EPL, Day 35: Newcastle 2 – Chelsea 1 and Tottenham 2 – Arsenal 2

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
April 25th, 2004 • 3:31 am

The Newcastle game was terrific entertainment. After letting Chelsea go ahead within 5 minutes, Newcastle patiently fought back, and were rewarded when Ameobi scored a great goal just before half time.

And then there was Shearer. You just have to admire the way that he gains and retains possession and then — what a finish. It’s easily one of the contenders for goal of the season. Shearer was involved again not long after, but this time it was a miss that would almost qualify for miss of the season! And then later on, Chelsea substitute Huth, who had already collected one caution, stepped on Shearer’s private parts in a manner that looked suspiciously deliberate. He should probably have been sent off, and there will be additional calls for using video replays during games to sort out contentious incidents.

Marcel Dessailly too was having a torrid time in the Chelsea defense and this is somewhat worrisome for the French national team with Euro 2004 coming in less than two months. No matter how great his past achievements are, there’s no denying that his current form is not at all impressive, with a series of offenses that have brought him a red card and a couple of suspensions.

This new Chelsea defeat practically handed the title to Arsenal, but they still had to get at least a point against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. The Gunners were cruising during the first half and took a comfortable 2-0 lead back to the dressing room. The second half, however, was a different proposition, with Tottenham obviously motivated to achieve something and Arsenal lacking somewhat in the energy department. The Gunners still had the clearest chances and should have been 3-1 or 4-1 up. But they let Tottenham back into the game, and then a highly contentious penalty decision during stoppage time cost them the victory.

I am afraid that Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann was again at the centre of the controversy, and his behaviour was far from impressive. His foul on Keane was quite unnecessary, and he made matters worse by trying once again to blame the opposition. It’s true that Keane was guilty of pushing Lehmann after the incident, but only after Lehmann himself pushed him on the head in a totally unnecessary fashion.

Because of all this, what should have been a glorious day for Arsenal ended in a somewhat bittersweet fashion. Yes, the Gunners did get a point, which was enough to clinch the title. And they were entitled to their celebrations after the game. But I think it was rather symptomatic that Lehmann himself was not part of these celebrations. He has only himself to blame for ruining the afternoon for everyone. And I, for one, certainly hope that Wenger will take all this into account during his preparations for next season, and try to attract a less abrasive, more professional world-class goal keeper.

There are now 4 games left for Arsenal. (They still have a game in hand against Portsmouth, to be played in early May.) They have won the title. They are still unbeaten. The challenge will now be to maintain this unbeaten run, and it’s certainly a possibility, with games against Birmingham City (home), Portsmouth (away), Fulham (away), and Leicester City (home) — none of which have much to play for anymore. It would also be great if a couple of other records could be broken in the process, including the biggest total of points (93, I think) and the greatest number of goals for Thierry Henry in the league (I think the record is 34). It’ll be difficult, but it’s all still possible.

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