A day late, but was due to unique circumstance I assure you.
Quite the battle up in Drogheda on Friday night, but Limerick battled through some severe adversary to claim a vital point against one of the leagues top sides. Slightly late tackles, dissent and a ridiculous “headbutt” (not really) resulted in a score of penalties and red cards being given, but Limerick were still well worth their 2-2 draw. Some defensive errors were very evident though, and that kind of thing is going to seriously hamper Limerick going forward.
Browne’s header was well taken and Tracy took his penalty with aplomb, but you also start to worry that Limerick’s forward element needs some serious accuracy training. They have to start hitting the target more. They’ll get a great chance tonight, facing UCD who have shipped eight goals already in the league. It should be three points in the bag, and anything less would be a poor return for a team that is obviously basking in talent.
Are Shamrock Rovers the real deal now, so packed with the superstars of LOI? Unbeaten after three is good, but then again that’s only five from nine points. An impressive display against the Saints was countered by a dour game against rivals Bohs, one that matches their opening draw against Dundalk. I’m still a little wary of declaring Shams the Champions-elect like so many others.
After all, Sligo have been doing better in less games, with another impressive win at home to…a club. In line with some disturbing developments at foot.ie, one of the better LOI forums around, I’m not going to be mentioning a certain club at any point in the future as a form of sympathy if nothing else. Sligo beat them well anyway.
Another red for Shelbourne, another defeat. It was a bad one at that, shipping three goals at home to a somewhat underwhelming Dundalk side. Relegation contenders? You bet, and it might be a straight run off with the very leaky Students. Bohs, I’m not sure how to characterise them this season. They struggled to beat ten men UCD, lost to Cork, but then ground out a draw against Rovers. Signs of life, but I’d worry they haven’t shown significant improvement since last season.
Meanwhile, in England, the lead was increased for Manchester United. They made hard enough work of it against Reading, but I could say that about so many games this season. They still won, and Wayne Rooney, so overly-criticised and verbally abused over the last week, scored yet again. Yeah, write him off lads. With Manchester City stumbling yet again, the case for the league race being all but over grows better still. United need to win four from nine games to be completely sure, or they could just win the next three straight (Sunderland away, Man City at home, Stoke away). Not impossible, and a home win against City would certainly open the top few places up for someone – whether it is Chelsea or Spurs – to overtake City into second.
Poor old Spurs will be desperate to right the ship and kill any potential blip before it starts. Struggling to see out such a good position against Milan, losing at home to Fulham, one begins to actually listen to the criticism centred around that over used phrase “one man team”. I was impressed that Spurs were able to hold on to Bale this season, but I really don’t know what they would be like without him playing, or in consistent form. Chelsea, coming back into stronger form, and Arsenal too, will have no problem overtaking them at the current rate of play. A lot to play for in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th.
Especially since, just as I was declaring Liverpool “fixed”, they fall to an poor defeat to Southampton. That defence, it’s just pitiful sometimes, though that is not to denigrate the Saints too much, they can actually be quite potent upfront when they want to be. I really hope it’s enough to see them stay up now, even if they acted badly in sacking their manager. At least Reading were in the relegation zone.
With Villa beating QPR, they’ve taken a big step to staying up while “Arry” stumbles yet again. I wouldn’t rule out QPR at this current point, but there is just no consistency in their play.
Internationals in the next few days. Doyle’s exclusion from the Ireland squad doesn’t outrage me that much, he’s been just as good or worse as those who actually did make it into the team. I appreciate the attempt to try new things, even if Robbie Keane hasn’t really done much to deserve a place either. The same old complaints – the ignoring of good players, the 4-4-2, etc, etc – will all resurface in the next few days. Sweden aren’t invincible, and are distinctly average in many respects, but it is so hard seeing Ireland getting anything out of the game. All it will take one moment from Zlatan to destroy Ireland’s Plan A, and if Trap’s reign has shown anything, it is that he does not believe in Plan B.