Gandalf, Green Power Rangers, and Guy Patterson: Premier League Saturday Review
Arsenal 3-1 Norwich City
Steve talked about the controversial penalty, a late decision that turned today’s match in Arsenal’s favor. Until that point (85th minute), Michael Turner’s first half goal had held up, with the Champions League-chasing Gunners left pursuing three points they couldn’t afford to lose.
But thanks to goals by Mikel Arteta (from the spot), Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, Arsenal got the result everybody expected - three points that temporarily vault Arsene Wenger’s team into third place:
Chelsea and Tottenham don’t play in league this weekend, their derby rescheduled with the Blues still alive in the FA Cup.
Still, it’s a three-team race for two spots. Everton’s lingering, but they need two teams to trip over the next month. That’s not going to happen.
Everton 2-0 Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers are eight points from safety with five to play. This conversation’s no longer interesting. Time for another four-year plan.
As for Everton, it was a good result but no more than you’d expect from a team of their stature - a level that unfortunately is not going to include Champions League soccer. They’ll have to comfort themselves with finishing just outside the top four (again) while being the top-ranked team on Mersey (again).
Welcome to a Toffee-supporters’ purgatory. You can’t ask for more because you know your club’s hamstrung, but you can’t help but pine for those oh so elusive breaks that could finally bring glory to these otherwise strong but fruitless campaigns:
Why can’t an Arsenal, Chelsea, or Spurs collapse coincide with one of our best seasons so we can get back into Champions League? If for no other reason than variety’s sake, so we don’t have to go through this same routine every year, can we just finish fourth one more time? It’s all so monotonous.
Meet Alex McCarthy. He’s young, he’s English -- his favorite Power Ranger’s the green one -- and he’s very happy to meet you. You’re not Philippe Coutinho, right? Good, because he’s not happy to meet Coutinho.
(I’m going to conveniently ignore he’s merely punching the ball.)
Based on reaction out of the Maejski Stadium, McCarthy may be your Player of the Week. The 23-year-old keeper (who has been on eight different loans in the last six years) made 11 saves in his first appearance since November. Liverpool put 28 shots toward goal, held 60 percent of the ball, and saw Luis Suárez hit the woodwork. Yet they left Reading with their 11th draw of the season, goalless for the second straight weekend.
As Brendan Rodgers put it in the most understated tone possible, “The game will be summed up by the great goalkeeping performance of young Alex McCarthy.” As other fans articulated it in their retweets:
Aston Villa 1-1 Fulham
Hey, remember last week when Villa seemed to turn a corner at Stoke? They got points and goals, and it looked like everything was coming together. Tom Hanks was ready to make an 11-part HBO mini-series: Villans.
(Personally, I wouldn’t mind a “That Thing You Do” reboot. Or just a sequel. Guy Patterson trying to revitalize his career in music after realizing the family business is making him into his father? Faye recoiling as Guy’s new ambition reminds him of Jimmy’s overbearing ways? Tom - I’m writing the script on spec.)
Aston Villa may very well be turning the corner, but here’s the thing: When you’re only three points from the drop, draws at home are a great way to let other teams gain control of their own destiny, especially when the two you are trying to hold off (Sunderland and Wigan) now have matches in hand.
Fulham is a good team, but they’re also in that Premier League netherworld of having nothing to play for. They were on the road, and Villa seemed to be building momentum.
But that’s in the past. Time to regroup.
Southampton 1-1 West Ham United
Saints’ three-match winning streak was snapped, but hopefully they’re not above seeing this as progress. It wasn’t not so long ago that they were in the drop, playing at a level that would leave few surprised if they didn’t get a point at home from West Ham. Now both teams are on 38 points. Sitting 11th and 12th, the clubs have practically guaranteed themselves a second season in the Premier League.
Gaston Ramirez opened today’s scoring near the hour mark before Andy Carroll, with this third goal in two games, pulled West Ham even. Now up to five goals on the season, there’s still time for the Liverpool loanee to salvage a decent return on an injury-plagued campaign.
How much would it cost for West Ham to keep him? We all know that’s in the cards, right? He’s a unique player who comes with obvious benefits, but since moving to Liverpool in January 2011, Carroll only scored 11 league goals. Do you still have to pay a premium for his big Anglo-ness?
How much of their £30 million investment will Liverpool seek to recoup?