“Grand Slam Sunday” (what a horrible name) was one part a tense affair and another part a home run. A grand slam, it was not.
I started my day at 7am and drove about 45 minutes to a pub in Fort Lauderdale named the Fox & Hounds to watch the two matches. With a pint of Strongbow Cider in my hand before the 8:30am kick off, I sat alongside EPL Talk blogger Jeremy Lay for four and half hours of Premier League soccer.
Here are some of my thoughts from the experience:
- It was the same old story for Liverpool. Plenty of chances, all of them wasted while the opposition had one serious challenge on goal and Man United scored from that one (thanks to poor marking by Liverpool).
- All that separated both teams was a choreographed set play from the Man United corner.
- Man United had a poor game as well as Liverpool but they defended well (except for Edwin van der Sar). The Red Devils yet again wasted free kick after free kick.
- Immediately after the Liverpool v Man United game, Setanta played their Jose Mourinho/Spitting Image “interview” which drew several laughs from the large crowd of about 50 people in the pub. Setanta is definitely on to something with this bit, but the question is whether they can follow it up with another Jose interview that’s just as special. Why not make it a weekly show to draw viewers to its channel?
- Before the Arsenal and Chelsea match began, the pub owners flipped the channel to the Serie A match between Roma and Torino. Italian football didn’t do itself too many favors however by showing what happened after the match. Two of the Torino players stripped off their clothes. One removed all of his kit except for his speedo and then ran across the pitch. Another player removed his shorts and walked around without them. It all looked pretty feminine to me and it’s something you’d never see in English football!
- The Arsenal against Chelsea match was simply sensational and one of the most entertaining second halves I’ve seen in quite some time (although Man City v Bolton, and Wigan v Blackburn this past weekend were amazing too).
- The match at the Emirates was a hundred times more entertaining than the Liverpool versus Man United game. The game was much more open. There was much more skill on display. It wasn’t as defensive-minded as the match at Anfield. And unlike Reina at Anfield, the goalkeepers had a lot to do at the Emirates.
- In both matches, the quality of shooting was extremely poor. How many shots on goal went way past the goal and towards the corner?
- I felt that Chelsea put in a good performance and were very unlucky not to equalize. However they’ve now lost against Man United and Arsenal (both away). They’re still in the title race, while Liverpool’s hopes of winning the Premier League title are gone.
- Shevchenko impressed me considerably in this match with two shots in particular that drew world-class saves from Almunia.
- The cries from the press that the four horse race is now a two horse race are inane. It’s a three horse race. Don’t discount Chelsea quite yet especially with their almost four-year unbeaten home record in the league.