Monday, August 13, 2007

Weekend Recap

Well, what can I say about this weekend? I'll be the first to admit that nearly all of my predictions were wrong, and it was a crazy opening slate of games in the Premiership. We saw injuries, we saw cards, we saw some great goals (including two breathtaking efforts); the bottom line is we saw good soccer, and that's what matters most. The Premiership is back, 37 more games to go!

On to the recaps:

1. Sunderland-1, Tottenham-0 (My prediction: Tottenham-2, Sunderland-1): The first 45 minutes were about as drab as you can get, with only a couple decent chances for each team. Tottenham fielded a less-than-full strength lineup, but no excuses, they came to the Stadium of Light expecting 3 points. Michael Chopra's second half injury-time winner gave Roy Keane a victorious Premiership managerial debut.

2. Newcastle-3, Bolton-1 (My prediction: Bolton-1, Newcastle-1): Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce enjoyed a dominating performance from his side on his return to the Reebok Stadium, where he led Bolton to four consecutive top 8 finishes. Two goals from Obafemi Martins, including a wonderful overhead kick, led the Magpies to a win on the road.

3. Derby County-2, Portsmouth-2 (My prediction: Portsmouth-2, Derby County-0): This is a game Portsmouth didn't deserve to win, yet Derby didn't deserve to lose either, so a draw was the only fair result. A soft goal by Benjani Mwaruwari tied the game at 1 after an early goal from Derby's Matt Oakley. John Utaka put Portsmouth ahead in the 82nd minute but a diving header from Andy Todd just 2 minutes later earned a share of the points for Derby. Portsmouth were caught on their heels early and often in this game and it was a disappointing game for the team from the South Coast. The draw was more than Derby could've hoped for I think, we'll see if they can expand on this good result.

4. Everton-2, Wigan Athletic-1 (My prediction: Everton-2, Wigan-0): Finally, I got one right! Everton dominated this game for 80 minutes and held off Wigan for a home win. Leon Osman and young Nigerian up-and-comer Victor Anichebe scored for the Toffees, and new signing Antoine Sibierski scored what turned out to be a consolation goal for Wigan. Leighton Baines was held out of the game due to injury, but I have no doubt he'll be in the lineup when Everton play at the JJB in January.

5. Blackburn-2, Middlesbrough-1 (My prediction: Blackburn-3, Middlesbrough-0): What a pathetic crowd at the Riverside for this game. First game of the season and Middlesbrough can't even get a sellout?? Roque Santa Cruz scored just two minutes after making his debut as a substitute for the injured Benni McCarthy, and fellow substitute Matt Derbyshire sent a curling beauty into the top corner of the net only 23 seconds after he came in. Stewart Downing put Middlesbrough ahead 1-0 on a free kick, but Boro couldn't hold the lead at home.

6. Manchester City-2, West Ham-0 (My prediction: West Ham-2, Manchester City-0): You can debate about who you think was the most impressive team this week, either City or Newcastle, but for my money I'll take Sven's boys. The new signings jelled together and simply outclassed West Ham, spurred by goals from Rolando Bianchi and Geovanni (absolutely comical defending on Nedum Onouha's run to set up Geovanni; Onouha is a defender for God's sake!). Great road victory for Manchester City.

7. Liverpool-2, Aston Villa-1 (My prediction: Aston Villa-1, Liverpool-1): A magical goal by Steven Gerrard gave the Reds the victory at Villa Park, one they fully deserved but looked to be denied after Gareth Barry converted a penalty to tie the game 1-1 in the 86th minute. Gerrard's free kick could turn out to be the goal of the season, and it gave Liverpool the 3 points they needed after a tough, physical affair in Birmingham. Ashley Young played extremely well for Villa in defeat.

8. Arsenal-2, Fulham-1 (My prediction: Arsenal-3, Fulham-0): Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez should give serious thought to starting Tony Warner in goal more often this year as Warner, who started on just 10 minutes' notice after Antti Niemi got injured during warmups, stood on his head in net all game long. Arsenal were very fortunate to win the game. Jens Lehmann's mistake was punished by David Healy not even a minute into the match and Fulham succesfully defended their lead for 80+ minutes. Robin van Persie's booming penalty kick equalized for the Gunners and Aliaksandr Hleb won the game in injury time, snatching the points from Fulham.

9. Chelsea-3, Birmingham City-2 (My prediction: Chelsea-2, Birmingham City-0): Shoddy goalkeeping was the major theme throughout this game. Goals by Michael Essien and Claudio Pizarro could've, and should've, been saved by Birmingham goalie Colin Doyle. Mikael Forssell put Birmingham ahead early after redirecting a flick by Liam Ridgewell, but that lead was short-lived. Jose Mourinho shouldn't be disappointed by his team's performance as Chelsea clearly controlled the game but giving up 2 goals to Birmingham is a bit troubling.

10. Manchester United-0, Reading-0 (My prediction: Manchester United-2, Reading-1): Full credit to Reading for snatching a point from this game, but Manchester United can't be happy with this result. They had their chances and were even up a man after Reading's Dave Kitson got sent off in the 72nd minute, not even a minute after coming off the bench. A hairline fracture of Wayne Rooney's foot will keep the England striker out for 2 months, and the decision to let Alan Smith and Giuseppe Rossi doesn't look too wise right now. Calling Dong Fangzhuo, calling Dong Fangzhuo!


Anonymous said...

jus wanted to say sunderlands defensive line should b applauded. sure the game was dull but that couldnt have been any better for sunderland. their new nine million pound keeper hardly had much to do and that is sayin something considering tottenhams strikeforce.

also gerrards freekick was a beauty but the "foul" wasnt even going to b called had it not been for gerrards advice on the play. i wouldnt b complaining but he speaks out aganist divers and theatrics. instead of throwing urself into a player and screaming at the referee who calls it becuase of ur reputation, y not work ur a** off to get the ball back and score a credible goal which nobody will b complaining about. neways i wrote way too much already.

The Brick said...

Does Rooney's injury change your prediction that Man U will win it all. My money is on Chelsea.

MJ said...

Rooney's injury doesn't change my prediction one bit. The fact of the matter is Chelsea have far more meaningful injuries than Manchester United, what with Essien, Makelele, and Drogba banged up and Terry out at least a month.

The blow of Wazza's injury will be greatly softened by the addition Carlos Tevez, who will make his first start against Portsmouth tomorrow. Giggs is capable of playing behind the striker and that would possibly allow Nani to play on the wing. United will be fine, and Rooney's injury doesn't alter who I think will win the Premiership.