Observations from Saturday’s Premier League Matches

vito-manoneDespite an onslaught of goals and incredible goalkeeping saves, Saturday’s action couldn’t exceed the level of excitement from last weekend’s Manchester derby. The reality is that we may not have a match like that for the rest of the season — or at least for several weeks or months. Football players talk about teams scoring too soon. Maybe the drama of the Manchester derby happened too early in the season and has spoiled us? Still, there are plenty of tasty fixtures coming up over the next few weeks to give the Manchester derby a run for its money in its entertainment value.

  • To me, the most exciting game of Saturday was Portsmouth against Everton (read my article about it). It was a highly competitive match where it was difficult to predict who was going to win this match throughout the game. Tim Howard was my man of the match, and I particularly enjoyed the interview with him that ESPN2 featured before the match and during half time. Also, Tommy Smyth is slotting in nicely alongside Georgie Bingham and Robbie Mustoe.
  • Fernando Torres’s display for Liverpool against Hull City was simply incredible. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the game or see the goal highlights, you have to see how he twisted and turned for his goals and how he’s on top of his game right now. Worryingly for me, though, is how pitiful Hull City’s defense is. I listened to an interview with Hull City Chairman Paul Duffen on TalkSport yesterday after the game ended and he discussed how well Hull City played in the first half. Sure, Liverpool scored most of their goals in the second half, but the amount of time and room that Hull City gave Liverpool in both the first and second half was criminal. Phil Brown’s tactics seemed to be that he wanted to crowd the penalty area and to have his team deal with the ball there instead of stopping Liverpool down the wings or advancing from midfield.
  • A lot of the praise for Dimitar Berbatov’s goal in the Stoke against Manchester United match went to Ryan Giggs, but for me it was Darren Fletcher’s pass to Giggs which he thread in between two Stoke defenders that was the magic part of the move. Giggsy’s free kick which led to United’s second goal (thanks to the header from O’Shea) was delightful.
  • I had a feeling there would be a shock result this weekend, and I warned Man United fans that Stoke City would be no pushover as many as them imagined. So I was quite pleasantly surprised that it was Wigan Athletic against Chelsea that was the shocker of the day. I say pleasantly because it was finally the result that Roberto Martinez had been hoping for after their opening day surprise win against Aston Villa. Martinez was the manager of Swansea City, the club I support. I didn’t get a chance to watch the match or the highlights to this one, so I’ll say no more about it until then. But feel free to post your comments.
  • The match between Fulham and Arsenal wasn’t a classic, far from it. But it reminded me quite a bit of Portsmouth versus Everton in terms of the scoreline and the role that a particular goalkeeper played in this match. Arsenal supporters should be disheartened by how few times Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was tested. Instead, it was Vito Mannone in the Arsenal goal who had to pull off several spectacular saves to record a well-deserved clean sheet. Despite Mannone’s impressive display, I still think he needs to get a few more games under his belt before Arsenal fans can say whether he’s a permanent fixture instead of Manuel Almunia. Robin Van Persie’s goal, meanwhile, was world-class.
  • After my impressive points tally of 61 in last weekend’s Fantasy Premier League, I wasn’t surprised that I had a disastrous result this weekend. Despite Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur scoring a combined 11 goals between them, my two fantasy players (Dirk Kuyt and Jermain Defoe) failed to score one goal between them. This leads to me the Tottenham against Burnley game, which was another example of a wonderful display by a striker (Robbie Keane) and woeful defending (Burnley). After Tottenham’s disappointing displays against Manchester United and Chelsea, it was good to see a return of form for Tottenham as well as a massive confidence boost for Robbie Keane.
  • The Birmingham against Bolton and Blackburn versus Aston Villa matches both had similar results with late goals in both games sealing victories for Bolton and Blackburn Rovers. Both Bolton and Blackburn were desperate for three points to get them out of the relegation dropzone.

Feel free to post your feedback on Saturday’s game by clicking the comments link below. And let’s hope for an entertaining day of games today with Sunderland against Wolves today (11am ET, Fox Soccer Channel) and Manchester City versus West Ham tomorrow (3pm ET, ESPN2).

5 thoughts on “Observations from Saturday’s Premier League Matches”

  1. Two years ago (in September), Derby lost 6-1 at Anfield. I knew right then their relegation was a formality.

    It’s difficult to avoid reaching the same conclusion with Hull.

  2. Excellent piece Chris. This week was fun in many respect and I think will be an important one after all is said and done in the Prem. I have to agree that the Everton game was a good one. It was well played by both teams and even the soft spot I have for Everton did let me say well maybe Pompey can get a win. It was the perfect game for ESPN with Tim Howard in goal and having a very good effort. I’ve always been a fan of Tommy Smyth so for me the show was so much better with him. It will be interesting to see how ESPN further develops it’s pre/post show. A nice bonus for me was that with the game on ESPN I can take it all in on the stair master at the local gym. My how things have changed from the days of searching the web for a link to a game you wanted to see.

    The Wigan victory has made the league suddenly more equal. Both of the giants have been humbled now by bottom half teams. Anything is now possible. Many a skilled observer of the game questioned if Chelsea could ever be beat. So, it’s now a wide open race.

    Actually, I am writing this on Sunday after the Wolves game and despite the final score it really was an interesting game from a fans point of view being tied until later in the game. Your comments on the Gunners game and the Man U game are well made and from a fans point of view again matches worth watching. I always enjoy Villa under O’Neil where a good effort can always be expected.

    Two great individual performances took place in the Pool and Spurs game and were worth watching on their own merits. Yet, what I take from those two games is the great disparity in the league from the top 8 teams and the rest. While more teams are in the mix so to speak the lesser teams are worse and sometimes you have to evaluate a league not from the top down but the bottom up. Watching Man C. on Monday may tell us more in that regard.

    Finally, can we arrange a bailout for Hull?

    1. What a sensational match Sunderland against Wolves was. Lots of great open football played at a feverish pace and wonderful goals. Highly recommended for anyone who has the match recorded but hasn’t watched it yet.

      The Gaffer

  3. I am something of a Tommy Smyth hater, but I have to admit that he was astonishingly less annoying than usual. I hope being matched up with other actual Europeans means he doesn’t feel like he has to turn the Frosted Lucky Charms schtick up to 11 anymore.

    1. “the Frosted Lucky Charms schtick”

      Good one! Yeah, that’s the name for it!

      There’s always been something about him that made me want to choke him, I guess that’s what it was.

      And he does seem to be less annoying in studio. Maybe it’s just because he gets so much less airtime.

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