Tuesday, September 29, 2009

EPL Review: Ancelloti Out, Torres Rout, Arsenal Win Ugly, and Spurs

It was a weekend to remember in the Premiership. Thirty-seven goals were scored over the 10 fixtures, the Chelsea machine was finally beaten, Fernando Torres beat Hull, and Arsenal finally won without playing well.

There was a multitude of great stories on Saturday, starting with the Blues shock defeat to Wigan at the DW stadium.

In the Latics' last two games against teams from the “Big-Four,” they had conceded nine goals, and the same was expected against Carlo Ancellotti’s high flying Chelsea. But a strangely muted performance by the Premier League’s trend setters left them well off the pace as Roberto Martinez’s men capitalized on their off day.

Titus Bramble opened the scoring for Wigan before Didier Drogba drew Chelsea level against the run of play. All that hard work went to waste as Petr Cech gave away a penalty and got dismissed into the bargain, Hugo Rodellaga scored the resulting penalty, and Paul Scharner rubbed salt in the wounds with a third in injury time.

How Chelsea respond from this will be very interesting to see. Last season everything was going well until the Pensioners were beaten by Liverpool and the wheels quickly came off the wagon as in-fighting engulfed the club.

There is already a mass of factions and huge friction in the corridors of power at Chelsea; so far it has not affected the team...

The embattled Phil Brown led Hull to the last place he wanted to bring them. Fortress Anfield.

They made a game of it for 28 minutes though.

Fernando Torres scored a memorable hat-trick before leaving the pitch in the 66th minute for Ryan Babel who added another two. The second of which was one of the biggest flukes you’re ever likely to see.

Speaking of which, Steven Gerrard’s goal was a bit of a fluke, too.

Brown rounded on his team after the match, saying their performance wasn’t worthy of the jersey and that their defending was disgraceful.

For a manager who has only won a handful of matches since he made his team sit in the middle of a pitch last year to come out with stuff like this really shows that he isn’t learning.

I’d give him a maximum of two games to get full points, otherwise he’s gone.

Hull has conceded 16 goals in their last four games and is in absolute freefall. Relegation seems almost a certainty at this stage of the season.

They do have a good run of fixtures depending on your point of view. Every one of their next five is a relegation six-pointer. They play Wigan, Fulham, Portsmouth, Burnley, and Stoke.

Everton were the latest team to inflict defeat upon hapless Paul Hart and Portsmouth. Somewhat fortuitously one might add. Louis Saha scored the only goal of the game, but Pompey was denied a point by at least four goal line clearances.

When your luck is gone, it’s really gone.

Manchester United moved to the top of the table for the first time this season with a 2-0 win over Stoke. United found it hard to break down the Potters' 11 men behind the ball defense, so enter Ryan Giggs. Two assists later and United are strolling to a win.

Speaking of strolling to a win, Spurs well and truly mullered poor old Burnley at White Hart Lane.

Robbie Keane scored four and had a hand in the fifth as Tottenham steam rolled Owen Coyle’s travel sick team.

For Spurs it was a day to remember. Their captain scored four. The team won 5-0. They kept a clean sheet for the first time since last April and Gareth Bale’s jinx on the team was finally broken.

For Burnley, the Spurs result is another in a depressing run of away results that has seen them lose 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, and now 5-0. They travel to Blackburn next...

Elsewhere, Blackburn battled to a well deserved win over Aston Villa at Ewood Park. Gabriel Agbonlahor scored his fourth goal in four games before the giant that is Christopher Samba equalised. Blackburn then found themselves down to 10 men as Vince Grella was sent off, but if Big Sam’s teams do anything its fight.

David Dunn smashed home the winner from the penalty spot after Richard Dunne’s foolish handball while blocking a shot.

Vito Mannone was the hero at Craven Cottage, as Arsenal put in one of their most insipid performances in years. Fulham tore them apart and a virtuoso performance from the young Italian denied them at least five goals.

It was a real 10/10 performance by Arsenal’s third choice ‘keeper and it will go some way to wiping the memory of his poor debut when on loan to Barnsley.

To top it off, Robin van Persie, fresh from his own admissions that he looks for free kicks and penalties through exaggerating fouls, popped up to score a brilliant winner against the run of play.

The Gunners winning ugly for the first time in years.

Birmingham was beaten 2-1 at St. Andrews by Bolton.

Alex McLeish’s team will be doing well to win a game this side of Christmas if they keep playing the way they are. One man up front at home against a side like Bolton does not bode well for the future.

Sunderland kept up their good start to the season with a 5-2 win over Wolves, this game had everything. Good goals end to end action and some of the maddest defending you’ll ever see.

John Mensah’s own goal will go down in YouTube folklore.

On Monday night, Carlos Tevez returned to haunt at least one of his old teams by scoring twice against West Ham in City's 3-1 win. Gianfranco Zola coming to the slow realisation that his honeymoon period is well and truly over and that year two will be harder than last season.

Carlos Tevez showing Emmanuel Adebayor how to celebrate with dignity against your old team.

Ten Statements after week seven.

1) As the league stands after seven games, the teams in the top nine positions will still occupy those nine, albeit in a different order come May.

2) Is the boardroom in-fighting affecting Chelsea?

3) Spurs have the team to expose every team in the EPL bar the top four.

4) Roy Keane’s Ipswich career looks to be almost over after 11 games without a win. They really need to show something away to high flying Sheffield United.

5) Hull look doomed, but so does Phil Brown, the Tigers will be if they don't get rid of him before Christmas.

6) If Paul Hart didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.

7) Liverpool has done very well to re-enter the title race. And they face Chelsea and United over the next couple of weeks.

8) Arsenal winning ugly!

9) The Champions League group stages are a disaster, boring rubbish. The knockout round never seemed so far away.

10) There are at least seven teams fighting against relegation. Hull and Portsmouth should go down and they’ll be joined by someone from this group: Wolves, Birmingham, Burnley, Wigan, and Bolton.

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