Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Morning Keeper: EPL Week 34




Carlos Tevez shows off his golf swing
(Courtesy of http://www.thesun.co.uk/)

After the midweek shocker of Manchester United losing to Wigan allowing Manchester City to close the gap in the championship down to five points, everyone was wondering if the weekend results would further tighten the spacing between the Manchester squads.

City played first on Saturday as they travel to Norwich City to take on the Canaries; Carrow Road being one of the harder places to play this season with just four losses so far for the home team. The Citizens came out with an all-argentine front line with Tevez and Aguero up top and Silva back at home in the midfield. After spanking West Brom 4-0 on Wednesday everyone was wondering if this was the City we saw in the first half of the season, or the one from the second that struggled for goals. I think any question of which team is on the pitch now were answer Saturday with a convincing 6-1 win over Norwich. Augero had a pair of goals and Adam Johnson picked up a late, well deserved goal in the last minute of the match; but the real story was Carlos Tevez. In only his second start since rejoining the team, Tevez scored a hat trick and completely dominated the attack for City. With all the talk of what Carlos was doing with his time back in Argentina for the last five months, his celebration following his thrid goal was perfect, a simple golf swing. Tevez is back and the play between the two Argentines up front may be the only chance City has of catching United in the title race. Balotelli will be available for the United match at the end of the month, but if play continues as it has, Mario and Dzeko will likely be watching from the bench. And note, in the last two matches, Aguero and Tevez each have four goals.

So with the City win on Saturday the lead was cut to just two points, but even Roberto Mancini in his post-match interview admitted that the lead was still five points because United would beat Aston Villa on Sunday. Mind games? Perhaps, only this time Mancini was right. Before I get too deep into the recap of the match, let's talk a little bit about Ashley Young who is developing a bit of a reputation. In the City match, Tevez was shown a yellow card for diving in the box even though replay clearly showed his foot stepped on by a defender. On Sunday, Young stepped on a defenders foot and threw himself to the ground begging for a penalty kick, which he got. I don't want to say there is a double standard, but it certainly seems like there is one. If Tevez was a domestic (from-England) player like Young, would he have gotten the call? If things were reversed for Young would he have gotten a yellow for diving. It almost seems like the officials (all-British of course) are wired to thinking that domestic players don't dive, that British players are above doing that in a game and only foreign players still take part in that "tradition". Regardless, Young earned a penalty kick in the ninth minute of the match, Rooney converted it, and the rest is typical United. It's hard for any team to come back after the wind is sucked out of their sails so early in an away match, but Villa tried and nearly equalized twice in the first half before Danny Welbeck put United up 2-0 before the half. Two more goals in the second half by United, and that was all she wrote at Old Trafford as the Red Devils pushed their lead back to five points in the standings.

With the FA Cup semifinals over the weekend, several teams still have a match in hand; by the way the final will be Liverpool v Chelsea next month. Here is a look at where we stand with most teams having played 33 or 34 matches. The magic number for United stands at 8 points, but now it looks like they won't reach that before the Derby on April 30th so the game still holds importance.

1. Man United - 82 pts, +54 GD (26-4-4)
2. Man City - 77 pts, +48 GD (24-5-5)
3. Arsenal- 64 pts, +25 GD (20-4-9)
4. Tottenham - 59 pts, +19 GD (17-8-8)
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17. Wigan - 31 pts, -26 GD (7-10-16)
18. Bolton - 29 pts, -29 GD (9-2-21)
19. Blackburn - 28 pts, -28 GD (7-7-20)
20. Wolverhampton - 23 pts, -39 GD (5-8-21)

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