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Thoughts from Sunday's Premier League Matches

“Grand Slam Sunday” (what a horrible name) was one part a tense affair and another part a home run. A grand slam, it was not.

I started my day at 7am and drove about 45 minutes to a pub in Fort Lauderdale named the Fox & Hounds to watch the two matches. With a pint of Strongbow Cider in my hand before the 8:30am kick off, I sat alongside EPL Talk blogger Jeremy Lay for four and half hours of Premier League soccer.

Here are some of my thoughts from the experience:

  • It was the same old story for Liverpool. Plenty of chances, all of them wasted while the opposition had one serious challenge on goal and Man United scored from that one (thanks to poor marking by Liverpool).
  • All that separated both teams was a choreographed set play from the Man United corner.
  • Man United had a poor game as well as Liverpool but they defended well (except for Edwin van der Sar). The Red Devils yet again wasted free kick after free kick.
  • Immediately after the Liverpool v Man United game, Setanta played their Jose Mourinho/Spitting Image “interview” which drew several laughs from the large crowd of about 50 people in the pub. Setanta is definitely on to something with this bit, but the question is whether they can follow it up with another Jose interview that’s just as special. Why not make it a weekly show to draw viewers to its channel?
  • Before the Arsenal and Chelsea match began, the pub owners flipped the channel to the Serie A match between Roma and Torino. Italian football didn’t do itself too many favors however by showing what happened after the match. Two of the Torino players stripped off their clothes. One removed all of his kit except for his speedo and then ran across the pitch. Another player removed his shorts and walked around without them. It all looked pretty feminine to me and it’s something you’d never see in English football!
  • The Arsenal against Chelsea match was simply sensational and one of the most entertaining second halves I’ve seen in quite some time (although Man City v Bolton, and Wigan v Blackburn this past weekend were amazing too).
  • The match at the Emirates was a hundred times more entertaining than the Liverpool versus Man United game. The game was much more open. There was much more skill on display. It wasn’t as defensive-minded as the match at Anfield. And unlike Reina at Anfield, the goalkeepers had a lot to do at the Emirates.
  • In both matches, the quality of shooting was extremely poor. How many shots on goal went way past the goal and towards the corner?
  • I felt that Chelsea put in a good performance and were very unlucky not to equalize. However they’ve now lost against Man United and Arsenal (both away). They’re still in the title race, while Liverpool’s hopes of winning the Premier League title are gone.
  • Shevchenko impressed me considerably in this match with two shots in particular that drew world-class saves from Almunia.
  • The cries from the press that the four horse race is now a two horse race are inane. It’s a three horse race. Don’t discount Chelsea quite yet especially with their almost four-year unbeaten home record in the league.
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  1. eplnfl

    December 18, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    The most telling thing from the weekend action from my point of view is that while the Big 4 continue to dominate English football the matches they play between themselves will continue to be dull affairs where one side will score and then bunker down. A loss versus another Big 4 squad nearly dooms the other team to 3rd or 4th place. A 5th or better yet 6th big team would open up play require the managers to think beyond getting a draw in the big team matches.

  2. Anonymous

    December 17, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    latest anonymous:

    Pure garbage? In the UK the bookies have Lpool at 14/1 to win the Prem, wake up and smell Roo’s new fragrance – Man U best price is evens, Arsenal 2/1.


  3. Anonymous

    December 17, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Man the anti liverpool slant of this site continues to drag this blog down. Liverpool is not “out of it” they have a lot to do but its freakin DECEMBER. A lot can happen and Pool is going to get some players back soon…plus whatever happens in the Jan transfer window. Its a longshot but to declare its over and Liverpool is done is nothing short of pure garbage

  4. StatesideScouser

    December 17, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Agree with MJ tbh.
    As to being out of the title race, remember Liverpool still has a game in hand, and its mid December ffs !
    We are still missing a couple of valuable first team players, won’t lose any to the African Cup, are still a team that has only been playing together for this season alone and still improving each game.
    Don’t forget Arsenal and Man U have lost to teams “they should have beat”, that isn’t impossible again in the many games left.

    Granted Liverpool weren’t at their best yesterday and were beaten, as usual it seems with Man U, with a soft goal. Rooneys “shot” was wide, just happens Tevez was in the way.

  5. shy guy

    December 17, 2007 at 10:13 am

    I agree with you…
    And as Arsenal fans, I really thank a lot to ALmunia..
    He is such a good keeper.. It is exit for Lehman and Diarra..
    Flamini and Fab is such a good combination even they’re not 100 percent.. Go go gooners..

  6. Kartik

    December 17, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Good points MJ, but I still fancy Chelsea to finish ahead of Liverpool, and think the Reds will have to fight with Pompey, Blackburn and Everton for 4th. (Although this weekend for Pompey and Blackburn didn’t do much to reaffirm my faith in them )

  7. Tampasoccer

    December 17, 2007 at 9:48 am

    As a Liverpool fan, I thought we were poor yesterday. Very poor. Same old story-a lot of passion, zero creativity. Long balls for Torres, absolutely useless Kuyt, poor Kewell…that is not how you beat United. I was very impressed with the defensive work by both Anderson and Hargreeves-well done to shut Gerrard. We are missing Alonso bad in terms of possession, distribution, and vision in the middle. Mascherano is a solid defensive midfielder but the Spaniard is a different class.
    Realistically, Liverpool is not from the class of United or Arsenal-it pains me to say it, but it is the case…after all, last season we got rid of our most creative player: Garcia-why, Rafa, why?
    The other game: very entertaining. I thought Chelsea were quite unlucky to ceoncede such a cheap goal at such a crucial time of the game. They were missing Drogba and Essien big time-obvious but…I as thinking what happens now when Van Persie is back-does that mean that Hleb goes on the bench?
    But-yes-it is a two-horse race, with the possibility of Chelsea joining in if they continue with their consistency. As for Liverpool? FA Cup, Carling Cup(Wednseday at Chelsea will be tough), and Champions League are our best chances for a trophey. Hey, at least the title dream ended this year in mid-December, and not in mid-October…

  8. Anonymous

    December 17, 2007 at 9:17 am

    what do you mean one serious challenge on goal, did you not see Roo’s sitter 15 mins or so from the end?

    I actually enjoyed the whole intensity of the match at Anfield. Felt tired by the time the Lah’an derby came around.

  9. MJ

    December 17, 2007 at 9:10 am

    I would agree with most of your observations except for a few points: Liverpool didn’t have “plenty” of chances, they had the ball cleared off the line by Anderson and then the follow-up header by Torres that went wide, and Babel’s long-range effort in the second half that just missed the far post.

    I can see your point to not count out Chelsea yet especially because of their home unbeaten record, but realistically it’s a two-horse race. You can include Chelsea if you want because of their ability to grind out results, but without Drogba, Essien, John Obi Mikel, Kalou, and maybe John Terry if x-rays prove substantial injury, Chelsea aren’t going to have a chance at the title. They’ll be a factor because they may be able to take points from United and Arsenal in the second half of the season, but they won’t be in a position to win the title themselves.

    Liverpool have just as good of a chance as Chelsea at winning the title–and that’s a slim one–because they’re not losing anyone to the African Cup of Nations and they’re getting healthier and healthier. I think they’ll finish just ahead of Chelsea this season, with United winning the league, then Arsenal, then Liverpool, and then Chelsea.

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