What a turnaround! It was something we heard over and over again on Saturday.
The Stoke v Sunderland match was the early Saturday match and had there been any games in direct opposition the audience would have been limited to the diehards from each club.
As it was, the quality of football on show at the Britannia Stadium (or as Times writer Nick Szczepanik once memorably referred to it, Ice Station Zebra), was not the best and offered an opportunity to “celebrate” effort rather than skill.
Sunderland eventually wilted in the face of Stoke’s bombardment although it was two wonderful deliveries from Jermaine Pennant that allowed strength and power to win out.
Liverpool used three centre backs and two wing backs to counter Stoke’s physical approach on Wednesday at Anfield. Sunderland opted for the same tactic although the two wide players played more like conventional full backs than wing backs.
What continues to intrigue is that how after three seasons in the league the other 19 teams show so little imagination in dealing with the blunt weapon that is Rory Delap’s throw-in.
Sunderland seemed to approach the task like so many others and opted for the strategy of fighting fire with fire.
Sunderland packed their penalty area with defenders which allowed Stoke to throw more players into the area as well.
Surely that is playing into Stoke’s hands – the more players in the penalty area, the greater the confusion and the more difficult it becomes for the goalkeeper to come and win the ball.
When Craig Gordon did win the ball, more times than not he had no option up field and had to wait for Sunderland players to get forward.
Would fighting fire with the equivalent of water not be a better idea? Leave three or four quick players up the park and then Stoke has to either risk a counter attack or keep more men back.
Four goals up with 21 minutes left to play nine men should be able to hold out for a win let alone ten. Arsenal’s collapse was inexcusable.
Fingers may be pointed at Diaby for his reaction to Joey Barton but it looked to me as if the biggest loss was Johan Djourou to injury just a few minutes before.
The Arsenal substitutions, when they were made, failed to stem the tide and once the second penalty (a very strange call) went in there was a certain inevitability that Arsenal was not going to leave with three points.
Three minutes gone, you are sitting bottom of the Premier League and down 1-0 to a Manchester United side who are 19 places above you and unbeaten in 29 league matches. What do you do?
Well, if you are Wolves you fight back to lead 2-1 at half time and then put in a heroic second half shift to hold on for three precious points and to receive the undying thanks of at least three other Premier League sides named Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.
The pitch may not have been to United’s liking but apart from an early spell when Nani looked to have the beating of Wolves left back George Elokobi at will, United showed little that would pass for Premier League Champions form.
The absence of Rio Ferdinand was noticeable – as it always is – but nonetheless United had problems in all areas. Evra and Rafael failed to get forward in a consistently dangerous way.
Fletcher played a couple of nice passes out wide early in the going and then largely disappeared. Carrick was anonymous and Berbatov easily handled.
United played like a tired side; Wolves played with immense courage.
Juventus stopped the rot by beating Cagliari 3-1.
It was a muted response from Matri after scoring twice against his old club.
The stand out goal came from Luca Toni. A thundering header from outside the penalty box blew past Cagliari keeper Agazzi.
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