Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Deuce and the Hat: Round 22 in the BPL

photo by badjonnivia PhotoRee

Some questions and observations from all the latest action in the Barclay's Premier League:

o Chelsea captain John Terry said late last week that the Blues can still win the title. Win the title?  Is he joking...?  What title was he talking about?  The League's biggest underperformers....?!

o Chelsea's offense looks strangely impotent this season. They may have brought in Gary Cahill last week, but as bad as the Blues' defense has been, it's not their biggest problem.  Not only is Chelsea not scoring much, they're not even threatening goal.  The problems are myriad: there's never anyone in front of goal to receive a cross,  Sturridge and Torres shouldn't play together, Torres' confidence is shot -- excuse after excuse, and no goals to speak of....

o Our favorite chant of the Weekend came from the Norwich City fans to Fernando Torres: "What a waste of money." How true....

o What a turnaround for Fulham against Newcastle on Saturday....  Down a goal and seemingly completely out of the game at the interval, the Cottagers' comeback began with a debatable penalty, but only came into full fruition through the feet of a certain American forward.  When Clint Dempsey banged in his third goal of the day in the 89th minute to top off Fulham's five goal second half bonanza, Martin Jol was so happy he straightened his frown.  Needless to say, with his second three-goal-outburst in his last three contests, the Texan was the only player we seriously considered for our prestigious Player of the Week honors.

o It was unfortunate that Fox Soccer missed Dempsey's third goal, as the programming switched mid-game to the Premier Week Preview Show for several minutes before coming back to live action. Although goals by Americans in the BPL are becoming more common, hat tricks are so rare they have to be celebrated. 

o And speaking of Deuce, his scores on Saturday were the 50th, 51st and 52nd time the American has found the back of the net for Fulham. In combination with Landon Donovan at Everton, the two Americans are really enjoying their football this season, which leads me to a question: When was the last time two Americans were among the very best players on their respective BPL teams...?  I'd venture to say never. And although Fulham and Everton aren't exactly Man United and Arsenal, it's a start, boys and girls. It's a start.

o This season's Everton squad is not good enough to give up the type of ugly goal they conceded on Saturday and still win.  In fact, their offensive production is so paltry, they're not good enough to give up any goals and still win.

o The first half of Spurs vs. City had a chess match feel about it, although City had the nominal better of the play. Strangely, after the season-long love affair with the Spurs' midfield, it was in that area of the pitch that they seemed to be completely overwhelmed.

o But, oh the second half....  A cracking ten minutes of football saw Spurs' title chances go down the drain before being snatched out at the last second by a Stefan Savic wrong-way flick on and a Gareth Bale right-way wonder strike. The game settled then settled back into a rerun of the first half until the contest went into overtime.  It was only after Spurs spurned the aforementioned Savic's best effort to hand them the game with yet another late giveaway that the Tottenham of old reared its ugly head: Ledley King's final-gasp-of-the-game penalty on Mario Balotelli -- Why Always Him?? -- handed City the three points and a crucial advantage in the title race.

o But, but, but: If the Best Player in the WorldTM had been slightly less selfish and more accurate with his final pass in stoppage time, or the-midget-that-is-Jermaine-Defoe was just a wee bit taller, it would have, should have, could have been all three points in the bag for Spurs. It's a cruel, cruel game....

o And finally, we couldn't leave this week's analysis without wishing Robin Van Persie's Opa Vim a happy 91st Birthday.   Although the Arsenal Captain doffed his shirt to offer the birthday boy his best wishes, the guess here is that Grandpa never saw the message: he was likely watching the Barcelona game to see where his grandson would be playing next year on the big day.  

This is farlieonfootie for January 24.

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