Thursday, August 16, 2007

Midweek Recap

It was another exciting round of games in the Premier League. After 2 matches, we're seeing the completely unexpected (Tottenham pointless, Sunderland with 4 points, Manchester City top of the table), and that's what makes the Premier League so exciting. It's the best domestic league in the world for my money. Just 2 more days until the weekend!

To the recaps:

1. Everton-3, Tottenham-1 (My prediction: Tottenham-1, Everton-1): It's a horror story in North East London right now as Tottenham have 0 points after 2 games. The crowd at White Hart Lane was quieted early as Joleon Lescott scored for Everton just 3 minutes into the game, and after Anthony Gardner equalized, Leon Osman slammed home a finish from close range and Alan Stubbs' thunderous free kick took a wicked deflection into the net to cap off the scoring. Jermain Defoe came on as a 60th minute sub and looked lively for Spurs, but Everton were clearly the better team today and sit on 6 points heading into their weekend game at Reading. Gareth Bale, Michael Dawson, and Aaron Lennon couldn't return from injury any sooner for Martin Jol.

2. Fulham-2, Bolton-1 (My prediction: Fulham-1, Bolton-1): Fulham and David Healy continue to impress as the Northern Ireland striker made it 2 goals in 2 games after scoring the game-tying tally. Alexei Smertin had the deflected winner for the Cottagers while former Fulham player Heidar Helguson scored for Bolton, who remain pointless on the season. Things aren't looking too good for little Sammy Lee; Bolton make the trip to Fratton Park this weekend.

3. Manchester City-1, Derby County-0 (My prediction: Manchester City-1, Derby County-1): Sven's boys are at the top of the league after their narrow victory against the Rams. 19-year old midfielder Michael Johnson ended a goal-scoring drought for City at the Eastlands of 227 days (New Year's Day was the last time they scored at home) and was set up by another young player, Stephen Ireland. With all the foreign players Sven has brought in this summer, it was two English youngsters who earned City the win. Derby played well and almost earned another point; they play Tottenham away on Saturday. Could they get points from that game? Play at the level they've played in their first 2 matches and it's more than possible.

4. Portsmouth-1, Manchester United-1 (My prediction: Portsmouth-2, Manchester United-1): Just when you didn't think it could get worse for Manchester United after Wayne Rooney's injury, Cristiano Ronaldo faces a 3-game suspension after his straight red card in the 84th minute. The match referee, Steve Bennett, has sent Ronaldo off once before and appeared pretty quick on the red card trigger this time around, perhaps a bit too quick. Benjani's powerful header gave Pompey a share of the points after Paul Scholes scored his club record 96th Premier League goal for United on a lovely strike. Sulley Muntari was sent off after receiving his second yellow card and will miss Portsmouth's game with Bolton this weekend. Manchester United will head across town to the Eastlands for a Manchester derby. 'Arry's lads don't make it look pretty, but they're getting the job done.

5. Birmingham City-2, Sunderland-2 (My prediction: Sunderland-2, Birmingham City-0): They left it late, but Roy Keane's Sunderland side remain unbeaten after a 2-2 draw with Birmingham. Keane and Birmingham manager Steve Bruce were former teammates at Manchester United and both have been linked to be Sir Alex Ferguson's successor. Nothing separated their teams today. Stern John finished off a goalmouth scrum for the Black Cats to tie the game in the 90th minute while Michael Chopra scored earlier to make it 2 goals in as many games. Birmingham took advantage of an own goal to go out in front 1-0 and appeared to have the win in the bag when Gary O'Connor scored in the 81st minute. Sunderland's trip to Wigan this weekend has all the makings of more points for them and Birmingham have a chance to also get points as they host West Ham. One more time?? Ok. Keane-O, Keane-O!!

6. Chelsea-2, Reading-1 (My prediction: Chelsea-1, Reading-0): As advertised, it wasn't a pretty game at the Madejski but Chelsea came from behind to win. This was exactly the type of game Chelsea needs to take full points from: on the road, against a tough mid-table team who plays to grind the game out. Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba scored for the Blues, who have 6 points from 2 games despite all the nagging injuries across the locker room. Reading went ahead on an Andre Bikey goal (Petr Cech really looked hesitant on that one, thinking about last season perhaps?) but looked doomed after Kalifa Cisse got sent off in the 72nd minute. It's early days, but one of the most important games of the season will be played on Sunday when Chelsea travel to Anfield to play Liverpool.

7. Wigan Athletic-1, Middlesbrough-0 (My prediction: Wigan Athletic-0, Middlesbrough-0): Thank God this game's over, I don't think I could watch 10 more minutes of these two teams going at it. It's quite possible that hitting my head with a hammer would've been a more productive use of 2 hours than watching this. Middlesbrough looked sluggish throughout; Antoine Siberski's second goal of the season gave Wigan the win at home. One good sign for the Boro: Mido's finishing his move from Tottenham and will join his new team at the Riverside soon. There's nothing better than signing someone else's 5th-choice striker!

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