Chelsea showed that there is life even without Didier Drogba...in fact seven goals were the proof. Arsenal and Manchester United continued in hot pursuit of the Blues by posting comfortable wins of their own as well. While Fran Merida may have scored his first Premier League goal, it could also be his last as the Spaniard looks for first-team opportunities outside of England. Manchester United gave Brian Laws work to do as Burnley continue to slip worryingly down the Premiership league table.
But the focus of this week's review shifts towards two teams who in the weekend employed the same tactical gameplan but with differing reaction to the results. These two teams are Liverpool and West Ham United.
After a terrible week where Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup by Reading and amid calls for Rafa's resignation by former Reds, Liverpool gave their fans a boost by also announcing the arrival of La Fiera, Maxi Rodriguez. With the injuries suffered by Gerrard, Torres and Benayoun, Maxi was expected to feature prominently in the weekend match against Stoke City.
Over the years, fans have known better than to try to predict Rafa Benitez' move and his lineup against an inferior Stoke City again highlighted how frustratingly negative Rafa's tactics have become. Nine players who are defensive in nature and two strikers put paid to any hopes Liverpool fans have of salvaging a bit of pride. Sitting on the bench were Maxi, Aquilani, Riera and Dani Pacheco. That's what Rafa Benitez have become and though at times, tactics are important, I would believe playing your best team to get results is the most foremost in every manager's mind.
In the end, Stoke came alive when Liverpool went ahead, and the result was a fair one in the end. Surely Rafa has got to go at the end of this season. After a fantastic season last time round, crashing out of the Champions League, Premier League, Carling Cup and FA Cup is simply unacceptable. Even winning the Europa League will feel hollow.
Contrast Liverpool's negativity with the one employed by Zola, West Ham put out a side which was designed to work very hard and stop Aston Villa from scoring. In terms of winning and keeping the ball, the midfield five of Kovac, Parker, Noble, Collison and Behrami are currently the best that West Ham have got. Zola acknowledged that Villa were the better side and chose his game plan accordingly, utilising his midfielders effectively. The result was a first clean sheet since August for the Hammers. A result that lifted them to 16th in the Premiership table, albeit on goal difference.
|Tuesday, January 5, 2010|
|FT||Stoke City||3 - 2||Fulham|
|Saturday, January 9, 2010|
|FT||Arsenal||2 - 2||Everton|
|FT||Birmingham||1 - 1||Manchester United|
|Monday, January 11, 2010|
|FT||Manchester City||4 - 1||Blackburn Rovers|
|Saturday, January 16, 2010|
|FT||Stoke City||1 - 1||Liverpool|
|FT||Chelsea||7 - 2||Sunderland|
|FT||Manchester United||3 - 0||Burnley|
|FT||Tottenham Hotspur||0 - 0||Hull City|
|FT||Wolverhampton Wanderers||0 - 2||Wigan Athletic|
|FT||Everton||2 - 0||Manchester City|
|Sunday, January 17, 2010|
|FT||Aston Villa||0 - 0||West Ham United|
|FT||Blackburn Rovers||2 - 0||Fulham|
|FT||Bolton Wanderers||0 - 2||Arsenal|
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
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 11 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 12 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 13 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 14 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 15 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 16 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Christmas Week Review