09 December, 2008

Gameweek 16 – Colony

Right hello folks, it’s midweek and everyone’s very busy, so I’ll keep this brief and mainly copied-and-pasted off the BBC. So, for the first time in what seems like decades the big-4 all notched up wins this weekend, although aside from Chelsea they were anything but convincing.

Starting with the leaders Liverpool then, a struggling Blackburn put up quite a fight for more than an hour, and to be honest the scoreline certainly flattered the Scousers in the end. Chelsea were sublime for half an hour, and unfortunately for Bolton, by the time they’d actually started playing, the game was already over. Arsenal flattered to deceive after last week’s great performance against Chelsea, somewhat limping over the line against a Wigan side who were keen to exorcise the embarrassment of being spanked by the Arsenal kids a month or so ago in the cup. Manchester United on the other hand left it late to shatter Sunderland’s hopes of an away point, with the ever reliable Vidic slamming the ball home deep into injury time.

Harry Redknapp enjoyed a decent return to Upton Park on Monday night with his unpredictable Spurs team, adding to Gianfranco Zola’s misery as their winless run continues. West Brom still remain bottom of the pile however, with three decent points against Pompey snatched away from them in the last few minutes by a cracking Peter Crouch effort. Fulham and Manchester City also shared the points at Saturday lunchtime, with the Cottagers outdoing themselves against a tepid City side who lacked anything approaching creativity without Elano and Robinho.

Finally then, the good runs for Hull and Stoke refuse to cease, with both teams coming from behind to claw points from games they were effectively out of. The Tigers started poorly, and it took a Tugay opener to motivate Phil Brown’s men to start playing some football, but when they got going they were more than worth their win. Stoke meanwhile looked dead at half-time following a Michael Owen brace, but clearly Tony Pulis made some pretty serious threats in the dressing room because what re-appeared for the second period was a completely different side who, if anything, could’ve even poached a winner.

Game of the Week – Everton vs Aston Villa

So the two main contenders to break into the Champions League spots faced off at Goodison Park this Sunday then, and the results were as explosive as everyone hoped after a pretty dull Saturday of action if we’re honest. It took the rejuvenated Steve Sidwell just 34 seconds to open the scoring, with his 25-yard drive into Howard's top corner setting the tone for the afternoon. Twice Joleon Lescott thought he had equalized for the Toffees however, with an acrobatic volley in stoppage time looking to be enough to share the points, before Ashley Young produced a bit of magic a minute later to break Merseyside hearts.

Player of the Week – Ashley Young

Without doubt the performance of the weekend, with two quality goals punctuating a superb away win for Villa against one of their closest rivals. Young showed pace, composure and clinical finishing, but unfortunately for him and his international ambitions, this level of impact has been somewhat lacking this season so far.

Goal of the Week – Deco

After an incredible opening to the season, Deco seems to have dropped off a touch as the temperature has plummeted, but this weekend his unquestionable talent was on display once again for all to see. As Bolton struggled to clear their lines, the ball was lofted back across the penalty area by Michael Ballack, where Deco was on hand to hammer a perfect bicycle-kick past a helpless Jaaskelainen.

Comeback of the Week – Stoke City

After 25 minutes and the score 2 – 0 to Newcastle, pundits and fans alike were writing off the Potters. Once again however, Tony Pulis’ men dug deep, and inspired by the introduction of Ricardo Fuller, were quite superb second half. Goals from Mamady Sidibe and Abdoulaye Faye were enough to rescue an unlikely point, but even without the long-throws of Rory Delap, Stoke proved that they could compete at this level and have a good chance of staying up come April.

Gaffe of the Week – Phil Jagielka

There’s not much else really to say about this, it’s just pretty awful. Under no pressure, Jagielka turned from the midfield to guide a back pass to Tim Howard, only for the ball to unfortunately fall short and straight to Ashley Young, who duly slotted into the corner past the despairing Everton keeper.

Taking Point of the Week – Arsenal fans booing Eboue

Ok there are a couple of things you should put aside when thinking about this issue. Firstly, imagine that Emmanuel Eboue isn’t an arrogant little shit who’s actually rubbish at football, and secondly, pretend that it isn’t incredibly amusing when a player brought on as a substitute gets substituted off themselves later. The point here is just the brazen caprice of Arsenal fans, who can worship someone by association one minute, and then crucify them the next for a couple of ultimately meaningless mistakes. Are they so used to absolute perfection that anything less than that warrants a cacophony of boos? And this isn’t an Ashley Cole-esque situation here either, because the abuse he gets is pretty unrelated to his actual footballing performance. No, Eboue hasn’t really done anything to rile up Arsenal fans (who, might I remind you, were calling him the best right-back in Europe two years ago when they reached the Champions League final), it just seems that most casual fans at the Emirates have no sense of context, or even what it means to support their club. I simply cannot conceive of a player for my team being booed just because he makes a mistake; that truly is unforgivable.


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