If this weekend’s Premier League action taught us one thing, it’s never underestimate the power of Steve Bruce’s nose to cause widespread panic in a makeshift Chelsea defence. The Geordie’s side went to the fortress Stamford Bridge and pulled off a feat that visiting sides can’t usually do which is win a game and not concede. The last time Sunderland had visited they’d let in seven goals but this time it looked more like it would be Chelsea’s net seeing the number of goals nearing ten.
The conspiracy theorists at Chelsea will point to the fact that Bruce used to play under Ferguson, which therefore means his side will always try their best against the other sides in the top four whilst laying down and dying against Manchester United. To compare it to another sport over the weekend, they’d act all coy and Audley Harrison when presented with United – the opposite being true against Chelsea and the others.
It shouldn’t take anything away from the performance of the visitors though, even if John Terry was taking the game off so that he could pay each of their other halves a “special” visit. Not one of the away side played poorly and the performances of Ghana’s World Cup hero Asamoah Gyan and 19-year-old loanee Danny Welbeck were a joy to behold.
William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe was so excited at the weekend’s results that he just couldn’t fight it. He then blurted out: “That result was almost as surprising and as much of a coupon-buster as Rangers and Celtic both losing on the same day recently – we couldn’t have asked for a better result to make it a great weekend for bookies, courtesy of Steve Bruce and David Haye!”
So, what had looked like it would be another disappointing weekend for Manchester’s two clubs, turned into quite the party in the city. Sir Alex even contemplated allowing Rio Ferdinand become the last minute replacement for Harrison in Saturday’s fight but he wasn’t that pissed off – as of yet anyway.
United on Saturday did what they do best – look down and then grab two late equalizers to thoroughly deflate their opponents and everyone else in the title race. At this rate, they could beat Arsenal’s 49 league game unbeaten record without winning a trophy in the process. That may show how insignificant the record was in the first place – just an observation though.
Those critical of referees – myself included – had a field day over the weekend as the official in charge at Upton Park continually made mistakes and then attempted to balance them out for both sides. The result was a farce of a game where there could have been a number of penalties had the officials adhered to the rules. It was rather entertaining to watch for those looking for a bit of fun, but football-wise it’s hard to remember anything more ridiculous.
It all brings us back to Stamford Bridge. Many will forget the referee’s actions before Sunderland had even scored. Welbeck clean through, fouled by Branislav Ivanovic, yellow card. If the visitors hadn’t battered Chelsea, we’d again be bemoaning the decisions of the man in black but he got away with it. Lucky for some eh.