August 28, 2006
EPL Weekend 2 Recap
It was an interesting weekend filled with most of the expected results, Arsenal’s continuing struggles and the NFL owners ending the weekend sitting 1-2 in the league.
Watford 1-2 Manchester United – Watford looked pretty good against the Premiership leaders. Ashley Young is clearly not going to stay at Vicarage Road for very long. Darius Henderson, on the other hand, not so good. He missed a sitter which could have changed the whole complexion of the match. Matthew Spring then put Ryan Giggs through for United’s winner. Watford can stay up with play like that, but they will need to get points from these kinds of matches.
Not much to say about United, except that they keep winning. Mikael Silvestre took his goal well, while Giggs took advantage of a critical defensive error. The Red Devils continue to cruise at the top of the table.
Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal – City duplicated the strategy Villa adopted against Arsenal to great success. Nicky Weaver came up with a couple of important saves, before Trevor Sinclair was wiped out in the penalty area by Justin Hoyte. Joey Barton buried the penalty before proceeding with an awful goal celebration. The defense held firm and the second half and Stuart Pearce’s men took the three points.
Arsenal clearly need a change of mentality. Their attack has effectively been reduced to trying to beat ten defenders in a space of 15 yards outside of the penalty area and not using the full width of the pitch. When they change this they are capable of anything, like the 7-0 pasting of Boro last season. But too often, they just try to score with 15 pass moves that are easily dealt with even when they are behind.
Liverpool 2-1 West Ham United – It looked like another one of those days when Liverpool would create tons of chances and score on none of them. However, Daniel Agger’s piledriver into the top corner from 30 yards changed that, while Peter Crouch took his goal well. Of some concern is Jose Reina’s problems with crosses that led to the Hammers lone goal.
West Ham played well and Bobby Zamora continues to get closer to the England team after scoring his fourth goal of the season. Sure, he was accidentally scored with his cross, but he will gladly take it. The Hammers defense continued to be a concern as their failure to pressure Agger on his goal completely changed the game.
Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Everton – Spurs continue to falter early in the campaign with performances that are not easy on the eyes. They were unable to create many chances even though they were playing against ten men for nearly an hour. In the second half, they struggled with Andy Johnson’s workrate which led to both goals. Spurs have already dropped six points they were expected to take in their first three matches.
Everton look to be back on the rise, and Johnson is the key man in the team thus far. Playing a man down, the striker won the free kick that resulted in Calum Davenport’s own goal before scoring one on his own. Everton are looking like a team that could challenge for fourth spot at this point.
Charlton Athletic 2-0 Bolton Wanderers – Charlton stymied Bolton’s route one attack despite being down a man after Herman Hreidarsson’s flying elbow into Kevin Davies’ face. On loan goalkeeper Scott Carson made a critical penalty save on El-Hadji Diouf before Darren Bent scored his own penalty on the other end. With the sides even, Bent scored his second of the afternoon to seal the three points for Charlton.
Bolton had numerous chances to take the lead early. Stelios Giannakopoulos was through on goal and did not even get a shot away. He also missed an open header from six yards out. Diouf’s missed penalty was another blow, as was Kevin Davies’ sending off. Bolton probably deserved a point on their efforts, but it rarely works out that way.
Wigan Athletic 1-0 Reading – Wigan did the impossible. They got a goal out of emile heskey, who only needs nine more this season in all competitions to get his name capitalized again. The Latics were the better side throughout and they showed the quality which should see them finish midtable again.
Reading forced a couple of good saves out of Chris Kirkland, but otherwise they never looked like getting a result out of this one. They may be forced to bring in a few new faces in the next couple days or risk being forced into the relegation battle.
Fulham 1-0 Sheffield United – The side that ambition forgot scored their first win of the season against relegation threatened Sheffield United. Jimmy Bullard put in an inspired performance capped by a goal for the Cottagers.
Sheffield United didn’t really do much in this match other than create opportunities at the back for Fulham. They are going to have to do better than going for scoreless draws on the road if they want to stay up.
Blackburn Rovers 0-2 Chelsea – Blackburn started well as they went after Chelsea, but they created on a couple of decent chances. The second half turned into a nightmare for new signing Andre Ooijer as his rugby tackle of John Terry gave the Blues a penalty. Benni McCarthy went close immediately after as Rovers continued to create goal scoring opportunities. Chelsea then ended it as Didier Drogba shrugged off Ooijer’s pathetic attempt at a tackle to power a shot past Brad Friedel.
Chelsea took the three points, but they may only have Ooijer to thank. Despite the star-studded lineup, they still looked vulnerable and this pattern may continue for a while. That said, they still took all the points on a bad performance and that is what good teams do. Finally, Khalid Boulahrouz is wearing the number 9 shirt this season, which means he needs to score a ton from the back to justify wearing that number.
Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle United – Martin O’Neill continues to get excellent performances out of the same players who finished 16th last season. In particular, the forwards in Villa’s 4-3-3 formation. Luke Moore scored in the opening minute with a superb shot through traffic, while Gabriel Agbonlahor set up Juan Pablo Angel’s goal later in the first half. The defense left few openings and Villa now sit in the lofty heights of second in the Premiership.
Newcastle continue to have no luck with strikers. Shola Ameobi had to miss this match with an injury, while new signing Obafemi Martins left the match on a stretcher with a leg injury. Damien Duff and Scott Parker both had good efforts in a losing cause. The Magpies need fit strikers though if they want to have a chance of finishing in the top six.