Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Warning: Rough Seas Ahead

photo by Tom Mascardo 1via PhotoRee

The title chase tightened immeasurably this weekend, with the two leaders surrendering massive points, and the chasing pack gaining ground.  Whether we'll look back at this weekend at the "Week that Was," or whether it's a momentary blip in the smooth sailing of United's and Arsenal's seasons will play out over the next several weeks.  Herewith, some thoughts on a portion of the weekend's activities:
  • Someone forgot to tell Wolves they were supposed to lie down and be relegated. Showcasing a fighting spirit they seem capable of locating only when they play a top side, Mick McCarthy's boys outclassed a Tottenham side that had one eye cast nervously toward their European mid-weeker against Milan, and Wolves were unfortunate to gain only a 3-3 draw on Sunday afternoon.
  • Controversial officiating reared its ugly head again, as Mark Halsey continued the run of clueless refereeing decisions blighting the EPL this month. He somehow saw fit to keep Alan Hutton on the pitch, despite the Spurs' defender being the last man between Nenad Milijas and goal when he pulled the Wolves' man down. Compounding his error, in the second half Halsey disallowed a late Ryan Stearman equalizer, claiming interference on the Wolves' man despite video replay indicating there was little wrong with Stearman's leaping challenge for the ball.
  • Jermaine Defoe picked quite a weekend to awake from his season-long slumber. After going O-fer in the season to date, the diminutive Spurs' striker put two past Wolves' 'keeper Hennessy in the span of six minutes Sunday. After being dominated for the first half hour, Defoe singlehandedly pulled Spurs back into the match at the Goat Patch, err, The Molineux, and Pavyluchenko applied the third goal in a pulsating and wide open contest.  There may be life in Spurs' strike force yet....
  • With Wolves gaining a draw, and West Ham and West Brom winning their matches this weekend, its getting damned difficult to climb out of the relegation zone. It used to be you could count on a mid-30s point total to see your ticket punched for another season-long stay in the EPL, but not this year. With the small fries regularly gaining points on the big guys, the relegation "six pointers" in which the bottom teams play each other become more important this season, if that's even possible.

  • Manchester City's pedestrian 1-nil victory over Wigan (dressed suspiciously like the New Orleans Saints, perhaps in anticipation of Mardi Gras this week) looked better as the weekend went on. Gifted a goal by Wigan 'keeper Ali Al-Habsi, which I suspect will be edited out of the ultra-short Wigan season highlight film, the Omani let the ball dribble off his hands and through his legs to give the lead and the game to the home side. With both teams in front of them dropping points, City's narrow victory at home was clearly one of the results of the weekend.
  • Are Chelsea back in the title race?  With their 3-1 win over Blackpool on Monday evening, Chelsea are suddenly only nine points adrift of the leaders with a game in hand.  It may still represent a lot of ground to make up, but with no one at the top grabbing the race by the neck and squeezing hard, it's difficult but not impossible for Carlo's boys to find themselves dreaming of glory once again come May.  We'll see. 
This is farlieonfootie wishing you a Fat Tuesday on March 8.

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