Wednesday, April 2, 2008

PremCorrespondent – That’s the league done and dusted then

With the title unofficially won, the apparent highlight of this weekend seemed to be the latest instalment of a Merseyside Derby that doesn’t include Tranmere Rovers.

With a place in the doubly misnamed Champions League at stake there was more to play for than local pride. And as usual Liverpool won. Everton have done so just twice this century, neither time at Anfield. And that is unlikely to change if they keep trying to win 0-0, with a back up plan of holding out for a 1-0 defeat when Liverpool take the lead.

The result means Liverpool will now finish fourth, a fantastic reward for bringing Fernando Torres to the Premier League. The guy is a natural born winner and surely won’t be satisfied with playing the part plucky lesser neighbour to Manchester United as he previously did to Real Madrid.

So with the title settled last week, and the European places decided this week thanks to Everton looking set for fifth spot, we must look to the bottom of the league for further excitement.

Derby became the first team since Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1984 to be relegated in March. And if I’m honest I was a bit drunk that year so they may in fact have gone down as late as the 43rd of that third month.

Still, even that now retired team could surely have done better than Fulham this weekend. The 2-2 result offered all the excitement that comes from rubbish defending. And while it hammered the last nail into Derby’s coffin, it also put the deposit down on Fulham’s six-cylinder Hurse.

Completing the relegation trio are Bolton Wanderers. Two-nil and a man up against an Arsenal side with only pride to play for after failing to win in weeks, and they blew their chance of a status saving win by falling apart under minimal pressure.

Of course we shouldn’t write Bolton off - even as they languish several points adrift. Not because they don’t deserve it. They do. They are woefully inadequate and will be no great loss to top flight football. But I’m not willing to let go of the dream that others may yet join them.

And so to Wigan.

A poor penalty and their overwhelming inferiority to a Defoe inspired Pompey ensured they lost 2-0. And despite signing Bramble to make themselves one of the worst sides of this century, they sit comfortably safe above the drop zone.

Their manager Steve Bruce suggested that 35 points might be enough to keep his side up after the defeat. Sadly I fear he is right.

And thus Birmingham City seem set to survive as well. Their surprisingly impressive 3-1 win over Sven’s Manchester City came despite Franck Queudrue's first half sending off. And it put enough water between them and the Wanderers to breath easily for at least three weeks.

Elsewhere in games that no longer mattered…

Chelsea took the chance to experiment now that their league campaign is over. They tried an already tried and tested combination of boredom and luck to successfully beat Boro 1-0 at home. Sadly for the North East team, the woodwork was Chelsea’s best defender, saving the blues three times and drawing speculation that Keegan may bid £6million in the summer.

Speaking of Newcastle, they experimented with not being rubbish and actually winning a game. The last time they won two in a row was in 2007 when they beat Fulham followed by Spurs. They repeated that trick with a 4-1 win over Tottenham, who were themselves experimenting with trying not to get hurt ahead of the summer holidays.

West Ham tested their fans with the tactic of letting the home side beat them with a 95th minute stunner that Sunderland were pleased to claim during their end of season warm down.

Blackburn took their foot off the pedal too, only earning five yellow cards in an otherwise meaningless game against Reading that ended 0-0 and that few people even noticed.

And finally the new champions experimented yet again with battering opponents into stunned submission with such fast flowing, talented and powerful attacking play that Villa fans could only marvel at how this side might end up with just the title to celebrate this season.


andrewm said...

There are some poor, poor teams in the premier league. I don't watch enough Spanish or Italian football to make the comparison, but I'd be surprised if they have as many downright not very good sides as the bottom half in England.

I don't think there's any danger of Torres leaving Liverpool, which is a relief.

Ebren said...

premco - really enjoyed this week. Laughed out loud at least twice.

The only question remains of whether you are feeling fit for the end-of-season run in?

Margin said...

Excellent stuff. Not sure what to do with my season ticket now that Spurs are clearly not going to risk next season's prospects by trying to beat anyone else this year.

Am - Torres won't leave yet, but perhaps he will expect some similarly impressive signings in the summer?

andrewm said...

margin, obviously I don't know Torres, but he doesn't strike me as the type to make demands of the manager. I don't think he'd be happy in the UEFA Cup, but if we get the CL place I would expect him to stay at least another two years - if Benitez stays.

Really, where would he go?

andrewm said...

Hmm ... where is everyone?

I wonder if anyone can answer me this: How do the likes of Andy Reid get into a situation where they're allowed to take the field when clearly overweight? Mido is another prime (haha) example.

Obviously the training at their clubs might be a bit slack, or they might be coming back from a period of injury and have let themselves go a little, but with some players it seems to be permanent.

I have fond memories of my hero John Barnes carrying a few extra pounds when he switched to central midfield, but that was a different and slightly less professional time, surely.

I can't work it out!

MotM said...

If Andy Reid loses a few kilos, he might be the next Scholes.

Dullest run-in ever.

guitougoal said...

if maradona and cantona lose few hundred kilos they could help Arsene and his youngsters to get back under the spotlight.

offsideintahiti said...

John Hartson did play at the top level, non? Amazing.

guitougoal said...

seriously , heavyweight is good for boxing only. Most of the players are fitness freak-There is one who has his own ballet teacher, gym teacher, he has his high-tech menagerie of equipment.That's why they take their shirts off and wave them around anytime they score a goal.

Ebren said...

be fat and fit - I'm sure as hell not going to tell a load of Rugby forwards they can't handle the a full game.

You can't, however, be fat and fast.

Just ask Garrincha. I've got a ouija board here somewhere....

andrewm said...

Delighted to see that Harry Pearson has addressed this very issue in today's Guardian.

Margin said...

you can be fat and fast - but driving didn't work out well for Garrincha either.

bluedaddy said...

This run-in looked fantastic a couple of weeks ago, and, at the bottom end at least, was still pretty good when Bolton were two up. But Man Utd's awesome form and Bolton's jellied spines has made it appear that the Fat Lady better hurry up and squeeze her frock on.

Arsenal still being vaguely interested might string the interest of my team out a little longer, but I just don't think we'll beat Man Utd and win every other game (and even that might not do it).

He may be a fat bloke, but Andy Reid looks to be Keane's most prescient signing. Don't know if he's any good when he's slimmed down though.

Sometimes I play football against fat blokes and I love the way some of them can influence play without moving more than 10 yards from the same spot all game long, just by using their footballing nous, allied to the difficulty of tackling them without having to run right round the outside of them.

Margin said...

You are so right BD

Its easy to forget that a couple of games back it looked like a phenomenal end was in store. Arsenal were ahead but being caught, Chelsea were creeping into it too, and at the bottom there were five teams battling to avoid finishing 17th.

There really is nothing left any more though - unless something monumental (and frankly implausible) happens soon.

offsideintahiti said...

Switch to Ligue 1, lads, it's really exciting. The title hangs by a thread...

guitougoal said...

Somebody said Ligue1 is the left over of the premiership.Sorry Offie.
"you can never be fat and fast" it's true, but what happen if you're fast and run into a fat bloke?
if you ever have seen a train run over an elephant....

MotM said...

I am living proof that you can be fat and fast.

At least I am when I'm on my motorbike.

Ebren said...

Mouth - Dani Pedrosa is living proof that being small on a motorbike makes you faster ;o)

munni said...

Maybe I'm delusional, but I still say a lot can happen in six games and it's far from over yet.

Here are the highlights from Maradona's exhibition match v. Evo Morales at high altitude the other week. Not fat and fast, and not particularly exciting, though frankly I was astonished to learn that Diego can still run at all.

guitougoal said...

well I must be the exception making the rules:
-small, fat and slow but I can fly ,i just did London-Paris in 10hrs.

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