Portsmouth 2-0 Liverpool
Monday, 21 December 2009
Portsmouth 2-0 Liverpool
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Top team: Spurs gets my vote again. They were much better than the previous game when they experienced a sorry defeat against Wolves. They showed determination and formed a destructive combination.
Top player: Niko Kranjcar, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon formed a deadly trio for Tottenham, a top combination that damned City to defeat. Fernando Torres showed top mentality, crucial for the match and win for Liverpool. His team mates should follow his example if Liverpool want to finally get a good run together.
Top goal: Kranjcar's second for Tottenham was of stubbornly strong top quality. Off a Lennon corner, it looked like he had spilled and wasted the chance, but he stayed up and going and put it in. Cheeky but good.
Flop game: United's win against Wolves was no competition. Manager Mick McCarthy has been questioned about the ten changes he made to the side that beat Tottenham last week. I know the schedule is tight, a lot of fixtures squeezed into a couple of weeks, but that is no excuse for changing a winning side completely.
Flop team: I have to pick Wolves again for making it too easy for Manchester United. You never want to see that as a football fan. It is supposed to be and stay a competition, not a concession.
Flop goal: Portsmouth's equaliser against Chelsea prooved and underlined the Blues' weakness with set pieces once again. It was a cheeky goal that snuck in after coming off two defenders, that should not have happened if Chelsea's back line would have stayed and kept solid. But no discrediting Portsmouth, they have improved a lot since Avram Grant has taken over and just lost out to a last-minute penalty. Unlucky.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Top game: Everton's and Aston Villa's historic results at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford respectively have to mentioned. But the one to watch, was the strugglers against the cruisers, Bolton versus Manchester City. It was end-to-end-stuff, with referee blunders but still mouthwatering viewing. You did not know which way it was going to go next. City will definitely feel more like it was two points lost rather than a point gained, in contrast to Bolton, who can and will be proud as Larry.
Top player: Ivan Klasnic has impressed me lately. The first goal against City did look offside, but it does not change the fact that the Croatian striker is a thorn in the opposition's defence's eyes. Every point is precious for Bolton's battle and he is the main combatant for them.
Top goal: The second Wigan goal was amazing. Defender Maynor Figueroa spotted Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen off his line when a free kick was given just inside his own half. The Honduran's quick thinking and exquisit skill, took the ball over and past the Danish goalie. Cheeky and legendary. Andrey Arshavin's winner for Arsenal at Anfield was unstoppable, off the post and in, nowhere near in react for the goal keeper, even if Pepe Reina had wings.
Flop game: Hull City's goalless draw against Blackburn was the only disappointment of the day. No goals, no penalties, no red cards, no controversial refereeing decisions... Just a draw... A rarity this season.
Flop team: What happened with the top two? They seemed disorganised and shaky, especially at the back. I feel the title race is more open than people think with not even half the season gone and the top teams leaking and weakening... I can understand Alex Ferguson's rage in that respect. Minutes, seconds are crucial and can end up being lethal.
Flop player: Tottenham full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto is facing police-investigation after a clash with a fan - looks like he cannot deal with defeat and being picked on. He is a professional football player and should know better how to deal with situations like this professionally. I say that every time a situation escelates between players, too, they get payed enough to keep their sences.
Flop goal: Petr Cech was furious with his players after he was left stranded when Didier Drogba headed and Everton free kick against Louis Saha's shoulder to see it deflect into goal. Set pieces seem to be the bogey for Chelsea, this match showed it again Everton capitalised well on it. Glen Johnson's own goal at Anfield could not have felt more like a curse. It seems like nothing is going Liverpool's way at the moment. I wonder where or when the fall will end...
Monday, 7 December 2009
Top game: Manchester City against Chelsea was the battle of the riches. It was not the best display by the referee with some crucial errors that led to both City goals. It was a competitive encounter that could have gone either way, but City created most of the pressure and got Petr Cech sweating most throughout the match.
Top player: Shay Given was man of the match at the City ground, with a brilliant display and decsisive penalty save against one of the most consistent penalty takers Frank Lampard. Chelsea are starting to shake and leak, to the relief of their rivals and other title competitors. The race is long from over.
Top goal: Wolves' opener stunned Bolton. The more stunned they were when Nenad Milijas turned from provider to scorer with a devil of a strike for the second goal. From over 20 yards outside the box the swing left Jussi Jaaskelainen with no chance. Beauty.
Flop team: The team with the worst home record faced the side with the dimnest away record - and Portsmouth ended up on top. Burnley looked better but have to keep working on their travelling display.
Flop player: What was Steven Gerrard thinking? At least Martin Atkinson called it right as a dive and gave a free kick against him. But Phil Dowd was not as alert when Hermann Hreidarsson tried out his theatricals on him. Players do not help making the job easier for the referees, in a time where a growing majority call for video referees and stiffer penalties against whiners and divers, i.e. drama queens.
Monday, 30 November 2009
Top game: Manchester United's win against Portsmouth and the flood of goals at West Ham against Burnley. The prior was more of a contest than expected - in the first half that is, but then United capitalised as usual. The Hammers looked like they were going to throw away a comfortable lead, well, not really in then end. Entertaining twists and turns all the way, all one way in the end, for United and West Ham.
Top goal: Ivan Klasnic's smart turn and finish for Bolton wins it for me. Fulham had enough chances to come, take and go with all three points but instead they had to settle for a point thanks to the lively Croatian striker. I loved Hull City's celebration to their equaliser against City, cheeky.
Flop referees: What the hell was going on with the referees this weekend?! Penalty after penalty given, goals disallowed left, right and center... If that was supposed to be a clear stance against video referees, that they can do the job without technological help, they are having a laugh!
Flop goal: Again, Liverpool's opener... It was just a lucky (or unlucky, depending on which side you see it from) deflection off Joseph Yobo, Yossi Benayoun's shot looked like it would have otherwise gone wide. Dirk Kuyt's goal just added salt onto the wound, an easy tap-in as Everton looked to have given up and run down after all their dominance. Both goals came against run of play.
My Predictions - Actual Results
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Debrecen Poleksic; Bodner, Meszaros, Mijadinoski, Foder (Dombi 62); Szelesi, Kiss, Szalaky (Coulibaly 77), Czitkovics; Leczko, Rudolf. Subs not used Pantic, Ramos, Komlosi, Bernath, Varga. Bookings Szelesi 23.
Liverpool Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Insua; Mascherano, Lucas; Gerrard (Aquilani 92), Aurelio (Dossena 89), Kuyt; Ngog (Benayoun 77). Subs not used Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Spearing, Skrtel.
1st half stats:
On target: 0-3
Free kicks: 9-12
2nd half stats:
On target: 2-4
Free kicks: 7-9
Passing Success: 72%-87%
Territorial Advantage: 42%-58%
Referee: B. Kuipers
Man of the match: David Ngog
Monday, 23 November 2009
Top game: Hull made a great comeback against West Ham. It was a scruffy encounter but highly entertaining to watch. But the match of the day, week, month, season, etc. has to be Tottenham's thrashing of Wigan. I was on my break at work when I listened into the second half on the radio. I caught four goals and joked to my colleague I would miss another ten after I went back to work - I could not know I was not too far off...
Top player: Jermain Defoe rode the show this weekend, rubbing it under Carlo Ancelotti's nose who should be on the priority list for England. All of his goals were lovely to watch. Aaron Lennon was a top provider and scorer himself, too. This weekend was not only great for Spurs but for England also.
Flop team: Believe it or not, Chris Kirkland was the best player for Wigan, as he was the only one who seemed present and alert. Wigan were absent, especially the defence, not closing in on Tottenham players, giving them too much time and space, a too big comfort zone. In the end they just gave up. I think they are all too right promising their fans refunds as they did not turn up and were a waste to watch, full stop.
Flop player: Dirk Kuyt has been the most annoying player of late, falling, slipping, tripping and diving at every take of the ball and if he stays up ot gets an obvious chance on goal, he just cues it high or wide or just nowhere to be caught. He is really looking off the reel, but I guess that just reflects his side's display and run.
Flop goal: Bolton's own goal which made it 0-2 to Blackburn will be found amongst thos famous bloopers list in a long time to come. It was due to lack of communication, but Jussi Jaaskelainen was the guilty party charging in the way he did as Samuel Ricketts was not at fault doing the obvious passing it back when there was not too much pressure around. A howler.
Friday, 20 November 2009
The more I watch it, the clearer it gets to me: If Fifa want to set a stance against cheats, they should take action to warn all the other offenders-to-be, in this case disqualify France and fine and suspend Thierry Henry.
But, I know that will never happen. Football is the only sport where cheats get away and on a regular basis, too, especially of the big teams. So, it is no surprise we have seen and will see it again and again. But at some point it has to stop and something has to change!
It is rhetorical question whether a video referee would have made a difference. The clear answer is, YES! France would not have been awarded the goal, Henry would have been booked, a free kick would have been awarded to the Republic of Ireland and play would have continued with Ireland still in the qualifier, with more than a shout as they were the better side throughout the match.
We obviously do not know how the match would have developed from there, if it would have gone to penalties, or one of the sides would have caught a late (but fair) winner - but we surely know how it would not have ended: An unfair shame and scandalous cheat!
One can only speculate how Fifa would have reacted if it would have happened the other way round, Robbie Keane the offender and France the losers. I suspect we would have read a clear statement the next morning about what actions will be taken.
Monday, 9 November 2009
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
Top game: Liverpool's win over Manchester United was the most decisive match after the bad run of four defeats by the home side. Many have already written them out of the title race. However this season has shown, all sides have exploitable weaknesses, making the race more unpredictable. Liverpool certainly exploited United's weaknesses with their strongest performance of the season so far, most notable without their skipper Steven Gerrard and with a not fully fit Fernando Torres.
Top team: Liverpool showed their stamina, making United look like a mediocre side, staying tight at the back whilst exploiting gaps and breaks at the front, tormenting Rio Ferdinand and Nimanja Vidic. Stoke also did brilliantly against Tottenham, keeping a clean sheet and taking all three points from their frustrated opponents. Spurs will have wondered where all their chances went, 17 in total, all for nothing.
Top player: Fernando Torres was only 80% fit according to his manager Rafael Benitez but made a hell of a difference, ask Ferdinand and Vidic. Steve Simonsen got drafted in at short notice for Stoke due to illness of their first-choice goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, but what a job he made of it, keeping Peter Crouch, Robbie Keane and Aaron Lennon out. James Beattie put his body on the line, too, to help out. Brilliant stuff.
Top goal: Torres outrun, -played and -mastered United, Vidic's and Ferdinand's frustration made obvious and defensive tactics flawed. Edwin van de Sar could only collect the ball from the back of the net once the Spaniard pounced on his team mates lack' of pace and coordination, after a brilliant break and cross by Yossi Benayoun.
Top manager: For once Sir Alex Ferguson conceded his team had been outplayed, Liverpool were the better side and deserved the win. But then he had to go on and put part of the blame onto the inexperienced referee Andre Marriner for overlooking a clear penalty and sending off. Liverpool had shouts against United, too, it all evened out in the end. But it would have been too good to be true for Ferguson to have nothing to complain about...
Flop game: In Portsmouth's goalless draw against Hully, Pompey were the better side but were not able to convert their chances in an overall poor encounter. It just showed why both teams have been stuggling and are in the relegation zone.
Flop team: Sam Allardyce called his side pathetic conceding five against Chelsea. They are facing Manchester United next, who will be coming firing in all guns blazing wanting to recover strongly from their defeat. Blackburn are fifth from bottom with just ten points out of nine games so far this season. They need to restructure and regain confidence somehow if they want to pull further away from the relegation zone.
Flop player: There were a lot of drama queens on the pitch again today, going down at every little hint of a touch instead of staying up, fighting for the ball and creating pressure, chances and goals. Dirk Kuyt and Carlton Cole annoyed me especially, very frustrating to watch talents falling to bits like that, the latter being awarded a penalty for it! Something has to be done to stop it, even if it means post-match suspensions.
Flop goal: Wigan's equaliser was a gift and came at a price on top of that, with Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen slipping when coming for Mario Melchiot's hopeful cross, leaving Hugo Rodallega with an empty net. It was painful and shameful to watch, but Wigan made a great recovery after that.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
After their 2-1 defeat by Lyon in the Champions League on Tuesday manager Rafael Benítez was quick to blame the injuries to their main players for the bad run . Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson were ruled out before the match and Steven Gerrard had to be taken off after 25 minutes due to a recurrence of his groin injury. All three players are doubts for the match against Manchester United, with Johnson reportedly making the most promising progress in his recovery.
At the beginning of the season Liverpool’s weak bench and lack of depth was immediately apparent, especially compared to the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, without replacements for their top players like Xabi Alonso. Benítez’s has made his frustration quite public and blamed the turmoil behind the scenes, as their owners George Gillett’s and Tom Hicks’ financial shortcomings and lookout for reinvestment has left Anfield everything else but settled and begins to take its toll.
However, that is a too easy excuse for Liverpool’s faults and failures on the field. Four out of their six defeats so far this season have come WITH their star players and most of the main squad available, which makes the situation the more worrying. One week they thrash their opposition by four or more only to falter the next.
Many have been calling the current run the last straw for Benítez and he may be lucky to survive until Christmas. Liverpool's title hopes and chances and with them Benítez's job, are hanging on a very thin thread. It has been 56 years since Liverpool last lost five games in a row and with Manchester United due at Anfield, the weight of pressure is stretching that thin thread to breaking point.
However, the question is who is good enough to replace the Spaniard? José Mourinho and Martin O’Neill have been mentioned as possible replacements - however, they have jobs and neither is a magician. Who is to say that either would be able to steer the Reds' season around without time and money, neither of which Liverpool have. They would encounter the same problems and frustrations as Benítez.
The only encouragement Liverpool can take into the next match is that Manchester United and Chelsea have had their moments and have shown their weaknesses too this season, with both everything else but at their best. Accurate predictions are hard to come by this season, as Phil Thompson should have noticed after Tuesday, but there can be little hope for Liverpool.
My prediction: Liverpool 0-4 Manchester United