Posts Tagged ‘Nani’

The Six Pointer – Wounded Challenges, Slippery Slides & more…

07/03/2011

1. Liverpool convincingly dealt with Man Utd yesterday and Dirk Kuyt will never, ever score an easier hat-trick. It was very surprising to see Fergie start with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick in central midfield – recent history has normally seen him go with three in the middle in big matches in an attempt to gain control and stop the opposition playing.

Neither Scholes nor Carrick are particularly energetic or mobile in the way Darren Fletcher is, but with the Scotsman left on the bench after his shift against Chelsea (he can only do one big game a week)  it meant United were unable to gain a foothold on the game.

As you can see in the Chalkboards below, between them they won only one tackle and the likes of Meireles would consistently run or pass around them.

Only one interception between them too.

The decision to give Carrick a new contract during the week was greeted with some derision but at the same time I don’t think Ferguson considers him a first choice player. He’s not bad against weaker sides and he has long been found out against the best – playing him yesterday was more out of necessity than want.

Still, with his continued mediocrity, Scholes’ potential retirement, Fletcher’s one game a week effectiveness and Hargreaves and Anderson’s consistent injury problems, Man Utd’s midfield will certainly need some work in the summer.

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2. Yesterday’s match could have easily seen two red cards, and probably should have. Carragher went in high on Nani and created quite the wound (see below) while Rafael was similarly lucky to stay on the pitch following his wild lunge on Lucas. There is something to be said for a referee to take into account the situation and the context, but really Phil Dowd made errors in giving both players just a yellow.

Red drawn, yellow given.

Interestingly, Rafael is developing quite a reputation as someone who may not have the temperament (or indeed the positional sense) to go with his natural talent.

A red card would have meant his third in under a year, while he was nowhere near where he should have been when Suarez tip-toed through the United defence for the opener.

Recently Ferguson has seemed to prefer someone more dependable in tough matches, with Rafael being omitted against Man City, Chelsea and Marseilles. It will intriguing to see when the Brazilian next plays again, I imagine he might find himself out of the team for a few weeks.

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3. In the context of yesterday’s result, it is difficult to say whether Arsenal’s draw against Sunderland is a point gained or more likely two points dropped.

Wenger’s team have struggled in recent seasons against Sunderland having won only one of the last six games, so it was always going to be tricky without out several players and against one of the best defences outside the top five.

Wenger had a similar problem to Fergie in that first choice midfielders weren’t available so he was forced to play Denilson and Diaby alongside Wilshere. They can usually get away with one of those in the team but having to play both meant it was one of those days where the team struggled to get going, Wilshere unable to do all the tempo setting himself.

The weight of the other two on his shoulders...

Sunderland were lucky to get away with Bramble clearly fouling Arshavin in the box and a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside but having said that they also had their moments and drew a couple of very smart stops out of Szczesny.

I would think that once Aaron Ramsey has a bit more fitness under his belt, he will swiftly move ahead of Denilson and Diaby in the pecking order. He might not have the same experience but he makes things happen, and in a game like Saturday’s and indeed for the run in, that could be priceless.

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4. Momentum at this stage of the season is key so it’s fascinating to see who is making a move at the bottom end of the table.

Just nine points separate ninth place Newcastle from bottom placed Wigan but realistically it’s looking like everyone from Blackburn downwards are the ones who should be worried.

Things are swiftly grouping together for a climatic last few games and as the old cliché goes, a couple of wins and “you’re right back in the mix” (© every pundit going).

I’m willing to condemn Wigan already to be honest, they’re tough to beat but they don’t win many either. As I’ve written here many times before, draws can be rather useless at times and a team like Blackpool who either win or lose has a far better shot and getting the points needed to stay up.

Almost good enough, but not quite.

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5. Of the teams not in that bottom group, Stoke are looking a little vulnerable. They’ve won just one of their last seven and still have to play four of the top five. They seem to have a slightly resigned air about them at the moment – certainly away from home where they’ve lost their last six (and not even scored in the last five).

The earlier point about momentum is key – they face Newcastle, Spurs and Chelsea next. Fail to win the first one and you could be looking at mid-April before they are favourites in a match, by which time they could be in a much more serious position.

I do think they should be ok, given the cushion they have, but it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see them need something against Wigan on the last day.

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6. Jermain Defoe has only just scored his first league goals in a year. If he fulfils Harry Redknapp’s wish and gets to ten by the end of the season, then it will go a long way to ensuring Spurs finish in the top four again. As it is, the lack of a striker in double figures for 2010/11 may be what costs them. Van der Vaart’s ten goals should complement not lead.

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T.

The Six Pointer: Theo Time, Tennis Scores & more…

23/08/2010

That was the weekend that was.

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1. Theo Walcott had arguably his best ever game for Arsenal scoring a hat-trick as the Gunners demolished Blackpool 6-0. Showing pace, direct running, and good end product, Walcott ran the show against the beleaguered Seasiders.

Yes it was “only” Blackpool and he was afforded more time and space than normal (not least once Blackpool were down to ten men) but it was encouraging to watch him put in such a performance.

Walcott has had his critics in his brief career, and rightly so in many cases but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he’s only 21 years old and has yet to get a through a season without major injury disruptions.

Taking his league stats from the last three seasons into account, it shows every season broken up through injury and bit part appearances.

2007/08 – 25 appearances/1260 minutes

2008/09 – 22 appearances/1265 minutes

2009/10 – 23 appearances/1129 minutes

1260 minutes equates to 14 full games which is just over a third of the season. Therefore in the space of three league seasons, he’s had one season’s worth of playing time. Yet people wonder why he’s not yet the finished article.

Of course cup and European games can be added to those totals but the point remains that Walcott is still very early into his development. Walcott himself acknowledges this is a key season for him, but let’s judge him at the end of it not the beginning.

Yeah!

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2. Another week, another 6-0 win for Chelsea – this Premier League lark is pretty easy isn’t it?! Drogba was once again a key player with three assists while Malouda and Anelka helped themselves to yet more goals.

Tougher tests will follow than West Brom and Wigan but a significant goal difference advantage amounts to the equivalent of an extra point at the business end of the season. Given they won the title by just a point last season, these early victories may prove vital.

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3. Two bogey teams continued their hold in London this weekend; Bolton winning their third successive game at Upton Park while Fulham prevented Man Utd from 3 points at Craven Cottage for the third successive season. Both games came down to missed penalties taken by someone other than the regular taker.

Carlton Cole saw his kick saved by Jaaskelainen which meant West Ham didn’t go into half time with lead. Bolton came out in the second half and scored twice and went on to win meaning Mark Noble’s penalty made no difference.

Meanwhile at 2-1 up against Fulham, Man Utd’s Nani took a spot kick instead of regular man Ryan Giggs. Stockdale saved, Fulham equalised and Fergie bemoaned silly dropped points.

It got me wondering as to why Noble hadn’t taken West Ham’s first and Giggs hadn’t taken United’s. Every club ranks their penalty takers for a reason. If the top man is on the field, he should take it.

The only exception to this is if someone is on a hat-trick and the game is won. I’m sure both Avram Grant and Alex Ferguson will be telling their players as much before the next game.

He's no Ronaldo...

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4. As much as I want to ignore Bale’s second goal vs Stoke, I can’t deny it was an excellent volley. I’m pretty sure we’ll see better this season but it’s likely to end up as goal of the month if nothing else. Bale is fast becoming Tottenham’s most important player and will be key to ensuring they challenge for a top four spot again.

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5. I don’t think anyone expected the third 6-0 of the weekend at St. James’ Park. Newcastle were terrific against a woeful Aston Villa and Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan reminded many that they are more than capable of performing at the highest level.

Andy Carroll scored a nice hat-trick and already people are tipping him for an England call. It is perhaps a little early for that but he has great potential. He won most things in the air against Vidic last week and was once again dominant aerially against the Aston Villa defence. His link up play suggests decent technique and it will be worth watching him this season, especially in home games.

Newcastle are now unbeaten in something like 23 games at home and they could do well to follow the template of two other recently promoted clubs, Stoke and Birmingham, in making their home ground a fortress in order to get the points needed to stay up.

Aerial beast.

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6. Last season Wigan were very Jekyll and Hyde beating Arsenal or Liverpool one week before getting smacked by seven the next. It looks like this season will mainly consist of the latter. I don’t think Martinez will have too long to sort it out but with games against Spurs and Man City coming up, they may be quite far adrift quite quickly.

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T.

Season Previews 2010/11 – Manchester United

12/08/2010

Man Utd

Last Season: 2nd + Carling Cup Winners

New Signings: Smalling, Hernandez, Bébé

Key Player: Wayne Rooney

One To Watch: Javier Hernandez

Needs  A Big Year: Rio Ferdinand

Would Quite Like: To keep City in their place while winning title 19 to overtake Liverpool’s record. Two birds, one stone.

Prediction: 1st

Thoughts: Alex Ferguson came mighty close to another league title last season but ultimately fell a point short of Chelsea, which was impressive given they’d lost both league matches against the Blues. Wayne Rooney carried them with his best ever season but the injury he suffered in March meant the Red Devils stuttered to the line somewhat and were pipped at the post.

Not too much has changed at Old Trafford with just three players joining in the shape of Chris Smalling (who was bought in January), Javier Hernandez and unknown striker Bébé for whom Ferguson has paid £7m or so on the back of a Carlos Queiroz recommendation. This last signing is really out of the blue, and considering how Nani and Anderson have turned out, it might be another case of overpaying.

In terms of the other two, Smalling is clearly being groomed as an eventual successor to Rio Ferdinand, though he wasn’t impressive when he played for Fulham last season. Hernandez or ‘Chicarito’ as he likes to be known is the interesting one. He looked very lively in the World Cup and has had a good pre-season. Double figures in goals could well be possible in his first season.

Bebe Man Utd

The last two Queiroz recommendations (Anderson and Nani) haven't exactly been rip roaring successes.

Elsewhere, there appears to be another crop of good youngsters pushing through, which is probably why Fergie hasn’t spent too much this summer. The likes of Tom Cleverley have been impressive in pre-season and should feature regularly as the season progresses.

The defence is solid if a little injury prone with van der Sar, Rio and Vidic all susceptible to niggles. Evans is a capable deputy at centre back however. Evra was one of the team’s best players last season but a question does remain over right back, where you have the same scenario as last season with O’Shea, Neville and Rafael battling it out.

It might be this for England.

Further forward, there are a huge range of options in midfield and attack. Fergie hasn’t named the same side in well over a 100 games and the likes of Valencia, Anderson, Nani, Park, Berbatov, Owen, Carrick, Scholes and Giggs all provide different options at different times.

Nani especially looked to finally be living up to some of his potential last season and Fergie will hope that he can be consistent over a whole season.

But it's more like this for Man Utd.

Really though it all depends on Rooney. The team is built around him now and he responded with his best ever season last year. After a dreadful World Cup (due to lack of fitness more than anything) he will want to bounce back – he looked half decent in the Charity Shield before being a bit rubbish in the Hungary friendly but I suspect the home comforts of Manchester will see another good season.

As ever, United have a pretty good team and if you come above them, you stand a very good chance of winning the title. I do feel Chelsea won’t be quite as good while Arsenal are still a decent keeper away from being true contenders. Ferguson has seen it all before and still has the same determination to win as he did twenty years ago. I think they’ll come top

T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 38 Preview

07/05/2010

So another season reaches its conclusion and for most part the last weekend will be spent gambling on random captains, hoping for entertaining goalfests in meaningless games and hearing jokes about having hung parliaments. There are still a few things to decide, and the destination of the title itself. But given Chelsea are at home to Wigan, I don’t foresee too many surprises.

In my private league, Clint Dempsey and Adam Johnson ensured a slight increase in lead over Sportboy P. It now stands at 27 which should be fine assuming the same captain is gone for this week. We only have six different players of the 16, and they’re mainly on the cheaper side of things so there’s not too much room for differing scores.

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Gameweek 37 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

gomes spurs

Maverick approves of Gomes' recent displays.

bale spurs

Goose approves of ape-man's score. Less so of his big ape-man face.

assou-ekotto spurs

Iceman is too cool for school to mess around with such things like a thumbs up.

begovic stoke

Why the hell am I here?!

This is what happens when I do a silly gimmick to represent the highest weekly scorers and there’s a four way tie. All four of those players got 14 points as they all played twice. Any more and I’d be running out of Top Gun characters to use. I think Kelly McGillis would have been next. I’ll leave you to be frightened by Gareth Bale’s weird face.

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Three Captain Picks:

Not many games matter so it’s a bit pot luck this week but there are three options which are self explanatory.

1. Drogba/Chelsea - Need to beat Wigan at home to ensure the title. Somehow don’t see them slipping up. Drogba’s still chasing the golden boot and it’s rumoured he’ll be on penalty duty this weekend because of it.

2. Van Persie/Arsenal - The Gunners have faded so badly that they still need a point to ensure Spurs don’t come third. Fulham have nothing to play for and will field a reserve team ahead of the Europa League final. Arsenal will want to finish with a win – Van Persie’s the man to get it.

3 Rooney/Man Utd – Need to beat Stoke at home to have an outside chance of the title. Rooney fighting Drogba for the golden boot.

Told you they were obvious.

Wildcard choice - Arteta at home to Pompey or Darren Bent away at Wolves trying to overtake messrs Rooney and Drogba.

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

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Transfers In:

It’s probably too little too late but for it’s worth you should be looking at the captain choices if you don’t have them as well as people like Nani, Nasri, Kalou, Malouda and Gerrard.

samir nasri arsenal

Might be worth a pick.

Transfers Out:

People not likely to play this weekend.

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End of season review at some point next week. Friday I’d imagine.

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T.

The Six Pointer – Arsenal deficiencies, Arsenal deficiencies & more…

02/02/2010

1. While Man Utd clearly deserved their win against Arsenal on Sunday, they were greatly helped by the non-performances of three Arsenal players in particular; Almunia, Clichy and Denilson.

Almunia has been a liability all season. He appears to have no confidence in his own decision making and no confidence from his two centre backs, Gallas in particular. Perhaps the Nani goal was unfortunate but I’ve seen Almunia do that weird palming thing too many times (e.g. Bentley last season) to think so.

almunia arsenal man utd

Words fail me.

There’s a level of technique which he clearly doesn’t have, and won’t learn at the age of 32. Mentally he looks shot and I struggle to think of which Premier League teams he’d get into right now. Certainly no-one in the top half.

With Fabianski being just as dodgy at the moment, it leaves a big hole to fill. Part of me wishes there had been a cheeky loan move for David James as a six month stop gap. Certainly the position will be one to address in the summer.

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2. Clichy is perhaps still a bit unfit but not for the first time this season he was given a torrid time by so-so right-winger. After Wright-Phillips and Young, Nani joined the list of players who have outwitted him positionally and through a bit of pace.

His form hasn’t been good for a while now and I’d hazard a guess that Kieran Gibbs will be pushing him very hard for a first team spot next season.

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3. Another player who has stagnated is Denilson. If you get beaten fair and square then fine, but if in one of the biggest games of the season you’re half-heartedly jogging back while the opposition are breaking at speed then something’s not right.

denilson arsenal

Jog on jogger.

Denilson has always been someone who divides opinion, on the surface a player who does nothing particularly well but nothing particularly badly. However, two weeks running he has now casually made half hearted attempts to stop breaks which have both resulted in goals.

Aaron Ramsey may give away the ball more but at least he makes things happen and chases after people. I’d play him next week if Diaby isn’t fit.

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4. Playing three tiny players up front doesn’t work. I like the 4-3-3 formation but it only works if you have a variety of players. Van Persie, Arshavin and Bendtner offer different heights, differing skills and differing work rates and it was one reason why Arsenal were playing so well at the start of the year.

A trio of Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky is just too similar. Arshavin to his credit wasn’t that bad and caused a few problems against Wes Brown but it’s just a shame Bendtner wasn’t match fit which would have allowed the Russian to face Rafael instead.

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5. Theo Walcott isn’t going to the World Cup unless he has a dramatic improvement in form. He’s been found out for having one skill (pace) but not the intelligence to do anything with it.

I know he’s been out injured a long time and he was only a sub but you could say the same for any of his (few) games this season. There’s struggling to get into a game and then there’s complete anonymity. The problem with Walcott is he often finds himself in good positions; he just rarely makes the right decision. I know he’s a confidence player but how can he gain confidence if he’s never doing anything worthy of lifting it.

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6. If you count the Champions League and cups the last eight games against Man Utd and Chelsea have resulted in one draw and seven defeats with just five goals scored and 18 conceded (thanks to East Lower). In two home games this season against the top two Arsenal have been crushed 3-0 and now 3-1.

Yet still Wenger believes in his players and refuses to buy anyone new. I wrote last season about how it was misguided to refuse to sign players because they might ‘kill’ a current player.

arsene wenger arsenal man utd

Mr Grumpy, meet Mr Stubborn. Mr Stubborn, meet Mr Grumpy.

I don’t really care if Denilson suddenly has his path to the first team blocked or if Walcott has to work that little bit harder to get a start. What matters is the success of the team and sometimes the feelings of players have to be sacrificed.

An 18 month deal for an experienced player that can do offer an alternative is hardly to going to finish the career of 21 year old Denilson. It may however have helped win a trophy this season, something which now looks unlikely.

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T.

The Six Pointer – Intelligent footballers, Lampard’s drought & more…

28/09/2009

That was the weekend that was.

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1. Wigan beat Chelsea on Saturday in what was probably the second biggest shock of the season after Burnley 1 Man Utd 0. Chelsea were all over the place from front to back and it was strange to see such poor set piece marking from them. Bramble scored the opener with a free header from a short corner and minutes later Wigan almost scored with the exact same move.

Drogba scored an equaliser but Rodallega then won a penalty after Cech took him down. I don’t think the Chelsea keeper can have any complaints (even though he does). Even though there was a defender running back to cover the goal line, a keeper preventing a goalscoring opportunity in the box will always result in penalty and usually a red too. Rodallega dusted himself down to score the spot kick and Wigan added a third after more poor defending.

All credit to Wigan who fully deserved the victory but it was definitely unexpected after failing to win their previous 34 games against top four sides. It will be interesting to see if it was just a one-off off day for Chelsea or the start of a similar downward spiral to last season. Ancelotti not really having any answers for the defeat says a lot.

A side note too on Frank Lampard who was stifled by Hendry Thomas. I don’t know if he’s just having a slow start but he ‘s only got one goal so far and that’s been from the penalty spot. Even though he’s nominally playing further forward compared to last season, perhaps the switch to Drogba AND Anelka is limiting his goalscoring opportunities. One to keep an eye on, fantasy football wise at least.

Not up to speed yet.

Not up to speed yet.

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2. Fernando Torres destroyed Hull on Saturday but Phil Brown’s side did not help themselves with some comedy defending. I know El Nino is great off either foot but Zayatte and Sonko were happy to oblige and just move in the opposite direction of Torres. An easy hat-trick for him was followed by a fortunate Gerrard looping cross which looped all the way into the top corner and then two Babel goals from close range.

Hull had actually equalised through Geovanni but unlike against Arsenal away a year ago they couldn’t go on to win. They are quite lucky that Portsmouth have lost seven straight, for there have been no other teams as bad as Hull. Brown’s luck has run out and it will be interesting to see if he can find a response.

Personally, I think he’s lost the dressing room and it’s only a matter of time before he gets sacked. Whether it happens early enough for Hull to avoid relegation (obviously it’s early days at the mo, but of they leave it till March etc…) is the big question.

Easy peasy lemon orange squeezy

Easy peasy lemon orange squeezy.

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3. Unlucky Portsmouth have not deserved to lose seven games on the bounce. After selling all their good players and bringing in the likes of Tommy Smith and Kevin Prince Boateng it’s no wonder they haven’t gelled yet. I caught the highlights against Everton and it seemed they had several chances and were lacking that bit of luck which tends to desert you at the foot of the table.

They aren’t fully adrift yet and have a decent run of fixtures coming up in which they can finally get some points. If the promised investment from Al Fahim comes then there may still be a chance to turn things around in January. It just depends on how much ground they’ll have to make up.

This looks like they've just found a picture of a private jet and just pasted his image on top.

This looks like they've just found a picture of a private jet and just pasted his image on top.

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4. Ryan Giggs made the difference for Man Utd for the second week running and now has five assists in two games, which is more than anyone else has managed all season. Fergie was subtly scathing of Nani when in his post match interview he said that Giggs had the intelligence to get into good positions.

Nani had been woeful again and lasted just 55 minutes before being hauled off for the Welshman. You do have to wonder if Nani will ever make it at Man Utd. This is his third season at Old Trafford and though he’s only 22, there’s been no sign that he has what it takes.

I know it took Ronaldo until his fourth season before he consistently dominated games, but even in the three years prior he had scored four, five and nine league goals. Nani has just five in his United career and I think there are times when you just have to cut your losses and accept that a player is not suited to the Premier League. Nani is one of those players and it would surprise me to see him ever make a sustained impact at Old Trafford.

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5. All three main (i.e. not Pavlyuchenko) Spurs strikers have hat-tricks this season and Harry Redknapp is beginning to make noises about how difficult it is to keep all three happy. I do believe it was you Harry who decided to buy all three so you can’t start moaning about how hard it is.

I’m still not convinced that Keane and Defoe is the best choice up front and I think the fact Redknapp is handcuffed somewhat by Keane being captain will come back and bite him on the arse. Having said that, it seems to be working for now and four goals is not to be sniffed at, even if Burnley’s defending was crap.

The most impressive performance from a Burnley defender actually came on Sunday evening when Clarke Carlisle was on MOTD2. He was really eloquent for a footballer and made some good points and insightful analysis. It beats the same old clichés spouted by the likes of Hansen and Lawro on the main programme.

Quite good as a pundit.

Quite good as a pundit.

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6. Another weekend with no draws and we’ve had just four this season from sixty odd games. I love the fact that teams are going for it and that we’re seeing so many more goals compared to last season. It gets said every year, but perhaps this genuinely could be the most open league in many a year. Either that, or the gap between good and bad teams is getting bigger meaning draws between them are few and far between.

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T.

Derby vs Man Utd Live Minute by Minute!

15/02/2009

So, after their two games in the Carling Cup semi final, Derby and Man Utd meet each other again in the FA Cup fifth round. Derby beat Utd 1-0 in the first leg at Pride Park and battled bravely before succumbing 4-2 in the return match. Will they be able to cause an upset again?

Lots of focus on Clough Jnr vs Fergie. Let’s just hope ITV let us see the goals this time…

 

Teams:

Derby: Bywater, Connolly, Addison, Albrechtsen, Stewart, Barazite, Green, Savage, Teale, Commons, Hulse.

Subs: Carroll, Sterjovski, Nyatanga, Davies, Todd, Pearson, Porter.

Man Utd: Foster, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Park, Fletcher, Gibson, Nani, Giggs, Ronaldo.

Subs: Kuszczak, Vidic, Scholes, Welbeck, O’Shea, Tevez, Possebon.

 

A slightly weakened side from Ferguson but Ferdinand plays to marshall the defence and Evra finally makes his comeback after injury. Giggs and Ronaldo up front which is interesting. No doubt Carlos Tevez will be a bit annoyed. Robbie Savage and his Armani tattoo play and look out for Nacer Barazite who’s on loan from Arsenal. 

Prat

Prat

Edward Sheringham Esq. joins Steve Rider and Andy Townsend in the studio. He played for Clough Snr, with Clough Jnr, and for Fergie OAP so is well placed to offer an insight. Probably.

 

1 min: Man Utd kick off. Peter Drury and Jim Beglin commentate. Darron (why does he spell it like that?) Gibson has an early shot from 30 yards. Not too far over.

3 mins: Nani gets a bloody nose from a man sandwich of Evra and a Derby player. He’ll be alright though.

5 mins: Ronaldo reckons he’s fouled by Savage by nothing given. He gets annoyed when Savage tries to help him up. Savage will definitely play pantomime villain here. Ronaldo will probably be his sidekick though.

7 mins: Good atmosphere at Pride Park today.

10 mins: Barazite makes a run down the right wing. He goes past Fletcher but with no one to support him is eventually dispossesed.

11 mins: Derby win a corner. Commons swings it in high but Ben Foster claims it.

12 mins: Ronaldo tries to make space for himself but is tackled strongly by Savage. 

14 mins: A lovely bit of quick passing sees the ball break to Fletcher who hits a strong drive which is well saved by Bywater. A United free kick on the left wing is then driven hard at the wall by Ronaldo. He may well have been aiming for Robbie Savage’s head.

15 mins: Bywater makes a great reaction save from Ji Sung Park who had made a late run at the back post. United on top at the mo.

19 mins: United free kick 35 yards out. Ronaldo spits, wipes his nose then hits a drive straight at Robbie Savage’s cojones. That must have hurt. I reckon C-Ron is aiming at him.

21 mins: A decent turn and hit from Hulse.

25 mins: Derby have a shout for a penalty. Hulse goes down under a challenge from Rio Ferdinand but it was dive pure and simple. Rio’s not impressed with that. He shouldn’t be sticking his leg out like that though.

27 mins: Ronaldo tries some stepovers but Savage isn’t buying it. His pass then goes astray.

29 mins: GOAL! Derby 0-1 Man Utd. Nani scores a lovely goal. One we got to see live too. Ronaldo nearly connects with a Park cross but the ball is cleared. It is worked to Nani on the left hand side of the pitch. He takes it inside, runs past a couple of player and hits a curling drive from the edge of the box into the corner of net. About six somersaults follow.

35 mins: Derby still looking to play their game. A Commons free kick is easily saved by Foster but nothing has really happened since the goal.

37 mins: GOAL! Derby 0-2 Man Utd. Giggs plays through Ronaldo who is clear of everyone and slots it past Bywater. United celebrate but the goal is then disallowed for offside. It’s all a bit ludicrous. The offside decision was marginal but why wait so long to rule it out. Ronaldo and Fergie are not happy to say that least. It was genuinely about 15 seconds after he slotted it in. 

41 mins: We’re told it took so long as the linesman wasn’t sure if Giggs had flicked it on, so had to check with the ref. Something like that anyway. It was pretty obvious Giggs had flicked it, it was a pretty good bit of skill.

44 mins: GOAL! Derby 0-2 Man Utd. Another United free kick 35 yards out, Ronaldo takes aims at Savage once more. He hits the the wall, somewhere near Savage’s head. The ball breaks to Gibson who shoots past Bywater. This one counts.

There's only room for one poser in this town...

There's only room for one poser in this town...

Half time: United good value for their lead. Derby have come from two down against both Forest Green and Nottingham Forest in this season’s FA Cup but they surely can’t do it a third time. Can they?

Tea time.

46 mins: Derby kick off the second half.

48 mins: GOAL! Derby 0-3 Man Utd. Park pressures Derby into conceding a corner. Giggs swings it in and Ronaldo places a header from 10 yards into the top corner. Simple stuff. He barely had to jump.

50 mins: United almost score again but for a fine double save from Bywater. This could get ugly.

53 mins: Evans needlessly fouls Hulse outside the box. Derby pass it about before it’s eventually crossed in. Foster punches away just before Hulse gets his head to it.

55 mins: Double change for United. Park and Evra off, O’Shea and Welbeck on.

56 mins: GOAL! Derby 1-3 Man Utd.  Commons crosses it in from the left and Addison powers a header in from 12 yards. A good goal but Derby had all the time in the world to cross it in. O’Shea was sleeping a bit there and no one tracked Addison’s run.

59 mins: Derby try to work the ball into a good position. Gary Teale tries to blast in a 35 yarder with the outside of his right boot. It goes horribly wide and over.

63 mins: Barazite off for Derby, Sterjovski on.

67 mins: This is end to end now as Derby push for another to make it interesting while Utd hope to catch them on the break and end it. Teale makes a decent run down the left and threads it to Hulse in the box. His touch is poor and he lays it off to a United player.

69 mins: Porter on for Hulse. Giggs and Ronaldo combine but the Portugeezer slashes a left foot shot over.

71 mins: Nani goes past Connolly, knocks the ball too far then falls over. He’s shocked he doesn’t get a free kick. What a fool. He’s hard to like is Nani. 

72 mins: Possebon replaces Ronaldo. Savage has no one to tackle now. On second thoughts there is Nani. He’s probably more thankful no one will aim at him from free kicks anymore.

77 mins: Teale hits a very good shot low and hard from outside the box. Foster makes a great diving save to give away a corner. From the resulting set piece, Commons finds Addison who heads just wide. Derby still looking for another.

81 mins: GOAL! Derby 1-4 Man Utd. Welbeck wraps it up. Some lovely one touch football from United who work it to Welbeck who’s lurking on the left hand side of the area. He opens up his body and curls a great first shot time past Bywater into the far corner. Lovely finish, reminiscent of Thierry Henry in the way he just bent it round the keeper.

82 mins: Savage off to a warm round of applause. Steven Pearson on.

87 mins: This one has settled down. Nothing really happening as both side wind down the clock.

89 mins: Darren Darron Gibson gets man of the match. He’s been neat and tidy and got his goal. Giggs would be the other contender I guess but no complaints here.

Full time: Derby 1-4 Man Utd. A comfortable win for Fergie’s side. His youngsters impressed whilst there was enough experience with Giggs, Ronaldo, Rio etc to make sure there would be no repeat of the Carling Cup first leg. Derby battled bravely and got the goal they deserved. United scored some nice goals, the pick of which I’d say was Welbeck’s.

 

The draw for the quarter finals follows straight after and comes out like this:

Blackburn or Coventry v Chelsea

Swansea or Fulham v Man Utd

Cardiff or Arsenal or Burnley v Sheffield Utd or Hull

Everton v West Ham or Middlesbrough

 

T.


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