Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Houllier Than Thou - Weekend Observations 5th-7th March 2011:Part Two

Part One here

Aside from the big game at Anfield, Sunday also saw Wolves and Tottenham battle out a 3-3 goal orgy at Molineux. A fantastic end-to-end game in which both sides went all out for the win saw a return to the scoresheet for Jermaine Defoe who had been previously been on a run so barren that he could have been mistaken for a 45 year old woman trying to get pregnant. Both his goals were high quality long range efforts that might some people reaching for the Big Book o' Footballing Cliches and declaring something about form being temporary and class being permanent. Either that or he'll now go another 11 months without finding the target.

The game was almost overshadowed by yet more refereeing controversy as Mark Halsey only booked Alan Hutton after the latter conceded a penalty in the first half where many would have found it hard to argue if a red had been shown. Even 'onest 'arry admitted as much after the game. What you could argue however, is that the original law is an ass given that the goal scoring opportunity isn't actually denied as such given that a penalty is awarded. But with the law as it stands, Hutton should have walked.

Halsey then ballsed up what would have been a Wolves equaliser when he disallowed a Richard Stearman header for a supposed foul on Gomes. Replays show the Wolves defender jumped fairly and if anything the foul was committed by the keeper who insisted on trying to pin Stearman to the ground as the ball was going in. Wolves eventually did draw level through Steven Fletcher so the decision wasn't as damaging as it may have been.

The draw was no good for either side. Spurs will feel they dropped two big points in their battle for fourth while Wolves would have welcomed a win to help in their ongoing battle against the drop.

Also involved in a thriller were Wolves' midlands rivals Aston Villa who were beaten 3-2 at Bolton. A result makes a mockery of manager Gerrard Houllier and his outrageous decision to field a weakened side and effectively throw their FA Cup tie against Man City in midweek. Aside from the fact his daft claim that his side 'can't beat City' given they already did just a few weeks back, the cup presented an opportunity for the club to salvage what has been a wretched season for the West Midlanders. You would think Houlier would have sought some inspiration from Villa's hated cross-town rivals who were dancing a merry jig on the Wembley surface just last week. Instead, his decision to 'rest' key players for the league blew up in his face as Villa were ultimately undone by two goals from former player Gary Cahill in one of those typical ironies that make football the sport we all know and love – Damien Duff pulled off the same trick in Fulham's 3-2 home win over Blackburn.

Speaking of Birmingham, the newly crowned Carling Cup holders were brought back down to earth as they returned to their battle for Premier League survival and a 3-1 home defeat against yet another midlands rival West Brom.

With so many teams in the region, it's difficult to keep up with who dislikes who more. Interestingly, all four of Wolves, Villa, the Blues and the Baggies are separated by just 4 points and all find themselves in the proverbial relegation dogfight.

It was a massive win for the team now managed by Roy Hodgson who, after what was a disastrous spell at Liverpool, seems to have found his level in the league's lower echelons. Good on him. For his sake, one would hope he keeps West Brom in the division. If I have to look at him being as depressed as he was every time he was in the Anfield dugout ever again, I might cry.

Finally, West Ham have managed to drag their way out of the drop zone for now after an impressive 3-0 victory over Stoke that may well now drag Tony Pulis' team into trouble.

In another vaguely interesting twist, new signing Demba Ba, rejected by Stoke, was on the scoresheet for the fourth time in as many matches for the Hammers who have hit the back of the net a massive 14 times overall during this same run of games. Is that a smile I see there Avram?

Match of The Weekend:
Wolves 3-3 Tottenham

Goal of the Weekend:
James Morrison

Skill of the Weekend: Luis Suarez

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