Kieran Davies looks back on seven days of
So it’s official, in a country that has 80% of the world’s CCTV cameras, there is now officially only one place you can get away with things with no ramifications for what ACTUALLY happened…..a Premier League football pitch! It’s ironic that these patches of grass have cameras from all over the world focussed on every blade of that grass that we still rely on one man’s perception of what is going on to govern the game. We’re taught to shrug it off with comments like ‘it balances itself out over the course of the season’ or ‘it happens to the other teams too’ but this shouldn’t be the case.
Refereeing is the only profession in the world where you’re not disciplined for your mistakes. Any other job and you would be getting disciplined that much you’d surely be wondering whether to list sadomasochism under your hobbies on your CV as you’re inevitably looking for a new role. The referee’s association and footballing powers need to take positive action before we get to the situation where a club sues the referee’s association for lost earnings from an incorrect gilt edged decision sending a team down. What’s the going rate for a Premier League season £90m is it?
Take the early kick off, a Merseyside derby that by the end of it, should’ve had every lover of football salivating at the mouth. This game had everything, including a critical refereeing blunder. Let’s get it out the way as it does detract from a fantastic contest. Mirallas should’ve been sent off. It wasn’t cynical, if anything he closed his eyes and dived in, but it was a stone wall red card. Anyone who disagrees needs to stop reading here and go and watch their z-cars DVD collection. This was a game changing decision.
This aside, the game we were left with was an end to end thriller. Pundits love to say, ‘neither team seems to want to defend today’ in such situations but I think we should be concentrating on the world class attacking play and realise sometimes attack beats defence all day. By the end of this one, both sets of fans will have felt their team could’ve or should’ve won the game but fans of either side should just sit back and light up a cigarette and reflect back on the orgasm of football they’ve just had! If both teams show this metal week in, week out they should have seasons to talk about come July.
Elsewhere Arsenal served up a routine win against Southampton without really getting into third gear. The Gunners fans will be loving life at the top of the table and so they should but in reality their flair players are starting to go quiet week by week. It seems a while ago now since we’ve seen the bug-eyed smiling face of Mesut Ozil after serving up some brilliance. Are we asking too much of Aaron Ramsey to keep the 100 mile an hour start he made to the season, going for the duration? They have players coming back from injury but those players struggle for consistency even at their peak. The likes of Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski like many other Arsenal players, give fantasy football managers a head almost every other week, trying to justify them staying in their teams in case they ‘come off’ this week.
Arsenal fans will however be taking great delight in how things are going at their bitter rivals Tottenham currently.
Let’s pull no punches, they got battered by Man City last weekend. This is a word probably thrown about a bit too much but if there needed to be a reference point for the use of this word, Tottenham’s performance at the Etihad should typify it. This genuinely could have been a cricket score (and not an England one!) and got me thinking whether in the 28 years of supporting my team have I ever seen them ever be outplayed so much in performance and scoreline. The answer was no.
I always thought when Spurs fan say ‘we’re a Champions League team’ this was something to take literally but after that show I now want to know what that is cockney rhyming slang for! The bottom line is Spurs have spent in excess of £100m and look a far worse team than they did this time last season. Before you say, ‘well we haven’t spent that because of what we got for Bale’ take a breath and have a think about that comment. While financially this is true, you lost your talisman, your one world class player whose shoulders are still sore from carrying your average team to heights that squad shouldn’t be gracing.
Cardiff fell foul to another official blunder as most fans who aren’t of a Stretford disposition will admit Rooney should have been sent off in the first 10 minutes. This would’ve evened matters up for new Premier League outfit. Thankfully their last gasp equaliser will have made their fans feel as though they got some payback for things not going their way or as the laws of the game state they should go. Cardiff showed a passion that has been missing even in home games of late and was probably last seen against Man City but I think was no coincidence in Malky’s two changes being the introductions of Jordan Mutch and Frasier Campbell to the starting line up. Campbell was awesome in this game and deserved his man of the match tag, had his sublime second half chip been an inch or two lower and we would’ve had a contender for goal of the season here. Medel still worries me at times with lack of awareness of where he actually is on the pitch before needlessly hauling people down, he’s been culpable for some important goals from giving away such free kicks. But this Cardiff team is still evolving in its Premier League character. Swansea matched the result their South Wales rivals got at Fulham earlier in the season by taking all three points heaping further pressure on Martin Jol. Palace gave their new manager Tony Pullis a big boost by taking all three points at KC Stadium, though as much a boost this will be for Palace it will hurt Steve Bruce’s side a hundred times more.
Newcastle followed up their great win at White Hart Lane with a win over struggling Norwich City. The Canaries are not looking out of their depth by any stretch and are competitive in most of their games but they just seem to be lacking creativity, flair and finishing prowess. Mark Hughes got a much needed win at home although Gus Poyet will feel his side were also dealt a cruel blow by a refereeing decision leaving them with a player less on the pitch. This Sunderland team will need some motivating if they are to retain their Premier League status but you have to ask the question if they are needing this season after season are the just frantically paddling in waters way out of their depth? Chelsea always seem to turn it on away to West Ham and this game was no different and Sam will be desperate to strengthen his blunt attack in January. Yes they do have the Faberge egg that is Andy Carroll but unless they kit out their stadium like a kids soft play area it’s a worry whether he will stay fit the remaining strike force even avid West Ham fans would not doubt struggle to pick out of a police line up! Finally on Monday a Midlands derby saw West Brom and Villa play out a fairly entertaining ‘desmond’* for all to see. The point will have done neither side any favours but Villa keep their impressive away record of avoiding defeat for sometime although questionable as to who’ve they actually played.
*- ‘desmond’…..Desmond Tutu aka 2-2