Thoughts on the weekend's action in the Premier League:
City enjoyed a fair slice of fortune in establishing a lead over Blackpool (see below), but once
The distance between the reigning champion and City is down to just two points, but United -- edged by a solitary point last season -- is now five points back, sandwiched between Arsenal and Tottenham, all on 14 points.
The unfamiliar sound of boos buzzed around Old Trafford after the game, and to cap off the club's woes,
Others have pointed out that in current form, he will hardly be missed. Fair enough, perhaps, but the bigger problem for United is the lack of emerging talent comparable to players like Rooney at his best. Even if Real Madrid was frivolous enough to spend $95 million on the striker, there's little if any guarantee that the cash would find its way into the transfer kitty.
Everton was terrific, starting exactly as expected (though Liverpool's play showed little anticipation), teasing its neighbor down the flanks and, crucially, taking its chances before Liverpool recovered some semblance of composure and started to thread a few passes together.
The Reds were still mediocre rather than marvelous, however.
"I refuse to accept that we were in any way inferior," he said. "The second half was as good as I saw a Liverpool team play under my management."
Hodgson might have been well served by admitting that Liverpool should be better, and able to take the initiative before being two goals down. Instead, that statement may have hammered another nail into his coffin.
Officials at Craven Cottage initially decided that
At Bloomfield Road, Blackpool looked to have taken the lead against Manchester City when
Gallas was only off by a shoulder when Huddlestone struck the ball, and given that Schwarzer still dived the right way, his interference is arguable. Spurs were reasonable value for their win, but the rule's haziness was especially harsh for Blackpool, seeing as
"We're getting absolutely bo diddly squat, week in, week out," said Blackpool manager
Or is it? The two sides played a goalless draw on Saturday with both players absent through injury or illness. In their respective places,
There was thrust to both teams' play as Villa enjoyed the better of the first half and Chelsea the second, but the lack of cutting edge was telling. For Villa to look threadbare with a list of absentees almost as long as the team sheet is no real surprise -- but to end up questioning Chelsea's strength in depth is.
After Wolves negotiated 90 minutes against West Ham without being shown a single card, McCarthy said: "No yellow cards, and I asked all the lads to go out and knock seven bells out of everybody as well, like I normally do. Shame that, isn't it? They went out and played free-flowing football and were rampant for 45 minutes. What the heck were they playing at?"
In fact, he did so again in the program for Saturday's match against Birmingham City. So when the otherwise excellent
Instead, he accepted that Wilshere deserved a red card but insisted that it was a mistimed, not a malicious, tackle.
"He did not want to hurt the player," Wenger explained. "He did not spend the whole game trying to kick people."
Questioned by reporters about the Eboue challenge (his program notes had specifically mentioned the danger of scissor tackles), he snapped back: "Write what you want."
It's symptomatic of the siege mentality that has built up at Arsenal, where it's us against the world, and that has its uses on the pitch. Off it, Wenger could have backed up his own arguments by acknowledging that Arsenal players are just as capable of making the odd poor challenge as those directed by other managers -- and that those managers may have a point when they too claim their men meant no harm.
It's a good time for Bolton to find winning ways on home soil, with the pick-and-mix challenges of Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle to come in the next few weeks. Having scored, been booked and then sent off in an 11-minute appearance, Klasnic -- who hadn't featured since the opening day of the season -- will miss Bolton's trip to Wigan next weekend.
Chelsea hit the frame twice as it looked to beat Villa, which also saw a
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