Monday, 7 March 2011

King Luis blows the title race wide open.....again

The weekend rolled in boasting some interesting prospects, could Birmingham capitalise on their Carling Cup triumph? Could their defeated rivals Arsenal bounce back from disappointment? Could Manchester United recover after their mid-week defeat at the hands of Chelsea? And could someone take hold of the situations developing at both ends of the table??? A lot of questions......and in the end we were left with more answers to them all.....again!!!
Birmingham hosted fellow stragglers West Brom at St Andrews in the early kick off Saturday. Having dispatched Arsenal at Wembley a week earlier the blues struggled against the dogged Albion side who went ahead almost straight after the break, the home side immediately replied with an equaliser only 60 seconds later.
The away side must have sensed that Birmingham were feeling the effects of their gargantuan effort in the previous weeks outing, because they rallied to the extreme and fulfilled manager Roy Hodgson's faith by going ahead on 58mins, reflecting the run of play in my view.
They got a third twenty minutes from the end to concrete a mixed week for Alex Mcleish's blue's, who thanks to this result dropped into the drop zone as West Brom leapfrogged them in the who could take advantage in the other games???
West Ham played Stoke in a 3 o'clock kick off at Upton Park, looking to carry on from their brilliant result against Liverpool last week, and capitalise they certainly did.

They effortlessly put Stoke to the sword with a great performance, much mirroring their victory a week earlier. The Hammers went two up in the first half, before finishing the job off a few minutes from time as Hitzlsperger showed why Hammers fans had been missing him.
Once again Scott Parker was the star man for the Claret and Blue army, whenever he turns up he seems to single handedly lift the ground and results are starting to show that.
Arsenal hot off of their latest Final upset hosted Sunderland at the Emirates. An ideal fixture to wipe out the disappointment from Wembley, or so we thought.
Instead, Sunderland defended sternly, showed determination and vigour to keep the home side at bay.
They played out a pretty drab 90minutes in which the game ended 0-0. Thus Arsenal dropping points in the title race, and leaving their supporters bemused once again.
So, Arsenal fans as well as Liverpool fans were hoping the red half of Merseyside could add to the misery of Manchester United after they lost for only the second time this season at Chelsea.
No defenders for United was seemingly the order of the day for the attacking players for Liverpool. With their record signing Andy Carroll taking a place on the bench it looked promising for the home side.
From the offset the Red's of Liverpool went at United, sensing the injured animal, and United didn't really have an answer. Berbatov hit a post in United's only real attack in the first 45 minutes, and that was a flash of brilliance out of nothing.
At the other end Edwin Van der Sar was by far the busier stopper, with Liverpool playing some breath-taking football rarely seen at Anfield for some time, almost playing Manchester at their own game, using their own blue-print for success.
The Kop truly have a new hero to worship, if the first 'King' of the Kop was the man at the helm now, one King Kenny, then maybe the second coming is upon us.
Luis Suarez, signed in all probability to partner the long forgotten Fernando Torres, was completely un-playable. Possibly one of the best individual performances I have seen in a long long time from a Liverpool player, is it coincidence he wears the number previously worn by King Kenny?? Maybe, but his showing here will go a long way to stamp his application for the 'King' status among Liverpool fans.
His movement and appetite for the game is a true breath of fresh air, even from a neutrals point of view.
He has work rate, he is direct with his running and had the United back four in tatters, and none more evident than when he turned the whole defence on his own and continued to go past another couple of defenders before squaring the ball for Dirk Kuyt to smash the ball home from three or so inches.
United looked rattled, having lost to one of their biggest rivals, Chelsea last week, another defeat would be unthinkable, especially against their BIGGEST rivals.
This didn't look like the solid United that we have seen this season as the home side got a second minutes later as Nani headed the ball back into the six-yard box under no pressure, and Kuyt was there again to oblige by guiding the ball past his fellow countryman Van der Sar for the second time.
Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher smashed through Nani on forty minutes, gaining only a yellow card for his wreckless lunge at the Portuguese whinger, sorry winger.
A few full-blooded tackles followed with Rafael flying through Lucas as the blood started to boil. Pushing and shoving was aplenty as the action reached half time.
The United onslaught was expected, surely after Sir Alex had his say in the dressing room for fifteen minutes. But the fightback never materialised, but for a clearance from Meireles off the line from Berbatov's header. United simply just didn't get going, and couldn't cope with Suarez and the rest of Liverpool's attacking talent.
Attacking the Kop end Kuyt got his hat-trick, the first for a Liverpool player in this fixture since Peter Beardsley notched three under Dalglish's last tenure for the Reds.
Suarez curled a free kick in and Van der Sar couldn't hold on and Kuyt was there to tap home once again. The total yardage for Kuyt's entire hat-trick could have only mustered up to a measly seven or so yards, just showing the renewed enthusiasm in the Liverpool ranks since Dalglish took over.
United managed a consolation goal very late on and even that was half hearted. A very bad week for United finished off and not a moment to soon.
It looks bad on paper but if the two defeats, AWAY to Chelsea and AWAY to Liverpool were divided by a month or two noone would batter an eyelid so its no crisis time at Old Trafford by any means in my opinion. Title number 19 will be on its way to Old Trafford come May, Arsenal will be kicking themselves that they didn't win 24 hours earlier, they are only tree points behind now and have a game in hand, but with lots of big games left and Arsenals season in danger of imploding on tuesday against Barcelona, maybe they have missed their chance now......

For something a little bit off football now, I have had the chance to listen to one of my buddies cover's band, they're called Echo and here is a link to their site, let me know what you think, I think they hit the spot....

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