By Kevin Koczwara
Darren Bent added another goal to his Premier League tally– he has 8 goals in 9 matches. and 1 assist. Bent’s goal in the fifth minute at The Stadium of Light gave Sunderland a 1-0 lead against Liverpool. The goal would be the only one in the game and also of much controversy.
Bent’s shot appeared to bounce off a beach ball that had made its way on the field. According to the rules the goal should have disallowed and play stopped until the ball was removed from play. A drop-ball would start play again. But the goal was allowed, giving Sunderland a much needed win against a top opponent, and hurts Liverpool in their hunt for the EPL championship. Now Liverpool’s chances of their first title in 20 years is slim to none. For Sunderland, they look to be in a good spot right now, they have a chance to qualify for European play next year.
As for the referee of the match, Mike Jones, he has been demoted to Championship football this weekend. He will not referee the game he was suppose to in the Premier League.
By the way, is it not time Bent gets a chance on the international team? He is on fire right now. What better time to get him some touches than the upcoming friendlies England will have while getting prepped for South Africa in 2010. The man is a scoring machine. I am going to start a campaign for him I think. He is the most deserving player of a call-up to an international squad in the world right now.
Aston Villa Are For Real
Manchester City made all the headlines this summer with their nearly endless pursuits of players. People knew they meant business when they swooped in and took Gareth Barry from Aston Villa. But what should have been the story there was that Villa don’t need the England International because their young core of players are developing into mighty fine footballers. To top off that core of young talent is a few veteran players like goalkeeper Brad Friedel to hold down the fort, and now Villa look to be in good form going into November.
This weekend the boys from Villa Park took on table leaders Chelsea and showed their chops by beating the Blues 2-1. The game was a one-sided affair but Villa held off for the victory. None of the stats really favor the players from Villa as they couldn’t even control play for 40% of the game. But with two goals from central defenders, Villa was able to hold off the surging Chelsea.
Richard Dunne scored in the 32nd minute to tie the game up on a corner kick. His presence in the middle of the pitch and on corner kicks for Villa has been enormous since his arrival from Manchester City this summer. Dunne is one of the best pick-ups any team in the EPL has had. He was almost handed over to Villa, and since his arrival he has sured up the defense and put a few big headers in the net. You could even say that Dunne’s presence on corner kicks is something that City have been missing since his departure.
James Collins put in the game winner in the 52nd minute. His header was assisted by a Ashley Young cross, and was the final blow for the Blues as they couldn’t find a game tier. The game was one by stingy defense and defenders attacking the ball in the air (aren’t most games won in the air on 50-50 balls?). Collins goal was just another sign of how good Villa really is. How deep Martin O’Niell has outfitted his bench, and how the team plays. Strong in the air, strong on the ground, powerful, and opportunists is what I would describe the club as.
Watch for Villa making a great challenge to be in the top four this year, they have already beat two of ‘the big four” already this year.
World Cup Pairing Announced
Ireland v France– Neither of these teams wanted to play one another, no matter what Shay Given has said. This is a match-up of two good teams, with World Cup aspirations. For some reason I cannot pick France to win this match-up. They don;t have that flair that they are known for. They don;t have the presence in the middle that they need, (Zidane is no longer there, who is going to fill his EBORMOUS shoes?). Ireland just have the “it” that is needed to win big games. They are hungry, and they are very well coached and determined. I am going to go out on a limbo and say Ireland win this match-up and move on to South Africa in 2010 because they are a better “team,” not a better collection of talent, but of players working towards the same goal.
Russia v Slovenia — If Russia doesn’rt win this match-up easily I will be surprised. The Russians have the easiest draw of any team here. They should bring their best game and make the World Cup because they have superior talent and coaching. Arshavin has shown why Arsene Wenger went after him last January transfer market. Slovenia is stingy, but their defense only has to let in one goal for them to lose in the home and away set-up because they aren’t the most powerful team going forward.
Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina – I am pulling for Bosnia-Herzegovina here. The team has great talent, hope, and this will be the countries first ever World Cup. I am also not a fan of seeing Ronaldo in another World Cup. I can still see him crying and whining all over the pitch in 2006, he has also been abysmal in Portugals qualifiers–the team really found its stride with him sidelined due to an injury. I am hoping Bosnia-Herzegovina’s attack can pull off a huge upset here so that the world can witness the talents of Dzeko and Zvjezdan Misimovic (Liverpool should look at him to fill the void of attacking midfielder that they have, he is more creative and powerful than Benayoun).
Greece v Ukraine– Greece will walk away with this one. They are a solid team, one of the strongest in this group up and down the field. the Euro 2004 winners got the best draw as I see it here. If Croatia hadn’t of had so many injury problems then this would be a different situation. Ukraine doesn’t impress me on the pitch, they just don’t give me the impression that they can win or put up a good fight come the World Cup. But Greece will, and Greece is a good team to watch, they are tactically strong and well put together.
Kevin Kzocwara can be reached at email@example.com. Follow The Soccer Guys on Twitter @TheSoccerGuys.