|photo by s_zeimke||via PhotoRee|
Round 19 in the BPL came and went in a booze-induced fog, impairing this reviewer's judgment and clouding his memory. The festive merrymaking that accompanied the weeks' off-pitch activities coincided with a visit from a former pair of farlieonfootie correspondents, the Hills. Now utilized as undercover reporters sniffing out sinister developments in the Natural Gas scene for our sister website http://www.farlieonfracking.com/, the Hills left a path littered with human destruction after their return to corporate headquarters: Correspondent Ed was forced to visit a doctor twice inside of seven days for issues related to his more delicate parts, Correspondent James went missing well before midnight at the office New Year's Eve shindig, and Correspondent Scott's wife was verbally assaulted by an inmate who had recently escaped the local lunatic asylum.
Appearing majestically perched on the bow of their megayacht -- christened the "Frack Me" -- the Hills arrived in South Florida posing as a pair of North Carolina enterpreneurs looking to invest in the oil and gas business. Staying true to their undercover roles during the course of their week-long stay, the Hills entertained a slew of people on board their spectacular 524 foot megaship, all the while serving special alcoholic concoctions they called "Drilling Mud" in an attempt to pry corporate secrets out of loose lipped industry insiders. Culminating in a spectacular party featuring a bar-top dirty dancing contest won by Mrs. Hill, and a 14 mile chase of a Belgian beer distributor's truck through the streets of Fort Lauderdale by Mr. Hill, farlieonfootie's office crew was blindsided by the return of their former correpsondents, and unable to properly focus on the task for which they are so handsomely compensated: covering the ins and outs of the BPL.
What follows, then, is a somewhat abridged version of the week's most notable observations. This column should revert back to normal for Round 20's results, pending the length of Correspondent Ed's detoxification procedure. With no further ado, off we go:
o Although the round begain in a fairly tame manner (see my thoughts on Liverpool vs Newcastle, below), it quickly developed into the most dramatic weekend yet in the BPL. Talk about the power of the lower classes -- top dogs Man City, Man United and Chelsea all lost to lowly and troubled teams, and none more dramatically than Ji Dong-Wong's last-kick-of-the-round winner to send Manchester City fans home with a serious case of the blues.
o I've re-watched Ji's unbelievable late topper about 14 times now, and I still can't figure out what-in-the-heck Gareth Barry was doing: He literally stopped running and stood there like a paying spectator; he clearly had the best seat in the house from which to view the Korean's stunning dagger blow. And although City fans will bemoan the offside decision, it's hard to deny that Sunderland didn't deserve more than a point for their valiant effort -- and should have scored at least once or twice barring Joe Hart's acrobatic heroics.
o Say what you like about him, but Sunderland bossman Martin O'Neill is just a flat out winner. I think he's on a mission to show Randy Lerner just what he's missing. Sunderland looked a good bet to go down under Steve Bruce earlier this season, but O'Neill has got them playing some inspired football of late/
o As low as I was after the United game on Saturday, the rest of the weekend's results salved my wounds, with only Arsenal and Liverpool of the top six teams gaining more than a point. As I noted in the column yesterday, it's a long roller coaster of a season, and there are bound to be ups and downs. It'll be interesting to see how City react to this latest blow. They've come unhinged offensively these last few weeks, and the dropped points are beginning to pile up at a fairly emphatic rate: that's two losses and a draw in their last five games for those of you keeping count.
o Liverpool - Newcastle put me to sleep. Literally. It may have been the two margaritas I had pre-gaming at the beach on a beautiful Florida afternoon, but the overall excitement level for the game was pretty low. Although Steven Gerrard's late cameo livened things up a bit, for the first hour-plus of action, Liverpool without Luis Suarez appeared all bark and no bite, with Andy Carroll managing to impress even his most fervent detractors with a thoroughly insipid and uninspired day at the office.
o Chelsea coach Andre Villa-Blowout may be looking for work in the New Year unless he turns things around quickly. I know some Chelsea supporters who think (read: delude themselves) that the current squad is built for a European Cup run, but I have some harsh news for them: if you
This is farlieonfootie for January 2.