|photo by wsilver||via PhotoRee|
Columnist Ed is still grieving -- he's clearly in the denial phase right now:
o Mario Balotelli is a terrific player and a gifted athlete. But his attack on Scott Parker – a cleat to the head – was appalling. This was not Bolotelli’s first dirty shot this year, and as a result he has been handed a four game suspension upon postgame review. Such a suspension isn’t nearly enough. Had Parker been someone who fouled him consistently throughout the game, perhaps there would have been some justification. Or as Gary Neville put it, had it been someone like Gary Neville, it would be easier to understand. But Balotelli had no reason to be angry at Parker, which suggest some minor sociopathy. Balotelli’s agent is now stating that England isn’t being fair to him. Clearly for the right price you can get always get someone to agree with you.
o Despite the Balotelli incident, City v. Spurs game was among the most exciting of the season. Both teams began nervously before exploding to life in the second half. Good for Spurs to come back from two goals down, and good for Jermaine Defoe for finishing that first long ball with ease – I have seen many EPL players blow easier passes than that. But losing like they did couldn’t be more devastating, especially in light of the fact that Balotelli should not have been in the game. Let’s take Howard Webb’s explanation at his word – he missed it. That said, ever since a poor World Cup game Webb’s performances have been poor and sometimes poorer. He’s getting to the point where I think he’s still a ref because he looked like he’d be a good ref. It’s time for Webb to shape up his game, and it’s time for more video tape reviews.
o The loss by Spurs was obviously devastating. The only fiber of silver lining that can be pulled from the contest would be that Spurs ought to finally understand that they can be a top team. Accepting this mentally is the first step to becoming a top team, though that got a lot tougher after that loss to City.
o I thought you weren’t allowed to slow down on penalty kicks. Isn’t that a rule? Isn’t that what Balotelli did.
o Don’t be fooled by the United win at Arsenal. The Gunners are in full injury mode, yet that game could’ve gone either way and in the second half the Gunners had more chances. United are still – still – relying on Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs in the middle. I suspect their confidence is somewhat hollow, and wouldn’t be shocked to see them get beat up by a random second tier team sometime soon.
o At the beginning of the year I believed the top of the EPL was filled with top tier teams. After watching United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, and even City, I’ve come to believe that the top tier are good, but all of them are vulnerable. Don’t get me wrong, this parity makes for exciting games, in large part I think because everyone thinks they have a chance. Belief can go a long way in sport.
o I’m no tax lawyer (wait, is that true?) but after hearing the facts of Uncle Harry’s tax evasion case it doesn’t look very good for the Spurs' boss. I don’t know how much time he might get for this crime, but presuming the press is in the ballpark, Harry could be spending some time in the Big House sooner rather than later, and he could end up being there for some time. Uh oh.
o Tim Ream is going to play for Bolton. I have yet to see Ream play a solid game for anyone, but yet I don’t watch much MLS. I hope the best for Ream; perhaps this European experience will help him raise his game for the US team.
o When did Liverpool become a bottom half team? Awful performance at Bolton. Embarassing. They need to figure it all out and soon.
o This just in: Landon Donovan is good. He had an assist last week, and seems the only spark for the poor Everton offense. As for Clint Dempsey, he continues to prove his worth, but yet no one in England seems to think he’s anything but “decent to pretty good.” I’m not sure what Dempsey needs to do before a top tier club will take an interest in him. Though, according to the guys at the Guardian’s weekly football podcast, he’s got a great name but at the end of the day just isn’t that good. I’m not sure what they’re watching, but it seems to me that this guy can play.
o Some day I want to learn the rules of cricket. Just not today.
o Andrei Arshavin is awful and has no business being a pro any longer. Perhaps he’s homesick (odd), or maybe he’s got an injury. Either way he needs to take some a break from the EPL. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wenger knows this, but his putting him into the United game remains perplexing.
o Second round of the Copa del Rey was last night, and you can't imagine how much I was looking forward to the madness. Wait, ouch, you just pulled my hair . . . . . . . . [flop!]
This is farlieonfootie for January 26.