Thursday, 11 November 2010

Midweek Observations - 9th-10th November 2010

There was an absurd but understandable amount of hype surrounding this week's Manchester derby at Eastlands. Sky were the main culprits with a number of flashy idents, various lives from the City and infinite interviews with any person who has ever seen Manchester on a map. Needless to say, I, like many others, were sucked in, and with good reason. This was supposed to be the biggest derby for years with the reds and the blues neck and neck in the league and more poignantly, both in the title race. United and City are both spilling over with talent and couple that with the extra incentive of wanting to beat your arch-rivals for bragging rights and such, I'm sure it wasn't too outrageous to expect a decent game packed full of goals, incident and talking points which would have sad little internet, homely looking bloggers yammering on for days.

Instead what we got was the football equivalent of this...

Actually, that's mightily unfair on tumbleweed.

Thanks to the negative approach of BOTH sides and a lack of desire to actually win the game, there was very little to actually 'observe' so I will move ever-so-quickly on. Let's hope Haye v Harrison is better, eh?
24 hours earlier, Sky Sports decided to televise the match between relegation fodder Stoke City and Birmingham City in a match that one couldn't get excited about beforehand even if Jessica Alba and Kelly Brook were to promise to wrestle naked in the centre circle at 15 minutes intervals. It was about as appealing as the bread before the starter before the main course.
As it turned out, this bread was the best part of the meal. The second half of said bread... er, match was one of the most entertaining 45 minute spells of the season, swinging back and fourth resulting in a 3-2 win for Tony Pulis' men. Interestingly enough, for all his pissing and moaning about referees this season, it was surprising (or not) to see Pulis noticeably less vocal about the possible handball by match winner Dean Whitehead before scoring the all important goal. People would be inclined to listen to his not altogether crazy suggestions to punish bad officiating if he wasn't such a hypocrite.
Earlier this week, much-maligned footballer Joey Barton actually surprised the world with something of a face turn by showing something resembling maturity. Well, about as much maturity Joey Barton can muster. The St. James' jailbird also seemingly offered advice to the apparent heir to his throne of thuggary Andy Carroll telling the striker to concentrate on his football. Barton feels that Carroll's recent on-pitch actions ought to be taken into consideration over his off field misdemeanours. Not 48 hours after these words of wisdom, Barton reverted to type by showing that his own on-pitch actions were just as reprehensible as what he does when he gets pissed off after receiving the wrong flavoured milkshake at a well known fast food establishment. After his unprovoked punch on Morton Gamst Pedersen, hopefully the authorities will throw the book at him. With any luck it will hit him in the eye because, you know, Karma is a bitch.
In the same game Jason Roberts scored the second winning goal for Blackburn Rovers in as many games. He must read this blog.

On a similar theme, Jermaine Beckford scored a stunner for Everton to salvage a draw against Bolton set out to prove that he is NOT as I previously suggested out of his depth in the Premier League and Aston Villa took my claim that they are boring and rammed them down my throat when they decided to participate in a rather exciting match with Blackpool. But like a petulant child with a spine made of reinforced steal, I am too stubborn to bend on these issues. Well done to both for their respective achievements but one swallow does not a summer make and all that. One goal wont convince me that Beckford isn't going to continue to maraud around Merseyside like a headless chicken with a broken Tom Tom while a 3-2 win against Blackpool reserves will not suddenly see Gerard Houllier's team starting to play expansive, high-tempo attacking football from now on.
Speaking of Blackpool, following his ludicrous threat to resign if he is punished over his team selection, is anyone else beginning to think that loveable Ian Holloway is fast becoming the miserable old giffer you encounter at bus stops and in grotty pubs that complains about everything but is completely oblivious to the fact that life couldn't actually be any better for him? Don't get me wrong, 'Ollie' is still what my Encyclopaedia of Great Football Clichés would refer to as a 'Breath of fresh air' and I would take his enthusiastic randomness over the monotonous generic nonsense spoken by most managers in the Premier League any day of the week but his threat to quit is childish, petty, vindictive and most importantly shows a lack of respect to his players who will be leaving in the lurch.
That said, he is right to be vexed at the authorities. The Premier League have already imposed the controversial home grown/25 man squad limit this season but if a manager isn't free to pick any first XI he chooses from that squad then what was the point? Farcical.
What would a discussion about Premier League football in modern times be without some sort of debate about tackling? Interestingly enough, for the second time in a matter of weeks it is perennial victims of leg-snap from seasons gone by Arsenal who are the perpetrators. In their 2-0 win at Wolves, Catalan Captain Cesc Fabregas found himself very lucky not to pick up what would have been his side’s FIFTH red card of the season after a late, reckless and totally unnecessary lunge on Stephen Ward. The Gunners' player and his boss were quick to say sorry afterwards but having been down this road already this season, you have to wonder if Arsenal players think it's ok to start tackling like animals so long as they say sorry afterwards? That's the kind of reasoning you'd expect from an infant thinking he has a justifiable reason to continuously whale on his little brother.
However, Fabregas wasn't the only guilty party in this game as 'Killer' Karl Henry was also lucky to escape punishment for an over the top challenge on Andrey Arshavin.

There was some naughtiness from many media outlets who have ignored this incident in their reporting of the game. Conspiracy theorists from the ever-paranoid but frightfully large gooner blogosphere would point to some kind of non-existent media bias against them, others particularly those from a certain area of the West Midlands would suggest that poor old Karl has had enough of a kicking (so to speak) from the media already this season so it is about time they chose to lay off him. The truth is, the Fabregas' apology and acceptance by Mick McCarthy made for a better 'story' so everyone just ran with that. Besides, the THUG FOOTBALLER COMMITS THUGGISH ACT headline has already been hogged by Joey Barton this week.


Stoke City 3-2 Birmingham City
Tottenham 1-1 Sunderland

Aston Villa 3-2 Blackpool
Chelsea 1-0 Fulham
Everton 1-1 Bolton
Manchester City 0-0 Manchester United
Newcastle 1-2 Blackburn
West Ham 2-2 West Brom
Wigan 1-1 Liverpool
Wolves 0-2 Arsenal

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1 comment:

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