Premiership review for Saturday 9/9/06

September 12, 2006

Everton v
Liverpool

 

Toffees manager  David Moyes opted to continue with the deployment of dependably dangerous Andrew Johnson as the lone striker while his opposite number,  Raphael ‘despicable’ Benitez continued his policy of random selection by starting the match with an awkward looking front pairing of England hero (I never thought I would refer to the beanpole as a hero!) and confessed cokehead Robbie Fowler. A win for the reds in this, the 204th derby battle, would have taken them, at least till

 445pm, to the top of the table but fortunately for myself and all the other Liverpool haters, that tragic set of circumstances didn’t materialize.

Luis Garcia and the effervescent Gerrard started well for Liverpool with the Spaniard especially proving a problem for the Evertonian rearguard. However it was the blues who took the lead on 24 minutes when Andy Johnson intelligently laid the ball off to the right wing, and the resulting cross was headed on to Timmy Cahill who made no mistake from 10 yards out. If the Australian had missed the chance, Johnson was also expertly placed to finish the move. Shocking defending from the Hyppia and Carragher combination at the back. And it was only 12 minutes later when the burly Carragher was embarrassed again, this time by Johnson, who made the most of the defender’s woeful stumble, by bundling into the area before despatching a low drive under the keeper, Reina, for his 100th league goal and 2-0 for his team.

The second half saw a great improvement in Liverpool’s focus with Finnan going close, and Gerrard hitting the post. As time began to run out, Benitez brought on the impish Risse who promptly earned a yellow card for a last man tackle which from another referee could have produced a red. I guess the ginger wonder is a touch ring-rusty(but that is what happens if you fuck robots regularly). Despite the best efforts of captain courageous Gerrard, it was Everton who proved the more decisive by scoring a third goal on 77 minutes. The brutish Lee Carsley unleashed a pile-driver from long range, which caught Reina on the hop, who managed to get his fingertips to it but nothing else at the first time of asking… The keeper managed to backtrack enough to grab at the ball from above the goal line, but due to momentum he was unable to hold the ball to his body, instead opting to push the ball straight onto the wisely positioned Andy Johnson who made no mistake from one yard out, capping a wonderful team performance for 3-0. Comically, for all non-Liverpudlians, Reina appeared to gift Johnson the goal, then proceed to give the striker a warm embrace…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Suitably overjoyed Everton overlord, David Moyes

10 points from a possible 12 is a wonderful start to the season for Moyes and his boys, and the flame-haired x-pitfighter, was understandably ecstatic after the match. As for Liverpool, their defence was a shambles; lethargic, sloth-like and unable to deal with the pace and intelligence of Andy Johnson and the numerous runners from midfield. The omission of the apparently fit Craig Bellamy from the subs bench and starting XI goes some way to explain the relatively toothless Liverpool attack, but why he wasn’t included is unknown. For me, Bellamy is one of the most consistently dangerous strikers in the premiership; whenever I have seen him play he scores goals or makes goals. Why he was excluded may become apparent as the week progresses but it seems very soon for the manager to be discarding such a recent and costly signing who is obviously needed if Liverpool are to make more of what is looking, already, like becoming another depressing season. (FT : Everton 3-0)


Portsmouth V
Wigan

After the remarkable escape to safety routine that Redknapp engineered last season, his Portsmouth team have begun this campaign in style and looked a good bet to secure 3 points against the Paul Jewell’s faltering, but battling hard as ever, Wigan.

The first half was an even affair with both teams canceling each other out to a certain degree. Lomana Lua-Lua was looking extremely lively throughout with direct powerful running while on the other side,
Wigan’s Valencia appeared the most likely creator of mischief and goals.

Shortly after the interval, Portsmouth seized the initiative and the lead when Benjani was found in the box, 16 yards out, from where the winger hit a shot first time, with the outside of his right boot, driving the ball venomously over the outstretched frame of Kirkland. A beautifully struck goal for 1-0 Portsmouth.

Despite much huffing and puffing from  WiganPortsmouth hung on for the victory. On this form, Wigan, who made a fair few chances, will soon start firing on all cylinders and climb up the table. I don’t envisage
Portsmouth making European qualification but the signs are there for their sturdiest season in centuries. Bravo Harry. (FT:
Portsmouth 1-0
Wigan)

Portsmouths, Zimbabwean forward, Benjani, scored the winner.

Man U v Spurs

Considering Spurs haven’t ever won at Old Trafford, and their opponents, Manchester United, have enjoyed a vastly superior start to the season, the omens didn’t look good for Martin Jol and his youthful team. Though on a positive note, Ledley King made his much vaunted return to Totenham first team action after recovering fully from an ankle injury that has kept him out since April of this year.

 

It was early in the match when Man United struck the killer blow. With 9 minutes on the clock, the home side won a free kick, which Ronaldo blasted towards goal, through a non-existent wall. Robinson parried the shot, but man of the moment Giggs was on hand to send the follow-up into the net with his determined forehead. Despite the promising start, it was Spurs who gained prominence as the match wore on, with Van De Sar needing to produce a flurry of world class saves to keep his team in the lead. While Mclaren looked on from the sidelines, Defoe did his national team chances no favours when he completely mistimed a free header from only 5 yards out. The speedy midget should have scored. Towards the end of the match, Louis Saha wasted two gilt edged chances to make the points secure, which will have surely caused Ferguson some concerns over his striking options for the coming months. With Van Interlay now firmly departed, there is an increasingly apparent vacuum which needs to be filled by a player capable of world class finishing, else I fear Man united, even with galaxy class Rooney leading the line, may struggle against quality opposition. But on the other hand, four wins out of four is Man U’s best start to a premiership on record and considering how many titles they have won in their silver tinted recent history, that may be an ominous sign that Chelsea won’t have it so easy this time round…(FT: Man U 1-0 Spurs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man U’s misfiring striker, Louis Saha, takes a tumble!

Chelsea v Charlton

The champions started sprightly with Drogba poking home the first goal of the afternoon on 10’ after been the first to react to the keeper’s parry from Lampard’s drive which was hit with some anger from the edge of the box. Before half time the giant Ivorian should have extended his tally but missed the goal completely from only 6 yards out… X-Chelsea favourite Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink grabbed an unlikely equalizer with a perfectly hit first time struck bazooka that flew past Cech the Czech, coming to rest in the far corner of the net. The blow spurred the home team into action and Kalou promptly won a penalty which Lampard strode confidently towards and hit, but the keeper saved it!!! After seeing the TV replay of the penalty it appears that Jimmy Floyd was telling his keeper which way to dive. I guess the Chelsea captain has been taking that same penalty for many years. Still, his passing is often wicked and on 72 minutes, it was one of his trademark curling corners which found the head of a determined Carvallho, who sent the ball searing into the roof of the net for 2-1 Chelsea.
Ashley Cole made a quiet debut for the champions elect, when coming on as a second half replacement for Wayne Bridge. Not the greatest performance, and I doubt Mourinho will be too pleased with anything other than that 3 points gained from this ultimately too close for comfort encounter. Credit to Dowie and his charges for showing commendable spirit and making a real game of this one. For most of the second 45 minutes, Charlton were playing with a double Bent attack; Marcus and Darren.(FT:
Chelsea 2-1Charlton)

Didier Drogba, of Chelsea, misses more than he scores, but scores more than most.

Newcastle V Fulham

The first half of this match was a non-event apart from the nasty injury sustained by the impressive of late Jimmy Bullard (Fulham) who ripped his spleen when crudely upending recent high profile Newcastle signing, Martins, who again failed to look good enough to play for Gillingham let alone the magpies. After the break, the game came to life with the pretty rottweiler, Scott Parker, glancing a beautiful header past the Fulham keeper, on 54’, set up perfectly by a teasing Emre cross.

 

Soon after the Parker opener, on 66’, the visitors equalized after the consistently tricky Routledge crossed from the right wing, into the path of Mcbride, who was lurking with ill intent at the far post. The Yankee made no mistake with a first time volley, hauling his team back to parity. As the final minutes approached McBride was given the chance to head firmly at goal, after a mistake by Bramble, and though the ball was parried, Bocanegra was on hand to steer the ball into the net for 1-2 Fulham. Which was how it finished.

 

Even though Bullard’s injury was a big loss for Fulham, his replacement, Wayne Routledge, was the difference between the two sides. He caused havoc on the right wing, tormenting defenders with attempted ,and at time bewildering, but often very direct, runs towards the by line, where he is capable, as seen today at St James park, of producing quality crosses into the box. Newcastle defender Titus Bramble looked like an Eskimo in the Sahara for most of the match and was at fault for both goals his side conceded. He has never been premiership class, and the quicker Roeder can replace him the better for the fortunes of the club as a whole. With Owen a long term absentee through injury and Martins looking set to take at an educated guess, 2 years at least, to find his feet in the premiership, a defence with foundations floundering in sludge not set in concrete, and a manager who resembles a startled wood pigeon; the future doesn’t look very bright for the Toon army….(FT:Newcastle 1-2 Fulham)

Good work Coleman and co.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fulham supreme Chris Coleman jumps with joy as he watches his young steeds tear the Geordies to shreds…

Arsenal V Boro

Former Chelsea favourite William Galas made his debut for the Gunners playing, strangely, in the exact position which his acrimonious departure from Stamford bridge is attributed to. He is a centre-back by choice and predeliction, and it was his continued usage on the flanks which caused the friction which led to his recent transfer to Arsenal. For Boro, local lad Woodgate returns to tee-side on a year loan deal from real Madrid, and he also made his debut for his new club, in the centre of defence. Worryingly and for several reasons, perhaps patriotism and purism, the Arsenal 16 of starting XI and the bench, included not one Englishman.

 

The match started of cagey with Boro setting their stall out to stay solid and attack on the break. Hleb went close from distance, but his shot was comfortably saved by Schwarzer in the Boro goal. Perhaps slightly against the run of play, on 21’, the northerners took the lead through a well struck edge of the boot shot from Morrison, created by a clever one-two with Jason Euell.

 

The second half saw Arsenal up the tempo with Henry going close with a trademark ‘before anyone but the kicker and referee are ready;’ free kick and the Gunners generally pushing their opponents further and further back into their own half. Soon the pressure told with first Boateng sent off the field after two nasty challenges, the second proving painful for Ljunberg who was hacked viciously to the turf by the remorseless former Villa hatchet-man…and then Eboue winning the penalty after been crudely taken out by a clumsy challenge in the are by Downing. Henry dispatched the penalty for 1-1 and the sigh of relief around the Emirates Stadium was palpable throughout North London.

Boro admirably held firm and finished the game with a respectable point. My man of the match was undoubtedly Jonathon Woodgate. and if he continues to show the kind of form seen today when he almost single-handedly thwarted wave after wave of Arsenal’s youthful but quick thinking attacks. He is dependable on the ground, in the air and off the ball. Definitely one the best English centre-backs in current circulation. I hope he can stay fit because the injury problems he has suffered over these last few years have been inordinately misery-inducing and unlucky. Arsenal were by no means impressive.(FT: Arsenal 1- 1 Boro)

  Jonathon Woodgate, back from Madrid and already showing he is one of the best defenders playing on British soil.
Bolton v
Watford

Enfant-terrible Nicolas Anelka made his debut for Bolton in a match which proves to anyone with eyes and a rudimentary understanding of football, that the game is often terribly unfair. Watford dominated from the start to finish, hitting the frame of the goals 3 times, wasting numerous chances to kill off their northern opponents, only to succumb right at the death to a late penalty won by Ivan Tal after a rough challenge by the appropriately named Danny Shittu, which was converted with confidence by veteran Gary Speed to gift Bolton a horrendously undeserved 1-0 victory. To add to
Watford’s woes, they had Ashley Young sent off for nothing. And he will be missed having proved himself a major threat in all the games he has played so far this season.
Bolton were awful, lacking ideas and spirit. Anelka had once chance which he dramatically spooned!(FT:
Bolton 1-0
Watford
)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uncompromising and fierce, danny Shit, of Watford.

Sheffield United V
Blackburn

An incredibly strange game revolving around 3 penalties, two won for Sheffield United, one awarded to Blackburn, which remarkably were all saved. Both teams could have won the match in normal play but it is Blackburn who left the ground indebted to Brad Freidel who proved a one man defiant wall in the face of concerted efforts by Warnock’s well moulded squad. Two penalty saves and plenty more important blocks, made Blackburn keeper Brad Freidel, my man of the match award. He continues to cement his reputation as one of the finest in the top English league. Despite all the goalmouth action this one ended 0-0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Friedel, more ape than human, but a truly outstanding goalkeeper.

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England v Andorra

September 4, 2006

England v
Andorra

The brief honeymoon period comes abruptly to an end as Mclaren’s
England team face their first competitive match since bowing out, without pride, of the World cup finals only 2 months ago in June. The opponents for this encounter, the first stage of a long journey which will hopefully yield European Championship qualification, are the lowly Andorrans. A motley crew of part-timers who are renowned for both adopting a shocking-to the spectator- 6/4/0 formation and unsavoury, on-field antagonism. As Mclaren said
“they get 11 players behind the ball, defend deep, are very organised, very disciplined, hard to break down and very aggressive in their style”.

Just as well Rooney is banned because no doubt he would thrive on the opportunity to bash a few Andorran skulls and earn himself potentially one of the longest suspensions in footballing history. It is best to save the Toxteth terror for the tougher games that lie ahead, but if Mclaren is to be believed; maybe I am under estimating the threat of these footballing minnows. Probably not.

Personally I was far from impressed with the former
Middlesbrough manager’s appointment, mainly because I have felt that he has had ample chance to influence the national team, through his role as assistant to Eriksson, with zero success to show for his efforts to date. However, every man deserves the benefit of the doubt. But it is Terry Venables inclusion(at the request of Mclaren) in the management set up that has filled me with unprecedented enthusiasm for the coming campaign. What we have lacked for so long, as a national team, is a leader of men who can inspire from the top, both organically and technically. If Mclaren isn’t that type of man, and I don’t think for a second that he is, then El Tel most definitely is. He has that cockney charm and passion which I feel can bring a semblance of direction and vitality back into the team…

Terry Venables- tactically astute, wideboy, who could be just what is needed to breathe life back into the slumbering giant that is the English national football team…

 

The recent demolition of former Euro champs Greece, looked nice on paper and on the pitch, but it must be noted that the Greeks are nowhere near the force they were when they won that accolade (EURO championships) only two years ago. Still, it was a promising beginning to the Mclaren/El Tel combo. And with the glut of energetic and highly skilled youngsters Mclaren seems hell-bent on bringing into the fold, the future looks decidedly wicked for English supporters.

We are better than
Andorra, in talent and historical terms. Patience is needed for this encounter but so is pressure. The last thing we need is a disheartening, hollow draw.

Prediction: 6-0 engles!
England Line-up:
4-4-2
Robinson
P.Neville Brown Terry Cole
Gerrard Hargreaves (holding) Lampard Downing
Defoe Crouch

PAndorra:
Viera???

One to watch: Defoe. Bags of pace, explosive shooting with youthful exuberance exuding from every pore…A very useful deputy for Rooney. Though I would love to see them play together.
Ref –Austrian

1t
Crowd jubilant, healthy, roaring….

1-Ashley Cole rampaging down the left flank on the overlap…

Betting odds: Andorra 100-1 to win

Downing and Cole offer the potential for world class crosses to be pumped into the box for Crouchy to get his tiny, but in the clouds, head onto.

Strange to see an England team lacking Beckham…

5-GOALLLLLLL Crouchy hits a low drive into the far corner from 15 yards out after good work from Defoe and Cole, 9 goals in 9 games for the stickman…1-0.

7- Defoe is found, 12 yards out from goal, after Downing cross deflects off Crouchy…the shit fizzes inches wide…left boot, but should have done better.

(Earlier result:
Scotland 6-

Faeroe
Island 0!!! NI 0-3
Iceland hahahahahah)

8- Lampard makes space for a shot from 23 yards out…too central…comfortably saved.

9- Neville wins
England’s first corner..Lampard>>Terry makes room for a snapshot,…high and wide…

ALL England…
Andorra desperate in defence’– Lawrenson

12- Hargreaves battling like a German version of Gattusso…

‘I’m trying not to be too disrespectful here…but Andorra are hopeless’-Lawrenson

13- Cole…deep cross…well brought down by Gerrard, who is lurking 12 yards from goal…one touch with the chest, then the Liverpool talisman hits a perfect strike across the face of goal into the far corner..GOALLLL 2-0..typical gerrard thunderbolt…

16- Crouch penalised for being too tall.

17- Hargreaves wins ball fair and square but his foe, the Andorran midfielder, falls to the ground as if he has been stabbed in the lung. Recovers promptly.

Gerrard is playing in Beckham’s old position.

Andorra ranked 132nd in world…one victory in their history (v Macedonia 2004)

30- Downing tripped, free kick,,,25 yards out..left hand corner…Lampard FK>>Hargreaves hits one…off the near post and bounces safe across the goal…great effort..

35- Hargreaves wins two challenges…that same Andorran midfielder, Silva, back on the deck…
England put the ball sportingly put out of play to allow the ‘injured’ man to receive treatment/..Silva limps from the field to Venable’s sarcastic applause.

38-GOOOALLLL…Gerrard sells the opposing left-back a dummy down the right flank,,,perfect cross into the box, Defoe thrusts forward… calmly hits one first time on his left peg into the side of the net..excellent movement…superbly finished,,,3-0

44- Mistake by Andorran defence allows half chance for Defoe…who gets a foot to the ball…but the keeper makes a decent save.
44- CORNER>>Terry mistimes his jump and completely fluffs his header…Shame, as there were 5 free English players queuing up for the chance to shoot…
YELLOW for Brown for high tackle on defender.

Offside trap of
Andorra is: every player charge forward when the ball is played into their box…dangerous.

45- Hargreaves penalised for wining the ball.

HT

A stroll in the park for
England. A harrowing, nervy, danger-fraught passage in the dark for
Andorra. True to reputation, the Andorrans are playing every man behind the ball and have only managed to forage, fruitlessly, into the English half, only twice in the first 45 minutes. England have been focusing their play predominately down the flanks with Gerrard proving more than a worthy replacement for Beckham on the Right, and Downing’s left foot consistently useful on the left. We could and should have scored more but with every Andorran player defending it is proving difficult to turn 75% of the possession into a flurry of goals. Defoe’s clinical strike, created by Gerrard’s pin-perfect delivery from the right wing, was the pick of the goals. more to follow I would imagine…Hargreaves has been our best player; doggedly scrapping for every ball, supporting the attack and generally excelling in the anchor man role…

2t

47- GOOOALLLL Defoe claims his second of the afternoon after been played into the danger zone by a great header from Neville…one touch to get the ball onto his right foot, then the young spurs striker despatches an unstoppable right foot drive past the despairing Andorran keeper…
4-0

49- injury to Pujol…SUbbbed for Jimenez…(AND)

56290 attendance at old Trafford….’rule Britannia…Britannia rules the waves’

54- despicable play-acting from Silva(AND) brings a halt to proceedings…pathetic attempt to minimize the carnage..

So much for the Andorran ‘physical approach’; their players have shown themselves to be piss weak. Every time one of their players loses the ball and he goes down injured.

56- Corner for ENG.
Lampard> finds Gerrard, who wins another corner…
Lampard> weak corner, defended.

57- Defoe denied a deserved hatrick by an impressive reaction save from the keeper after intelligent work from A Cole created the opportunity…

64- Hargreaves picks the ball up 30 yards from goal…shapes up then shoots from 25..the ball ricochets off the frame of post and bar. wonderful technique…so unlucky…twice he has hit the woodwork.

65 SUB ENG Downing and Neville off for Richardson and Lennon…

Formation changes to : 3 in defence..with Gerrard moving to an inside right position…the two subs take to the wings..

66-GOOOOAAAAL Lennon found on right wing by Gerrard,,,swerving, pacey cross into the box finds Crouch whose header wrong-foots the keeper, nestling into the right side of the net for 5-0… 10 goals in 9 games for the stickman.

69 YELLOW for Sivera for hacking at the heels of the diminutive, tricky,
Richardson.

The crowd justifiably ‘boo’ the Sanchez, who cries like a baby after collecting some dirt on his shirt.

Crouchy should make way for Johnson.

72- SUB the lively Defoe is taken off for Johnson.
76- long range bouncer from Hargreaves is tipped over the bar….

77- SUB Andorra Sivera off for Garcia

79- ref stops play because inflatable ball is on the pitch…dickhead decision…That took the momentum out of a promising English attack.

80- Johnson finds space deep in the 18 yard box after clever through pass from
Richardson. He cuts the ball back to the giant Crouch whose first time effort drifts just wide of the far post…

89- corner for ENG Richardson from the left> into the keeper’s busy arms. But the ball had gone out of play from the cross…shouldn’t see that at international level. People talk about making sure the cross beats the man, but a cross should ALWAYS beat the fucking touchline.

91- Brown mercilessly savaged by the volatile Jimenez(AND) BOOKED

92 corner for ENG

FT
Satisfactory result for
Andorra.

Hargreaves- the best player on the field. Improves with every game he plays for
England. Let’s hope we can keep him!!!

MOM Owen Hargreaves..gave the ball away only once over 94 minutes..tireless battler who can shoot, pass and relentlessly attack the opposition legs like a pit-bull.

 

It is extremely hard to conclude much of the new-look
England from this match because frankly
Andorra were pathetic. From start to finish the traffic was One-way with Paul Robinson(the
England keeper) looking more likely to fall asleep than concede a goal. Still, credit must go to the lads for setting about the task in an ultra-professional manner, getting the goals and most importantly, not picking up any fresh injury or suspension troubles ahead of the forthcoming game away to
Macedonia. Which will prove a far trickier outing all-round. The defence and keeper literally had nothing to do but support the attack sporadically, with Neville and Cole, the two fullbacks, both showing enthusiasm and the required pace for providing overlap options on the wings. The attackers both took their chances with aplomb and if the spritely Defoe continues to impress, it will be cruel to see him immediately benched upon the return of wonder kid Rooney. However if Mclaren is to be believed(‘you earn the shirt , you keep the shirt)’, perhaps it is Rooney who will have to be fighting, from the bench, to regain his starting place in this well oiled team. I am a great admirer of young Jermain but Rooney is vastly more potent and a more accomplished match winner.

Stevie Gerrard played superbly on the right wing and made me completely lose the ‘where is Beckham’ thought, through typically wonderful crossing and swashbuckling forward movement. Lampard was a disappointment and I am beginning to wonder if he will ever be able to reproduce his often magnificent club form for his country. The
Chelsea man was off his game, as was seen through wasted passes and corners, and a general lack of penetration. But there is a chance that he has been asked to adopt a more defensive role alongside my new England favourite….Owen Hargreaves. The Canadian born, German reared, but thankfully British citizen, was outstanding in his midfield holding role. He made only one error in the entire game, was unlucky to hit the frame of the goal not once, but twice, both times from distance, and refused to give anything less than his all in every challenge that presented itself. All in all he was wicked.

Downing looked capable on the left wing, but I feel that Joe Cole offers more danger and overall quality.

Lennon and Richardson both need much more time to mature and I doubt very much that Mclaren will risk using them against a more experienced team. Johnson, the other sub, didn’t really have the time needed to impose himself on the match, though he did have one half chance near the end which he was unfortunate not to put away.

Overall a solid performance by the young English lion cubs.

Next Wednesday we face a far sterner test of solidarity and technique when the lads travel to
Skopje to face
Macedonia. Rooney will still be suspended but the gormless, though technically able, Rio Ferdinand will be available for selection after his recent injury problems.

5-0 to
England…A job well done.