Premier League Review

by Dylan O'Neill

Well this weekend was definitely starved for goals with just 18 goals in 10 matches with seven teams not even scoring. The big match that was looked to for goals excelled in other ways as Spurs, who had been on a goal rush, failed to deliver that pulsating form as they played out an extraordinary draw against the recently form starved Chelsea.

On Saturday the record was equaled for the lowest amount of goals scored on one day, for this season, with only 12 goals being shared between 12 teams. There were notable wins for strugglers Wolves and Aston Villa, while Blackpool won the ‘Matthews Derby’ against Stoke and Newcastle beat the inconsistent Liverpool.

The shock of Saturday was easily Liverpool’s defeat to Newcastle. Liverpool, who’ve recently started to impress were firm favorites as Newcastle were still reeling from the local media blitz regarding the appointment of Alan Pardrew as manager. Newcastle took the lead through a Kevin Nolan header, which was guided into his path superbly by Andy Carroll who had nodded down from a free kick. There were chances few and far between with Liverpool taking control but Newcastle led going into the break. Liverpool equalized through Dirk Kuyt as the ball fell to him just outside the box and slotted home in the 55th minute with incredibly sloppy defending taking part. Then Newcastle retook the in the 80th minute with Joey Barton sneaking in as once again sloppy defending was on display and in injury time Andy Carroll’s superb left-footed effort made it 3-1 rubbing salt to the wounds. I’m sure the Magpies would be delighted with that win as it lifts them up to eighth and it must at least relieve some of the pressure on Alan Pardrew’s Shoulders.

Sunday’s feature match pitted fourth against fifth as Chelsea looked to end a run of 4 winless games with a win over their London rivals. Spurs however were in dreamland having qualified first from their Champions League group mid-week and had scored for fun with 18 goals in just 6 games.

Spurs continued their good run of form yesterday by holding Chelsea to an exhilarating 1-1 draw. The deadlock was broken within 15 minutes, Assou Ekotto playing a ball down the left flank for the fractionally offside Defoe as he fed Roman Pavuylchenko who delivered a low left footed drive to beat Cech at his near post and send the spurs fans into raptures.

It continued to fascinate as both teams committed numerous men forward and a great display of end-to-end football was on show. There were chances for either side with the champions slightly edging out Tottenham as Chelsea started to take control. Solomon Kalou had the best chance for Chelsea as he applied a deft touch to Ramires’ cross but it wasn’t enough as they continued to search for the equalizer. Tottenham ended the half the weaker of the two but they were far from being dominated.

In the second half Chelsea introduced Didier Drogba as they pushed for an equalizer. Tottenham had to sustain huge amounts of pressure from Chelsea early on in the second half. Chelsea eventually got their reward for continuous persistence on 71 minutes courtesy of a Heurilho Gomes error. A long ball from Petr Cech was evidently handled by Drogba, before he progressed and smashed the resulting shot, bouncing off Gomes’ chest and spinning over the line. Spurs were getting more and more into the game and introduced Robbie Keane & Sandro to spice things up a bit. It was an enthralling premier league match and examples like this have proved why this is the number one league in the world. Neither team was settling for a draw and both endlessly pushed for a winner.

At the beginning of injury time Chelsea were awarded a season defining penalty. It was a make or break moment as this penalty would define their season and they would have gone back to top of the table. A long free kick was delivered by Lampard, flicked on by Drogba to the on rushing Ramires who was sensationally flattened by Heurelio Gomez giving the visitors a much needed break. Drogba stepped up and with a catalogue of success from the spot, side footed to the left of Gomez as he parried and Chelsea’s chance to steal all 3 points evaporated. It would have been cruel on Spurs having defended so well throughout the match and conceding like that would have been the ultimate low blow however, they held on to share the spoils.

Manchester United entertained Arsenal on Monday evening in what was the top of the table clash. During these recent years the rivalry has subdued with Sir Alex Ferguson & Arsene Wenger forming an unlikely alliance. Last season Manchester United did the double over the Gunners and since 2009 Arsenal hadn’t won in their last 10 games facing United/Chelsea as they desperately tried to break that duck tonight.

It was a dull game, which sprang to life on 40 minutes. A Nani shot deflected into Ji Sung Parks path, and he repeated that innovative goal that Javier Hernandez scored against Stoke. It was the spark that brought the match to life as the next five minutes of the half had opened up and Manchester United took control and led by a goal to nil at half time. Manchester United looked the better team and Arsenal lacked any fluency in their play. Both teams were guilty of giving the ball away far too often with Carrick and even Jack Wilshere misplacing passes in dangerous areas.

The match opened up more in the second half with chances galore on show. Arsenal started the stronger of the two sides but couldn’t find a way through the tightly packed defense of United. Arsenal continuously went in search of that equalizing goal and threatened the United goal for large periods of the second half. On 75 minutes United broke, and Nani flew down the right wing one on one with Gael Cliché. He twist and turned inside the box and Cliché handled it conceding an undeserved penalty for the hosts. Rooney stepped up, having only scored twice from the spot for United this season, blasted over handing Arsenal a lifeline. The gunners continued to press and United spent most of the latter stage of the second half on the back foot. The United defense had been superbly tactically set up as they diverted danger every time the gunners came knocking. The second half also delivered more of a typical game between these two as tempers started to flare and every aerial challenge was  contended ferociously with a cluster of free kicks being given in the process.

It was once again a cracking display from Anderson as he was at the heart of all of United’s offence bursting clear but often fell at the final hurdle, which would have seen United out of sight.

Surprisingly despite all the dominance from Arsenal, Manchester United had the better of the chances.  A break from United nearly led to a first goal in open play since March for Rooney as he caught eye of debutant Szcesney off his line and elegantly tried to chip him but there was a lack of loft and Arsenal escaped. Anderson also threatened the Londoners goal as Rooney neatly put him through before his shot was fantastically saved by Szesney. Nani too, got in on the action as he dispossessed Gael Cliché and wasted a one-on-one with Szesney shooting over while Rooney screamed at him for not passing the ball as he was in a better goal scoring position. Arsenal rarely looked like troubling United although they did come close with a volley from Rocisky but it bobbled wide of the goal and Theo Walcott had a late chance to grab an equalizer to share the spoils but his volley went high and wide as United stretched their unbeaten run over Arsenal to 10 games dating back to Dec 08 when Arsenal won 1-0.

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