Monday, August 25, 2008

english premier league 25 August 2008

The premier league shows that the new boys will cause heartache at home to the established bunch. My poker money flew out the window as i gambled on lots of netters between Blackburn and Hull and between fulham and arsenal only to be shown how good defence is at home games.

Fulham 1: Arsenal 0 at Craven Cottage

Norwegian defender Brede Hangeland was a Craven Cottage hero as Fulham held on for a good 1-0 victory over Arsenal in making amends for last week's 2-1 defeat at promoted Hull where where they lost courtesy of a stuff-up by the left-back, Paul Konchesky (absent today). It was a opportunist effort by 6ft 5ins centre-back whose height is a big weapon .Lanky Finland left-back Toni Kallio a sole change to the team that lost at Hull. Were Arsenal bad or Fulham very good. Time will tell, it's only early days - when fresh and motivated players have their say. Me thinks Fulham though, will struggle for goals until injured £10.5million signing Andrew Johnson starts.

Fulham started the brighter and shut the supply, breaking up play through niggling fouls. Jimmy Bullard was inspirational in midfield as ever, carried the battle to Arsenal from the start. Fulham played well for 70 minutes - with composure and good ball-passing, then spent the last or 20 trying hard to cling on to the lead..and they forgot about their earlier "style". Even though they showed fighting spirit, It is dangerous to invite teams - especially teams of this quality - on to you. The ball was repeatedly around Fulham's penalty area. But this was where the Gunners also failed...seemed really nervous and wanted to just hit the ball up there rather than create a chances.

Arsenal's performance exposed obvious flaws in Arsene Wenger's team just days before its Champions League second-leg qualifier against FC Twente. Lucky it's a home game and Fabregas is ecpected to play. They began with a piss-weak opening 45 minutes, marked by a 21st minute goal to centre-back Hangeland who charged onto Jimmy Bullard's low corner kick while Gallas and Toure swapped details about their whacking pay-packets. Earlier, Robin van Persie missed a sitter from eight yards. Possession, passing, pure football - the Arsenal way of playing, often beautiful to observe was broken with simple fundamentals of fitness and organisation added to relentless pressure upon the visiting defenders. I've never seen an Arsenal team hit so many long balls. At one point cottage fans were singing: 'Are you Derby in disguise?'

Without Fabregas, Arsenal struggled to beat West Brom last week at the Emirates, now missing that skill, they were also very soft early against an in-your-face cottagers who were not going to deny their fans. Although Adebayor's header from Sagna's cross hit the post soon after Fulham's goal it was a once-off scare. The central midfield pairing of Denilson and Emmanuel Edoue, seldom seen in this role before, simply could not take command– the signs were there last week. The pairing were woefully lacking in experience against Murphy and Bullard, who dominated three quarters of the game.

Arsenal tried to impose its possession game in the early stages but created few chances and when Gera slipped a good ball through to Zamora in the eighth minute. He carelessly chipped a poor shot over the crossbar from a difficult angle when he should have waited for support to arrive.

Thankfully, Arsenal had Clichy getting back to dispossess Zamora shortly afterwards when the former West Ham striker came raiding again. New Emirate boy Nasri was a determined and class-above but he was not helped by team mates. The anonymous Walcott was replaced by the more muscular Dane, Nicklas Bendtner which made little difference and there was just no penetration to go with Arsenal's possession. Aaron Ramsey, might have been a better bet. Come back Gilberto Silva, Mathieu Flamini and Alex Hleb!!

Given these 2 performances...the gunners are already playing catch-up against Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

West Bromwich 1 Everton 2 at The Hawthorns

After completely dominating for the first hour, Albion prematurely let their hair down and out of nowhere maestro Mikel Arteta pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a wonderfully timed and weighted pass into the feet of Leon Osman who fired past the keeper Carson in the 65th minute and within 11 minutes they were two ahead when Yakubu capitalised on a mix-up between Carson and his defenders to head home. West Brom cut the deficit when Roman Bednar converted a penalty in the 89th minute– courtesy of a Phil Neville handball – but it was all too late.

Everton were there for the taking. Albion producing the better football and enjoying the lion’s share of possession and chances. After another week of no dealing in the transfer market, Moyes arrived with the same young side – containing the 16-year-old Jose Baxter and the 17-year-old Jack Rodwell – which was OWNED the week before against Blackburn. Moyes is not a happy man, and admits that “six or seven” new players are needed before the September 1 transfer deadline, mainly midfield and attack . Albion's Ishmael Miller, out of his depth it seems in top flight, should have done better on at least 2 occassions. But the visitors had two titans in centre-halves Lescott and Yobo, who formed an impenetrable wall.

Albion's Gianni Zuiverloon, the right-back recruited from Heerenveen for £3.2, made his home debut and looks decent. Do-Heon Kim, the South Korean, who caught the eye at Arsenal week before, played another clever, creative performance, just off the main striker, Ishmael Miller. Albion lacked the cutting edge that Valero, £4.7m on a Spanish striker, was to give but signed too late to make his debut.

Tottenham 1 Sunderland 2 at White Hart

Even without the BULGARIAN, spurs should be better than this...just goes to show what class Keane and Berbatovare. Goals from Kieran Richardson and new signing Djibril Cisse sunk Spurs as Jermaine Jenas’ goal was consolation in Spurs’ second loss of the season.

Berbatov's absence left Spurs with Darren Bent leading their attack, and they suffered. Berbatov not in the right frame of mind...for his club yes, as he scored twice when Bulgaria defeated Bosnia 2-1 on Wednesday. Shades of the previous season’s nightmarish start have begun to appear.

Darren Bent was a lonesome dude upfront and he could not hold his own against Sunderland. Tottenham's main hope of finding a goal lay with Bentley, the designated free-kick and corner taker and who operated just behind Bent.

Tottenham showed several decent attacking moves, but lacked a clinical finisher like Berbatov or Keane to convert. Luka Modric and Aaron Lennon had no space to roam, as Malbranque and Richardson kept them in check.

Stoke 3 Aston Villa 2 at Britannia Stadium

At the Britannia Stadium, Stoke were scrappy, feisty and just about everything else in between. Above all, they were the most fortunate. Gabriel Agbonlahor should have been awarded a penalty and Rory Delap was the fortunate recipient of one which Liam Lawrence converted.

John Carew had a say in both Villa goals. The Villa equalizer thanks to Carew taking Ashley Young’s back heel and beating Sorensen one v one. The second thanks to Carew flicking onto Laursen off what was a poor free kick in the first place from Ashley Young. Laursen was a part of all three Stoke goals and he made amends somewhat by getting the second equalizer for Villa. Gareth Barry on the whole looked disinterested or fatigued from his England call up, However his touches were poor, a bad pass the catalyst for Stoke pulling ahead 2-1. It was Barry’s missed sitter three minutes after pulling level at one though that told me how off his game he was.

Was Agbonlahor too tentative in his play today? If his groin was bothering him that much, should he have even started? Stoke were dangerous from set-piece situations while Delap's throw-ins bombs were a constant menace to the Villa defence.

Manchester City 3 West Ham 0 Stadium of Light

Being a hammers boy, you will detect my curmudgeonly sentiments, especially of Ham's need for a forward of note. The sooner West Ham sell Ferdinand and move on the better...hopefully with some of the loot they can MAKE A PROPER BUY! The Black Cats have been HUGE spenders during the summer, as they try to steer clear of relegation and unless the owner of HAM spend something...ANYTHING!...we will join that scrap. Lets see who they sign (please let it include a defender!!!) before the transfer window closes on September 1.

Most City fans will rejoice, but maybe this game covered their bad points well. After Noble was sent off, it was a case of how many goals can we kick at Green. Obviously, the midfielders would get the job cos they had no forwards. And they will need someone soon. City will be encouraged by Kompany's debut. A natural centre-back, he started in midfield and patrolled there effectively.

The hammers were solid but unspectacular and failed to test home goalkeeper Joe Hart, while their own woodwork copped a bit of pounding. Hammers lost Carlton Cole to injury after just 31 minutes and it looks like he'll be warming the bench awhile, then when Noble bid bye bye the little cracks that were appearing got HUGE. With ten men you've got to defend properly but after the first poor clearance which fell straight to city player who took it really well. After that, the personnel we had out there looked as if we weren't going to score. Dean Ashton lost his partner Cole to an early injury, saw Manchester City close his supply lines in wide areas and became even more isolated after Mark Noble's red card. He was further stimied by the impotence of Ham's wide players.

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