Villa Skate by Again

December 31, 2008

gab

Continuing their exceptional run of good form and fortune, Aston Villa escaped the KC Stadium with a 1-0 victory over stunned Hull City. The game’s only goal came when Hull’s Kamil Zayatte knocked in an own-goal in the 88th minute. While the own-goal was the official scoring, Zayaette ‘saved’ what probably would have been a Gabriel Agbonlahor goal on a cross from Ashley Young. This is the third straight match where Villa got a goal in the final moments to either draw or win and second in which it was an own-goal that did the trick. There was some confusion at the end of the match as it appeared the referee was going to give Hull a penalty in the waning moments after an apparent handball by Young. But he changed his mind and called the match with replays afterwards confirming his change of heart as accurate. The three points earn a three point cushion over Arsenal for Aston Villa who are now tied on points with Man United (though trailing in differential). Hull fall now to eighth place after having spent most of the season in fifth, sixth or seventh.

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An Ax to Grind

December 30, 2008

Since the start of the year, six coaches have been fired in the NFL. Last season, Brian Billick (Bal) and Cam Cameron (Mia) were fired when it was all said and done. Add this year’s casualties: Mike Nolan (SF), Scott Linehan (StL), Lane Kiffin (Oak), Rod Marinelli (Det), Romeo Crennell (Cle) and Eric Mangini (NYJ) make eight teams out of thirty-two to fire their coach in the past two years, fully 1/4.

I know it’s much easier to get rid of coaches than it is players, though in the NFL players are often cut or dismissed if they’re no longer wanted, but a one quarter turnover in two years is just terrible. Baltimore and Miami can be commended for the changes they made as they went from bad seasons a year ago to the playoffs this year. But usually that doesn’t happen. Look at San Francisco, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Oakland; all teams that are really bad year in, year out. Will a coaching change make a big difference? It certainly can, but it’s just as likely, if not more, that the team will take a long time to adjust to the new coach and his system, assistants and expectations.

Sometimes coaches really aren’t a good fit with a certain set of players, or owner, or city. But these guys getting fired aren’t exactly those kinds of cases. Sure, they’ve been bad, but so have plenty of other coaches. What about Herm Edwards, Wade Phillips, Andy Reid or Jim Zorn? They’ve all had pretty lousy seasons but they’re not going anywhere. Or what about Dick Jauron or John Gruden? They both fell completely off the map but they’re not getting fired (yet). It’s a strange business, coaching in the NFL. The expectations are so high no matter where you go but only a few coaches ever truly succeed on a consistent basis. Is it really worth it to change coaches every few years, shuffling between guys who just aren’t very good in the hopes that one day you’ll land a Bill Walsh or Bill Cowher?


United Win Again

December 29, 2008

berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov scored in the 69th minute to send Manchester United to yet another Premier League victory, 1-0 over Middlesbrough. The three points earned at Old Trafford keep United three points ahead of fourth place (for now) Arsenal, despite being two matches behind on the schedule. Boro find themselves stuck in seventeenth place, just out of relegation on differential.

Aston Villa play at Hull City tomorrow and have a chance to catch United on 38 points.


2008 Year in Review

December 29, 2008

ad3I know it’s kind of lame to do this as everyone else on earth is doing the same thing. But since we started this blog within this calendar year, I thought it’d be cool to just see how far things have come from the first filings on The AD Hall 1.0. So here’s a kind of exhaustive list of some of our better posts and milestones:

Billy Packer’s Last Game – April 8

Questioning ‘Outs’ – April 25

Reaction to My Trip to Germany – May 29

Sam Wyche: Pickens County Council District 3 – June 11

Euro 2008’s Heidi Game – June 25

MLS Reconstruction: Our Most Hated Post – July 22

Josh Childress: The First WordPress Post – July 23

Usain Bolt Breaks the 100m World Record – August 20

Reggie Love, Barack Obama’s Body Man – August 22

Allianz and the Nazi Double Standard – September 23

The Best Review of the Worst Sports Book – October 2

Texas Tech-Texas: One for the Ages – November 2

Introduction of The Procrastinator – November 8

A Few Words About Rodney Rogers – December 5

The New-Look Procrastinator Comes Out – December 19


I Think This Says It All

December 28, 2008

brett

Please Brett, just retire.


Dempsey Denies Chelsea

December 28, 2008

clint

With a header on ninety minutes, Clint Dempsey drew Fulham even with Chelsea at Craven Cottage for a 2-2 draw. Dempsey also scored in the 10th minute to give Fulham an early lead. Two Frank Lampard goals saw the Blues take a 2-1 lead into the final minute. Despite the impressive draw, Fulham sink to ninth place while Chelsea fail to keep pace with Liverpool but do remain solidly in second position.

At St. James’ Park, Newcastle crashed down to earth with a catastrophic 5-1 loss to front-running Liverpool. A Steven Gerrard brace and goals from Sami Hyypia, Ryan Babel and Xabi Alonso saw the Reds extend their slight lead atop the table. Toon are now in fourteenth place.

Embattled Arsenal defender William Gallas scored in the 81st minute to break a stalemate and earn the Gunners an important victory over Portsmouth at the Emirates Stadium. The win pushes Pompey back into twelfth place and vaults Arsenal, at least until Aston Villa next play, into fourth place.

Mikel Arteta scored twice and Dan Gosling sealed the deal for Everton in a 3-0 win at Goodison Park against Sunderland. The Toffees distance themselves a bit from their competition for sixth place and now sit just three points from fifth. Sunderland continue to struggle to find their earlier form and now rest fifteenth.

West Ham United did itself a world of good when Carlton Cole and Diego Tristan scored in the second half to defeat ten-man Stoke City, 2-1. The crowd at Upton Park saw the home side fall behind early behind Abdoulaye Faye’s fifth minute goal for the visitors. But Cole’s 51st minute goal and Ricardo Fuller’s 53rd minute red card put the advantage back with the Hammers. Tristan scored on 87 minutes to give West Ham tenth place on the table. Stoke remain in the relegation zone though only by differential.

Amr Zaki converted yet another penalty to see Wigan Athletic to victory at the Reebok. Bolton failed again to make up ground in the second tier of clubs. Instead, Wigan jumped up from the doldrums of the Premier League and now find themselves alone in seventh place, at least for now.

At Ewood Park, Manchester City staged a dramatic comeback to draw 2-2 with lowly Blackburn. Daniel Sturridge scored in the 88th minute and Robinho tallied a goal in the 90th to bring City back from the dead. Benni McCarthy scored just before half-time to give Rovers a lead and Jason Roberts scored what appeared to be the decisive goal in the 84th minute for a 2-0 home lead. City, one of the worst clubs away, escape relegation for now and reach thirteenth place while Blackburn remain in nineteenth, now only ahead of West Brom on differential.

Finally, in one of the sorrier displays of this campaign, Spurs allowed two late goals at The Hawthorns to give last place West Bromich Albion only its fifth victory of the season. Roman Bednar and Craig Beattie each scored in the final seven minutes of the match to see Albion earn three points but still remain in last place. That situation is very familiar to Spurs, who encountered such a stretch earlier this year. Now, Tottenham are just out of relegation on differential and in sixteenth place.


Premiership Predictions – Week 20

December 27, 2008

epl

Interesting week in the Premier League as the clubs played their annual Boxing Day matches yesterday and will play again across Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for Round 20. Liverpool and Chelsea still lead on the table and Man United and Aston Villa keep finding ways to pull points out and stay close to the lead. This round finds Liverpool, Chelsea and Villa all with away matches and while Chelsea and Arsenal will play at home.

Sunday:
Liverpool @ Newcastle – Liverpool
Portsmouth @ Arsenal – Pompey
Sunderland @ Everton – Everton
Stoke City @ West Ham – West Ham
Wigan @ Bolton – Wigan
Chelsea @ Fulham – Chelsea
Tottenham @ West Brom – West Brom
Man City @ Blackburn – Blackburn

Monday:
Middlesbrough @ Man United – United

Tuesday:
Aston Villa @ Hull City – Villa

Results thus far:

Week 1 – 19 points
Week 2 – 16 points
Week 3 – 12 points
Week 4 – 13 points
Week 5 – 13 points
Week 6 – 27 points
Week 7 – 14 points
Week 8 – 22 points
Week 9 – 18 points
Week 10 – 19 points
Week 11 – 11 points
Week 12 – 10 points
Week 13 – 16 points
Week 14 – 13 points
Week 15 – 9 points
Week 16 – 18 points
Week 17 – 11 points
Week 18 – 14 points
Week 19 – 15 points