TT's Premier League Opinions - November 6

06 November 2010 02:59
TEAMtalk's bloggers give their thoughts on Saturday's Premier League action, with headers, Hargreaves and Hangeland hogging the headlines.

Bogey ground, bogey player:

There are certain grounds where you just know your team is beaten before the game even kicks off - and it's fair to say The Reebok is 'one of those stadiums' for Spurs. The north Londoners have, surprisingly, never won there in the Premier League, and despite coming into the game on the back of their Inter Milan masterclass in midweek, never really looked at the races this afternoon.

It's fair to say at the moment, if you want to nullify Tottenham, you need to limit the threat of Gareth Bale and that's something Owen Coyle managed to work out a lot quicker than Rafa Benitez by asking Gretar Steinsson to get tight to the Welshman whenever he received the ball.

OK, so Bale still worked his magic on a few occasions, and but for a matter of inches, he'd have been on the scoresheet again.

But it was Kevin Davies who proved the difference once again as he so often does against Spurs, the burly Trotters frontman scoring a brace to help his side climb into the dizzy heights of fifth and continue his goals splurge against Tottenham. (James Marshment).

Needless Hargreaves gamble backfires:

One of the biggest surprises of the afternoon came at Old Trafford, where Owen Hargreaves was handed his first start since September 21, 2008. In far less shocking news, the midfielder's return lasted less than five minutes.

While many will sympathise with Hargreaves, who appeared to suffer a muscular injury in the hamstring area, serious questions must be asked over the management of his return.

The 29-year-old lined up against Wolves having not played one minute of reserve team football, which would surely have been the sensible way to nurse back a player who many believed would never wear the red shirt again.

Hargreaves has been missing from Sir Alex Ferguson's starting XI for over two years, so what was the rush?

United have two reserve games scheduled this week, on Monday against today's opponents Wolves, and another in the Midlands on Thursday against West Brom. I cannot think of a single reason why one of those second-string encounters would not have been a more suitable environment for Hargreaves to build up the match-fitness he so clearly lacks, evidence of which came as he limped to the touchline after attempting his first delivery from the right-hand side. (Ian Watson)

Head Boy:

Here's a question for you: Is there a better header of the ball than Tim Cahill in the Premier League? Stoke's Kenwyne Jones might run him close, but Cahill really is Everton's Head Boy when it comes to using your bonce - and when Yakubu lofted a cross from the left into the box after 13 minutes at Bloomfield Road, there was only ever going to be one outcome when you saw who the ball was heading towards.

The diminutive Aussie leapt like a salmon out of water and powered a wonderfully-timed header past Matthew Gilks for his 50th Premier League goal. Here's a stat for you - 28 of those goals have been headers. (Simon Wilkes).

Technology debate rumbles on:

Stoke manager Tony Pulis feels the Potters have not been getting the rub of the green this season and he'll probably feel the world and his dog are against him right now after another luckless afternoon on Saturday.

With the scoreline 1-0 to Sunderland, Kenwyne Jones popped up with a header, which hit the underside of the crossbar, before somehow being scrambled off the line. My first instinct was that the ball had crossed the line and a goal should stand - but even with the help of the first video replay, that decision remained near-impossible to call.

But what Pulis may not have realised at the time - and what a replay from a third angle told us - is that Lee Cattermole (Sunderland's man on the line) actually cleared the ball with his arms.

Referees have a hard enough time as it is, so if it takes the average man two replays to spot whether a goal should stand (or in this instance, a penalty was probably the correct call), what chance do they have with the naked eye? (JM)

Roberts responds to Allardyce heckles:

Sam Allardyce used Saturday morning's media to hint at his surprise that Jason Roberts was still a Blackburn player after revealing the duo had a major falling-out over the summer.

The very fact he is still wearing Blackburn's colours, though, will probably have put a huge smile on his manager's face on Saturday after he popped up to score the decisive goal against Wigan.

It may well prove to be one of his last contributions to Blackburn, but what a way to do it - steering home the goal to secure three points and help his team pull out of the relegation zone. It's just a shame the strike couldn't raise a smile on the experienced frontman's face. Grrrr! (JM)

Deal or New Deal: Marc Albrighton has had a pretty sweet 24 hours. First of all he penned a new three-and-a-half-year contract on Friday to commit himself to Gerard Houllier's French revolution at Villa Park.

Then he was the Villans' hero at Craven Cottage, where he opened the scoring on 41 minutes with a quite brilliant piece of clinical finishing.

Barry Bannan's raking crossfield pass from the left flank to the right flank landed on a six pence for Albrighton, who controlled the ball brilliantly, cut inside a Fulham defender and curled the ball past Mark Schwarzer to show it was a wise decision by the Villa hierarchy to tie him down.

It looked like it was going to be a weekend of celebrations for Albrighton as Villa went into stoppage time with a 1-0 lead - but Brede Hangeland's equalising header brought him back down to earth. (SW)

Wolves' despair won't last:

Wolves have had more than their fair share of criticism this season but Mick McCarthy and his men deserve to be spoken about in a much more positive light after a week in which they caused the Manchester giants major problems and deserved more than three points they gained from two terrific performances.

The Molinuex men picked up at Old Trafford from where they left off against City last week, frustrating United at one end while looking slick and dangerous at the other.

Matt Jarvis was the tormentor in chief, with the left winger happy to take on and usually beat Wes Brown in front of the watching Fabio Capello. An international call up is rumoured to be on the horizon, and on this form, the former Gillingham winger would not be out of his depth competing with Adam Johnson and Ashley Young for a place on the left-side of the England midfield.

Wolves, in fact, may have been celebrating a famous victory tonight had Steven Fletcher showed more composure late on instead of blasting his half-volley over the bar when he had time and space in the United box. Those, though, are the margins at the top and bottom of the Premier League, but on this form and with their spirit, I don't see Wolves suffering more heartbreak come the final reckoning in May. (IW)

Source: Team_Talk