Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

Weekend Premiership review

Another weekend of Premier League action, another weekend of surprises, late goals, farcical refereeing decisions, drama & controversy. Nothing new there and that is what makes the Premiership the entertaining spectacle that it is.

One of the biggest results of course, was Aston Villa recording their first victory over Arsenal - the Villains inflicting upon them the biggest defeat they've suffered at the Emirates. It was certainly no fluke as Villa comprehensively outplayed the Gunners and deserved the win. Even Wenger, normally a big one for excuses, had to concede that fact.


Many were questioning Villa's 5th place credentials following back to back defeats to Newcastle and Middlesbrough, but they silenced those critics emphatically with that performance and look a good bet to finish nestled in behind the Big 4 come the end of the season. As a Villa fan, I can only hope that we keep the squad together, because I'm sure that not only will the Gareth Barry saga probably rear its dull head again in January, but I suspect that if Ashley Young continues his incredible form there will be potential suitors for him - he might be just the sort of player Man City may try to acquire with their newfound riches.

On the other side of the equation, the bi-polar yo-yo-ing of media/fan opinion will be once again claiming that Wenger has lost it. A couple of poor results and everyone questions him. Suddenly victory over Man Utd and another great display from the youngsters against Wigan and its back to Arsene the genius, “He knows, he knows!” A poor display this weekend and opinion is back to “He's living off his reputation,” “He's gone mad,” etc.
 The bottom line when it comes to the Gunners is simply that Wenger’s philosophy of having a young squad playing attractive football is laudable, but he's pushed the envelope slightly too far, because its not getting consistent results or trophies. He just needs to bite the bullet and supplement his squad by spending a bit of money on three name players, most importantly a midfield general and they will be back to being contenders.  It is vital that he does this sooner rather than later though, because I strongly believe that the vast quantities of cash that Man City look set to invest will soon lead to them gatecrashing the Big 4 - and Champions League qualification dictates that there can only be a Big 4. Liverpool had looked the most vulnerable to be usurped and squeezed out of this elite group, but given their flying start to the season, I would say that its Arsenals slot that is most under threat.

Speaking of Liverpool, they bounced back from their woeful Carling Cup exploits to over-run a mediocre Bolton side. Sitting joint top with a third of the season gone, for the first time in many years, it would be hard to argue that they aren't genuine title contenders this time around. One thing they are getting at the moment is the rub of the green. If Bolton hadn't had a goal disallowed on the stroke of half time, it could’ve been a different game.
 To be fair, I thought it was, marginally, the correct decision and that Kevin Nolan did impede Pepe Reina, but it was a ruling that could've gone either way. What's important for Liverpool is that they keep their key players fit. What the Carling Cup result against Spurs showed was that there isn't much depth or quality behind the first team and so 3 or 4 injuries or suspensions could severely hamper them.

Chelsea continue to keep neck and neck with the Reds at the Premiership summit, recording their 10th successive away victory in the league - a new Premiership record. West Brom were their victims this week and whilst the bottom of the division is still tighter than a drum, the Baggies are looking one of the weaker units down there. I'm surprised no-one went for them in the 90minuteonline "Bottom by Christmas" poll.

I voted for West Ham in that ballot and they didn't do anything to make me think otherwise in their 0-0 home draw with Portsmouth. Had Jermaine Defoe been more clinical then Pompey would have run out comfortable winners and the problems I wrote about in my last article continue to haunt the beleaguered Hammers. Tough times ahead for Gianfranco Zola.

Everton and Middlesbrough contested a hard fought draw and are both in very good runs of form. It would appear that the duo, along with Man City if Hughes can make the right signings in January, will be snapping at the heels of Villa in the fight for that 5th place UEFA cup slot.

Any good drama should have its slices of comedy, its light relief amongst the unrelenting action. Highly dubious refereeing led to the unwarranted early dismissal of Wigan’s Emerson Boyce at Newcastle and the Geordies went on to come from behind and were on the verge of securing their storybook comeback when suddenly former Magpie, Titus Bramble, a man so maligned he's malignant, powered in a header to snatch an unlikely draw for Wigan. It must have been hard to take for Newcastle fans, but those on Tyneside must be used to having a bitter taste in their mouths given the slapstick nature of their club.

Even funnier than that, when it seemed that it couldn't get any worse for Heurelho Gomes following his tragic flapping display against Liverpool mid-week, he goes and surpasses his standards of shambolicosity (yes I’m having to invent negative superlatives for the clod) by somehow inexplicably spooning Simon Davies meek effort into his own net. Honestly, the guy is more suited to the Big Top than the football field and given his negative body language, I doubt his form is going to improve. Publicly, Redknapp is sticking with Gomes, but that must be the last straw for Harry and I fully expect a new keeper to be introduced in January and old Heurelho to be shipped off to Clown School.


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