The Weekend Round-up
If things weren’t bad enough for Liverpool, Manchester City added to their woes by also overtaking them in the standings, their 1-1 draw with West Ham enough to put the Citizens into fifth. These two sides had met just four days earlier in a FA Cup replay in what was a dour affair, with this offering only marginally better, despite Carlton Cole’s spectacular overhead kick that gave the Hammers the lead. Joe Hart did his bit to keep the hosts in the tie as Darius Vassell levelled from Martin Petrov’s centre; although City still looking formidable, you cannot help but feel they lack the dimension needed to see off teams and earn a European berth, Aston Villa and Everton looking the more likely at present.
At the league’s summit Manchester United are sitting pretty at the climax, having seen off Reading 2-0 at Madejski. The score line suggests a comfortable return for United but that was far from the truth as Reading pressed and pressed but couldn’t reap the necessary results as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched the Royals in style. Arsenal were also clinical in seeing off struggling opposition, Fulham on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat at Craven Cottage as Emmanuel Adebayor’s carbon copy headers put the Gunners into an insurmountable 2-0 lead. Tomas Rosicky compounded the defeat with a late third.
King Kevin Keegan couldn’t mark his second coming as Newcastle manager with a win, his side stuttering to a 0-0 draw at home to Bolton. On a day where the paparazzo went into overdrive and no superlative was left unspluttered to describe Keegan’s arrival, the game itself proved to be a proverbial damp squib; Jussi Jaaskelainen went untested in the Bolton goal, and it was in fact the visitor’s who nearly snatched the win, Shay Given saving late in the day to foil Jlloyd Samuel. The following is a rare sentence to appear in football writing - so saviour it for what it’s worth - and don’t adjust your monitors, but… nice one Gary Megson.
In the mid-table dogfight, Portsmouth sank Derby with ease at Fratton Park, 3-1 the final score in favour of the hosts. Derby in fact took a surprise lead, Lewin Nyatanga prodding home from close range after five minutes. Pompey inevitably responded though, Benjani’s shot and powerful header setting them on their way as they restored the lead, with the big centre-forward completing his hat-trick on the counter attack with a cool finish. The goals scored by Pompey were the first to be seen at Fratton Park for the first time in six matches (9 hours to be precise), this being a testament to how poor Derby really are.
Middlesborough dominated at Blackburn but could only come away from Lancashire with a point, 1-1 the final score. A lack of finesse in front of goal proved Boro’s downfall again, Tuncay, Wheater and Aliadiere all guilty of missing vital chances, this despite Wheater nodding his side ahead from Stuart Downing’s free kick. Matt Derbyshire ultimately punished the visitor’s lack of firepower by tapping home with fifteen minutes left.
Tottenham beat Sunderland 2-0 at the Lane to heap more misery on Roy Keane’s men. Craig Gordon kept the Blackcats in the game, his saves denying Spurs on numerous occasions, but the Scot was helpless to stop Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane’s 100th Tottenham goal condemning his side to defeat. Chelsea keep going about their (title) business quietly, beating Birmingham 1-0 at St Andrews.
In other news, Celtic are lining up a bid for Celtic £1m bid for American international goalkeeper Brad Guzman, according to the News of the World, and The People reported today that Paul Robinson is on his way to Manchester City in a £4m move.