- Recovery & Confession
I feel the need to recover from this incredible weekend for quite some time, only I won’t be able to. There’s simply never enough time in one’s life to live and breath and follow this game we love yet still attempt to lead some form of normal adult life. It’s the game that just keeps coming and keeps giving. I mean at some point one has to throw their hands up in a state of capitulation and think, “when will it ever end, when do we get a break from the insanity?”
Answer: it never does, but honestly, we never really want it to.
My exhausted state originates from not only the fine display of English football on offer this weekend, but also a healthy casserole of European fixtures from various leagues across the continent. Throw in a splash of Lexington’s late night pub and bar scene, and one can slowly loose all sense of reason and desire for anything not related to sleep or more football. Such is life, I meander, and we push on,…
To further my explanation of football’s continuation, after Saturday and Sunday, there’s a league fixture Monday featuring two great English clubs the likes of West Ham and Liverpool with relegation and L4 implications. The Premier League-less Champions League continues midweek with some tasty fixtures while the fantastic Europa League resumes Thursday as Liverpool and Fulham remain energetic and involved. After Thursday, well, the weekend approaches yet again.
Such it is though that this post is devoted to the past and not the future so we now look back to some great performances from the weekend.
Honorable Mentions –
Charles N’Zogbia, Wigan– Oddly ironic that Arsenal bow out of yet another title race, this time by a young, fast, attacking Frenchman. Hhmm, anyone notice a direct correlation?
Wigan came from behind to beat Arsenal with three second half goals in the span of eleven insane minutes. N’Zogbia scored the winner in the 91st and was integral in Wigan’s attack all afternoon. N’Zogbia’s 89th minute corner that Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski mistakenly bobbled was headed home by Titus Bramble to level the score. Before the howler, N’Zogbia twice came close to scoring for Wigan when his curled effort barely missed, and later, when a low, well struck shot ended up in the waiting arms of Fabianski.
N’Zogbia set up on the right side of midfield in an attacking 4-3-3 formation implemented by Wigan boss Roberto Martinez. He’s most comfortable on the left side though and has even played left back before in his career. His winner in stoppage time was the result of a beautiful run across the face of goal just outside of the box and an even more beautiful left-footed strike that found the back of the net. The strike seemed to place Fabianski in a block of concrete as the Polish keeper was left rooted to the ground in a state of shock and disbelief.
Vincent Kompany, Manchester City– The big Belgian defender came out on the losing end of a heartbreaking Manchester derby, at least for the blue side of Manchester. But his efforts in dealing with Wayne Rooney warrant him a mention. Rooney was petulant at best for United and Kompany’s efforts, coupled with those of the solid Nigel De Jong, were enough to see Rooney pulled and keep United out of the City goal for some 93 minutes.
Gary Neville, Manchester United – Neat, clean and tidy. No, I wasn’t describing Gary Neville’s mustache. His performance at right back for United in the Manchester Derby was essential in keeping City’s Craig Bellamy quiet on the wing and helped to lead United to a clean sheet wherein a late goal could keep their title hopes alive. We all know the outcome.
The former England international could find himself in Fabio Capello’s England World Cup squad if he can continue his current form. If not as a starter, then possibly as cover for Liverpool’s Glenn Johnson. We all know Neville’s attributes as a footballer. He’s a smart defender who can contribute in attack with crosses into the box. What he lacks in pace these days, he makes up for in football smarts. All features of Neville’s game, including his pride playing for United, were on offer Saturday as United played snatch and grab at Eastlands. If only he could do something about that mustache.
Premier League Footballer of the Week –
Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur – SPURS…..WERE…..BRILLIANT, and so was Bale. What a week it’s been for the North London side. Two massive 2-1 homes wins, one against their hated rivals Arsenal, and then on Saturday against league leaders Chelsea. The young Welshman Bale scored the winner in both matches which proves on paper how valuable he’s been for Spurs, but his overall contributions going forward in attack on the left wing and his crossing & tackling abilities, pace and overall work rate for Spurs has been integral in their recent success and pursuit of L4.
There’s a song from the band Interpol called Pace is the Trick that I’d like to dedicate to Bale. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen him blow past defenders this season for Spurs. From Blackburn’s Michel Salgado to Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna to Chelsea’s Paulo Ferreira, Bale’s pace and determination with the ball at his feet has seen him emerge victorious over the Premier League’s best right backs.
Spurs face another top opponent this weekend as they travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in what’s sure to be an exciting, important and possibly incredible match. The potential match up of Bale on the left for Spurs and the in form Gary Neville for United could by key in the result of the match. Will Neville have the pace and power to deal with the spry Bale? Time will tell, but until next weekend, both players will surely be enjoying their respective performances and results from this weekend.