The last week of LoI action has come and gone, with only three games to talk about.
Dundalk have overcome Waterford over two legs to secure their Premier League status for next year, at least on the pitch. Dundalk weathered a Waterford storm in the first leg, snatching a 2-2 draw despite an early sending off. Despite a good performance from Seanie Maguire, the Blues were deficient upfront and missed a score of chances to win the game decisively.
With the away goal rule not in effect there was everything to play for in the return leg and I predicted a Waterford victory. Waterford again had the lion’s share of possession and chances, but Maguire was shut down for crucial periods and the home team just could not get it in the net. Rafter made them pay with two well taken goals and that was that. Uncertainty remains over Waterford’s future, but Dundalk at least can look forward to a better future. Waterford just had no cutting edge over the two legs.
Sunday saw the finale of the season. More disappointment for St Patrick’s Athletic, but Derry were worthy winners of the FAI Cup. A boring first half made way for a pretty entertaining second and extra-time, with plenty of attacking football and excitement. St Pat’s just shot themselves in the foot for all of Derry’s goals, and were lucky to even bring the game to extra-time.
So ends the 2012 League of Ireland. I’ll have a wrap-up post for the season on LLF before the end of the week where I will expand upon my thoughts.
Across the pond then, where Manchester United just strolled to a win over a rather witless Arsenal outfit. The Gunners were just totally impotent and toothless for the vast, vast majority of this game, making no attacking threats of note, struggling in defence, failing to set the tempo or dominate midfield. I can’t even say that United were that good, but did enough to outdo Arsenal. Such was the casualness required, that I can’t even complain about the myriad of missed chances – Rooney’s penalty and Valencia’s tap-in for example – because as soon as the second goal went in any concerns went out the window.
I think Wenger is finished at Arsenal, he’s just ambling along at this point. It isn’t that he should be sacked because he is a bad manager, it’s that he is in no position to make Arsenal better than they currently are. His buying and selling has been a failure and the lack of silverware speaks for itself. Arsenal need someone new to come in and shake things up.
As for United, a strong defensive display and a dominant attacking line spell good things for the future. Top of the table, with the nightmare schedule of the last month and a half nearly over, United can look forward with a lot of optimism.
Elsewhere, everything seemed to go United’s way. Chelsea, despite triumphing over United in the League Cup during the week couldn’t get a more valuable prize of three points over Swansea, while Manchester City, inspired by the failure of Mario Balotelli, eked out a scoreless draw away to West Ham. Spurs fell at home to Wigan after a very lacklustre display, while Newcastle and Liverpool shared the points thanks largely to Luiz Suarez. A fairly pedestrian and rather boring weekend in the Premier League then, with all of the “big” teams, bar the Old Trafford boys, letting points slip. Long may that continue.
From now, until the Spring I’ll be focusing largely on the EPL.