October 21, 2014

Richard Dunne goes and does it again + EPL roundup

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

You would think that in a game in which a team scores four of the contest’s five goals, that side would win. In the case of QPR-Liverpool, you would be very wrong.

Two own goals from Rangers defenders cost the London outfit a desperately needed point after some incredible injury time drama.

Things really picked up after QPR brought on Eduardo Vargas in the 79th minute, with plenty of attacks coming close at both ends. The Chilean winger brought his side even in the 87th minute to set up the fantastic finish.

How great was the close to this game? Well you don’t often see three goals scored in the 90th minute or later.

Philippe Coutinho put the Reds in front in the 90th minute, a goal that the announcer mistakenly called the winner – if only he knew what was to come.

Vargas would come back and hit the tying goal two minutes later and QPR would even come close to scoring a winner, but a Liverpool breakout would end with Steven Caulker putting a Raheem Sterling pass into his own net, ending the game.

It was the second QPR own goal of the game, after own-goal maestro Richard Dunne put one home earlier in the game. It was Dunne’s record 10th career own goal, which is nine more goals than he has scored for his own team in his career.

While the Reds did pick up the three points, needing those two gifts against a relegation-battling team like QPR isn’t exactly promising. Defence continues to be a huge issue, with Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson having particularly poor showings.

If Liverpool wants to remain in the Champions League next season, it’s going to have to shape up at the back.

THE TWO-HORSE RACE

It’s still early in the season – there are still 30 games to play – but this season is shaping up to be a real two-team race for the title. It might not be a close one either.

Chelsea, playing without superstriker Diego Costa, was briefly a man down against Crystal Palace and never really looked in trouble. Some beautiful passing led to the winner by Cesc Fabregas and Oscar had a stunner of a free kick. This is a team with very few weaknesses, but you have to wonder if Loic Remy would cut it up front if Costa was to miss a game against a better opponent.

Sitting in second at five points back is Manchester City, which got an outstanding four goals from Sergio Aguero – hope you captained him in fantasy – to defeat Tottenham.

This defeat shouldn’t come as a shock to Spurs fans, as City dominated them last year as well.

The only real shock came when Frank Lampard won a penalty kick and it was Aguero who stepped up to take it. Lampard is one of the best and most consistent penalty-takers in EPL history. It was curious to see him step aside, even if this isn’t exactly his team like Chelsea was.

Thanks to those four goals, Aguero – like Lampard with Chelsea – became City’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League with 59 goals. Just think about how many he could bag if he stays healthy and with the team for an extended amount of time.

WHAT A DISASTER

Could Gus Poyet be joining the sack race?

After losing a whopping 8-0 at Southampton, you have to wonder.

That was the biggest catastrophe to leave Southampton since the Titanic.

In case you missed the worst scoreline of the season, Sunderland was crushed 8-0 by the surprisingly third-place Saints.

It was a complete breakdown all over the pitch. Five different Southampton players scored while two Black Cats players scored on themselves – and these weren’t your average own goals like QPR scored against itself on unfortunate misdirections.

If Santiago Verigini had rocketed his own goal into the proper net, it would’ve been hailed as one of the highlights of the weekend while Liam Bridcutt literally walked the ball into his own net.

It was amateur-hour type stuff that you would expect from a team sitting in 17th place, where Sunderland now resides. It will take a some effort to right this ship.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Aguero actually could have had five goals, but Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris made a save with his toes on another penalty attempt … If not for Alexis Sanchez pulling some nice moves around some FIFA 15-style defending, Arsenal could’ve lost to Hull. The Tigers can’t be happy with dropping points after an inspired effort … Congrats to Alan Pardew for getting his first win of the season. Don’t think for a second that a lacklustre win over a promoted side will call off the dogs, though … Which was the miss of the week: Mario Balotelli’s putting a sitter 20 rows into the stands, or Papiss Cisse putting the ball into the side-netting after rounding the keeper? I’d say Balotelli; Cisse’s miss was at least at a somewhat tougher angle.

THE LAST WORD

Hey Premier League schedule-makers, where was the late game on Saturday?

Due to the hours that I work, waking up early isn’t always an option for me. So that 12:30 EST kickoff can be the only entire game that I can watch live. Sure, they can often be duds, but at least it’s live football.

So where was it this week?

Instead of running six games at 10 a.m., why not slide one into that prime-time slot?

Sure, the Newcastle-Leicester City match ran late because kickoff was delayed by a wobbly video screen creating a safety hazard, but that wasn’t planned.

It would work out better for the league as well, since more games shown live means more exposure and more fans that can watch.

Get your act together, EPL.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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