Best Week of the Year
I know this sounds corny but in the holiday season of giving, that’s exactly what the Premiership did as this was the most exciting week of soccer, at least that I can remember, in 2007 as far as England’s top league goes.As we all know, the Christmastime schedule is packed with teams playing three or four games in the span of two weeks. Everything kicked off on December 22 and 23 and we saw an exciting 2-1 victory for Arsenal over their North London rivals, Tottenham on the 22nd. Had Robbie Keane converted a penalty late in that game (“Robbie Keane does not miss penalties”), Spurs might very well have come out of the Emirates with a win.None of the other games that day were particularly enjoyable for the viewers, but the next day both the Manchester United-Everton (2-1 Man U) and Newcastle-Derby fixtures (2-2) were fun to watch.Midweek was where things really started heating up though. On Wednesday morning, we had a candidate for match of the year in Chelsea’s 4-4 draw with Aston Villa. Both teams could easily have won the game and there were some harsh refereeing decisions that affected both teams as well. This game was a fast-paced affair with chances on both sides but as a neutral observer, I was really pulling for Villa to win and end Chelsea’s home unbeaten streak. Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard was the true definition of a captain when he put the Reds on his back for the last quarter of an hour at Derby with his team needing a victory. Gerrard’s late winner really just proved once again how much means to his team, while Derby’s terrific effort and performace went for nothing. Tottenham put up five goals against Fulham in a 5-1 laugher at White Hart Lane, and Manchester United’s second-stringers went to the Stadium of Light and beat Sunderland 4-0. On Thursday, Manchester City and Blackburn combined for three goals in as many minutes in the first half in what turned out to be a 2-2 draw. Roque Santa Cruz is on a goalscoring tear right now and is as hot as any striker in the league.We saw some entertaining games this weekend as well, not the least of which was a goalfest between Tottenham and Reading, with Spurs prevailing 6-4 behind four, yes four goals from Dimitar Berbatov. Arsenal came from behind to win 4-1 at Goodison Park in a game in which many people, myself included, predicted that Arsenal would drop points. West Ham pulled off what could likely be the upset of the season so far as the Hammers shocked defending champions Manchester United 2-1 at Upton Park. If only Alan Curbishley’s squad could play Man U every game of the season; West Ham have won three straight league matches between the two sides. It was very nice to see Carlos Tevez salute the crowd before the match, I thought that was a great gesture of appreciation for the fans who supported him with everything they had last season. Even the 0-0 match between City and Liverpool was exciting. It was as up-and-down as they come at times and while Liverpool were the only team who were going to win, City did a great job of defending and Richard Dunne put in a heroic performance.All in all, it was a great week of soccer and no matter what club you support, you can’t beat that.