1. The Chelsea Sunderland match reminded us how football works
Chelsea lost at home at Stamford Bridge for the first time in 78 matches to Gus Poyet’s Sunderland. Sunderland. SUNDERLAND. The same Sunderland which arrived in West London on Easter Sunday at the foot of the Premier League table with an LLLDLLLLLD record and only a statistical hope of survival (though another win along with a Norwich cock up puts them in safety, so what do I know?).
The key moment came in the 81st minute of play with the score at 1-1, when this happened. Cesar Azpilicueta was adjudged by the linesman to have fouled American Jozy Altidore, and the penalty was given. Fabio Borini put it away, effectively etching ‘Liver’ on the Premier League trophy with a bit of space left after, just in case. Black Cats resurrexit!
The GIF reveals a textbook case of incidental contact (or does it?), but in real time from the side lines, who knows what the linesman saw? Perhaps the point is that Chelsea should have not have even countenanced being drawn 1-1 against Sunderland at that point at all (all praise Connor Wickham), or that Chelsea should have won those other games they lost all year.
Yet even here things break down, because the teams are packed so tightly at the top of the Premier League right now that crap luck affects everyone. What if the newly subbed on Ricky van Wolfswinkel somehow slipped on Glen Johnson’s boot at home against Liverpool in Norwich’s 2-3 acquiescence, and the linesman called it wrong?
Maybe stuff like the Altidore pen just happens, and sometimes it’s devastating, but there’s nothing that can be done because the Laws of the Game, the Laws of Physics, and the Speed and Reliability of Human Cognition will never perfectly align?
2. Jose Mourinho’s post match remarks
3. Liverpool’s defensive soft spots
Away days are tough even for Campiones Nearly Elect like Liverpool (and new Champions League entrants for the 2014-15 season), but we got a brief glimpse against Norwich why Brendan Rodger’s team is top of the Premier League table but fifth in Shots Ratios, particularly when not at a tied game state.
When Liverpool go up, they’re content to concede shots, possibly because they like to play on the break (as I wrote the other day).
Liverpool carved out their own chances but conceded two goals to Norwich, both in the air, with their entire defensive line penned back. The shots after Liverpool’s initial brace in the first eleven minutes were 12 to 10 for Norwich, with the home side getting 5 on target to LFC’s 3. Moreover, Norwich took more shots within the ‘Danger Zone’, the area smack in the middle of the 18. Food for thought for Chelsea, who will need everything they can muster next weekend to pull themselves back in the title race.
4. Lukas Podolski can be a very good player
The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding, in this case, is a football. Arsenal, who beat Hull 0-3, are still a point ahead of Everton in the race for fourth place.
5. There is nothing left to say about Moyes
A 2-0 decisive away loss against Everton, United’s 11th of the season. Even the “Moyes returns to Goodison” storyline won’t be enough to keep this around the papers for very long. Moyes incidentally refused to commit seppuku during the post-match presser, insisting his side had “passed well.” Well, good then, David.
6. Benfica are champions of Portugal
They accomplished the feat after beating Olhanense 2-0. Porto had been champions the three seasons prior, including that nightmare finale in May of last year. Someone has compiled ten of their best goals this season. Enjoy!
7. The Dutch Cup final was completely bananas
Ajax lost 5-1 to underdogs PEC Zwolle. Ajax fans helped suspend the game by throwing flares onto the pitch as soon as PEC made their first attack. Edwin van der Sar angrily pleaded with supporters to knock it off. Hoarding signs were burned. I don’t know…
8. Berba Lives
Monaco’s Dmitar Berbatov scored a peach against against Nice. You could say it was a ‘Nice’ goal. Yep. It was his third goal in nine appearances since joining the Nouveau Riche.