Sunday, 25 September 2011

Fernan-D'OH! Weekend Observations 24th-26th September 2011: Part One

That Fernando Torres loves being centre of attention, doesn't he? Clint Eastwood may well sue the Spaniard for copyright infringement after the edited highlights of his past two games could well be compiled into a feature film that we could call The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. After all that happened at Old Trafford last weekend, one would think the former Liverpool man would endure a less eventful match in the more tranquil setting of Stamford Bridge and a home game against relegation fodder Swansea City. Despite the horrific finishing, the signs were evident against Manchester United that Nando was getting his proverbial mojo back. So it proved early on against the Swans as the £50million man received a delightful dinked pass from Juan Mata, brought the ball down, twisted like a he was dancing the Fandango and slotted it beyond his marker and Michel Vorm in goal.

If that was the good, and last week's sitter was the bad then the ugly was soon to follow. Two goals in two games should indicate something of a return to form. Unfortunately, he won't be able to continue this as later on in the half, Torres needlessly went flying into a two-footed tackle on Mark Gower earning himself a red card and a three game ban. Oops!

Brazilian Ramires, another Chelsea player guilty of unforgivable profligacy at Old Trafford, redeemed himself somewhat with a brace in the 4-1 win including a special double nutmeg with the shot for his first. One man who might not be too upset by Torres' imminent absence will be the returning Didier Drogba who iced the Chelsea cake with the fourth in the last minute.

A subplot in this narrative was the exclusion of Frank Lampard who was an unused substitute. After his non-existent performance against United last week (Old? Slow???) and Mr Villas-Boas clearly looking to build his own team, it wouldn't be outrageous to suggest, much to the happiness of the canteen staff, that Lumpy's days at Stamford Bridge could well be numbered. You heard it here first.

Chelsea are now 3 points behind the two Manchester Clubs at the top of the table. City ascended to the summit momentarily after a fairly straightforward 2-0 win over Everton where Tim Cahill was unable to continue his good form against the Eastlands club after being nobbled by Vincent Kompany in the second half. To be fair, you could quite easily argue that the Aussie was the aggressor with a pretty reckless tackle and that Kompany was simply trying to shield the ball. Had Cahill not gone to ground needlessly, he certainly wouldn't have been on the receiving end of any perceived stamp, intentional or otherwise, by the big Belgian.

Super Mario Balotelli scored his second goal in a week by way of a deflection off Phil Jagielka which makes me wonder yet again if he would have really been much of an improvement to the Arsenal defence he was rumoured to be joining over the summer. City's second via James Milner owed much to beauty of the assist by David Silva who must be cursing his luck that he was born in an era where he has to compete with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas for a place in the Spanish starting line up.

Crosstown rivals United regained first place despite dropping their first points of the season in a 1-1 draw at the Octagon... sorry, Britannia Stadium against Stoke City (U)FC. Peter Crouch cancelled out Luis Nani's brilliant opening goal in a game where United may have considered themselves victims of Stoke's typically heavy-handed approach (Chicharito and Patrice Evra will certainly be sporting a few more bruises after their trip to Staffordshire).

Stoke have been known to push the boundaries of what is acceptable on a football pitch but it would be lazy and unfair to ignore the fact that they gave a fairly decent account from themselves football-wise and responded well from the pasting they got against Sunderland last week. The abovementioned Crouch was a handful for both Phil Jones and, more worryingly for the Reds, Rio Ferdinand whose powers very much appear to be on the wane with each passing absence through injury. Thankfully for SurAlex, David De Gea once again showed his critics how premature they were to write him off so early in his United career with a few decent stops to preserve the point for the champions.

Completing the current top four are Newcastle. A Demba Ba hat trick in the 3-1 win over Blackburn left most of us scratching our heads as to how a team consisting of Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi, Ryan and Steven Taylor is still unbeaten so far this season. Dare I say, for what he has achieved thus far and considering the players that high-tailed it out of St. James' over the summer, Alan Pardew has probably been manager of the season so far. Now, excuse me while I go and watch my mouth out with soap.

Someone who probably doesn't even qualify as a manager at all was Pardew's opposite number at the weekend Steve Kean. The Blackburn boss can count his lucky stars to have faced a self-destructive Arsenal team that seemed insistent on beating themselves last week or else his side would be rooted to the foot of the table and he would more than likely be collecting his dole money this week.

are back up to fifth after arresting their recent mini-slide with a 2-1 home win over Wolves in a game of contrasting fortunes for their two big January signings. The irrepressible Luis Suarez made a mockery of the Wolves defence scoring what proved to be the winner while the world's most expensive lamppost Andy Carroll continued to struggle. It's not his fault he cost so much money and he may yet come good eventually, but right now, the big Geordie just looks like an inconvenience on the pitch who is getting in the way of his more talented teammates. Kenny Dalglish was once again forced to come out and defend his record signing but you have to ask yourself if it's a case of the 'laddie' doth protest too much?


Part Two to follow

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