By Paul O'Donnell
EPL Round 5
On a weekend where we see top flight matchups that make you say you can't wait for kickoff, the play on the pitch didn't quite measure up. Come to think of it, it rarely does in these face offs that are hyped beyond the pale and this weekend was no exception.
Liverpool should have won at Stamford Bridge but lost to 10 man Chelsea 1-0 because they couldn't finish their chances. Crossbar, the posts and the “early days” crust was still on for some that lead to episodes where we see a near miss when there should have been a goal. It doesn't help when Benitez sits the guy that has had the hot hand (Crouch) in the biggest match of the early going for the Pool. This loss makes the mid-week game with Newcastle a must win for the Reds.
In the other “big one” Arsenal got an 85th minute winner at Old Trafford from Adebayor to put an end to Man U's fast start in another 1-0 game. This was one of those that was more watchable than the scoreline suggests and the fans at Old Trafford were a big part of that for certain.
And if you haven't had your fill of 1-0 games yet Pompey go to the top with one of their own with a 73rd minute winner from Lua Lua. Yep, Pompey to the top of the table! They have conceded only one goal in the first 5 games.
On the other end of that Tottenham have now gone scoreless in 4 of their first 5 with their 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane with Fulham.
One of the surprises of the weekend was West Ham's 2-0 loss at home to Newcastle. The Hammers seem to have lost it since the signings of the Argentine pair. Did bringing these guys into the mix upset the balance on this team? Frankly, they haven't played well since.
And in one of the goofiest games of the weekend Rovers got a much needed victory 4-2 over Man City at Ewood Park. This one saw each side score an Own Goal and on two occasions free kicks well placed into the 6 yard box ended up in the net, untouched, when neither were really attempted shots on goal. At times it looked very much like a Laurel and Hardy cartoon. I'm just glad Rovers came out on top in this one between two teams that may find themselves wrestling too close to the drop zone this year.
Watford still hasn't got a win but their quickly becoming one of my favorite teams to watch so far this season as their war with Villa ended in a 0-0 draw. Don't look now but Aston Villa is one of the 3 unbeaten teams remaining after 5.
One of the others, Everton, was featured in the match that actually played out on the pitch as the best match of the weekend. The 2-2 draw was a thriller that saw Wigan rally twice
and all the goals came in a 20 minute stretch after the break. AJ got Everton on top in the 48th and Scharner's blast leveled at 1 in the 61st. A Beattie penalty put Everton back on top in the 65th and 2 minutes later Scharner did it again for Wigan and the 2-2 final.
Bolton and Boro played to a scoreless draw at the Reebok while Reading notched their 3rd win of their first ever EPL campaign 2-1 over Sheffield United with their opening goal coming in the first 16 seconds at Bramall Lane.
Surprise: after 5 the three teams that remain unbeaten are Aston Villa, Everton and last season's miracle survivor Portsmouth who also have played themselves to the top of the table. Looking like the cat that got the canary Harry set the record straight in the post match commentary when he said, well, you know we're just carrying on from where we ended last season when we were among the best teams over the last 9 games, and he's right. So far this term they have in fact picked up right where they left off.
Even Harry knows enough to enjoy it while it lasts and he is.