Sunday, May 3, 2009

United Pressure Liverpool, Joey Barton Strikes Again and Bye Bye Baggies

Newcastle's Joey Barton feigning innocence after his vicious assault on Xabi Alonso yesterday, the 3-0 loss effectively makes next week's match against Middlesbrough a cup tie. Elsewhere United put Liverpool under pressure for the first time in a while and the race for the Europa League heated up.

The Title Race
As many had predicted, Alex Ferguson chose to rest half his team against lowly Middlesbrough. Even then United completely outclassed their Riverside counterparts.

Wayne Rooney, the only midfield and striking survivor from United's Champions League win over Arsenal, dominated the game in every sense of the word. His workrate, intelligence, and passing were a joy to behold and he inspired his team to an easy 2-0 win.

In doing so, United went level on games played with Liverpool and six points clear, for 24 hours anyway.
Liverpool also entertained jokers from the north east. In welcoming Alan Shearer's laughable Toon Army to Anfield, 'Pool had the ideal opponents to play against.

The result was never going to be in question, just by how many. In the end Liverpool won 3-0 and that flattered Shearer, who is fast becoming a joke.

Joey Barton, making his return after being out injured for three months got himself sent off for a ridiculous challenge on Xabi Alonso. In doing so he has effectively picked up a three month suspension, because he won't play again this season.

You've got to wonder at the wisdom of signing a fool like Barton. He specializes in letting people down. A good player on his day, but he just can't be trusted. Alan Shearer became the latest in a long line of managers to be let down by the buffoon.

The Europa League
The race for the final place in the Europa League is hotting up.
Arsenal's kids team secured Champions League football for the club with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Paul Hart's Portsmouth. Incidentally, not one of the seven substitutes had ever started a senior match for Arsene Wenger's team.

Everton condemned Sunderland to a tense finish to the season by beating them 2-0.

The race for seventh place looks to be going down to the wire. Spurs beat West Brom 1-0, thanks to a goal from the great pretender that is Jermaine Jenas.

Manchester City destroyed Blackburn 3-1, even though Big Sam thought they were the better team, go figure...

Chelsea fielded a 4-4-2 for the first time this season and struggled to overcome Fulham 3-1, while Barcelona were hammering six past Real Madrid and West Ham pulled one out of the bag to beat Stoke 1-0 at the Brittania.

And as we move towards the last three weeks of the season only one point separates West Ham on 48 with, Fulham, Spurs, and Manchester City all on 47. Spurs entertain City next weekend...

The Relegation Dogfight
With Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Sunderland, Blackburn, and West Brom all losing this weekend, Hull have the chance to put a little distance between themselves and the bottom when they take on Aston Villa at Villa Park. Don't expect much...

While it looks more and more like a distinct possibility that the EPL will lose at least two teams from the North East, I would like to take this chance to welcome two more teams from the Midlands. Mick McCarthy's Wolves, and for the time being anyway, Alex McLeish's Birmingham both secured promotion over the last couple of weeks.

Monaco are now believed to be hot on the tail of McLeish after internal political disputes at Birmingham this season...

twitter / WillieGannon