Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 11 Review: Definitely A Three Horse Race

The biggest match of the weekend ended up being a tense but boring affair. It was so bad that in the end, the most eyecatching incident turned out to be off the field as shown by the picture on the left.

Just what this man was thinking is beyond comprehension but perhaps he DOES know what he was up to. Thanks to him, the match between Chelsea and Manchester United had a talking point at least, saving a lot of bloggers like myself the agony of trying to put together a valid review.

United clearly played for a draw, Berbatov's injury probably enforced this tactical change. I believed Alex Ferguson should have brought on Obertan and Owen much earlier i.e. a few minutes after Chelsea's goal might have made a difference to the final scoreline.

As a result of this win, Chelsea surged to a five-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United. I guess Carlo Ancelotti's plan is to garner as many points as possible seeing that Drogba, Essien, John Obi Mikel and Kalou will be off playing in the African Nations Cup in January. Drogba will be most missed as Chelsea's attacking depth is thin with Daniel Sturridge as possible stand-in. Ballack can be employed at the holding role, opening up a spot for Joe Cole in the African players' absence.

Arsenal continue to impress this week as with most weeks, a 4-1 mauling of Wolves with another total football display. The Gunners are definitely title contenders but I say this with a tinge of realism as Manchester United was the only Big Four club they have faced up to now. Even so, considering that Fabregas and Co outplayed United at Old Trafford, the quiet confidence and newfound maturity seem to be permeating through the club. Arsene Wenger is a world-class manager for simply developing these "kids" and schooling them in his footballing vision. They are now second in the table with a game in hand.

Burnley is still living the Premier League dream. In my years following the Premier League, there was always a promoted team that will shock and surprise every season. Wigan did that in 2005/2006 or Reading in 2006/2007. Let's hope they don't freefall like Hull last season.

Manchester City are becoming the draw specialists of the Premier League with five drawn matches thus far. Draws are what stopped Liverpool from parading their 19th title. If Mark Hughes have aspiration of Premiership glory, he has to get the team playing well collectively and not having to rely on individual brilliance.

On the other hand, Spurs looked the more likely team to steal the fourth Champions League spot from Liverpool. Spurs' good run has rewarded some key players with international call ups. Jermaine Jenas and Tom Huddlestone will benefit further from senior international exposure.

Liverpool only managed a draw at Anfield against Birmingham and they were lucky not to have lost that match. It's worrying times at Anfield and injuries mounting but Rafa is still putting up a brave front. Positive aspects from last night's match? Two actually, first one being the David Ngog goal, his all round play was excellent and secondly the debut of Alberto Aquilani, indicating that the Italian could be fit to start Nov 21 against Manchester City.

The results of Week 11 are as below, and including Liverpool's Monday match last night. Again refereeing played key factors in Week 11. Chelsea's goal and Liverpool's Ngog dive are refereeing blips in a long list of dubious decisions this season.

Saturday, November 7, 2009
FT Aston Villa 5 - 1 Bolton Wanderers
FT Blackburn Rovers 3 - 1 Portsmouth
FT Manchester City 3 - 3 Burnley
FT Tottenham Hotspur 2 - 0 Sunderland
FT Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 - 4 Arsenal
Sunday, November 8, 2009
FT Hull City 2 - 1 Stoke City
FT West Ham United 1 - 2 Everton
FT Wigan Athletic 1 - 1 Fulham
FT Chelsea 1 - 0 Manchester United
Monday, November 9, 2009
FT Liverpool 2 - 2 Birmingham

Lastly, West Ham sought to disappoint their fans over and over again. After hauling themselves out of the bottom three in midweek, Zola broke up the unbeaten 4-4-2 formation and brought West Ham back into the relegation zone. Louis Saha stamped his mark on the game, scoring a fantastic goal to put Everton ahead (see video below). With Hull and Burnley coming up, Cole's return from injury and his blossoming partnership with Franco will be key to an achievable six points. And please please please please START Alessandro Diamanti!!

The Flat Back Four's weekly English Premier League 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
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 8 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 9 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 10 Review

A week's international break before the most exciting league action resumes, just what West Ham and Liverpool need to get their season back on track. Hmmm....I remember saying exactly that in the first international break and nothing seemed to change for both clubs.

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