Rants and musings from the magazine team
Simon Carter names those who suffered most during Saturday and Sunday's football action (or lack thereof...)
The Usual SuspectsThe likes of Aston Villa, Wigan, Newcastle and Reading have all featured heavily in Bad Weekend this season due to their uncanny knack for having bad weekends. And for three of them, this weekend was no different.Aston Villa rushed into a 2-0 lead in their West Midlands derby at West Bromwich Albion; a side who have also struggled for form in recent weeks. Paul Lambert’s side took that two-goal cushion in to the break, yet there was almost a sense of inevitability about a second half which saw the home side score the two goals required to deny the visitors all three points.Meanwhile, at the DW Stadium, Wigan threw themselves into the bottom three after squandering a gift of a lead to finally lose 3-2 to Sunderland in what was an incredible game. Wigan, despite 20 shots at goal in an effort to secure the points, are now 19th in the table.And up in Newcastle, the home side led 1-0 against the suddenly far from useless Reading, through a wonderful free-kick from Yohan Cabaye. No Reading player had scored a second half goal away from home in the league all season; a slightly obscure stat, but one which only served to illustrate just why the Newcastle fans were so audibly peeved when Adam Le Fondre’s late double sealed the win for Reading.In coming from behind in successive weeks to beat West Brom and Newcaslte, Reading have shown the have the spirit to fight back. If they can successfully turn around their season after a poor opening five months of the campaign, the teams around them will have much cause for concern.
Martin TylerThe unseen work of a commentator all happens pregame, where much time is spent perfecting pronunciations and teasing out interesting statistical titbits with which to regale the viewer. But Martin Tyler seemed to have spent the build-up to yesterday’s Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United game rehearsing snappy snow-related one-liners.Just minutes into the game, Tyler uttered; “We were worried that White Hart Lane would have a white hard pitch.” Not a bad attempt and one that saw the veteran commentator through until half time. As the second half got under way we were told that “the white stuff is melting as it hits the heated pitch, and we are entering the melting pot of the game” – a tenuous effort that even Mark Lawrenson would have rejected.By the time our commentator had informed us that “the gritters have been on the roads of London all day and Man United will need grit now”, it seemed that even Tyler had grown weary of his winter based comedy act. He did throw in a half-hearted white snow / white shirts comparison in at the end but you sensed that he knew the game was up. Let’s hope for better weather next time Martin.
Yellow FeverOnly five points separated Liverpool and Norwich City going into Saturday’s clash at Anfield, but few would have been surprised to see the home side cruise to a 5-0 win.While the first meeting between the sides following Norwich’s return to the Premier League last season was a 1-1 draw at Anfield in October 2011, Liverpool - and in particular Luis Suarez - have made very light work of the Canaries ever since. In April 2012, Liverpool won 3-0 at Carrow Road, courtesy of a Suarez hat-trick, before an early season visit to the same venue in 2012/13 saw the Reds romp to a 5-2 victory, with Suarez hitting another treble.So it would have been with much trepidation that Norwich made the long journey to Merseyside. Though there was no Suarez hat-trick this time (he did grab himself one goal), this was arguably the most complete Liverpool performance under Brendan Rodgers and one which may give them the confidence to - whisper it - launch an assault on fourth place.As for Norwich, while they’ll undoubtedly be happy not to be facing another league meeting with Liverpool for at least another seven months, the defeat at Anfield is the latest in a disappointing sequence which has seen Chris Hughton’s side lose five of their previous six league games. With only one away win all season, and the second leakiest away defence in the league, it’s clear where they must improve.
The QPR SquadHe might balk at his reputation as a ‘wheeler-dealer’, but there’s no doubt QPR manager Harry Redknapp loves to busy himself in the transfer market. So Redknapp’s post-match interview following his side’s 1-1 draw at West Ham on Saturday will have caused certain Rangers players much concern.In roughly the first thirty seconds of his interview, Redknapp said: "We do need to make one or two signings in the right positions and let one or two lads go […] The squad needs improving […] There are one or two other quality players around who we have been talking to […] I am looking to improve the quality and strengthen other areas too.”Maybe Jermain Defoe should keep his phone switched off until February.
Same Old ‘BoroThe second half of a Championship season is normally marked by Cardiff City’s fall from grace. No matter how well they’ve started a season, by the time the final bars of Auld Lang Syne ring out, the Bluebirds have usually started to crumble.But so far there’s no sign of that happening this campaign (Cardiff’s win at Blackpool on Saturday saw them open up a 10 point lead at the top of table), so there’s room for another side to take on the mantle of ‘The Championship’s Worst Finishers’. Step forward Middlesbrough.The North East side have form here. Last season they were within a whisker of topping the table as the tinsel and crackers were brought out, but won only six games from January to May - to put that into context, they had won 12 from August to December. This saw them fall from second place to seventh, missing out on a play-off spot in the process. And this term currently looks set to follow the pattern.An impressive first half of the season saw Boro consistently hover around the top two, but so far in 2013, they are yet to win a league game. The latest failure was Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Leicester City. Though three defeats in a row can hardly be called a collapse, a packed February sees them play six games including tough trips to Ipswich Town and Crystal Palace, and a visit from a Leeds United side who beat them only last month.Just three points off an automatic promotion spot, and five points above seventh place, it would take something disastrous for Boro to make a mess of their season. But history shows it can be done…
The Pools PanelWhile the entire Premier League and Championship fixture card escaped the ‘cold snap’ unscathed, Leagues One and Two saw their schedule decimated.Of the 23 matches in England’s third and fourth tiers, only nine actually took place, with League Two the worst affected - only three games were played, fewer than in the Conference.So it was a bad weekend for fans, players, officials and ground staff, who were all suddenly left with an empty afternoon. But pity too, the poor Pools Panel. Inactive for pretty much the entire season, the three man panel had their snooker watching plans scuppered this weekend as they tried to figure out the likely result of the likes of Bury vs. Stevenage and Rochdale vs. Gillingham.And with snow forecast on and off for the next three weeks, those overworked souls could be very busy indeed.
Unbeaten HoweUnfortunately for League One Bournemouth, their visit to Walsall did not fall victim to the snow. Unbeaten in the 15 games since Eddie Howe had returned from his ill-fated tenure at Burnley, the south coast outfit were dispatched by one the league’s other in-form sides.The 3-1 defeat is something of a setback to Bournemouth, who would have climbed into the play-off places with a victory, but there would have been few more disappointed with their day than Eunan O’Kane. The Cherries midfielder, believing he had heard the referee blow for a foul, picked up the ball in his own area. But unfortunately for O’Kane, the referee hadn’t whistled, leaving the man in black with no choice other than to point to the spot.Still, up next for Bournemouth are bottom-of-the-table Hartlepool United. Surely the perfect tonic for any team to suffer a bad weekend?
LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS
Spain seal major tournament treble
UEFA dishes out dosh to clubs for Euro 2012
Russia win appeal against Euro 2012 sanction
Nasri banned over behaviour at Euro 2012
Van der Wiel critical of compatriot Robben
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010