by Steven S

Welcome back my dearest Cutters to another review on the week that was. And Is. An ever shall be. Amen.

Ashley Young’s penalty against Villa last weekend reopened the whole diving debate, sparking the super pale (far too much time spent in the Sky studios) Gary Neville into action on Monday Night football. Two interesting side debates that have grown from Young’s accentuated fall continue to rage on;  whether or not you can dive whilst receiving a genuine penalty and shirt pulling by defenders.

If a slight tug of the shirt or that little push to knock the player off balance is not enough to send them over it can still prevent them from making the most of the opportunity. If it goes unnoticed by the referee, then is it right that the defending team have bent the rules to achieve an advantage? Neville certainly made an empassioned and well balanced case for those who make the most of minimal contact to ensure that their scoring chances are not ruined by sly opposition tricks.

The rules actually state that “kicks or attempts to kick an opponent” and “trips or attempts to trip an opponent” are illegal in the penalty area. The idea that a referee can award a penalty without any contact has completely disappeared from mainstream thinking, with cameras galore all scouring the penalty area looking for the all important clash of legs. It would be interesting to see a penalty awarded on a non contact basis and the ensuing argument defended by the referee who could just point to the rule book. A few of those decisions along with punishing defenders that hold a players shirts would very quickly change the footballing landscape.

Speaking of flat even surfaces, Roberto Mancini was quick to remind us that the ‘rules are not the same for everyone’ in the Premiership, without the slightest hint of irony. As an advocate for pay equality in the Premiership, we should soon be hearing how the Al Nahyan family will be distributing their wealth evenly across the league.

Staying in the land of Manc, the little Tasmanian devil that is Carlos Tevez continued his journey back into the Premiership with a hat trick and man of the match performance away to Norwich last week. There have been suggestions that the golf swing celebration he performed after scoring was taking one or two liberties with the fans, some saying that it was done ironically. I would be absolutely bowled over if Tevez was a man of such intricate intelligence, more likely to perform that golf swing as a statement of defiance. It is stating the obvious that should he continue in this vein and help City claw back that five point deficit, every Blue fan will ordain the little scamp.

Chelsea stayed on the up and up midweek with an almighty victory over Barcelona at the Bridge, courtesy of a break away goal by Drogba who it appears will miss their next vital match away to Arsenal today with a knee injury. Chelsea were lauded for walking away from the game with a clean sheet yet you do have to ask how much of it was a plan coming to fruition.

Chelsea’s four shots to Barcelona’s twenty-five tell a story of complete and utter domination, getting through the game by the skin of their teeth. Against Inter Milan in 2010, Barca faced a similar wall of defending yet the Italians were far keener to close down their opposition and thus a far more evenly balanced game. This was a sub standard performance by the Spanish team, so you dread to think what havoc they can reek back home at Camp Nou. There were times when it felt a bit embarrasing that a big team such as Chelsea were do deprived of the ball and felt that allowing their opposition so much time was the road to victory. Of course, it worked out well for them this time but you would surely have to question the idea of following the same plan again.

Wigan’s recent hot streak keeps on burning following a fantastic win away at the Emirates, the first time they have taken away any points from the Gunners. Of a more interesting point is the formation employed by Martinez, using a 3-4-3 system that left the London team terrified of their threat on the break and very well protected at the back.

It is a bold formation to use at any time, one that Napoli have employed to great effect winning a host of neutral fans in their Champions League campaign. Barcelona have also used it this season, more so to accomodate the arrival of Fabregas, who has been shunted everywhere but his favourite position. Gian Gasperini fell victim to the system earlier this season at Inter Milan, trying to fit players into a system they were not designed to play in. Martinez is on the cusp of pulling off yet another great escape at the end of another long hard season for Wigan and should they do so once again, investment has to be made to avoid it happening again before the season arrives where last minute miracles do not materialise.

The big meet up was finally arranged at Wembley last Sunday. A final between bitter rivals who have both gone through rough times this season, struggling to adapt to their fans expectations. That’s right, Suarez and Terry get to exchange knowing glances as they battle it out on the pitch both daring to be crowned this seasons most hated footballer. Dalglish will need the victory far more than RDM in a bid to prove a point to all of their doubters ending the season with two trophies. It has been the cornerstone of his argument ever since they got into the FA Semi’s, so not picking up the cup would leave them with the Carling Cup and 7th place at best. Even with two cups in the bag, does that league position really suggest progression?

Aston Villa were thrashed 4-0 at Old Trafford and slide closer to the relegation fight, winning one of their last ten games as that McLeish touch works its magic. Speaking of which, former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb gave us an insight into how the most dour man in football imparts his genius: “The day before a game he would come onto the pitch and show us what to do: ‘You stand here, the goalkeeper will give you the ball here, kick it as far as you can and don’t pass to anyone nearby. And we all run.’” Works a dream up in Scotland we hear.

The screw gets ever tighter in the race for fourth. Tottenham face a tough test over in West London against a battling QPR, Newcastle entertain a bedraggled looking Stoke side, both following on the early game at the Emirates today. Spurs need to pick themselves up after their 5-1 loss to Chelsea and their rivals Arsenal also need to do the same after Wigan’s shock victory. Nothing is for certain from 3rd to 6th place and an exciting climax to the season is guaranteed.

The metal spinning top is about to fall onto the table as the world eagerly waits to drag you back into reality. Was this really all a dream inside a dream, or just a living nightmare? Click away from here before metal hits wood and you are trapped with me forever inside this lonely cold existence I call a life. Ciao Bella!