By Paul O'Donnell
EPL Round 13
Liverpool’s run of truly poor form away from home continues in a 0-0 draw with Boro at the Riverside. Their ineffectiveness in front of goal has seemed to spread throughout the team. This is especially true in games away from Anfield since they have managed only a single goal in seven games while conceding 12. At least in this one they did manage to keep a clean sheet but that was the only positive on the day as chance after chance was spurned.
Only one other side in the league has been more futile scoring goals on the road; 18th placed Sheffield United. There will be no challenge this year from Liverpool. All that brave talk by Gerrard has been shown to be little more than a smoke screen. Liverpool will have to mount a tremendous run in hopes of achieving a UEFA Cup spot and they may not make that this year. The only good thing that would come from that would be the dismissal of Benitez which is looking overdue about now.
Henry’s 69th minute strike salvaged a point for the Gunners. Drat! Just when Newcastle looked set for a win but they couldn’t find that 2nd goal after the 29th minute opener from Dyer coming back off the injury list. Roeder was fortunate to have Shay Given back in goal for Newcastle as this one would have been 4 or 5 for the Gunners if it hadn’t been for his splendid play between the pipes.
West Ham 0
In another of those up tempo London derby’s Chelsea got the winner at the Bridge from an unlikely free kick taker, Geremi. Are you kidding me? With Lampard, Ballack, Drogba, Robben and friends Jose has this guy taking a free kick? Go figure. The precise strike was as perfect as they come in the 21st minute and that was all they needed. Maybe Jose has found a replacement for the penalty kick taker to replace Lampard?
Pompey steals the points at home with an 88th minute penalty from LuaLua in a game that could have gone either way and it would have been a fair result. American Jay Demerit, playing on loan at Watford got the opener on a terrific header before Kanu levelled for Pompey. In a bit of pay back it was Demerit’s foul that produced the penalty while his goal came from an error by the on field officials that led to a corner kick being given when it should have been a goal kick.
Searching for inspiration and someone to replace Tim Cahill’s enthusiasm and goals the Toffees got the winner from Arteta in the 59th as AJ’s drought continues. They got their 3 points but this team is really suffering the loss of the Aussie Cahill and are in need of someone stepping up.
Showing the poor run of Charlton wasn’t entirely Ian Dowie’s doing Reading pins their ears back and ensures Charlton stay rooted to the bottom spot. Goals from Seol in the 17th and the young Irishman Doyle in the 71st to nail down the win, the Royals sixth on the season in their inaugural appearance in the top flight and keeps their place in the top ten to boot (8th). Their point total goes to 19 which is nearly half way to the goal most believe guarantees survival for another year in the top flight. Well done Royals.
Sheffield United 1
Manchester United 2
A 12th minute opener from Gillespie put the Blades on top in this one and that might have been a bad thing as it turned out. It put the Blades in a defensive frame of mind and for the most part the remainder of the game was played in their end of the pitch. Not a comfortable situation when playing any truly quality side and especially a ManU team this year. Rooney crashed a double to win it for the Red Devils but frankly, it could have, and should have been more. Two clear penalties were not given in the first half alone as the Blades were being pressed to the wall by ManU. Rooney’s second and the match winner came in the 74th.
Manchester City 3
City kept their unbeaten streak alive at home with two from Corradi and the 3rd from Joey Barton before Fulham’s answer from John in the 61st minute. Probably the Cottager’s worst performance on the season so far despite them being the first team to score a goal at the City of Manchester stadium this season.
Aston Villa 0
Villa missed their chance to move up to 3rd in the table as each team was affected by the early taste of winter in the northwest of England. An up tempo first half that produced chances for both sides was followed by 45 minutes of less than stellar play especially considering both these sides are in the top ten.
The weekend action was brought to a close in an ill-tempered match at Ewood Park. Rovers took a deserved 1-0 lead into the locker room at the break from a brilliant strike by Tugay. They would surrender the advantage early in the second period on yet another penalty call going against them as their goal scorer was dismissed on the play. Rovers have had nearly twice as many penalties whistled against them than any other side in the EPL. DeFoe cashed in the penalty in the 61st to level the score at 1.
The referee would even the sides in 2nd half stoppage time when Ghaly was shown a straight red for a violent elbow to the head on a 50-50 challenge. Jol was also escorted to the stands in the aftermath of the play as I’m sure he was frustrated by the lack of quality he saw from his side despite the man advantage for most of the half. Surely not the type of showing he hoped to see from Spurs on this day and now he’ll be short a defender for three games as well. Expect a challenge to reduce that to a one match ban.
Rovers may not have the quality in the attack to challenge for a European place this season but they remain a difficult side to breakdown. A thought for Hughes; how about a run at SWP in the winter window who is languishing on the hardwood at Chelsea? An in form SWP in partnership with Bennie McCarthy would make this team a very different bunch for any to deal with thats for certain.
Just think of the talent lost to Rovers over the past two seasons; Dickov, Dunne, Duff and Bellamy and a few others as well. You have to wonder where they would be if Souness hadn’t poisoned the water at Ewood Park.