Martinez blames Chelsea’s free-kick tactics but it is Everton’s lack of clinical finishing which is costing them dearly
The race for the fourth spot was being contested between Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton and United. While United are not eleven points behind fourth placed Liverpool, Everton too are eight points away (with a game in hand). With one victory from their last five Premier League matches, Everton now trail in the sixth place and have more pressure on them to win the remainder of the matches.
However, Everton played exceedingly well throughout the match and viewers, commentators, pundits all suggested that the Toffees deserved to take at least a point from Stamford Bridge. Everton dominated Chelsea in the first half and looked more likely to score. At half time Jose Mourinho brought on Ramires for Oscar to counter Everton’s midfield power which was giving the Blues all sorts of trouble. Chelsea started playing better but Everton did not lower their tempo. Ramires won a free kick in injury time, which was delivered by Frank Lampard delivered it and it was diverted in off keeper Tim Howard, who was under pressure from John Terry. Chelsea kept themselves on top of the table with the crucial three points.
Roberto Martinez was aghast with the loss and blamed Chelsea’s dirty tactics for the loss. He said:
“Chelsea have an incredible know-how of how to win dead-ball situations. They use every trick in the book. Ramires was looking for contact when he won the free-kick and it was very soft. The same sort of thing happened four or five times in the second half. It was impossible for the referee. I can’t blame [him] because would he have needed magic to know whether to award free-kicks or not?
“It is no coincidence that they have been unbeaten [under Mourinho] for 74 League matches at home. It can’t just be that they have played well at home every single match. I couldn’t see Chelsea scoring from open play, but they kept winning free-kicks.”
While Martinez might have brought a storm on himself by attacking Mourinho, as the Chelsea boss is engaged in several war of words, Everton are losing on precious points by not doing well in the final third. In Barry and McArthy, Everton have a very solid midfield; in Coleman and Baines, the Toffees have one of the best full-back combination; in Mirallas, Everton have a great attacker, however, the Toffees have not been able to finish of late. And a club chasing Champions League has to be able to net the ball. The Merseyside club needs to remedy this new problem in order to give Spurs and Liverpool a fight for the fourth place.
Arsenal back to free-scoring ways as Rosicky scores one of the best team goals of the season
Arsenal scored 4 against Sunderland to get back to free scoring ways and restore confidence as well as pride. The Gunners had been thrashed 5-1 at Anfield in the Premier League, suffered a stalemate against Manchester United, won 2-1 against Liverpool in the FA Cup unconvincingly and lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich. Arsenal needed a strong victory against Sunderland to heal their wounded egos and Saturday gave the Gunners just that .
Wenger made the bold decision to drop Mesut Ozil from the squad amid much criticism after his lacklustre midweek display against Bayern Munich and recalled Olivier Giroud to spearhead Arsenal’s attack, and Giroud proved the team change with two goals. The highlight of the match definitely was the goal from Thomas Rosicky. The Czech player started the move himself
It carried shades of Wilshere’s goal against Norwich City. Rosicky started the move, as he took return passes from Wilshere and Cazorla. He then found Guroud in the box and ran to collect a pass from the Frenchman and neatly clipped the ball over the player.
‘I’m pleased for Rosicky. I think he took the role of Dennis Bergkamp with that goal and I think Dennis will have been pleased to see him play.’
“Tomas Rosicky will stay. We have an agreement with him and it will come out soon. I am absolutely adamant he has to stay at the club.”
Liverpool’s attack gets the team out of jail…once again
Liverpool won a nerve-wracking encounter against Swansea where Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson scored a brace apiece. However, the 4-3 win against Swansea should be treated more with concern, than with celebration. The fact that the Reds conceded 3 goals, let Swansea come back twice (first from 2-0 to 2-2, then from 3-2 to 3-2) in a very soft manner poses huge concerns for the side which is challenging for a Champions League spot, and maybe a little bit higher. Liverpool’s 3-2 win against Fulham should have been the final warning for the side, in a match that saw Liverpool win after Gerrard scored a penalty for the side in injury time. Liverpool have been flirting with danger by being so lax in their defence.
Imagine how many goals Liverpool’s attack would score against Liverpool’s defence
— Graham MacAree (@MacAree) February 23, 2014
Liverpool have relied on their attacking prowess to win them matches. The ease in which the weakest of teams have managed to score against the Reds has to be worrisome. Brendan Rodgers doesn’t have Mamadou Sakho and has thus not been able to use his first choice central defender for a time. However, the Liverpool back line needs to wake up and start defending better. Johnson and Agger have recently returned from injury, but both have been far from their best for a while now. Skrtel has his good moments and he was responsible for two of Swansea’s goals yesterday.
Brendan Rodgers knew his club did not defend well and said:
“We did not defend anywhere near well enough in any aspect. We conceded poor goals. It’s not structurally bad, it’s decision making.We will continue to work on that side of things. I thought we were nervy at the back and we have to improve that.”
£300,000 a week gets United the first away win of 2014
Contemplate all you want, £300,000 a week earning Wayne Rooney showed just how vital he is to United’s ambitions by scoring a classy half volley that sealed the club’s first away win of 2014 after a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace.
Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney got the two goals for David Moyes’ team that put them a place up in the sixth position. This was the first match that saw United’s threatening attacking quartet comprising Rooney, RvP, Juan Mata and Januzaj start together.
— TheHardTackle (@TheHardTackle) February 23, 2014
Even though critics might say United didn’t do anything special through the course and many fans spoke on social media platforms that United was a boring club to watch, the win and the three points were very crucial for the club’s Champions League ambitions. And one player had influence over the match for the entirety of it- Wayne Rooney. He persistently linked up with Juan Mata and tormented the Palace defence, which to their credit did defended very well for over the hour mark.
Tony Pulis, Crystal Palace’s manager, also spoke highly of Rooney after the match:
‘It was a great goal. He’s a top player, there’s no question of that. It’s where he plays and what’s his best position. He can play in midfield and get forward and score goals. Yes, he’s a top player.’
Sherwood’s exit looks likelier if Spurs don’t qualify for the Champions League
Tottenham put on a very lacklustre display and failed to score in the Premier League for the first time since Tim Sherwood took over in December. The Lilywhites looked completely out of ideas in the match which saw Robert Snodgrass the sole goal which proved to be enough for Norwich to secure all the three points out of the match.
Tottenham were desperate to win after all of their rivals above them in the table won at the weekend. Norwich too needed the win desperately as the bottom half of the table looks very congested too, and teams are fighting to get some sort of breathing space. Norwich have had a bad few weeks and secured their first league win since Jan. 18. The Canaries also beat Spurs for the first time since April 1991. Chris Hughton’s job has been on the line especially after the club chairman made implying comments last week:
“It would be almost delinquent of the football club to not be aware of potential candidates if for any reason your manager left. If results are not good enough you have to be aware of who is out there to help. You look at the market and who might be right for Norwich City”.
The result moved Norwich four points clear of the bottom three, while Spurs are now six points off fourth-placed Liverpool. This might have proven to be the match through which Chris Hughton survives and retains his post with the club while doubts keep rising with Sherwood, especially with Van Gaal lurking and showing interest in joining Tottenham. If Spurs don’t qualify for the Champions League, Sherwood’s contract extension might prove to be a huge farce.