With so much of the focus in the build up to this Premier League weekend being on Manchester United against Chelsea, it was unfortunate that many of the other big clashes didn’t get as much attention. Especially at this time of the season where every point means so much.
I managed to watch 3.5 games by Saturday afternoon — Man United against Chelsea, the first half of Arsenal versus Wolves (before I took my daughter to play her AYSO game where she scored a goal), then Sunderland against Tottenham and Burnley versus Manchester City. Since the Welsh derby between Cardiff and Swansea occurred at the same time as my kid’s AYSO game, I have that cued up for later.
Here are my observations from the games I’ve watched so far this weekend:
Sunderland 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Bloody hell. What an exciting game at the Stadium of Light in the match between Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur today.
The game had everything. A shock early goal by Darren Bent to get the pulse racing. Sunderland going two nil up against the odds with a penalty by Bent. And then Bent had two more penalties but Heurelho Gomes managed to brilliantly save both of them.
Even with Sunderland two-nil up with 30 minutes to go, their lead looked in jeopardy especially as the rain poured down, which made the pitch more slippery and unpredictable. And minutes later Peter Crouch pulled one back for Spurs to make it 2-1 to Sunderland. You could then sense the game turning in Tottenham’s favor, and their supporters felt it too as they began singing “When The Spurs Go Marching In.”
This was a very open game which was very entertaining to watch. Both teams had plenty to play for. But there definitely was a sense that while Heurelho Gomes was doing every he possibly could to keep Spurs in the game by making great saves, Tottenham up front was failing to capitalize on their good fortune.
So when Bolo Zenden had a chance to score from a cross into the box by Sunderland, the way he took the shot and launched it into the top corner was a thing of beauty and definitely the highlight of the game. The 3-1 scoreline to Sunderland put the game out of Tottenham’s reach and has dented Spurs’s chances of finishing in fourth place.
Burnley 1-6 Manchester City
When you’re in front 3-0 within six minutes and Burnley supporters start walking out of Turf Moor, you know things have got to be bad for Burnley manager Brian Laws. Manchester City’s attacks in the first part of the game reminded me of how dominant Barcelona was against Arsenal. But in this case, Manchester City actually found the back of the net with the chances they created.
It’s not often that Tevez, Bellamy, Adebayor and Johnson get to play at the same time for City, but when they do, they’re explosive. The test for Mancini is hoping that all of those players can remain healthy and injury-free.
For Burnley, it’s incredible to see how poor this team is performing now compared to the earlier part of this season. Just to think that this was practically the same side that beat Manchester United at Turf Moor. The biggest part of Burnley’s problem is that they gave City too much time on the ball and failed to pressure them. City had all the time in the world to pick out the perfect pass and their centre forwards had all the space they needed to control and shoot. Burnley just seemed to stand around and weren’t interested in winning the ball back.
When City made it 4-0 on the 20th minute through a header from Patrick Vieira, more supporters streamed out of Turf Moor. It seems like the players and the fans know now that relegation is a probability rather than a possibility especially if the Clarets play the way they did today.
For those Burnley supporters who did stay in the ground, how wonderful it was to see them standing up and twirling their scarves around in support of their club as well as singing “Come On Burnley” and “We Are Burnley” over and over. Most club supporters would be booing their players and hurling obscenities at their club, but not the Burnley supporters who did Lancashire and their town proud.
After Manchester City made it 5-0 when Adebayor was wide open to knock the ball past Jensen, I was hoping that Burnley could at least score one goal in the second half to give something back to the loyal Burnley supporters — those who didn’t leave Turf Moor like the majority of supporters did at half time.
In the second half, the pitch resembled an ice skating rink from the heavy rains at half time. But while it slowed the play down quite a bit, Manchester City managed a sixth goal through Vincent Kompany. It was an almost identical goal to Vieira’s in the first half. And yet again, Burnley defenders didn’t attack the cross.
Joy finally came for Burnley when Steven Fletcher scored a goal in the 71st minute just as the sun was starting to come out on a dark day in Lancashire. Like I mentioned earlier, it was the least that Burnley could do for their rain soaked supporters.