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All Things Footie | Monday, February 25 | Jordan

Derby Day

It struck me that there seemed to be an improbable number of derby games over the weekend. The biggies; Liverpool - Everton and Newcastle - Sunderland. Lest not forget another London derby, between Arsenal and Fulham or the triple derby at Filbert Street (by location, position in the Premiership and of course, by name.)

The Merseyside clash turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, a major factor surely the fact that only two scousers were on the pitch (Alan Stuubs and Steven Wright if you were wondering.) Even the most passionate Livepool fan must agree that in the year 2002, Liverpool's real derby is with their fierce rivals and fellow title challengers Manchester United, for both players and supporters. Even their clashes with Arsenal generally show more ferosity and determination than those with the blue half of Liverpool. Anyone who's seen Monsters Inc must surely agree that we now know where the Abominable Snowman monster has been banished to — he's playing right back for Liverpool.

Likewise the Sunderland - Newcastle match turned out to be a fairly mellow affair. Newcastle's rise and rise this season is contrasted bleakly by Sunderland's slippery slide down the table, there was only going to be one winner, and both players and supporters seemed to accept that. That attitude and performance is not good enough for Sunderland — though I doubt they'll be in too much trouble by the end of the season, it may be too much for the fans to ask them to place their continued confidence in Peter Reid. His head looks ripe for chopping.

Leicester City

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Derby are not a particularly good side. Nor did they play out of their skins at Filbert Street. They still however, murdered Leicester. Nationwide first division mid table mediocrity looms large for the Raw Dykes Stadium.

Robbie Savage proclaimed last week that if (ha!) Leicester are relegated then he may have to move on, he simply must play in the Premiership. He's clearly suffering with delusions of Jamie from Footballers Wives size proportions. Would any Premiership team take Savage? even on a free?

If this weekend has taught me anything it's never underestimate Thierry Henry. The man was phenomenal (a word that gets bandied around too much in football) on Saturday. Bearing in mind that at kick off, Fulham had condeded less than a goal every other game, Henry scores two, sets up one and is instrumental in a third. Add to that the fact that his all round play was superb and you have a very frightening prospect indeed. If he takes just some of that firepower into the midweek clash with Bayer Leverkusen at Highbury then Arsenal's place in the quarter finals of the European Champions Cup will look significantly closer. More astounding than Henry's performance however — with Uriah Rennie refereeing as well — was the absence of a red card for an Arsenal player.

Though Villa conceded a scrappy goal I think Graham Taylor can be proud of the way his team performed at Old Trafford, Thomas Hitzlsperger looked particularly lively in the half hour he was on the pitch. Vassell also put in another assured display that will do his England chances no harm at all.

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