By March 13, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Siu’s View: EPL Round 29, FA Cup Recap, European Woes, and Michael Laudrup Tribute


In my weekly column on SWOL, I take a look back at the weekend’s English Premier League and domestic cup action and the talking points that it throws up, as well as any significant news related to English football at large.

Follow me @theredarmchair for regular updates throughout the week.

Steven Gerrard of Liverpool (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

EPL Round 29 Recap: Arise QPR, Newcastle and Liverpool

Given the FA Cup action this weekend (more on that later), we only had six Premier League games to enjoy. In three of those, we witnessed the rise of three erstwhile unfancied teams.

Let’s start with QPR. An impressive 3-1 win over Sunderland is by no means their crowning achievement of the season (see the victory over Chelsea), but for the rest of the bottom half, it might well have massive repercussions towards their own top-flight future and the relegation battle as a whole. With Aston Villa’s away win at Reading, only seven points separate 15th-placed Sunderland (30) and bottom club QPR (23).

And, there are still nine games left in the season.

This gives Newcastle United plenty of time to mount a challenge on the top half. Another fine win — this time courtesy of their original French revolutionary Yohan Cabaye — puts the Magpies on 33 points, with five sides on the same tally at this stage of the season. Fulham have a game in hand, but with Alan Pardew’s side in fine form recently, a decent top-half finish cannot be ruled out.

The remaining league fixtures also mean that Liverpool fans could be forgiven for hoping the impossible becomes possible. An impressive 3-2 comeback win against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday has lifted them above Merseyside rivals Everton for the first time this season, and while Arsenal have a game in hand and are two points above Liverpool, a relatively comfortable schedule awaits the Reds. Brendan Rodgers and company will not be screaming it everywhere, but Rafa Benitez’s Chelsea are only seven points ahead in fourth place.

FA Cup Quarterfinal Roundup: Another fairytale in May?

It’s not just the Premier League that has the potential for some fairytale finishes. The fact that one smaller club will be at Wembley for the FA Cup semifinals was already set in stone given the Millwall-Blackburn quarterfinal draw. But, what many did not see coming was that one smaller club would be in Wembley for the final. Wigan’s 3-0 win over Everton was as surprising as it was baffling, but now we have a classic underdog in the final to face Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea.

Falling in Europe: True End of a Cycle?

Speaking of underdogs, the English used to be fine underdogs in Europe. Liverpool’s feats in the Benitez era are well-known. United had some good runs only to be thwarted by Barcelona. And, Chelsea’s win last season was memorable, if only because they are so far away from it this year. But last week’s result at Old Trafford saw the Red Devils put to the sword by a former hero. And this week? Well, let’s just say that if Arsenal come away with a place in the quarterfinals at the expense of Bayern Munich this Wednesday, it would be quite a miracle. There’s been talk about English teams losing ground to Germany, Spain and now Italy. Perhaps there is some truth to it.

Ref-Watch: Nani’s red card, Ferdinand’s bullying, Lamah’s “offside”

Lots of talking points this week, and we’re not short of referee controversies either. So I present a new section on this column that might just make its way back more often than we want it to: Ref-Watch.

First, there’s the small matter of Nani’s red card against Real Madrid. Given the tendency of hyperbole to come out of Old Trafford, we should not be shocked at Sir Alex Ferguson proclaiming that he is losing faith in football and that Ryan Giggs has never been as shocked on the pitch. But, how bad was the foul exactly? Well, the leg was high and contact was made between two players who supposedly didn’t see each other. Is that a foul? Yes. Red card? Debatable. There have been far, far softer fouls that have seen red cards and it is just that this one was against United in a game they went on to lose.

Here are some more mind-games from Old Trafford — if you call blatant bullying a mind-game. This is a video of Rio Ferdinand pushing Fernando Torres for no apparent reason in an off-the-ball incident during the United-Chelsea FA Cup quarterfinal at Old Trafford on Sunday. Actually it wasn’t really an incident, given that it was as one-sided as any plain old bullying. The FA are currently waiting on Howard Webb’s match report before deciding whether to take action on Ferdinand, whose sarcastic applause in front of referee Cuneyt Cakir went unpunished by UEFA last week.

On a less controversial but equally significant note, Swansea City and Roland Lamah saw a perfectly good goal chalked off for offside in their Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. This was a decision that goal-line technology (as covered by this column last week) will not solve, but rather a replay-challenge system or a fifth referee might avert. Lamah’s goal would have earned Swansea a point in their charge towards the top seven.

Here’s another tribute to Michael Laudrup

While we are talking about the Swans, let’s take another few column inches and once again praise the impact of Michael Laudrup since arriving at the Liberty Stadium last summer. A fine League Cup Final win cemented the Danish legend into Swansea folklore, and despite being linked with a host of top sides this summer, he recently celebrated signing a new contract that runs until 2015. There were further accolades for Laudrup as he was voted the Premier League’s best manager this season by his fellow colleagues. So congratulations, Mr. Laudrup, and keep the football flowing.

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