Sep 28, 2010

Premier Shocks: The Weird And The Wonderful

By Scott Rogers

Another weekend passes us by and it was another weekend that should have seen routine outcomes, with the so called bigger sides facing the small fishes in the big premier league pond, however the weekend strangely turned into one that was very different to what we are used to... someone had decided to re-write the premier league script. We are privileged in England to have so many good teams and this Weekend confirmed that we really do have the best and most competitive league in the World. Before the events of this Weekend, the story is usually very much the same, the top five or six teams winning and the rest fighting it out for three points to try and narrow the gap. However, this Weekend was very, very different with none of the top four from last Season winning and the team that were replaced in the top four at the end of last Season Liverpool also having to settle for a point at home. Only one of the sides expected to be battling for a Champions League place at the end of the Season managed three points, which was Man City’s 1-0 home win over Champions Chelsea, although this result is not as much of a shock as some of the results registered over the Weekend, it still bought and end to Chelsea’s 100% start and added to their midweek League Cup misery after being defeated against Newcastle in the League Cup on home soil.

The side that Chelsea replaced as Champions, Manchester United also had to settle for a point after coming from behind twice to claim a 2-2 draw away at Bolton. Goals from Nani and Michael Owen cancelled out goals from Bolton’s Zat Knight and Martiv Petrov. This will certainly be seen as a better point for Bolton than United despite the visitor’s coming from behind twice. The game was also a highlight for a different reason; Michael Owen’s equaliser was his 200th club goal in England following his brace in the midweek League Cup thrashing of Scunthorpe.

Arsenal who started the day four points behind leaders Chelsea also dropped points despite being heavily tipped to beat West Brom at The Emirates. West Brom started the better side and after getting a penalty for a blatant foul by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and it was the Spaniard that made amends with a great save from Chris Brunt’s penalty. Despite this setback, West Brom stunned Arsenal by scoring three goals in twenty three second half minutes through goals from Peter Odemwingie, Jara and Jerome Thomas and despite a late Samir Nasri double, West Brom were able to secure the three points and move themselves into sixth place, just two points behind Arsenal who remain four points off the top after Chelsea’s defeat at Man City due to a strike from Carlos Tevez. Champions League new boy’s and Arsenal’s North London rivals also came away from their game with nothing to show for it after suffering a 1-0 defeat away at fellow London club West Ham. It was the second defeat for Tottenham against a rival club in five days after their Midweek cup defeat at home to Arsenal where they were on the receiving end of a 4-1 defeat after another Samir Nasri double with his brace this time both coming from the penalty spot. Back to the weekend and it was a Frederic Piquionne header that was enough to hand West Ham their first victory of the season and to lift them off the bottom of the table where they were replaced by Everton. The final surprising result of the Weekend was a 2-2 draw between Champions League hopefuls Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield.

Liverpool’s recent poor form and the fact that they are below Sunderland in the table may argue that this was not really a shock but the players that Liverpool have at their disposal means that they must still be classed as one of the best sides in the country. Liverpool were perhaps fortunate to come away with a point after their first goal was one of the most bizarre that I have seen after Michael Turner back heeled the ball back to his goalkeeper to allow him to take the free kick, only for Fernando Torres to run in and square the ball to Dirk Kuyt to tap home and unbelievably the goal was allowed to stand, much to the annoyance of Steve Bruce and Sunderland. A Darren Bent double then put Sunderland ahead only for Liverpool’s captain Marvel Steven Gerrard to head home an equaliser and save Liverpool’s blushes like he has done so many times before. Unfortunately for Liverpool, he wasn’t around on Wednesday after Liverpool crashed to one of the most embarrassing defeats in their history as they suffered a home defeat against Northampton on penalties after the game had finished 2-2 after extra time.

The fact that we view these results as shocks proves that the Premier League is very much about reputation and although Weekends like this one are very rare, the neutral supporter enjoys them much more than watching the “bigger sides” winning week in, week out. Results like the Midweek victory for League 2 Northampton over Premier League Liverpool keep the underdogs dreaming that it could be them performing the next victory for David over Goliath and prove that reputation is very much a myth and every side should be treated with respect which may well have been Liverpool’s problem in Midweek, I’m sure they won’t be making the same mistake again in a hurry.

So then, Arsenal can’t quite fight back, united needed another old head to grab a point whilst their rivals City beat the reigning champions. Is this just the script writer’s week off or have football results finally returned to being determined by actually playing the game rather than reputation? Only time will tell and I guess we’ll find out, when Saturday comes round again.

No comments: