We arguably just witnessed the best weekend of the season in the Premier League. Liverpool’s comeback at “Middle Eastlands” will surely go down as one of the games of the season and the fairytale story of Hull City seemingly knows no bounds. Throw in a special goal from Zlatan and a Barca masterclass and the only downside is that international football is back next weekend…
Two wins in North London have rightly put Phil Brown in “dreamland” and whilst Hull’s manager and the fabulous Geovanni should receive many plaudits there is a team ethic at the Tigers which is bringing huge results.
Two of the unsung heroes of the season so far are goalkeeper Boaz Myhill who has made some crucial stops, especially at the Emirates last week, and Michael Turner who if he continues in this form could well be making the trip to the World Cup in South Africa with England. The whole Hull defence was mightily impressive against Spurs, there were a number of crucial blocks and interceptions and if the Tigers are to continue to surprise they will need the spine of their team to continue playing with such determination.
HoffenheimÂ & Martin Jol
If you think the Hull City story is good then the “Village Team” in Germany could well be made into a Hollywood movie. On Saturday, thanks to their win against Eintracht Frankfurt, they went top of the Bundesliga. In the early 1990s, the club were playing in the eighth division of German football.
Of course, Dietmar Hopp’s team were only top for around 24 hours, Martin Jol’s Hamburg regained first place with a 2-1 win at Energie Cottbus. The football gods seem to have it in for Daniel Levy at the moment.
Rafa Benitez was a lucky man yesterday. Liverpool were woeful in the first-half, Dirk Kuyt had a shocker and it was a wonder that Robbie Keane was on the bench after scoring his first goal for the club in the Champions League in midweek.
Enter “El Nino,” a disgraceful tackle from Zabaleta, and the Reds’ title charge is now full steam ahead. If Benitez can get it right from kick off, this really could be Liverpool’s year.
On Saturday it was Carlos Tevez who dropped to the bench to accommodate all the attacking riches at Sir Alex’s disposal. Rooney, who was a doubt with an ankle injury, took his goal superbly well. His movement was excellent, but it was the finish that really caught the eye.
Including the England victory in Croatia, Rooney now has three goals in as many games and in the past when he has gone on a scoring run it can be hard to stop the former Evertonian. United are coming into ominous form, even Dimitar Berbatov looks like he is working hard, so worried is he about losing his place in the side.
Roy Keane & Sunderland
Last season Sunderland didn’t take a point off any of the “Big Four,” on Saturday they came as close as possible to claiming an impressive scalp over the Gunners. On the evidence of their first seven games of the season, the Wearsiders will not be fighting relegation this season. One can only point to the 3-0 home defeat by Manchester City as a poor result and they could easily have gained four points from home games against Liverpool and Arsenal rather than one.
Saturday’s transfer gossip linking Roy Keane with a sensational swoop for Patrick Vieira was probably timed to coincide with the visit of the Gunners, but it indicates how far Sunderland have come since the former Manchester United captain took over.
After losing three in a row in the Premier League, this was a big win for Middlesbrough. Wigan are no longer an easy team to beat.
Pep Guardiola’s side dished out a footballing lesson and Atletico are no mugs. To be 5-1 up in the 28th minute is pretty ill. And, as Real dropped points against Espanyol, Barca could well be the team to watch in La Liga this season.
The Swedish marksman has an impressive great goals compilation. The run from deep for Ajax, theÂ flick against Italy in Euro 2004 and the stunner from outside the box against Greece in Euro 2008, to name just a few. Ibrahimovic’s goal against Bologna seemed to stun the crowd and all those watching – an incredible goal.
Zenit St. Petersburg
Does an 8-1 win dispel rumours of links with the Russian mafia and match fixing, or merely enhance them?
Hopefully the 35-year-old hat-trick hero has given the chasing pack some hope in France. Lyon can be beaten to the title (hopefully).
Cesc Fabregas’ goal could well be the turning point inÂ Arsenal’s season. Another defeat would not have put Arsenal out the title race but it may have knocked confidence in a big way following the debacle against Hull.
Many of Arsenal’s youngsters seem to be struggling at the moment against some of the “lesser” teams in the Premier League. Arsene Wenger said Arsenal lacked “sharpness” but the truth is they were missing a leader. There was a stark difference between the performance in the first half to that of the second period. During the first 45 minutes Arsenal needed a Tony Adams to gee up the young players and make them aware of just how important a good start was – William Gallas is not captain material.
Fans of Saturday kick-offs at 3pm
Since Everton have been knocked out of Europe, we are thankfully unlikely to see as many games on a Sunday as we did this past weekend. At 3.45 on Saturday, there were no goals in any of the Premier League games which perhaps exaggerated the situation, but it still doesn’t feel quite right.
3-1 up against lowly Bochum with eight minutes to go and Jurgen Klinsmann’s side managed to draw the game. Nine points from seven games and a total of eleven points is not good enough, Jurgen the German continues to skate on thin ice.
The German paper Bild have nicknamed Bayern’s manager “Jurgen Klapptnix” – “Jurgen nothing works.” It’s not quite Turnip Taylor but Klinsmann needs a change in fortune fast.
Spurs actually played quite well yesterday. They had 19 shots on goal and had over 60% possession. But, the club are being punished for arguably the worst set of dealings in a transfer window in Premier League history. It is no good having all those attempts on goal if only seven are on target and you fail to score.
It would now be a surprise if Tottenham weren’t involved in a relegation battle this season. Their next game in the Premier League is away at Stoke and even at this early stage of the season that looks like a “six-pointer.” And, after all the criticisms of Spurs fans in recent days, their booing of Jonathan Woodgate yesterday, arguably the one player to come out of their shocking start with any credit, not to mention the fact he was their “hero” in the Carling Cup final, is nothing short of a disgrace.
If the finger should be pointed at any one single player at the club it is Jermaine Jenas, who is the only Spurs player to grab a place in the England squad. The former Newcastle midfielder has promised to make an impact on the Premier League for a number of seasons now. Yet, he has been missing in action for way too long. There never seems to be a week in which Jenas does not claim how desperate he is for Spurs to do well or to claim a starting spot in the England side, only for him to go missing when the crunch games come around.
Daniel Levy has to stick with Juande Ramos and Gus Poyet and Spurs’ woes couldÂ be one of the most interesting sub-plots of the league season. It is not to fanciful to suggest that one of Newcastle, Spurs and perhaps even Everton will go down this season – the relegation battle could be fascinating.