• For Those About to Stoke, We Score 7 on You
  • Should Someone Tell Wayne Rooney He’s Needed on the Pitch & not in that Hospitality Box?

For a second there I actually thought Rooney was allegorically announcing his retirement from Manchester United as he symbolically passed on his son, full kit and all, to a family member perched high above his plot of employment. “Here, take Kai to the pitch, he’s ready to start today, tell Fergie he’ll slot in just behind Berbs“, Rooney wasn’t quoted as saying on Saturday. A Kai-less and Rooney-less United went on to beat Tottenham 3-1 but will continue to be without their talisman for the rest of the season.

Stoke City looked to play ‘title wrenchers’ in Chelsea’s plans after the London club started their Sunday match 2 points behind United. Uh, it wasn’t to be.

Interesting though that as we approach the last few weeks of the season, supporters and clubs who remain standing with something to play for must let their pride fall down as other results across the country, often including their fiercest rivals, are needed to achieve their desired result.

For example, after United played snatch & grab at City last weekend, blue Mancunians would have surely been cheering for United to beat Tottenham. Likewise, Spurs supporters would have been cheering on their lovable old friends at Arsenal to beat City at the Emirates just a week or so after having beaten them in that now famous win at White Heart Lane. Such are the intricacies and oddities of  football when every game matters, and the fickleness of supporters when so much is on the line.

The race for L4 really couldn’t be any closer at this, the most important time of the season. Aston Villa made Mike Skinner cry as they won another entry of the Second City derby and WHOA! – seem to have quietly come out of no where in the pursuit of fourth as they are now level on points with Tottenham and a point ahead of City having played a game more. The May 1st match between City and Villa and the May 5th clash between Spurs and City remain crucial and compelling in the race for fourth.

Shall we then?

Nominees –

Scott Parker, West Ham – Passion, guts and determination were all on display in the middle of the pitch Saturday. Parker was massive for the Hammers and has easily been their best and most consistent player all year. I’ve spoken of my admiration for Parker and my desire that West Ham stay up this season in recent weeks, and thanks to Parker, I may just get my wish. Parker produced another solid performance in midfield against Wigan and scored a blistering winner in a 5-goal thriller at Upton Park to just about secure the Hammers safety.

Nani, Manchester United – Nani was almost unworthy of a mention until his flash moment of brilliance saw the winner scored in the second half. Before his goal, Nani continually made bad decisions for United and yes of course, blasted his 3 to 4 trademark missiles into outer space.

Wasteful, petulant, cramping yet still vital for United, Nani’s chip winner was yet another bullet point on the CV Nani looks to write as Ronaldo’s replacement. Yes, the chip was a piece of skill and class, but for me, Nani’s first touch which set up the chip was a more important moment of skill. How many times have we all seen the Portuguese winger waste a decent ball with his over-anxious and clumsy touch?

When Nani received the weighted ball in from Federico Macheda, his first touch perfectly laid the ball out in front of him and allowed him the time and angle needed to finish the play and score the winner. Nani’s involvement in attack later won United their second penalty of the day when Tottenham’s Wilson Palacios bundled over the winger in the box allowing Ryan Giggs to slot home his second penalty and put United top of the league for a day.

Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, Chelsea – One played supplier and the other played finisher on Sunday as Chelsea scorched Stoke for seven to reclaim top spot. Like the aforementioned Nani, Drogba can be a dangerous player, but usually needs to get 3 or 4 row Zed rocket ships out of his system before he calms down and scores powerful goals.

Kalou and Lampard got 5 of the 7 goals, but Drogba’s service in the first half was vital for Chelsea as he set up Kalou’s first with a brilliant piece of skill. Drogba’s back heel cushion of a Malouda cross field ball allowed him to bring the ball down behind himself with composure and cross to the waiting Kalou who headed home Chelsea’s first.

Chelsea’s second came when Drogba laid off a neat ball for an on-rushing Frank Lampard who blasted towards goal. When Thomas Sorensen could only parry the shot, the opportunist Kalou pounced with his second. Kalou’s involvement in front of goal was rewarded when the Ivorian finished off his day with a hat trick late in the second half when his work provided a rebound that he tapped home for another scrappy finish.

So another week passes with only small pieces of the finalized Premier League puzzle in place. Burnley officially secured relegation while everything is left to play for at the top and for fourth. The World Cup is just a sniff away, but don’t dare miss these last two weeks of the season. If not for me, then do it for little Kai.

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