1. Jermain Defoe makes his final Premier League home appearance for Spurs
Last home Premier League game for Spurs today. Gonna be emotional… #thfc
— Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) February 9, 2014
Not much to say about this one. Spurs beat Everton 1-0 in a game that…was…well…frenetic. And then it got a bit misty-eyed. Defoe will be joining Toronto FC for the regular season. He got a great standing ovation at White Hart Lane to mark the occasion.
2. Man United draw 2-2 against the worst team in the Premier League
One match report threw this sentence in, which is only a little bit funny and lot bit wrong:
Yet Darren Bent’s 94th-minute equaliser again exposed United’s soft underbelly and now turns the conversation to whether it will be Europa League football they play next season.
This is wrong because they will almost certainly be playing Europa League football, if any European football, next season. And no, this has nothing to do with complicated shot models and all the rest, but points-per-game averages so far. United would need to achieve an incredible run of form (or be aided by a stellar collapse from the title-chasing teams at the moment) for a sniff at the Champions League to even compute.
United need to post 99 point season form from here on in to get 4th. Can only afford to drop 5 more points. They haven't got a prayer.
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) February 9, 2014
Put it another way: it’s just as realistic to say Spurs will win the title as it is to say Man United will qualify for the Champions League. Of course it’s possible, but the odds are very, very much against it. Moyes’ United just is what it is, and right now they’re a Europa League side. Perhaps there will be a dramatic change. But ask yourself how much money you’d put on it.
3. David Moyes wanted his side to cross the ball…a lot
81 – Man Utd have made more crosses in a single game than any other Premier League side since the beginning of 2006/07. Bombardment.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 9, 2014
Have no idea what the idea was here…something they picked up in the video room?
4. Arsenal got wrecked 5-1 against Liverpool
It had all the hallmarks of an Arsenal loss. A decisive moment in a tight title race. Against a fairly important opponent. Set-piece failure. Questions about “confidence” and “attitude” and “heads being held high.” Tweets from Piers Morgan. Tweets at Piers Morgan. Tweets about ignoring Piers Morgan.
Part of me is glad that this will come down to Arsenal’s ‘resolve,’ a nebulous, nothing of a concept that will distract everyone from the basic reality that a loss is a loss is a loss. Yes, goal difference matters in this crazy league, but there are some basic points to mention briefly. First, Arsenal haven’t exactly been outshooting their opponents this season (their TSR was below Liverpool’s at .553), but have benefited from an unsustainably high save percentage. Before this weekend it sat near 80%, well above their nearest opponents and the league average. So there will be some balancing out here and there.
In this specific instance, Arsenal were shell-shocked by two rather unfortunate and poorly defended set-piece goals. After conceding two early goals, Arsenal were shell-shocked and left enormous gaps for the midfield-heavy Liverpool to charge into, over and over and over again. Mesut Oezil in particular was flummoxed, committing a few defensive errors and disappearing completely. Are these “patterns”? Were they when Man City beat them 6-3, after which they went on to win 8 and draw 2?
5. Luis Suarez with the miss of the season
Miss? Good lord, this was stunning in its own right.
6. Eden Hazard scored a hat-trick as Chelsea beat Newcastle 3-0 and go top of the table
This was one of them. And yet again Jose Mourinho went seemingly out of his way to put the win in context:
‘I think we are playing well, the first half was not the best example of that because we has some problems but generally we have been playing well for a long time. Individually we are in a good moment, the team are getting results and we are top of the league, that’s something you cannot hide.’
Statistically speaking Chelsea look great, having only suffered with a shot conversion rate below that of their nearest competitors. But Chelsea even before this weekend have been excellent at preventing the opposition from taking their chances. This is what wins games in the long term. Whether it will be enough for Chelsea to avoid any future bad luck performances? I have no clue.
7. Man City hit the brakes in 0-0 draw with Norwich
Blarby blar blar “momentum.” In two games, City have posted a loss against their main title rival and a draw against a “minnow.” The former was against a Chelsea team which, as I’ve just pointed out, has been excellent at stopping opposition shots. Against Norwich they technically outshot their opponents but managed only two on target and looked anemic, with Ageuro and Fernandinho still out. It was also away from home, and as Mourinho pointed out in his own presser in the relation to this result, Carrow Road was where Chelsea won “in the last minute.” Meh. Talk to me in a month.
8. Monaco missed a major opportunity against Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1
Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri showed his team a video of the first half of the Liverpool v Arsenal match, apparently so they would go out and “do that.” I suppose it could have been motivation, or visualization, or whatever. But as I wrote above, sometimes those things “just happen.” In any case it didn’t quite work…PSG scored within 8 minutes via Javier Pastore. The equalizer (above) was a banal own goal. Sometimes these top billed clashes don’t live up to the hype, and if Monaco will surpass PSG it will likely come from Laurent Blanc’s side dropping points in mysterious fashion at some stage.
9. La Liga title race at complete deadlock
Atleti coughed up a lame 2-0 loss to Almeria and all the predictions of later season collapse are now coming to fruition. Having not lost in any competition since October of last year, Atletico promptly lost the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi against Real Madrid. Fine. But then Almeria? Thirteenth place Almeria? Though one shouldn’t look too much into individual results, this game was messed. Up. A cross that looped into the Atleti goal like a heat seeking missile in the 80th minute. Was it against the run of play? Nope. Atleti took 12 shots all match but managed to get only one on target. And this was followed up by a red card for keeper Daniel Aranzubia, who bungled over Jonathan Zongo after messing up a back pass.
Real Madrid won, because of course they did, 4-2 against Vilarreal. And though it looked for a moment that Barcelona would run into trouble against Sevilla, going down a goal early on, Messi et al saved the day. Though the equalizer from a dead ball was a billion light years offside.
Fifty seven points each, tied at the top. Negligible difference in GD. Dead heat.