Chelsea Hot, Manchester United Not: An American Election Special
At the end of a week that saw The United States elect a new president in a landslide election, I wondered whether the Barclays Premier League big four would slip further away from the rest of the pack.
Apart from the top four, it is one of the closest Premier League starts ever with three points separating bottom of the table from a top half place after this weekend’s round of matches.
Join me in my Hot or Not review of all this weekend’s action and find comparisons between Britain’s big four with America’s famous four.
Arsenal are a bit like Sarah Palin, full of potential and capable of a great performance but a bit rough around edges, capable of spouting garbage (Mr Wenger) and in some peoples eyes, lack a little depth.
Manchester United this season have been a bit like John McCain. An old face, a couple of stirring performances, where they have been well ahead but in the end, they haven’t taken much from their main rivals. That is one point in nine and runner up in an election to be precise.
Tuesday night might not have seen great performances by Palin and McCain but Saturday certainly threw up a cracker between Arsenal and Man United. Arsenal’s 2-1 win shocked some in the football industry but we should all know by now that Arsenal, on their day, are capable of anything.
Samir Nasri has, in all honesty, had a quiet start to his Gunners career but recent injuries allowed the Frenchman a bit more responsibility and boy did he take advantage, scoring both Arsenal’s goals in their 2-1 win.
Neither Nasri goal was the best of the game, however, as that honour went to Man United’s Raphael Da Silva's consolation goal. The youngster took the ball perfectly on his chest before firing a sublime volley past the keeper into the far corner.
I like to promote a youngster here on Hot or Not and Jack Collison certainly looks like a decent player. His finish for West Ham’s opener against Everton was terrific (he bent the ball into the top corner from just inside the box). Remember the name.
Sadly, as you may have heard that goal ended up counting for nothing as Everton fired three goals past Robert Green in the final ten minutes to run out 3-1 winners. That’s three games in a row they’ve scored late and, in some cases later, winners. The Toffee’s were greatly aided in that comeback by Louis Saha. The former Man United and Fulham striker is back in form and scored a famous double.
Saha wasn’t the only player scoring a double this weekend and in fact, it is a bit of a recurring theme. Next up is Liverpool’s Robbie Keane finally scoring that first league goal for the Reds in their 3-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. And as the famous saying goes, wait all that time for one, then two come at once. Nobody deserves it more than the hardworking Keane but I wouldn‘t liken him to a bus.
Liverpool are the leagues Joe Biden. A bit of a shock selection for top honours but making people eat their words. Joe Biden joining Barack Obama in the White House and Liverpool joining Chelsea at the top of the Barclay’s Premier League.
Djibril Cisse answered Roy Keane’s criticism after being dropped for breaking a team curfew with Sunderland’s opening goal against Portsmouth. I’ve been really impressed with the former Liverpool man this season. It wasn’t to be Sunderland’s day though, they are really missing Craig Gordon as Portsmouth left it late but walked away 2-1 winners.
This was one of the best weekends I’ve ever seen for goalkeeping. There were great performances by Paul Robinson and Tim Howard but no one could touch Jussi Jaaskelainen or get past him for that matter. The Finn helped his Bolton Wanderers side to a 1-0 win over Hull City, with a string of sensational saves and brave blocks that left the opposition, fans, pundits and commentators in utter disbelief.
Talking of disbelief, there are many around the world that can’t believe America has elected a black president. Well, president-elect that is. Chelsea in my eyes are now Champions-elect, unless the UEFA Champions League gets in their way. So in my opinion Chelsea are the Barack Obama of English football.
Another deserved win away at Blackburn on Sunday in weather that wouldn’t look out of place in the wake of a hurricane shows Chelsea won’t be easily tripped up. Two goals by Nicolas Anelka sealed a 2-0 win. The Frenchman (everyone seems to be French this weekend, Nasri, Saha, and now Anelka) is amazingly only in 9.1 percent of teams in the official Premier League fantasy football game. However, in playing upfront for Chelsea he's scoring and is going to score: Wake up people.
Finally, we have a couple of braces that were not scored by Frenchmen. Darren Bent is hitting back at his critics after netting twice in Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 win over Manchester City. Tuncay Sanli bagged two of the easiest goals of his career including a late winner for Middlesbrough thanks to Aston Villa Steve Sidwell’s lazy back pass straight into his path.
Maybe it was only a great weekend for goalkeepers because the finishing was so bad. Cristiano Ronaldo doing a John McCain and spending to much time moaning about the opposition instead of concentrating on the game.
He wasn’t the only United player at it with Wayne Rooney challenging Ronaldo for miss of the day. I say miss of the day as there was only ONE miss of the weekend.
Stand Up Alfonso Alves. The Brazilian was first to a rebound off the keeper but amazingly pulled his shot wide when it was harder (believe me) to miss. Maybe it would have gone in if he was French.
The Red Devils Michael Carrick was booked for a 50/50 challenge with Manuel Almunia when it was clear he went for the ball and that it was a football incident. Does anyone really agree with the referee? Surely he missed a trick. I’m appalled by the fight being taken out of football. Maybe a save the tackle campaign would be appropriate.
Earlier, it was mentioned that Arsenal were the premier leagues equivalent of Sarah Palin and they both lacked a bit of depth. Palin is alright to the non thinker but when the questions get tough, I just don’t rate her knowledge of Africa, much in the same way, I just don’t rate Nicolas Bendtner.
A number of weeks ago, Hot or Not mentioned West Ham United’s sponsor, or well lack of it as the case me be. How long does it take for a global brand (West Ham like any top flight team is a global brand) to find a sponsor that wants their name splashed across the world’s televisions?
Or maybe the Championship just isn’t as appealing.
West Ham’s one point in 18 is Derby County form and we all know what happened to them.
Some teams just need more help than others and I lost count of how many handball incidents there were this week. So many in fact, there was no space for them in Hot or Not. What a relief, or am I thinking of that time I got away with a handball in the box?
Many would have had to take "double take" when they saw Stoke City draw 0-0 with Wigan Athletic on Saturday. I thought Watford had turned up instead. Talk about identical kits. Yellow tops with red shorts and socks is Watford’s style. Stoke’s is long throws.
It doesn’t matter how many Brazilians you have in a team, you won’t win games with nine men. Mark Hughes is up for the sack apparently, and, after Manchester City’s recent run, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Apparently Jo and Robinho don’t like Hughes’ coaching style. My answer would be, so says the player who doesn’t get on with any coach. Robinho’s just lucky City are too poor to leave him on the bench for his comments.
Another team in trouble are Newcastle United, who after a short revival lost again over the weekend. The 2-1 defeat at Fulham and the gossip surrounding Michael Owen made for a pretty sad weekend on Tyneside.
Not as sad as the Republican camp on Wednesday morning but pretty down all the same.
Hot or Not is taking a break next week as its writer (that’s me, Andrew McNair) is off to watch his two favourite countries knock lumps out of each other. And all over an oval ball.
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