After watching the Premier League this weekend you might have thought it was awful. We saw awful defending, awful refereeing and awful comments. However, it was as exciting as you’d expect…
I won’t give in to the temptation of reviewing the Manchester United vs Liverpool game first like most reviews. This is a Wigan Athletic fansite, so I’ll start my article accordingly.
Over the years, when Manchester City have been in town, we’ve usually been treated to an entertaining game, with goals aswell as wins. Remember the 4-3 boxing day thriller? That incredible 4-0 win and that Antonio Valencia screamer during a 2-1 victory in 2008? You’d be forgiven for expelling all possible cynicism and having some optimism. Okay well not all of you maybe.
The realist would be much more sceptical, Wigan have been poor at home so far this season. Accumulating just one goal and one point, those being against ten man Sunderland. The pessimist would be expecting another 6-0 defeat. I’ll let you decide which Cockney Latic board members would fit into each category.
The game itself wasn’t anything special, no genuine shocks and a seemingly routine 2-0 win for City. Wigan were in the game for the first half, matching their north west neighbours and creating the odd half chance, that was before Mr Tevez had his say.
After worrying Al Habsi with a long range shot that flew just wide of his right hand post, the warning signs were there and Tevez didn’t need much of an invitation for an opening goal. He got a gift more than an invitation.
Joe Hart’s seemingly harmless long goal kick was over the heads of the City midfield, the type that occur dozens of times during your average match. No problem, just head it away and clear any potential danger. Am I right? No. Mohammed Diame was very unfortunate if still clumsy when his backwards header took the ball over the Latics defence to Tevez who was clean through, and lifted the ball over Al Habsi expertly.
Now there was many to blame for this goal, first Diame should have been coming onto the ball when heading it rather than being caught underneath it. He had time to judge the flight of the ball and should have done a far better job. Secondly, even if Diame makes that error, then there’s four defenders against one striker, Tevez realistically should never even touch the ball. Yet the organisation was woeful, four defenders were caught flat and on their heels, so Tevez was allowed to race through to open the scoring. At the worst possible time aswell, two minutes before half time. I’m sure I don’t need to explain what problems and frustrations that causes.
The second goal for City was a first in English football for Yaya Toure, who has impressed me in recent weeks with his drive and energy, and the way he seems to step across the length of the pitch in five strides. However, his goal was put on a plate for him. Gohouri missed a header when a deep cross was swung in before Figueroa failed to defend the same ball when he headed straight to Tevez. The Argentinian squared the ball across the box, Gohouri again failed to make a block, and Toure had a simple tap in for 2-0. Game Over.
Wigan’s defensive frailties are becoming a real worry, and I’ve lost count of the amount of school boy errors that I’ve seen made by our defenders already this season. Individually they’re all good players, however collectively they look like Bambi on ice at times. When that happens, then you’re in trouble, the lack of positioning, leadership and communication is a real worry. The lack of a defensive coach is also an obvious concern.
I’d be the first to promote a passing system, but the alarming lack of a plan B is a growing problem that must be addressed. I feel a switch to 4-4-2 is needed, we do have three good strikers that I feel would compliment each other whichever two we choose to play. Di Santo, Rodallega and Boselli for me are strikers that will score goals with a partner. Not when on the wing, bench or up front on their own however. I think McCarthy is more than capable of playing a box-to-box role in midfield alongside a holding midfielder, and with Stam on the right and N’Zogbia on the left, I think we’d be far more effective. That’s open to debate however because I know that some of you like N’Zogbia on the right. As do I at times, but I think that defenders have worked him out now, and he runs down too many blind alleys and gets crowded out. I’ll let you decide on that one.
Elsewhere, the undoubted game of the weekend was at Old Trafford, when United met Liverpool. The build up to this fixture is always massive, and this time was no different. The teams delivered a delightful spectacle, well after half time anyway.
United unbelievably managed to throw away a two goal lead for the second game running, after Dimitar Berbatov’s double. The second of which being an amazing overhead kick we’ll be seeing for year to come. He displayed expert technique that was reminiscent of Cantona, it really was that good. A special goal from the very top drawer. That was all before Steven Gerrard scored a penalty and then a free-kick. This brings me on nicely to the talking points of this game.
Firstly, why was Torres marking Berbatov for the first goal? Surely a player with such cleverness as Berbatov would necessitate a centre half, or at least a better marker to pick him up from a corner? Torres is a brilliant striker, but not a brilliant marker. Berbatov lost him too easily and headed home. Can I ask why Konchesky moved off his post to take up a position behind Reina? That makes him useless, and if he’d been on his post then he’d have definitely blocked the shot.
Secondly, Fernando Torres. Liverpool rely on him so much to score goals, as lets face it, he’s their only good striker. Yet they fail to get the ball into him, it really does beggar belief. Too many sideways passes spoils the tempo of the game, remind you of a certain team?
When Liverpool did get the ball to their frontman, he won the penalty and the free-kick. Both of which Liverpool ultimately scored off, it really is that simple.
On the topic of the free-kick, I think the referee Howard Webb handled the incident leading up to the goal brilliantly. John O’Shea clearly fouled Torres, yet Torres wouldn’t have got to the ball first I don’t think. Therefore the chance wasn’t a genuine goal scoring opportunity and it wasn’t a red card, O’Shea got a yellow card and Liverpool were awarded the free-kick that they got their equaliser from.
Now goals conceded from free-kicks are a nightmare at the best of times, especially when a wall splits, and the ball goes through and into the net. If all walls were than holey, then builders would be out of their job sharpish. It really does cause frustration, especially from coaches, that will drill defensive set piece tactics into the players all week. The ball didn’t go into the corner, which will make Sir Alex even more annoyed, the fact that Gerrard scored alone will make any United fan majorly angry. Can I ask what Gerrard’s fetish with kissing the camera at Old Trafford is? Surely he’d be more successful if he concentrated on trying to be kissing silverware at the end of the season? I suppose there’s worse things to kiss, hey Wayne?
2-2, Liverpool certain to snatch a point? Wrong, Dimitar Berbatov topped off a man of the match display with a third goal. A thumping header past Reina to seal the points will be great for his confidence. He has undoubted ability and I think it’s unfair the way most United fans have treated him.
Last season, he was ‘lazy, lethargic and never scored’ yet this season, the United fans worship him. That’s just bust because he’s scored a few more goals! It’s crazy, he’s exactly the same player, with exactly the same ability yet now he’s got some confidence. It just shows you how fickle glory hunters are I suppose. That and what a difference abit of confidence does for a striker, take note Mauro Boselli.
There was a contrast in refereeing at the Stadium of Light, where Arsene Wenger had a moan after Sunderland scored five minutes into added time, after only four minutes were indicated. I imagine you saw that one, Arsene? Darren Bent snatched a point to make it 1-1, after Cesc Fabregas had luckily put Arsenal ahead.
This lead to Sam Allardyce’s comments about him being ‘just as good as Wenger.’ You have to say the man has a point there. Although the football he produces isn’t anywhere near Wenger’s standards, the way he plays gets him the results he needs, and therefore he is just as good a coach as Wenger. Technically, Arsene may be more advanced, but overall I’d say that they were equal, because they’re each just as good at what they do best.
The only difference is Wenger has the likes of Fabregas at his disposal, whilst Allardyce has El-Hadji Diouf. The crazy comments I referred to at the start of this article refers to Allardyce being quoted saying that he could manage Inter Milan or such likes. No you can’t, long ball football doesn’t work with great players like Sneijder and Eto’o or at big clubs, it’s a waste of their talents. Concentrate on your own job as Blackburn Rovers’ manager.
On the topic of Blackburn, they were involved in one of four 1-1 draws this weekend when they played Fulham. With Chris Samba on the score sheet before Clint Dempsey equalised. At Villa Park, despite Ashley Young’s amazing free-kick, Bolton fought back and earned a point through Kevin Davies. The only 1-1 draw I haven’t mentioned is West Ham’s first point of the season against Stoke at the Britannia. Scott Parker poked home the opener before Kenwyne Jones secured a point with a header just after the break.
There were 3-1 home wins for each Tottenham and West Brom, who both came from a goal down against Wolves and Birmingham respectively. For Spurs, Rafael Van der Vaart scored his first Spurs goal from the spot before Pavlyuchenko and Hutton sealed the points. Steven Fletcher had scored for Wolves in the first half.
Cameron Jerome got his first of the season at the Hawthorns to make it 1-0 to Birmigham. After the break however, West Brom scored three in 20 minutes to win the match. Scott Dann scored an own goal, then Peter Odemwingie and Jonas Olsson sealed the points.
Just two games go left unmentioned with Chelsea comprehensively disposing of Blackpool with a 4-0 win, which easily could have been about 10-0. Kalou, Malouda (twice) and Drogba were all on target for the Blues.
Finally, a contender for goal of the weekend came from Hatem Ben Arfa, who’s explosive shot earned all three points for Newcastle, and piled on the misery for Everton. This result leaves the toffees with just two points in 19th place.
Goal of the Weekend: There were many contenders, yet Berbatov’s over head kick just beats Ben Arfa’s effort.
Blunder of the Weekend: Anthony Taylor’s refereeing display at Ewood Park, missed a red card and a blatant foul by El-Hadji Diouf.
Save of the Weekend: Petr Cech to deny Alex Baptiste, Chelsea vs Blackpool
This Week’s Teaser (admittedly an easy one)
Who’s the most recent player to play for both Manchester United and Liverpool?
I’ll leave you with an amazing stat, Jason Scotland scored again for Ipswich on Saturday. That means he’s doubled his league tally from last season, in an eighth of the time aswell. The mind boggles.