Premier League Odds and Sods 4 Feb 2008
After this weekend a Google search for “Sven” and “Up the Arse” won’t lead you astray as Arsenal defeated Manchester City 3-1 away from home to move to the top of the table. Adebayor dropped a deuce, scoring in his eighth straight match. Eduardo also controlled a ball magnificently with his chest to set up an overhead bicycle kick for a goal. If he ever comes back from injury, Robin Van Persie may struggle to get back into the side.
Arsenal should have scored more, the scoreline hardly flattering their control of the match. The only blight was Clichy’s mistake that led to the City goal, but it is easy to forgive the Frenchman who has been fabulous all season.
Man City have managed just two points from their last four Premier League matches. Barry Glendenning winning his bottom half bet still looks unlikely, but a fall from the European places is well within the realm of possibility.
Arsenal took the lead at the top thanks to Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham. It was a gutsy performance by Spurs, fueled by superb signings Jonathan Woodgate and Alan Hutton. Dimitar Berbatov finally decided to show up against a Top Four club, with an efficient finish. They played well enough to deserve a win, but were once again foiled by poor set piece marking, leaving Tevez unmarked in front of goal in stoppage time.
Once again, Manchester United struggled on an away trip to London. Hargreaves was taken off in favor of Michael Carrick. Hargreaves plays with a lot of enthusiasm, but his penchant for going forward left them caught out on Tottenham’s goal. One wonders if the more conservative Carrick might be the better choice to pair with Scholes.
The Gunners also picked up two points on third place Chelsea who drew 1-1 with Portsmouth. Last minute signing Jermaine Defoe capped his Pompey debut with a goal, with an assist from Belletti’s poor positioning. However, he missed two chances that could have given them the win.
The impetus behind Chelsea’s Day-Glo away kits was finally explained, with the ref missing two blatant handballs due to the glare. With Fat Frank and Capt. John in dry dock and the African Nations Cup losses, their squad is thinner than Lindsey Lohan after a coke binge. You know that it is dire when you rely upon Pizarro as your late impact sub. Will someone please slip Avram a couple caffeine pills?
Moving on to squads out of the title race, Liverpool strode their way back into the European places with their 3-0 defeat of Sunderland. Crouchie wasn’t having his nachos, as Rafa finally gave him a run out. Not surprisingly, he scored a goal, nearly had another with a bicycle kick and set up Torres in space with a fabulous flick with the back of his head. Whether it is a handball, a judo-tackle or a swift kick in the shins, the rules do not apply to Jamie Carragher. The Pool are now in 5th place, one point behind Everton with a game in hand.
Kevin Keegan’s soccer circus has brought exciting football to St. James, though unfortunately for Newcastle it has been by the other team. He finally got his first result, however, as Newcastle drew 1-1 with Middlesbrough. Little Mickey got his first league goal in 4 months, though it was from a set piece rather than exciting football. Newcastle were lucky that the Boro couldn’t capitalize more on the counterattack, and they were saved a scare when the one adept strike of Aliadiere’s career was ruled offside. Gareth Southgate stole his grandfather’s cardigan before the match.
Finally, Fulham beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Craven Cottage to get their first win in the League since Nov. 3. The recently returning Jimmy Bullard was man of the match, creating one goal and scoring another. Hodgson will be happy if he doesn’t attempt anymore somersaults, however. They also should get a boost from getting Brian McBride back in the side. They’ve been extraordinarily unfortunate this season, and sit at 19th in the table, though only 3 pts from safety.