England's Favourite Premier League 4/28/10 – The Damned Confirmed

Yes, it’s true. Hull City, the Tigers, are mathematically still alive to save themselves from the Championship.

Mathematically, however, might be a bit of a stretch.

All the Tigers would need to do is to win their final two contests against Wigan and Liverpool, amass 13 goals without conceding and hope West Ham lose both games by a combined total of at least 4 goals.

Yep, that’s totally going to happen.

Let’s face it: the relegation scrap is now over. Portsmouth have been an understood drop team since they were docked 9 points earlier this term for going into administration. We knew that then and nothing has changed since then. Burnley, under the guise of Brian Laws, much to the chagrin of every living Burnley fan in existence, have dropped 16 of 18 since his arrival and effectively undid their entire good opening few months and the memorable W over Manchester United by putting in someone who has all but led two teams to the drop (Sheffield Wednesday must beat Crystal Palace, otherwise, the Eagles stay up and the Owls take the plunge to League 1) this campaign. Hull, after dropping Phil Brown to golfing on the weekends and putting Iain Dowie in charge of the first team, has watched the Tigers…um, do no better and probably worse than with Phil in charge. In fact, Mr. Brown might even be the manager yet again, considering that the Tigers don’t seem inclined to pay off his contract. You can’t make up stuff like this.

On the subject of the Tigers…I can’t for the life of me understand exactly how Alan Hutton has gotten his red card whittled down to one game. I don’t get it at all. True, he didn’t physically impose himself on Jozy Altidore, but, given the run-up to the incident (and the terrible acting of getting “hit”) Hutton really should not be allowed to get away with instigating something then play-acting like it was a brick to the face rather than the limited contact Altidore made with his noggin’.

If soccer wants to cut that crap out, that being the additional histrionics that Hutton performed, they can’t allow themselves to mollycoddle someone when things like that occur. Altidore has no real defense for his actions, outside of the fact that Hutton was being a pansy by not being able to stand up to the physical play. That said, Hutton only getting a game says to everyone: “Fake the hit real good and you can get off without too much punishment.” And in this case, it worked. The F.A. let the three game suspension whittle down to one. Meanwhile, Birmingham City, who, personally, have every right to be livid ever a penalty decision against Aston Villa, have had three separate charges thrown at them, two of which stem from the penalty.

And everyone wonders why the “RESPECT” campaign is rubbish.

It could also have something to do with the protection afforded officials when they do screw-up big time. Anyone remember the name of the official in the Henry handball case? Of course you don’t, because FIFA shelled the guy away so quickly that no-one (outside of Ireland) would remember him.

For the record, the man’s name is Martin Hansson. You might also remember him because of that little snafu he cause in the middle of the Porto-Arsenal Champions League Knockout round first leg. In fact, this guy has a pretty bad track record of screwing up in big contests. Heard an apology from him or FIFA lately?

Hell no.

Yes, there is going to be some human error. But, that said, if an official screws up that badly, he’s got to be held accountable. It’s a small wonder that the Birmingham City players didn’t deck Martin Atkinson after his late penalty decision, which he made somewhere around the vicinity of Wolverhampton at the time, even though the match was at Villa Park.

Amazing where the bottom clubs lead you when you least expect it. Bring back karaoke hour with Phil Brown!

April 21

The week started with the initial roll-over movement of Hull City to a fourth place charging Aston Villa. In all fairness, Villa were the only team who could win that contest as Hull have no way of linking the midfield to the frontmen. It’s a small wonder Altidore hadn’t been seeing red any earlier than he had, as isolated as he, Venegoor of Hesselink, Folan and any number of forwards have been for the Tigers. You can’ t score if you can’t give the guys who are paid to do it zero chances to do it, a theme the Tigers should fix come their new campaign in the Championship.

April 24

It might have been a bit much to ask Spurs to try and waltz into Old Trafford and pick up anything from the holders. It did seem like at times that United had 12 or 13 men on the pitch, such was the ineptitude of Wilson Palacios in his return from suspension and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who was totally out of his depth on the right. It did take some hilarious defending for the match to get its opening goal as Ekotto wouldn’t have beat a catcher at home plate with the tackle he leveled Patrice Evra with. Giggs buried spotkick number one before Spurs got a goal from the veritable frenzied scorer known as Ledley King. Nani’s chip was a worthy winner before allowing himself to be steamrolled by the aforementioned Palacios for a second penalty, from whence Giggs buried spotkick number two. Can’t blame Gomes on either shot; the placement was absolutely perfect as Gomes guessed right both times. His defenders? Not so inculpable.

Bolton looked to have secured themselves totally with another three point haul against Pompey, only for the no-namers to reclaim some dignity with a hard-fought draw. The same applied to Wolves and Blackburn, where Rovers jumped out early only for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to snap home a draw. Hull completed their roll over effort after blowing it against Sunderland in the aforementioned 10 v. 10 contest. Darren Bent struck early and Jimmy Bullard hammered the post on a spotkick to effectively doom the Tigers after West Ham took the full three against Wigan, Scott Parker scoring the decisive goal in the 3-2 win. The Parker smash was the biggest winner of them all, unless the fates conspire one of the most unholy events in the next two weeks that the world has ever seen.

Then…there was the highly anticipated Arsenal v. Manchester City clash.

A contest that might put Ambien out of business.

Such was the drabness of the encounter that many of the Arsenal fans who showed up were taking the halftime interval to leave…and not come back. I honestly haven’t seen a game that was as heavily billed lose that much interest in so little time. I’ll be honest: I slept through a large chunk of it. Can’t imagine I’m the only one, either. The starting line ups, especially the City formation, told everything: a draw’s fine for us, what about you? Arsenal sent out the same non-scoring lineup they have for a while now, while city employed three defensive midfielders, leaving Tevez to be aided by Bellamy and Johnson. A recipe for boredom was concocted and played out at the Emirates, where the only attraction was the oblong hairstyle belonging to the hated Emmanual Adebayor. Pippi Longstockings he ain’t, though I imagine she probably had a better chance of scoring than the two teams did Saturday.

April 25

The hotly disputed penalty that led to Villa’s 1-0 win over Brum also led to a sudden subplot in the race for fourth place: Villa are 5th, and that only by goal difference inferior to Tottenham for 4th. In that, “Wait, what the?” moment you might have just had, Villa have taken all but two points from a possible 15 since the 7-1 hammering to Chelsea. With City dropping two points to Arsenal and Spurs not getting anything from Old Trafford, Villa are suddenly right f@^$ing there. Liverpool kept up their (faint) 4th place aspirations by beating an insipid Burnley side 0-4 at Turf Moor. Everton kept their European push alive the hard way by getting a late penalty to seal the deal at the death 2-1 against Fulham. Chelsea, knowing there was pressure on to deliver after United retook the lead, promptly beat Stoke seven ways from Sunday (how does that work out perfectly?) 7-0. I mean, the carnival must have been in town or something. Solomon Kalou scored a hat trick, for crying out loud. And though Tony Pulis was not involved, more fisticuffs apparently broke out in the Stoke dressing room. Such violence in the Northeastern corner of the country.

The New Week

Two marquee matchups mark the penultimate week of the 09/10 Premier League season. Saturday features a possible fourth place eliminator match with City hosting Villa. City, sitting sixth, cannot afford defeat, even with a game in hand. But, then again, a Villa loss basically eliminates them from the fourth place spot. A draw does neither any favors. Well, except Spurs, who will attempt to shake off the loss to United and try not to give up another bottom-feeder smash and grab raid to Bolton. (Stat check: Spurs’ three home losses are to Manchester United, Hull and Wolves. What’s wrong with this picture?) Birmingham host Burnley in an effort to seal a top half finish for the hosts, while Pompey and Wolves square dance in a send off for the Fratton Park faithful. Everton look to keep the heat on ‘Pool by taking on the recently embarrassed Potters of Stoke at the Britannia.

Sunday brings the other big bopper contest as Chelsea travel to Anfield to try and seal the title against Liverpool. Neither side can afford the loss. Neither side can sit back and play defense, either. Unlike Arsenal and City, this has too much riding on it for either side to hold back. What shape Liverpool will be in mentally after their Europa League semifinal may determine what the Reds can realistically hope to accomplish. United travel to the Stadium of Light, hoping for a monumental slip-up from the Blues as they tackle Sunderland. Fulham/West Ham provide some temporary entertainment between contests.

Monday also gets in on the act, though Wigan/Hull and Blackburn/Arsenal will feature little more than prodding from four sides who’d just as soon be kicking back at the beach as play the last two contests.

The final week is fast approaching….

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