Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Fernando Torreble - Weekend Observations 12th-14th Feb 2011: Part Two

Part One here

Off the back of last week's Newcastle-Arsenal fiasco, Premier League fans were treated to another dramatic comeback at the Hawthorns as the game of the weekend saw West Ham come back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with fellow strugglers West Brom. Good old football! Another game of two halves as the Hammers were fairly abject for the 45 minutes and the Baggies decided to match that ineptitude in the second half. The managerless home side raced ahead and could have had more to show for their efforts before Hammers new boy Demba Ba intervened with a two goals on his full debut either side of a Carlton Cole header.

However, for all the excitement and drama, this was far from being a 'great advert for the English game', this match was a prime example of why both teams find themselves battling relegation. One or both will definitely be playing Championship football next season and deservedly so. The incoming Roy Hodgson will have a massive job on his hands if some of the "defending" by the home side is anything to go by.

On that note, West Brom might have the excuse that they didn't actually have a proper manager in charge for the game. But then again, West Ham could say the same thing. Apparently Scott Parker was the one responsible for the Straford bound club's Lazarus like resurrection after delivering a rousing dictum to the hapless hammers at half time.

Where was Avram at this stage? Presumably more concerned with trying to catch Dangermouse.

"That one-eyed rodent will probably still be better than Matthew Upson"

You've got to love a local derby. The passion, the excitement, the overwhelming and obsessive desire to get one over on your rivals. Sadly very little of any of the above was present in the St. Valentine's Day 0-0 stalemate between Fulham and Chelsea at Craven Cottage. Sky were keen to point out how many 'couples' were present at the game but given how bad it turned out to be, you have to wonder how many blokes have been dumped today following what had to be the worst Valentine's Day present ever.

The match mainly consisted of Chelsea dominating possession but very rarely actually taking the opportunity to test Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal. The home side were clearly only intent on trying to hit the Champions on the break. In the very last minute when you imagine many women were turning to their partners and asking disdainfully "THIS is what you do every other Saturday???", one of the Fulham breaks paid off as Clint Dempsey won a penalty that would have surely won the game for the Whites had he not decided to go all Gareth Southgate as Petr Cech saved it.

Aside from that solitary moment of late drama, the only other talking points were the contrasting performances of the Blues' two big January signings. Brazilian centre half David Luiz slotted into the Chelsea team with all the ease of plug into a socket and was the stand out man of the match by a country mile. Yes, even despite giving away the late penalty that almost cost his team the match. Luiz defended like his life depended on it and literally contributed to every decent move Chelsea had going forward.

"My hair's not so funny now, IS IT???"

Luiz emerging from the game as man of the match is both a reflection of how well he played overall and how poor every other player on the pitch was. Few performed poorer however than £50m man Fernando Torres who stunk the place up so bad they were handing out gas masks by the time the misfiring Spaniard was withdrawn on 70 minutes. Torres had a couple of decent chances in the first half that a player of his ability should ordinarily be burying. He must have left Merseyside in such a hurry that it seems as though he has forgotten his shooting boots, confidence and first touch. It's difficult to know if the chants of "What a waste of money" were only coming from the home fans...

In the midst of all the fuss over the Torres transfer, very few people seemed to notice that promising young striker Daniel Sturridge was bound, gagged and shoved in massive crate with 'Reebok Stadium, The North' written on the side. Chelsea may now be wondering why they bothered. Following two goals in his first two games for Bolton, Strurridge made it 3 from 3 after netting the decisive second goal in Wanderers 2-0 win over Everton.

It's going to be interesting to see what path Sturridge's career ultimately takes. A product of the Manchester City youth academy, Sturridge seems to have no trouble scoring at any level he's played at in his short career but has clearly suffered from a lack of opportunities to play first team football. This is surely not through any fault of his own it would seem but rather due to fact he has played for two clubs in the division who are bankrolled by billionaires and would rather spunk oodles of cash on big name strikers rather than allowing a hot prospect time to develop.

With Chelsea's current glut of forwards you struggle to see Sturridge ever making a breakthrough there and, far be it from me to ever start handing out advice to a Premier League footballer but he will probably have to move on to somewhere like Bolton for a few years to establish himself before returning to one the top sides in the league.

Everton's season continues to show all the consistency of a Biploar Disorder sufferer on a cocktail of ecstasy and LSD trying to work out if Come Fly With Me is funny or not. This latest defeat for the Toffees keeps them in the bottom half of the table and looking at a possible relegation battle. Looking at the squad David Moyes has and given everything they have managed to accomplish in years gone by, this campaign looks to be one of incredible underachievement after far, far too many poor performances.

As predicted here last week, Louis Saha was once again missing with some kind of injury but even still, Everton looked disinterested throughout and you have to wonder whether this is a reflection of their manager right now.

For a long time now, Moyes has been talked up as supposedly one of the great British managers with some even going so far as to hint at him as a likely replacement for Suralex when he finally (if ever!) leaves Old Trafford - including Fergie himself.

With ultimately untrue rumours circulating a few weeks back that he had parted company with the Blues, perhaps Everton's slump down to the fact that Moyes has realised that he has taken the club as far as he can and has his eye on a new challenge. Maybe not quite the United job but something that will allow him to test himself in a different environment to that at Goodison Park.

Finally, having been involved in matches that produced a grand total of 15 goals in last weekend's net-busting orgy of scoring, wasn't it just inevitable that Blackburn and Newcastle would play out a dull 0-0 snoozefest?

Match of the Weekend: West Brom 3-3 West Ham

Goal of the weekend: Duh!?!

Whinge of the weekend: Mike Summerbee

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