Sunderland Somehow Win
Sunderland won a game. A real game, not the Tyne-Wear derby; a match that Newcastle always throws away. Maybe they feel sorry for their less fortunate rivals. Then again, with each passing week Newcastle finds themselves edging closer and closer to the relegation zone, a point of no return.
If you want to find out when Sunderland last won a competitive match, you’ll have to stretch back to January 31st, where they bested the great Burnley. Beating a Southampton side shorn of midfield lynchpin, Morgan Schneiderlin, is something to be praised. Can Sunderland take this upturn in form — they tied against Stoke last week — into the coming weeks? Maybe, but I don’t think they have enough ability to keep them up. In their final 4 games, Sunderland are playing against Everton, Leicester, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Relying on Jordi Gomez to put away penalties game-in, game-out, is a recipe for disaster.
Finally, why’d they have to bring on Adam Johnson? Bring on anyone else, not a suspected child molester. While I understand that teams will do anything to win, a line must be drawn when criminal charges are raised against a player. You should not be allowed to play him, and pretend like nothing ever happened. It was poor behavior, and a man as experienced as Dick Advocaat should know better.
Jonas Olsson & the Union Jack Trio
On Saturday, Tony Pulis did something fascinating. Realizing that at Old Trafford his side were to be bombarded with long balls to Fellaini, he played 4 center-backs. Sure, Lescott and Dawson were supposedly “full-backs”, but I don’t think I ever saw them cross the half-way line. The West Brom backline sat in their own box, almost challenging United to swing balls in to the box. And, in case you hadn’t heard, despite the millions that United have spent, they have actually moved backwards in terms of footballing ability, moving away from short passes to long hoofs.
Who was there to lead this fearsome backline? Well, none other than Jonas Olsson. A Swede who looks — and plays — like he’s going to break your leg, stomp on you, and then headbutt you. That might be an exaggeration. Anyway, along with Gareth McAuley, he managed to marshall WBA’s defenses to a clean sheet. He even ended the game with a goal, meaning that his league goal tally is now identitical to Balotelli’s.
I think this would be a good point to wonder why United kept crossing the ball towards Fellaini. Out of West Brom’s backline of giants, Craig Dawson is the smallest at only 6ft 2in (1.88m). How did van Gaal not realize that his gameplan was absurdly ineffective? Oh, Louis…
Livermore + Huddlestone = Bad Time
No one really expected Hull to get anything out of their game against Arsenal, but it would have been nice to see them try. They had a golden chance just before Arsenal scored, where Aluko had a free header, but instead of trying to score, he headed it at Mertesacker’s legs. If they’d scored that, then the whole complexion of the game would have changed.
Throughout the match, it seemed like Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone were having their own private game over who could play worse. I thought Livermore was winning after some rash decisions and rough tackling (maybe he deserved red), but then Huddlestone gifts Arsenal the free kick where Sanchez scores and gives Sanchez the ball along with as much space as he needs. Is it a coincidence that both these players are Tottenham players? I think not.
But seriously, if you’re not good enough for Tottenham, you may as well retire from professional football. I hear curling is a lucrative sport.
One Last Thing
Over the weekend, something terrible happened; Chelsea, a team despised by many, won the magnificent trophy that is the Barclay’s Premier League. All football fans who prefer to see teams win by flamboyance rather than robotic and dull defending, shed a tear. For those of you who failed to appreciate the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, sit down and watch a Chelsea match. You will never call anything boring every again.
Moving on, with Chelsea having nothing left to play for, they could see themselves gifting points to teams who desperately crave them. I’m looking at you Sunderland and West Brom. Please, just beat them. We all win if you succeed.