Any thoughts that we might see Wigan take advantage of a Champions League hangover/weakened line-up Manchester United combo were put to bed on Saturday at DW Stadium.
Arguably the starting line-up put out by Sir Alex Ferguson was stronger than the eleven that started against Marseille. However, the 4-0 scoreline did prove to be extremely flattering to Manchester United.
Edwin van der Sar was called upon three times – twice in the first half – to keep Wigan off the score sheet. Victor Moses could have showed a bit more conviction when he pounced on a Paul Scholes error but the United keeper narrowed the angle quickly; van der Sar again reacted quickly when James McCarthy was put through with only the keeper to beat; the second half save came after a long range blast from left back Maynor Figueroa.
Javier Hernandez continues to show the sharpness in front of goal and movement in the penalty box that reminds so many United fans of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Another two goals for him and then two other late markers as Wigan ran out of steam.
I mentioned on Friday’s Fox Soccer Report that Wolves fans never had a chance to relax and enjoy a win – close to every game their team played was a life or death finish.
Well that changed on Saturday as Wolves fans got to relax and enjoy a 4-0 walloping of Blackpool. Things got off to a great start with a wonderful move that was finished brilliantly by Matt Jarvis – his first since October 16th.
The sending off of Blackpool’s DJ Campbell made the task at hand even easier and the final score line made it Wolves’ biggest win in their Premier League history.
The Bayern Munich – Borussia Dortmund game was exceptional. The pace was non-stop and with Dortmund in particular teams pressing high up the pitch the play raced from end to end. A 3-1 win for Dortmund has surely put paid to the faint hope that Bayern might retain their title.
Midfielder Nuri Sahin was the man-of-the-match with a cracking goal to his credit as well. The third goal – a header from Mats Hummels – was not bad either. The centre back’s header from a corner flew into the Bayern net.
Mallorca escaped with a point from the Nou Camp earlier in the season but there was no repeat in the return fixture. Three goals without reply and all special in their own way.
Keita played the provider with a little scoop over the defence for Messi to run onto and his header went up and over the advancing keeper.
The second goal came after a protracted period of possession for Barcelona that was so long that commercial breaks could have inserted and Mallorca would still not have had a touch. Villa was the scorer this time as he broke the high Mallorca back line.
The final goal was an absolute belter from Pedro as he cut in from the left and deposited a right footed shot high into the far corner.
Bojan was also sighted at the 69th minute mark.
A couple of lackadaisical performances will have some thinking that Liverpool are regressing to the pre-Dalglish days. Liverpool again went with three at the back against West Ham but the defence never dominated the West Ham forwards at any stage.
First half goals by Scott Parker – a deft flick from the edge of the penalty box – and a header from Demba Ba put the Hammers in a strong position.
A late goal from Glen Johnson offered Liverpool an undeserved chance of grabbing a point but a Carlton Cole goal put the result beyond doubt.
Given that West Ham have had lots of trouble all season dealing with cross balls into the penalty box it was shocking that Liverpool played with little or no width.
It is even more surprising when you consider that a former West Ham coach Steve Clarke was sitting on the Liverpool bench.
Has there even been an easier cup-winning goal scored at Wembley than the one netted by Obafemi Martins on Sunday? A calamitous mistake from Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (the question has to be asked – why did Koscielny not just shepherd the ball through to the keeper?) presented Martins with an open goal and all the Nigerian striker had to do was roll the ball into the net from seven yards.
Although outplayed for large stretches of the match, attacks from Birmingham always carried menace and Arsenal’s advantage in possession again camouflaged an inability to play telling forward passes in and around the Birmingham penalty area.
Possession cannot be an end in itself and without Fabregas to pick out and to play a killer pass Arsenal were extremely predictable. Arsenal fans who circled February 27, 2011 as a sort of liberation day will have to wait a while longer.
Ben Foster pulled off a number of keys saves and in all the talk of the winning goal it seems to have been largely missed that Foster launched the free kick and deserves an assist perhaps.
Congratulations to Birmingham City and Big Eck. Europa League football at St Andrews next season.
I didn’t see the game but it is hard to ignore a 7-0 away win. Here are the goals from Udinese’s thumping of Palermo. Four by Alexis Sanchez (insert name of Premier League supposedly now ready to bid zillions for Sanchez) and a hat trick by the sensational Antonio de Natale.
The Sampdoria v Inter match was full of running and honest effort but as a spectacle it flattered to deceive. In the end the game was decided by a great free kick from Wesley Sneijder while the second from Samuel Eto’o only served to pad Inter’s goal differential. The win maintains the pressure on Milan and Napoli who play each other tomorrow.
It had been close to two decades since Borussia Dortmund won away to Bayern Munich but a 3-1 score line broke the streak and put paid to any thought that Bayern might still take the Bundesliga with a late charge. It was an 11th away win this season for Dortmund and that equals a Bundesliga record.
A fixture that looked as if might be a bit tricky turned into another routine win for Barcelona. Their 3-0 defeat of Mallorca means they are now unbeaten in 19 away matches in La Liga and are set to set a new league record when they travel to play Valencia at the Mestalla next weekend.
On Saturday against Sunderland Everton’s David Moyes only needed one point to hit the mark of 500 Premier League points. He cleared the mark with room to spare after a 2-0 win. He joins the fairly exclusive club of Redknapp, Wenger and Ferguson.
Bologna’s last win away to Juventus in Serie A came in 1980.
There has been a fair amount written about Italy losing a Champions League spot to Germany in the 2012/13 season. But the results in European play brought good news for Scottish teams – ok good news for Celtic and Rangers.
Rangers last gasp equaliser from Maurice Edu against Sporting Lisbon not only moved Rangers into the last 16 of the Europa League but reclaimed a second Champions League spot for Scottish clubs in 2012/13 season. Scotland will lose a place next season but now it will only be for one year.
One of the countries set to be the biggest loser in the next couple of seasons will be Romania. They will slip from 8th this season to no higher than 14th for 2012/13 and then the slide is almost certain to continue as they lose the unusually high number of points gained in 2006/07 season through success UEFA Cup.
Wigan have played Manchester United a dozen times in Premier League play and have lost every one. United have scored 37 goals against Wigan while conceding only four and the 18 goals have come without reply.
Alexis Sanchez became only the 12th player in the last three decades to score four goals in a Serie A game.
Player of the Weekend Nominees
Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
Jamie O’Hara (Wolves)
Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund)
Scott Parker (West Ham)
Ben Foster (Birmingham)
Samuel Eto’o (Inter)
The winner will be announced on Monday night’s Fox Soccer Report.
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