Soccer Saturday boys have their say on wins for Man City, Everton and Newcastle
The Soccer Saturday boys have their say on wins for Manchester City, Everton and Newcastle.
Last Updated: 23/12/12 8:50am
Charlie Nicholas on Man City's last-gasp winner against resilient Reading
Man City 1-0 Reading: Read our match report here.
City controlled most of the match as you would probably have predicted. Reading's record defensively recently has been poor but to be fair to Brian McDermott, he changed the system today and put Pavel Pogrebnyak up front on his own so the midfield was a bit more solid and their defending was first-class. They got a bit lucky at different times but what team doesn't? In the end Man City were the better team but there was a real issue about whether Reading should have had a penalty on the counter-attack and at one stage I actually thought that Reading might go on and nick this - that's how close the game was overall.
The cross from David Silva that finds Gareth Barry in the 92nd minute is pinpoint but Nicky Shorey, who came on for the injured Ian Harte, waits for a foul and Barry gets right over the top of him with a diving header. He just stands and lets it happen. Good defenders make the decision and he didn't; he should just have gone and headed it and taken care of the danger. He didn't handle the situation and cruelly for Reading, they were punished.
At this stage of the season a win is a win - it's not about performance all of the time. We know Man City have never really kicked into top gear yet but they've won again - they've got away with it, if you like and they keep themselves in the title race. Silva was back to his best today, probing with little, angled passes. He was involved in a lot of stuff. But I would have to compliment Reading's defending.
Paul Merson wants the red cards in West Ham v Everton rescinded
West Ham 1-2 Everton: Read our match report here.
I thought referee Anthony Taylor got both red cards horribly wrong: Darron Gibson was sent off because the refs already sent Carlton Cole off. It's as simple as that.
For the first one, the ball goes over the top and Cole is watching the ball; he puts his foot up to bring it down and as he's looking at the ball, Leighton Baines comes from nowhere to head the ball and Cole catches him on the arm. Baines goes straight down and gets straight back up. The ref couldn't wait to get the red card out. He legged it over there and straight away showed the red card - he must have had it in his hand already.
In the other one, as Gibson's gone to clear it, he's completely missed it and his leg has come up and he's hit Mark Noble on the arm. As soon as he done it I said 'off' but it wasn't a sending off - the referee had to send him off because he'd sent Cole off 15 minutes before. Shocking.
Leon Osman had an early header ruled out. When I've watched it again Victor Anichebe is backing into him and he's sort of got his arm around him. Jussi Jaaskelainen has played clever; he's not tried to get around him, he's just stayed there and stayed there. He's very lucky that the ref has seen it - I think the linesman is the one who has seen it. But you could easily have given a goal.
I thought it was even-stevens. West Ham have got to worry now. Andy Carroll's out and if Cole doesn't get that turned around, that's a three-game ban. But I can see both of them getting rescinded on Monday.
Matt Le Tissier on Harry Redknapp's first defeat as QPR boss, at Newcastle
Newcastle 1-0 QPR: Read our match report here.
There wasn't a lot of quality on view, to be honest. The first half was about as dire a first half as I've watched in the Premier League this season and last, to be honest. There were a couple of long-range efforts from Newcastle and nothing really troubling the keepers.
Newcastle got down the wide areas quite well - they got plenty of crosses in - but it seemed like every time they crossed it, particularly in the first half, Ryan Nelsen was on the end of it clearing it away. He had a very good game today and didn't deserve to be on the losing team, to be honest.
It perked up a little bit in the second half. It was only when the substitutions occurred that the game changed a little bit and Shola Ameobi was the difference between the two teams when he came on. He took his goal really well. Harry Redknapp will be a little disappointed. Newcastle didn't create too many clear-cut chances but QPR created even less. I can remember Djibril Cisse having a shot just after half-time, which Tim Krul tipped around the post for a corner but apart from that there was very little to encourage them.
Adel Taarabt was not really in the game at all. He had one lovely bit of skill which set Cisse up for the shot just after half-time. He put a shift in, to be fair to him - he didn't shirk it - but he never really got the ball in far enough-advanced areas to make a difference. Esteban Granero wasn't at the races at all today - he didn't get involved too much and Harry actually ended taking him off.
Phil Thompson on a superb Stoke shut-out that thwarts Tottenham
Tottenham 0-0 Stoke: Read our match report here.
This was Stoke's ninth Premier League clean sheet and it's not luck if you have that many. They know what they're doing - like Manchester United's back four they defended so narrow along the penalty box - and if the ball goes wide, the midfield players have to put in their shift to stop the cross coming in. Everybody knows their job and it was outstanding again. So it was no surprise that there were very few chances in the game.
Stoke did go forward when they had the opportunity. They passed it; a lot of time they go long, they get the ball in the opposition half, then they get the ball down and they play; they search for that opening. We say Jonathan Walters is a striker but he plays in midfield, or one of the wide positions, or he comes inside and he works right across the line to deny the opposition. But he's also ready for them to attack - so you have to admire what they do and how they do it.
There was only really one great chance that Spurs had in the game. A cross came in from Sandro - he was on the right-hand side and he bent the ball in. Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had come on as sub, had a great glancing header and Asmir Begovic goes down to his right to turn the ball away.
One thing for Spurs in this game was I think they should have had a penalty. When Peter Crouch has come on, Kenwyne Jones has gone to the left-hand side, playing left midfield, and he doesn't track back with Gareth Bale. The ball gets turned inside by Emmanuel Adebayor and Bale's free; he works the ball from his right side to his left. Jones is behind him and if you have a look at it, he does what he can just to put Bale off. To me he pushes him in the back so he can't get a shot away. I think it's a penalty kick.
Plus, in other football news...
Thommo reckons Morouanne Fellaini should have got a longer ban
I think he got off lightly. It wasn't good and he realised it. I thought David Moyes - both after the game and since - has been absolutely tremendous. He was a breath of fresh air in his comments and that might have helped Fellaini get just the three games. Some people were talking about nine games, which is absolutely stupid but I did think that he got lucky. Referee Mark Halsey said he did see the other two incidents but didn't see them as violent conduct. Well, he's got that so wrong. I thought maybe a four or five-match game ban would have been ideal and I don't think Everton would have argued. The head-butt on Ryan Shawcross was even cushioned by his hair - Shawcross doesn't get the full force - but you can see his jaw actually wobble. But all this holding in the box has to stop - it has to stop. Not just Stoke, but all teams.
Thommo says all Chelsea fans should get behind Rafael Benitez
Rafa Benitez has organised Chelsea again; they were a little bit too free under Roberto Di Matteo. Players were allowed to wander and do as they please but Benitez very much wants players in position. The full-backs don't get forward too often. I know the Chelsea fans weren't delighted with the appointment but as I've said before if they get off his back you get off the team's back and allow them to play. The players look as though they are enjoying their football again and they weren't for a spell. Obviously results help.
Merse believes Mario Balotelli isn't living up to his billing for Man City
Balotelli gets a lot of chances. If you're a high-maintenance footballer and you're performing on the pitch week in, week out, then there's no problem. But if you're high-maintenance off the pitch and you don't perform on it, I can't have it. Since he's been at City I could probably name four good things that he's done! Don't get me wrong. He can score unbelievable, brilliant goals - he can play, there's no question about that but I can get you a montage of my goals and I'd get a trial somewhere! The amount of DVDs I used to get when I was manager of Walsall was scary!
Le Tiss reckons Man Utd v Real Madrid is a draw neither club wanted
Obviously Real Madrid have not been in the best of form in the league so far this year but Jose Mourinho is something special in the Champions, so I think that is probably United's biggest fear factor, and the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo scores in every game that he plays. But I wouldn't have thought Madrid would be too pleased with the draw either, to be honest. It's got the makings of a cracking Cup tie but the draw could have been kinder to both teams. It would be a massive blow if Robin van Persie picked up an injury before then but they've got some decent forwards besides him and Wayne Rooney. Hernandez has chipped in with some important goals, for example.
Charlie doubts whether Theo Walcott will sign a new deal at Arsenal
I'm not convinced he'll stay - it's taking too long. If Arsenal are the club that I want them to be, this deal would have been done six months ago. Serious Arsenal fans respect Arsene Wenger so much and they want him to sort it all out. I know that the board may say 'we think that's a good deal - he's going' and Arsene probably doesn't get too heavily involved in that but with the trust that he puts in players, he has to be able to convince them. Why after all of this time is Theo not convinced? The responsibility will fall on Arsene's shoulders with the fans. They will moan at the board and everyone will complain about what they're not doing but if the player wants to go he'll go.