1. Liverpool were excellent on Sunday but United will still win the league. Vidic and Evra had one of those games to forget and Gerrard and Torres took full advantage. It was interesting to see Vidic exposed by someone with real pace as more often than not he gets away with it (much like Terry). I haven’t seen Vidic that isolated in defence before as it’s not often Man Utd get hit on the break like that. It could be something for other teams to try and exploit but I imagine Fergie will find a way to prevent it happening again. In terms of Liverpool, once again we saw how devastating Gerrard and Torres can be. If they had been playing together the whole season we may well have been looking at a 19th title for Liverpool rather then an 18th for United. It goes back to squad depth I guess and Rafa not having an equivalent to turn to when El Nino was injured. That will be something to address in the summer. Finally, much like when John O’Shea chipped Almunia a few years back (the evils at the start of that vid are great) you just know it’s not your day when Andrea Dossena is executing perfect lobs over you.
2. Blackburn were as bad as Arsenal were good on Saturday. Outplayed from first to last minute, it was nice to see Allardyce’s usual anti-football tactics shot down for once. El-Hadji Diouf should have been sent off for a filthy challenge on Almunia while the less said about Pedersen’s dive the better. I expected no less from an Allardyce team but it’s disappointing that these kind of things never get punished. I genuinely hope they go down, they’re such a nothing club with no ambition and a fool for a manager. Arsenal seem to have hit a bit of form at just the right time and in Arshavin look to have a quality signing. His goal was the best of the weekend and it will be interesting to see how he combines with Fabregas when the Spaniard returns.
We have defended Bendtner here before, and on Saturday he again came in for some criticism having missed a few chances. His buildup play and work rate were very good and it was him who released Walcott to create the opener. It’s very rare to get players dominating at a young age (17-21) and becoming consistent is one of the key aspects of developing. He’s doing well in an Arsenal side which has regressed since last year and the finishing will come. Besides how many times in the past have we seen games where Ade or RVP have missed countless chances in games.
3. Much like Torres’ injuries denying Liverpool the title, Essien being absent has cost Chelsea a real push at Man United. I still think that if Fergie somehow messes it up, then Chelsea are better placed to snatch it. They haven’t really been discussed in the whole ‘title race is back on’ (©Sky) but are level with Liverpool and have a better goal difference and a better squad. Big Phil may have moaned about the failure to sign Robinho being the missing piece, but he did nothing to suggest that he would have made a difference to Chelsea’s title bid. Good players perform at home, great ones perform every week. Essien falls in the latter category.
4. Marouane Fellaini has gone from the having the best hair in the Premier League to having possibly the worst.
5. With their first away win of the season, Fulham have just about ensured survival. It’s testament to Roy Hodgson that he’s taken a small squad of players to a comfortable mid table position. I’m intrigued by how far he can take them if Chairman Mo loosens the Harrods purse strings a little and allows for a bit of summer spending. With Man City and Tottenham sure to improve next year, maintaining a top half position may well be the sum of their ambition.
6. I think Aston Villa are done for the season and may well end up being overtaken by Everton too. I watched them against Spurs yesterday and players like Young and Agbonlahor who sparkled earlier in the season look tired and bereft of ideas at the business end. They face Liverpool and United next and while their last few games are easier than Arsenal’s I’m just not sure they have anything left in the tank. I did notice another great example of lazy punditry. Robbie Earle (I think) was talking about how Agbonlahor is probably not used to playing week in week out hence his tiredness. A simple look at his stats shows he only missed 142 minutes last year, and just 95 the year before that. He may well be tired but it’s not from inexperience of a long campaign.