30 October, 2008

Gameweek 9 and 10 – Duplex

Ok, so apologies faithful readership for not giving this weekend’s action its own review, but with a full midweek program STT simply did not have the resources to cover both in anything approaching comprehensiveness. Anyway, in case you missed it, here is what happened Saturday and Sunday:

Chelsea finally lost their unbeaten home record of 86 games with a bit of a whimper to be honest, against a Liverpool side who played the game to perfection, with the midfield quartet particularly worthy of praise. Manchester United were on the receiving end of a last minute equaliser at Everton as they looked a little out of sorts in all honesty. Arsenal on the other hand strolled past West Ham in the end, but it was a tight game until Faubert deflected a cross into his own net for the opener with less than 20 minutes on the clock.

Hull toppled newly-promoted rivals West Brom comfortably, while the other fresh faces Stoke City were on the receiving end of a Robinho masterclass. To be fair though, the Brazilian maestro did cost about three-times as much as the entire Potters squad put together. Elsewhere Aston Villa were very good, as were Sunderland, winning their first Tyne-Wear derby for ages, and the teams I’ve forgotten to mention were clearly not that memorable!

So, to last night then, and following a Newcastle win on Tuesday over West Brom, a full set of fixtures. Dreamland inhabiters Hull were dramatically brought down to earth by a comfortable Chelsea team who barely broke sweat from the minute Lampard pinged a delightful chip into the top corner early on. Manchester United had a pretty easy ride against West Ham as well, with Ronaldo and Berbatov running the show while the Hammers players kind of just looked at one another. Liverpool were slightly less comfortable against a resilient Pompey side, but a late Steven Gerard penalty was enough to keep the league leaders top, and looking like genuine title contenders.

Wigan and Bolton both struggled once again near the bottom of the table, while Stoke hauled themselves out of the relegation zone with a hard-fought victory against a Sunderland outfit that clearly did not fancy the physical side of the game. Middlesbrough got a decent win over Manchester City, as once again the see-saw nature of the bottom half of the league continued.

So, after ten games, what can we say? Well, for the first time in decades it looks like a genuine three-horse-race for the title this year. Chelsea and Man United are starting to show signs of brilliance, and with their strength in depth, who would be brave enough to bet against one of them taking the crown again? Liverpool fans for one, who have seen their side impressively grind out a few tough results as well as play with real flair on occasion. Having dropped so many points already, have Arsenal got what it takes to stick with the top three? Personally, I don’t think so.

Villa and Manchester City look most likely to scrap it out for fifth, but as capable as they both are of the sublime, they both also have a somewhat dangerous tendency to self-destruct against some of the weaker teams.

Down at the bottom then it’s too tight to call at the moment, because realistically any three from about ten teams could find themselves dropping down a league come April. New boys Stoke and West Brom have got some good results and had some disasters, while Wigan and Spurs certainly have the talent to be finishing well into the top half. There are certainly also concerns about Newcastle, Bolton and Fulham, but the way they’re playing at the moment, the likes of Sunderland, West Ham and Middlesbrough should definitely not relax either. Finally then the $64,000 question: where will Hull finish? Could they really break into the top four? When will the bubble burst? Who’s to say, but let’s be honest, with 20 points on the board already, safety from relegation is almost certainly already secured…

Game of the Week – Arsenal vs Tottenham

I’m sure you’ve all heard about it by now, but it really was that exciting. Huge kudos to Spurs, and to Harry Redknapp for already appearing to be getting the most out of David Bentley and Luka Modric.

Player of the Week – Robinho

The standout member of a class outfit, who breezed past Stoke without really breaking sweat. With six goals already for Manchester City, Robinho looks to be finding his stride nicely, just proving that real ability doesn’t need a season to settle in the Premier League:

Goal of the Week – David Bentley

I cannot imagine how good it felt to do this against a club who treated him badly and he now hates.

Skill of the Week – Dimitar Berbatov

To set-up Ronaldo’s second yesterday Berbatov showed some simply incredible footwork. After a brief teething period, the grumpy Bulgarian looks like he’s enjoying himself playing with the big boys now.

ASBO of the Week – Phil Neville

Did anyone else see the less-attractive of the Neville brothers jump in two footed on Ronaldo while he was already rolling around on the floor? Sure we’ve all wanted to do it before, but come on.

Fan of the Week – This Spurs fan who’s almost certainly now banned for life.

I really want to meet this guy and shake his hand, he just loves it so much.


Mosher said...

I saw the Spurs fan on MotD though they didn't comment on it. I really do feel sorry for him, especially if the punishment was a lifetime ban. It was so obvious there was no intention to injure anyone or anything - the sheer look of joy on his face was plain to see! The fact that the players wanted to do nothing more than hug him as well - a great sight.

Sure, you have to deter people from doing similar things. One person leads to two to four to a whole crowd... but a lifetime ban for being harmless is over the top. A slap on the wrist, maybe a ban for 3 matches and a small fine would be mildly harsh but fair.

It just seems ridiculous to tar this one chap with the same brush (hopefully) being used on the mackem filth that tried to square up to Shay Given last weekend.

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