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November 2, 2009

Red Card Record for the Premier League

Saturday’s Premier League programme in England resulted in a selection of matches that helped confirm why this is the most popular league in world football. The nine games produced 29 goals, 8 red cards and some absolutely stunning goals.

The early kick off saw Arsenal assert their customary superiority over North London rivals Tottenham, winning by three goals to nil. The highlight was undoubtedly a run from the halfway line past, literally, the whole Spurs team by Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas to score less than a minute after Van Persie had given the home side the lead. The Dutchman scored his second after the interval with the referee able to claim an assist thanks to a good use of the advantage rule.

> Arsenal fixtures at the Emirites stadium

This was just the prelude, though, for the plethora of talking points in the afternoon games. The television companies could have a Goal of the Month competition just from this selection: Torres’ superb first time strike to equalise for Liverpool against Fulham; Deco culminating a swift Chelsea counter attack with a delightful curled shot in the romp at Bolton; Drogba’s instant delicate volley in the same game; either Berbatov’s turn and strike or Rooney’s clever run and deflection for the champions at home to Blackburn; or, for me the pick of the bunch, Etherington’s brilliant chest control and volley from the edge of the area for Stoke against Wolves. Ironically for luckless Hull, Geovanni’s wonderful free kick would have been in that list in the game at Burnley if the referee hadn’t seen fit to spot some pushing by a team mate in the defensive wall. Just to compound the insult, Geovanni was yellow carded for his histrionic wailing afterwards and then later sent off for what appeared to be nothing more than a slip.

Imaginative television producers could actually have a Red Card of the Day contest, with so many being brandished. Kenwyne Jones of Sunderland would get my vote for his push on West Ham’s Ilunga – whose over-reaction was, frankly, embarrassing – but the competition might have to be postponed until all the undoubted appeals have been heard. Certainly, Liverpool’s duo of Dengen and Carragher and Aston Villa’s Carlos Cuellar will all be feeling hard done by. Even Bobby Zamora appealed on behalf of Jamie Carragher, telling the referee that the defender had won the ball in the tackle for which he was dismissed.

The upshot of all this excitement was that Liverpool lost 3 – 1 at Fulham to negate all the hard work of last week’s victory against Manchester United; Chelsea and Man Utd maintained their respective positions after 4 -0 and 2 – 0 results against Bolton and Blackburn; and Arsenal’s early victory kept the top three comfortably in place.

The happiest fans of the day would have been at Portsmouth where their team beat Wigan by 4 – 0, with Dindane scoring a hat trick to get their first league win of the season. Burnley defeated Hull with two goals from Alexander – along with Frank Lampard one of the best penalty takers in the country. The games between Everton and Aston Villa, Stoke and Wolves and Sunderland and West Ham finished all square. The Hammers, having come back from two goals down last week, this time decided to go two goals in front and then let Sunderland earn a point.

The one Sunday fixture, between Birmingham and Manchester City, could only be an anticlimax after all Saturday’s excitement – and it was. Apart from Shay Given’s fine performance, inclusive of an excellent penalty save, there was little else to excite and City’s fourth consecutive draw means they are now three points adrift of Arsenal.

Barcelona and Real Madrid retain the top two positions after this weekend’s La Liga matches – but things are a little tighter. Barcelona looked like getting all three points in Pamplona against Osasuna thanks to another goal from midfielder Keita but, in the third minute of injury time, Piqué deflected a cross into his own net to give the home side a point.

Earlier in the evening, Real Madrid won the first of their ‘two games to save the manager’s job’ by seeing off local rivals Getafe 2 – 0. It looked as if things might be going from bad to worse when Albiol was sent off after half an hour but Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuaín rescued the home side with two excellent goals. The gap between the top two is down to a point again.

Sevilla got back to winning ways in an atmospheric local derby at Xerez, overcoming a spirited home performance thanks to goals from Negredo and Fabiano and in Saturday’s final match, Quique Flores’ Atlético team had a difficult away match at Athletic Bilbao which they lost to a first half Javi Martinez header. Despite hitting the woodwork three times, Atlético finish the weekend in the relegation places.

Sunday’s fixtures saw Valencia keep their push for a Champions’ League spot going with a single goal victory away at Málaga, courtesy of a David Navarro header. The other major performance was Villareal’s five goal drubbing of Tenerife which took them up to thirteenth in the table; finally they looked like the Villareal of last season. Llorente scored twice and Rossi and Pires also got their names on the scoresheet.

Mallorca kept up their good start with a single goal victory over Racing, Espanyol and Valladolid shared two goals thanks to a fantastic injury time equaliser from Valladolid’s Medunjanin and Zaragoza defeated Almería by the odd goal in three. Finally, in the late game, Deportivo and Sporting drew 1 – 1, thus meaning that the Galician side missed the chance of moving above Mallorca into fifth place.

Posted by admin @ 11:15 am
Category: Premier League,Spanish League


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