Thursday, January 27, 2022

Premiership is back with a bang

Andy Greeves in Editorial, English Premier League 19 Aug 2008

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411,563 fans, 32 goals, one hat-trick and not a goalless draw in sight.

The Premiership returned from its summer break over the weekend with ten lively games that will hopefully set the tone for the season ahead. The entertaining start saw Chelsea romp to a 4-0 victory over Portsmouth, while Manchester United could only draw with Newcastle at Old Trafford. New boys Hull City came from behind to beat Fulham 2-1, although fellow promoted sides Stoke City lost 3-1 to Bolton and West Brom got beaten 1-0 by Arsenal. Liverpool were thankful for a late Fernando Torres goal to secure a 1-0 win at Sunderland as were Blackburn, who beat Everton 3-2. Perennial underachievers Tottenham Hotspur again flatted to deceive, going down 2-1 to Middlesbrough while West Ham triumphed over Wigan by the same scoreline.

The Football Association launched it’s ‘Respect’ campaign on Saturday, with players instructed to get on with playing rather than arguing with the referee. Following a series of distasteful incidents in the 07/08 season, it was pleasing to see footballers observe the new league objective, with no sendings off or notable decent to report. New Chelsea midfielder Deco came the close to being shown his marching orders, at least he would have been had referee Mike Dean seen his dreadful knee-high challenge on Lassana Diarra. Giving the Portuguese man the benefit of the doubt however, his tackle looked mistimed rather than malicious.

Luiz Felipe Scolari could hardly have imagined a better start to his Chelsea managerial career. He admitted the 4-0 romp against Portsmouth was “perfect” and more than he expected from an opening day performance. Even without Didier Drogba, the Blues were irresistible going forward with Cole, Anelka, Lampard and Deco all chipping in with goals. Chelsea’s 4-1-4-1 formation stifled Pompey, who had just one decent chance all day. John Obi Mikel’s was particularly impressive, producing his best ever performance in a Chelsea shirt.

Chelsea’s two point led over Manchester United is an early psychological victory for the west Londoners. Something Alex Ferguson will be keen to address ASAP. The Red Devils dominated proceedings against Newcastle, but without Ronaldo they lacked the incisive play that brought them the League and European Cup double last season. Their lack of a recognised world-class striker to play alongside Wayne Rooney is a major concern. An issue the Old Trafford club will look to look to resolve this week as they step up their efforts to sign Tottenham’s Dimitar Berbatov.

Berbatov was left out of Tottenham’s starting eleven for their visit to Middlesbrough, fuelling speculation over the Bulgarian’s departure. Spurs had little to offer upfront without him and went down to a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough. Former Tottenham striker Mido rubbed salt into his old side’s wounds, not only by scoring the second goal, but also by suggesting Berbatov’s head had now left White Hart Lane. Berbatov certainly cut a lonely figure has he sat on the field during the half time break, refusing to warm-up with his team mates.

What Spurs or United would do for an in-form striker. Aston Villa have certainly got one of those in Gabriel Agbonlahor, the weekend’s notable performer. He scored a hat-trick in Villa’s 4-2 win over Manchester City. Ashley Young also gave a great account of himself , reminding England they have got some excellent prospects for the future despite missing out on this summer’s European Championships. Neither Agbonlahor or Young have been selected in the latest national squad however, much to the mystery of Martin O’Neill and the Villa faithful.

Paul Ince had the perfect start to his Premiership managerial career seeing his Blackburn side come from 2-1 down to win at Everton. The way in which the Rovers players celebrated Andrew Ooijer’s 90th minute winner went a long way to dispelling speculation of unrest in the Ewood Park dressing room. There were some unhappy faces at Goodison Park though, with sections of the crowd turning on David Moyes, who has failed to significantly boost Everton’s playing squad this summer.

While Stoke and West Brom both lost on their opening day, Hull City showed hope for the Premiership new boys with a tremendous home victory over Fulham. They must have feared the worse after Seoul Ki-Hyeon gave Fulham an eighth minute lead, but levelled through a Geovanni thunderbolt and secured all three points after Celab Folan capitalised on a Paul Konchesky error to net the winner. Opening day results are rarely an indicator of long-term prospect, but the resilience shown by the Tigers suggested Phil Brown’s men won’t allow themselves to be this season’s whipping boys.

Premiership action pauses briefly this week for internationals, as England take on the Czech Republic at Wembley. An unwelcome break for most football fans, enthralled by a memorable start to what will hopefully be a memorable 2008/2009 Premiership season.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Greeves


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john gradon
john gradon
13 years ago

Not only does Mr Greeves screw up factually when he initially declares that Manchester United “could only draw with Portsmouth at Old Trafford”, he completely loses touch with reality when he states The Red Devils dominated proceedings against Newcastle United…what game was he watching? Or did he only see the BBC’s shamelessly one-sided highlights of the game? Oh what a shame Man U were without Ronaldo and Tevez. Oh but wait a minute, Newcastle were without Owen and Viduka. Mr, Greeves, if you ever get round to actually wathing a game, try and inject some objectivity as well.

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