Friday, 29 May 2009
Thursday, 28 May 2009
Over the last couple of weeks it has been much more of a joy to watch cricket again, as an England fan that is.
Not even a couple of months ago, I wrote a blog on England, their unimpressive and worrying display, form and behind-the-scenes unrest when they were touring the Caribbean.
Obviously, England have always been more confident and successful at home, which team is not, but with all the problems they had, there was room and need for improvement either way.
The fallout between Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores just reminded everyone how crucial the reletionship between the captain and coach is, which made everyone the more nervous about the new appointment.
I think Andrew Strauss was the best pick, especially after the clash of the big egos. I am a big KP fan and was very disappointed his captaincy did not last longer and found it a farce how the situation with him and Moores was delt with.
But, it just proved that a captain needs to be someone who keeps his cool and his head on the shoulders in challenging situations - which reminded me of Alec Stewart, one of the best captains I have had the pleasure to watch in my time. That is why Strauss fits the role, I think, I see many similarities between his and Stewart's characters, attitudes and personalities.
Matt Prior, James Anderson, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah and the captain himself Andrew Strauss - they all looked much more comfortable and confident in their roles than before and contributed to the wins.
This series should have answered that question and should hopefully set Pietersen and the other older players a new personal challenge and wake up call to get a grip and pounce on his opposition like he used to do if he does not want to lose his place.
I am full of expectations and excitement approaching the Ashes now - much more than only a-month-and-a-bit ago... *fingers crossed*
Monday, 25 May 2009
What a day! Manchester United confirmed again and underlined the strength and depth of their team that has taken the league crown for the 18th time - everything else but at their best, but still the most deservedly.
Top Goal: Nicolas Anelka's goal was a beauty with the outside of his right foot, same goes for Robin van Persie's second. But Darron Gibson's far range stunner that won the match for United wins the laud from me, just one touch from Federico Macheda's cross, very convincingly impressive.
Top Team: United is the obvious pick again, but Liverpool deserve the same respect and recognition for reaching their club-record number of points. It is the first time a team with that many points has not been crowned champions, as mentioned above. They still did not lose any face, passion or quality, even after they were given no chance to catch up with United for the last month or so. They will most probably be darning the (lost) situation, but it is the best they have been in for many years which can only be the more inspiring and motivating for next season.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Top Save: Jussi Jaaskelainen made some great saves for Bolton, denying Hull City three crucial points. Pepe Reina did the same to West Brom and Jonathan Greening with a brilliant double save at the end of the match. It seemed to be a weekend of too-good-too-cruel goalkeepers, Fulham's Mark Schwarzer also palming away fine attempts from struggling Newcastle's Nicky Butt.
Top Team Fans: Again, I laud West Brom - to say they have been doomed for months, they still fought on and their fans cheered and sung them on. Great to see, shame to be relegated.
Flop Game: Portsmouth's comfortable 3:1 win against strugglers Sunderland increased the worry about survival for the Black Cats looking at the last weekend of the season when they have to face Chelsea. Of course it depends on how fellow strugglers Newcastle and Hull City play against Aston Villa and Manchester United respectively, too, but regarding all three opositions and their mindset and probable team lineup, I think Sunderland will not or should not be the most optimistic, that is for sure.
Flop Goal: Hull were maybe denied a win by Jaaskelainen but were given a goal by Trotters defender Danny Shittu who failed to clear the ball and gave Craig Fagan an easy chance to slide in and equalise. Steven Gerrard's march past Shelton Martis and through to West Brom's goal was heartbreaking to watch, especially after the urge to fight back West Brom have shown lately with hardly any hope left.
Flop Teams and Refs: Both Middlesbrough and Newcastle were the unlucky ones this weekend. Both teams have been on the wrong side of referees' decision too often this season. Injuries have not helped them in their quest either. This week, I just cannot see why Mark Viduka's goal was not given. There was no foul. It is just unrealistic to expect goalkeepers to stay untouched. They are just as much a player as the other ten men of their team are, so why can they not get covered or touched at all?
Flop Players: Jamie Carragher clashing with Alvaro Arbeloa is understandable looking at Carra's heart and desire for his team and their clean sheet but is everything else but productive and impressive. He had a point against Arbeloa, who was rarely in his cover position, too often too far forward, giving bottom-of-the-table West Brom too many too good chances in attack and to advance. But, the last thing any team needs is a feud on the pitch.
My Predictions - Actual Results
Bolton 1:1 Hull City - 1:1
Chelsea 3:0 Blackburn - 2:0
Everton 1:1 West Ham - 3:1
Man Utd 2:0 Arsenal - 0:0
Middlesbrough 2:1 Aston Villa - 1:1
Newcastle 2:1 Fulham - 0:1
Portsmouth 2:0 Sunderland - 3:1
Stoke 1:0 Wigan - 2:0
Tottenham 1:0 Man City - 2:1
West Brom 0:3 Liverpool - 0:2