Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Morning Keeper - EPL Week 32

Courtesy of the Associated Press
There is a word that has been coined by my long time friend B.Mac when it comes to calling sporting events; that word is "dagger". Typically it is broadcasted across Twitter as a prophecy that a game or match has been decided before its actual completion. In football it might be a touchdown in the final two minutes of the game. In basketball it might be a three-pointer in the final seconds. In politics it might be winning Florida in a presidential election. His percentage of success in calling "dagger" is nearly perfect; I can think of only one possible retraction of a "dagger" and I'm not even sure of when that happened.

Yesterday afternoon, although being a die-hard Manchester City supporter, this tweet came down from the mountain:

What more can be said, it is over for Manchester City, the title is going back to United this season. Here's a look at the Sunday which decided the Premier League title race for both Manchester clubs.

The earlier match on Sunday pitted United against QPR in what all the pundits were saying was a test for the Red Devils. Are you kidding me? QPR plays well at home, but they were barely clear of relegation coming into Sunday's match and they were away. I kind of think Fox Soccer was trying to create something out of nothing, much like referee Lee Mason calling a penalty and straight red out of nothing in the 13th minute of the match. The trifecta of official failures were a missed offside call on Ashley Young (play continues), minor contact between Young and Shaun Derry (with a massive Young flop), and a straight red for Derry (a yellow would have been reasonable). That pretty much sealed the fate of QPR who went down 1-0 at that point when Rooney converted the PK. Although they held strong well into the second half, a second goal by Paul Scholes for United sent the QPR fans to the car park early. The final was 2-0, United played as you would expect at the end of the season, like a champion.

The late match had Manchester City at Arsenal in what should have been the last real test for the Blues until the derby against United at the end of the month. It was a test, one in which they failed. I might be the only one to predict this, but I think this might have been Balotelli's last match in a City uniform. With two red cards already this season Balotelli is likely facing a four match ban from the FA which might send him back to Italy early. With a studs up tackle on Alex Song in the first half that should have earned a straight red (he received nothing), but Balotelli eventually made it into the books in the 38th minute with a rough tackle on Bacary Sagna. Mario was a marked man going into the half and everyone expected Roberto Mancini would bench the striker in favor of Tevez or Dzeko for the second half. However the second half began and continued with Balotelli on the field with the question of what would come first for him, a goal or a red card. The answer... a red card. Mikel Arteta scored the only goal of the match in the 87th minute and in frustration in stoppage time, Balotelli had tackled Sagna again and this time he was sent off. City could only manage five shots of goal for the match, just five with the likes of Aguero, Balotelli, and Tevez on the pitch. With the loss and the United win, City fall to eight points out of first with just six matches to play. Dagger? Indeed.

In other news, American Clint Dempsey broke the all-time record for goals scored in a campaign for any Fulham player notching two in the first half to help leader the Cottagers past Bolton 0-3. He now stands at twenty-one goals for the season, fifteen in the league, and in the top five in scoring. There are already talks about a potential transfer to Tottenham or Arsenal at the end of the season, kudos to the boy from Texas, he is having one hell of a season!

Here is a look at the top and bottom of the table with just six matches to go and all teams playing again during the week.

1. Man United - 79 pts, +51 GD (25-4-3)
2. Man City - 71 pts, +49 GD (22-5-5)
3. Arsenal- 61 pts, +22 GD (19-4-9)
4. Tottenham - 59 pts, +20 GD (17-8-7)
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17. Queens Park - 28 pts, -21 GD (7-7-18)
18. Blackburn - 28 pts, -24 GD (7-7-18)
19. Wigan- 25 pts, -27 GD (6-10-16)
20. Wolverhampton - 22 pts, -36 GD (5-7-20)   

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