Back-to-back home wins for Queen’s Park Rangers against Liverpool and Arsenal has given their fans fresh hope that Premier League survival might possible. Against Arsenal QPR’s performance blended defensive discipline with excellent support play and they took their chances when they came along.
The spine of the QPR side was particularly good. Paddy Kenny stymied Robin Van Persie with a game-changing save, the centre back pairing of Ferdinand and Hill provided a solid base while Barton spread the play intelligently in midfield. Sean Derry and Samba Diakite were relentless and focused in front of the back four while Bobby Zamora offered an outlet when his team was under pressure and he was able to hold the ball up until support arrived from deeper positions.
Arsenal and Manchester City both dropped valuable points against team they were expected to beat handily. Neither side established an effective rhythm were flummoxed by QPR and Sunderland sides that prioritized shape and organization. The success of the respective strategies can be measured by how few times the favored sides were able to work the oppositions’ keeper from chances inside of the penalty areas.
After winning 13 consecutive matches it seems a bit churlish to group Braga as a loser. But a late goal brought Benfica a crucial win against Braga and when combined with Porto’s win against Olhanense it dropped Braga from top of the table to third. But with five games remaining nothing is certain. Porto is on top with 60 points, Benfica has a point less and Braga are on 58.
Things continue to go from bad to worse for Wolves. Another game another loss and this time a loss to a relegation threatened rival and at Molineux. What compounded the loss was that QPR and Wigan both won and now with seven games to play Wolves are seven points adrift of safety.
Eight games still to go in the season and Real Madrid have already cracked a century of goals in La Liga. There were two more from Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid beat Osasuna 5-1 and with Barcelona beating Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Real maintained their six point lead on the current champions.
March started well for West Ham with a 2-0 away win at Cardiff but since then things have taken a severe turn for the worse. Five draws, one win and a 4-2 home loss to Reading in a critical match on Saturday has seen the Hammers slide down to third in the Championship. The win extended Reading’s lead on West Ham to four points with six games remaining.
Sunderland fans were rightfully depressed after losing to Everton in their FA Cup replay on Wednesday. The draw over Manchester City can’t make up for the midweek loss. But nonetheless Sessegnon, Larsson and Bendtner contributions for Sunderland’s three goals were all outstanding.
Hamburg are the only side never to be relegated since the founding of the Bundesliga nearly half a century ago. But this season they are cutting it very fine. On Saturday they won a crucial match away against bottom of the Kaiserslautern 1-0. The loss has Kaiserslautern’s situation looking extremely desperate given they are now 10 points from safety and only six rounds of play left. Hamburg are now two points above the relegation zone but things are so tight that none of the teams in the bottom half of the table can consider themselves safe.
Was it the loan spell with Arsenal or is it just that the stars and Thierry Henry finally aligned? Last week he had two goals and an assist against Colorado Rapids and he was named MLS Player of the Week. ON Saturday it was a hat trick and an assist in the Red Bulls 5-2 win against Montreal Impact. Surely enough for back to back POTW and a strong case for Player of the Month.
A back four of Simpson, Williamson, Perch and Gutierrez had the look of a championship defense rather than one that could start and perform as an effective Premier League unit. But effective they were in shutting out Liverpool. That might have changed had referee Martin Atkinson spotted Danny Simpson’s hand ball on the line or if Andy Carroll had had the courage to stay upright after rounding keeper Tim Krul. But nonetheless they got the job done.
There were few pundits who suggested anything but continued success for MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy this season. But with just one win in five games in all competitions so far Mr. Crisis seems to have taken up residence at the Home Depot Centre. The latest of three home losses came on Saturday evening against the New England Revolution withe visitors winning 3-1.
The number of pundits and tweeters (many held in high regard) who suggested that the head butt by Reina was only worthy of a yellow card. You can square that for those who suggested that referee’s decision should change based on whether or not contact was made. Contact is irrelevant to the referee’s decision – he is judging intent. As for those that attempt to use Perch’s behavior as some sort of reason to mitigate Reina’s punishment – “Reina should only get a yellow card because Perch exaggerated”. All I can say is have fun making up your own Laws of the Game.
Do you have a winner or loser from this weekend?
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