Monday, 19 November 2012

The Scores- 20/11/12

Well, there were a few surprise results this weekend, and in fact three of the teams who started saturday in the top four lost when they played, which ensured a perfect weekend for Manchester City, who avoided an upset of their own by winning 5-0. Things now look ominous for Aston Villa whom they beat and QPR, whilst Southampton showed some promise in winning the relegation six-pointer against the Rs, and Reading's win saw them climb out of the bottom three.
Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham
I said: 1-2, +0pts
Del said: 2-1, +1pt
Rami said: 2-2, 0pts
I was actually in London on Saturday and thankfully avoided the possible trouble from being at Highbury & Islington station at 4 o'clcok, so I could be amused by the sight of a group of Arsenal fans singing: "the same as last year, the same as last year, you're f*cking useless, the same as last year"
I'm have to say, I'm not entirely sure what AVB was doing saying "we keep a smiles on our faces, because I thought we we're excellent... we controlled most of the match" when they clearly didn't. If I was in his position, the first thing I'd want to do is apologise to the fans and let the players know that they weren't good enough, making comments like he did certainly won't help him get the respect of his team. West Ham will be a massive game for them next week to get back into the race for 4th.
On the other hand, this will be a very pleasing result for Arsenal, who will be hoping that win can give them the confidence they need to get their season back on track- the same as last year. One who says they can still win the title after that result would be being a little too reactionary in my opinion, and I think significant investment is required soon in world-class players if they want to do that.
Liverpool 3-0 Wigan
I said: 0-0, +0pts
Del said: 2-1, +1pt
Rami said: 1-0, +1pt
That was an important win for Liverpool. For the first time in their season, they've managed to follow up an encouraging result with a win straight afterwards to back it up, and because of the internationals in midweek, and also you never quite know which Wigan team will turn up, it could have not turned out to be their day. Again, I'm not going to jump to conclusions and say that they are going to start firing now, because they've got very difficult trips to Swansea and Tottenham coming up and getting a winning streak together will be vital to their confidence.
I do think the team is fully behind Brendan Rodgers by the looks of things though, which is good to see, but would worry about where the goals would come from if either Suarez gets injured or he decides to leave the club, and they are unable to replace him with the same quality. They might not be a one man team but he's the only world-class player they have, he carries that team.
Wigan, they've got big clashes coming up at home to Reading and QPR, and only 2pts above the drop zone, they now need to approach their forthcoming fixtures with a renewed sense of urgency. It does make you realise what a difference two weeks can make in football, because when the Latics won at Spurs I thought they'd be completely fine, relegation-wise but in that time you can lose 6pts on teams and the whole complexion of your season can change.
Man City 5-0 Aston Villa
I said: 2-0, +1pt
Del said: 2-0, +1pt
Rami said: 3-0, +1pt
The only really surprising aspect about this game was the distance by which Manchester City won. From what I saw, I think 5-0 probably flattered the Citizens a little bit, Joe Hart had to make a couple of good saves in the first half and Villa's young defence stood pretty firm against most Man City attacks. Their resistance was broken before half-time though, when David Silva forced the ball over the line in what was a bit of scramble, and then after the interval a disputed penalty decision went in City's favour, which Aguero converted with ease- that seemed to open the floodgates.
With Man United and Chelsea losing, Manchester City fans couldn't have wished for a better weekend and in many ways this is ideal preparation for two massive games. Firstly their battle to stay in Europe against Real Madrid on Wednesday, and their crucial game at Chelsea on the Sunday.
Aston Villa will want to get this hard run of games over with as soon as possible. They've been a little unlucky in the matches against Manchester clubs - certainly in terms of the extent to which City won - they've also got Arsenal coming up but after that Reading, QPR and Stoke will be the true test of whether they are relegation material. Given their inexperience, it looks as though they could be.
Newcastle 1-2 Swansea
I said: 2-0, +0pts
Del said: 1-1, +0pts
Rami said: 1-1, +0pts
It's a second successive home defeat for Newcastle, and they've got to put that to bed soon because they only actually sit 5pts from the relegation zone. I probably don't think there is a genuine danger they will go down, but I say that more as a reflection on how they've underperformed this season than anything else. They will without doubt have had ambitions to be in the top half and, without disrespecting the likes of West Ham and Swansea, these are teams they should normally be beating at home. I agree that football isn't always as black and white (an appropriate phrase as it's Newcastle) as that, but they can't have too many more bad days at the office.
I did worry about Swansea this season, I thought they might suffer from a bit of second-season-syndrome, there was a change of manager which could have disrupted them, but to be 10th now is actually an improvement on last season. 7pts clear at this stage is a fantastic achievement, but they've got a run of tough games coming up so they won't want to rest on their laurels by any means at all.
QPR 1-3 Southampton
I said: 3-3, +0pts
Del said: 2-0, +0pts
Rami said: 2-2, +0pts
I'm afraid Hughes has got to go now. In some respects if he does get the sack, I wonder if this result might benefit QPR in the long-run, because it'll mean they get a new manager in quickly, who then has more time to change things around. If they drew this, he might have hung around for a bit longer and the team won't have got that rejuvenation they need to get playing properly.
Contrastly, that was a massive win for Southampton, who have got two home games coming up against stuttering Newcastle and Norwich, who are in form, but will hardly need the points as much. They are just 1pt from safety now and can easily climb out of the drop-zone. The self-belief and ability to score goals is evidently still with the Saints, which is always important.
Reading 2-1 Everton
I said: 2-2, +0pts
Del said: 1-2, +0pts
Rami said: 1-3, +0pts
I did think it was only a matter of time that Reading got their first win, but thought beating Everton was too much for tall order. What's more, when Steven Naismyth tapped in to gain an early lead for the Toffees, I was struggling to see Reading getting anything. A couple of goals from Adam Le Fondre though, proved his goalscoring credentials at the top level after being in the lower leagues for so long, and meant Everton dropped to 5th after West Brom won, and the Royals climbed out of the relegation zone at Aston Villa's expense.
Following this result, I reckon it'll be interesting to see how the season pans out for these clubs. After more draws than defeats but still being in the relegation zone before today, Reading probably deserved to get their first win of the season at some point, but it'll just make the relegation battle even more interesting. At the moment I wouldn't be prepared to declare any of the bottom 7-or-so teams safe and if QPR do sack Hughes, none of the bottom three teams relegated. I think it'll be pretty close right to the end.
For Everton, they should be worried about Arsenal's massive win over Tottenham more than West Brom, who I'm sure won't be anywhere near 4th come the end of the season. They've hit form at exactly the wrong time from the Toffees's point of view, because Arsenal go to Everton in a week or so and this will be a massive test of their resolve to hold onto that Champions League place. Though Moyes has done a wonderful job for us to even be talking about Everton getting 4th, I wonder if it might be too much for them.
West Brom 2-1 Chelsea
I said: 1-0, +1pt
Del said: 2-2, +0pts
Rami said: 1-2, +0pts
The fact that all three of us predicted different outcomes for this match shows you just how tough a game this was going to be for Chelsea. They will have also had half an eye on the game in Turin midweek, plus the big match against Man City after that, and West Brom pounced.
Di Matteo felt the need to rotate his team a little bit, which was a risk playing away to a team with the form West Brom are in. My own opinion is that he should have rotated the side earlier on in the season, playing the first 11 in all the Champions League group games and Carling Cup matches against Wolves and Man Utd was bound to catch up with the team at some point. I think this shows quite a bit of shortsightedness from Di Matteo- at this level you simply have to rotate the squad at times, partly to keep all 25 players happy, playing the same people means there's no sense of healthy competition or motivation, but also they can't keep players fresh and at their best like that. They will inevitably suffer at times later on in the season.
Let's take nothing away from the awe-inspiring Baggies though. I could wax lyrical about the job Steve Clarke has done here but to be 4th in the table at this stage, when I had them as a potential team for relegation, is beyond all supporters' wildest dreams. Actually, given that Chelsea play Man City next week and West Brom have a more winnable game against Sunderland, they could potentially overtake the Blues and go up to 3rd! The title race is on. It's sensational stuff.
Norwich 1-0 Man Utd
I said: 0-2, +0pts
Del said: 0-3, +0pts
Rami said: 0-2, +0pts
It seems to be one shock result after another at the moment! Chris Hughton's Canaries are now unbeaten in six games in all competitions, and if they can avoid defeat at Everton, they have then got 5 Premiership matches against teams in the bottom half of the table. Like Clarke at the Albion, Hughton has come to Norwich under a lot of pressure to replace Lambert, but he's done a brilliant job. He's a great manager and I hope he gets a bigger job if he finishes at Norwich because he really deserves it. When he's been at Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich he's always got that extra 10% out of teams and knows just how to motivate them.
A word on Manchester United. I don't want to say too much about this result having a knock-on effect for their season, because my opinion on who will win the title seems to change depending on whoever is top! It's only 1pt difference between them and City which will probably all change next week, when United have got QPR at home and City go to Chelsea. In fact, that's the best possible combination of fixtures for the Red Devils, so for the moment they are still my tip to win the title. But on the whole, no matter how well Norwich might have played, this is still a terrible result for United.
Fulham 1-3 Sunderland
I said: 1-0, +0pts
Del said: 2-2, +0pts
Rami said: 2-1, +0pts
I probably wouldn't go as far as saying this was a shock result, but it is a bit of a baffling one that few would have predicted. Sunderland nearly doubled the number of away goals they've scored all season in this one game, away to Fulham, who are normally pretty strong at home, and had earnt creditable draws with Everton and Arsenal in previous weeks.
The result puts more pressure on the teams in the bottom third of the division, because defeat for Sunderland would have put their name well into the relegation mixer - they would have been level on points with Reading and Aston Villa - but the win means they are 3pts clear of the drop zone, and also have favourable fixtures coming up.
Fulham will be disappointed with the result, and with much more difficult fixtures such as Stoke, Chelsea and Tottenham to come, it might be difficult for them to stay in the top half until January.

West Ham 1-1 Stoke
I said: 0-0, +1pt
Del said: 2-1, +0pts
Rami said: 1-1, +3pts
So, let's have a look at the scores. This has certainly been a weekend for surprise results; there have been five games in which none of us got any points, so lets see:
Correct results- 3
Perfect scorelines- 0
Points- 3
Correct results- 3
Perfect scorelines- 0
Points- 3
Correct results- 1
Perfect scorelines- 1, West Ham 1-1 Stoke
Points- 4
It's not been a great week for either of us in terms of points, because none of the games went according to our expectations - the Man City-Villa game being the only one we all got right but few would have had the audacity to go as far as 5-0 - but the fact that you can never tell what's about to happen in football is what makes this beautiful game so beautiful. For getting the Monday night game between West Ham and Stoke right, Rami is this weeks prediction winner with 5pts, and myself and Del finish joint-last with 3pts each.

If you'd like to join in this predictions game for next week, send us your predictions plus a small comment on some of them to:
And I'll put yours' up. Until then, it's goodbye.

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