It may only be just over a month since the World Cup has ended but that time has dragged by with very little football to watch and very few interesting transfer stories. What a relief then that the first weekend of the Premier League season would prove to be so unpredictable unless you were at Stamford Bridge. This little article will break down the best and worst of the first weekend of the Premier League season.
- Joe Hart: It was obvious wasn’t it, Hart was immense and even Shay Given couldn’t help but smile as his English counter-part, quite literally, single-handedly kept Tottenham at bay. In the first game of the season Man City fans had reason for both hope and despair. In Joe Hart they have one of the finest Goalkeepers of this young England generation.
- Gary Taylor-Fletcher: Marlon Harewood may have taken all the headlines with 2 goals and an assist but do not be fooled this performance was built around Taylor-Fletcher. A seasoned Football League campaigner, Taylor-Fletcher was everywhere in his Premiership debut and every time Blackpool had cause to celebrate he wasn’t far from the action.
- Didier Drogba: It really speaks for itself, a hat-trick to end last season, a hat-trick to start this one, Drogba is the form player in the Premier League and through his free-kicks has added another string to an already very fine bow.
- Basically any Wigan player: But let’s go with Alcaraz, the Paraguayan defender who played quite well at the World Cup made it look like Titus Bramble could’ve taken his place if eligible; lethargic, slow and couldn’t find a pass this was a debut to forget then forget again.
- Basically most Goalkeepers: It was the weekend of Howlers as a few goalkeepers couldn’t emulate Joe Hart. Tim Howard and Pepe Reina gifted other sides goals whilst Chris Kirkland, Scott Carson and Robert Green all showed why two Under-21’s were called up to the England Squad.
- Joe Cole: Couldn’t get involved in the game until a wild lunge took him out of it. There was nothing dubious about this red card. The referee saw the play develop, saw the speed with which Cole went in shin high and game down hard. Kocielny escaped relatively unscathed but you do not take an injury or the reputation of the player into account when deciding these things. If you did Lee Cattermole would have been off, earlier, for leading with the elbow on Gary O’Connor. As for Joe a 3 game ban to start his Liverpool career? At least there’s the Europa Cup.
Best Goal of the Weekend: Has already been covered here in much more detail, even if you’ve read this article watch it again as it truly was a joy.
Best Team of the Weekend: The obvious choice is Blackpool, the plucky promoted side thrashing an established Premier League side away and in style. However, is it really that obvious, on my viewing Blackpool were not that great, a few lucky bounces presented them with opportunities and a fluke from Baptista gave the their fourth. You can only beat what is put in front of you and Blackpool had no challenge from Wigan (more on that later) at times it looked like it was how many they could score than would. To give this to Blackpool without recognition of the great team-work of Tottenham in the face of Man City’s 100 million pound team would be poor. Blackburn and of course Chelsea, who do what they always do, also deserve mention but my Team of the Weekend was Aston Villa. In the face of the disruption of losing their Manager 5 days before kick-off and the thought of losing one of their best players in the very near future, Villa had every right to lie down for West Ham at the weekend and no-one would’ve blamed them. Instead they brought on Marc Albrighton and let him wreak havoc, supported by the lovable giant John Carew (he’s bigger than me and you apparently) and a stoic James Milner, the Villains put on a show of attacking football and destroyed West Ham, granted much like Wigan, any side that features James Tomkins as a centre-half are likely to be beaten.
Worst Team of the Weekend: Without equivocation, Wigan. In the BBC text coverage of the game Garth Crooks summed it up best:
“I am disgusted. This is a disgraceful performance from Wigan. These are Premier League players we are talking about.”
He was right too; this was the single worst performance from any team that I have seen since Charlton played under Les Reed. The Wigan ‘players’ were diabolically bad in the first half and only really bad in the second. They couldn’t pick out a four yard pass to each other, didn’t pressure the ball and when they were beaten, stayed beaten. Every. Single. Time. That the ball went into the box, Blackpool players went in after it whilst the Wigan players stood and looked and hoped nothing would come of it. After the opening minute salvo from Blackpool, Chris Kirkland roared at his defence, after the corner he roared again but he got no response. I wouldn’t be surprised if he packed it in then and let the game get away from Wigan but he is too much of a professional for that he simply had a bad game too. Wigan did not present any of the quintessential Premier League virtues of pressure, pace and at times brute strength. They didn’t even have the common decency to get frustrated and start picking up cards (just kidding!). If anything Wigan took that game for granted and it showed, Blackpool won and deservedly so and with Chelsea and Tottenham due up next may god have mercy on them.
Best Moment of the Weekend: Was the return to refereeing of Mark Halsey and the black-armband he sported in respect to and memory of Adam Stansfield.
Worst Moment of the Weekend: Seeing Kenwyne Jones roll about in pain after a clumsy challenge from Jody Craddock, there is still no word on any possible injury but as he left the field it didn’t look good.
There we have it the first Premier League weekend in the books, now I know Manchester United haven’t played yet so much of the above could be premature and I hope so, because that should make it an interesting game tonight.
Agree? Disagree? I might have time to respond to you below but I’m going to guess it’s about Blackpool. Or Joe Cole.