Posts Tagged ‘Dimitar Berbatov’

A third away win for Manchester United in this season and that puts the gap between them and Arsenal at 5 points. Arsenal, meanwhile, on the same day, ended up booking a place at Wember-ley for the Carling Cup final. We now know that their opponents on that day will be Birmingham City who beat West Ham 4-3 on aggregate.

More on that in a bit, but first lets start off with Man United’s terrible first half performance at Bloomfield Road.

You know there’s something wrong with a United performance when Nemanja Vidic almost scores an own goal. I don’t even know where to start. The defence, the midfield, Wayne Rooney? I don’t even understand why Sir Alex started with the 4-3-3 formation when the 4-4-2 has been working wonders thus far. Of course, it was changed before half time with Rooney playing up front with Berba and Gibson moving to the left leaving Scholes and Fletcher in the center of midfield. After that they played as if their life depended on it. Those of you who don’t sense sarcasm in that statement can kindly kill yourself in a painful manner.

As woeful as United’s first half was, Blackpool’s was fantastic. Charlie Adam was spreading the ball here, there and everywhere, and more often than not, Patrice Evra was caught of out position leading to Blackpool attacks. Evra was perhaps at fault for the second goal after he was caught ballwatching while DJ Campbell headed it into the back of the net. What’s worrying for United is that defending from set pieces has traditionally been one of their strengths, but this time the marking was all over the place.

What changed it in the second half was the introduction of Ryan Giggs who brought more urgency into the game. Another pivotal moment was the removal of the ineffective Shrek, for whom a certain Javier Hernandez came on. If Rooney continues playing like this, United fans will have to change his chant slightly from “White Pele” to “White Adebayor” perhaps.

By the way, Berbatov is top scorer for United with 19 goals and Hernandez has 8. Nani has more goals than Shrek who has only netted 3 in the season. Why on earth aren’t Berbatov and Hernandez United’s front pairing? Its a question only the gum chewing bespectacled wise old man can answer.

Entertaining - but he might pay the price for it

In the end, it finished 3-2 in favour of United. This was perhaps as much because of Ian Holloway’s policy of attacking as because of United’s policy of attacking. Towards the end, United were easily breaking and stretching Blackpool. Its definitely entertaining football, but will it help them fight off relegation this season is anyone’s guess. After all they’re only 6 points clear of 18th placed Wigan.

Arsenal are going to Wember-ley

Its been so long since Arsenal have gone to Wembley that their coach driver claims he’s forgotten the way. He was quoted as saying “I think I’ll have to go and buy a map. But the problem is, the mapmakers are holding out for a buck and Arsene [Wenger] has said that he won’t pay more than 50 pence.”

The crisis was resolved after the map paid the other 50 pence.

By the way, this blog (and me specifically) predicted that Arsenal would end their trophy drought this season. So I hope they beat Birmingham.

Richard Keys is doing too much Crystal Meth
“There are some dark forces at work here. I asked if we could make people aware of the fact that [Massey and Keys] had had a conversation and thought it was best for both parties to move on. I was told ‘no’. And 24 hours passed, by which time the world had gone mad. I don’t know why I was told ‘no’… I remember saying to Sian ‘I need to make this official, on behalf of Andy and myself we unreservedly apologise for our behaviour. It was wrong.’

.

Careful with that meth, Keysey

That’s part of the official apology tendered by Richard Keys. Who on earth are the dark forces here? Sauron? Voldemort? Silly me, of course he’s referring to the Sith Lord Palpatine.

Fact of the matter is – Keys was wrong. I don’t know what difference it would’ve made if he’s apologized on Monday or on Tuesday, so long as this Monday are Tuesday isn’t a year, five or twenty down the line.


 

 

 

Hurray! The assorted knick knacks column is back after a really really long time. Snow prevented me from putting up updates for the past few weeks. I mean, what is up with that? Damn global warming. Or is it global cooling? Anyway, back to more important matters.

Man United beat Sunderland to stay on top

That’s the way its done best, if you’re on top, but you still have to come first if you know what I mean. Dimitar Berbatov bagged a brace in a game that started off with a bang for the Red Devils. Anderson hit the frame of the goal once and so did Berbatov. Berbatov took his chances quite well and played a very good role linking up play with the midfield.

Rooney too looked sharp, at least he did in the first half with some glorious cross field balls. However in the second half, Roonaldo was anonymous. Its a good thing United didn’t win a penalty though.

Anderson had a really good game. His midfield runs sometimes leaves the opposition wondering as to how to stop him – its somewhat like a bull charging at you. His touches could be better and his execution when it comes to passing should definitely improve. He sees the pass, but when he releases the ball, its a fraction too late or a shade too powerful. Evra has challenged him to make consistent his sporadic pieces of brilliance. I hope he proves Evra wrong.

Like a bull in midfield (at times)

All in all a good game for Man United, not so much for Steve Bruce though. Bruce was without a lot of players especially in the Center Back role. Danny Welbeck was also ineligible as per the conditions of his loan deal, meaning Bruce was without a real goal scoring threat. Darren Bent was largely anonymous and Gyan just ran around a lot.

London Derby

It is official. Chelsea have forgotten how to win. And Drogba has forgotten how to score. Hah! I’m glad United aren’t the only team where the main striker has lost his goalscoring touch. Even he missed a penalty, mind you.

Lets be very fair, on the topic of Arsenal versus Chelsea, Arsenal deserved to win. They were the better team, they looked more incisive and most importantly they scored more goals.

Frank Lampard made his long awaited return for Chelsea but even he couldn’t inspire the Blues to a win or even to snatch a draw. It was a cracker of a game for neutrals, even in the first half to be honest, where only one goal was scored.

Chelsea started out better, with a little bit of creativity and some forward runs by Lampard. However once Arsenal got off first gear, there was no looking back. It was a really good move by Arsene Wenger to play Johann Djourou along with Koscielny as his Center Back pairing. Djourou was commanding in the air and won a lot of the air balls, and perhaps even negated the physical threat of Didier Drogba.

Good move, Mr Wenger

After Alex Song scored the first, I was pretty sure Arsenal were on their way to winning the game. Then when the second half kick started, Arsenal scored again through Fabregas. Chelsea had the ball nicked off them in midfield, well not really, but they did lose the ball in that area. Essien’s tackle put the ball in Walcott’s pass who squared the ball to Fabregas in order to avoid Cech’s charge and the Arsenal skipper made to mistake.

The third goal happened within two minutes of that. Chelsea had the ball nicked off them in midfield. Feels like I just typed that. Oh wait, I did. This time Fabregas played in Walcott who put it in the net.

Chelsea did look like they might recover actually. Ivanovic headed a goal home from Didier Drogba’s free kick and you wondered whether Arsenal were going to, well.. do an Arsenal. Ivanovic later on made another charging run only for Drogba to take the ball off him at the crucial moment and hit an Arsenal defender from his shot.

It didn’t look like Chelsea’s day and to be very fair, Ancelotti didn’t have too much on the bench to change things around. Mikel had started but was anonymous so he was subbed at half time for Ramires (who did close to nothing). Malouda lost the ball for Arsenal’s third and he paid the price by making his way for – – GAEL KAKUTA, an experienced youngster – isn’t that an oxymoron? Ancelotti’s third attacking move was to bring on Bosingwa for Fereirra. Bosingwa’s only contribution was to shoot from really far out and miss completely.

On the Arsenal squad – Van Persie did a good shift as center forward. Held the ball up, good link up play. Only disappointed with him for this one chance where maybe he could have played in Walcott but instead decided to go for it himself from a really difficult angle. He didn’t get a goal, but his contribution wasn’t unnoticed, for sure.

Walcott was good, his pace troubled the Chelsea defence. Although initially he struggled to get the better of Ashley Cole, but towards the second half it could be fair to say he made Ashley Cole his bitch – much to the delight of all the Arsenal fans, world over!

Fabregas was really good, even though he started off with a few misplaced passes. One of his turns in particular was simply sublime and he left two Chelsea players in his wake with that. Arsenal are glad to have him back I’m sure. Alex Song also put in a really good shift and even had a goal to his name at the end of the day.

Glad to have him back

Jack Wilshere ought to take a bow for his performance. I thought he’s be easily bullied out of the ball by the likes of Essien and Mikel, but he did really well to hold off the physical threat of Chelsea’s three man midfield. In particular there was an instance where he held off Essien and Ramires and eventually won a free kick for the Gunners.

Even Clichy didn’t look as vulnerable as he always does and you know that means that Arsenal are going to win the game.

So that means that Arsenal have gone to second place two points behind leaders Manchester United and on top of Man City because of superior goal difference.

Tottenham’s victory over Aston Villa

Just a small note on Arsenal’s arch-rivals as well. They were fantastic against Villa. Period. Even after Jermaine Defoe got sent off, they kept the ball really well and to be honest it looked like Villa was the team that was down to 10 men. Modric has rarely been given credit for the Lilywhites’ performances thus far. But hear this – Modric is sublime, they’ll miss him more than Gareth Bale in my opinion, some of the balls he picks out is simply beautiful. If you don’t believe me, go watch Spurs’ first goal against Villa and check out his pass to Alan Hutton, just before the goal was scored.

Take a bow, Luka.

 

Before I start of my weekly entry, I have to apologise to Dimitar Berbatov for not putting one up last week. I’m sure he’ll feel really bad that his 5 goal haul against Blackburn wasn’t mentioned on the illustrious blog that is Fever Pitch.

I’m sorry, Dimi.

The reason I didn’t update last week was because I thought I would do it after the Carling Cup ties and after the mauling United took at West Ham, I think I was just too depressed. Arsenal are now clear favourites to go on and win the Carling Cup and just as I predicted are on course to win a trophy, unless they really screw up like United did.

On to this week’s action though..

Manchester United’s tough game at Blackpool

I am, of course, joking. There was no game at Blackpool because their ground was frozen and they do not have under soil heating. I had read reports about this early in the week, last week and I was hoping they’d thaw it out in time. I think its ridiculous that Blackpool do not have under soil heating and and since they don’t, United should be given 3 points and consider the game a walkover. This is just my two cents of course, Ian Holloway will tell you something else.

Super Samir

Arsenal were playing at a place they’re not very comfortable playing at against Fulham this weekend. Most Arsenal fans were worried since the game was at the Emirates. Eventually the match was settled by two super strikers by Samir Nasri who showed such fantastic composure that you would be forgiven for thinking that he was an out and out striker.

Superman

Arsenal started off really well and created chance after chance after chance but failed to put them away until Samir Nasri’s strike gave them the lead. Fulham shockingly equalized very quickly after Kamara found himself onside and one on one with the keeper. It was quite amazing, both center backs just switched off and the score was 1-1. Arsenal looked like they might throw away a lead at home again.

Arsenal, however, managed to grind out a win, something they haven’t been able to do in previous seasons. Winning matches like this keep you in contention for the title. Van Persie played a gentle ball to an oncoming Samir Nasri who danced past the defence and maybe should have taken a shot, but then he made space for himself after luring out Mark Schwarzer but kept his cool and finished from a really tight angle. Any football fan should definitely watch the two goals.

That win propelled Arsenal to the top of the table since United didn’t play this weekend and now next weekend when Arsenal take on Man United at Old Trafford its a 1st versus 2nd clash like back in the good old days.

Champions still struggling

Another title contender and current Premier League champions only managed to pull of a draw at home against Everton. The last ten minutes or so of that game felt like they were playing at Goodison. Its rare that you see Chelsea on the back foot at Stamford Bridge, unless you saw the Sunderland game, that is, but here they were getting pushed back and back by Everton’s attack. Drogba put Chelsea in front through a penalty after Howard brought down Anelka in the box. Jermaine Beckford equalized for the Toffees and Everton earned a very good point at Stamford Bridge, but that makes it their 6th game without a win.

Serie Ahhh

In Italy, current European champions and league holders Inter Milan slipped to 6th place after losing to Lazio. Lazio are now in second place and AC Milan are top courtesy of a crushing victory over Brescia. Rafael Benitez has managed to screw things up at Inter Milan so lets all give him a big round of applause and a pat on his back. All I hope now is that he becomes the next Barcelona manager.

The one man who can screw up any utopia

Speaking of Barcelona..

What about the Clasico piece you ask? Well, what’s there to write about? Madrid got hammered and humiliated and Jose Mourinho claimed otherwise. Who is he kidding? It definitely was a humiliating event. If that isn’t humiliating, I don’t know what is.

But they managed to brush off their defeat to the Catalans and overcame Valencia thanks to a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Barcelona too won their match against Osasuna 3-0 courtesy of a brace from Lionel Messi and one from Pedro.

And to finally round off things..

Reigning Champions aren’t doing too well anywhere except in Spain. In Germany, Bayern Munich suffered another defeat and are in 7th place with 23 points. Leaders Borussia Dortmund are on 40 points, a good 17 points clear. So one good season and thats it?

Manchester United versus Liverpool. It always turns out to be a fiesty affair. There’s no love lost between these two teams and this time out, both of them are pretty desperate for a win.

No love lost - Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher

Liverpool have taken only 5 points from a possible 12 and United have drawn two matches (against Fulham and Everton) which they really should have won. Its still early in the season of course, but the reason that this game is a must win (especially for United, since its at Old Trafford) is more psychological than anything else.

Chelsea are clocking 3 points after 3 points after their relatively easier fixtures in the start of the season. Arsenal too have started really well and are now strengthened by the return of Cesc Fabregas to their team. Expect them to continue doing well (until they do an Arsenal, sometime mid season).

Liverpool have just come off a really poor season where they didn’t qualify for the Champions League. I’m not going to dwell upon that, you all already know about it. But over here, I’m going to take a minute to catch my breath, because I can’t help but laugh at that. My apologies to all the Liverpool fans. Anyway, and their present season hasn’t started off great either.

Drawing against Arsenal when they should have won, getting hammered by Manchester City, an expected win against West Bromwich Albion and a draw against Birmingham where Barry Ferguson looked like Paul Scholes and Birmingham completely dominated a game in which it looked like Liverpool had no midfield players.

It is very important for Liverpool not to lose their next game against their ultimate rivals. A loss would surely send them home disappointed and then after two games against Sunderland and Blackpool, they go to Goodison to face Everton. To be fair, their fixture list doesn’t look really nice, but then again, it seems to me that the league has just become that much tougher, which is why its becoming increasingly difficult to get 3 points against supposedly lower league opponents.

United have had their usual hot and cold start to a season. Most United fans are beginning to worry, but the ones who have seen it all aren’t too fussed because they know this is how United always start a season. A convincing 3-0 win against Newcastle was followed up by a good display against Fulham, but still the Red Devils managed to get only a point thanks to Hangeland’s late equaliser. The demolition of West Ham was quite expected and was followed up by a ridiculous draw at Goodison Park where the defence seemed non-existent in the final minute of the game. A Champions League game at home against Rangers followed where most expected United to pick up all three points against their Scottish opponents, but failed to do break down their defence. A horrible injury to Valencia marred the night and was terrible news to digest along with the goal-less draw.

Both United and Liverpool will be looking at this game as a very important one. Not just for the sake of old rivalries, but for the morale of their players and the fans. Liverpool would no doubt be overjoyed with a win at Old Trafford and I actually think it might be beyond them. They aren’t really playing well. Raul Meireles seems a good addition to their team for whatever little he played against Birmingham, but will he be enough for Liverpool to gain a foothold in the centre of the park where no doubt the veteran Scholes will be deployed by Ferguson. I’m sure most Liverpool fans would prefer him played there instead of watching the Lucas show.

Will he make the difference?

The main reason for United’s failure to create against Rangers was the lack of creativity. With both Scholes and Berbatov missing, United lacked two players who could cut open most defences. Berbatov has been in stunning form for the Red Devils and will most definitely start against Liverpool (especially with news of an ankle injury to Rooney). United will definitely want to win this one, and they should express that desire with the way they play their football on Sunday.

Striking while the iron is hot

United also need to show a display that asserts their mental strength after the injury to Valencia. Remember how Arsenal’s season crumbled after the Eduardo injury? United fans believe that their players are made of stronger stuff than Arsenal’s. We’ll soon find out.

Most likely the affair will be cagey. Neither team willing to risk too much and both of them cancelling each other out. Or I could be completely wrong and both teams will play end to end football and surprise us all. I wouldn’t count on it though.