March 27, 2014

Some mid-week EPL quick hits

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Thanks to the FA Cup and League Cup, we had some midweek Premier League action featuring some of the biggest teams in the world and some title-race implications. Here’s a quick a breakdown of this week’s extra serving of action.

-The headline match of the midweek was without a doubt the Manchester Derby. Even though United had hopes that its season had started to turn around with two straight wins, it very quickly turned out to be delayed gratification for the visitors.

That’s because Edin Dzeko took less than a minute to put City in front. The title-challenging Sky Blues would stay in front for the rest of the game, fending off every simple challenge the defending champs sent their way.

It was the type of loss that again sparked anger among Red Devils supporters. Fans even took to jeering retired club legend Sir Alex Ferguson, the man they blame for saddling the club with lame-duck gaffer David Moyes.

In fact, we saw fans attempt to rip down the “Chosen One” banner featuring Moyes’ picture from the stands. Yes, the choruses of “Moyes out!” Will be keep on growing and rightfully so.

Old Trafford used to be a fortress, but under Moyes the club now does better on the road, with a 9-3-4 record compared to going 6-3-6 at home with an even goal differential.

But here’s the thing that works in Moyes’ favour: The rest of United’s schedule is fairly easy, giving it a real shot at landing in a Europa League spot. That poison chalice could be the only thing that saves Moyes’ job.

And also, what does United have against Pablo Zabaleta? There were two instances that players could have been shown red for fouling him. Maraoune Fellaini’s elbow to the chops may have been red if the ref was feeling antsy, but the real travesty was Danny Welbeck’s slide tackle. I was surprised that the right back didn’t end up with a broken leg after that horror tackle.

-While some would’ve expected some bounce-back from Arsenal after that pathetic loss to Chelsea, it was never in the cards against Swansea. Even after the Gunners came back from one down, they found a way to blow it. There is nothing more “Arsenal” than settling for a draw thanks to an own goal in the 90th minute.

-If you had any doubt about Ross Barkley’s credentials for England at the World Cup, look no further than his goal against Newcastle. He got the ball not too far out of his own box and ran the length of the field with it before eluding the last defender and putting one home.

And don’t look now, but Everton might actually be challenging for a Champions League place. It is currently six points back of Arsenal with a game in hand and the two teams meet in two weeks. A win in that game and the sides would be even.

I wouldn’t bet on it happening, but you never know the depths to which the Gunners may slump.

-If Liverpool is good for one thing besides a handful of goals per game, it’s the ability to make fans feel on edge at the end of one-goal games. That’s what happened after Sunderland pulled one back in a game that the Reds were otherwise looking good in. Both teams would charge end to end trying to score the goal that would flip the game, but nothing came.

In the end, the better team won, but I’m sure most of the Anfield faithful were holding their breath until the final whistle.

-Despite playing at home with its opponent down to 10 men after 23 minutes, West Ham didn’t have an easy run of it with Hull City. The Tigers were able to even up the game after first-half penalty by the Hammers too, much to the fans chagrin. So even after walking away with all three points and collecting their first win since Feb. 22, the fans gave the ol’ Bronx cheer to manager Sam Allardyce. After a display like that, you could say the Big Sam deserved it, but come on, the guy did just win a relegation six-pointer.

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