Well here they are, the last ten round-ups of the season. A pretty good day to finish on, with the title at least still in doubt (although not for long).
Chelsea v Wigan - 8:0 - Chelsea looked a little nervous from the off, but Anelka settled his side with a well-taken shot into the ground from Malouda’s chest, although Malouda may have been offside (6). Shortly after Lampard went down in the box and scored the resulting penalty (32). Caldwell, who had fouled Lampard, was sent off. Drogba, in competition with Rooney for top scorer, was miffed that he was not allowed to take the penalty but Ancelotti had decided that Lampard should take the first one, the win being more important than Drogba’s seasonal total. Kalou scored Chelsea’s third with a nifty bit of footwork after a good one-two with Lampard (54). Anelka got the next with a great volley that looked very similar to his first goal (57). Drogba nearly scored a goal but then got his first with a great header off Lampard’s cross (63). His second came from a penalty after Cole slipped over and was deemed to have been fouled (68) and his third by being in the right place at the right time to poke it in (80). A good save by Cech kept Chelsea’s slate clean and finally a superb volley from Cole ended the game (90). So, Chelsea steal seal the title with a crushing victory by eight. It seems almost churlish to point out they only needed one!
Man United v Stoke - 4:0 - Fletcher put United ahead after 31 minutes with a competent opportunistic strike against poor defending and Giggs doubled the score with a simple tap-in off a strong run and cross by Berbatov (38), all to muted applause as the news over the mobile networks confirmed Chelsea’s growing lead at the Bridge. Higginbotham scored an unfortunate own goal when Rooney drove the ball hard across the goal-mouth (54). Van de Saar hardly had any work to do but made a great save to keep Stoke out. Park got the score to four with a good header near the end of the game (84). Rooney tweaked his groin and came off at his own request but his manager said England need not fear for his summer fitness. Phew! A good season for United but obviously not the one they were hoping for. So, selling Ronaldo (in Your Ear’s view) might have gained them £70m, but cost them the title. And then there was the tale and sale of Tevez…
Burnley v Tottenham - 4:2 - Bale had plenty of time and space to pick his spot and hammer the ball away from just inside the box (3). Modric scored an even better goal after a neat step-over (32) and Spurs seemed to be in complete control of the game. But football is a… well, we know what football is, and from then on it was all Burnley. First Elliott retrieved a goal just before half time with a well-taken chance from a back-heel (42). Cork equalized with an excellent header following a good build-up (54). So, two-all, but Burnley got their noses in front when Paterson coolly smacked the ball in from a wide angle on the edge of the box (71) . Then Burnley got another through substitute Thompson’s delicate touch (88), forcing Spurs to settle for 4th place overall. If only Burnley could have delivered this sort of performance during the last few months. And how can Spurs beat the likes of Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea, as they have recently, and then lose to poor old Burnley? St Hal was not available for comment.
Arsenal v Fulham - 4:0 - A complete cods-up in the Fulham defence with an unnecessary back-pass led to a mistake by Schwarzer, who lost control of the ball. Arshavin made no mistake, rounding the keeper twice and scoring from a narrow angle (21). Shortly after Van Persie scored from a Walcott pass (26), taking two goes to punt the ball in. This was followed by more disaster for Fulham, an own goal by Baird, who sliced a cross into his own net (37). Finally, Vela chipped the goalkeeper for Arsenal’s fourth (84). He may have been offside, but the result was beyond doubt by then. Wenger was happy with qualifying for Europe but generally unhappy with Arsenal’s season. Your Ear thinks more players/strength in depth is required at the Emirates.
Aston Villa v Blackburn - 0:1- In a tight game Milner might have scored from a free kick but his tricky little shot was saved. Villa were rightly denied a couple of penalties and it was Blackburn who broke the deadlock (and achieved the double over Villa) when Hoilett appeared to have scored with a good header but in fact forced an own goal by Dunne (84). Allardyce - ‘A very satisfying 1:0 win.’ O’Neill - ‘I think if I filibuster long enough you could just disappear.’
Hull v Liverpool - 0:0 - Liverpool have not looked their old selves this season and their final game was no exception against a relegated Hull. Both sides should have scored but missed good, if not golden, opportunities. One of the few notable spots in the game was when 16 year old Jack Robinson came on as Liverpool’s youngest ever player. A win would have taken Liverpool to sixth place in the league - nevertheless, the unmemorable game ended in a goal-less draw, resulting in Liverpool’s worst finish in 11 seasons. Could his 350th game in charge of Liverpool be the last one for Benitez? He still has four years left on his contract, so it would be an expensive payoff for a club looking for new financiers.
West Ham v Man City - 1:1 - Boa Morte got West Ham off to a good start off Diamanti’s superb stabbed pass (17). Wright-Phillips equalized with what the trade call a ‘cushioned header’, showing great control (21). Throughout the rest of the game West Ham seemed the more likely side, and Diamanti hit the post, although City also had chances and Tevez was prevented from scoring near the end of the match. After the game Zola and Mancini sang each other’s praises at length, bolstering the English League’s IMC (Italian Managers’ Club). But the word on the day was that Zola’s days were numbered, and he is now sacked. He might well be grateful, in the long run. Owners, what do they know?
Wolves v Sunderland - 2:1 - Jones was a little fortunate (8) to see the ball bounce off a defender’s foot to lob the keeper and then go in-off the post. A minute or so later Doyle restored parity after Wolves were awarded a penalty (10). Wolves were lucky to survive a Sunderland onslaught, including an athletic scissors kick by Malbranque, but they weathered the storm, got the lead and won the game through a fine strike by Guedioura (78). Turner was dismissed for a second bookable (for what in the olden days would have been deemed a fair shoulder challenge), reducing Sunderland to ten men. Then Colback was dismissed (on his debut game) for a more dangerous-looking challenge in the last minute. Bruce - ‘Second half I was totally disappointed with the way we codsed-up ourselves, in terms of being sloppy and giving the ball away.’ McCarthy - ‘Steve will be disappointed with his, I’m delighted with mine. We’ve had a great season.’
Bolton v Birmingham - 2:1 - Bolton gained the lead through a fine header by Davies (33). McFadden thought he had scored but it was disallowed for handball and he was quite rightly cautioned. Jaaskelainen kept Birmingham out with at least two good saves and Bolton got their second with a well placed shot by a totally unmarked Klasnic (60). McFadden finally got one back after Benitez, who had been shut down and fouled in the box by Robinson, took a penalty that was saved once, then twice by Jaaskelainen before Birmingham finally got the ball into the net (76).
Everton v Portsmouth - 1:0 - After much mayhem in the Everton box Portsmouth scored a good goal which was wrongly disallowed, Piquionne almost scored and O’Hara did score a goal which was totally on-side (but given off) before Bilyaletdinov rounded off a miserable season for Portsmouth when he stroked in a very good first time effort to gain the winner for Everton in the last minute of the game (90+4). Grant - ‘This has happened to us many times in the season.’ Will Grant be the next manager of the Hammers? Only time will tell.
Here ends the season.
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