Thursday, 29 September 2011

Week 6: Premier League Tops and Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week

Peter Crouch scores Stoke's equaliser against Man UtdTop team: Stoke did a brill job in their hard-fought draw against Manchester United, especially after the hammering they had received against Sunderland. Unlike in their win against Liverpool, they stayed on top, kept control and players in all areas, frustrating the hell out of their visitors, the stats showing and confirming their strength and competitiveness at home: Attempts 11:10, On target 5:4, Corners 8:8, Bookings 1-0, Possession 47%-53%. The question is whether they can keep this up week in, week out, home and away.

Newcastle's Demba Ba scores his second of the matchTop player: Obviously Robing van Persie needs a shout out in this category for scoring his 100th goal for Arsenal, only the 17th Gunner to do so and it was a cheeky one he coolly tucked in with the outside of his left boot, top notch. However, for scoring his first goal for his club and making a hat-trick out of it, my vote goes to Newcastle's Demba Ba. One beauty and a couple of headers and it could have been more, Ba showed he is top of the show right now, like the Magpies who are still unbeaten sitting comfortably in 4th place, two points ahead of Liverpool in 5th, only one behind Chelsea in 3rd. Nice.

Fernanado Torres gives Chelsea 1-0 lead Top goal: So many beauties to pick from: Fernando Torres' right-footed, on turn, first touch beauty; Nani's buildup and shot side-stepping Jonathan Woodgate to open the score for Manchester United at Stoke; but my vote goes to Ba again with his first goal for Newcastle, a fine drive, right-footed turn off Leon Best's cross from the left, smash-boom-bang, he went on to get a hat-trick in his side's 3-1 win against Blackburn. Sweet.

Top news: I loved Jeff Stelling's rant against the Southampton Chief Executive Nicola Cortese on Sky Sports News' Gillette Soccer Saturday, defending his colleague, friend and Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier and Lawrie McMenemy... Good on ye!

James Milner puts Manchester City 2-0 upFlop game: The goalless draw between West Brom and Fulham was not much to shout about. Manchester City's win against Everton was not much of a competition either though. Apart from the goals, there was not much going on...

Flop player: Again, Torres went from top to flop, hero to zero within minutes! Last week he missed an open goal against Manchester United, this week he got himself sent off with a stupid two-footed tackle on Mark Gower minutes after he scored the opener for Chelsea against Swansea. 

Charlie Adam celebrates Liverpool's Opener Flop goal: Liverpool were lucky with the opener to take the lead against Wolves at Anfield. It was a fine cross from the left by Charlie Adam which looked to go wide before Roger Johnson's intervention, his header putting it into his own net. Ouch. Liverpool went on to dominate after that and won the game not comfortably but convincingly 2:1 which shows what a difference a goal/an error makes.

Flop news: Can Carlos Tevez still call himself a football player (payed around £250k per week!!!) after refusing to play football?!?!?! He's a joke! I think the suspension he has received is the least the club can do, with their hands tied on money and market matters, the question is, how can they punish him without punishing themselves with it? And for once in my life I agree with what Fifa said!!!

My predictions - Actual results
Man City 3:2 Everton - 2:0
Arsenal 3:1 Bolton - 3:0
Chelsea 3:0 Swansea - 4:1
Liverpool 2:1 Wolves - 2:1
Newcastle 1:2 Blackburn - 3:1
West Brom 2:1 Fulham - 0:0
Wigan 0:2 Tottenham - 1:2
Stoke 0:1 Man Utd - 1:1
QPR 0:0 Aston Villa - 1:1
Norwich 1:1 Sunderland - 2:1

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Week 5: Premier League Tops and Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week

It has been a disastrous weekend for some, a glorious for others. All games had it in them this weekend, like an action-packed book full of juicy chapters all with two sides to them, some ending shocking, some less shocking but just more and more impressive, intriguing and adding to the thrill of anticipation looking forward to the next weekend!

Wayne Rooney missing a penaltyTop game: Manchester United's win against Chelsea at Old Trafford had a little bit of everything and was by far the most entertaining match of the weekend, I am sure Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres will agree after they saw both sides of the game, the good (goals) and the evil (missed penalty/opportunity respectively). Although, don't get me wrong, all matches had it in them this weekend, brilliant competitions all the way.

Emmanuel AdebayorTop team: The three promoted teams Norwich, QPR and Swansea all registered wins and three crucial points in the bag against Bolton, Wolves and West Brom respectively and convincingly. Tottenham made a brilliant comeback at home thrashing Liverpool after their crashing defeat against Manchester City only a couple of weeks back.

Jermain Defoe celebrating for SpursTop player: Emmanuel Adebayor was man of the match at White Hart Lane with his two goals, but his team mates and co-scorers Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe had just as much of a quality and classy performance, blending well together, with brilliant one-twos, goals, chances and contributions. It could have been five or six.

Luka Modric celebrates his Spurs goalTop goal: Modric's smacker of a strike and opener for Tottenham against Liverpool was a stunner. The Croatian striker smashed the ball into the top right-hand corner from the edge of the box giving Pepe Reina no chance, not even a smell of it. This gave a good hint of what was to come

Top news: Carling Cup action this week

Gabby Agbonlahor scoring for Aston VillaFlop game: None I can think of this week, all action everywhere... Although the draw at Villa Park was entertaining, it was maybe not the most exciting, but looking at the games it was against, no wonder... And it kept both Aston Villa's and Newcastle's unbeaten run going, so, not bad at all!

Paul Robinson celebrates for BlackburnFlop team: Arsene Wenger's nightmare continues with an away defeat at Blackburn, against a team and manager that have been under fire themselves this season. The Gunners looked distraught, all over the place, the two own goals showing they are just not themselves at the moment, their heads are somewhere else, not focusing or just unable to focus. Steve Kean will know too well what shoes Wenger's in...

Kenny Dalglish winces on the Spurs' touchlineFlop player: Luis Suarez keeps on walking on thin ice with his attitude. When his side is on top and ahead we may laugh about it but on days like Sunday when his side is being crushed, Liverpool need a man who can back them up and inspire them like Steven Gerrard and not have a go at the officials and fans, diving, whining and causing more trouble than anything else like he did again this past weekend. It was bad enough being down to nine men!!!

Fernando Torres reflects on his missFlop goal: Fernando Torres finally scored, got his first for Chelsea this season, second in total, a beauty he flicked past David de Gea only seconds into the second half giving Chelsea hope of a comeback from him and the London side. And then he misses a smacker! With only eight miutes left on the clock, his side 3-1 down, he has an open goal in front of him, from six yards out, on his left, and he puts it wide! How the hell he missed that one I cannot fathom!!! He could have walked that one in!

Flop news: Former Aston Villa and Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier has been forced to call it a day due to his ill health and then has to listen to crap like Gabriel Agbonlahor... That just proves he doesn't have any respect nor a clue about life and its challenges! As if he is Mr Perfect!

My predictions - Actual results:
Blackburn 2:1 Arsenal - 4:3
Aston Villa 2:1 Newcastle - 1:1
Bolton 2:1 Norwich - 1:2
Everton 2:1 Wigan - 3:1
Swansea 2:1 West Brom - 3:0
Wolves 2:1 QPR - 0:3
Sunderland 0:0 Stoke - 4:0
Tottenham 0:2 Liverpool - 4:0
Fulham 1:4 Man City - 2:2
Man Utd 3:0 Chelsea - 3:1

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Nightmare thrashing for Reds at White Hart Lane

Sports - Football - Premier League - Tottenham 4:0 Liverpool

Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel saw red as nine-man Liverpool were thumped 4-0 at White Hart Lane by a bright, confident, dominant and inspirational Tottenham side who came back fighting after they were thrashed 5:1 by Manchester City in their last home game with man of the match Emmanuel Adebayor scoring two.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Luka Modric took the lead for Tottenham early on in the game (7.) with a smacking screamer of a strike from the edge of the box into the top right hand corner of the goal giving Pepe Reina not even a smell of it.

That gave the tone of the game with Liverpool all over the place and after seeing their defender Daniel Agger going off injured things went from bad to worse for the Reds. Adam was sent off for his second bookable offence after he left a high foot on Scott Parker with his eyes on the ball but it was a dangerous tackle leaving Liverpool down to ten.

Sometimes a sending off can pull a side together and get them better focused and organised, not in Liverpool's case. Jordan Henderson and Skrtel were driven mad by Adebayor and Gareth Bale and their quick breaks and runs, the latter being booked for his frustration and risky tackle on the man of the match.

Tottenham stayed on top, creating but missing chance after chance. Luis Suarez had the most frustrating day, mostly alone up front with hardly anything or anyone coming his way and to put the icing on the cake for him and his side he was also added to the referee's book just before half time for his sarcastic applaud to a linesman.

It was a horrible half for Liverpool, with Agger off injured, Adam sent off, Bale exposing Skrtel again and again and looking certain to crack him again at some point. And it did come worse for the Reds.

After creating a couple of semi-chances/lucky free kicks thanks to Andy Carroll and Suarez, Liverpool cracked and crumbled to bits. Skrtel saw his second yellow for bringing down Bale after he once again made mockery of Henderson and broke through too easily.

Minutes later Jermain Defoe made it 2:0 after breaking through and past Jose Enrique, sending a beautiful right-footed shot into the net on the turn, putting salt on Liverpool's wounds. 90 seconds later Reina added to the nightmare after spilling Defoe's shot from the edge of the box giving Adebayor an easy one to slot in to make it 3:0.

A double change followed for Liverpool with 20 minutes to go, Craig Bellamy and Jay Spearing coming on for Stewart Downing and Suarez to avoid the worst more than anything else, like another sending off and/or a worse thrashing as they were already getting. Too little, too late.

Tottenham had an easy kickabout for the last 10-15 minutes with some lovely combinations and plenty of missed chances, making 3:0 look like a modest scoreline as to what it could and should have been.

Adebayor finished the game off in the last minute of injury time by smashing the ball in with his right foot, an emphatic finish and diagonal shot past Reina to make it 4:0 and a thrilling win for Spurs. The Londoners were superior in every respect, in all dimensions and areas. This was certainly a match to remember for Harry Redknapp and his men.

For Liverpool on the other hand, this has been a match to forget, their biggest Premier League defeat for 8.5 years, seeing the first sendings off under Kenny Dalglish's current reign. Their defeat at Stoke was cruel with decisions going against them and the Reds fighting hard and coming so close. This game today was a fully fledged thrashing, beat-up, smash-up with Liverpool all over the place, disorganised, crumbled to bits. This leaves a lot to think about and work on for King Kenny and his boys.

Tottenham: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King (Bassong 84.), Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar (Van der Vaart HT), Parker, Modric (scored 6:22), Bale; Adebayor (scored 67:39 & 92:47; booked 24.), Defoe (scored 66., Giovani 84.)). (4-4-2)
Subs not used: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Corluka, Livermore.

Liverpool: Reina; Skrtel (booked 36., sent off 63.), Carragher, Agger (Coates 27.(booked 39.)), Jose Enrique; Henderson, Lucas, Adam (booked 12., sent off 28.), Downing (Bellamy 70.); Suarez (booked 49., Spearing 70.), Carroll. (4-4-2)
Subs not used: Doni, Maxi, Coates, Kuyt,  Robinson.

1st & 2nd half stats:
Attempts: 6-0 & 8-3
On target: 3-0 & 5-0
Offsides: 1-3 & 1-1
Free kicks: 7-5 & 4-7
Corners: 3-0 & 0-1
Possession: 56%-44% (17.min) & 55%-45% (FT)
Action areas: 12%-50%-38% 

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
Man of the match: Emmanuel Adebayor

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Week 4: Premier League Tops and Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week

This week saw enough Manchester goals again, plenty of penalty controversy, missed and given, with the referees being accused of being the main offenders (as always, nothing new there):

Sergio Aguero (right) celebrates scoring his second goal against WiganTop game: Manchester will be in a very good mood once again after this weekend, both teams having a bash, the games going and ending in obvious fashion, the results not suprising. Liverpool's draw against Stoke was very competitive, entertaining and had all the controversy and temperaments a good game needs (Luis Suarez by name).

Wayne Rooney is praised by his team-mates after bagging a hat-trick Top team: The two teams from Manchester ruled the show yet again. With (only) eight goals between them this time round (it could have been 10, 11, 12,...), they top the Premier League with plenty of points (100% record of 12 points each, two ahead of Chelsea in third place), goals (33 between them, United three ahead of City, lightyears ahead of everyone else, Chelsea and Bolton come closest with 14 goals between them), stars (Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero leading the way with their hat-tricks) and flare. Can anyone or anything stop them?!

Wayne Rooney spins away after scoring past Bolton Top player: With successive hat-tricks and equaling Bobby Charlton's record for Manchester United, nothing and no one can get in the way of Rooney at the moment. He is just riding and smiling on top of everyone, the emphatic finish on the fifth goal against Bolton, the way he thumped it in from the edge of the box just shows how much he is enjoying it.

Blackburn's Ruben Rochina scores the openerTop goal: The strike that put Blackburn ahead out of nowhere against Fulham on Sunday was a nice one. Ruben Rochina powered an unstoppable brive into the roof of the net from the edge of the box, goal, thank you, full stop. Stiliyan Petrov's equaliser for Aston Villa against Everton was a fantastic shot too, from outside the box, giving the goalkeeper no chance whatsoever. Sweet.

Top news: Champions League group stage kicking off with all four English teams still in the battle.

Jon Walters celebrates scoring against LiverpoolFlop game: Tottenham's 2-0 win at Wolves was nothing too riveting, so too the 0-0 draw between QPR and Newcastle. Liverpool will be wondering how the hell they got nothing out of their game at Stoke. Stoke showed great resilience under attack constantly and consistenty, keeping bodies everyhwere. But the referee Mark Clattenburg helped them with his controversial decisions, giving them a penalty (Jamie Carragher did have his left arm wrapped around Jonathan Walters), whilst denying Liverpool any such thing (two hand balls not given), leaving King Kenny not amused.

Flop team: Blackburn manager Steve Kean is under a lot of pressure, many fans calling for his head, his side at the bottom of the table and still waiting for their first win this season. They did get a point against Fulham but were lucky, Paul Robinson pulling off some great saves. The match ended in unsavoury fashion after Mark Schwarzer and David Hoilett clashed heads in stoppage time, with the latter forced off the field on a stretcher wearing a neck brace, a picture which summarises his manager's and team's state at the moment too well.

Flop player: Gabriel Tamas was a very lucky man after his late swinging arm which gave James Vaughan a bloody face was not spotted and penalised by referee Mark Halsey. Norwich were understandably furious. West Brom won't complain after they got away with all three points and their second clean sheet under Roy Hodgson after Peter Odemwingie had scored the quickest goal in the Premier League season so far (3. minute).

Flop goal: The way Andrey Arshavin was presented with a goal by Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm is one of those bloopers you will find on your best and worst of football DVD. The Dutch keeper took the ball to prevent a corner, threw it onto one of his players who didn't have a clue what was going on as he had his back to him, for it to deflect off him, Arshavin to swoop in and net it, thank you and goodbye.

Flop news: It's because of men like Hodgson why football was, is still and will stay years behind every other sport not accepting new technology into the game, sad! Are you telling me Tamas didn't deserve any punishment?

My predictions - Actual results
Arsenal 3:0 Swansea - 1:0
Everton 2:2 Aston Villa - 2:2
Man City 4:0 Wigan - 3:0
Stoke 1:2 Liverpool - 1:0
Sunderland 1:3 Chelsea - 1:2
Wolves 1:0 Tottenham . 0:2
Bolton 1:4 Man Utd - 0:5
Norwich 1:1 West Brom - 0:1
Fulham 2:1 Blackburn - 1:1
QPR 0:2 Newcastle - 0:0

Monday, 5 September 2011

Week 3: Premier League Tops and Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week

Manchester highs, London lows, goals galore, penalties missed, ... Just loads to choose from this weekend gone, unbelievable scores, scenes, action, teams, players and goals! That is the Premier League at its most shocking best!!!

Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal
Top game: All Manchester, 16 goals in their two games, 13 goals between the two Mancunian rivals on the day, both topping the Premier League table, United just beating City to the top by one goal more in their goal difference. Mark the 23rd October in your football diary - the first Manchester derby of the season! What are the odds on a 0-0 in that match, I wonder?

Liverpool celebrate at Anfield

Top team: All Manchester again, both sides riding high over everyone at the moment, although Liverpool would want a shout here too with a beautiful display and strong play in their 3-1 win against Bolton. Luis Suarez was crucial and controversial as always, the ref did well though and kept control.

Ashley Young (left), Rooney, and Nani

Top player: Scoring the first City hat-trick since 1962, Edin Dzeko is on fire fire fire! Wayne Rooney scored his 102nd United league goal, top notch Premier League record for United, to make it 4:1 against Arsenal. The former Evertonian then completed his 6th career hat-trick with a penalty to make it 7:2, his 151st for the club overtaking Ruud van Nistelrooy and Paul Scholes in the process! And that still wasn't the end of that game!!!

Chelsea celebrate their opening goal against Norwich

Top goal: Jose Bosingwa's bullett against Norwich to make it 1-0 to Chelsea,was a brilliant strike from outside the box, over 20m away! Grant Holt's equaliser was a cheeky breathtaker too, with his back to the goal, hurling it over the keeper, although it came from Chelsea nr 3 Ashley Cole's mistake/backpass, stunning play.

Top news: Transfer madness to end the transfer window! Arsenal finally having a shout, too, very late on...

Joey Barton (left) watches QPR

Flop game: There was not much happening at Villa Park, 0-0 and yawns against Wolves. It just wasn't meant to be at Swansea, 0-0, Sunderland were saved by woodwork though. Swansea were good up front but showed too many gaps at the back, to be punished against stronger side unless they learn and tighten up. QPR will be wondering what they are doing wrong after hitting the bar three times and still going home without any points! There was very little in the game, mm and a little bit of luck the difference between them.

Peter Crouch on the ground

Flop team: Tottenham once again, showed a strong start, but didn't take their chances, ended up falling to pieces against a strong attack and were thrashed for all their (lack of) effort. The Gunners certainly got their gobs smacked! Another missed penalty for Robin van Persie v David De Gea for Ashley Young to make it 2:0 seconds later with a stunner... But no one could have foreseen the downfall and whipping, hitting, thrashing torture that followed! Unbelievable!

Didier Drogba collides with John Ruddy

Flop player: When Didier Drogba was knocked out cold, the players showed good reaction, character and attitude, the Norwich keeper John Ruddy especially, he could have just ignored it but realised straight away how serious it was! Respect. But then: Ruddy got himself sent off for felling Ramires in the box, shame but good refereeing after everything, contact was made, risky tackle. Frank Lampard was relieved to net it too, bang straight down the middle. With 11 minutes added time, the third goal came in the 11th minute, good refereeing all round I would say after the Drogba delay. Don't know what the Norwich manager Lambert was on about...

Mikel Arteta

Flop goal: Missed penalties! It was just not meant to be for Blackburn, missing two of them!!! Then a penalty came for Everton, after Chris Samba jumped onto and over Marouane Fellaini, caught him in a sandwich, Mikel Arteta showed Blackburn how it's done and netted the spot kick easy, 0-1, on 90+2! Cruel, cruel, cruel! Of 9 penalties so far this season, 6 have been missed! I think all penalties were correct according to the rule book, harsh but right! (This was before the flood of goals on Sunday, I may note- Rooney netting one penalty and van Persie missing his one makes it 7 misses out of 12 penalties in total so far this season, if I haven't missed anything that is... :-P)

Flop news: Man City's chief executive Garry Cook's resignation over mocking email - rightly so, heartless b....... 

My predictions - Actual results
Aston Villa 1:1 Wolves - 0:0
Blackburn 1:2 Everton - 0:1
Chelsea 2:1 Norwich - 3:1
Swansea 0:0 Sunderland - 0:0
Wigan 0:1 QPR - 2:0
Liverpool 3:0 Bolton - 3:1
Newcastle 2:0 Fulham - 2:1
Tottenham 2:3 Man City - 1:5
West Brom 1:2 Stoke - 0:1
Man Utd 3:1 Arsenal - 8:2