Such was the performance of Arsenal on Saturday that Wigan were very fortunate to get 0. It is doubtful that we have seen a 45 minutes of play this season in the Premier League in which one team has been so dominant.
The only thing stopping Arsenal from leading by seven or eight at half time was a profligate attack and a stunning performance of shot blocking from Wigan goalkeeper Ali al-Habsi.
There was an improvement from Wigan (it could not have been any poorer) in the second half but Arsenal scored twice to add to their 1-0 half time lead. Van Persie’s second of three goals was wonderfully executed after a postage stamp pass from Cesc Fabregas.
One thing that has become more noticeable as Fabregas and Van Persie have worked their way back to match-fitness is that Arsenal have added a little bit of variety. They seem to willing to play more long angled passes out to the wings – especially to Theo Walcott.
It was an team line up that was built around ample pace in midfield and in attack but as it turned out it was the performance of James Collins and Richard Dunne at the heart of the Villa defence that was instrumental in the win over Manchester City.
Still too early to claim that Hearts may be part of a three horse race for the Scottish Premier League but they are making a good case at the moment. Hearts consolidated their third place in the league with a 1-0 win over second place Rangers on Saturday.
It was Hearts’ 12th win in 14 games and pulls them to within two points of Rangers with a game more played. Hearts travel to play league leaders Celtic on Wednesday and are hoping to cut into Celtic’s seven point lead and Celtic have played a game more.
Many find that Barcelona’s dominance has already grown to the point of boredom. I don’t proscribe to that view and instead find that there is something to learn every time I watch Barcelona. Take their opening goal against Racing Santander on Saturday.
As Messi moves into the penalty area 99% of players would have tried to cross the ball behind the defenders or looked to go around the first defender and take advantage of the space that was vacant behind him.
However, there were problems with both options. The first is that penalty area is packed with bodies and even Messi might struggle to find the head of a team mate if he opted for the cross. If plays a low hard cross the defenders are more than likely going to clear the ball for another corner.
If he opts to take the defender on and drive to the line there is some decent defensive cover behind the first defender and again the most likely outcome is a corner after a defender blocks Messi.
Dimitar Berbatov netted a hat trick but it was Ryan Giggs that floated over the turf on Saturday against Birmingham. It is easy to let the present dictate superlatives but there are few that would dispute that Ryan Gigs through his two decades of football has been a joy to watch.
Manchester City looked tired, fatigued and jaded in the game on Saturday against Aston Villa. You would not have needed a fortune teller to predict that Villa would come out on an emotional high after signing Darren Bent in midweek.
Nonetheless City looked ill-equipped to deal with a turbo-charged Villa. By the time City got their bearings Villa were 1-0 and had a lead to defend. It was noticeable how devoid of attacking ideas City were when faced with a team that quickly got goal side but that also that carried a counter-attacking threat.
After forecasting that we would see nearly as much of David Beckham as we would of the Spurs – Manchester United last Sunday I was proved wrong by only a handful of Beckham shots.
However, the director in charge of Arsenal v Wigan must have been told to up the quota as we sufferred through shot after shot of Becks and his kid sitting at the Emirates. You could hear by commentator Martin Tyler’s tone that he had almost run out of ways to link Beckham and the game as the camera shots came fast and furious.
Strange that the moment when Beckham could so easily have been linked to the action on the field the director chose to completely ignore it – Van Persie skying his penalty over the bar and far away.
Dimitar Berbatov completed his third hat-trick of the season on Saturday. This one came against Birmingham and Berbatov became only the third player to achieve a hat-trick of hat-tricks in a Premier League season. Alan Shearer did it twice while Ruud Van Nistelrooy was the other.
What team has won seven and drawn one of their last eight games, have a positive goal difference for the season and yet are still bottom of their league? That would be Dundee. After a 25 point deduction for going into a second Administration Dundee have 11 points and hold up the other nine teams in the Scottish First Division.
The good news is that they only trail second from the bottom Stirling Albion by a point although Stirling have three games in hand. However, with half the season remaining there is hope that Dundee can avoid automatic relegation and perhaps even a relegation/play off should they finish 9th – Ross County are four points up on Dundee with two games in hand.
Frederic Piquionne’s sending off against Everton was not only the first red card issued to a West Ham player this season but the first shown in a Premier League match involving West Ham.
You would have got 3/1 on an Everton – West Ham draw.
Player of the Weekend Nominees
Ali al-Habsi (Wigan Athletic)
Robin Van Persie (Arsenal)
James Collins (Aston Villa)
Raul Meireles (Liverpool)
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers)
Thiago Motta (Milan)
Remember to tune in to Monday’s Fox Soccer Report to hear the winner.
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