Archive for February, 2011

More Tweets From The Palace 2011-02-20

  • I just finished a 2.09 km run with a time of 26:28 with Nike+ GPS. #nikeplus #

Archive for February, 2011

What We Learned From Prem Week 26

Great Goals Ahoy!

Now normally this season we’ve been faced with thoroughly tedious defending failing to stop lacklustre attacking. Bar a few genuinely fabulous moments, among them Nasri’s strolls through various defences, Elmander’s deft dribble through the penalty area and the odd spectacular from outside the box from the likes of The Drog and, inexplicably, Meireles, it’s been a pretty dull season. Even when we have the kind of overdose of goals we had last week, it’s still been somewhat dull. This week, however, we’ve seen some genuinely class moments.

Take Man U. Many people would have thought that they would have followed up their crap invincible loss to Wolves with some kind of a pick me up against Man City. But no one expected quite such an emphatic display. And while Rhino may have begun to rehabilitate himself with a stunning overhead kick, my money is on Nani’s opening goal being even better. His first touch to control the ball as it dropped into the area was just immaculate, reminding me of Marcelo Salas’ goal against England at Wembley. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s second against Wolves was a reminder of just how devastatingly clinical they can be, transforming defence into attack in a 14 second burst of stunning one touch football.

Beautiful moments that more than made up for the catastrophic pain of Boremingham Stoke. If this season has really been about the decline in quality of the Prem, and the disappointment of all those players returning from the World Cup, then this week at least tempts us to believe that there are better things to come in the last third of the season.


While in no way being a classic, the Manchester derby at least rose a few levels above the ennui of the teams’ recent previous meetings. City didn’t exactly spend their entire game straddling their own penalty area as they did at Arsenal, while Man U strove to take the game to the new rich kids on the block. And while City’s goal was fluke of the week, both United’s goals were sheer class.

Keeping up the pressure in a kind of Spandau Ballet way – you know very stylish and à la mode and probably with those big sash round the waist type things – Arsenal took Wolves out for a quick spanking. It was strange to see the side that gave Man U such a game last week getting such a total going over this week. Arsenal weren’t even at their best, but managed to play some breathtaking football, not unlike the cavalier way Chelski took teams apart at the start of the season before they went all rubbish on us. The second goal was a thing of complete beauty. And with another clean sheet (thanks largely to Wolves who had one single shot off target and none on target) and some special play, Arsenal are beginning to look as though they might actually accomplish something.

Chelski continued their descent, which if not an actual plummet is certainly a fall from grace, with a grubbly little draw at Fulham. Admittedly new boy Luiz looked fabulous, but there is something seriously wrong in the state of West London.

Loserpool Redsox showed that their limited renaissance is just that, limited. A draw with Wigan highlights both the improvement they’ve made since they appointed Kenny Dalglish and the distance they still have to go to return to the ranks of the top four. Dirty Suarez looked good again, but Loserpool looked poor at the back.

Tottingham once again showed their creds by scraping past Sunderland. Their attack first, defend later strategy is proving somewhat successful. You can’t help feeling that once they play the big kids they will be in for a bit of a pasting. Harry’s policy of either buying or pimping every striker in the world while paying no mind to his increasingly injury stricken defence is either a move of genius or a catastrophic miscalculation. But hey, along with Blackpool they are the most entertaining team to watch.

Blackpool managed to halt their slide by pulling together a draw with Villa. As usual the game was far more than the apparently ordinary 1 – 1 scoreline.

In tedium corner Blackburn and Newcastle drew, while Birmingham managed to scrape past a thoroughly awful Stoke side. If only we could relegate all four of them immediately, the world would be a better place. Bolton just about beat a terrifyingly dull Everton, who really look like the return of Tim Cahill has once again buggered them up.

Once again those pesky kids at Westy Ham showed that they really can’t get it on for two whole halves of the same match. They were soundly spanked by Westy Brom in the first half, before deciding to actually turn up in the second half and just about manage to salvage a draw.  Unless both of these teams begin to put together a decent sequence of wins and soon, they’re going to be playing Championship football next season.

Rob Green Save Of The Day

Could it have been the ‘through the legs’ moment as Craig Gordon let in Michael Dawson’s free header? Or the utter balls up that preceded Boremingham’s goal as the entire Stoke defence went AWOL? Hard to say.


Archive for February, 2011

More Tweets From The Palace 2011-02-13

  • Mubarak goes down (the punch finally registers). Next stop Iran. #jan25 #

Archive for February, 2011

What We Learned From Prem Week 25

None So Blind As Cannot See

This week we actually learned honest to god lesson type things.

  1. The Crap Invincibles aren’t going to be invincible. Having thoroughly ballsed up the first half of the season by drawing waaaaaay too many tiddly matches, Man U hit their stride, then hit the wall by losing to Wolverhampton Wanderers, the team at the bottom of the league. Go figure.
  2. This year is all going to be about defences. Was it a coincidence that Man U’s loss came after HisNameIsRio had to be dropped after spanking a calf in the warm up, thereby forcing them to field Johnny Evans in central defence against Wolves? Or that Arsenal’s spastic collapse came after Djourou was subbed and replaced by the  possibly even worse Squillaci? Or that this week’s results (Sunday aside) produced the greatest glut of goals since records began? I suspect not. Prem defences are in ruins, with even the top teams having conceded 20+ already this season, almost a goal a game. Even Man U have conceded nearly as many goals this season as they did in the whole of last season. Although perversely Arsenal, the team that appears to need a defence most, has a current goals conceded per game slightly better than it was over the whole of last season.
  3. Big money transfers don’t always bring immediate success. What with none of Torres, Dzeko, Dirty Suarez or Carroll even completing 90 minutes.

Football Can Be Really Annoying Sometimes

North East irritants Newcastle showed that, like many other irritating sides, they are more than capable of taking Arsenal to the cleaners. Although you’d never have thought it possible after 26 minutes when the Arse were 4 – 0 up. However, Arsenal are not a team to be taking a lead seriously. Indeed, while they once used to comfortably win games 1 – 0 and shut up shop as soon as they scored, they now appear to require a 2, 3 or in this case 4 goal cushion in order to have even the faintest of chances of scraping a point. This match demonstrated, as if demonstration were required, all of Arsenal’s strengths and failings. The first half was just sublime, sexy football. Arsenal cut open Newcastle, who seemed incapable of defending in any way whatsoever. Four glorious goals and a number of other chances and Arsenal looked set to win by a street (or two). One injury and one tackle later and everything was turned on its head.

In the second half, Newcastle actually decided to turn up. They got significantly closer to the Arsenal players and started playing a classic English ‘physical’ game – ie low talent, lots of effort harassing and precious little passing or playing. In contrast Arsenal kept up a Champions League style in the face of Championship tactics. Djourou’s loss to some kind of knee knock was critical as it brought the truly awful Squillaci into the game, while Diaby’s overreaction to Barton’s follow through tackle was understandable given he had his leg broken due to another bad tackle and was out of the game for 18 months, but it was equally obvious that this was exactly the reaction Newcastle were hoping to provoke. Even so Arsenal would have survived had it not been for some thoroughly incompetent refereeing, where practically every decision was given to Newcastle. Even the decisions given to Arsenal were wrong. Hopefully the entire ref team will be benched for a while.

Arsenal’s collapse was only made vaguely bearable by Man U‘s loss to Wolves. At a stroke Wolves managed to not only deprive the Crap Invincibles of their chance to outshine Arsenal’s Invincibles, but also moved Arsenal a point closer to Man U at the top of the table. Given the performance of both top two teams it’s clear that the fight for the title is far from over. Man U were strangely sluggish. Despite going one up in the 3rd minute, it appeared that, like Arsenal, they are incapable of holding a lead. It will be interesting to see who has the worst defensive record, Squillaci or Evans as they are both utterly useless. At least Evans has the consolation of being a statistical anomaly in Man U’s normally strong defence, Squillaci just joins a long, long, long list of crap Arsenal central defenders, including Cygan, Stepanovs, Silvestri, and, often, Gallas. Wolves, by contrast, were really up for the game. Admittedly they weren’t very good, but they were at least keen.

Man City made up for their loss last week by hammering a totally non-plussed West Brom. Once again, Tevez was their man, scoring a hattrick on his 26th birthday. Strangely he was born a day before Darren Bent and it’s interesting to compare their general style, what with Tevez bustling around the pitch the whole time looking to run himself into the ground, while Bent’s uncharismatic penalty box movement means that he can go missing for long periods of the game, but then pops up at the crucial moment. Given West Brom were poor, it’s hard to take anything serious out of this game.

You could argue that Loserpool Redsox have traded quality for team spirit, which seems like a good deal given they didn’t really have much of the latter and that the whole Moneyball ethos states that everyone has their price and that you should sell as soon as anyone matches it. Both they and Chelski needed to win this game, which had assumed a gravitas far beyond the three points that were being contested. Once again it was the defence wot won it, with Loserpool’s being fairly good, keeping out a vaguely interested Torres, while Chelski’s was uncharacteristically indecisive, both Cech and Ivanovic making shockingly poor decisions.

Tottingham need to get more wins like they did at Bolton if they’re going to continue to press for the Big Cup positions. Level on points with Chelski, four behind Man City with a game in hand, they’re keeping the Race for Fourth honest. And they needed the sort of last minute, slammed from outside the area spectacular winner that Kranjcar scored to take all the points. Their next big match is AC Milan in the Big Cup. Which will be tasty.

In the tedium of midtable, Villa and Fulham shared the points. Imagine, a Mark Hughes team in score draw shocker. Everton gave Blackpool the sort of thumping  (5 – 3) that everyone expected they’d be getting when they were promoted. However, the gap was rather cosmetic as Everton scored their 5th on the break as Blackpool were piling forward looking to get a point. Crap wankers Stoke managed to scrape past a game Sunderland, in a match that confirmed the victory of physically painful hoofery over attempted style.

Meanwhile, down in the World of W, Wigan managed to escape from the basement, if only for a day, as they beat Real Blackburn. Again it was a poor display by the Real defence that provided Wigan with their points. And Boremingham slapped their way through a truly poor West Ham, who despite fielding pretty much all of their forwards, were let down by their utter lack of quality in defence. Upson in particular was ghastly and was subbed at half time. Boremingham were not good either.

Rob Green Save Of The Day

Yes there were spoons and shockers aplenty. However, this week the prize has to go, for the umpteenth time, to The Entire Arsenal Defence, who yet again showed that there is no lead large enough to cover for their tactical incompetence and defensive inability. To concede one penalty is unlucky, to concede two smacks of carelessness. But to concede another two goals (three if you count Best’s incorrectly ruled offside goal) is surely the stuff that only bad dreams are made of. Wenger may be all about developing talent and nurturing quality, but the truth is that in over 10 years the only truly quality defender he’s brought through has been Ashley Cole and that his defensive purchases have largely been pretty fucking awful. What Arsenal need is an inspirational defensive coach and probably an established central defender in his mid-20s to provide quality and competition in the side. It’s clear that neither was acquired during the January transfer window. If Arsenal go to play Barcelona with this defence, the scoreboard will need an extra set of zeros because they are going to get spanked.

Archive for February, 2011

More Tweets From The Palace 2011-02-06

  • I just finished a 1.61 km run with a time of 15:03 with Nike+ GPS. #nikeplus #
  • After the carrot, the stick. Mubarak sends his dogs in. So much for his qualities. He is scum. #
  • Just got hold of Planetary V4. I have waited years for this comic. Very very excited. #

Archive for February, 2011

What We Learned From Prem Week 24

Fangs Ain’t What They Used To Be

So now the window has slammed shut, as windows tend to do when there’s a cold, hard draught coming in from the North, and we get to judge how successful the teams have been in their January shopping.

Arch Cheat and Villain Dirty Suarez showed that the Loserpool RedSox might not be completely down and out and set for relegation. He was pretty superb in his 30 odd minutes of subbed on fieldtime. Doubly so given he hasn’t played a competitive game for two months having been condemned for putting his not-inconsiderable overbite into an opponent. His movement off the ball and his general Tevez-like running the defence ragged were really impressive. Much as he is a despicable human, he will be an exciting addition to the Prem.

Darren Bent (remember him eh?) also scored (again). However, it wasn’t nearly enough to get the Village a win against Chelski. It’s impressive that after only a week, no one can remember that Bent’s transfer was the least bit controversial. Like Bent himself, the whole hoo-ha about his transfer has just evaporated from public consciousness.

Lame arse football gnome Robbie Keane managed to score on his debut for Westy Ham. In a terrifying way he may actually save the Hammers (although Obinna’s 5 goals in the past 2 games may have more of an impact). It just makes the moronic behaviour of Obinna and Piquionne that bit more unforgivable. They might help keep the Hammers up, but I suspect the fans won’t forgive them for bunking off the Useless Cup semi-finals, thus costing them a place at Wemberley. Twats.

Just loaned out to Bolton Chelski Manchild Sturridge managed to get on the scoresheet thanks to the Pascal Chimbonda Memorial Backpass of the day.

Interestingly, there were almost no defenders making big deal transfer/loan moves during the window, probably more a sign of the paucity of genuinely competent defenders in the Prem rather than any lack of need for defensive quality.  You suspect that all the managers were thinking, ‘what we really, really need are more goals’.

All This Football Is Making Me Tired

It’s obviously a good thing that the transfer window exists, if only to enliven squads that were getting somewhat stale, most having played a game every two to four days for the past month. You can almost see the smaller squads getting progressively more and more tired as the matches progress, teams like Bolton and Blackpool being particularly good examples. Meanwhile those teams with bigger, more coherent squads begin to pull away. It’s no coincidence that Man U, Arsenal, are beginning to establish a gap, nor that Villa, Loserpool and Tottingham are beginning to string together results.

Them Games, Them Games

Tough times. Everyone thought that just because Man U were playing a bit badly (and winning) that they’d carry on playing badly and hopefully lose a few. Their last two games seem to have put paid to that. They were excellent against Villa, who seemed as out of sorts as they did earlier this season. Chav Wanker was especially fabulous, lamping a great volley into the net in minute 1 which must have been immensely satisfying. Bent once again showed that his great skill is to be in the right place at the right time to score (again), even if it was a bit of a consolation goal. Well, not really much consolation there then. For anyone.

Arsenal put their fans through the wringer (again). Not because they chose to start with the B-team of Bentdner and Arshavin (they didn’t), but because they once again went behind at home to Everton and then took the longest time before deciding to score two goals in five minutes and win. Admittedly they went behind to the most offside of offside goals ever in the history of offside – Saha’s goal being a perfect replica of the ‘This Is An Offside Goal’ example in the Laws of The Game, which theoretically is given to every Ref on graduation day. Obviously it should be given to them a bit earlier so they can study it while they’re still learning instead of making it up as they go along which is what the pundits and commentators do. It was nice to see Koscielny getting another headed goal again from a corner – pretty much a mirror image of the one he got on the weekend. He really is coming along nicely. Like Vidic at Man U it appears he needed a little time to get to grips with the English game, it’s just a shame that Arsenal’s defence is so weak that he has had to play pretty much every game. Everton still look very thin.

Chelski have, apparently, been energised by the arrival of Torres and Luiz, neither of whom actually played. And they do seem to be getting back to their early season form. Admittedly they’re still not a patch on the side who rampaged through the league in September, but they comfortably beat a Sunderland side which had mercilessly thrashed them at Stamford Bridge, a defeat that sparked their early winter slump. Anelka playing slightly deeper, possibly in preparation for the arrival of Torres, was particularly effective. Can’t wait for their match at home to Loserpool on Sunday. That looks set to be a cracker. Sunderland, meanwhile, appear to be missing the pace and threat of the injured Welbeck far more than the positional expertise of Bent.

Loserpool Redsox had what can only be described as a super-cathartic black hole of a game at home to Stoke. What could have been a tricky fixture, and under Uncle Wroy a stonebanking loser of a game, was simply a stroll enlivened only by the appearance of hugely expensive crocked criminal Carroll in a walk on, wave to the crowd moment, Miereles’ latest goal for the club and the debut of Dirty Suarez, who beasted Stoke, scored a lovely goal and looked every bit the next Loserpool Love Interest for the Kop. Mind you, Stoke were poor as that small church mouse who’s just been diddled out of their entire life savings by bad conmen who’ve only given them crap striker Carew in return. Oh and Huth should have been sent off. So no improvement there then.

Over on the other side of Manchester, Man City seem to be doing their level best to not only make the Race For Fourth into a genuinely exciting prospect, but ensure that, once again, they come out on the losing side of the three-into-two battle. Now, admittedly Boremingham have stepped it up a bit over the last fortnight, they’ve done well in both cup competitions and actually scored. And some of their goals have been pretty good – the three or so that have been carbon copy volleys from the right side of the box straight into the back of the net in particular, but you’d have thought that City would have the nous to snuff out that kind of threat. But apparently no. It seems that once again Mancini is being a little too timid with his tactics and hasn’t given his side the ability to bore their way through obdurate defences like this. Admittedly the Bores do play with a fully retreated defensive line, which means there’s not much space behind it, but surely  with the likes of Tores, Silva and Dzeko you’d have thought that City could have found a way through. It was clear that they missed the midfield and wingplay of giant Yaya Toure and Adam Johnson.

Keeping the pressure on, Tottingham got a very good win at Real Blackburn. The game seemed a bit scrappy, but once Tottingham were in the lead – in minute 3 – they never really seemed under tremendous threat. This was an essential win for Spurs, just about keeping them in touch with the Race For Fourth. Real looked strangely vulnerable in defence as Samba was outjumped/climbed on by Crouch for the goal.

The rest of the teams seem to be engaged in the initial skirmishes of the Relegation Dogfight. For some the rewards of this round of matches will be a closer taste of freedom, for others the start of a slow slide into the abyss. Blackpool are moving closer to the edge. Three losses at home isn’t good form, even if the games have been against Man U, Sunderland and, this week, Westy Ham. The latter is particularly worrying, not least because it was against West Ham, who should be very vulnerable to Blackpool’s pacey attack, but instead were uncharacteristically effective in front of goal. Still, with games against Everton, Villa, Spurs and Wolves coming up you’ve got to fancy Blackpool to get around six points, which should be enough to get them to safety. West Ham too have some eminently winnable matches, not least a super-grudge six pointer against Boremingham, coming up, so their safety is very much in their own hands. If only they can remember that matches are actually played over two halves and not simply capitulate after half-time and keep their strikeforce from going mental on the pitch and getting themselves banned (again), they could still be safe.

Fulham look to be building their way out of trouble now that they’ve actually got a striker on the pitch. The return of Dembele (not the still-useless Andy Johnson) has given them added threat. His goal against Tottingham in the FA Cup was great. This time it was oldboy Duff who scored, but Fulham have been showing added threat since they got their attacker back. In contrast, Newcastle are looking a bit lacklustre. And you can’t blame that entirely on Carroll as, even if he was still at Newcastle he’d still be injured. But they look at bit toothless and somewhat knackered. What they didn’t need was for Ameobi to be carted off with a fractured cheekbone.

In the Battle of the Ws, neither West Brom, nor Wigan did themselves any favours by drawing. Both sides looked alright going forward, but were outstandingly dodgy at the back. Wigan can thank keeper Al Habsi for keeping them vaguely legal in terms of conceding – even he can’t stop everything – but they can’t rely on him to keep them up, they need a much less porous defence. West Brom too need to tighten up. Neither side will really be happy with a point from this match.

Top of the not happy charts, however, will be Wolves. They looked like they were going to comfortably salvage a great point from Bolton, when their defence went all suicidal and played the sort of hospital pass across their penalty area that just begged to be punished. Bolton loanee Sturridge showed that he has some of the positional sense of Bent as he took advantage and scored. In injury time in the second half to add insult to, er, injury.

Rob Green Save Of The Day

Any other week it would be Blackpool’s keeper Kingson spooning an Obinna strike into his own net. But this week it’s the return of the Pascal Chimbonda Memorial Backpass Award, which goes to Wolves’ Ronald Zubar. If anything this was the worst ‘Chimbonda’ this season, or at least on par with the classic one that Berbatov intercepted. Only this one was in the 92nd minute, when all he had to do was hammer the ball up the field or hoof it into row Z. And given Mick McCarthy’s team’s tendency to hoof at the first opportunity, you’ve got to question what the hell got into the boy’s head. Although it’s equally safe to say that passing the ball along the ground isn’t likely to be one of his specialities.