The Premier League did more than its fair share to prove to the rugby lovers out there that football is far superior, just in time for the start of the 6 Nations.
There were a total of 43 goals scored over the weekend, that’s more than Jason Scotland’s netted in his life. Yet more importantly, none were scored by the big money, centre of attention Torres, Carroll, Suarez or Dzeko as finance took a back seat and pure footballing entertainment took centre stage.
Despite this, Mark Lawrenson still did his best to make the most exciting of days in footballing history seem like a monotone game of chess. Check mate Mr Shearer.
At the DW, Wigan doubled their goal tally for the season with a 4-3 victory against Blackburn. Okay, I’m exaggerating, yet we did increase our home goal total by 25%, that’s like United scoring 9.25 goals in their next home game. Seems impossible doesn’t it?
And to many, so did the four Latics bagged. Yet games against Rovers down the years have usually seen their fair amount of goals, including a 5-3 Wigan victory in December 2007. This fixture also has a habit of, how should I put this, misfiring strikers finding the net. Down the years Shefki Kuqi, Matt Derbyshire, Emile Heskey, Marcus Bent, Benni McCarthy and Marlon King have all scored.
Jason Roberts scored what is now his routine goal against Wigan, having scored against his former club home and away this season; yet as usual, his goal was minus the celebration.
The star of this match was no doubt James McCarthy (left), who was outstanding and finished the game with two excellent goals. The energetic midfielder demonstrated his worth to the Latics by dominating the midfield and showing that at last, we might have found a replacement for the talisman that was Jimmy Bullard.
This was also a game where Wigan got over the psychological blow of conceding the first goal, this was only (from memory) the fourth game in six seasons where we’ve came from behind to win. The others being against West Brom (2-1, September 2005 and November 2008); Burnely (3-1, October 2009) and of course Arsenal (3-2, April 2010). If I’m wrong I await my correction…
The seven goals present at the DW set a recurring theme across the Premier League: Goals.
Watching Match of the Day must have brought many a football fan back to their childhood games in the school yard when the games invariably ended at a score close to 38-32. The pro’s rendition wasn’t too bad, there was even the childish spats (Abou Diaby) thrown in there too. Just minus the arguments about whether the ball actually went in, and the muppet that smacks the ball over the fence. Although that might not have been the case had Hugo taken our penalty…
Arguably the greatest ever Premier League comeback took place at St James’ Park where Newcastle, fresh from their loss of star striker Andy Carroll, faced a resurgent Arsenal, who steamrollered (is that actually a word?) the Magpies in the first half.
Following Theo Walcott’s opener; Johan Djourou’s header and Robin van Persie’s double within 26 minutes of kick off; you couldn’t blame anyone for thinking it was game over. Had it been Wigan, I think most of the faithful would have left the ground and gone home.
Newcastle being Newcastle, there was the odd plonker that in hindsight should have stayed to watch the second half. There was an interesting article in the Telegraph written by one of the fans that did leave. Who confessed he went and watched the game in the pub. What’s the point? If you’ve paid for a ticket (well I assume he did) you might as well watch it live, and right in front of you rather than through a TV screen. I think his name was Mike something…
The game though, was an incredible spectacle, the atmosphere must have been electric as Newcastle fought back through two Joey Barton penalties; a Leon Best strike and finally a beauty from star man Check Tiote.
My theory is that, Newcastle wouldn’t have drawn this game without the momentum and support generated by their fans. I know it seems typical to relate this back to us, yet I think this is hard evidence that actually, crowds can earn you points. I think Paul Jewell touched on this a few times during an interview. The same happened when we faced Arsenal at home last season, the atmosphere motivated the players to win the game.
Elsewhere, there was de ja vu at Molineaux as bottom met top in a repeat of the fixture in February 2004. Wolves won 1-0 that day due to a Kenny Miller goal, and this gave Wolves fans hope that it could happen again.
This hope was crushed after just 200 seconds as Nani cut inside to fire United into an early lead. Usually, Fergie’s men wouldn’t look back and would cruise to a 3, maybe 4-0 victory.
Yet Wolves’ fighting spirit and determination, added to the atmosphere generated (again) meant that United more than had their work cut out.
George Elokobi (surely the Premier League’s biggest ever player) headed Wolves level as United switched off from a short corner. The same player was then on the spot again as the ball was diverted in from a Milijas cross, however the goal was given to Kevin Doyle. Wolves didn’t care though, they were ahead and on the front foot.
This result meant that once again, there’s no ‘invincible’s’ season to replicate Arsenal’s success in 2004. My theory of why United lost was their kit. Okay, it might sound silly but hear me out. United wore all white, which my observations suggest to be unlucky over the years.
White is a passive looking colour, making the players look like innocent angels floating across the pitch like a carpet of purity. When there’s some black, or navy in there, this effect isn’t so startling and white doesn’t have the desired effect from the opponent’s point of view.
Look at the evidence, Spurs wore an all white kit in the 2007/08 season and had a nightmare start, they only picked up again once they introduced some navy shorts. England, from memory, have always played poorly in all white and the less said about Liverpool’s suits for the 1996 FA Cup final the better. Didn’t they play in all white kits that match too?
If you’re not superstitious, ignore the above paragraph totally as it will undoubtedly sound like utter bull to you. I’d love to hear Ferguson come out after the game and blame the loss on the colour of their kits though. That’d be madness wouldn’t it? Oh wait, hasn’t he done that before? Southampton at the Dell ring any bells?
I’d love to write in detail about every match as they were all (well most) equally as amazing to watch and meant my Saturday night was sorted. Who said you need to drink to have fun eh?
I’ll see you next week, when Wigan face a revived Liverpool at Anfield. Just our luck eh? I bet that pesky Andy Carroll scores too. Hopefully it’ll just be a consolation in reply to Franco di Santo’s hat trick.
I’ll leave with a quick note of Gary Neville’s retirement, which I’m sure left every football fan across the nation’s heart bleeding. Gray, Keys and Neville gone in a month? This is too good to be true.
Goal of the Weekend: A close one, yet Check Tiote’s volley just pips Niko Kranjcar’s strike
Save of the Weekend: In terms of importance, Steve Harper’s to prevent Robin van Persie making it 5-0. As meaningless as it seemed at the time.
Blunder of the Weekend: The refereeing at the Britannia. Handball, offside, foul and still a goal for Robert Huth!
This Week’s Teaser: Ben Watson’s goals against West Brom and Blackburn meant he’d scored twice in two games. When was the last time he did this for Wigan and who were the opposition teams?