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All Things Footie | Tuesday, January 22 | Jordan

Same Old, Same Old

Just as you thought the Premiership was about to get exciting...

There is a crucial difference between Manchester United and the rest of the Premiership — if Laurent Blanc was swan diving for anyone else he'd have been booked — especially with notoriously card happy referee Uriah Rennie officiating. But sometimes things go that way (usually for the current Premiership champions) and Ruud Van Nistelrooy took advantage of the opportunity with a marvellous penalty.

Blackburn are entitled to feel a little hard done by, but the game was there for the taking and they have only themselves to blame. The move that led up to Craig Hignett's goal was as good an example of passing and moving as anything United produced, a similar move in the second half left Damien Duff one on one with Barthez, only for the Irishman to fire it into the keeper's body. Hignett is in sparkling form at the moment though, and could have made it two himself on another occasion, only to strike it straight at Barthez.

Somebody also needs to get in touch with the boffins at the Oxford dictionary for the adjective irresistible needs to be re-defined. No longer does it refer to a thing of beauty but a scrappy goal by a big ugly Irishman (according to Ron Atkinson anyway).

Liverpool are looking less and less impressive by the week, something needs to be done to shake them up if they are to mount a serious challenge in the closing weeks. It's not just a matter of unlucky results or not taking chances — the usual ailments of a fading title challenge — but they're simply just not playing well enough to beat relegation battlers. Heskey is not a fitting partner for the World Class Owen, I don't think Anelka is right in the head and Litmanen's talent is fading fast. The truth is that Liverpool sold a World Class finisher and one half of, in this writers humble opinion, the most frightening strike partnership in the Premiership.

Every time I watch Liverpool I'm struck by the wastefulness of Steven Gerrard. At times he is inspirational, but somebody needs to stop remembering the one great pass a game and bear in mind the 10 or 15 wayward long balls that cheaply surrender possession. The truth is that a striker like Owen doesn't need or want balls over the top to chase. Owens first touch is not perfect, but he can do a lot more with it if the ball arrives at his feet and he can use the skill he was born with to beat defenders. Phil Thompson needs to get Gerrard to cut out the aimless balls that give opponents so much possession — or send him on a months loan to Wimbledon.

Arsenal are another team losing their lustre, a few more dire performances like those against Leeds and Liverpool and they can kiss the title goodbye. Chelsea on the other hand are flying, but who would bet on them to be consistent and beat Spurs tomorrow?

Having said all that it's all to easy to forget that it's just part of the season, every team has a bad patch, Uniteds came at the start, Leeds' is yet to really appear and Arsenal and Liverpool are currently in the slump. No one has yet had a patch nearly as bad as United's start — they've had to win the last nine game sin a row to get where they are — and I don't care what anyone says, they won't keep it up for the whole season. I think there's some life in the Premiership yet.

Performace of the week : Chelsea vs West Ham
Player of the week : Robbie Fowler (Leeds)
Goal of the week : David Weir (Everton vs Tottenham)
Team of the week :
Paul Jones
David Weir
Martin Keown
Frank Sinclair
Wayne Bridge
Muzzy Izzet
Roy Keane
Man Utd
Chris Marsden
Andreas Svensson
  Marcus Bent
Eidur Gudjonsen

Finally condolances to friends and family of West Bromwich Albion hero and singing star of Baddiel and Skinners ‘Fantasy Football’ TV show, Jeff Astle. He always seemed like a great chap, didn't take himself too seriously and he wasn't a bad footballer either — 59 is too young.

Jeff Astle (left) lifts the FA Cup with team-mate Bobby Hope

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