This week in the English Premier League
As the winter break for La Liga deprives us of some quality football, at least we can thank our lucky stars for the English Premier Leagues gluttony of games over the xmas period. Lots of action this week from the busiest period in British football and lots of good highlights for you as well.
After two rounds of games over the holiday period Manchester Utd extend their lead at the top to four points, after Chelsea’s disappointing ‘Boxing Day’ draw with Reading. Meanwhile Arsenal picked up six points and move to third, thanks to Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to Blackburn
Lets check out the big four and their round of results
Aston Villa 0-3 Man Utd http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHCFQbwKjLQ&eurl=
Man Utd 3-1 Wigan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHCFQbwKjLQ&eurl=
Great ‘weekend’ for Man Utd as they extend their lead at the top to four points. Two good performances against solid, workmanlike opposition from the Red Devils, with ‘winker’ Ronaldo the star of the show in both. The Portuguese winger was once again at his fleet footed best, scoring four goals in two games and really making the difference, after his introduction at half time against Wigan, as he struck twice within five minutes to top off a 3-1 win. This weekend was once again proof of the incredible growth, this season of the player on and off the field. It seemed unlikely to anyone who watched, with dismay, his theatrics last season that Ronaldo would mature into the player he has become. It’s a testament to his inner strength that he has managed to deal with the turmoil, (death threats and continued hatred from fans across the country) related to his part in England’s loss at the World Cup, yet managed to come back, not only a better player, but more mature. As you can see from the videos there is no doubt that has been United’s best player this year and may well be the reason why the Red’s sit atop the Premier League this Christmas instead of Chelsea.
Wigan 2-3 Chelsea http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH7cuR2At-M&eurl=
Chelsea 2-2 Reading http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8-JLc0_kXQ&eurl
Are the wheels coming off the Russian funded juggernaut? Chelsea left it until the 92nd minute for Dutch international, Arjen Robben to score the winner at Wigan and then dropped points at home to over achieving Reading. Without John Terry at the back, Chelsea has looked flimsy of late and with his return unlikely until the end of the month Chelsea may need to spend when the transfer window opens in January. Chelsea has been linked with a $40 million swoop for teenage sensation, Micah Richards to plug-up the backline and Valencia’s prolific hitman, (check Jake’s past column’s for the proof) David Villa has been targeted to replace Andriy Shevchenko, who is severely lacking in confidence, and may well be loaned back to Milan next month. Finding help for Didier Drogba seems to be a goal for Jose Mourinho as the powerful forward from the Ivory Coast has shouldered a broad weight this term, sitting atop the goal scoring chart and needs some help. Summer signing, Salomon Kalou could be the long term solution. However he is young and inexperienced and it appears Mourinho is willing to spend now, in a bid to gain his third successive Premier League Title. Whatever happens, something needs to change at Stamford Bridge and with the ‘special one’ in charge you can guarantee this will be the case.
Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn http://youtube.com/watch?v=Fz2pNn0eTHA
Watford 1-2 Arsenal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GYDMGyMins&eurl=
Two good performances from Arsenal as the youngsters showed their unlimited potential, drubbing Blackburn, and then knuckled down to beat a spirited Watford team, away from home. Are the Gunners finally starting to show the consistency to challenge Chelski and Manchester United at the top? The performances of youngsters Fabregas, Van Persie and Adebayor and the experienced captaincy of Gilberto Silva, were inspiring over the holidays and things are starting to look up for the Thierry Henry’less Gunners. In fact the man himself is due back in the New Year and I expect both him and the club to be revitalized and ready to put together a good run of results.
Liverpool 2-0 Watford
Blackburn 1-0 Liverpool http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl0gbvlx-RY&eurl=
Mixed weekend for the red half of Liverpool, they played efficiently against Watford and won, then battered Blackburn but somehow lost. Liverpool were dominant against Rovers and could have had four or five, but their high scoring antics of recent weeks came to an end thanks to Benni McCarthy’s tenth goal of the season and a series of brilliant saves from American, keeper Brad Friedel. The scouse drop to sixth after their loss and with a tough schedule ahead, including Tottenham and fourth place Bolton, fans at Anfield will be hoping things don’t get any worse.
Other Results –
Here’s the round up of all of the rest of the games played over this Christmas period- with all the highlights I could find
Fulham 0-0 West Ham
Man City 0-2 Bolton
Middlesbrough 2-0 Charlton http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn1ku45V68k&eurl=
Newcastle 3-1 Tottenham http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vylvsGCoVFY&eurl=
Portsmouth 3-1 Sheffield United
Reading 0-2 Everton
Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20IA8nndcSk&eurl=
West Ham 1-2 Portsmouth- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FST6SSFnzeM&eurl=
Bolton 2-1 Newcastle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3fnJBCLDRg&eurl=
Everton 0-0 Middlesbrough
Sheffield United 0-1 Manchester City
Charlton 2-2 Fulham http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkfmqBUq39M&eurl=
Goal of the Week– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5ukquCzx64
Paul Scholes scorcher against Villa, perfect example of how to strike a football
Performance of the Week–
Christiano Ronaldo was sublime with two goals in each of Manchester’s games this week he takes the award
Team of the Season (so far)
With the season half way through let’s have a look at my premiership select so far, the players that have excelled and helped their clubs with their contributions
Jussi Jaaskelainen- Bolton
Matty Taylor- Portsmouth
John Terry- Chelsea
Sol Campbell- Portsmouth
Jamie Carragher- Liverpool
Joey Barton- Manchester City
Gilberto Silva- Arsenal
Mikel Arteta- Everton
Christiano Ronaldo- Manchester United
Didier Drogba- Chelsea
Plenty of talking points there- Bolton are right at the top of the table and much of that is due to the excellence of their goalkeeper. The defence is all English, with two Portsmouth stars, England captain Terry and consistently, consistent scouser, Jamie Carragher. In midfield I have gone for solidity with tough tackling twosome Joey Barton and Arsenal’s lynchpin Gilberto Silva winged by the flash of Ronaldo and Mikel Arteta. Up front, the results speak for themselves. Chelsea’s Drogba and Portsmouth’s Kanu sit atop the goal scorers chart closely followed by Man Utd’s Louis Saha, who didn’t make the team due to his inconsistency.
This week I want to concentrate on the best forward in the premiership in the last decade, Thierry Henry…….. Somehow Henry didn’t win the world footballer of the year award this year, despite taking Arsenal to the Champion’s League final and France to the World Cup final. His speed, grace and skill are a joy to watch and despite a slow start and some injuries this year, I fully expect Henry to be back to his dazzling best when he returns sometime in January. So let’s see what Arsenal, the English league and world football are missing at the moment. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t get any better, the world’s best player in action right here.
Thierry Henry videos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U63U9M9VXgQ&eurl= (shorter one)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAWiV_CrfkU&mode=related&search= (for the connoisseur)