Saturday, December 20, 2008

EPL Live Blog: Worst fixture Saturday ever

O Deities, what hast we done to deserve this horror, this torment, this torture?

Perhaps as penance for some greater cosmic evil, we're given the worst slate of Saturday games since the sport was invented.


It's as if the EPL gods decided that a Liverpool/Arsenal match (which probably won't be very memorable anyways) was good enough for the entire fixture list, and as such, we're stuck today with the bitter dregs, all the games you would never pay to see.

Because I'm a sadist, I think I'll liveblog, depending on which game has the best streaming feed. If they're all rubbish (and that might be a blessing in disguise), we'll keep to an open thread.

Either way, please settle in and support the Worst Saturday Ever. It's enough to make Roy Keane quit his job all over again.

Come P45 with us after the jump. Fixtures, lineups, banter. You know the deal.

Saturday in the EPL
Blackburn v. Stoke
Bolton v. Portsmouth
Fulham v. Middlesbrough
Hull v. Sunderland
West Ham v. Aston Villa (12.30pm kick-off)

Actually, that Ham/Villa game might not be so bad, but to get to it, we have four clunkers. How many 0-0 draws will we get? How many chances will Defoe fluff in front of goal? Can the Ricky S express at Sunderland continue?

Blackburn v. Stoke
Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Emerton, Dunn, Andrews, Pedersen, McCarthy, Roberts.
Subs: Brown, Kerimoglu, Khizanishvili, Mokoena, Simpson, Judge, Derbyshire.

Stoke: Sorensen, Shawcross, Sonko, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Delap, Whelan, Amdy Faye, Cresswell, Pericard, Fuller.
Subs: Simonsen, Olofinjana, Soares, Pugh, Davies, Tonge, Wilkinson.

Bolton v. Portsmouth
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Andrew O'Brien, Samuel, Davies, Nolan, McCann, Taylor, Gardner, Elmander.
Subs: Al Habsi, Muamba, Smolarek, Riga, Shittu, Basham, Obadeyi.

Portsmouth: James, Pamarot, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Diop, Davis, Hughes, Kranjcar, Defoe, Crouch.
Subs: Ashdown, Diarra, Nugent, Little, Kanu, Armand Traore, Wilson.

Fulham v. Middlesbrough
Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard, Murphy, Gera, Dempsey, Johnson.
Subs: Zuberbuhler, Zamora, Nevland, Etuhu, Stoor, Andreasen, Kallio.

Middlesbrough: Turnbull, McMahon, Riggott, Huth, Pogatetz, Johnson, Shawky, Arca, Downing, Aliadiere, Sanli.
Subs: Jones, Taylor, Mido, Emnes, Alves, Wheater, Walker.

Hull v. Sunderland
Hull: Myhill, Mendy, Turner, Zayatte, Ricketts, Garcia, Ashbee, Boateng, Geovanni, Barmby, King.
Subs: Duke, Doyle, Windass, Halmosi, Marney, Cousin, Giannakopoulos.

Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Collins, Malbranque, Tainio, Richardson, Reid, Jones, Cisse.
Subs: Colgan, Whitehead, Edwards, Murphy, Leadbitter, Yorke, Healy.

Biggest news thus far today:
Roque Santa Cruz misses Big Sam's Blackburn debut. So... who will he be playing for in January, and how much will they pay for him?

Early reports suggest that I'll be digesting the Hull/Sunderland action. If any of 'em have the potential to erupt into goals, this would be it.

Lineups are above... see you in a few minutes.

Of course, the Hull game is now being broadcast in Arabic, so maybe I should have amended my earlier statement to read "whichever game I can find in English, I'll watch." Stay tuned, I think it might end up being Blackburn. (WHY LORD, WHY?!?!?)

Sorry folks, a few technical difficulties. Apparently I've already missed two goals in the Bolton game. Crap.

Finally found a feed for Blackburn/Stoke... let's get stuck in despite being ten minutes late.

8 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL... As soon as I turn it on, Big Sam's lads get a goal from the penalty spot. Gamst Pedersen is annihilated by Ibrahima Sonko and Benni McCarthy steps up to convert the spot kick. Great start for Allardyce! Blackburn 1, Stoke 0

10 mins: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Blackburn M.O. of scoring a goal and then looking hopeless at the back continues. Stoke pile on the pressure and Ricardo Fuller has a fair penalty shout as he gets sandwiched between Samba and Ooijer. There will be more goals in this one.

15 mins: Watching Fuller and Chris Samba tussle time and again is going to be fun. They're both about 6 ft 6 and carved from solid oak, and their clashes around the area are reminiscent of that "unstoppable force v. unmoveable object" image. Gamst gets a spot of space wide on the left, but floats a cross right into Simonsen's hands (Thomas Sorensen was injured in warm-ups). Neither team are afraid to leave acres of space in midfield. End to end stuff so far.

17 mins: More space down the left for Blackburn as Warnock gets a cross in that Stoke clear, but only just. Throw-in from the right wing.

18 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL... another for Blackburn! The quick throw-in is whipped across the face of goal and Shawcross inexplicably clears it off his shin right to Jason Roberts, who tucks it underneath Simonsen. No chance for the goalie. Shocking, shocking defending, and Big Sam has 2 goals seemingly from nothing. Blackburn 2, Stoke 0

20 mins: Fuller and Nelsen clash in midfield, leaving the Blackburn defender in a heap. Drop-ball gets us back underway, and Stoke pile on more pressure. Robinson comes out a mile to punch another inswinging cross clear, and it looks like he took out his own defender in the proceess. Andre Ooijer doesn't appear to know what time or day it is as he is slowly helped to his feet.

Both Blackburn goals have come against the run of play, and their inability to assert themselves in the middle of the pitch is going to be a problem.

23 mins: Nice passing in midfield by Stoke amounts to nothing as Emerton breaks up the play, and now Amdy Faye is down, rubbing his head and wondering just where he went wrong in life to end up living and playing in Stoke.

Technical difficulties plague me yet again... be right back.

30 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL.... unbelievable! Big Sam gets another goal as Blackburn play their best football of the year. Roberts and McCarthy link up like the second coming of Romario and Bebeto, as Benni flicks on for Jason whose shot is saved, but his partner-in-crime is in the perfect place to drive the rebound home. Ewood Park might collapse under the weight of cheering and false hope. Blackburn 3, Stoke 0

Amazing what a new manager can do, innit? Samba takes a knock but rejoins the fray. You get the feeling that Blackburn simply don't want to stop scoring. Stoke look battered and bruised, like the chef who cooked Mike Ashley's last 10-course dinner. They've no response to the physicality, the desire, and the patented New Manager Effect (I believe our resident statistician/Chelsea fan, Autoglass, has a theory about it).

39 mins: Stoke are still looking to get forward down the wings, but Samba tidies up the mess. Stoke throw, which Delap isn't taking for some reason. Blackburn clear easily.

If you're Paul Ince, you have to wonder just why Benni McCarthy couldn't do this three weeks ago. That must be so infuriating for the fired/departed manager, to turn on the TV and see the exact same group of players putting on a masterclass worthy of Brazil '82. Ah well, at least he got severance pay.

40 mins: The game's not dead yet. Fuller is finding some room around the box as more neat Potters passing gives him an opening, but Amdy Faye takes the half-clearance and volleys it about 50 yards over the bar, and into the city center. Pulis looks perplexed. What can one do against the weight of a New Manager?

43 mins: Fuller isn't happy with the ref as he gets manhandled by Nelsen once again.

45 mins: Stoke lurch forward again, looking for their first actual shot on goal. They've had plenty of those shots that end up in orbit, and Whelan adds another moon-bound shot to the tally, ruining a nice build-up by firing well wide from 30 yards. He had some room to push further forward as well.

Shut up, u75! I was being miserable earlier. I think I predicted a boatload of goals in yesterday's predictions, thank you very much.

45 mins + 3: Fuller levels Nelsen as the header back to Robinson loses speed in the air, no card. Cresswell ends up getting into the book seconds later for a double-footed slide, which makes you wonder how Sonko didn't get sent off for nearly removing Gamst's leg inside 10 minutes.

Half Time: Blackburn 3, Stoke 0
Comfortable stuff for the home side and their shiny new manager.

Blackburn's making a list, they're checking it twice
Decided to go with Big Sam Allardyce
They're winning though Santa will be leaving town

Time to take a break as Allardyce prepares for the easiest half-time talk of his patchy career.

Quick Poll:
If I can muster up the energy to liveblog the Villa game too, will you all stick around?

What does everyone want for Christmas this year? I'd love to see Liverpool still in 1st place by New Year's Day. That'd be lovely.

They're back on the pitch, and Stoke are ready to kick-off. Do they have any hope of a comeback? Blackburn are big fans of comedy defending.

46 mins: Stoke get things started, and win an early free-kick just inside the Blackburn half. Higginbotham drifts it in, and Warnock clears for a throw. Sonko manages to put the throw out for a goal-kick. Well done indeed, Ibrahim. He's having a blinder so far.

48 mins: More Stoke pressure, and Faye wins a corner. Paul Robinson looks nervous. He's not good from set pieces...

... and it's almost disaster. Robbo comes off his line late and gets nowhere near it, relying on Samba to put it out for another corner. Whelan whips in a crap effort, and it's cleared.

50 mins: Anything Stoke can do, Blackburn can do better. Gamst enjoys another mazy, threatening run down the left, forcing Shawcross to punt it out for a throw.

52 mins: The Potters are still giving it some effort. They win a throw-in right at the touchline that Sonko fires in. Mild panic in the box as Ooijer manages to get it clear, but it falls to Delap for a wide-open shot and he volleys into the crowd. Better from Stoke, to be sure. Robinson hasn't really regained his confidence once he was shunned from Spurs, has he?

54 mins: Based on the first ten minutes of the half, you'd never believe Blackburn are winning 3-0. They are sitting back in their box, allowing wave after wave of Stoke throw-ins and corners. Here's another for Whelan - it's half-cleared and then his resultant cross ends up almost reaching the half-way line.

Shaky stuff from the home team. It says a lot when they still don't look comfortable with a 3 goal lead against Stoke. Fuller wins a free-kick 25/30 yards out after Nelsen uses Fuller as a ladder to win an aerial challenge. Whelan to take...

... sooooo close Whelan's effort shaves the post/crossbar junction, although Robinson was across to save if needed. Excellent attempt. Blackburn then manage to get into the Stoke half, but Roberts fouls Shawcross immediately and the traffic comes back the other direction. Really -- this second half is confusing. Blackburn play like they're frightened.

For those of you asking, here's Cisse's green hairstyle. Strangely enough, it's not the worst one he's ever had.

Aaaaand the feed's gone again. I'll be right back once I've killed the person responsible (and no, that doesn't mean I'll be committing suicide shortly.)

Subs for Stoke: Tonge and Soares on, Crap Delap and Pericard off.

64 mins: More chances for the Potters. Defending is not something that Blackburn know how to do. They should adopt a Detroit Lions approach and just spend all their money on strikers. Shit, if they can just score 7 goals a game, the 5 they concede won't matter.

Fuller with a great chance - a cross in from the left and Ricardo loses his marker and heads it low across goal, forcing a great reaction save from Robinson.

68 mins: Blackburn win a free-kick 35 yards out and get a chance to catch their breath. Gamst is shaping up to blast it...

... and he lifts it miles over the goal, eliciting groans and moans from the home crowd. Big Sam preps a substitute: Dunn off to a standing ovation, Tugay to enter the fray.

70 mins: Stoke break quickly and Fuller gets bundled over again. He bites his tongue against the constant fouling and jogs upfield, hoping for some good service.

A rare break for Blackburn but Gamst gives it up far too easily. They can't hold the ball for more than 60 seconds at a time, which has to make Big Sam nervous; after all, you can't be winning every game 3-0 and start acting scared.

Stoke win another corner, their 3,596th of the game, but Blackburn clear easily.

74 mins: HOW DID HE MISS THAT? Tugay plays a wonderful through-ball setting Warnock free down the left. He whips in a low cross and Roberts forces a great double-save from Simonsen, once with a volley and then again with a header.

HOW DID HE MISS THAT, vol 2 Almost immediately, Roberts is put free through the middle, and his low shot is saved at Simonsen's feet and out for a corner.

From the corner, it falls to Benni M and he hits the post. Stoke break but to no avail. Much better from Big Sam's men!

Matt Derbyshire replaces Benni McCarthy for Blackburn, while Olofinjana replaces Amdy Faye for Stoke.

80 mins: Looks like both teams blew their load there. Lots of patchy possession in midfield, but Stoke are still happy to attack...

... and they almost score! Shawcross cuts in from the right, it falls to Olofinjana who volleys hard to Robbo's right. He parries it and the rebound falls to Fuller (who's a mile offside), and justice is served as he drags the shot wide of the far post.

82 mins: Whelan has space in midfield to shoot, and he puts it well wide under pressure. Pulis can call off the dogs now. Consolation goals are overrated anyway.

Sunderland take the lead right before Hull are reduced to 10 men. This is turning out to be a great weekend for two relegation-zone teams that just cleaned out their managers.

85 mins: Messy at the back for Stoke as Roberts threatens again, but Shawcross wakes up just in time to hoot it clear. Warnock then gets time on the left to whip in a cross, and it ends up in the stands.

Sub for Blackburn: Simpson on, Emerton off.

89 mins: Stoke almost get on the scoresheet as Chris Samba's gaffe gives Cresswell a sniff at the near post, but it ends up scuffing the woodwork and going out for a goal kick. Robinson breathes again in search of the clean sheet.

BEST PART ABOUT SUNDERLAND AND BLACKBURN WINNING: It puts Manchester City in the relegation zone at 18th place. F*cking magic.

This game is just about dead. The loudspeaker announces Ryan Nelsen as Man of the Match, but we should check if managers can get the award, as Big Sam's ability to waltz in and coax 3 goals out of a team that is woeful in attack is worthy of some accolade.

90 mins + 3: Roberts gets a whiff of Goal #4, but he finishes weakly at Simonsen's feet. We're just waiting to be put out of our misery now.

Stoke try gamely once more to get down the left wing, winning a throw for their troubles.

FULL TIME: Blackburn 3, Stoke 0
I think I'll take a break before considering a Villa liveblog. That's what being ill and confined to bed will do to you: it gives you the overwhelming urge to blog.


NYCanary said...

and Norwich are playing Charlton!!!!

NYCanary said...

Reading Beat Birmingham to go second.

NYCanary said...

Bolton 2 Pompey 0 already!!

NYCanary said...

Ippshit 1 down to Coventry.

Bigus Dickus said...

Sunderland score, Malbranque!!

Bigus Dickus said...

Blackburn 1 up. McCarthy penno.

Lingering Bursitis said...

Oi Bigus, who's doing the liveblogging, you or me? Stop with the spoilers at Ewood Park!

Bigus Dickus said...

Ha..I wasn't aware you were doing that one. Please find and post a pic of cisse. his hair is ridiculous todaY

Bigus Dickus said...

HULL!! 1-1

Bigus Dickus said...

Nick Barmby if you can believe it.

Mike Georger said...

I've spent the morning listening to the Liverpool Christmas Podcast.
I am a massive loser.

Bigus Dickus said...

Thats the thing LB, They didn't want to play for Ince.

ü75 said...

Goals in all the EPL games now.

Ha ha, you are an awful prognosticator.

ü75 said...

Aberdeen up 1 at Inverness.

The NY Kid said...

This SFB-Pompey match is absolutely ridiculous. Long stretches of awkward fumbling around punctuated by 3 minutes of action.

Just like sex!

ü75 said...

Doncaster holding Wolves 0-0 at the half in a 24 v. 1 matchup in the Colaship. Will that keep?

Lingering Bursitis said...

I am glad everyone is finally waking up this morning. I'd have hated doing this torturous work all alone.

Morning Georger! You're no saddo. I might well listen to it later on. Is it any good? Does Babel bust out any xmas-themed raps?

ü75 said...

DVRed A Shot at Glory overnight. Anyone seen it? Hopefully it's better than Goal! The dream makes me somnambulant

Bigus Dickus said...

LB. I was here you bugger.

ü75 said...

Quick Poll:
What minute will LB return to his liveblog, and what is his excuse for missing the start of the second half?

Lingering Bursitis said...

Bigus: I know, I know. I'm talking about layabout ne'er-do-wells like u75.

u75: I am here, with a stable feed. Second half begins in 5 minutes!

ü75 said...

For Villa-hopefully I'll be away watching the Palace-Sheffield United game. But I support your effort to put yourself through as much liveblogging as possible before the Liverpool-Arsenal match.

ü75 said...

Hey, my sick son wanted to watch Lazy Town. I can't argue with him on that.

Lingering Bursitis said...

You know damn well I won't be anywhere near my computer for that one tomorrow. That's a date with the Kinsale, my friend.

ü75 said...

Like Fountains of Wayne, I want an alien for Christmas.

For some reason, that song gets in my head every holiday season. Just the one line. sigh.

ü75 said...

I was talking about your late night plans.

The NY Kid said...

Calamity James amuses me. That is all.

Lingering Bursitis said...

Oh yeah, that's right. Does anyone know what time the Club World Cup Final kicks off?

ü75 said...

I would also take nine more Sone Alukos at 50k quid each.

ü75 said...

5.30 in the AM. That should be fun.

Lingering Bursitis said...

I think I can manage. For the good of all you insomniacs everywhere who can't see the game, I think I might get up early-doors for that one and get a head-start on the drinking.

ü75 said...

Sounds like a plan.

I'll try to behave now. I must be in some kind of mood. No more hatin' (for at least 5 minutes).

Lingering Bursitis said...

It's fine! I'll take any u75 I can get. Just sit back and enjoy a pirated feed of EPL football from somewhere!

ü75 said...

So wait, Delap is playing, but not taking the throws? Why is he in then?


The NY Kid said...

and after James almost gives away a goal, they claim that he "still has the tools to be England's greatest GK ever" - um, okay.

Bigus Dickus said...

LB, emailed you cisse hair picture.

ü75 said...

Yes. As long as he doesn't have to make a play on the ball, he is the best England has ever had.

ü75 said...

Re: Blackburn's 2nd half
Think Big Sam went in at halftime and said "Lads, I wasn't expecting this. I don't know how to manage a team that scores three goals. Go out there and make me more comfortable."?

Bigus Dickus said...

Yes yes yes yes......Leroy, Leroy, Leroy, Leroy, Leroy, Leroy, Leroy!

Norwich 1 Charlton 0.

Have it!

The NY Kid said...

Bolton have now had approximately 1,237 opportunities to go ahead 3-1

ü75 said...

oops. I need to leave my SPL window open. Aberdeen with two more to secure the three points with half an hour left.

Killie losing, so Dons can put some space between the top and bottom half.

Kris Boyd (buggerer) just broke through for Rangers against Hibs.

Hearts and Dundee United--nothing going on there in the 3rd/4thplace match.

ü75 said...

Hey! A Clint Dempsey sighting! Fulham up 3 now.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bigus Dickus said...

U75 Cant you listen to Aberdeen through their website like I do Norwich?

Anonymous said...

All I want for Christmas is a healthy Fernando Torres.

Kopper said...

Carl Cort on th epitch for Norwich... First home game.. a new era begins.... Who will score for us once Lita goes in January I have no idea

ü75 said...

If I ever felt like setting up a proxy, I could. Most of the time I'm happy to follow the play by play or search for the rare video feed. PbP cuts down on the cursing around my mimic-happy kid.

Besides, who can understand the Scots?

Bigus Dickus said...

We are signing Lita. Mark my words...

Rob Stiles is doing the Coventry V Scum game. Relegated ref.

LB: Sent pics.

ü75 said...

Ha at the relegated ref.

The NY Kid said...

Besides, who can understand the Scots?

Nae me, fur fook's sake!

jjf3 said...

wicked deflection for a kieran richardson goal

Bigus Dickus said...

wal hoo can understan wha yeanks or torkin aboot.

Sunderland take the lead at Hull\ and Ricketts sent off. Hull to 10 men now.

jjf3 said...

and card-king Riley sends yet another player off (HC's Ricketts)

ü75 said...

Sunderland with a second.

Bigus Dickus said...

Sunderland with a over at the KC

jjf3 said...

Jones with Cat's 3rd. Maybe Ricky gets to keep the job...

ü75 said...

Wow. I'm quick.

jjf3 said...

Cisse with the

Bigus Dickus said...

Three points, three points for xmas. Thank you very much. Merry Xmas everbody.

Norwich 1 Charlton 0


ü75 said...

Two players I was set to pick up this week, but said no to on review: Bullard, Cisse. Whoops.

jjf3 said...

IOSS with an awesome episode...

Precious Roy said...

ü75: I passed on Benny McCarthy for Pavs. I can't imagine that's going to turn out in my favor. Also had Jermaine Defoe. Little wonder I'm in 29th.

jjf3 said...

I'm not sure why, but I like Villa's away kit. And this game's been pretty good so far...

Lingering Bursitis said...

Come join the new thread if you haven't already!