By Paul O'Donnell
EPL Round 4
Back to the Action
Spurs less than energetic play and lack of scoring punch saw them shutout for the 3rd time in their first four games, this time at Old Trafford 1-0 with Ryan Giggs netting the winner. While they have never won an EPL match there I was disappointed to see their lack of urgency and overall very “soft” approach to this match. With DeFoe continuing to play only a bit part for Jol despite his terrific performance for England you have to say there is something amiss at White Hart Lane. With this terrible start they'll have to put together an extended winning run to get back where their supposed to be in the table. As if Jol needed this Lennon went down early and since he dismissed Routeledge back in the summer now he's in a bind. Despite the big spending over the summer Spurs are drifting and seem almost aimless at times with their lack of energy and ideas on the attack. Chances are few when they manage to create them and the final touch has been less than the best even when DeFoe is on the pitch. Spurs need a purple patch badly or this will be a disappointing season.
Talk about soft and uninspired effort Liverpool got smacked at Goodison Park by the Toffees and their new hero Andy Johnson. I told you this kid was for real and his brace in this one sealed the match for Everton and their 3-0 win in this 204th edition of the Merseyside Derby. Frankly, Liverpool didn't show up for this one.
Arsenal's sputtering start continued with a lackluster 1-1 draw with Boro thanks to yet another penalty (Henry in the 66th) while Bolton eeked one out over the stiff challenge of Watford on a late PK by the old man Gary Speed in stoppage time. This was one of those where the better side on the day lost with that late penalty and got nothing for all their effort. They deserved a better fate.
Pompey's great run to start the season continued with a 1-0 victory over Wigan. Remember what I said last year about any team gambling on Heskey to be a difference maker would likely be disappointed. Paul Jewell is seeing that come true right before his eyes.
If you think there have been far too many PK's awarded so far in the EPL hang on to your hats. Speaking of frustration and lack of scoring prowess my Blackburn Rovers played another 0-0 draw with Sheffield United and they were very fortunate with that to be frank. This one saw three PK's missed (Friedel saved two of them) in a match that was not really worthy of the EPL and showed why both of these sides will be among the strugglers to survive. Rovers only hope is to hang tough and hope they can find someone that can put the ball in the net over the winter break. If Mark Hughes doesn't succeed at that Rovers are going down Brad Friedel or not.
Fulham pulled a rabbit from their hat and got a 2-1 victory at St James' Park with two goals in the last 8 minutes. Brian McBride was instrumental in both tapping in the first from a nice cross by Routeledge in the 82nd and heading the ball off the bar which was bungled in by another American, Carlos Bocanegra, in the 88th. The Toon's new striker, Obafemi Martins, was less than impressive and will have Roeder still looking for someone that can score.
Chelsea's overall quality showed in their less than impressive 2-1 win over Charlton. Jose wasn't pleased seeing Lampard miss yet another PK but a win is a win.
West Ham and Aston Villa played to a 1-1 draw to end a week of highs for the Hammers. While there is much behind the scenes in the transfer of the two Argentines they had no influence in this first match in the EPL. Carlos Tezez made a cameo appearance and that was that. You'll be hearing much more from this guy. Could he be the man to actually make a hit in the EPL after some noted flops to hail from Argentina?
In the Monday match Reading got a deserved 1-0 victory over the punchless Manchester City. Bobby Convey's well executed free kick was headed home by Ingimarsson for the winner. A later dangerous corner from Convey and free header that should have made it two sailed high over the bar but the Royals held on to notch their 2nd victory in this first ever run in the top flight.
The high flying in form start by Man United with 4 straight wins (their best start ever in the EPL) and the surprisingly poor start by Tottenham set the stage for the biggest stories of the new season. If Jol doesn't get Spurs re-started and soon he could go to the top of the list of managers to be the first to lose their jobs. Another poor effort and he'll be hearing the chorus and might even get that dreaded “vote of confidence” from the chairman.