I’m not a fan of penalty kicks. Never have been. Last year, I was heavily criticized for describing the Champions League Final between Manchester United and Chelsea as being an example of the ugly side of English football. Sure, the penalty kicks themselves were exciting, but they quickly erased from our minds how boring the previous 120 minutes had been and how poor the sportsmanship was.
As for this past weekend’s fare of Arsenal against Chelsea, and Manchester United versus Everton, in the FA Cup semi-finals, I was bored stiff. What a contrast these matches were to the exciting Champions League quarter-final matches between Chelsea and Liverpool.
The Everton against Manchester United game, especially, was exceedingly tedious with very few clear-cut chances on goal. In the first half of Sunday’s match, Everton had zero shots on goal against a weakened Manchester United side. The second half didn’t improve much either. Everton only had two shots on target the entire game. This was a game that had 0-0 and penalty kicks written all over it.
Everton eventually won the game 4-2 on penalty kicks after Dimitar Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand failed to score from their penalty kicks.
The Arsenal against Chelsea match wasn’t enthralling either, but at least it didn’t end in extra time and penalties like Sunday’s sleepy encounter did. In the London derby at Wembley, both teams cancelled each out and seemed too cautious when moving forward. It was as if the game was being played in slow motion.
Like the Man United against Everton affair, there were few shots on target during the Arsenal against Chelsea game. The Gunners had two, while Chelsea had six.
What is it about Wembley that causes most matches involving Premier League teams to be tedious and boring affairs to watch?
I feel sorry for the punters who paid good money to go watch the semi-final matches. Let’s hope the final between Everton and Chelsea is much more entertaining.