Posts Tagged ‘Everton’

It was a keenly contested one. In fact, I was at the edge of my seat when the players lined up to shake each other’s hand. The Handshake Showdown last night was just in-fucking-sane.

The football however was definitely a sweet moment for Manchester United, for no other reason than the fact that they go top even if it is only for twenty four hours or so. You can’t really do much about your opponents, you can only win your games and hope for the best.

It is for this reason that the Devils will be happy with their performance, not because they defeated a Liverpool team that contained a member of the Nazi Party. Of course, the media will have you believe otherwise.

This bit however will only focus on the football that was played, the rest being nothing more than a distraction as far as I’m concerned.

1) The first half was very ordinary, nothing remotely exciting happened. United held the lion’s share of possession throughout the match, but especially so in the first half. Liverpool didn’t really have an attempt at goal barring that Glen Johnson opportunity, if I remember correctly.

2) Here’s the customary “Paul Scholes is so fucking good” sentence. Who would think that Paul Scholes hasn’t played between May and January? I certainly wouldn’t. He and Michael Carrick combined really well in the middle of the park. They passed really well and switched the play from left to right really quickly, feeding Valencia and Rafael on the right who gave Luis Enrique a forgettable match for sure.

However, as good as United’s midfield was, Liverpool’s was (there’s really no other way to say this) shit. Henderson, Spearing and Gerrard were abysmal and gave all the time and space in the world for Carrick and Scholes to play the ball around.
I was a little disappointed with Giggs though, I thought he had a fairly average game then again he’s been very consistent this season, so he’s allowed one off game now and then.

3) Danny Welbeck has been improving with every game this season. He’s added a lot of new things to his game – he drifts out wide, he makes runs in behind the defender, he holds the ball up really well and therefore connects play between midfield and attack. The last reason is probably why he’s being picked ahead of Hernandez consistently.

Welbeck also plays those quick one-two’s with Rooney and both of them have a good partnership going.

4) Wayne Rooney takes his tally to 21 this season, if I’m not mistaken. His brace was definitely well taken, but he should’ve perhaps had a hat trick to his name after Scholes’ dummy saw him get the ball in the penalty area, but toe poke well wide. It was a good quick two goals, killing off any bit of Liverpool enthusiasm.

5) For all those Liverpool fans that are expecting me to say something about the match from a Red Mersey perspective, let me tell you that there isn’t much to say. Liverpool was ordinary throughout the match except when Suarez got that poacher’s goal.

6) That goal was Suarez’s second most telling contribution to the game (the first being the handshake). Naturally, he’ll be remembered for the handshake and not the goal.

The defending from United was piss poor. What was Rio Ferdinand doing? Last week against Chelsea, he should’ve maybe been tighter to David Luiz when he scored and this time he just watches as the ball hits him and falls to Suarez.

Naturally, injuries have ravaged United’s central defensive pairing, but I think they have missed Vidic the most. They have a whole bunch of young talented defenders, but Vidic just makes your team so much more impenetrable.

A word of praise for Jonny Evans who looks like he’s getting his mojo back. He definitely looked a more capable defender than Rio Ferdinand yesterday.

7) After the goal, Liverpool started to push players up and De Gea was called upon to make a good save from Glen Johnson. The last ten minutes was the only period in which Liverpool looked like they were participating in a competitive football match. I’m sure the supporters were glad they finally woke up.

8) You’d have to wonder how long Liverpool are going to stick with Dalglish. This was a rotten performance by Liverpool, if you’re a fan I’m sure. There was no desire to win it. It looked like a stroll in the park for United, although the score line doesn’t really suggest that. The desire and passion definitely does come from the manager and if this is the kind of desire and passion they might as well have stuck with Rafa Benitez, who would (if nothing else) lit a fire in them and sent them out for a game against United. You’d have thought Kenny would know all about this fixture, but well, you saw it yourself.

A word on a few other Saturday fixtures

 

1) How long before Andre Villas Boas gets the sack? Yesterday the fan’s too got on his back with chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” and “You don’t know what you’re doing”.

Even Sir Alex has been at the receiving end of such chants at the beginning of his United career, but he had a far more boss in Martin Edwards unlike AVB who has Abramovich.

A 2-0 defeat at Everton a week after they squandered a 3-0 lead against United isn’t exactly the best for Chelsea.

In the fight for that fourth Champions League spot, Arsenal were the biggest gainers after Chelsea and Newcastle suffered defeats.

2) Swansea were beaten for only the second time at home this season by Norwich. That’s an incredible stat. Any team that’s played at the Liberty Stadium will tell you how hard it is. So cheers to Norwich who are now 8th in the Premier League.

And there’s La Liga

 

Where Barcelona managed to lose to Osasuna giving Real Madrid the chance to open up a ten point lead at the top of the table if they win tonight.

Let me tell you first off, that as a United fan, I’m relieved! Finally an away win. But we shall get to that in a bit. I’ll just shed light on Saturday’s fixtures first before going into Sunday’s.

Chelsea won against Wolves to keep their position up at the top of the table. Goals came from Malouda and Saloman Kalou who has targeted 20 goals in the season for himself. So that put pressure on the other big teams.

He wants 20 goals

Spurs and Everton played out a 1-1 draw. Spurs looked like they were suffering from the much used cliche – “European hangover”. It will take them time, definitely to get used to playing the Champions League in mid week and the Premiership in the weekend, especially considering they played the European Champions midweek. Van der Vaart scored another goal, although to be fair, it was already on its way to the back of the net. I don’t care, because he’s there in my Fantasy football team!

You know, I wasn’t really sure about Arsene Wenger’s comments about Stoke playing rugby instead of football cause I hadn’t seen the game to which he was referring. However, after last night’s game against United, I think I have to agree. Ferguson was forced to play 4 defenders who at various points of their career have played a Centre Back – John O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand and Neville. What puzzles me is why Neville started when Wes Brown was available (he did come on later for Gaz). According to Ferguson, he’s the best center back in England when fit. He must have had his reasons of course.

Hahahaha

Hernandez scored a brilliant header with the back of his head. I have no idea how he managed to arch his back that much to score, but he clearly did, cause he got enough power on the header to take it past Sorenson. Tuncay scored a brilliant goal after Scholes gifted possession to Stoke. Hernandez got his second later on to take United to their first away win of the season.

Brilliance!

Man City got a man sent off almost before the match began. Boyata got sent off for tripping Chamakh after he was played in by Fabregas. I don’t think anybody can say anything about the card – which was definitely deserved.

Arsenal took the lead through Nasri, after a brilliant build up to the first goal. The 1-2 that he received was brilliant and Yaya Toure wasn’t close enough on Arshavin who returned the ball to Nasri. Gareth Barry (England’s defensive hope!) did an equally poor job of marking Nasri as he ran in to receive the pass. The Frenchman kept his cool and put the ball past Jo Hart. Arsenal’s second chance in the game came from the penalty spot but wasn’t converted. Fabregas was tripped by Kompany in the box for reasons best known to the Belgian. Fabregas tried to put the ball in the right corner, but Jo Hart made a superb save after guessing the right way. The penalty was at a good height, but still it was a phenomenal save.

Arsenal seemed to have been playing a different system which works in a parallel dimension. Song kept pushing forward leaving Fabregas in midfield. I have no idea why, but maybe I’m not meant to know because Song got on the score sheet later on. Arshavin chipped a ball from the left to the right to Nasri who gave it to Fabregas who then tried to play in Chamakh with a beautiful weighted pass but the pass was intercepted by Wayne Bridge (second half substitute for Yaya Toure). The interception teed up the ball for Song who obliged with a brilliant finish.

Nasir celebrates after Arsenal's first goal

Nicklas Bendtner, the poster boy of Denmark came on later on in the night and scored his first goal for the season. I’m sure Arsenal fans are delighted to have Barbie back, especially considering his finishing. Although I’m sure they would be more happy to see their Vice Captain – Van Persie returning. Walcott too made an appearance and his contribution was to run around really fast.

My least favourite player was taken off just after half time and Emmanuel Adebayor came on instead. No doubt Man City missed their captain who would’ve just run throughout the game.

Goal deluges across Europe

Real Madrid hammered Racing Santander for 6 in their weekend fixture at the Bernabeu with Cristiano Ronaldo (self proclaimed best player in the Universe) netting four. After a performance like that though, I think he has every right to call himself the best player in the Universe.

I have been a little critical of Angel Di Maria, but I think he played quite well against Racing and I can see him improve under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager looked very relaxed as his side took control in the first half itself with Higuain netting the first, and Ronaldo scoring two. In the second half, within minutes of restart, Ronaldo got his hat trick thanks to a brilliant run by Di Maria. He netted his fourth from the penalty spot a little while later.

Mesut Ozil too got on the score sheet after a brilliant pass from Xabi Alonso split the entire Racing team in half. Ozil for his part, kept cool and provided a brilliant finish to make it 6-0. Sergio Canales came on for Ozil later on and looked very lively. The youngster is definitely a good talent and its only a matter of time before he becomes a brilliant player. Diop got a consolation goal for the visitors but refused to celebrate (for obvious reasons)

In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven absolutely HAMMERED Feyenoord 10-0. Yes you read that correctly. 10-0. Feyenoord are supposed to be one of the better teams in the Dutch League. PSV has been receiving Champions League payments for nearly the past 10 years except last year when they were pipped to the title by Steve McLaren’s FC Twente. Does this mean that PSV are a really powerful team in Europe? Hardly. However in the Netherlands, you better look out for them.

 

Drawchester United

Man United have done it again. They have drawn another match. This time against West Bromwich Albion at home! Thus far they have won all their home games and drawn all away games. But now they’ve started drawing the home games as well. Excellent! Just what the doctor ordered.

Costly Van der Sar error saw West Brom take a point at Old Trafford

The worrying thing for a United fan is the fact that they still haven’t played the tougher teams in the Premier League. Granted, given Sunderland’s current form, they are one of the better teams in the league, but they still haven’t played Man City, Spurs or Villa which are bound to be tougher than the likes of WBA. They have played Liverpool and home and won, and played Everton away and drawn. I don’t think this is good enough. In the 2008-09 season United didn’t have a great record against the other big four teams, but hammered smaller opponents, thereby amassing 90 points in the season and taking the title.

United are still unbeaten in the league, but that’s little consolation and so long as Man City are above them in the league (as is the case now) United fans will worried.

Fighting Blackpool

Every once in a while you see a team come up from the Championship and play exciting football. Blackpool are doing just that. They played Man City at Bloomfield over the weekend and boy were they unlucky to lose. Tevez had a goal given to him which should have been ruled as offside and Taylor Fletcher had a goal disallowed after incorrectly being ruled offside. The final score was 3-2 and David Silva scored a beautiful third goal amongst all this chaos.

Blackpool really looked threatening and for a while it seemed that all the money City pumped in had gone to waste. City were really lucky to win the game. I feel sorry for Blackpool because for teams like them, every point counts and could save them from taking the drop.

Teams like Stoke came up from the Championship and they decided NOT TO LOSE, whereas Blackpool decided to WIN. The strategies are different, but if the end result is the same (staying on in the Premier League) then the manager and the team, both, have achieved something worth remembering. You could argue that its boring watching teams like Stoke play. The Stoke board will tell you that they’d rather have boring football on display than earn lesser revenue by going back down to the Championship.

Chelsea held at Villa

Didier Drogba didn’t play the game and therefore my Fantasy Football gameweek went for a toss. The result was a pretty fair one in my opinion and I don’t think Chelsea will be too disappointed about getting only a point at Villa. Ancelotti certainly isn’t disappointed.

Jack Wilshere’s dark side

Poor Arsene Wenger. He goes on and on about bad tackles and then suddenly one of his own players lunges in with a really dangerous tackle on Zigic. Arsene Wenger has been very vocal in his criticism of dangerous tackles by other players on his own team and this time when the tables were turned, didn’t come off so strong.

Welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

“We know Jack Wilshere is not a dirty player, but it does show you players can mistime in this hurly burly game in football. Everybody has to recognise that.” – Arsene Wenger

But when Paul Scholes does it, it means he has a dark side. Hypocrisy much, Mr Wenger?

It was a bad tackle and its a good thing Zigic wasn’t injured, Alex McLeish would have cried after spending 6 million on his transfer from Valencia.

Merseyside is blue

Everton absolutely pushed Liverpool out of the game. It was a really dominating performance from Everton and they deservedly ended up winning 2-0. Goals from Cahill and Arteta settled the encounter, Arteta’s strike being fantastic (not that Cahill’s goal wasn’t good in itself). Arteta (once upon a time, England’s midfield hope) and Cahill pulled all the strings in midfield making Liverpool’s summer signing of Meireles seem completely pointless.

Liverpool played two Defensive Midfielders – Meireles and Lucas and were still not able to get the ball enough. Steven Gerrard had to occasionally track back and anchor midfield. Yakubu looked three times a better striker than Fernando Torres, and its not everyday that something like that happens.

Let’s be honest, Everton ran out winners and deserved it.

Barcelona versus Valencia

Barcelona versus Valencia was the clash of the weekend in La Liga and was a really really good match. Barcelona were dominating the game in the second half with the score at 1-1. Barca won the game in the end with a commanding header from Puyol. Final score there was 2-1 to Barca. Iniesta and Puyol on the scoresheet for Barca and Pablo Hernandez for Valencia.

Real Madrid absolutely hammered Malaga with Ronaldo scoring a brace and two from Higuain as well. Higuain’s goals were set up by Ronaldo as well so its fair to say that he was probably the player of the match.

Ronaldo and Higuain celebrate after the first goal against Malaga

 

With that win, Real go on top of La Liga thanks to Valencia’s loss and Villareal drawing 2-2 away at Hercules (who seem to be giving a headache to the big teams). Sevilla also lost to Sporting Gijon which was quite unexpected.

Waaazaaa Wazza?

Wayne Rooney has reportedly refused to sign a new contract with Manchester United. All the newspapers have tipped him to make a move away from Old Trafford and claim that he has had a bust up with Sir Alex.

I’ll give you my two cents on the entire thing. It is too bad if Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United. He’s a good player going through a bad patch, but he needs to be a little bit more mature when dealing with people and the media (especially).

Sir Alex has his best interests at heart and has tried to focus attention away from Rooney and he keeps bringing the spotlight back on to himself. He countered Sir Alex’s story that his ankle had a problem which was why he was going through a bad patch and said instead that his ankle was absolutely fine.

There’s no doubt that Sir Alex would’ve been furious with Wayne Rooney for this and perhaps it was one of the reasons Rooney started on the bench against West Brom.

I read elsewhere that Rooney is holding out for 200,000 Euro a week on his new contract which seems quite ridiculous considering he’s getting 120,000 Euro a week now. Apparently United offered him170,000 which seems quite fair to me.

Rooney needs to grow up.

Tonight’s Champions League clashes

For those of you who are in India and wondering which games will be telecast by TEN tonight –

Shakhtar Donetsk versus Arsenal on TEN Sports at 00.00 hours

Real Madrid versus AC Milan on TEN Action at 00.00 hours

Spartak Moskva versus Chelsea on TEN Action at 21.30 hours

Dear fellow football crazy people,

This weekends action has not been the best if you’re a fan of any of the so called big four (no, City not included) unless you’re a Chelsea fan that is.

Arsenal get the Blues

The biggest fixture of the weekend ended 2-0 in the favour of the champions. Goals from Didier Drogba and an absolutely stunning free kick from Alex ensured that the Champions won comfortably against a depleted Arsenal side.

Arsenal didn’t look too bad though, especially in the second half, Chelsea were under the cosh a lot but Arsenal didn’t manage to finish. Final ball lacking? Perhaps its because of the absence of both Fabregas and Van Persie. One thing is for sure, Arsene Wenger wouldn’t have gone to Stamford Bridge expecting a win.

Check out the highlights

http://www.mysoccerplace.net/video/video/show?id=2413390:Video:205120&xgs=1&xg_source=msg_share_video

Sunderland steamrolled United, but the final score was 0-0

Off to the Stadium of Light where Steve Bruce almost got his first win over Sir Alex. But it was not to be. United managed to hold on and keep a clean sheet. The worrying thing about the United team was that there was absolutely no creativity in the squad.

Almost - but not quite

Scholes was back for this fixture after missing out against Valencia and was kept really quiet in my personal opinion because United not only lack a (young, before you point out Scholes) creative midfielder, but also lack a good defensive midfielder. Fletcher is a good midfielder, but isn’t a defensive midfielder, he likes to get forward and make runs into the box and he’s useful to have because he tracks back and gets a good tackle in. But there’s isn’t anybody who’ll just sit and play the square balls to Scholes and Fletcher who then drive the team forward.

I don’t really subscribe to the policy of playing Scholes deeper either, we all know he’s not a great tackler and is very susceptible to get carded. So for the sake of my Fantasy Football team and also for the betterment of United I hope Sir Alex plays Scholes in a more advanced position.

And also, I’m just going to talk about Nani for a bit. He always does his best when the pressure is on him. Even if he’s trying to cross the ball, if he has three players next to him, he’ll put in a brilliant cross. When he has acres of space, he’ll cross it right into the keepers hands. And for God’s sake, PLEASE stay on your feet! Losing Valencia is clearly a big blow for United’s season.

Bebe came on. I just had to add it as an afterthought.

Sunderland should have actually won the game, but they failed to take their chances. Its heartening to see that United aren’t conceding goals, but I hope that they also realize that you need to score atleast one to win a game.

Trouble at Merseyside

After getting knocked out by Northampton at home, you would expect Liverpool would try not to lose to another small club (with no offence to Blackpool). Well, they didn’t learn their lesson clearly and things are troubled at Merseyside.

One of the hazards of maintaining an all round football blog is visiting Blogs of other teams (Arsenal, Chelsea and even Liverpool and City). Most of the posters on Liverpool’s blogs aren’t too happy with the way Roy Hodgson is handling things.

I like Roy Hodgson, but lets be clear, I wouldn’t be too happy if he was managing United. And he does seem pretty clueless at times as to where to play his midfield trio of Gerrard, Meireles and Poulsen.

Then again, the other side of the coin is that he’s inherited a crap team, some really crap players and he’s just come in, its bound to take time for him to change things. Also they really didn’t have an easy fixtures list for sure.

Fans are all calling for Kenny Dalglish to be appointed as manager of Liverpool and sack Hodgson, which doesn’t seem very unlikely if their recent results continue.

Anfield - A crazy place to be

Credit to Blackpool for their win.

Elsewhere on Merseyside, Everton registered their first win over Bimingham which meant that Ben Foster dropped points in my Fantasy Premier League team (Yes, I’m slightly obsessed about it)

League Table after this weekend

P Team Pld GD Pts
1 Chelsea 7 21 18
2 Manchester City 7 6 14
3 Man Utd 7 7 13
4 Arsenal 7 7 11
5 Tottenham 7 2 11
6 WBA 7 -3 11
7 Stoke City 7 -1 10
8 Aston Villa 7 -3 10
9 Blackpool 7 -4 10
10 Fulham 7 1 9
11 Sunderland 7 0 8
12 Bolton 7 -1 8
13 Blackburn 7 -1 8
14 Wigan Athletic 7 -9 8
15 Newcastle 7 0 7
16 Birmingham 7 -3 7
17 Everton 7 -1 6
18 Liverpool 7 -4 6
19 Wolves 7 -5 5
20 West Ham Utd 7 -9 5