As the light fades on another Christmas in the Premier League we can glance around the Premier festive scene to see many scenes of festive footballing joy. There’s Rafa Benitez, David Moyes and Avram Grant fighting over the sixpence from the Xmas Pudding. The Angel Gabriel Obertan made his customary brief Christmas appearance, whacked a ball 30 yards into the crowd when well placed to cross and disappeared for another twelve months. A Messiah has been heralded in the Eastlands and was showered with gifts of gold, money and Craig Bellamy. Sir Alex decreed that Our Wayne wouldn’t have to sleep in a manger after he inspired Manchester United’s victory over Hull, despite gifting Craig Fagan his best Christmas present for a long time; a penalty kick and Geovani on the subs bench. Carlo’s Chelsea team had to travel, via little Donkey, to the holy city of Birmingham, only to find no room at the inn. They took refuge at the shrine of St Andrews , where the heavily pregnant Frank Lampard failed to give birth to a goal, which no doubt made the Roman’s very unhappy. So amidst all ths festive jollity, what five gold things did we learn from the weekend?
1. West Ham are ‘too good to go down’. Having seen the Hammers in action several times over the past few weeks, I’ve become something of an admirer of the way they play the game. I can see plenty of “Arsenal” in their play and what I like is that a lot of players who are doing this, are talented British players, many of them youngsters, like Collison, Parker and Noble. Their 2-0 victory over Portsmouth was a good result and will give them a timely boost at a crucial time in the season. Tottenham are up next and that will be tough but if they play well, then I feel Zola’s men can get something from the game. My only concern is that in many years past, teams that were “too good to go down” often did because, quite simply, they weren’t.
2. Could Birmingham City be emerging as a genuine Europa League contender? Alex McLeish has worked wonders with his side in the past couple of months, culminating in a 0-0 draw with league leaders Chelsea at the weekend. With money in the bank to strengthen in the January sales, should the Scotsman wish to do so, could Birmingham push on from this excellent run of form and make a real push towards the UEFA Cup places for the end of the season? Could they go even further and push on from there towards the Champions League?
3. Referee’s still don’t understand the laws of the game. Yesterday’s game at the KC Stadium. Rooney’s poor backpass, Craig Fagan, probably the most hopeless forward in the Premier League, gets past the keeper to the byeline and clips the ball up into the air. It’s falling onto the head of Jozy Altidore who is bundled over from behind by Rafael. Now at this point the referee has two decisions he can make. Firstly he can deem Rafael’s tackle to be fair and allow play to continue with a goal kick. Secondly he can see it as a foul (and thereby, given Altidore was 6 yards out with no goalkeeper in sight, and the foul was clearly denying the striker a clear goalscoring opportunity) and award a penalty and a red card. What he cannot do, is award a penalty and a yellow card. Unless of course, he is afraid of what Sir Alex Ferguson might say after the game once again.
4. Liverpool will know exactly how far they’ve fallen this season. If they didn’t before, then they will now. Mick McCarthy selected a full strength team for the trip to Anfield. So he reckoned his team may have nicked a point or three then? So there were no festive three point gifts for Rafa this season from McCarthy’s team selection. I think he and Arsene are feeling a bit left out by the Wolves boss seasonal generosity towards United.
5. Arsene Wenger’s gone mad. I certainly think he’s been at the Harvey’s Bristol Cream a little too much. Kick ins? The football purist is suggesting kick ins are a way to improve the game because nasty, foul-smelling teams like Stoke have the temerity to have players who can take long throws, which is unfair on poor-lickle Arsenal who don’t know how to defend them? Ahhh… Diddums… And kick ins will improve this how? Team’s won’t of course push everyone as far forward as they can and lump the ball into the box at every opportunity from almost any throw in that they can get. Come on Arsene, get a grip buddy! Just learn how to head the ball in defence and you’ll be sorted.
Anyway, what festive five things did you learn from the Christmas period? Let us know below!
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