Get Stuck In: Four Things We Learned From Premier League Week Nine
Editor’s Note: “Get Stuck In” is EPL Talk’s weekly column featuring review, analysis and opinion on all the happenings in the Premier League each week from different EPL Talk bloggers and podcasters. If you currently write for EPL Talk and would like to contribute to “Get Stuck In”, contact Jesse Chula at JesseChula(at)gmail(dot)com.
QPR’s West London Derby Victory was Aided by Chris Foy – Jesse Chula
Queens Park Rangers were victorious over West London rivals Chelsea on Sunday in what ended up being an altogether unconvincing win at Loftus Road. Chelsea were able to dominate the majority of the possession early on through their superiority in midfield and their overall class in every position. That domination slowly begin to wane when referee Chris Foy awarded Rangers a questionable penalty in the game’s eighth minute when Chelsea’s Davis Luiz was said to have fouled Heidar Helguson in the box. Luiz’s challenge was questionable yet may not have warranted a spot kick. Helguson himself stepped to the spot and lifted his attempt past Petr Cech for the game’s only goal yet Foy wasn’t done leaving his mark on the match.
While Foy’s decision to award QPR an early penalty realistically could have gone either way, his decision to send of Chelsea’s Jose Bosingwa in the 33rd minute was easily the game’s most contentious moment. Bosingwa didfoul QPR’s Shaun Wright-Phillips, for that there is no doubt, but whether Wright-Phillips was in on goal and thus had a clear goal-scoring opportunity (warranting a dismissal for Bosingwa) wasn’t altogether clear. Replays show that Bosingwa was level with Wright-Phillips and ready to make his challenge on the ball as opposed to pulling him down from behind. Nonetheless, Foy sent off Bosingwa much to the dismay of the remaining Chelsea players.
Later in the first half QPR were a goal and a man up on Chelsea when Foy rightly sent of Didier Drogba for a two-footed challenge on Adel Taarabt yet his two previous decisions, his penalty award to Rangers and the sending off of Bosingwa, had done enough to swing favor to the home side, even if they saw out the 1-0 win rather unconvincingly.
Swansea City are the Next Blackpool and Mini-Barca That I Can’t Stop falling in Love With – Alexander Fairchild
My first article for EPL Talk was about a club from the Northwest by the name of Blackpool. At the end, I wrote of my hope that one of the promoted teams could fill the shoes of the Seasiders, and Swansea confirmed they were that team on Saturday.
The first Welsh side to grace the Barclays Premier League was picked by 29 of the 59 readers who posted relegation predictions to be relegated, and 16 had the Swans in last (myself included), while countless others put the promoted side in 17th. Scott Sinclair & co. were phenomenal in the Championship Play-Off Final in May, despite a minor second half hiccup against Reading. The very first time I saw the Swans, the one thing that immediately stood out was their ability to possess the ball.
Swansea’s passing charts are simply unbelievable for what many would consider to be a lower tier Premier League side. Their third of the field is all blue (from completed passes), but it’s their inability to link up in the opposite half that holds them back. In the club’s first Premier League game against Manchester City, they completed more passes than the Citizens attempted in the whole of the match and that was not the only time Brendan Rodgers‘ side did that.
However, Swansea’s game plan is all too simple and easy to break apart. It is as follows: possess, get the ball to Sinclair or Dyer, and hope for a cross to fall to Mr. Graham. The Swans live and die by their wingers and if these two don’t produce, the team is hopeless. This occurred late in their draw with Wolverhampton. At the weekend, the wide-mids showed up in the first half and Mick McCarthy had no answer to Dyer’s pace on the right, as Nathan beat two Wolves’ defenders and Swansea hit the target twice. While those numbers are not all that impressive, Dyer made Wolves’ stalwart defense crawl into their shell, as I held my breath each time the winger got the ball on the right flank.
There’s just something about Swansea. It may be the white shirts, the mysterious aura of a Welsh team in a English league, Dyer, Sinclair, Vorm (the next Dutch #1), Graham, Tate and the golf cart incident, possession, but most of all it’s that Blackpool-like feel they bring to the each game. They’re somebody to support at the bottom. It could be the American in me that likes Swansea, because they are the underdog in every match they play.
Once this team can build up, get forward, and finish, look out, because the Swans may stay up in the top flight for years to come.
It’s Now Time to Adopt Newcastle United As Your Second Favorite Club – Jesse Chula
Matched now only by table topping Manchester City, Newcastle United remain one of only two Premier League sides still unbeaten in league play. Credit to Alan Pardew and his staff for their recent acquisition of continental players seen impressing on Tyneside including the smooth Yohan Cabaye, the opportunistic Demba Ba and to a lesser extent, the forward thinking Gabriel Obertan. Coupled with the incredibly effective Cheick Tiote in central midfield, Cabaye has settled into English football quite quickly and even scored the winner at home against Wigan Athletic on Saturday to claim three points as Newcastle solidified their early season hold on fourth spot. While opponents of the Premier League continue to paint a picture of predictability as far as the top of the table is concerned, the early season success of Newcastle should come as a welcome and fresh scent to those opposed to the traditionally successful English clubs.
Whether or not the Toon can keep pace with the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea for the spot of ‘there, or there abouts’ is yet to be seen. For now, or until they encounter a poor run of form, it’s time for you to adopt Newcastle as your second favorite club as they attempt to throw a black & white wrench into the inner workings of the upper half of the table.
Old Trafford Is Turning Into a Library – The Gaffer
If you had to pick one game on the fixture calendar that would guarantee an electric atmosphere at Old Trafford, the Manchester derby would be it.
On Sunday, however, the Manchester United home support was eerily more quiet than usual. And for the record, that was well before Mario Balotelli scored the first goal for Manchester City.
While Old Trafford hasn’t been known for having the most vocal home support for quite some time, I was really disappointed by how blase’ the crowd was. The City supporters often drowned out the United fans even though they were completely outnumbered.
United supporters may blame an aging support, corporate sky boxes and tourists that are there for just the one game, but those are just excuses. Clubs like Tottenham, Stoke City and Swansea don’t seem to be suffering as their noisy fans fill the stadium.
For a trip down memory lane, here’s an Old Trafford crowd who were far more vocal (albeit in 1983, and listen out for those horns blaring)!