Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monday Morning Keeper - EPL Week 28

Courtesy of football365.com
I have been asked by several people why "The Keeper" which is a near guarantee every Monday morning during the season isn't coming out until Tuesday this week. Would it happen to be because my beloved Manchester City choked away three points and now sit in second place in the standings? Would it be that the Darth Vader to my Luke Skywalker, Manchester United now sits in first and I would have to write positive things about them? Would it be the hang-over from changing our clocks forward for day light savings time over the weekend? None of these are true, the bottom line is that I've been busy working some other items for the blog and neglected my Keeper. I hope he will understand as well as you.

If given the schedule for the rest of the season I don't think anyone would have chosen this weekend as the turning point for teams, especially the Manchester sides. City was on the road at Welsh side Swansea City in what should have been a routine away match for the league leaders. Don't get me wrong, the Swans have made a strong statement this season having beaten Arsenal and drawing Chelsea and Tottenham, they bring more to the table than a Bolton or Wigan. You could tell that something was in the air when in just the 7th minute of the match Swansea was awarded a penalty where Joe Hart and Wayne Routledge got together on a 50-50 ball in the box. The referee pointed to the spot and Hart redeemed himself by blocking Scott Sinclair's attempt to keep the match even. Ironically it was City who controlled the match, it was Swansea who had 55% of the possession and just as many shots on goal as City. Both teams had their chances on the attacking end of the pitch, but it ended up being Luke Moore's shot past an outstretched Hart in the 83rd minute to give the Swans the lead. Several near misses and offside calls in the final 10 minutes kept City from getting the equalizer and in the end the home side knocked off the league leaders. A great wins for the Swans who look to have cemented their place into another season in the premier league as they sit in 11th place after the weekend. For City, they have no one to blame but themselves as this is the time of year when champions are made; they still control their own destiny.

United hosted West Brom in what appeared to be a settled match before the first half was really underway. United controlled the ball in just about every part of the match holding for 65% of the possession and managing 23 shots with 8 on goal and 2 past the keeper. For West Brom, they just didn't have the midfielders or strikers to pull in numbers that close with only 7 shots with 3 on goal but all stopped by David De Gea. This shouldn't have been a match for United to be concerned with and it wasn't. Rooney scored on his own in the 35th minute and then on a penalty in 71st minute pushing his league total to 26 goals on the season. It was text book United, throwing in a couple of favorable home side no-calls for penalties of course. The three points for United pushed them one ahead of City with just 10 matches remaining.

Elsewhere in the league, Bolton has managed to pull themselves out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 home win over QPR on Saturday. It will still take a bit of luck but with USMNT-ers Stuart Holden and Tim Ream on the team we really hope Bolton can find a way to survive to play another season in the premier league. Everton continued their hot streak by beating Tottenham at home 1-0 in a high energy match that played out great on television. At the pace each time was playing I would have bet on more goals after the initial Nikica Jelavic goal in the 22nd minute, but both American keepers Tim Howard and Brad Friedel did their parts through the rest of the match.

Into the home stretch, the biggest match of the season still remains the April 30th Manchester Derby which is likely to decide the title if all else holds. Of course after this weekend we have learned that no game can be taken for granted. Here is a look at the top and bottom of the table after 28 matches.

1. Man United - 67 pts, +41 GD (21-4-3)
2. Man City - 66 pts, +49 GD (21-3-4)
3. Tottenham - 53 pts, +18 GD (16-5-7)
4. Arsenal - 52 pts, +18 GD (16-4-8)
17. Bolton - 23 pts, -26 GD (7-2-19)
18. Queens Park - 22 pts, -19 GD (5-7-16)
19. Wolverhampton - 22 pts, -28 GD (5-7-16)
20. Wigan - 21 pts, -29 GD (4-9-15)


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