It's like Match of the Day, but with stickmen
Last weekend produced more surprises than most children get on Christmas morning, actually that’s not really saying a whole lot as nowadays as most teenagers already know they’re getting , an Xbox, a Wii and TV. that’s bigger than their parents’ car - that sort of thing.
Saturday’s early afternoon battle of the nouveau riche at The City of Manchester Stadium saw swashbuckling league leaders Chelsea lose their first league game of the season, and once again it was Carlos Tevez breaking the hearts of the travelling fans.
The surprises continued at Emirates Stadium, where West Bromwich Albion shocked Arsenal with a stunning 3-2 victory. When former Gunners’ keeper Jens Lehmann returned to Germany we all figured that the Arsenal goalmouth would lose it’s comedy value, but nothing could be further from the truth; now we have two keepers to keep us entertained in Fabianski and Almunia.
It was the latter, Manuel, who was living up his Fawlty Towers namesake yet again, gifting Albion with their second goal then flapping at their third. It’s strange to think that there was once a campaign to try and get this guy into the England squad…
The biggest surprise of the weekend, however, was at Molineux during Aston Villa’s visit to local neighbours Wolves. It wasn’t Gerard Houllier’s decision to finally take his seat on the Villa bench that raised everyone’s eyebrows but a sight rarer than the Pinta Island tortoise; Emile Heskey powering Villa’s winner past the helpless Wolves keeper Marcus Hahnemann, for his first league goal of the season.
Meanwhile, up at the Reebok stadium, another former Houllier pupil was snatching a point for Manchester United. Michael Owen came off the bench and saved the day with a late equalizer against Bolton. Alex Ferguson must surely be getting worried as his unconvincing defence conceded yet another two goals, with Rio Ferdinand still struggling to put a run of games together.
And talking of struggling, how about Newcastle United’s James Perch? Well it looks like the poor chap might just be out of his depth (no pun intended) in the Premier League. After picking up a yellow card in every appearance this season he earned himself a match ban. On the weekend, with his side drawing 1-1 with Stoke, Perch marked his comeback with a game winning header. Leaping like a salmon, he steered a cross into the back of his own net winning the game for the Potters.
On a positive note, he didn’t get himself booked…
And finally, no surprises at Anfield, Liverpool failed to beat Sunderland, and teenage referee Stuart Attwell found himself in the middle of all sorts of controversy.
Just over a year ago the same two teams witnessed one of the most bizarre goals ever seen in English football; the “Beach ball goal”, this one wasn’t in the same league as that but it was still bizarre.
Only Michael Turner knows whether he was playing the ball back to his keeper for him to take a freekick or punt the ball upfield. But what we do know is that we can be thankful that we’ve been spared a week of hearing analysts comment on Fernando Torres’ “lack of effort” and “poor body language”, as the Liverpool striker sprinted onto the backpass and played Dirk Kuyt in for a first time finish into the net, either that or the Dutchman was trying to trap the ball, it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.
As you can imagine Sunderland manager wasn’t too pleased with Attwell’s decision to allow the goal; puffing out his chest as his face gradually turned purple, it was hard not to mistake him for, Charlie and the Chocolate factory’s Violet Beauregarde. It’s fair to say the beach ball is now dead and buried.
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