BigDub’s BIG EPL Weekend Roundup
Today, I bring you all a guest contribution, now yes, this is a jersey blog first and foremost, but as you all also know, I am a huge sports fan, so today, I hand the reigns over to fellow sports fan, Max ‘BigDub’ Kurek, a friend of mine from High School, and bring you his spectacular Premier League wrap up for this week, I hope everyone likes what they read – J (and yes, I am currently licking my wounds from going 1-3 in picks this past weekend, I’ll post my Conf. Championship Picks Midweek, until then GO PACKERS!)
EPL Weekend Update: Jan. 15-16
Match of the Week
Manchester City 4 – Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
Manchester City has not won the league title in England since 1968. In the years since this accomplishment, cross-town rivals Manchester United have won eleven. Perhaps this explains why United boast a vast worldwide following, while City only recently, as a result of their massive transfer spending, have started to become a popular name in the European footballing world. However, if Carlos Tevez (pictured) has anything to say about it there will be a shift in power in Manchester in the very near future. The Argentinian striker was on target two more times as City defeated lowly Wolves in one of the weekend’s most exciting matches. Wolves manager Mick McCarthy will be pleased that his side were able to put three past in-form City keeper Joe Hart. However, McCarthy can only shrug at the performance of Tevez. Center-Backs Richard Stearman and Christophe Berra could do very little to stop the former West Ham man, as the City attack ran wild against an ineffective Wolves back line. The Brothers Toure, Kolo and Yaya, two of City’s many recent bank-breaking signings, were also on target for the home side. Ronald Zubar, Kevin Doyle, and Nenad Milijas did the best they could to keep pace with the goal output of City, but in the end it simply was not enough. It’s onward and upward for Roberto Mancini’s side, who find themselves even on points with league leaders Manchester United.
Chelsea 2 – Blackburn Rovers 0: Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka helped a struggling Chelsea grab a much needed three points at home against caretaker manager Steve Kean’s Blackburn Rovers. The win sees Chelsea reclaim the fourth spot, one point in front of Tottenham Hotspur. Blackburn were unable to penetrate the Chelsea defense, thanks in large part to keeper Petr Cech (pictured) who showed once again why he is considered by many to be the league’s top keeper. Chelsea must continue to take maximum points from teams in the bottom half of the table if they are to keep pace with the likes of City, United, and Arsenal.
Stoke City 2 – Bolton Wanderers 0: A huge match for both sides as each are right in the thick of the race for a coveted spot in the Europa League. Stoke were able to prevail thanks to a strong performance from defender Danny Higgenbotham, who was staunch in defense and contributed offensively with a first half goal. Matthew Etherington sealed three points for Tony Pulis’ side with a 64th minute penalty. The sides find themselves even on 30 points, ranking 7th and 8th in the league table, with Bolton ahead on a +3 goal differential, compared to +2 for Stoke.
Wigan 1 – Fulham 1: A matchup of two sides in the bottom five of the league saw each come away with a well deserved point. The Latics went ahead early in the second half with a goal from Hugo Rodallega. Wigan hearts were shattered, however, by a late strike from substitute Andy Johnson, who equalized in the 85th to preserve a point for Mark Hughes’ Fulham side. Both sides remain right in the middle of the relegation battle, with Fulham 15th and Wigan sitting in the final relegation spot at 18th.
West Ham 0 – Arsenal 3: More misery for Avram Grant’s side in this matchup of London clubs. West Ham simply had no answer for Arsenal’s attack. Robin Van Persie showed why he remains one of the top strikers in all of England with two goals in this match, one coming from the penalty spot. Theo Walcott also registered a goal for Arsene Wenger’s men. Arsenal remain in the hunt for a league title, but must display more consistency against the league’s top sides. For West Ham, it would be an incredible achievement to avoid relegation. The Hammers are currently at the bottom of the league table with only 20 points. The days are numbered for former Chelsea and Portsmouth manager Grant, who must avoid relegation to save his job, if he even lasts until the end of the season.
West Brom 3 – Blackpool 2: A thoroughly entertaining match between two of the newest Premier League sides. Both West Brom and Blackpool experienced the joy of returning to the top flight in England just this season. It was Roberto Di Matteo’s men who came out on top in this one, however. Late heroics from unsung hero Peter Odemwingie ensured that West Brown secured a much needed home victory. Ian Holloway will be pleased with his team’s effort, having just completed a season double over Liverpool last weekend. These are matches that the Baggies must continue to win if they are to avoid relegation. Blackpool look to be in a much safer spot, as they sit 10th in the table, six points from relegation and with a game in hand.
Tottenham 0 – Manchester United 0: As far as league position, this was the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. Spurs came into this match 4th in the table, 8 points behind leaders United. The home side controlled things throughout, registering 68% possession for the match. United were reduced to ten men with about fifteen minutes remaining as fullback Rafael da Silva was shown red for a second bookable offense by referee Mike Dean. Sir Alex Ferguson will not be pleased at Dean’s decisions, as the second foul appeared to be a free kick and nothing more. Harry Redknapp will be happy that his team grabbed a point, but disappointed knowing that they could have had all three. Luka Modric continued his stellar form in the central midfield for Spurs. Special mention must be given to United defender Nemanja Vidic who again showed why he is widely regarded as the best defender in the league.
Liverpool 2 – Everton 2: The infamous Merseyside Derby did not fail to disappoint. Everton will feel as though they deserved all three points, though the draw perhaps reflected the game better. Liverpool salvaged a point with a late penalty by Dirk Kuyt (His 5th Derby Goal) after Everton keeper Tim Howard dragged down Maxi Rodriguez in the box. Aside from that mistake Howard was stellar, limiting the Reds’ output despite 11 shots on target for the home side. Sylvan Distin and Jermaine Beckford scored goals within 6 minutes of each other to put Everton ahead following the opener from Fernando Torres. Kuyt’s spot kick came in the 68th and earned a much-needed point for struggling Liverpool.
Sunderland 1 – Newcastle 1: Asamoah Gyan continued his torrid pace for Sunderland, scoring a late, 90th minute equalizer for a Sunderland side desperate to compete for a spot in Europe. Newcastle were without top scorer Andy Carroll. Leon Best was chosen to partner with Shola Ameobi in the Magpie’s attack. Kevin Nolan began the scoring with a 52nd strike before Gyan sent the home fans into a frenzy with his late contribution. Newcastle will feel as though three points should have been theirs, while Sunderland will be content with a point after being unable to create anything going forward for much of the match.
Birmingham 1 – Aston Villa 1: Another derby, another draw. One of the league’s most heated rivalries produced a relatively even match. Brum defender Roger Johnson put the home side ahead early in the second half, before defender counterpart James Collins equalized for Villa in the 73rd. Birmingham will rue not taking one of the two great chances they had early on, though will be satisfied that they held on to earn at least a point. The lack of quality in the Villa side is evident. Manager Gerard Houllier must strengthen his side before the end of the transfer window to ensure that Villa avoid the drop and remain in the top division.
Team of the Week (4-4-2)
GK- Cech (Chelsea)
RB- Collins (Aston Villa)
CB- Vidic (Manchester United
CB- Ivanovic (Chelsea)
LB- Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham)
RM- Bentley (Birmingham)
CM- Modric (Tottenham)
CM- Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
LM- Etherington (Stoke)
ST- Tevez (Manchester City
ST- Odemwingie (West Brom)