Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Weekend Observations 27th - 28th November 2010

So, Dimitar Berbatov ended something of a goal scoring drought by hitting FIVE as Manchester United publicly violated Blackburn Rovers in an encounter that proved to be about as evenly matched as a pack of hungry mountain wolves in a classroom full of anemic schoolchildren.

'Berba' has divided opinion amongst the Old Trafford faithful for a long time now with many deeming him a waste of money given the £30million transfer fee it took to bring him from White Hart Lane way back when. However, his form at the start of this season, culminating in a spectacular hat-trick against Liverpool, had some crazy people comparing him to a United legend of years gone by.

Since that day over two months ago, karma being what is would dictate that the Bulgarian would fail to find the net again until his deluge of goals on Saturday. These non-scoring matches meant of course that fans would do an about turn and once again suggest that Berbatov doesn't perform well enough, is clearly not good enough for United etc etc. This has ultimately led to possibly the most underwhelming reaction to a 5-goal haul and a 7-1 win ever.

Not much in the way of sycophantic praise this time around but rather the simple realisation that players have good days and bad days. Of course, sublime overhead kicks and hat tricks cannot be expected every week but as these strikes currently see Berba at the top of the Premier League scoring charts, United fans and commentators need to realise how good they've got it particularly when Wayne Rooney continues to perform worse than a deaf mute trying to win some kind of popular televised signing contest.

Amusingly, the team on the receiving end of the humping were Blackburn, managed by Big Sam Allardyce. Yes, the very same Sam Allardyce who recently suggested he would be better suited to managing Inter Milan or Real Madrid (although, given their own pasting in Monday's El Clasico, maybe Big Sam may not be so out of place!). I would say something about him eating humble pie right now but it probably wouldn't be the only pastry based snack he'd be stuffing down his large, insufferable throat.

United reached the Premier League summit at the expense of Chelsea who continue to stutter, this week only managing a 1-all draw at Newcastle. Like last week against Birmingham, the blues were unable to fully recover from conceding a sloppy early goal and capitalise on their possession and chances.

The one talking point of an otherwise unremarkable match however was the fact that Chelsea's often lethal strike force failed to get the better of the evergreen Sol Campbell who once again, refuses to be written off and continues to perform at the top level. Yes, the game was that uneventful.

In contrast, the later game on Sunday provided tons of incident as Tottenham come from behind once again to beat Liverpool 2-1 at White Hart Lane. Once again, comeback specialists Spurs showed they don't know when they are beaten as Aaron Lennon secured the three points in stoppage time, despite missing their fourth penalty of the season and the visitors missing a hat-full of chances to put the game out of sight when leading. This wasn't like limp Liverpool performances of earlier in the season as they took the game to the hosts. But for some 'charitable' Paul Konchesky defending and if Fernando Torres and Maxi Rodriguez had invested in some shooting boots, we may well be sitting here talking about Liverpool being back on track and laughing heartily when people suggest Tottenham could challenge for the title.

Speaking of getting back on track, after a week to forget, Arsenal beat Aston Villa 4-2 at Villa Park in a game that only differed from last weekend's North London Derby in terms of the final scoreline. Like last weekend, Arsenal bossed the first half. Like Last weekend the gunners were 2-0 up and half time. Like last weekend they allowed the opposition a way back into the game early in the second half but unlike last weekend they were able to kick on and make the game safe but not without a scare or two. The most interesting assessment of Arsenal I read (somehwere) this week was the conclusion that the only way Arsene Wenger's team can ever be sure of winning a given game is by scoring at least 4 goals. Anything less and the opposition will back themselves to find a way back into it.

Controversy and the confusion over offsides reared their respective heads when Villa scored their first and ultimately fruitless goal as Big John Carew was gingerly meandering about the penalty area while injured and quite obviously blocked the view of Arsenal “goalkeeper” Luckaz Fabianski as Ciaran Clark struck to reduce the deficit. Whether Carew was 'interfering' or not was the debate but alas, given that this isn't the first incident of this type this season alone, it's safe to say that the officials are going to almost always give the benefit of doubt to the attacking team. More goals, fun game, right? Difficult to see how defending teams can combat it.

The weekend saw a record number of goals scored. 41 in total as all 20 teams managed to find the back of the net somehow. And that my friends, is the most goals scored in any weekend of a league season since the Sky-Sponsored, money-driven, commercial entity that is the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams in 1995.

's hit and miss seson continued as they totally capitulated in a 4-1 defeat at home against West Brom. This shock scoreline was partly down to Mikael Arteta being controversially sent off. However, the outcome was rarely in doubt thanks mostly to tormentor in chief, the vastly underrated Chris Brunt whose free kick to score the Baggies' second on the day was as good you are ever likely to see anywhere in football.

That said, even Brunt's amazing strike was nothing compared to the simply stupendous team effort from Bolton when Mark Davies finished off an incredible passing move to score the equaliser against Blackpool. Honestly, the result may have dented what small aspirations Wanderers have of playing in Europe next season, but Davies' goal and the passage of play that preceded it would not look out of place in the Champions League such was it's quality.

Finally, down at the bottom of the league, Wolves dramatic late winner against the ever unpredictable Sunderland will have taken a bit of pressure off of Mick McCarthy as his side closed in on the teams above them. Credit to the big dopey Yorkshireman for keeping the spirits up and continuing to get the best out of what is, let's be honest, a team of slightly above average Championship players. They have played well enough in recent games and it was only a matter of time before these performances were rewarded with results.

This would have wound up those cheeky cockneys from Upton Park. Ebanks-Blake's last gasp winner means that West Ham remain bottom of the table despite their first league win since forever against their direct rivals for the league's wooden spoon Wigan who themselves look nothing short of hopeless.



Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal
Bolton 2-2 Blackpool
Everton 1-4 West brom
Fulham 1-1 Birmingham
Man Utd 7-1 Blackburn
Stoke 1-1 Man City
West Ham 3-1 Wigan
Wolves 3-2 Sunderland


Newcastle 1-1 Chelsea
Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool

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