- Power Outage & a Blow Up Doll
Just a few moments before my Saturday looked set to be a brilliant day of football, a pursuit of all things leisurely, and with Manchester United up 3-1 away to Everton at Goodison, my power suddenly and mysteriously went out. Upon its recommence, Everton, through Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, had scratched themselves level while I, like United, were left in tears picking up the pieces. What was the reason for this odd occurrence with only a light rain drizzling outside? I pondered, were the football Gods whispering a sign of things to come into my ignoring ear?
All variables pointed to me being able to see out my morning without a snag. Multiple devices were plugged in and working quite well. In just a few short moments, what I had personally considered a success came crashing down upon me not unlike United’s capitulation at the hands of Everton in the final moments. United’s power outage had nothing to do with the absence of Wayne Rooney, the ill-timed distraction of an inflated blow up doll hurled upon the pitch, yet had everything to do with a mysterious twist of fate not unlike the surge of electricity towards the end of my AM that eventually fried my router, seized my Internet connection and ruined United’s, no, my morning.
What was ultimately not a sign from the football Gods but a heroic fight back from an Everton side in desperate need of points was the main theme of Saturday, while a veteran United side unable to see out what would have been an important three points away from home remains nothing short of a major power outage.
In other notable weekend occurrences of normalcy, Chelsea continued their perfect start to a new campaign through an impressive Michael Essien while West Ham remain pointless at the bottom of the table. Avram Grant, once a Champions League final manager, will now surely fight relegation all year long. Rafael van der Vaart made a decent enough debut on the left side of midfield for a Spurs side who ultimately lacked enough gusto to see off West Brom. Jermain Defoe’s absence through injury marred Spurs effectiveness in attack, yet forward thinking minds assure Spurs fans there are options left to consider.
Blackpool, The Tangerines (don’t call them Orange), continued an up-down start to the Premier League with an impressive three points gained away to Newcastle. Ian Holloway named four strikers in his starting line up against an unchanged in four Newcastle who lacked cohesion. Blackpool went into the half up by the slimmest of margins while Newcastle continually pressed throughout the second half until they were finally caught by an impressive Blackpool counter attack when DJ Campbell sealed it for The Seasiders.
Honorable Mentions -
Christopher Samba, Blackburn Rovers- If Nikola Kalinic was the effective target man up front for Blackburn, then Samba was the equally as effective rock at the center of defense who saved a point for Blackburn with his defensive prowess. Specifically, the French-born defender’s late game dive at a Jo shot that was surely goal bound from close range. It was the kind of epic, late game heroics defenders live for, while it was the aforementioned Kalinic who opened up the scoring for Blackburn as Joe Hart again proved he’s human after all.
Samba’s a big unit with natural defensive abilities. Because of his height, he’s reliable and strong in the air. Reliable enough for Sam Allardyce to make Samba Captain as Blackburn look to build on last season’s tenth place finish.
Tim Howard, Everton- The final scoreline saw Everton’s Tim Howard concede three goals to Manchester United yet Howard’s heroics in the first half kept Everton in the game as the match entered the half level. As good as great saves can possibly get, Howard produced one of sheer brilliance in the first half when a flailing right foot resulted in an unbelievable kick save from a Paul Scholes trademark blast. Precision and timing from the American who definitely did his part in the kind of hard fought draw where goals were easy to come by.
Steven Pienaar, Everton- The spry South African midfielder gave Manchester United’s defense, more specifically Gary Neville, fits during the first half of their eventual 3-3 draw on Saturday. His pace and movements cutting into the middle of the pitch were effective enough to create multiple chances on goal for Everton in the first half. If it wasn’t for some last ditch defending by United, Everton could have been 2 or 3 up early.
Pienaar deservedly opened up the scoring when he matched pace on the break with Mikel Arteta and cleaned up the rebound from an Edwin van der Sar save.
Pepe Reina, Liverpool – Lastly, the Spanish keeper had an embarrassing international break with Spain when he gifted Argentina the easiest of all goals. On Sunday away to Birmingham City, Reina was at his best. On more than one occasion, Reina made that ever so difficult low diving last ditch save a la Gordon Banks v Pele in 1970 that assured Liverpool weren’t beaten and left Birmingham with a point.
Premier League Footballer of the Week -
Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal- Arsenal produced another strong performance at home against Bolton where they hit four goals through four different goal scorers. Fabregas and Co. were brilliant on the day as Arsenal ran riot on Bolton in a complete team performance.
Tomas Rosicky was instrumental in central midfield distributing the ball and linking play to the forward Arsenal attackers. His first half ball from just inside the center circle split the Bolton defense to shreds and found Andrei Arshavin just outside the box. It was a stunning pass that the Russian should have done better with. However, what Rosicky can do, so too can Fabregas. Over the course of the full 90, Fabregas was the main creative threat for Arsenal. His perfect 57th minute cross found the head of Marouane Chamakh for Arsenal’s 2nd while he had already assisted on Arsenal’s 1st. His stunning chip ball to Carlos Vela tapped off Arsenal’s 4th and was as perfect a team goal as Premier League fans have seen this season. Fabregas back fully fit is not only an asset to the Gunners, but a credit to Premier League and football fans in general as he embodies the definition of a world class midfielder.