It was quite a bizarre weekend for Premier League football. The first half of the Arsenal against Manchester United match was played at such a scintillating pace that it was a joy to watch as both teams played attractive football and there were chances galore. Contrast that with the methodical and uninspiring match between Birmingham City and Tottenham Hotspur from Saturday, and you can see how the difference between some teams in the league is like night and day.
Before the match kicked off on Fox Soccer Channel, I was taken aback to hear Fox presenter Christian Miles call Tottenham “my team,” which was quite a bizarre thing to say especially when he is an Arsenal supporter. But perhaps he was joking?
As for the match itself, the first 30 minutes were a bore. Both teams seemed incapable of doing much right. The accuracy of passing from both teams was poor. And the shooting by both teams was just as bad. One person who was particularly guilty was Chuco Benitez who should by now have settled in to life in England’s top division, but his finishing was absolutely awful. Up until now, I’ve had a lot of patience for the lad because he’s obviously trying his hardest. But my patience has run out. He does the hard work to create the chances, but can’t capitalize on them and usually shoots straight at the keeper.
While watching the match, I had to rub my eyes a little to make sure what I was seeing was to believe. But at the top left of the screen, above the names of the team and the score, were the words “Barclays Premier League On FSC.” Of course, it’s the Premier League. And of course, I’m watching it on Fox. But over the entire weekend, all of the games had words above the score (for example, “Serie A On FSC,” etc), so it appears to be a deliberate move by Fox. It was annoying to see at first but it grew on me over the weekend, and could be a good way to differentiate Fox Soccer Channel’s programming from Fox Soccer Plus games if the latter says, for example “Barclays Premier League On FSC+.”
Right before the second half of the match kicked off, the TWI commentator did something which was very unlike TWI commentators. Gary Taphouse ruined some of the other games by mentioning at the beginning of the second half broadcast that Aston Villa and Liverpool were leading in their games. My hope is that this was a careless mistake and that football commentators won’t reveal spoilers like that again.
After Spurs finally scored, Tottenham Hotspur was far too defensively minded. With 8 mins of regulation to go, they had two successive corners but rather than trying to score from them, they wasted time on the clock instead by playing a short corner. With 8 mins to go this was not the best strategy. Spurs is not Italy. And besides, those 8 remaining minutes become 14 after 6 mins of injury time. If only Spurs had gone out on the attack to try to find a second goal instead of trying to sit on its precious one-nil lead.
So when Birmingham’s Liam Ridgewell scored late for Birmingham to tap in the goal from a Cameron Jerome header, it came as little surprise and was just desserts for Harry Redknapp whose team has become guilty for not being as dangerous as they have been earlier this season.