14 August 2005

EPL: Week One

I was able to watch three games this weekend, so not a bad start.

Everton 0-2 Man Utd: By the scoreline, and by the highlights, all looks well for Man U. Certainly Ruud Van Nistelrooy looked on form, and his goal was a solid piece of work among him, Wayne Rooney, and John O'Shea. But United looked vulnerable at times, and turned the ball over too easily. It's early, and I won't read too much into their form in August. Yet I have my suspicions. We'll see how things go.

And I have to sympathize for Joseph Yobo. For the most part, he had a great game, but his gift to Rooney was unforgiveable. A bad day at the office, indeed, only it's on worldwide TV. I did wonder, however, if Rooney was watching for something he'd seen in practice from his Everton days; he was certainly poised and ready for the beautiful ball Yobo fed him.

Middlesboro 0-0 Liverpool: A play in two acts, subtitled "How Many Ways Can Steven Gerrard Almost Score?" Liverpool looked in good form, and faced Boro at 10 men for 15 minutes, yet couldn't unlock the goal.

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle Yeah, I wrote about it already, but it's nice to say again anyway.

The other games didn't offer anything hugely surprising. The biggest point of interest for me was the spate of red card activity. Four reds were shown: Darren Ambrose for Charlton, Ugo Ehiogu for Middlesboro, Paul Dickov (surprise) for Blackburn, and of course Jermaine Jenas for Newcastle. All were straight reds. Three of the four were for rather dangerous challenges (though one could debate Jenas' challenge), and the fourth (Ehiogu) was for a last-man challenge on Gerrard. I think it's clear that the FA has directed the refs to crack down, particularly on dangerous play. It will be interesting to see if this has an effect on play or not — and whether the refs keep up the pace.

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