There was more than enough entertainment and drama in the early game on Saturday morning.
Three penalties, a big decision for the referee to make in the first half when Vidic received a yellow card when some might have seen the incident as worthy of the red variety and four unanswered goals from Manchester United after being 2-0 down at half time.
Even at 2-0 up West Ham was allowing United acres of space in front of Wayne Bridge as the Hammers’ midfield three played very narrow and compact.
Perhaps the difference in the second 45 minutes was that United started looking to play the ball to feet in and around the penalty area while in the first half they had continually played crosses into the back post – with no success.
Whether though exhaustion or a coaching decision, the West Ham midfield played much more passively – and a bit deeper – in the second half and this just invited United to throw players forward.
The Rooney free kick was very well struck as was his second goal as well. By the time the fourth goal went in West Ham looked dishevelled and well beaten.
If West Ham had secured a point Manuel da Costa would have been man of the match.
The Stoke v Chelsea game was no pretty picture but it did not stop the game being entertaining and engaging. A bit of a slow first half although both goals came in the first 45 minutes.
If David Luiz has shown any weakness in his game during his short stint in the Barclay’s Premier League it has been on account of a certain amount of rashness in his decision making.
However, the Stoke goal came from complacency. Walters skipped around him around the half-way line then Michael Essien was culpable after allowing Walters to cut inside him.
Drogba’s equalizer was wonderfully constructed and executed. The second half brought no goals but lots of thrills. Two finger tip saves from Petr Cech deflected Stoke efforts on to the cross bar while Drogba thundered one off the Stoke bar.
Late substitute Ricardo Fuller tormented the Chelsea defence in the later stages and he should have scored with a header but he failed to hit the target.
Chelsea dominated possession with Stoke’s Delap and Whelan constantly battling superior numbers in midfield.
Playing Pennant and Etherington is admirable but unless they get on the ball more it comes with a cost.
It was a stereotypical Arsenal display against a side that defends deep – ponderous on the ball, and allowed the opposition to organize and get even more men behind the ball.
There was no Arsenal player who seemed to be willing to put their head down and just go – even with as much pace as he has, Walcott rarely moves into top gear.
Arsenal certainly dominated the play as 22 attempts on goal testifies too but only seven on target also tells a story.
It looks as if another Arsenal league challenge has evaporated as quickly as spring snow.
Inter can have no complaints after losing the derby 3-0 to Milan. Milan was in the driving seat right from the first minute when they scored after a great run from Robinho and some nice inter-passing.
From then on Inter was constantly pressing but it left them very vulnerable as the field got stretched. Pato’s pace was an intimidating factor and kept the Inter defence off balance.
It was another Milan performance based on absorbing pressure and then getting the ball forward to the front three – Seedorf, Pato and Robinho. The front trio did not let the side down either – they were all terrific.
Inter created very few good chances with their two best opportunities coming in the first half. Eto’o was alone at the far post but shot wide, while there was a fantastic save by Abbiati from a Pandev header.
Was it a case of Manchester City being that good or Sunderland stinking out the joint? Either way Manchester ity handed out a good old-fashioned thumping to a Sunderland side that is finding the pole they are slipping down increasingly greasy.
In the first 20 odd minutes Sunderland exhibited all the organization of a rabble as City simply swept over them. City showed fluidity, skill and desire – three qualities they have rarely presented together this season.
Their passing and movement was intuitive rather than forced and every attack brought the threat of more goals against a Sunderland team that had the look of the Christians playing two men short against the lions. In the end Sunderland got off easy with conceding just five. You do wonder however if Lee Cattermole will receive an assist on the final goal by YaYa Toure. Has there been a worse pass made all season in the Premier League.
And seeing that this was one of the better weekend’s for Roberto Mancini here is one of the most spectacular goals he ever scored. This was during his spell at Lazio after his move from Sampdoria.
A special Canuck Corner on Monday covering Toronto FC v Chivas and Sporting Kansas City v Vancouver Whitecaps.
How many players can sit on the bench for 80 minutes then come on and gain a penalty; score from the penalty; get a yellow card after the penalty and then get sent off just a few minutes later. Address your answer to Antonio Cassano.
You can understand why many thought that this might be the weekend when Real Madrid might cut into Barcelona’s lead at the top of La Liga. Barcelona faced a tricky trip to Villarreal while Real Madrid was a home to lowly Sporting Gijon.
What’s more Barcelona had won just five of their last 13 league matches after internationals while Real Madrid had a 100% record. Barcelona made it 6 wins in the last 14 after international fixtures while Real dropped their first game in 14.
Liverpool’s run of nine consecutive wins against West Brom without conceding a goal came to an end with a 2-1 loss. It also ended a run of 13 consecutive wins by Liverpool over WBA in all competitions.
Manchester United have won the last six Premier League games against West Ham – in the first five wins they had done so without conceding a goal.
The name Miguel Angel de las Cuevas went into the history books on Saturday when his goal for Sporting Gijon brought an end to one of the most remarkable streaks in professional sport.
After nine year and 150 league games a Jose Mourinho side finally tasted defeat at home in a league match. The last loss came when Porto lost to Beira Mar on 23 February 2002. Since then Mourinho streak has included time with Porto, Chelsea, Inter and now Real Madrid.
Dundee United’s 3-2 win at Ibrox was the fourth time they have beaten Rangers away from home in the SPL. Only Celtic has a better record at Ibrox.
United lost exclusive claim to a SPL record on Saturday. Hamilton Accies loss to St Mirren was their 21st game without a win and that tied a record set by Dundee United in 2000.
Red cards to Chivu and Cassano were numbers 7 and 8 in the last six Milan derbies.
West Ham looked to be heading to a second consecutive upset in the Barclay’s Premier League until Wayne Rooney and Manchester United decided otherwise. Instead it fell to Blackburn drawing with Arsenal at odd of 9/2.
The biggest upset of the weekend and perhaps of 2011 so far was Sporting Gijon going to the Bernabeu and beating Real Madrid. The odds on such an outcome before the game was 18/1. You would have even received 7/1 against a draw.
Bari is almost certain to be relegated from Serie A – even after beating Parma 2-1 away from home they are still 11 points from safety. No doubt that this contributed to odds of 7/1 against them beating Parma and recording only their second away win of the season.
Being held scoreless at home by Auxerre was another dent in the title hopes of Rennes. They are now seven points behind leaders Lille with nine games left. For Auxerre it was a valuable point in their fight to avoid relegation. You would have got odds of 12/5 against a draw before the game kicked off on Saturday.
In the Bundesliga it was also a draw that was the biggest surprise. Four consecutive losses contributed to the odds against Freiburg escaping from Mainz with any sort of result. An early goal offered Freiburg the hop of an upset by Mainz equalized in the second half. The odds on a draw was 5/2.
Four of the five MLS games on Saturday also finished as draws. The biggest surprise as far as the bookies were concerned was the expansion Portland Timbers earning their first point in MLS away to the New England Revolution. The odds – 13/5.
Player of the Weekend Nominees
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Petr Cech (Chelsea)
Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers)
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
The winner to be announced on Monday night’s Fox Soccer Report.
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