Big afternoon of Premier League football today with title, relegation of course, fantasy implications galore. What does that all mean I here you cry? A running diary of course. Thankfully, we start with just 15 minutes of the awful Wolves-Stoke game to go. I have managed to see intermittent 'highlights' of it online but I think my computer is trying to help me out by disconnecting me as much as possible. Suffice to say, its been rubbish.
We'll start therefore at Old Trafford where they've just kicked off and 5 uneventful minutes have been played.
13:39 Eight minutes gone at Ewood and a decent header from Chris Samba forces a save from Van der Sar, who always had it covered. The big news for the game of course is the absence of Wayne Rooney but fantasy owners will be more frustrated by the absence of Evra, inexplicably rested for the game by 'Fawlty Ferguson'. I presume he realises they lie second in the table, and that United have no other fronts to challenge on? Why then is their most consistent defender and provider of attacking flare riding the bench in favor of the consistent but unremarkable O'Shea? Confusing.
13:46 Still no goals at Molineux either which would be a welcome clean sheet for all Sorensen owners (your humble blogger included). With Joe Hart ineligible this week many teams were forced to play Sorensen in what was a good but not great fixture and a 6 point return would be more than welcomed by all. Back at Ewood, United are pressing after a couple of corners but no real threat comes of it all. Without Rooney, the team looks a bit flat at the moment and they could do with some magic from Valencia or even Nani to liven things up.
13:53 It's been a very strange development over the past few months but I have really (pause for effect) warmed to Craig Bellamy. Perhaps I was lead astray by the tattoos and bad language but when you actually listen to what he says he is refreshingly - too? - honest. In a recent interview he conceded that while happy at City he doesn't "see [him]self playing for City in two or three years, lifting trophies" due to the influx of new players expected at Eastlands. He also struck out at some of his fellow 'professionals' stating "I don't go to nightclubs, I don't go to lounge bars, I don't spend my days shopping. That doesn't interest me. I spend a lot of time with my children at home. That's where I feel good."I never would have thought that Bellamy would be the voice of morality and reason which I guess goes to show either how far he has come, or how far everyone else has fallen.
13:54 FULL TIME at Molineux and it's two clean sheets, at least one of which will delight many fantasy owners. With Huth lurking on deck for Pure Juice I am hoping Evra doesn't get a sniff in the game at Ewood thus allowing the Stoke man to bring his 6 points into the first team to join the 7 contributed by Sorensen.
14:02 Nani has enjoyed some space down the left flank and I can't help but feel that they would be having more joy with Evra there rather than the defensive minded O'Shea. Hopefully Ferguson doesn't feel the same way and bring on Evra at half time (thus preventing Huth from storming in off my bench). By the way, Samba is off injured, replace by Ryan Nelsen.
14:10 I always consider Berbatov to be more of a 'striker' while Rooney is that drifting forward type. However, when the balls are played into danger areas Berbatov just doesn't seem to have the knack for being there like Rooney does. Intelligence? Effort? Not sure what it is but United lack a cutting edge without Rooney today so far.
14:14 I guess that's why he is in though. Great strength from Berbatov to win the ball and then play a delicious reverse pass to put Valencia through. The winger opens his body nicely but then snatches the shot a bit and Robinson gets down well to save. Great stuff from Berbatov though.
14:16 Worrying news for Liverpool fans and fantasy players alike. A texter over at BBC just noted that Torres has been nowhere to be seen during the warm ups today at Anfield. With a decent fixture at home to Fulham, Torres is a great play this week and will have been captained by many. An unexpected absence would be really dissapointing.
14:18 HALF TIME at Ewood Park. Pretty dull game so far with the best chance falling to Valencia. I noted against Bayern midweek that with their backs to the wall, there is no way you would bet against United in 2007. Now though? I'm not so sure. Still the favourites here but the winner is far from inevitable the way it was when Ferguson boasted the three headed monster of Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez.
14:25 Some great half time reading here from the Guardian with an excellent review of everything the Bundesliga is doing well. A friend of mine is a big fan of Werder Bremen and sings the German league's praises so I have been interested in this for a while. The German league is run almost like the US models that have had so much success in the NFL and to an extent MLB. Although many English fans don't wish to take advice from the US or Germany (just look at United where the anti-American taunts and now anti-German comments are pretty offensive) there is much to be learned and the Premier League will be in better hands when those in charge learn to listen to examples from around the world.
14:35 Torres is indeed confirmed to be out of the clash at Anfield which is more depressing big name news for fantasy players that have endured the losses of Fabregas, Rooney and Drogba over the past few weeks. Sigh.
14:44 The commentators don't seem to be highlighting how important the final 35 minutes are here. If United draw then now only could Chelsea pull 4 points clear midweek but Arsenal will also overtake them for second place with a win at local rival Spurs. United have only failed to finish in the top two 3 times in the history of the Premier League. Darren Gibson on for Giggs now.
14:55 Well here we are, 25 minutes left and United throw on Park after Gibson came on a few minutes ago. Is that the biggest difference in United's squad this season versus the prior two? A lack of genuine threat off the bench? I like Park due to his work rate and underrated passing and Gibson can strike a ball but when Chelsea brought on Anelka, Kalou and Ballack yesterday you have to question how well Ferguson has strengthened his squad. Are his hands tied by the Glazers? I don't know. But all those who wildly rant against Wenger's lack of action in strengthening his squad should also look up north to Manchester.
15:03 It's the scenario I dreaded. Evra looks like he is coming on to give him 1 point for the day instead 6. I hate rotation policies. In fact, I am planning a Matthew Berry style draft manifesto for next season, which will continue a break down of manager's tendencies to rotate and how often players feature when fit.
15:08 Chelsea have to travel to Spurs and Liverpool so the title isn't over just yet but are we sure United can go to Eastlands and win? At worst I see Chelsea getting 84 points (3 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss) which would mean United must win all four of their remaining games to win the title. Good chance for Berbatov there but he shoots straight at Robinson. It's getting tense.
15:12 Good work rate from United who continue to press well and Blackburn can't get any kind of position to relieve the pressure. With the ball though United don't look particularly threatening. More concern for Ferguson as Ferdinand appears to be struggling with a groin but all 3 subs have been used. Fantasy karma gods punishing Ferguson for screwing all us Evra owners?
15:16 Kalinic has put in a decent shift in the second half and held the ball up well on occasion. A pretty good signing by Allardyce: not much fantasy value mind.
15:18 If United can win this one they have Neville to thank after a brilliant block denies N'Zonzi from putting Rovers ahead.
15:24 FULL TIME at Ewood and the snooze fest is over, is the title race too? Not sure I'm there yet but that was a massive step towards the title for Chelsea. I'm taking a quick break then back for City-Brum at 4pm.
15:54 The teams are almost ready at Eastlands and the team news is in. City go with Tevez, Adebayor, Bellamy and Johnson, a fearsome foursome that will surely provide some goals on this dull day so far? Birmingham have come here to be tight though and City have some work to do to break them down. I've gone for Adebayor and City 2-0 though I might fancy Bellamy's pace in this one too. As an outside bet, McFadden first goal at 11-1 looks interesting. The teams are out. Game most definately on.
16:15 After a lively start from City Birmingham have locked them down a bit in the past few minutes. Tevez is frustrated and has started to drop deeper and deeper in search of some meaningful possession. With question marks over Rooney, Torres and Drogba, Tevez and Adebayor might be the safest top line strikers for the final four games of the season.
16:35 I was just about write how miserable the day has been for goals but wait, penalty at Eastlands! Bad news is that Tevez takes them and all my opponents have him in their team this week. Oh well, at least its a goal. And he scores. GOAL TEVEZ.
16:44 Incredible passive of play. GOAL for Onouha to make it 2-0 City and then Jerome immediately hits back with his own GOAL to make it 2-1. City then replay with an Adebayor GOAL to make it 3-1 and restore a 2 goal cushion. Crazy game.
16:50 HALF TIME at Eastlands and a chance to draw breathe after a crazy 10 minutes there. City the better team and there are more goals to come here. Tevez owners rejoice as the Argentinian looks set to score plenty today. Oh dear.
16:53 FULL TIME at Anfield where Liverpool are held by Fulham. With City winning that should end Liverpool's hopes of getting into the Champions Legaue and we'll have a pretender (City/Spurs) in this year's competition. I hope it's City but either will be good for English football.
17:12 City look the more threatening as Onouha goes close again. Incidentally his first 'goal' is being claimed by Tevez who will be the best fantasy player of the week so far.
17:27 Johnson goes close and it seems like a matter of time before City wrap this one up. They look lively and I fancy them to give good returns over the final few weeks of the season, even if they do face United next week.
17:34 Onouha wraps up the win with his first/second goal of the afternoon. Great finish from the right back. Lovely goal.
17:41 Johnson has looked sharp again this week and I am wondering if he could be outside shot for the World Cup. I fancy him alot than the frustrating Cole. A genuine winger who could give the England side something a bit different.
17:48 Tevez departs to a standing ovation and then Adebayor gets his second GOAL of the afternoon. Great, cool, finish. One of the most natural finishers around. I know who I am targeting for the final 3 games of the season (after Manchester derby).
17:52 The City announcers give Onouha two for the afternoon which would delight me and anyone else that doesn't own Tevez. And there goes the full time whistle. Well it was a very slow start to the day but we ended up with 6 goals in this one after a very impressive display by City who go into the Manchester in tremendous form. Hopefully we'll get some better fantasy action in the midweek games. Thanks for reading.