It was almost a perfect Saturday in the Premiership.
It didn’t start off that way, mind you. In the day’s first game, Ricardo Carvalho helped Chelsea scrape by Spurs to move three points closer to United. I suppose the only bright spot of having my least favorite Chelsea player (and that’s saying something) score is that it gives Mourinho one less thing to whine about.
I do, however, find it entertaining that he should muse about how the schedule favors United, but then decline to push back the Tottenham game a day after they played in the UEFA Cup on Thursday.
But, for all of Jose’s whinging, boasts, and mind-games, should Abromavich make the mistake of pulling the trigger on him at season’s end, I will be sad to see him go. He’s a gifted coach, a kind of adversary you love to hate, and he genuinely makes the English game much more interesting.
Okay. That’s it. I’m done playing nice.
The day would quickly brighten, as Kuyt found a late winner at the Madejski Stadium to see the mighty Reds past an entertaining and industrious Reading side. After Gunnarsson’s impressive equalizer, I began to worry.
The clock hit the 60 mintue mark. No signs of a go-ahead goal.
Then, 75 minutes. Things, namely my nevres, were getting tight. Reading, who had given just as well as they got all afternoon, continued to press forward.
80 minutes approached. I was resigned to a draw.
“This is why we aren’t challenging for the League. It’s this average away form.”
Then, disappointment was washed away and salvation came in the form a blond mullet. Kuyt popped up to head in a marvelous piece of work from Pennant.
It wasn’t an easy win, but the result is most important, especially in a match as open and entertaining as this one. Credit to Steve Coppell and his men; their committment to attacking and pressing their opponents is the reason they’re staying up. Too many teams get to the Premiership and then change their style of play in a desperate bid of survival.
While Europe may be out of reach this season, the squad has a spine strong with young talent and dedication. Obviously, I have to admit I’m partial to them and will continue to root for them in 36 of 38 games.
Otherwise, Bellamy had a short run-out. (no pun intended) He seemed his usual bitter self, but never really got a valid sniff at goal. Arbeloa looked promising, continuing the excellent form shown against Barcelona at the left full-back position. Especially considering that he’s right-footed. He looked natural getting forward, and popping in for the opening goal was quite sweet.
While it’s a shame to lose Aurielo for the season, Arbeloa should prove to be more-than-sufficient cover in that left back spot. Like Fabio, he’s a more natural defender than Riise, and can play both sides. That gives Liverpool options. And remember, Rafa likes options.
So, Saturday was looking bright enough with three points under our collective belt. But, it only got sweeter.
West Ham, thanks to a blinder by Robert Green, recorded a 1-0 win over Arsenal to give the Emirates Stadium its first blemish on a previously undefeated league home record. Liverpool now sit five points clear in the 3rd spot, although Arsene’s men have a game-in-hand. But, since that squad seems in a complete tailspin since their Champion’s League and League Cup departures, I’ll take the points over the game.
In a bid to round out the afternoon, Rio Ferdinand and Manchester United conspired to make the title race that much more interesting by gifting Portsmouth a 2-1 win. After Matthew Taylor opened the scoring for Pompey, Anton’s older brother added another to show Michael Carrick precisely how one scores an own goal. Goal-scoring machine John O’Shea pulled one back for United, but it wasn’t enough and the result should give Mourinho some ammo for mind games down the home stretch.
Elsewhere in the world of Liverpool footy…
I must say I’m chuffed to see the continued reaction to Mascherano’s form. There were a lot of doubters back in January, but that herd seems to have thinned considerably since he’s got a few games under his belt.
I stand by my early prediction that Javier will take the majority of Momo’s paying time. Fear not, as Rafa’s rotation policy will keep Momo playing, but it’s becoming glaringly obvious that Javier is a more refined defensive midfielder. The juxaposition of their passing when they played side-by-side against Reading only serves to reinforce my point.
Do you remember Harry Kewell? He played on the wing for us a few games over the past couple seasons? You might have seen bits and pieces of him in last summer’s World Cup for the Socceroos?
Rafa is now saying that the Aussie is back in training and will play for Liverpool this season. His season debut may even come as soon as the Wigan game, April 21.
While I’ve always liked Harry, I can’t help but wonder exactly what kind of condition he’s in, and how his pace has been affected by the septic arthritis. Is he even capable of returning to previous form? (by previous form, I mean bombing down the flanks and chipping in for goals, not jetting back to Sydney injured.)
On his day, Harry is quite a useful player. But, with the squad having been dramatically remade since he joined and even more changes expected this summer (*cough*DavidVilla*cough*), Rafa may just be giving him a run-out as an advertisement to potential suitors. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Rafa also says he’ll be hanging onto Peter Crouch this summer. I suppose Newcastle will have to find another transfer target to help them continue the fight for mid-table mediocrity.
Also, in Geordie-related news, Newcastle refuses to put a date on a Michael Owen return, and his inevitable disppointment. While the knee will take some time to heal properly, I’m more than willing to bet that the one thing that made Michael’s game so special (his pace) isn’t what it used to be.
I also want to single out Boro’s George Boateng for praise after he verbalized what so many of us have been thinking. From Soccernet.com:
“Middlesbrough skipper George Boateng has been disciplined by his club after warning Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo his antics could earn him reprisals.
The furious Dutchman hit out in the wake of Boro’s FA Cup quarter-final replay defeat at Old Trafford in which the Portugal international, for the second time this season, won his side a controversial penalty against the north-east club.
Young midfielder James Morrison was sent off for lashing out at the United star late in the game and Boateng later said of Ronaldo’s trickery, ‘one day, someone will hurt him properly’.”
Everytime I watch Ronaldo, two things become increasingly evident:
- Should he continue to develop at the rate he has, he will soon become utterly impossible to stop. Quite frankly, his talent is mind-boggling and he could become undefendable.
- I hate him. Not because of his talent or because he plays for United, but because he’s whiny, cocky cunt who goes down faster than a lady of the evening. Plus, saying things like, “Maybe I’m too good for some people” isn’t helping his cause one bit.
Boateng is right. Should Cristiano continue to simultaneously continue to become most talented player and the biggest diving cunt in all of English football, somebody is going to mow him down Roy Keane-style and put an end to his career.
Quite frankly, I’m beginning to want to see it happen. 50 gold pieces and the fairest maiden in all the land to the man who brings me the leg of Ronaldo!