English Premiership Saturday Review

Is that a taxi I see rounding the corner for Martin Jol? His good mate Arsene must have called it for him after yesterday’s game at White Hart Lane.

Yes, poor old Spurs. Arsenal continued their domination of the North London derby on Saturday (a fixture Spurs haven’t won since 1999)) and with it Arsenal leap frogged Liverpool to go into first place in the Premiership.

It was the Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor who scored twice, either side of a stunning strike by Cesc Fabregas, for a slick Gunners. All this after Gareth Bales had raised hope all around White Hart Lane that Spurs may actually beat their arch rivals for once.

Amazing isn’t it? I mean a striker from Togo scoring two goals because when Spurs last won this fixture back in 1999 I bet most fo the Gunners and Spurs fans had probably never even heard of Togo. They have now!

Emmanuel Adebayor of Togo and Arsenal
Adebayor celebrates at White Hart Lane. He’s from Togo, don’t you know!

As we all know, Martin Jol has been under severe scrutiny after his team’s poor start to the season. It can’t have helped that everyone, included me, was saying he’d made some good signings in the summer and Spurs were going to do really well, even perhaps finish in the top four. Well, it’s still early days of course and they still could but they aren’t going about it the right way so far are they?

So Jol must have had a brief smile on his face after 14 minutes when Gareth Bale’s free-kick beat Arsenal’s Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia at his near post. Berbatov then missed chances, but so did Arsenal. Spurs lasted until the 65th minute when up popped Adebayor who made it 1 – 1 with a header from a Fabregas free-kick.

It was that man again, Fabregas who then left the Tottenham midfield trailing in his wake before he smashed a stunning goal past the England keeper, Paul Robinson, from 25 yards.

Spurs had brought on substitute Darren Bent and he spurned the opportunity to level the scores for Spurs before it was Adebayor with his second of the game to wrap the points up yet again for Arsenal in the North London derby.

Arsenal’s manager Wenger said after the game, “It is a bit early to talk about being on top, but we are consistent, it’s pleasant to watch. We will never forget Thierry Henry [who? Only joking!] but we have shown the team is growing, there is something exciting about our quality and our mental strength.”

Meanwhile, leaders at the beginning of play, Liverpool, slipped into second behind Arsenal as they dropped two points away to Portsmouth at Fratton Park in a 0 – 0 draw.

Liverpool seemed to be a little below par, a consequence of the recent Euro 2008 internationals I reckon, and they even had a let off after Arbeloa pulled at Kanu’s shirt in the area but the Nigerian couldn’t convert the penalty which was saved by Pepe Reina who has, quite simply, an amazing records of saving penalties.

Liverpool left both Gerrard and Torres on the bench and when they came on the combined to nearly give Liverpool the win but Torres couldn’t keep his shot down and it flew high over the bar. Obviously I’m not a top class football manager, if I were I probably wouldn’t be writting a soccer blog, but I have to say I wouldn’t have left a couple of players of the quality of Gerrard and Torres on the bench. The Reds did come even closer to winning it in the second half though through Voronin who had slightly better aim than Torres but, ultimately still not good enough, as he hit the bar.

The draw maintained Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season but Benítez will be ruing two missed points, even at this early stage in the season.

Chelsea, failed to capitalise on Liverpool’s two dropped points by dropping two of their own at home to Blackburn. I did say yesterday that Blackburn are turning into a good team and are hard to beat. However, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea will probably feel a little hard done by, I know unlike Jose, but Salomon Kalou did score in the second half only for the referee to rule, perhaps a little harshly, that he was offside. Oh well, then maybe partly rectifies the awful penalty decision they got at Anfield a few weeks back which meant they didn’t lose all three points that day! Although I’m pretty sure Jose won’t see it quite like that!

Manchester Utd continued their climb up the table and moved into fourth position after a hard fought win away to Everton at Goodison. It was their third consecutive 1 – 0 win, this one earned by defender Vidic who met Nani’s corner just seven minutes from time. It was a dramatic end to a memorable match and after the game Alex Ferguson said, “It was a great result for us. A lot of teams will drop points here. it was a real battle. It looked to me like it was going to be a draw, but then we got a lifeline with Vidic’s goal.”

It wasn’t such a good game for another Utd defender as Silvestre got carried off in the first half. He will have scans on his knee to ascertain the extend of the injury.

What a difference this year to West Ham after all the trials and tribulations of last season. They swept aside Middlesbrough at Upton Park 3 – 0 which moved them into the dizzying heights of fifth place. All three goals coming in the second half.

Dean Ashton scored his first goal since the 2006 FA Cup final and it was the Hammers first home win of the season. Ashton, who missed all of last term with an ankle injury, had an early goal disallowed before Boro wasted chances to take the lead.

The Hammers went in front right at the start of the second half as Lee Bowyer volleyed home after a well-worked move and it was soon 2-0 as Luke Young turned Carlton Cole’s cross into his own net.

Boro continued to be profligate in front of goal, but Ashton was not so wasteful on 62 minutes when he converted Matt Etherington’s cross at the far post. Times are good at Upton Park!

And what about the rejuvenated England striker Emile Heskey? Well he limped off actually with a suspected broken bone in his foot during Wigan’s 1 – 1 draw with Fulham. What is it with footballers and breaking bones in their feet? Even since Beckham did it back in 2002, it seems you have to break a bone in your foot, it’s like a fashion statement.

So that’s Saturday’s games taken care of. Of course, Man City take on Aston Villa at Eastlands later on Sunday and bottom club Derby play host to Newcastle United on Monday evening and I will be reporting on those games too, here on The Soccer Blog.

See you soon!

The Soccer Blogger