It was no doubt an interesting weekend in the Premier League, with no lack of action. Wigan Athletic shocked everyone to claim three points from The Lane, Chelsea kept up their 100% record and we had a few contenders for miss of the season.
Let’s start with that game at White Hart Lane. Wigan proved that when it comes to unpredictability, there really isn’t a rival for the crown. With everyone expecting a heavy defeat, Hugo Rodallega’s strike 10 minutes from time sealed the points.
Tottenham suffered a hangover from their Champions League qualifier win vs BSC Young Boys, with a very open defence and lack of urgency that has been associated with a certain team from Lancashire over the last few weeks.
Wigan took advantage of Spurs’ weak defence by creating three clear cut chances in 5 second half minutes, precisely three more than we’d created previously all season. In the first half, Steve Gohouri crashed a volley against the bar, before the five minute spell that won the game for Latics, with Hugo Rodallega central to all that was created.
Antolin Alcaraz submitted an early contender from miss of the season as he fired over with the goal at his mercy and Jordi Gomez volleyed Rodallega’s cross over. The warning signs were there, yet Spurs didn’t improve at the back and were punished moments later when Rodallega himself struck home the winner with a shot that squirmed under Cudicini’s body.
Ali Al-Habsi showed why he should be number one after denying Spurs with a string of excellent saves to keep the Londoners at bay. It was a much improved performance to prove the doubters wrong, and buy Martinez a little more time at least, although Wigan have failed to shake the ‘unpredictable’ tag. It’s better to be inconsistent than consistently bad though, eh?
Elsewhere, there was a real contrast in styles at Ewood Park as the beauty met the beast, but enough about Wenger and Allardyce, there was an intriguing match on show aswell.
Theo Walcott gave a gentle reminder to the watching Mr Capello when he literally broke the net. El-Hadji Diouf was his usual aggravating self as he was the subject of some handbags with Manuel Almunia, before squaring for his namesake Mame Biram Diouf to equalise.
Blackburn’s long throws brought up an interesting issue when Rory Delap esc Morten Gamst Pedersen used a towel given to him from the ball boys to dry the ball with to improve grip. It gives a whole new meaning to ‘throwing the towel in.’ Sky’s Andy Gray complained that it made the process of taking the throw in longer, as a result the pace of the game drops and attacking momentum is lost.
Personally, I see no problem with the towels, as long as both teams are permitted to use the towels if needed. However, I can’t see the advantage of wiping the ball with a towel rather than a good old fashioned wipe on the jersey. Although I’ll wait until I’m as good at long throws as Pedersen and Delap before I criticise their choice of ball wiping.
Andrey Arshavin fired a loose ball in the penalty area home to earn Arsenal a 2-1 away victory. Arsenal’s typical pass and move strategy earned plaudits aswell as the points, meanwhile Allardyce’s very characteristic physical, long ball tactics gave Blackburn a chance by playing to their strengths, and caused Arsenal problems. The pacey frontline of Nikola Kalinic plus El Hadji and Mame Biram Diouf will be enough to win games for Blackburn, especially at home, which will be vital if they want to replicate last season’s 10th place finish.
Just down the road at The Reebok Stadium, Birmingham’s Roger Johnson had a very eventful afternoon. After opening the scoring on 4 minutes, he was then the subject of a laughable yet cowardly slap from Jussi Jaaskelainen. The keeper was rightly sent off, and his replacement Adam Bogdan was beaten by midfielder Craig Gardner.
Bolton’s ten men fought back to earn an admirable point, after Kevin Davies dispatched a dubiously awarded penalty, after the striker was fouled by, you guessed it- Roger Johnson. Veteran forward Robbie Blake came off the bench to expertly curl a 25 yard free-kick past Ben Foster, and that was another harshly given ‘foul.’
Another game between two relegation candidates took place at Molineaux, where Wolves took on Newcastle. There was a very refreshing throw back to football in past eras when Karl Henry’s hard yet fair tackle more than shook up Joey Barton.
We’re seeing the fast becoming dying art of the crunching tackle less on less at all levels in the modern game, which takes alot away from the game and Sepp Blatter has to take alot of responsibility for that. At this rate, I fear we may have a non-contact sport before too long.
This week’s ‘Couldn’t-hit-a-barn-door-with-a-banjo-last-season-but-has-now-scored-two-goals-in-two-games’ award goes to Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, who followed up his equaliser at Goodison Park last week with an excellent goal to open the scoring. After an exquisite first touch to control a deep cross, the former Man United striker fired home a powerful volley that Messer’s Rooney and Berbatov would have been proud of.
Newcastle’s Andy Carroll took advantage of some sloppy defending to head in the equaliser, in the process bagging his fourth goal in two games. His impressive start to life as the Toon’s number nine has linked him with an England call-up, however he obviously didn’t do enough to impress Fabio Capello as Carlton Cole and Darren Bent were preferred to the powerhouse striker. Although it must only be a matter of time before he’s in an England shirt.
Elsewhere, there was a 2-0 win for Chelsea against Stoke, including the collector’s item of a Frank Lampard missed penalty. Liverpool, Aston Villa and Sunderland all scraped 1-0 home victories against West Brom, Everton and Man City respectively. Bloomfield Road saw Premier League football for the first time when Fulham came to town. Debutant Luke Varney thought he’d bagged the winner before Dickson Etuhu’s finish from a late run from midfield earned The Cottagers a 2-2 draw.
Goal of the Weekend: Robbie Blake, Bolton vs Birmingham
Blunder of the Weekend: Antolin Alcaraz’s open goal miss, Tottenham vs Wigan (with Carlos Tevez’s miss a very close second)
Save of the Weekend: Ali Al Habsi to deny Niko Kranjcar, Tottenham vs Wigan
With Edgar Davids making his debut for Crystal Palace vs Scunthorpe, they had the cheek of playing the former Dutch international at left back. That’s like buying a vintage Jaguar X-Type and using it just for the school run.
Many pundits have used the patronising tone when comparing Glanford Park to the San Siro, Nou Camp and Stade de Allpi. I won’t even give this pathetic and predictable comparison a mention.
Enjoy the International break and I’ll see you in two weeks.