Monday, 20 August 2007

Premiership Game Week 3

Saturday 18th August

West ham got their first win of the season with a Mark Noble penalty settling their game and Spurs also got their first win of the season with a very comfortable 4-0 win over Derby County. Boro’ beat Fulham 2-1, but the Londoners were denied a goal after the ball was deemed to have not crossed the line, which it apparently did. Newcastle and Villa played out a 0-0 draw in a game that I’m sure was as dull as it sounds. Pompey continue their impressive start to the season with a 3-1 win over Bolton, Sammy Lee may be in the running to get the sack first as Bolton have now lost all 3 of their opening games and sit rock bottom of the table with -5 goal difference. Reading ended Everton’s impressive start to the season with a 1-0 win at home courtesy of Stephen Hunt and Wigan won their second home game in a row with a 3-0 win over Sunderland although they needed 2 penalties to get there, they top the table at the end of Saturday’s games.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

In the early Kick off Manchester United travelled to Eastland’s stadium to face rivals Manchester City, (city rivals in name only of course because United’s Old Trafford stadium isn’t actually in Manchester, as it’s name suggests it’s in the borough of Trafford – so there really is only one team in Manchester!) without Rooney and Ronaldo but they have players they can bring in to replace them so to call them under strength would not be fair to Manchester City should they get a good result.
The Manchester City fans were in good voice, as you would expect seeing as they sit 2nd in the table, (admittedly with only 2 games played) but the noise was subdued a little when after around 7 minutes Ericsson was forced into an early substitution when Valeri Bojinov had to be stretchered off on his debut. He was replaced by Emile Mpenza. The game wasn’t as free flowing as the neutral would like and United did seem to be lacking something up front and although the possession stats would suggest United dominated the game, it was pretty even. That was until the 32nd minute when Deiberson Geovanni fired a shot toward goal that eluded Van der Sar after a deflection off Vidic. The ‘Citeh’ fans were ecstatic and those sitting next to the away fans immediately turned and began goading their nearest but not so dearest.

Tevez missed an absolute sitter the 91st minute, the United bench were up, broad smiles of relief on their faces only to have them wiped away a second later when they realised that their prize capture of the summer fluffed it, Fergie’s face was absolutely priceless.

In a desperate attempt to get something from this game United bring on Chris Eagles, a really desperate and possibly irrational move. Then to make matters worse, he brings on Campbell, I swear I heard “who the hell is Campbell” echoing around the away end of Eastland’s. United lost the game and now have 2 points from 3 games, Could this be a season too far for Fergie?

I went to the pub to watch the Liverpool V Chelsea game and to my delight there was a Manc there, moaning about losing but not actually having anything to complain about other than the fact they they were beaten by a better team. We exchanged a bit of witty repartee (the wit coming from me I might add) but he seemed to turn a little bit bitter when he realised that he really should be quiet and that as far as this season is concerned he has no defence for United’s disastrous start, but he didn’t, instead he turned to that oldest and most ridiculous trope of all tropes, the last refuge of the desperate Manc and said "How many Premier league titles have you won?”, to make himself look like an even bigger tit, he gestured with his hands “0” . Sad indeed.

The game of the day was undoubtedly Liverpool V Chelsea at Anfield, a match which has become something of a grudge match in recent seasons, what with us beating them in the Champions league a few times. Liverpool started with what looks like Rafa’s favourite premiership starting 11; Reina, Agger, Carragher, Arbeloa, Finnan, Gerrard, Alonso, Pennant (Babel 68), Riise (Crouch 83), Kuyt and Torres.
Chelsea started with Cech, Essien, Ben-Haim, Terry, Ashley Cole, Kalou (Pizarro 46), Wright-Phillips (Joe Cole 77), Obi, Lampard, Malouda (Alex 85), Drogba.

Liverpool started like the team who wanted to win the game with Kuyt running around like a madman, seemingly not stopping to breathe and Gerrard marshalling the Reds from the middle of the park.

The game was always destined to be a fiery meeting given the games in recent seasons but this particular match was overshadowed by catastrophic and baffling refereeing decisions by the B*****d in the black, Rob Styles.
Gerrard started like a man with a point to prove and he certainly proved to the Liverpool fans watching around the world that he is committed to the cause and is seemingly willing to give it his all to bring the championship home come May, he was easily the best player on the pitch and warranted the captain's armband more than ever. Liverpool started the better of the two teams and the Torres and Kuyt partnership would seem to be a good one, Torres came good after only 16 minutes when he ran onto a through ball from Gerrard, slowed and then sped up to skip past Ben-Haim, he then opened his body up to expose the far right corner of the goal and simply slotted it in the corner, a fantastic goal on his Anfield debut.

The Chelsea players tried their best to intimidate the referee and it seemed to work with Chelsea winning the vast majority of the 50-50 free kick decisions but the pressure of the big game was too much for him and he started brandishing yellow cards like he was giving away sweets, 9 by the end of the game.
Styles really cracked under the big game pressure and unfortunately for Liverpool when he cracked and lost his mind it was Chelsea who benefited from his lost head. The first and most costly mistake he made was the awarding of a penalty to Chelsea in the 62nd minute, the Rafa dubbed ‘Invisible Penalty’ was the most curious decision of the day and nobody inside the stadium could possibly justify its awarding. The ball was played across the edge of the box by SWP, Finnan and Malouda went for the ball but ran into each other as the ball ran behind them at least a yard away but Styles blew and pointed to the spot, which justifiably enraged Carragher. There wasn’t a Chelsea protest in sight. Lampard put the penalty away and then celebrated like a petulant schoolboy with a point to prove. The reality is that the penalty was a fantastical creation by Rob Styles that only he can explain and Chelsea didn’t deserve to draw level. In the immortal word of Jimmy Cricket “there’s more”.

11 minutes later Styles brandished the yellow card at John Terry for protesting at a Ben-Haim foul on Torres, he walked away and Michael Essien, who had been booked after 12 minutes remained talking to the ref. Less than a minute or so later Styles produced the yellow card again with Terry nowhere in sight. Ben-Haim was now present with the Ghanaian and the ref waved the card in their direction, they had both been previously booked and so all Styles had to do was to clarify for the 45,000 crowd which one of them was given their marching orders. But he didn’t. The game continued and those 2 bizarre decisions in 11 minutes cost Liverpool 2 points which could prove crucial come the end of the season. Styles claimed to have been showing the card to Terry, but this is inconsistent with what actually happened.

Liverpool had opportunities to finish the game and render obsolete the workings of Styles, Riise had an opportunity from close range but Cech saved well and Babel fired a shot into the side netting. Maybe we should have taken one of them and killed the game off but that shouldn’t let anyone skirt over the worst display of referring since Graham Poll's 3 yellow card antics at the World cup. Maybe Styles should suffer the same fate as him.

Predictably Mourinho thought the ref did a good job and claimed that a few Liverpool players could have made his afternoon a little bit easier, well he would wouldn’t he. As it turns out Rob Styles didn’t do a good job, Referees' chief Keith Hackett said so, so Jose was wrong. Styles admitted he made a mistake and Hackett offered his apologies to Liverpool and said Styles should do the same. Styles has been dropped for the weekend's upcoming games but that doesn’t change the point that we wuz robbed.

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