Monday, April 17, 2006

EPL at its Best .. concluded by some desperate football rantings!

Those who saw the Tottenham Hotspurs-Man United match will not forget it in a huff. Though MU won 2-1 ultimately, it was no stroll in the park though the first half begged to differ. In a titanic season-nearing match, a 4th vs 2nd tussle sure isnt for the weak-hearted. From start to finish, it was 90 minutes of end-to-end stuff. With so much at stake (Spurs having Arsenal breathing down their neck chasing the 4th Champions' League spot and Man U trying to delay Chelski's inevitable back-to-back victory), there was much to cheer about in this epic battle. Spurs vs MU matches seemed to always show the best and worst of EPL. Who could forget a certain match where Spurs raced to a 3-0 lead in the first half, only to lose 3-5 in the 2nd, inspired by a certain Golden Balls. There is without a doubt that if someone who has never watched an EPL match suddenly decides to do so, he/she should watch a Spurs-ManU match.

Though Spurs offered great fight, Man U oldest (Van Der Sar) and youngest (Rooney) resuscitate their fading EPL challenge if only for 2 more weeks. Spurs started the stronger, creating several chances within the first 5 minutes. However, thanks to Van Der Sar who made 2 point-blank saves, MU survived the initial onslaught and slowly started to impose themselves. The first goal's built-up was excellent with Van Nistlerooy carrying the ball forward on the left touchline, sent a delicate pass which left the defender for dead, bringing Ronaldo (the Portugese, not the fat Brazilian) into play. With Ronaldo pushing the ball forward to the far post, all seemed lost until he pulled the ball back across the goal mouth, eluding Spurs' keeper and defender into the path of precocious Rooney, who gladly tapped the ball into goal. What a move! 2nd goal was caused by a mini Korean war as Spurs's Lee Young-Pyo and MU's Park Ji-Sung showed that there is really something wrong with Asians (Koreans specifically:P i don really mean this) playing in EPL. A cross to the right corner of the Spurs' half sent Lee and Park chasing after the ball. Lee reached there first and tried to clear but the ball richocheted off Park and was bouncing dangerously about. Lee immediately chased the ball, Park looked like giving up but realising he was on the bigscreen in the stadium, decided to give chase as well (I kid you not, the guy froze for about 1.5 sec before kicking back into action, or may be it's just a Korean thingy). For some unfathomable reason, Lee, though reached the ball first, decided to bring the ball into the 6-yard box rather than catapult the ball towards the far end, only to realise horror of all horrors, Wayne Rooney was lurking nearby. His in-experience was clearly exposed when Park came back to steal the ball from behind to pass to Rooney who again had the simplest job of choosing where to put the ball into the net. 0-2 at half-time.

Easy-peasy? Not quite, Jose:P True to the English spirit, Spurs came roaring back in the 2nd half and caused United plenty of headaches. Rio Ferdinand's nonchalant but suicidal clearances didnt help Van Der Sar either, who can be seen wasnt very impressed by his teammate's kamikaze tendencies. Jermain Jenas pulled a goal back from a corner that should not been awarded in the first place and guaranteed a heart-pumping finish. Ultimately, United just barely hung on to their lead and lived to fight another day. Great stuff!

Notable Notes:

Jermaine De Foe: He really does look like a darker (to use a politcally correct term) version of Michael Owen. Short, fast and small-sized, the resemblance is uncanny. However, there is without a doubt that, if you're bringing a team to World Cup, you would rather bring a semi-fit Owen than a match-fit De Foe. Owen has the clinical finishing that Jermaine clearly lacks. Two open goal opportunities, two embarrassing misses summed it all up nicely.

Man United Oldest-Youngest: As mentioned earlier, both Van Der Sar (age 35) and Rooney (age 20) played big parts in this match. Van Der Sar's amazing reflexes justified whatever money United paid for him but nothing beats the excitement that Rooney generates whenever he touches the ball. How this fella handles all the pressure and expectation is quite beyond me really.

Van Nistlerooy: Really worried about his future in United. Van Nistlerooy looked like a man fighting for his life at a club where he has given so much (150 goals in 200+ matches is quite an amazing record). However, all does really look bad for him. The old Van the Man would have scored after successfully beating the offside trap but for some reason, with only keeper to beat, he pulled the ball to the left, giving the defender a chance to challenge for the ball and clear. Really looked like a man who has lost his confidence badly with Saha pushing so strongly behind him. Hope that he and Alex Ferguson can just put their differences aside and concentrate on football. Ferguson's black face when Van Nistlerooy again hit the post sadly suggested otherwise. I think they might just waiting to see how Van Nistlerooy's performance goes in the World Cup before deciding the price to let him go. What a pity!

To round off such an extremely long post, I'm glad that Man United are back in style again. Though Chelsea may be the better team over 38 matches, no other team (other than perhaps Arsenal) can generate such a buzz around them when they play. 10 wins and a draw. To reduce an 18-point deficit with style. There can only be one United. I'm also glad that Chelsea's success has weed out all the band-wagon United fans who just know how to support the winning team (prawn-sandwich fans as Roy Keane used to call em). It's just like those whose football knowledge is only limited to Brazil and World Cup. Honestly, it's just too predictable whenever you ask these clueless folks football questions. Which is the best team in EPL? CHELSEA!!!! When was the last time they won the league before 2005? Huh??!! Who do you support in World Cup? BRAZIL!!!! When was the last time they won when it was held in Europe? Huh??!! Well, I'm hoping that this time, it'll be a Holland-Spain-Portugal-England semifinal with Holland finally beating Spain 3-2 in the finals.

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