We may have not played this last weekend, and contrary to what some Fulham fans may tell you, the footballing world did continue. As well as a couple of tin pot cup games happening somewhere down the road in norf London there was the important matter of the Premier League at hand.
Our next opponents, Wigan Athletic, were loving a bit of Monday Night Football action against Arsenal. The Latics were out of the traps like a rare gas with two goals inside the opening 8 minutes. An well organised showing and some wasteful shooting from the reds was enough to see them head up the Motorway 6 with all the points, after a Vermaelen consolation. The defeat for the Gunners means that their record against teams in the bottom half of the table (35 points from a possible 51) is the worst of any of the top six sides.
While Man Yoo notched up a clear four goal victory over quickly sinking Villa, all the talk was of former Villain Young and not how poor the midland side are fast becoming. An ‘interesting’ dive helped the reds stay at the top of the tree and above local rivals Citeh who themselves chalked up an impressive six – one victory against the Canaries at Carrow Road. Tevez marked his return good and proper with a hat trick that keeps them in with a hope of overtaking their neighbours yet.
But let us not gloss over how poor Aston Villa are these days. This time last season when he successfully relegated the Blue team from the second city, McLeish was a full three point sbetter off than he is currently. Yes, the teams down the bottom are a lot worse this year, but Villa still have a local derby, a match up against a relegation rival (Bolton) and a top four challenger (Spuds) to come, which shan’t be easy.
In contrast Paul Scholes appears to be getting better and better since his return. Averaging a 92% pass completion rate all season he upped his game and put in a 94% game on Saturday. Head and shoulders above other fellow English midfielders, if only ‘Arry could talk him into slipping into an Engerland shirt this summer…
Down toward the bottom of the table Swansea took all the pints from their meeting with Blackburn. The Welshmen came away 3-0 victors and the crowd are once again turning of our old mate Keano. After a brief pick up in form the status quo has returned and Rovers have now lost five straight league games for the first time since Paul Ince was shown the door in late 2008. Uncle |Roy did us a favour and didn’t let QPR return to their hovel of a ground with a single point. A twenty second minute goal from Dorrans was enough to see the Baggies right. With trips to Man City and Chelsea on the hoizon for Rangers, times running out and home games against Stoke and Spuds are now must win games.
Up norf Sunderland and Wolves played out a bore draw and that’s about all to be said about it.
Next up for us is Wigan at the Cottage this coming Saturday. IF all the results went the right way for us and we scored a shed load of goals, we could lift ourselves up above Liverpool and we’d all have a good old laug at how they’re an improving side and what a wise investment of a squillions pounds Andy Carrol is.
What could be better than a weekend where you complete the double over your neighbours? Perhaps a weekend where Spuds also get a tonking by theirs and Gatesy finds a tenner in a pocket of his jeans he’d forgotten he put there.
Well that’s EXACTLY what occurred the weekend just gone…
It turns out the short trip down thePalace Roadwas well worth it. After periods of time earlier in the season where it looked as if Jol was selecting the team and their positions via a random number generator, the starting XI are beginning to look more of a solid unit, especially with Aaron making a welcome return at the back. Perhaps it was just down to them needing a bit of time to become accustomed to the new formation and tactics, or perhaps it was a troublesome influence on the training pitch that we’ve managed to ship off down the road? Who knows. And the biggest improver of recent times seems to be Dembele. With a nice little back heel to set up the goal, the Belgian also had an impressive 95% pass completion rate too.
The Ruskie continues to look a good bit of business from the Dutchman and I’ll be a much happier bunny as soon as he’s tied down to a deal keeping him with us past the summer. If he keeps scoring goals as he already has done and pops off to play football in the glamorous climes of Ukraine and Poland over the summer break I worry we may not be the only ones after him, after his current record of two games played, two shots on target and two goals scored.
The boys started to look a little worried and nervous towards the end of the game. It’s understandable really considering our awful away record and the fact that 39 of the gaols we’ve conceded this season have all been done so in the final 15 minutes of matches and this would turn out to be our first clean sheet in nine games. If we could sort this out, a top half finish would be looking pretty solid.
While it was an exciting debut for Rangers’ Samba Diakte, possibly in the shortlist for the worst Premier League Debut ever? After several quiet words from the ref and a yellow card, he couldn’t help himself but get himself sent off in the 32nd minute. Not bad work really.
Way back ago when I worked in Sainsbury’s I knew an unusual gentleman who couldn’t get enough of shaking your hand. He’d literally do it all day if you let him. It spears his polar opposite is Sparky, the only man in the world worse at handshakes than Luis Suarez. Now not only is he a ‘strange gentleman’ it appears he seems to have completely forgotten about the lift in form a new manager is supposed to bring to a side. In his sex games in charge he’s lost four of them and only picked up 4 points. Winning one game in their last 13 fixtures – now that’s relegation form right there.
After an awful seven days the week prior, Arsenal’s world is starting to look a little bit rosier now. After announcing record profits for the club, news talks with RVP over a new contract are in their early stages and a nice win over their rivals. After falling two nil behind, and somebody I used to work with being shown jumping about celebrating a goal like a demented old circus monkey, the comeback was on. Rosicky had a rare brilliant showing in the middle and with Theo deciding to show everybody what he should be doing week in week out, they turned the game around. The five goals notched up here mean that the Gunners have now scored as many in their last three Premier League games as they had in the 11 before that. While Spuds won’t be as cheery as their norfLondonneighbours. Has all the talk of taking over at Engerland got to ‘Arry and he’s bottled it? After drawing away atStevenagein the cup and throwing away a good lead in a derby game won’t be drawing the admiring glances from the FA that he may have hoped for. And now having collected only three points out of the 15 available from matches against teams in the top four, they find themselves looking over their shoulders at theChelseashaped object closing in on them. Next up for them in Man Yoo, who they’ll be facing without the suspended Scotty Parker.
Man Yoo grabbed an undeserved win away against Norwich, where Ryan Giggs scored the winner on his 900th outing for the club. It was ever thus. After scoring against the Champions Canaries forward Holt achieved the impressive feat of having reached double figures for goals in the last four seasons, all in different divisions. After facing Spuds this weekend the Red have a decent run of games for them, facing seven teams in the bottom half before the possible title decider against Man City. For whom, it was a stroll in the park against Blackburn. The visitors didn’t manage to have a shot on goal until the 92nd minute and chalked up just 22% of possession in the match, meaning it’s again looking bleak for them. Tevez is due to turn out for the Blues reserves tonight in a behind closed doors game, and will be looking to try and force himself back into the first team before too long. Vincent Kompany again proved just what an important part of the City line up he is, as the side have now only conceded twice in the last eight games he’s featured in.
Chelsea kept the pressure on the top four with a win over Bolton. Fat Frank scored his 125th goal in a blue shirt as they ran out three nil winners. Meanwhile, the visitors’ goalless afternoon means that no striker has scored for the Trotters in over 9 hours of football now.
Stoke picked up all three points against Swansea, though football was not the big winner. Only a few days after bottling it in Europe and keeping half his team at home because they were already losing against a bigger team, Tony Pulis declared that he couldn’t get his Potters side playing nice football, as opponents Swansea have done this season, because the home fans wouldn’t warm to it.
Of course, why would you want to change a style of football that’s produced a whopping total of 18 shots on target in the last ten games you’ve played, racked up a massive 26 goals from open play all season and where they achieved the lofty heights of 26% possession againstSwansea? I cannot think of a single reason. You keep up the good work, Potters.
Elsewhere West Brom continued their new lust for scoring by beating Sunderland 4-0 at the Hawthorns andWiganand Villa played out a goalless draw. While Newcastle also shared the points with the travelling Wolves.
Next up for us is the Super Sunday fixture against Wolves. And. It’s. Live! On Sky Sports. If we win that fixture we could possibly leap up the table to Eighth place. But until then we occupy 11th spot, handily placed for an assault on the top half of the table. Before we welcome Wolves to the Cottage though some of our lads are off representing their home nations in all manner of low wattage friendly fixtures. Let us hope they all return without any injuries raring to continue our good run of results.
The enforced international break probably didn’t help us much, but having come into the game at the Britannia on a promising little run and AJ having scored six goals in his previous couple of games had given us all hope. Of course, we wouldn’t be Fulham if we hadn’t then gone on to lose.
Since Bairdinho put Stoke to the sword back last season Stoke have lost just once at their gaff, so it wasn’t going to be easy to take another 3 three points off them. And after a drab and dull first half it wasn’t going to get much easier. Out of all the goals the Potters have conceded in the Premier league ¾ of them have been in the first half of games, and having failed to muster a shot on target it was gonna be hard work. Riise hit the woodwork, but we still had to wait until the 80th minute until either side had a shot on target, and wouldn’t you know it they scored from it.
It wasn’t a great day and at no point did the side look likely to break the away day hoodoo we seem to have. The only idea I have is for us all to club together and pay for Daddy Gatesy to go to every away game, after his three away trips last season to Stoke, Sunderland and Birmingham were fairly successful…
Usually you’d expect a match with a billing as high as ourselves at Stoke would occupy the prime spot of last on Match Of The Day (I like to think of it as all of the other teams warming the audience up us), but that’s without reckoning on QPR and Blackburn. Two teams who seem determined to make sure Wigan have a fight on their hands in the race to rock bottom place and relegation.
Who’d have thought that Steve Kean would still be employed by now? Well he is. And bless him, despite most of Blackburn being willing to drive him home to Surrey and the table showing how bad they’ve been he’s soldiering on. You’ve got to admire that.
As I say, Wigan are giving it a brave try in getting relegated before Christmas. Going into the game against Bolton both teams were in an awful run of form. Surely if there’s one team you want to face currently when you’ve gone six games without a win are the Latics. And the duly obliged Bolton and helped them on their short trip home with all three points.
In the Black Country derby Uncle Roy altered the baggies formation from the 4-5-1 he’s been trying recently back to the more familiar 4-4-2 and had instant results with a nice 2-0 win, and subjected Wolves to their fifth successive defeat.
Norwich took full advantage of playing at home and managed to get one over on fellow newly promoted side Swansea, winning 3-1. While Arsenal had to rely on RVP to score a free kick to take maximum points from the visit of the Black Cats. Seb Larsson himself scored a decent free kick earlier in the game, cancelling out Van Persies first minute goal. The Sunderland players goal from the free kick now means he has scored 8 goals from these set pieces out of his 14 goals in England, and has Wenger saying he’s the best at it in the league.
Meanwhile, up the top of the table Man Yoo came from behind to get a draw at local rivals Liverpool, even without Rooney being deemed suitable to start for the Champions. Having now played the scouse, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spuds Sir Alex has declared that having played all the big boys he’s pleased with their run of results. He clearly/purposely forgot about the small matter of the Manc derby next weekend. Hopefully that’ll bring the best out of Super Mario Balotelli. This week he has put himself forward to organise the City Christmas party. You can only imagine what fun that’ll be. Especially when a club ‘source’ tells a Sunday paper:
“Mario isn’t one for drinking and falling out of clubs, he just thinks he can take a party to the next level.
“But some of the lads aren’t so sure. They are half-expecting imported snow with tigers and dwarves.”
Talking of City, they moved a couple of points clear at the top of the tree following their 4-1 win over Villa. Cheslea keep the pressure on the Manchester based clubs with a three one win over Everton at the Bridge. Also sitting in the top four are Newcastle. They seemed to have been beaten with a Defoe strike during thr Sky Super Sunday game until Shola Ameobi scored a late equaliser to keep them in the Champions League places. I could describe the goal, but he did such a grand job on his twitter account, I’ll let him do it again (edited for his potty mouth…)
DID YE SEE IT MAN? A WAS LIKE PYOW! AND FRIEDEL WAS LIKE “WEW YE MAD [SAUSAGE]” AND THEN A WAS LIKE WAHEY!
Next up for the whites is a trip of to Krakow for a Europa League fixture with Everton waiting for us back at the Cottage when we return next Sunday. Until then we currently occupy twelfth spot in the Premier League Table.
And talking of Europe, they’re way ahead of us on the continent. Even places like Donetsk. Yeah, I know. When I was there I thought I’d somehow boarded a plane that was heading back to the middle ages, butapparently not. We had the big hoo-hah last season about women assistant referees, but over there in the steel capital of Ukraine they show us how it should be done. Well done Shaktar!
So it’s back to business as usual. We travel away from home full of home after a couple of good performances only for our hopes to be dashed. A return of that away-day hoodoo, bad tactical decisions from Jol or was it just not our day?
Last season we conceded the more league goals in the first 45 minutes of games than anybody else in the top flight. We travelled to the Black Country with a strange formation, imaginative, perhaps haphazard positioning of players, and no Bobby we looked to struggle from the get go.
Despite Wolves having not managed a clean sheet in any of their last nine games we struggled to even test Wayne Hennessey in their goal. With just 4 shots on target in the entire 90 minutes, and with just AJ leading the line we seemed limp and toothless for the majority of the match. And despite the possession (48% to Wolves 52%) and pass completions (76% to the hosts 77%) being almost equal, we always seemed second best. There were heads being scratched all round the visitors section too with people wondering where Baird has disappeared to with Hughes being shifted to the right side of defence and Kelly being preferred on the bench.
On a run of six straight wins City are the pace setters up the top of the table. In an entertaining match at the Rebok blues midfielder David Silva was in top, top form. The blues won by the odd goal in three in a game which showed their skills at attacking, with players switching positions like it was going out of fashion.
I used to manage a five-a-side team that would get beat week in week out, often by margins of 30 goals. Even with that record I’d still be confident of my boys getting some kind of result against Arsenal at the moment.
Imagine the worst situation – we lose Fabregas and Nasri – you cannot convince people you are ambitious after that. I believe for us it is important the message we give out. For example, you talk about Fabregas leaving, Nasri leaving. If you give that message out, you cannot pretend you are a big club, because a big club first of all holds onto its big players”
That was what Arsene proclaimed back in mid-July. And now come the tail part of August it looks like, by his own definition, Arsenal are no longer a big club. Frimpong was the third Gooner to see red on his debut in the last year and it really didn’t help their chances much. It’s probably fair to say Liverpool made hard work of beating Arsenal and with an increased ban in European competition for Wenger it’s all shaping up for an interesting time at the Emirates. Will he splash the cash and bring some new faces in, or will he stick to his stubborn guns and soldier on with their traditional place in the top four looking less like a given than it once did…
Despite conceding first to a Shane Long strike, that lot down the road came back to beat the Baggies 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. After not being at the races in the first half, a tactical change at the break changed the flow of the game and goals from Anelka and Malouda gave the home side all three points.
It was a bit of Monday Night Football action for Man Yoo on the day they announced a record £40m sponsorship deal – just for their training kit! It was Spuds first league game of the season after the first day postponement of their Everton game and we’ll be kind and say they were a bit ring rusty. Man Yoo kept up their 100% start to the season with a convincing 3-0 victory over Spuds.
Sunderland had lost six of their previous seven games at the Stadium of Light before the north-east derby kicked off on Saturday lunchtime. They quickly chalked up another defeat when their local rivals returned across the Tyne with a one nil victory in the bag, which Magpies gaffer Pardew said “Will makes the Geordies summer”.
It’s not going too well for our old assistant manager Stevie Kean up at Blackburn. The three one loss at Villa Park now means he’s lost twice as many as he’s won there. While new Villa gaffer McLeish got a far more warm welcome than many had predicted for the home supporters the visitors were never really at the races. Surely now a matter of time before he gets his marching orders the Rovers look set to complete the signing of Vuccevic shortly. The answer to their problems or a final roll of the dice for the Scotchman? Meanwhile his goal for the Villains means Darren Bent has now scored 10 goals in 18 run outs since his move, the most prolific Englishman in that period.
Norwich are my tip of the three new Premier League clubs to stay up this season and it looked like they were set to claim their first maximum of the season against Stoke. That was until the last minute equaliser from Big Kenwyne Jones which was a bit harsh on the Canaries who had probably done enough to deserve all the points. While fellow newcomers Swansea held Wigan to a goalless draw in the first Premier League game contested outside of England’s green and pleasant lands.
Much to my disappointment QPR are off the mark with points. Now with a new owner and actually looking like a football team it kinda dashes my hopes of them being relegated by the end of the month. Losing by a goal to nil, it’s not looking too rosey for the Goodion Park fans. Though with his appearance on Saturday, and Liverpools Skrtel not playing, Leighton Baines becomes the only outfield player in the Premier League to have appeared in every minute of every game since the end of the 2009-10 season. Well done him.
Next up for the whites in the league is a 249 mile trip up the A1 to Newcastle for a Sunday lunchtime fixture. Of course before then we have the matter of finishing off Ukrainian outfit Dnipro at their gaff. Until then we sit in 15th place in the league.
So football is back! Back! Back! It’s been a long old summer but finally we once again have a focus in our dull, meaningless lives. Hurrah for the Premier League!
Fulham have a solid home record of recent seasons, we have not lost at home on the opening weekend of the Premier League season in living memory and Saturdays visitors had conceded at least a single goal on every one of their away travels last season. Three points were all but in the bag before the three o clock whistle had sounded. But that didn’t happen.
Though the visitors managed just a single shot on target during the whole 90 minutes our boys, save a few exceptions, didn’t look set to beat Shay Given had they played all night. He rightly got the man of the match award starting his first league game for 16 months. Bobby, AJ and Riise had good chances, but they were either waster or Given pulled off saves to deny us a flying start to the season proper. Still, we didn’t lose I suppose.
Last season it was Ballotelli who donned the red nose and spinning bow tie to entertain us all with his bonkers antics, and although he tried in pre-season
to continue this trend, I think we may have a new court jester for this term. Enter Joey Barton. His hair may be enough, but mouthing off constantly on Twitter and causing all kinds of action of the football pitch is certainly good work in my eyes.
With everybody pretty much wanting to leave Arsenal at the moment, debutant Gervinho, and having only won two of their last 14 games it’s not exactly all Gravy at the Emirates. And a goalless bore draw at the other St James Park wont have done much to quell the shouts of a growing number of Gooners that perhaps its time Arsene Wenger moves on. It’s a Champions League qualifier for them next, imagine the turmoil should they fail to qualify with ease…
Man Yoo got the season underway by taking three points off Uncle Roy’s new lot. New Boy Ashley Young looked lively and with the help of a little deflection scored the winner at the Hawthorns. Although the visitors only officially had one shot on target in the entire match, Ben Foster managed to conceded two goals. It’s probably to be expected though bearing in mind he’s now conceded seven goals from just 11 United shots in 2011.
Kenny’s new look Liverpool shared the points with the Black Cats. Kieran Richardson gave away a controversial penalty early on to the hosts only for Suarez to blast it over the bar. He’d make amends shortly after though with his first of the season from new signing Charlie Adams cross. With a little over half an hour still on the clock the visitors drew level through Seb Larsson.
That lot down the road visited our old mates Stoke in the glorious potteries. With the new blues coach claiming the home sides “pushing and grabbing was out of this world” they returned to the capital with a point after a goaless draw with Torress starting to once again look like the player they forked over bundles of cash for last January.
The Premier League fixture computer arranged a nice bookend to the summer awithBlackburn and Wolves playing each other as the had done in the last game of last season. This time the boot was on the other foot with Wolves taking the pints winning by the odd goal in three.
The recently promoted teams had a mixed bag of results. Norwich made the trip to the DW Stadium and were rewarded with what could be a useful point come next May. Swansea had to wait until Monday evening to kick of their season with a trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Man City. All was going well for an hour, and then the blues decided they’d had enough and went up the end and scored. Four times. Still, it could have been worse. Most people would have expected this kinda result away at City. It’d be a whole different kettle of fish had you been at home and facing a bottom half side. Getting dry humped in that situation would just be embarrassing wouldn’t it. In demand defender Tim Cahil scored the pick of the trotters four and was the only player in the top division to score from outside the box this weekend.
Still, lets look on the bright side for our neighbours. At least they managed to get that difficult home game against Bolton out of the way early on.
Next up for the Whites in the league is a Sunday trip to the Black Country to take on Wolves at Molineux where I’m sure our skipper will once again get a warm midlands welcome. Before then we entertain some Ukrainians at the Cottage in the first leg of the final qualifying round for
the Europa League on Thursday night.And if you’re interested, we currently sit mid-table. Good times.