It’s back to familiar terms for Manchester United this weekend as they claimed their first win of the new season, albeit a nervy (and controversial) one against Tottenham.
The rest of the fixtures provided their usual entertainment and by now most viewers would have realised that no matter what happens, most of these teams tend to play in a way that emulates the personalities of their managers – and if you haven’t seen football from that angle then maybe you should compare Chelsea’s style to Jose Mourinho or Sunderland’s style to Roy Keane (without comparing the ‘quality’, of course).
Anyway, on to the review, luckily I got more results right this time.
Sunderland 0-2 Liverpool
Sunderland fought hard and played well but the players are just not good enough to beat Liverpool as long as Pool don’t lose their marbles, and this season I doubt that something like that will happen, even in away games.
I’ve written more about Sunderland and their season here.
Liverpool? They had a good game, they were pushed but not over-stressed and it was a good ‘practice’ game for them as it gave Babel, Torres and Voronin more playing time in the Liverpool system.
Arbeola is a sneakly little bastard, isn’t he? He’s talented, but like Pennant, he often ‘creates’ fouls and is great at winning free-kicks (and getting the opposition a yellow card). Good player though.
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City
Hard-won win for the Gunners, Almunia looked solid and Arsenal are a ‘bit’ more direct than last season, partially due to the way Hleb has started running more at opposition defenders.
Adebayor didn’t look 100% involved in the game, and it was telling to see RVP getting frustrated at Eduardo once or twice – like Nani over at Old Trafford, Da Silva will need time and patience, and I’ve no doubt that he will start banging in the goals very soon.
A few notable incidents – the penalty Richards conceded and Schmeichel’s block, RVP ‘allowing’ his foot to hit Schmeichel in the face as Kasper was on the ground (it was deliberate, no doubt about it – or do you need to see the 100’s of similar situations where strikers easily jump over keepers?), the Arsenal goal where Fabregas stepped up and beat Kasper for the first time this season, Dunne’s excellent defending, Petrov’s shooting that, on another day, might have netted City a goal.
City are looking very composed, almost Italian in their control and efficiency, but they have no central midfielder to take them forward. Their full-backs are a bit better but Didi Hamann is not the man to lead them to glory.
We’ll Kasper targeted a lot by opposition strikers because of his height (why Adebayor found it necessary to handball, I don’t know), but he’s an excellent shot stopper and very assured and discipline.
Good game overall.
Aston Villa 2-1 Fulham
I didn’t catch this game but from what I read I’m more impressed by Fulham’s fight this season than Villa’s late comeback. Fulham, like Wigan, were tipped as favourites for relegation at the start of the season and both teams have come out of the blocks fighting, which is great to see.
Villa should still finish ahead of Fulham in the league though.
Bolton 3-0 Reading
Finally Bolton spring to life, thanks to Gary Speed (very professional player), and Nicolas Anelka (who’s pimping himself to the high-rollers). Reading ran out of steam, I think, which is understandable and also frustrating because it was games and performances like these last season which stopped Reading from getting into Europe. They’ll fight hard this season but I doubt that they’ll beat what they did last season.
Bolton? Don’t look top-10 material yet, and it all depends on whether Anelka stays or not.
Chelsea 1-0 Portsmouth
Another scrappy win for the Blues, and the juggernaut rolls on. It’s worth noting that at this point, Liverpool and Arsenal could both overtake Chelsea if they win their game in hand and would then go ahead on goal difference (for Arsenal they have to win by 2 goals). It’s not as if Chelsea have won the league or anything – they’ll slip, and other teams will catch up with them.
Pompey played really well and I think they’ll make a good case for Europe this season.
Derby County 1-2 Birmingham City
Derby have been my pick for #20 since the season started, and if you can’t win a home game against your relegation rivals, you really have a problem. They have that draw with Pompey to give them a point but apart from that I don’t see how Derby will do much this season.
Birmingham get their first win of the season and the one thing that could save them from relegation is the fact that they always have a couple of goals in their locker for each game.
West Ham 1-1 Wigan
I should have stuck to my opinions about Alan Curbishley and not gone with the quality of players at West Ham’s disposal. Curbs is a nice guy but the players are not going to perform unless he whips them into shape / order and against a team like Wigan who are fighting for their lives, 1 point at home is criminal.
Wigan will be happy with the point and at this point of the season are cheeky enough to consider it a disappointment that they didn’t get all 3. Doubt that their high-flying start will last, but they will do better than what most people expect.
Everton 1-1 Blackburn
Surprised that Everton didn’t do better in this game, but like I said in the preview, this was the most ‘likely draw’ of the weekend.
By the way, love the new blackburn red n black away kit, hate the bet24 logo.
Middlesbrough 2-2 Newcastle United
Good goals (N’Zogbia’s was the best, but the others were great too), end to end stuff and an entertaining game for the neutral. Boro’s fighting spirit is admirable, and they might surprise their critics this season.
Having said that, there a few questions I’d like to ask about the game in particular and to Sam Allardyce in general.
For starters, was Mido offside? I don’t think he was, he probably had a foot ahead of Taylor and that gave him the advantage (Taylor really should have stopped Mido) to go through and score. I don’t think that was an offside, but I’ve heard a few people say that it was. Didn’t look like it on tv to me.
There was a penalty claim by James Milner for the rugby tackle by Wheater on him – and this one I think really should have been given considering how Wheater had both arms firmly around Milner and was pushing / pulling him down. Don’t why the ref didn’t give it, but it was a penalty for me.
Two questions for Big Sam. One, why is Nicky Butt playing? Either Emre / Barton should be there, or they should bring in someone else. Butt is not better than a 4th choice midfielder.
Same goes for Mark Viduka. With the players available to Sam Allardyce, Viduka is not better than a 4th choice striker, despite the good goal that he scored. Ameobi should probably have started.
Newcastle had the game, they should have won this one.
Boro vs Newcastle highlights – has all the goals in it.
Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham
Finally a win for Fergie’s men, and a great goal from Nani. You can catch a detailed match report later today from Red Rants, and you can grab the Nani goal video and the Brown ‘handball’ incident (it wasn’t a penalty) here.
That’s it for this review. Let me know what you guys thought of the games in the comments.