FREE KICK-Last weekend Little Bighorn was the FA Cup, and several premiership clubs were Custer. The FA Cup is the battle royal of English soccer with an open-door policy to any team that can field 11 bodies and fill 22 cleats. Liverpool, Tottenham, QPR and Norwich City had their scalps claimed by lower-level teams that were on the warpath, while Chelsea had the luck of a blackjack player who hits despite doubling-down against an ace in avoiding defeat against Brentford. For the 20 clubs within the premiership and your humble blogger, there's no place like home.
FULHAM vs. MANCHESTER UNITED-The BPL's table setters were more workman than business-like in their approach and the hard work resulted in three points. It took until the 79th minute for the first goal to be scored. Wayne Rooney was hitchhiking along route one when he picked up a long clearing pass. Once inside the box he delivered a slider to the outside corner for Rooney's 10th goal in 11 BPL games this year. Robin Van Persie's best contribution was a goal-line clearance in the latter stages of the match. With Nani and Anderson returning from injury, anything less than a premiership title for the red devils would be uncivilized. Manchester United-1 Fulham-0.
MANCHESTER CITY vs. LIVERPOOL-There was a feeling-out process in the first 20 minutes, but the jabs turned to uppercuts and hooks in the 22nd when Edin Dzeko tapped home a James Milner centering pass. Daniel Sturridge twisted the game in knots six minutes later with a left-footed pile driver from just outside the crib (penalty box). City fans howled like wolves over a non-call in the build-up to the equalizer. The objection was overruled by Judge Anthony Taylor. 1-1 at the intermission. Captain Steven Gerrard steered Liverpool's ship to safe harbor when he docked a line drive from 35 yards out past an anchored Joe Hart. A wonderful strike from a dedicated field boss. In the 78th Sergio Aguero rescued a point for the home side when he outraced goaltender Pepe Reina. His shot from a bad angle beat Reina to the finish line resulting in a 2-2 stalemate. Lastly a word about Mario Balotelli Check the stats; the mohawked diva hadn't made a significant impact with his goal scoring since City's win over United in October of 2011. So much ink wasted on a blank sheet. Good riddance. Manchester City-2 Liverpool-2.
NEWCASTLE UNITED vs. CHELSEA-With changes in the coaching ranks and within the roster is it any wonder that Chelsea possess several personalities? The listless, selfish Chelsea side stepped forward in this one while Newcastle displayed the tenacity of a Rottweiler. Jonas Gutierez would nod home the opener with midfielder Davide Santon providing first aid with a pinpoint pass. Demba Ba scored 16 goals last season for the magpies. The scoring firm of Ba and Cisse as Bonnie and Clyde saved the club from relegation last season. So when the Senegalese striker exited the match in the 32nd minute with a broken nose it was sad to see the fans treat him like an outlaw. Chelsea's schizophrenic nature was displayed when Frank Lampard and Juan Mata gave the visitors a 2-1 lead. However Moussa Sissoko, a FedEx shipment to the club during the transfer period, stamped his arrival with a pair of goals. The latter coming in injury time. Daniel Day Lewis couldn't have scripted a better performance. The home side posts back to back wins for the first time since November of 2011! Newcastle-3 Chelsea-2.
READING vs. SUNDERLAND-Fans of the Cleveland Browns may remember the cardiac kids. In 1980 they developed a knack for winning games when all hope seemed lost. I can almost guarantee that the 2012-'13 Reading football club has never heard of the term and maybe a few have heard of the Browns, but there are striking similarities. For the third time since the calendar page turned to 2013 the little engine that could displayed the nerves of a burglar by stealing points. They pick pocketed Sunderland with Jimmy Kebe scoring his second of the match five minutes from time. Opponents would be wise to lock up their valuables when they invite Reading onto the pitch. Reading-2 Sunderland-1.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS vs. NORWICH CITY-I'll give QPR credit; they remain anchored to the bottom of the table, and it's a place they're likely to stay; but like Houdini, the London side are turning to tricks and a sleight of hand in an effort to free themselves from their predicament. They have a new coach in Harry Redknapp, a shiny new striker in French import Loic Remy along with hulking fullback Chris Samba. Unfortunately they're still stuck in a Volkswagen amongst a league full of BMW's. Canaries 'keeper Mark Bunn rescued an Adel Taarabt PK in the 56th. Bunn and QPR net minder Julio Caeser were smoking between the pipes. This might have been the most exciting scoreless game of the season. Norwich-nil QPR-nil.
ARSENAL vs. STOKE-Ray Lewis would feel right at home in a Stoke uniform. Quite simply they don't take a backseat to anyone in the department of physicality. The bruise brothers got the style of game they fancy, a scoreless close-marking contest until the 79th. Lukas Podolski came on as a sub and he sank the battleship via a deflected free kick. Arsenal-1 Stoke-0.
WEST HAM UNITED vs. SWANSEA CITY-The hammers treated Swansea like they were a nail in search of just their second win in the last ten outings. The ponytailed one, Andy Carroll, returned from sick bay to deliver the goods midway through the second half. WHU-1 Swansea-nil.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION vs. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR-A back-and-forth affair turned on a dime with a spew of saliva. Goran Popov hurled a wet one in the direction of Kyle Walker after the duo clashed within the penalty area. Popov was shown red and Spurs enjoyed a one-man advantage for 43 minutes. Gareth Bale is the James Brown of the premiership; the Welsh midfielder is the hardest working man in show business. He was the best player on this day and that's not the first time I've written that. He went to his left and unleashed a powerful drive. Ben Foster could not put up the stop sign and Spurs grabbed the valuable three points. Tottenham-1 WBA-0.
WIGAN vs. SOUTHAMPTON-These two squads are fighting for their premiership lives and played like it. When all hope seemed lost Shaun Maloney pounced on a loose ball much like a lion stalks a wildebeest. He deposited a loose ball past Artur Boric. An exciting 90 minutes however both teams will be disappointed with just one point. Wigan-1 Southampton-1.
EVERTON vs. ASTON VILLA-Two American goalkeepers, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, performed more like circus acrobats as the action in front of goal was fast and furious. AV's Christian Benteke left John Heitinga in the dust to open the scoring just two minutes in. Benteke would net a pair on the day as did Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian's second came deep in stoppage time and saved Everton from an embarrassing result. Everton-3 Aston Villa-3.
PENALTY KICK-The NFL celebrated Super Sunday but the premiership's wild weekend was just as thrilling. The Newcastle/Chelsea and Everton/Aston Villa contests proved more roller coaster than Ferris wheel, and the games were played in just two hours. Hit me back with your comments or questions: firstname.lastname@example.org