A quiet week in the League of Ireland, as the FAI Cup quarter finals took centre stage.
Some unexpected results in that competition. St Pats and Drogheda was, as might have been predicted, the hardest to call and they’ll go again after 90 minutes without a goal. Might come down to whoever has more interest in the Cup, with the league race still being fought by the two clubs.
Dundalk are creating quite the story in the cup, bottom of the top tier, struggling big time financially, but semi-finalists of the competition now after a stunning 1-0 away win over Bohemians. While Dundalk look increasingly unlikely to be part of the Premier Division next season, they are only two wins away from a great success – and European football.
Poor Mervue, facing a long trip up north and way out of their depth at the last eight level, got an absolute pasting from Derry. 7-1, and by all accounts it could have been 15. I’d actually place the northerners as my own favourites to win the thing outright as it stands, but this was way too easy a challenge for them.
And then there was the Dublin derby, as Shamrock Rovers fell to Shels. It really is damage control for Rovers at this point, a League Cup final against Drogheda the last realistic chance for glory having crashed out of Europe, fallen way behind in the league, and now out of the FAI Cup after an uninspiring display against opposition that have actually been playing very badly in the last while. Kenny’s sacking after a second consecutive loss to Bohemians was surprising only in that some thought he would be kept on until the winter, and the champions appear to be in an awful state.
Leaving aside a Wexford win over Athlone in the First Division, a pretty much inconsequential affair, there is nothing else to really talk about with Irish football. Big games next week as Waterford host Athlone, Limerick travel to Salthill and St Pats entertain Shamrock Rovers.
Over in England, it took Manchester United 50 minutes to get going, but they eventually put Wigan to the sword at Old Trafford. It was a pretty dire first half of football, as every part of the team stuttered, from Welbeck’s awful dive, Hernandez’ awful penalty, Buttner’s awful crosses and a Wigan team that was causing difficulties.
But the first two goals seemed to completely kill Wigan’s resolve, as their defensive stability fell apart fast. Bit of a fortune in both close range efforts, but Scholes and Hernandez have proven themselves adept at getting in the right nposito9n when the ball is in the box. Buttner, working hard on his debut but not especially impressive up to that point, did eye-raisingly well for his effort, as the Wigan defence failed to stop his sudden run. And then there was Powell, a good debut and a nicely taken goal, Scholes-esque in the way he jinked pass the defender before firing accurately from outside the area.
Some concerning elements were on display. Nani and Hernandez were both generally poor, wasting a lot of possession. The United defence was solid, if largely untested for a lot of the game. Giggs struggled a bit, and it’s harder to justify his inclusion every week.
But still, a step up from Southampton.
Elsewhere, the Arsenal offensive finally opened up, as they buried a hapless Southampton team that is 0-4 so far in the Premier League. I’m not sure how much praise to give to Arsenal considering the awfulness of the opposition, who looked like they’d rather be back in the more manageable championship after the fourth goal.
Bad results for Man City and Chelsea, though neither opponent is especially easy to get a result again. Stoke are notably hard to break down at home, so I wouldn’t criticise the champions too much.
Liverpool need to step up things bigtime, with Manchester United on the way next weekend. While I’m sure they’ll raise their game for that meeting, after four games they are displaying relegation form, with a squad that contains a lot of undeserving inclusions.
Berbatov is going to get on very well at Fulham I think, and I’m pretty certain he’s going to score against Manchester United at some point. It’s just inevitable isn’t it?