Monday, October 19, 2009

2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 8 Review

After the rather predictable World Cup qualifiers, the more exciting English Premier League football resumes. Week 8 features some noteworthy Premiership football news. Firstly, Liverpool must subdue an in-form Sunderland without Torres and Gerrard. Secondly, Manchester United had a home tie with the always tough Bolton without Wayne Rooney. Thirdly, Blackburn host Burnley in the first Premier League Lancashire derby in 43 years. So there was a lot to look forward to.

As it turned out, the results for week 8 were,
Saturday, October 17, 2009
FT Aston Villa 2 - 1 Chelsea
FT Arsenal 3 - 1 Birmingham
FT Everton 1 - 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
FT Manchester United 2 - 1 Bolton Wanderers
FT Portsmouth 1 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur
FT Stoke City 2 - 1 West Ham United
FT Sunderland 1 - 0 Liverpool
Sunday, October 18, 2009
FT Blackburn Rovers 3 - 2 Burnley
FT Wigan Athletic 1 - 1 Manchester City

Aston Villa kicked this week's round of matches off in superb fashion by doing the English Premier League chasing pack a big favour. Their win over Chelsea highlighted the importance of good set piece execution. Both goals came from corners and Chelsea just could not defend those well-drilled Villa routines. It looks like Martin O'Neill has finally plugged the hole left vacant by the retirement of Martin Laursen. In fact, he needed two replacements to cover that hole, Richard Dunne and James Collins. Both defenders have been in excellent form since moving to Villa, lending both defensive solidarity and aerial danger in set pieces.

Sunderland had help from a Liverpool fan - Getty Images

Liverpool were undone by a beach ball which was released at pre-match time by one of their own supporters. Imagine the feelings of distraught that boy must be feeling. Even so, Liverpool's play hardly helped their cause. Playing against in-form Sunderland with a totally experimental 3-4-3 formation was always going to be a tall order. In the end, Liverpool looked very ordinary without their twin terrors. Can they still lift the title having lost four already? Yes, historical events would suggest so. It will be tough though as they are now out of form, out of luck and with Torres injured, there is little chance of the Reds picking up three points in their next match against Manchester United. At least Mike Jones the referee will no longer be allowed to officiate Premiership matches for a while.

Onto the subject of Manchester, the Red of United were able to get the better of Bolton, scoring from a deflected Owen header and a Valencia goal after some nice interpassing play. Business as usual for Man United but Manchester City were slightly fortunate to get a draw with Wigan. Wigan had the major bulk of the possession but could not convert the chances that they had created. Definitely big improvement required from the Blue of City.

The overwhelming 62% of possession time count for nought for Zola and West Ham. In the end, defensive slip ups continued to plague the Hammers. I keep going back to the sale of James Collins and definitely that departure has weakened the defence. At least Guille Franco had some playing minutes although I'd rather see Zola give Carlton Cole a partner to work with in future matches. The feelings of "too good to go down" mean that West Ham's play will soon pay dividents but that corner had better come sooner than later. So far, Franco has done little perhaps with him getting some minutes against Stoke City, he could be the spark to light up the rest of West Ham's troubled season. Otherwise he could end up like Diego Tristan and that's not funny at all.

To round up the rest of the matches, David Dunn may no longer be in England reckoning but he is still a very talented and influential footballer. His equalizing goal was the catalyst for a very good Blackburn win. Burnley to their credit refused to give up but that spirit could not prevent them from going down to a fifth away defeat. Arsenal again showed why all the talk about them slipping out of the top 4 is nonsense with a clinical 3-1 win over Birmingham. Spurs overcame a tough Portsmouth side and emerged victors in a game that they would have lost last season.

After being starved of any English football news of note, week 8 was a great way to bring focus back to the league that really mattered.

The Flat Back Four's Form Guide
Who's Hot: Sunderland, Manchester United, Arsenal
Who's Not: Liverpool, West Ham United, Everton

Next weekend's fixtures will feature the biggest match for Liverpool thus far, another defeat will surely spell the end of Liverpool's challenge and so they have got to get it right against the Red machine of Manchester. Michael Owen will surely be expecting a hot reception from the Kop on his return to Anfield. This Big 4 clash is the top attraction for next weekend. Be sure to come back for my review of this Premier League match.

You may also enjoy these reviews:
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 1 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 2 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 3 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 4 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 5 & 6 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 7 Review

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