Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gameweek 15 Diary Part II

Here we are, a super sunday if ever there was one. The Manchester derby, the two biggest London teams squaring off along with a couple of other interesting fixtures featuring fantasy studs such as Defoe, Johnson, Arteta among others.
With minutes until kick off at the Middle Eastlands I am literally giddy for the action to start though I am (regrettably) predicting a United win. I can see City starting the brighter, perhaps even taking the lead though United's power and depth will possibly shine through in the end. Robinho to score first and 2-1 United pays 90-1, interesting.

13:31 We're under way and the main fantasy news is that Berbatov will start alongside Rooney and Ronaldo. Rafael gets his turn at right back making him a useful pickup for next week if Neville or Brown haven't returned.

13:38 Measured start by both teams, who are both trying to keep their shape. Rafael has been bombing forward though which could leave space in behind him as the game moves on. I think the idea is to force Robinho to track back, which the Brazilian maestro has no intention of doing. Something has to give on that far side.

13:39 I still look in wonder that the supposed richest club in the world still play Hamann and Vassel! Imagine upgrading in one day from that pair to Xavi and Podolski: two rumoured targets.

13:40 Best chance so far falls to Rooney who should have scored but shot straight at Hart who then bobbled the ball, but City managed to clear their lines. It was another good run by Rafael that created the chance.

13:44 One time Juice player Javier Garrido is in the side once again which gives him four starts in a row. At 4.3m he is excellent value when he's playing and Hughes seems to be have settled on his first choice back four whether at home or on the road. If the Spaniard holds his place he's a definite buy prospect once more.

13:45 Ronaldo's first look at goal sees him head a corner just over. It wasn't easy but the winger is good with his head and might have done better. United the better team after 14 minutes though its still pretty tight.

13:47 Vidic and Richards have a coming together which sees the Serbian with stud marks streaked down his chest. The hard man shrugs it off though without much concern though - a real centre back that one. Richards is also okay and the game restarts.

13:50 Whilst their is a lull in the action I must take the opportunity to say that the most annoying story line in the build up to this game was the constant suggestions that Robinho thought he was signing with United when he joined City. Is this even remotely feasible? I mean, okay he may not speak fluent English but I'm sure he can distinguish between City and United. My Spanish is not much beyond GCSE but I am fairly certain I can pick between Athletico and Real. The story reeks of United jealousy and is exactly the kind of elitism that is killing this great league of ours. What is so wrong with a world class player wanting to play for a club - shock horror - outside the big four (even if he is handsomely rewarded).

13:53 Okay back to the action and Rafael is booked for throwing the ball away after a foul on Robinho, who has been lively without much product after 20 minutes.

13:54 Great flicked header from Berbatov requires a decent save from Hart. The cross again came Rafael who City have failed to track (as anticipated) so far.

13:58 United are getting closer and it changes are made its a matter of time before they break the deadlock. This time its Evra who goes close after Rooney couldn't get his shot away. City need some possession quickly and to attack down the left hand side where Rafael has been bombing forward and is on a yellow card.

14:03 First chance of the game for City and its the best so far for either team. Van der Sar flaps at a free kick which falls to Ireland who doesn't catch it properly and the ball skips through and off the outside of the post. Richards left it, presumably thinking he was offisde, but could have scored if he's gotten the slightest of touches.

14:05 Fletcher joins Rafael in the book and City have another free kick, this one closer than the last: about 30 yards out. Robinho shoots wide having never gotten hold of it.

14:07 Evra bursts into the box but his cross is blocked twice and out for a corner which comes to nothing. Rooney's corners have been absolute garbage so far today.

14:09 Perhaps I shouldn't judge a player on his performance against a quality team like United but Benjani has been totally silent for 37 minutes. On this showing he is off my watch list for the time being.

14:10 Evra is moaning about first a Richards arm then a Vassell leg. Evra is way too soft to be a world class left back and can easily be taken out of a game by hitting him early with a few strong challenges. Against Bolton, Davies went in hard, but fairly, early on and Evra winged for the remianing 85 minutes and never made an impact. Quality players should not have such a glaring weakness for opponents to expose. Clichy will be the best in Premiership by next season for me.

14:13 Robinho is almost slipped in by Hamann but Van der Sar is out well to sweep up the danger. Seconds later, Ireland is booked for a challenge on Fletcher.

14:14 GOAL Carrick's shot can only be parried by Hart and it falls to Rooney 2 yards out who sticks in the back of the net. Mr 'once a blue always a blue' Rooney then does the classy move of running along all the City fans and grabbing his United badge. Why is this guy so loved in English football? It is beyond me. That's Rooney's first goal in 7 games by the way.

14:16 Benjani has an opening after a great flick from Ireland. He shoots wide though and never threatened the United goal. Ireland has been City's best player by a mile, always looking to play a killer ball but settling to hold possession when it isn't on. His workrate has also been good. He's at the top of my fantasy watch list now, although I fear that the horse has already bolted.

14:18 Vassell is booked. The yellows are adding up and you wouldn't bet against a red some point in this one even though it isn't really bad tempered.

14:18 Ronaldo has been non-existent and is playing quite withdrawn from the front two. I am starting to worry that he is not worth his 14.5m at the moment.

14:19 Half time comes and United lead 1-0. Probably deserved based on chances and possession though Hart has only made a couple of decent saves. City never really got going which is the opposite of what I expected. Hughes will need to lift his team, but if they come out too gung ho United will pick them off for the second and this one will be over.

14:23 Team news from Fratton Park brings a smile to my face as both Traore (in midfield) and Defoe get the start. Kranjcar is still on the bench. Santa Cruz and McCarthy up front for Rovers.

14:28 At White Hart Lane, Pavlyuchenko and Bent will be up front with Lennon and Bentley both keeping their place in the side. Lennon was awesome last week and could be a buy prospect over the coming weeks. Saha is only on the bench for Everton with Steven Pienaar replacing him in the side.

14:40 Two subs from Hughes and for me they are spot on. Zabaleta and Elano on for Hamann and Vassell. Richards will shift to centre back to accomodate Zabalata with Kompany moving to centre mid. The move will make them more athletic over the whole pitch and Elano will hold possession much better than Vassell did. They look better after 5 minutes with Elano winning a free kick and Kompany lashing a shot wide. 69% possession for City.

14:45 Good defending from Dunne to block Park who was almost through one on one. United look fairly dangerous on the break which should be the pattern of this game for the forseeable future.

14:46 Great run from Wright-Phillips who then slips in Benjani who rattles the side netting. Much better from City this, quick clean passing and some passion to get the ball back when not in possession.

14:50 Ronaldo is booked and could have been off after he the sarcastically applaudes Howard Webb. Lucky for him (and fantasy owners) Webb is pretty sensible and ignores the gesture. Its been a frustrating day for Ronaldo though and he looks jaded. 14.5m looks too high at this point.

14:55 The fight back is petering out and United are taking back control. Evra is the 6th man booked as he pulls down Wright-Phillips. Can City do better from this free kick, around 25 yards out?

14:57 Its Garrido who takes it and its about 2 feet wide but a decent effort. About half an hour left and time is starting to be a factor for City.

14:59 Massive decision here for this game and the fantasy league. Ronaldo goes into the box and hand balls the cross and Webb shows him his second yellow. The United players claim Ronaldo was pushed or that he heard a whistle which is why he raised his hands. With 25 minutes to go that could change this game.

15:03 Sky replays with sound suggest no whistle was blown and Ronaldo probably had to go. Disaster for all the Ronaldo owners out there, especially if you also own Lampard who is the natural replacement. Ronaldo will get 0 points for the week.

15:03 We're under way at both Fratton Park and White Hart Lane.

15:12 Not much threat has materialised from City and Ronaldo's departure hasn't made a great difference in the end.

15:14 Berbatov comes off for Giggs. The Bulgarian played well first half but has not been as involved in the second 45. Might be worth a bonus point for his first half display, though no doubt the clowns in charge will give in Rooney as he scored and is English and therefore must be man of the match.

15:15 Carrick cynically brings down Wright-Phillips which brings a small smile to my face as I bet high on the number of cards in the game at 7.5 and that puts me over the edge I think. I'd have preferred a Ronaldo hattrick to be honest but c'est la vie.

15:16 Yakubu (knee) has limped off at White Hart Lane and is replaced by Saha.

15:21 4 minutes of injury time.

15:25 Dunne and Rooney both had chances cleared off the line but United hold on and get the 3 points. A decent game on the whole though City never really showed their potential.

15:30 We can now look forward to the Chelsea where I am counting on Alex playing and Lampard scoring at least one to save my fantasy week. I could also do with Anelka not scoring.

16:02 More dissapointment for my team and Alex finds himself on the bench. He will be replaced by Olsson (1 point) if he doesn't come on. Only a Lampard hattrick can save me now.

16:04 Still no goals in the other two games as they come out for the second half.

16:09 Chelsea start the brightest but no concrete chances as yet. Almunia flaps at a couple of crosses which casuses a bit of panic but he claims at the third attempt to snuff out the danger.

16:10 Kranjcar is on for Pompey in place of Little. Perhaps a suggestion he will operate on the right and Traore will keep his place in the Portsmouth side under Tony Adams who has appeared reluctant to play the French man.

16:12 A good run by Kalou is stopped by Clichy but his clearance falls straight to Anelka who scuffs his shot but wins a corner. All Chelsea at the moment.

16:12 GOAL Pienaar sticks one in for Everton after a quick free kick catches Spurs out. Redknapp won't be happy with that defensive effort.

16:13 Pompey take the lead at Fratton Park and its that man Crouch again. The assist goes to Johnson who is in absolutely scorching form.

16:21 GOAL Defoe provides a rare bright spot for my the Juice and sticks one home to probably sink Rovers. Blackburn are absolutely woeful and I fancy Ince to be the first casualty of the season. This will be no wins in 9.

16:21 Darren Bent off for Spurs, Campbell on. Dissapointing for all those with Bent in their side (he says smugly).

16:23 GOAL Rovers pull one back through Matt Derbyshire and thats Traore and co's clean sheet out of the window.

16:25 Arsenal are looking better at the Bridge but Chelsea fashion a chance for Lampard who heads into Almunia's arms. Good football from Chelsea there.

16:29 GOAL Unbelievable stuff at Fratton Park. Pompey have lost their second 2 goal lead in a week as Rovers equalise through Tugay.

16:30 Chelsea have a free kick right on the edge of the area but Ballack cannot get it up and over the wall. Chelsea do win another corner though.

16:32 GOAL Almunia gives the ball away cheaply and Chelsea play in Bosingwa who plays a great ball in to the danger zone which Djorou turns into his own goal. Meanwhile at White Hart Lane, Saha has limped off (suprise) and Everton are down to the bare bones of their squad.

16:38 GOAL Pompey retake the lead through Sean Davis and Blackburn look set remain next to bottom of the league.

16:43 Gareth Bale comes on Spurs and the BBC point out an extraordinary stat - Spurs have not won a single Premier League game that Bale has been involved in. Astonishing!

16:49 Lampard almost rolls Anelka in but he underhits the pass and Anelka has to check his run somewhat and the chance is gone. And that's the last action of the half. Decent game, similar to the first really with the better side leading and the other looking a bit impotent.

16:55 Full time in both the 3pm games and it's Everton and Portsmouth who take all 3 points.

17:20 GOAL Arsenal equalise through Robin Van Persie! The game had been drifting along and not really going anywhere but that has all just changed. On replay it looked like the Dutchman was offside though the linesman suggested Bosingwa was playing him on. That makes me fell better for Alex not playing.

17:21 Terry is booked for a two footed challenge and he can have no arguments. Meanwhile the news from White Hart Lane is that Yakubu is out for the season with a ruptured achilles.

17:23 GOAL 2-1 Arsenal! Can you believe it, he's done it again. Adebayour knocks down a free kick with his head and van Persie spins and drills the ball into the bottom corner. Sublime finish. Now we'll see what Chelsea's reponse is. Game on!

17:27 The game is suddenly wide open and is promising a thrilling final 25 minutes. Arsenal will not sit on this and they look to counter whenever possible.

17:28 Ivanovic fouls Clichy on the edge of the area and gives Arsenal a golden chance to extend their lead. Van Persie is all over the ball and it certainly suits his sweet left foot, though it is a bit central. He's lifted it over the bar though.

17:30 Malouda is on Mikel as Chelsea start to throw men forward.

17:35 Arsenal threaten again though Denilson's final ball is poor. Then Adebayour turns Ivanovic brilliantly but checks his run. The ball eventually falls to Fabregas who is finally bundled off the ball.

17:36 The ball is immediately back with Chelsea who have won a free kick about 22 yards out to the right of the goal so as to suit a left footer, perhaps Malouda.

17:46 Ivanovic is booked and is lucky as he should have been booked earlier too. Cech claims the free kick and the danger is over. 5 minutes plus injury time remain.

17:49 Maybe its my Alex bias but Ivanovic is not up to the pace of the Premier League and Chelsea are missing Carvalho badly. He is the only world class defender in their ranks for me. Bosignwa is brilliant going forward and Terry is fully committed but both can make the odd mistake that Carvalho normally covers for. When he returns stock up on your Chelsea defenders (including him at 6.4m) as a rash of clean sheets may follow.

17:51 Four minutes to play as Ivanovic committs another cynical foul.

17:52 Bendtner robs Bosignwa who has defended poorly and slips in Denilson whose first touch is terrible and Cech saves comfortably. Almunia is taking an age to take this free kick as Arsenal look to milk the clock.

17:54 Wegner is as emotional as I have seen him for a while and I love it. The greatest manager in Premier League history for me takes a ridiculous amount of criticism, and is one of the major reasons that our league is the way it is today.

17:56 Its all over at the Bridge and Arsenal have added Chelsea to their scalp of United a few weeks ago. Chelsea have now lost 2 in 4 at home having been unbeaten in 86. Gallas walks off with a sly smirk and who can blame him. Brilliant stuff by the Gunners, a good game to save what has been a rather poor weekend of football.

Let me know your thoughts and how your teams have performed this week. I've had a third consecutive stinker and my team is in dissaray at the moment. Serious changes are needed with the benching of Alex and upcoming Ronaldo suspension. Oh dear.

4 comments:

Silent Jay said...

Hmm... Ireland 1 point (surprise, surprise - I did pick him up for this week), Robinho 2, (C) Ronaldo 0. Looking great so far...

marco said...

Got all my stikers Cisse, Camara, Defoe score but other than that nothing much, Bosingwa credited assist; had hoped for some bonus for Ireland but no.
Next week Cisse and Camara away to chelsea & arsenal, not good.
Waiting to learn length of Ronaldo suspension.

Ashwin said...

what is it with this season? it almost seems like home advantage is nothing for the big teams, at least in an attacking sense. Chelsea have lost their record, Liverpool can't really score at home.
I thought Carrick looked impressive in the match and has been good for sometime, I think he'd be worth considering after GW18.
And I dont' think the horse has bolted with Ireland yet either, he's still got an amazing level of output for his price.

Silent Jay said...

"Desperately seeking Zaki." Anybody know anything? At all?? It's like he's completely disappeared off the face of the Earth. No news anywhere. Trying to figure out my transfer for this week...