Dodgy decisions, fat slugs, and IT Crowd jokes


Premier League talking points – Week 8

It’s safe to say that it was an afternoon which David Marshall will want to forget quickly. Chelsea were able to equalise via a goal which has resulted in many blowing the dust off their FA rule book to test its legality (the more technology savvy just downloaded the PDF which is available on the FA’s website) after Samuel Eto’o stole the ball from Marshall when the Cardiff keeper bounced it which should have been deemed as a foul.

Eto’o attempts to take the ball around Marshall

On the flip side however, you could argue that Marshall should not have been on the pitch at all, after clearly handling the ball outside of his area – which shows there may be some truth in the whole “football evens itself out” spiel after all.

After missing two clear violations of the rules though, it’s safe to say Anthony Taylor and his assistants are the ones who had a bad day at the office.

Paolo Di Canio is gone, Gus Poyet is now Sunderland manager, Phil Bardsley is back in the first team, everything should be alright now shouldn’t it? Saturday afternoon’s performance against Swansea City says otherwise.

What actually took place, was a performance that can only be described as terrible – so bad in fact, that it caused this Daily Mirror writer to forget what professionalism is.

The return of Bardsley following his axe from the squad by Poyet’s predecessor didn’t exactly have the effect on the squad the Uruguayan would have wished, after the Scottish international was booked within 10 minutes, missed a sitter, and scored an own goal. The Sunderland side went on to crumble completely and conceded 3 more goals, including another own goal by Steven Fletcher.

Next up for Sunderland is a game against arch rivals Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light, a fixture which the Black Cats won quite comprehensively last season 3-0. The optimists amongst the fans will take encouragement from Poyet’s decent record against the Magpies in both his playing and managerial career.

Records alone won’t win Sunderland the 3 points next Saturday though, and with the visitors looking like they could be picking up a bit of form, he has a lot of work to do.

Speaking of Newcastle

Saturday’s contest at St James’ Park against Liverpool was preceded by protests, which anger being aimed towards owner Mike Ashley and the lack of ambition being shown.

It’s not all doom and gloom on the pitch as you’d expect from such action, with a win taking them level with Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, in 5th and 6th place respectively, before the rest of the weekends game’s had kicked off.

Newcastle fans show their discontent with the club management

Newcastle fans show their discontent with the club management

They started the game well, not allowing Liverpool’s attack to get a good passing rhythm going. Ben Arfa’s central position, along with Yoan Gouffran and on-loan striker Loïc Rémy cutting in from the wings, also gave Liverpool’s 3 man defence a few headaches, but the sucker punch came via Yohan Cabaye who beat Simon Mignolet with a swerving long range effort.

The turning point in the game however, was the red card defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa received after bringing down Luis Suárez in the penalty area, allowing Steven Gerrard to bring the scoreline level and hit the back of the net for the 100th time in the Premier League for his hometown club.

It had become an interesting battle of tactics in the second half, Liverpool dominated possession while Newcastle allowed the pressure, knowing they had the power to break and counter. The change in formation, bringing on a proper central attacking midfielder in Luis Alberto, should have happened a lot earlier but Liverpool were back behind before it did, with local youngster Paul Dummett taking advantage of Aly Cissokho’s tribute to José Enrique with a lapse of concentration.

Liverpool looked in more control and much more dangerous after the change, but chance after chance went begging bar Daniel Sturridge’s equaliser and the two sides had to settle for a draw.

Arsenal‘s glorious run of form continued against Norwich City with another 4-1 win for a London club.

As the old I.T. Crowd joke goes: “The problem with Arsenal is, they always try an’ walk it in” – it wasn’t a problem for Arsene Wenger however, as a wonderful collection of one twos and back heels split the Canaries’ defence open, allowing Jack Wilshere to just pass it into the bottom corner past John Ruddy.

The run which has taken the Gunners to the summit of the Premier League at this early stage has been accredited to many factors, including Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, the wand that is Mesut Özil’s left foot, the defensive partnership between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, and the surprising influence that free signing Mathieu Flamini in the middle of the park, doing the dirty jobs that not many of Arsenal’s other midfielders would carry out.

Norwich weren’t exactly playing badly, they were just undone by a side playing top quality football.

There is one player who I thought went without a mention at the weekend, Mikel Arteta.

When Flamini went off injured it would have been safe to assume that the balance of the side would be affected, but credit where it is due, the Spaniard stepped up to the plate and made himself one of the most influential player on the pitch, making the most passes (94, finding a teammate 89 times), and making the most ball recoveries (11), the latter usually being the job of the Frenchman.

In this sort of form Arsenal are sensational to watch, and seem a long way away from the hysteria that followed their opening day defeat.

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