19 January, 2009

Gameweek 21 – Forbidden Fruit

Another week and another shake-up. Leaders Liverpool were held to their fourth goalless draw of the season, and their second against Stoke, by a gutsy Potters performance that if anything deserved more than a point as Benitez’s men failed to back up their manager’s fighting words of the day before. With this result in mind, Sunday’s huge clash at Old Trafford took on even greater significance, but the game itself was a bizarrely one-sided affair in which Manchester United seemed to convincingly stake their claim to a third Premier League title in a row.

The battle for fourth continues to rage as ever, with Arsenal and Villa both winning, along with Everton who also appear to be throwing their hat into the arena. High-flying Wigan also bagged a decent last minute win against Spurs, who continue to capitulate despite an early decent run under ‘Arry Redknapp.

Further down the league, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Newcastle and West Ham all played out draws, while West Brom’s defeat to local rivals Villa keeps them firmly planted to the foot of the table.

Oh, and if you’ve noticed that there were only eight games played this week that’s because two matches were called off due to frozen pitches. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when a Premier League cannot be prepared for the fact that in the winter it sometimes gets a bit cold.

Game of the Week – Manchester United vs Chelsea
Jose Mourinho offered this delightfully glib assessment of the game which to be honest I just can’t better: “I saw people from Chelsea before the match, at half-time and after the match. But I didn't see Chelsea on the pitch. I only saw Manchester United.”

Player of the Week – Marouane Fellaini
It’s been a long time coming for the absolutely hilarious looking Belgian. Alongside Cahill, he has spearheaded the Everton frontline in the absence of any recognized strikers, and popped up with some vital goals. One problem though is 18 league appearances this season and 10 yellow cards. Is it just because he’s big?

Goal of the Week – Mikel Arteta
An absolute peach from the fantastic Spanaird.

Trick of the Week – Manchester United’s inventive little corner routine
Let’s see more of this please. Very clever and the goal should’ve stood.

Gaffe of the Week – Scott Carson
Poor Scott, didn’t he bag a couple of England caps a few years ago?

Jinx of the Week – Gareth Bale
I feel a bit sorry for Gareth Bale because he looks like a pre-pubescent monkey. He’s also not very good apparently, with 20 appearances for Tottenham now without being on the winning side…

Rant of the Week – Rafa Benitez
A flashback to the old Kevin Keegan days of vitriolic rivalry can only be good for the Premier League as we look towards the tightest second-half of the season in a decade. In a considered purge of built-up rage, Rafa basically just said what everyone else has known for years. Read it all for yourself here and if you’re too lazy to do that, indulge yourself in a video of Rafa’s soothing voice and sexy beard.

Talking Point of the Week – The nature of dissent
After all the furore this summer about respect for officials, it seems that as ever the rules don’t apply to everyone. People will argue that football is a passionate game where emotions run high, and that’s true of course, but there’s a difference between frustrated exclamations and face-to-face confrontation. This weekend’s big event saw Manchester Untied steam-roll Chelsea, but during the course of the game Wayne Rooney, among others, continually got in the referee’s face and intimidated him, often to camera shouting “fuck off.” Either we care about the way this behaviour dissipates down to non-league and youth football or we don’t, so please start enforcing the actual laws of the game and book players every time they swear directly at an official. Spending a third of a season suspended for dissent might teach certain players a few manners eventually…


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