FREE KICK-With the presidential election taking place this week, I've decided to hand in my ballot for selected races a quarter of the way through the 2012-'13 BPL season. Player of the Year- Michu/Swansea City. Coach of Year- David Moyes/Everton. Team of the year-Chelsea. Disappointment of the season-Liverpool. Pollsters, please note that only 20% of the precincts have checked in.
MANCHESTER UNITED vs ARSENAL- This matchup was the BPL’s most heated rivalry in the early part of the century, however, it has faded over the past several years through no fault of Man U. The first chapter of this game story went according to the script when former Arsenal kingpin Robin Van Persie took advantage of Thomas Vermaelin’s imitation of a rockette to deposit a right-footed blast into the left corner pocket. To his credit RVP’s celebration was more waltz than gangnam; 1-0 home side. Man U made it to 2-0 midway through the second via a head knocker from Patrice Evra. The gunners proved impotent offensively. Their only goal from Santi Cazorla came on the final kick of the game. A thorough butt-kicking from the red devils with the only blemish a missed PK from Wayne Rooney at the end of the first half. Manchester United-2 Arsenal-1.
SWANSEA CITY vs CHELSEA- The premiership leaders appeared wary and tentative while an underdog Swansea side were on blast. Against the run of play my main man Victor Moses flicked home the opener in the 61st minute. With Fernando Torres woefully inept at the moment, expect the Nigerian nightmare to receive more playing time. With the blues defending as if they were Russell Crowe in Gladiator, Swansea’s Pablo Hernandez snuck into a crease to beat Peter Cech three minutes from time. A buzz-kill for Chelsea but a 1-1 score line was a fair result. Chelsea-1 Swansea-1.
WEST HAM UNITED vs MANCHESTER CITY- Another occasion in which mighty City with an all-star band of talent decided on performing chopsticks instead of Mozart. They were more fortunate than a flounder amidst a sea of sharks when Kevin Nolan was crudely ruled offsides denying WH an apparent goal. Roberto Mancini flooded his front line with Balotelli, Tevez, and Dzeko however time and time again their attack was stymied. West Ham-nil Manchester City-nil.
LIVERPOOL vs NEWCASTLE UNITED- Liverpool was celebrating captain Steven Gerrard's 600th appearance with the club however Johan Cabaye crashed the party when he went upstairs for the game's opening goal. Just a terrific effort from Cabaye as he made a quick pivot before blasting his shot past a helpless Brad Jones. Luis Suarez is more difficult than a nagging housewife to understand. The Uruguayan whines, pouts, flops, and can sometimes be volcanic. He erupted in the 70th minute with a four-star quality goal to knot the contest. Running full bore he trapped the ball against his chest, eluded NC netminder Tim Kruel as if he were a statue, and calmly slid his shot into a virtual empty net. Despite playing 11-to-10 after fullback Fabricio Coloccini was deservedly sent off in the 84th, Liverpool could not find the key to unlock NC's defense. Another heroic effort from Suarez however the reds were left feeling blue at games' end. Liverpool-1 Newcastle-1.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS vs READING- With both teams anchored at the bottom of the standings and neither having claimed a victory two months into the campaign, desperation was in the air at Loftus Road. Unsurprisingly both teams went on an attack reminiscent of the first Ali/Frazier fight. Former QPR defender Kaspars Gorkss delivered the first body blow when he deposited a loose ball from the doorstep past a sprawling Julio Caeser midway through the first stanza. Djibril Cisse would tie the score at 1 in the 66th off a fine individual effort. Cisse and Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy were the best players on the pitch by leaps and bounds. This contest proved more entertaining than a Prince contest but alas both clubs remain lowly court jesters within the kingdom of the mighty BPL. Reading-1 QPR-1.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs WIGAN- Wigan clamped down on Tottenham's talented midfield and turned this contest from a track meet to a street fight. The only piledriver of the match came courtesy of Ben Watson. He would make no mistake from eight yards out following a Wigan corner. Tottenham appeared to put in work on the offensive end but their home supporters could not be fooled. Spurs was booed at games' end for good reason. A fantastic and more importantly deserved result for Wigan. Wigan-1 Tottenham-nil.
FULHAM vs EVERTON- Not exactly a strong start for New Jersey native Tim Howard. The U.S first-string 'keeper was second-rate in failing to clear a Bryan Ruiz free kick allowing Fulham to take an early advantage. Everton midfielder Marouane Felliani has a mean afro to go along with a dangerous game. He would net the next two goals in the 55th and 72nd minutes giving the visitors a 2-1 lead. Everton continued to press forward but were knocked backwards when Steve Sidwell outmuscled Seamus Coleman to tap in the equalizer deep into stoppage time. The fickle hand of fate dealt a 2-7 off-suit to an Everton side that deserved better. Everton-2 Fulham-2.
SUNDERLAND vs ASTON VILLA- There's a do not enter sign whenever these two offensively-challenged squads approach the goal. Sunderland has found the back of the net just six times in nine games. The six-pack belongs solely to Steven Fletcher. AV came in with just two scores in their previous four premiership encounters. Gabriel Agbonlahor didn't do much with his 30 yard free kick but he did enough to elude Sunderland goalie Simon Mignolet. Aston Villa-1 Sunderland-nil.
NORWICH CITY vs STOKE- This was more of a mud wrestling match than a beauty contest. Bradley Johnson did his best Baryshnikov impersonation turning and nodding home a centering pass with his back to the goal. A masterpiece from the Norwich midfielder. Norwich-1 Stoke-0.