Monday, August 23, 2010

EPL Week 2 Wrap-Up

The number 6, scribbled three times in succession, has haunted the superstitious and religiously fanatic world for centuries as the mark of the devil. To be honest, superstitions don't quite do it for me. All they do is incite and create unnecessary fears. I do believe in karma though, and with a capital K, Karma swept through West London and Craven Cottage as the real Red Devils of United got bit in the ass. However, it's still impossible to ignore how the remainder of England witnessed devilry in the South, Northeast, and middle of the country as Arsenal, Chelsea, and Newcastle each put their opponents to the sword by a score of 6-0. In Chelsea's case it's the second successive game doing so.

Chelsea are running rampant having scored 29 goals in their last 5 league games. They already enjoy a +12 goal difference and don't appear to be letting up one bit.  It's hard to truly judge their dominance after wins over the likes of West Brom and Wigan. Especially Wigan, who have now been outscored 10-0 in the first two weeks following an opening day drubbing to newly promoted Blackpool. I was wrong to predict Roberto Martinez being sacked by Thanksgiving. It looks to be an overly generous prediction at that, and he could very well be axed by the end of September depending on how things progress. As for Chelsea, they're next three games are home to Stoke City, away to West Ham, and home to Blackpool. Sounds like another 20 some-odd goals. We'll get a better idea how good they really are the last week of September when they travel to Manchester City followed by a home stand against Arsenal. In the meantime, enjoy the goal-fest while it lasts Blues fans.

Speaking of Arsenal, they too ran riot putting up six against a hapless Blackpool. To be fair to the Tangerines, they played with ten men for the better part of an hour following a deserved red card for Ian Evatt. Prior to that, it was only 1-0 and Blackpool looked keen to expose Arsenal's consistent inability to safely deal with crosses into the middle. Nevertheless, Evatt's expulsion spelled the end for Blackpool as they were completely out-passed and out-classed by the Gunners. A typically beautiful and artistic showboat by Wenger's boys. Obviously, the talk of the town is Theo Walcott, having netted a hat-trick just like he did two years ago against Croatia. I do hope people see it for what it was - a young lad having a great afternoon scoring thrice, and nothing more. Capello was right to leave him home during the World Cup noting his tendency for inconsistency. Theo reached a high point this weekend. Now, it will behoove him to silence his doubters (yours truly) and continue playing like this for the rest of the season if he wants the England call-up everyone claims he deserves. Same goes for Arsenal as a whole. If they continue to look pedestrian against the big clubs (Liverpool last week) and then turn it on for the minnows, a 3rd or 4th place finish will be nothing short of guaranteed.

Finally, Premiere League football returned to Tyneside as Newcastle welcomed Aston Villa to St. James' Park. Pitiful, pitiful Villa. How a club of Aston Villa's status can be completely man-handled like that in only the second game of the season is shocking. You would have maybe expected it in the first week following their manager's resignation three days prior, only they won 3-0 and any anticipated sluggishness was thrown by the wayside. Well, Newcastle had different plans for their opponents. An atrocious penalty miss by John Carew in the 10th minute opened the floodgates as Newcastle scored two minutes later and never looked back. Andy Carroll, the 21-year old striker, claimed his first hat trick for the club and Joey Barton ensured his pornstar mustache would disappear for good. A quality win for Newcastle and extremely important in terms of confidence as they look to reassert themselves in England's top tier. As for Villa, owner Randy Lerner better find himself a full time manager and fast. After watching them implode to, let's be honest here, lesser opposition, Lerner must know his team needs leadership if they have any inkling of achieving success this campaign.

Elsewhere, in arguably the most entertaining match of the weekend, Fulham scored late to draw with Manchester United at Craven Cottage. Alex Ferguson was surprisingly honest and candid in the post match interview claiming Fulham fully deserved the point. And he was right. United dominated the first 15 minutes and went ahead off a Scholes screamer, but after that they went flat. With Rooney at home suffering from a virus, Berbatov and Chicharito failed to truly threaten the Fulham defense save a few chances on goal. Fulham worked the ball around marvelously throughout, leading to their equalizer soon after halftime. Not surprisingly, United's second highest scorer last season (the opposition) struck again as Brede Hangeland fumbled a corner off his knee and into his own net. Karma is a bitch though. Nani's terrible penalty take gave Fulham a lifeline, and Hangeland seized it with the equaliser to cancel out his screw-up 5 minutes earlier. A great point for Fulham. A hiccup for United. But Red Devil fans may worry just a bit, as Rooney's malaise and his replacement's ineptitude to score may leave United in a spot of bother moving forward.

Elsewhere, West Brom rebounded by defeating Sunderland 1-0. Birmingham defeated Blackburn 2-1. West Ham continues to suck, getting tonked 3-1 at home to Bolton. Tottenham defeated Stoke City away 2-1, while Everton can't seem to find a way not to start slowly as they threw away a lead and two points drawing with Wolverhampton 1-1 at home. Manchester City and Liverpool meet Monday afternoon in a very important game for both clubs.

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