That was the weekend that was.
1. The title race – Liverpool make mincemeat of Blackburn in the early kick off beating them 4-0. This is surely the only time we will see Fat Sam let Samba inspire his side’s attacking prowess… oh yeah, and Chris Samba won’t be playing up front for them again. Poor puns aside, Blackburn were awful. Liverpool didn’t even need to call on Gerrard who rested on the bench, and the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster saw Anfield basked in sunshine. Fernando Torres scored two, including an awesome first from a route one Carragher pass.
Are you SERIOUS?
So, the focus then turned to Man Utd and Chelsea for the 3pm kick offs. To the detriment of my fantasy football team (and chances of catching the Football Guy), Fergie decided to start with Cristiano on the bench and risked playing G Nevs again, who is about as useful as a crack addict with a bum fluff moustache. Scholes opened for United with a rare header but the inevitable Sunderland goal came through Kenwyne Jones. On came C-Ron to save United’s blushes but instead it was another substitute that did the business… yes him, the Italian that looks about 25 and disturbingly models himself on Cristiano – none other than Kiko Manc-eda. This one wasn’t as scintillating as his winner last week against Villa but it was the tonic that Fergie’s faltering side needed.
Meanwhile, at the Bridge Chelsea eased into a 4 goal lead against Bolton, with the inevitable Lampard goal (which Sportboy T failed miserably to jinx, much to the joy of the Football Guy) and Snoop Drog double. Hiddink then proceeded to understandably substitute the aforementioned duo, saving them for Liverpool’s trip to the Bridge on Tuesday. However, this seemed simply to send out the message to the rest of the Chelsea team that the match was over. Bolton, who seem to have turned into something of a goal machine in the second half of this season, duly took up the challenge and proceeded to score three in eight minutes, leaving a nervy finish in front of the Chelsea faithful.
"I said C-Ron and a mobile phone, not five blondes!"
2. The race for fourth place – A tale of two halves and a lucky red card escape for the Gunners. Having decided to watch this one on Arab TV in a sweaty pub full of yobs, I hoped we would see a confident performance, even if the Arsenal defence was depleted. What I got was an awful first 50 minutes in which I had to bear with Mido scoring (and very nearly two at that). To make matters worse, Gibbs should have been sent off as he brought down Valencia as the last man. Instead he got away with it and the penny dropped with Wenger that changes needed to be made. On came Adebayor and Van Persie allowing Cesc to drop into a much more effective deeper role. Arshavin’s persistence paid off as Walcott was played in for the equaliser. The Gunners played some sweet stuff, topped off by a goal from my beloved Arshavin and a sexy finish from Song. That left Aston Villa and Everton to fight it out on the Sunday to see which team could give Arsenal a run for their Champions League money.
Villa played out a thriller against United last week and didn’t fail to deliver against Everton at Villa Park. Although Martin O’Neill’s side allowed Everton to steam into a 3-1 lead, a James Milner peach of a free kick and a dodgy penalty decision against Joleon Lescott allowed Villa to snatch a point that keeps them ahead of Everton but eight behind Arsenal. Despite the Gunners’ remaining matches against Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool, I think the fourth spot has now been sealed. Villa have a slightly easier run in than Everton but it should be an interesting battle. Kudos must go to David Moyes who has assembled a good side packed with battlers, creators and goal scorers. Fellaini seems to be excelling in his advanced role behind a rejuvenated Jo.
3. Spirits raised in the North-East… slightly.
After Southgate called it a must-win game, Boro’s 3-1 defeat of Hull will certainly give them some belief that they can avoid relegation. Unfortunately for them, they remain in the zone, two points off Sunderland and behind Newcastle on goal difference.
As for the Magpies, a 1-1 draw against Stoke must constitute a well-earned and highly valued point for Shearer. It must have been the training bikes on the pitch at half time. Or perhaps it was the ability to withstand Rory Delap’s launches into the box, enabling Newcastle’s own Geordie brute, Andy Carroll, to steal the point. It will still be the home games that decide whether Big Al manages to stick a big two fingers at all the doubters out there. Please Al, anything to see you finish your BBC career… please.
Big Al gets to grips with the job of keeping Newcastle up
4. La Liga watch – Messi is shit.
Ok, we all pretty much knew that Barca would win the league, but their 2-0 win against Recreativo at the Nou Camp only brings that day closer. Messi even managed to miss a penalty… rubbish isn’t he.
On a sad but good note for the Gunners, Marcos Senna had to come off injured in Villarreal’s 2-0 defeat at home to Malaga and will now miss the quarter final, second leg at the Emirates on Wednesday (unless this is a cruel deception by Villarreal’s website). Senna was awesome in the first leg both defensively and offensively. That is probably an injury too far for Los Submarinos Amarillos.
5. Bundesliga watch – all up for grabs now.
The German league definitely has the most exciting title race of any league in Europe at the moment with four teams competing. Wolfsburg, who destroyed Bayern Munich last week, stay on top with a win away at Borussia Monchegladbach. Klinsmann’s men managed to pick themselves up from their spanking at Barcelona by beating Frankfurt 4-0 at the Allianz Arena. Martin Jol’s Hamburg suffered a last minute defeat away at Stuttgart, putting them in third place behind Bayern on goal difference. The standings are now: Wolfsburg, 54 points; Bayern Munich, 51 points; Hamburg, 51 points; Hertha Berlin, 49 points and Stuttgart, 48 points. Now that is what I call an open race. Let’s just hope the inevitable Bayern win doesn’t materialise.
6. Serie A – Forget the title race but look out for Genoa.
Inter managed to draw 2-2 at home to Palermo depsite leading 2-0 but luckily for them, Juve were beaten 3-2 by the ever-more-impressive Genoa side that now finds itself two points clear of Fiorentina in the fourth Champions League spot. Milan notched up another win 1-0 at Chievo thanks to Seedorf and could now overtake Juve in second (just two points behind). If the rumours are to be believed, that won’t prevent Carlo Ancelotti ending up at Chelsea. Any takers on Frank Rijkaard ending up at the San Siro? Lazio smacked up Roma in the derby of the eternal city with the usual flurry of red cards being shown. Roma’s hopes of Champions League football next season now look over as they lie in sixth place, eight points behind. I don’t think Spaletti will be round for much longer. Shame really…I quite liked Roma under the baldy one.