27 August, 2008

Gameweek 2 – Disruption

Greetings faithful following, and welcome to a somewhat late review of this past Bank Holiday weekend’s exciting action. Many factors (ok, one factor: beer) have delayed the writing of this wrap-up, but suffice to say that the editorial whip has been cracked and it will not be happening again.

On to an interesting weekend in the Premier League then, and already I think it’s safe to say that things aren’t exactly going according to plan for quite a few sides around the country. We start as ever with the big dogs, and while Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool all won, they were all singularly unconvincing displays once again. Chelsea took the lead after just four minutes through a Deco-shaped piece of magic, but from then on it was backs-to-the-wall, as an impressive Wigan side showed some real promise and certainly forced more saves out of Petr Cech than last season’s runners-up did of last minute replacement Mike Pollitt in between the Wigan sticks. Manchester United meanwhile continued their indifferent form against a similarly-tepid Portsmouth side that look a bit lost at the moment. There were few chances at either end in all honesty and the standard could not have been further from last season’s Ronaldo-inspired romp at Fratton Park. Liverpool left it late at Anfield, as the two stalwart Scousers Jaime Carragher and Steven Gerrard proved their worth yet again for Rafa Benitez’s cosmopolitan side. Boro played their part certainly, but with two hard-fought wins without playing remotely well under their belt, the whispers that it could be Liverpool’s year have predictably already started.

Not such a good weekend for Arsenal though, as Wenger’s men stumbled over a competitive Fulham side over in West London on Saturday evening. In what critics and fans alike have (amusingly) called ‘the worst display ever under Arsene Wenger,’ the Gunners managed to do basically nothing for 90 minutes except watch Brede Hangeland drift into their box unmarked to bag the winner. Amongst those teams vying for Arsenal’s spot in the top-4 this season will be Manchester City and Everton, both of whom recorded their first wins of the campaign this weekend, rolling over West Ham and West Brom respectively. The Hammers look to be in all sorts of problems already this season, with a crumbling squad and poor morale, but so too do The Best Footballing Side in the Championship Last Season™, West Brom, who look decidedly toothless up front and incompetent at the back. Newcastle meanwhile continued to impress this year, with Spiderman once again suggesting that he might be the signing of the summer in a pacey and exciting midfield. Michael Owen returned to what he does best, netting once again for Keegan, whose faith in him seems, for once, not misplaced.

Slighty worse weekends for some of the other teams with European aspirations this season as Spurs lost yet again in a somewhat shambolic performance against a decent Sunderland side, who welcomed back Djibril Cisse to English football. Blackburn stumbled against new boys Hull, who once again came from behind to secure a point at Ewood Park, coping admirably with the likes of Pederson and Santa Cruz. Finally then, the promising Aston Villa faced the other newly-promoted side, Stoke, in what was the first top-flight game for the Potters in more than 23 years…

Game of the Weekend – Stoke City vs Aston Villa

Well who would’ve thunk it. Premier League new boys and so-called ‘new Wimbledon’ Stoke City actually out-played a flat Aston Villa side, who twice thought they’d saved a point in the first ever Premier League game at the Britannia stadium. In a thrilling see-saw game, where the Potters went ahead first through a Liam Lawrence penalty, and then secondly through a absolute gem from Ricardo Fuller, Villa clung on in there as they looked decidedly lacking in ideas both in midfield and up-front. The winner came from the last kick of the game, with substitute Mamady Sidibe meeting a trademark Rory Delap long-throw to head into an unguarded net. Cue 28,000 fans going absolutely chicken oriental to celebrate their first top-flight points in my lifetime. Kudos to the whole Stoke midfield, who worked tirelessly, but the real plaudits must go to the Jamaican striker Fuller, who’s goal brought to mind a certain Dennis Bergkamp, and new acquisition Abdoulaye Faye who shone at the heart of the defence.

Player of the Weekend – Steven Gerrard

For the umpteenth time in his career, the sheer passion of Stevie G drove his sub-par team to a vital win against a decent-looking Boro team who might just surprise a few people this season. Gerrard’s goal was obviously key, but the sheer manner of the rest of his performance was exemplary; powerful, energetic and creative. Why can’t he do it in an England shirt?

Goal of the Weekend – Deco

The Portuguese wizard does it again with an absolutely masterful free-kick from genuinely his first kick of the game. He’s a bit tasty.

Nutmeg of the Weekend – Wilson Palacios

The impressive Honduran nailed new Chelsea acquisition Jose Boswinga twice in about thirty seconds: running him one way, megging him, waiting for the guy to get up, and then megging him again. Senor Palacios, we salute your commitment to humiliation.

So there we have it. Two weeks down, 36 to go. It’s obviously too early for predictions, let alone league tables, but I think already we can say that there might be a few surprises this year, not least at the bottom of the table where Hull and Stoke have shown that they won’t be a push over.

Have we overlooked your favourite player? Was Deco’s goal a fluke and did the real gem of the weekend lie elsewhere? Are Manchester United nothing without Cristiano Ronaldo and his beautifully tanned legs? Well tell us! Stamp your opinions, and also nominations for Team of the Week, in the comments box below…


Anonymous said...

why have west ham sold ferdinand to Sunderland of all people? its a shambles. i would say anton is obviously as moronic as his bro but the really sad thing is i can see why he's jumped ship. i dont like the way this season is looking already...

chalovesmonkeys said...

Little Ferdinand to Sunderland is indeed a strange move. It seems like there's a bit of a mini-league forming this year, with the mercenary teams, comprised of West Ham, Tottenham and Sunderland.

Who'll have the best season out of these 3? Will their fans care? The only question we know the answer to is that all their players are going to get paid. Lots.

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