers Massimo Taibi?), but he’s unveiled a gem here for just £6million. For a natural goalscorer, that’s a steal.

With United’s stars long gone home, Chelsea had the chance to close the gap back to six points in the late afternoon fixture. They hosted West Ham at a rain-sodden Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard rediscovered the knack of breaking into the box at the right time on the stroke of half time to fire home from a pass by his England colleague Ashley Cole to open the scoring.

West Ham tried hard but never really looked like getting back into the game. They certainly missed the hugely influential and Football Writer’s Player of the Year, Scott Parker, in midfield. Without him, they look a much poorer side.

A second half substitute stole the headlines. Strangely, the headline was ‘£50million striker scores’ which appeared on the yellow breaking news ticker on Sky Sports News! You’d expect for £50million, at least a goal or two, but obviously nobody was expecting Fernando Torres to break his duck on Saturday. He did, with the help of the ball getting stuck in a puddle which bamboozled the West Ham defenders.

Maybe now he’ll go on and get a few more goals before the season ends. Or maybe he’ll miskick a few more gilt-edged chances? He concluded his short day’s work with an assist for Florent Malouda as Chelsea wrapped up a 3-0 victory.

Third placed Arsenal still harboured hopes of winning the title.  Or so Arsene Wenger had told everybody, I for one didn’t believe it. Arsenal have capitulated after being in a very strong position over the last 8 weeks or so, and defeat to Bolton on Sunday afternoon compounded their misery and leaves the Gunners seven years without a trophy.

Their inability to defend set-pieces cost them. The two goals they conceded resulted from corners which were converted by Daniel Sturridge and Tamir Cohen. To win titles, you simply cannot concede such soft goals and Arsenal have shot themselves in the foot in this department time after time this season.

They did manage a nice goal of their own through Robin van Persie but it was not enough to take anything from the Reebok Stadium. They do play some wonderful football at times, but at the end of the day, you are judged by success and there are far too many weaknesses in this Arsenal side for them to be successful in my opinion.

Barring a miracle, it seems that Manchester United will be crowned Premier League champions and will break Liverpool’s 21-year record with 19 top-flight league titles.

So whereas the top of the table looks like being sewn up soon, the same cannot be said of the bottom of the league. The relegation battle is hotter than ever.

Wolves sit in 19th, one point above West Ham, and conceded a late goal to deny them victory over Fulham. Steven Fletcher had opened the scoring for Mick McCarthy’s men but Fulham substitute Andy Johnson came off the bench with instant effect as he scored with his first touch to equalise.

Wolves have a game in hand over their rivals and they’ll need to win that game you’d think if they want to remain in the Premier League for next season.

The third relegation place is currently occupied by Wigan, who slumped to a poor defeat at Sunderland. After taking the lead against a side who had been on a terrible run of form, the Latics fell apart and eventually fell to a 4-2 defeat.

Even more frustrating to Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is that Sunderland ended up without a recognised centre-forward as well as suffering many more injuries elsewhere on the field. Yet they still could not hold on to their advantage, and seem set for a big struggle in their remaining four games.

Blackpool have leapfrogged their Lancashire neighbours after grinding out a 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle. After going behind to a Peter Lovenkrands strike, the Seasiders showed character to get back into it through a dubious DJ Campbell goal. I say dubious, because Blackpool don’t appear to have installed TV cameras along the goal-line, so you couldn’t really tell whether Campbell’s effort had crossed the line or not. It was given though and Blackpool were denied two excellent penalty claims and will feel aggrieved not to have got either which could have led to maximum points.

Other games in the Premier League over the weekend were a Midlands mid-table affair with Aston Villa tying 1-1 with Stoke. You won’t be surprised to read that Stoke scored off a Rory Delap throw-in. Surely sides know all about it by now and could set themselves up to defend it better? Clearly not.

Spurs’ fight to regain a place in next season’s Champions League took a blow when they were held at home to West Brom 2-2. Roy Hodgson is again showing people how good a coach he is after a poor spell at Liverpool as he guides West Brom into 12th place. The game saw Jermain Defoe score Tottenham’s 1000th Premier League goal and it was a stunner, only to be matched by the Baggies’ Simon Cox who produced his own goal of high class to secure a point would return to the Hawthorns.

And, in true, Trevor McDonald style, finally, Liverpool put on a five-star show to thrash Birmingham 5-0. Birmingham were that bad that Maxi Rodriguez scored a hat-trick and to top it off, even Joe Cole scored too with a scuffed effort that went through the goalkeeper’s butter fingers. Dirk Kuyt bagged the other for the Reds, who could still claim a European berth for next season after a renaissance under Kenny Dalglish.

Thanks for sticking with it until the end. This is probably my longest ever blog. It was a busy old weekend of football, hope you enjoyed it. One game still remains to be played too. Blackburn will lose 2-0 to Manchester City on Easter Monday. You read it here first!


Post a Comment