Soccer Saturday boys have their say on wins for QPR, Chelsea and Man Utd
The Soccer Saturday boys have their say on wins for QPR, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Last Updated: 06/03/13 1:54pm
Alan McInally on Shinji Kagawa's 'sublime' hat-trick for United
Man Utd 4-0 Norwich: Read our match report here.
Sir Alex Ferguson got his selection spot on. I don't think he would have been overly happy with the majority of the first half, to be honest, because Norwich frustrated United to a certain extent. Chris Hughton will be disappointed from the Norwich point of view that they didn't try to create more chances. But when the board goes up that says two extra minutes in the first half and Man Utd get a goal going into the second-half, it certainly makes Sir Alex's job a little easier.
I said he would probably play Wayne Rooney, Valencia and Robin van Persie to keep them sharp building up to the Real Madrid game. Van Persie played 65 minutes - I didn't think that he'd play anymore than that - but when United got the second goal they didn't need to. As soon as they got the second goal it was like a training match for Manchester United.
Shinji Kagawa's goals were absolutely sublime. He's in the right place at the right time for the first one and it was a nice finish at the near post. His second was just composure and quality, and his third was a beauty. There'll be a lot of talk about him dinking the ball over the goalkeeper but his first touch from Rooney's pass takes him away beyond Javier Garrido and then it's just his quality that means he scores. Rooney's goal capped a whole wonderful tonic off for Sir Alex. He's got it right again.
I was maybe more surprised that Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic - the two centre-halves - played 90 minutes. We didn't even see 'Mr 1,000 games' Ryan Giggs. He will definitely, in my opinion, have some part to play against Real Madrid.
Matt Le Tissier on a welcome break for Benitez and Ba
Chelsea 1-0 WBA: Read our match report here.
It wasn't the most convincing of performances from Chelsea. I think it will take a lot more than a 1-0 win at home against West Brom to get the Chelsea fans backing their manager. They know that he is going at the end of the season, so why bother? I think that is probably their attitude.
Benitez's reception wasn't overly-hostile. There were a few banners, as you'd expect, and a few little protests and he did get up off his bench a couple of times and go into his technical area and you did hear a few little boos going on. But it was a fairly comfortable afternoon for Chelsea. Although the scoreline might not suggest it, West Brom only started to threaten with a few half-chances late on the in the game. Chelsea just couldn't find that second goal to kill the game off.
They had plenty of chances. Ben Foster was outstanding in the West Brom goal today - on another day Oscar could have had three or four goals today but there were three or four saves from Foster that were really good. Chelsea just couldn't put the game to bed.
Demba Ba has not always played - Fernando Torres has started quite a few games while he's been struggling and yet Demba Ba was the one scoring and found himself sat on the bench. It's never easy for a forward to keep his form going if he's in and out of the team. But the goal was simple enough. It was a ball to the back post, David Luiz with a very unselfish knock-back across the goal, and Demba Ba was able to poke it into the empty net from five or six yards.
Phil Thompson on Bothroyd's birthday boost for Harry Redknapp
Southampton 1-2 QPR: Read our match report here .
QPR's great escape could still happen. We flagged it up before the game how important these games against the teams around them are going to be if they are going to get out of it. They defended better and had more of a cutting edge. There was no Adel Taarabt in this side and he's sometimes that luxury that makes you think 'can they afford or can't they'. They didn't want to seem to risk him today. It was a big call to put Jay Bothroyd in and I thought that maybe he would start behind Loic Remy, but Remy actually played on the right-hand side with Junior Hoilett on the other side and Bothroyd down the middle.
Bothroyd has done very well because he's the one who has come in for Taarabt and he's had a very, very good game. Most of the possession went to Southampton but they just weren't good enough today. Bothroyd has been a bit of a forgotten man. I'm looking at him and what he's given QPR today.
Just before the start of the game he's with Remy, round about the centre circle, and he's saying to him 'I'll flick it on and you get on your bike'. He's confident and he knows what he's good at. He backs in and gets the flicks on. I'm not saying that he's brought them into play but he's worked hard for the team and made sure that the defenders don't have an easy day of it. Bothroyd was very good. I think all-round his selection was justified because Southampton didn't have too many chances.
Charlie Nicholas on Real Madrid's form ahead of their Old Trafford trip
Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona: Read our match report here.
I was trying to find ways that Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney could exploit defensively in next week's Champions League second leg. I think the young French defender Raphael Varane is absolutely outstanding. His pace reminds me of a young Rio Ferdinand - he's a Rolls Royce, he moves effortlessly. He's got pace and great decision-making in his game for one so young.
Sergio Ramos scored the winner today but I think Manchester United can get at him because he's rash in the challenge. He wants to go and win challenges when he can't. I think the pressure situation could get to somebody like him. The same goes for the full-backs because they get caught up in the emotion of the game and they make rash decisions, for me.
So I think there's a lot of hope that I could see for Man Utd going and hitting them. The interesting thing for me will be who Sir Alex Ferguson will pick defensively on Tuesday night. I think he will have to consider pace. As much as we all love Nemanja Vidic because he's so aggressive and he'd be a real danger in the opposition's penalty box, I think that maybe young Jonny Evans' pace would be the way to go with Rio Ferdinand just sitting in.
This team are at their best on the counter-attack. Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench for 35 minutes and right at the end he went down holding his ankle but he got up - it was one of these typical Spanish League ideas where you just roll about for a couple of minutes. But Real won the game 2-1 but they had 36 per cent of the game today. They don't really want to come out and play so I expect them to sit in at Old Trafford on Tuesday and try to counter-attack Man Utd.
Plus, in other football news...
Benitez won't win over his longer-term critics, says Charlie
I think he made a lot of valid points but when you take on the might of guys who have been against you since the day that you walked in the door, it's tough. If Jose Mourinho had tried this years ago we would have gone 'that's a clever move' but it's different with him because they've been desperate to get him out. I've always said that when everybody turns up and some of the fans start wishing a bad result on their own team, you know the manager is in serious trouble and that's been happening since the day Benitez walked in. He talks about the title 'interim' but it was his agent or his advisors that sorted out that documentation, which he signed personally. So while I think he makes some valid points, I don't think the fans will have it. The quicker we can get him out, the better for everyone at Chelsea - that's how I think the fans will feel.
Matt says Gareth Bale must deliver long-term to be on a par with Ronaldo
When you are playing with confidence you are willing to try things and when you are in the form that Gareth Bale is in at the moment, it's clear that he believes that he can win football matches on his own. His winner against West Ham was absolutely top draw - it was a stunning, stunning way to finish a football match. But before you can seriously talk about Bale in the same breath as Ronaldo, Gareth has to do it for a few years in a row. I'm not saying he can't - I absolutely think that he might do it - but compare him to Ronaldo when he's done it for a few years in a row and maybe not just after he's having a decent season.
Charlie says that Arsenal still hold the balance of power in north London
A win for Arsenal on Sunday would put them a point behind Spurs. Spurs are a very good side - they're improving - but Arsenal are not. They're going backwards. But this is probably the poorest Arsenal team that Arsene Wenger has had and they are still only four points behind Spurs. Gareth Bale was outstanding against West Ham and I have to say that I choked when he scored the winner because I thought Spurs were dropping two points. But Spurs fans kept talking not about the fact that they had jumped up to third above Chelsea, it was all about the fact that they were four points ahead of Arsenal. If they keep this kind of mentality that it's just about finishing above Arsenal they will choke again because it's about the bigger picture.
Thommo's glad that Ryan Giggs has earned a one-year extension with United
It's a pleasure to have watched this guy for 22 years. He has been absolutely astonishing. He's been great for his club, he's got great humility - he has been absolutely stunning for the Premier League as much for Manchester United.
At any of the other football clubs no-one ever complains about this guy. Everybody has their dislikes because different fans don't like things about other clubs but nobody ever says anything about Ryan Giggs, who has been incredible - that tells you that stature that he has in the game.
Jack Rodwell is showing just how good he can be for City, says Thommo
City were very, very good against Chelsea. I think it was their best performance of the season. The best 90 minutes. They controlled it - my goodness, how well they all played, in particular Jack Rodwell. I was quite surprised that he was substituted only 10 minutes into the second half. He's had a lot of injuries since he's been there; they've hampered his career, just as they did at Everton. So he needs to do a lot more. One good game is not going to make this young man. But I've seen enough of him in this team to know he's got a big future because City have not been as good as they should have been. But it was a great team performance against Chelsea and they thoroughly deserved their two-goal victory.
Alan says Roberto Martinez deserves every plaudit that comes his way
What Roberto Martinez has done at Wigan is no mean feat. He's got the players on board and they're getting results. They keep the ball really well. I saw them against Sunderland and they battered them in the second half, absolutely battered them. Defensively they do have problems - they need to make sure that they shore things up - but they play the same way all the time. They keep the ball and they show a bit of confidence on it as well.
Martinez has given Franco Di Santo a run in the team. He used to sit on the bench and come on, but he's had a run in the team. It's almost as though he's put a little bit more pressure on him to go out there and play. He and Kone work well together. If Roberto Martinez leaves Wigan, he will get a top job. I guarantee it, because I think he's that good a manager and if he keeps them in the division having spent more than a packet of crisps, he should be carried around the streets of Wigan.