Originally posted on Finishers Forum  |  Last updated 3/31/13
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David Silva   Sometimes I wish I had the time to watch every Premier League match during a weekend, but I do have a life and work, so I must pick and choose based on matches that look good on paper, have two form teams, or a couple of dominant players. In a typical weekend, I can usually find the time to fit in two matches and almost always at least one of those two is a decent spectacle worth writing about. Not so this weekend! I chose to watch the top two teams in the league- Sunderland vs. Manchester United and Manchester City vs. Newcastle- incidentally both matches featured teams from Manchester against teams from the Northeast, and both were an absolute bore. Do yourself a favor, if you haven’t watched either match, don’t, just finish reading this article and move on to something else! In Sunderland, a 1-0 defeat spelled the end of the reign of Martin O’Neill as manager of the Black Cats. What started so promisingly for O’Neill last season, ended in disaster Saturday (Sunderland sit just above the drop zone) as he lost some of his best players in the transfer market and failed to replace them with enough firepower (though to be fair, the signing of Steven Fletcher looks an excellent one.) Against Manchester United, O’Neill’s tactics were partially to blame. As has often been observed this season, the teams that have had the most succes facing the Red Devils have pressured them high up the pitch and have not allowed Michael Carrick to dictate the pace of the match. Sunderland did the exact opposite, dropping deep to defend and allowing Carrick to pick his passes. While credit should go to Sunderland’s back line for only allowing one goal (and to be fair, they have been quite good on the season, with the 2nd fewest goals allowed among bottom half teams), the United defense were never really troubled by the Black Cats and it was a fairly easy stroll for the league leaders.  It will now be up to the next man in charge (Sunderland have yet to name a successor) to ensure that the Wearsiders, currently sitting 1 point above the relegation zone, are playing Premier League football next season. Meanwhile, in Manchester, it was more of the same for Newcastle United whose road form has been putrid throughout the entire season, having taken just 8 points out of a possible 48, the worst away record in the league. It always looked like a daunting task for Newcastle, with Santon and Collocini unavailable and  Jonas Gutierrez deputizing at right back it was a true makeshift defense for the Magpies.  Newcastle were unable to hold any possession, especially in the attacking half and seemed content to blast the ball out of the back at every opportunity. Indeed, goalkeeper Rob Elliot seemed to start the time wasting from the opening whistle, much to the consternation of the home fans. It was a curious tactic given the unimposing Cisse was upfront by himself against Kompany and Lescott for City. As usual, Toure and Silva bossed the game for an almost full strength City team, with Silva thinking he had opened the scoring midway through the 1st half, only to have it called back for offsides. It was only a matter of time though before a goal came, Tevez netting the opener followed by Silva adding a second on the stroke of half-time. City cruised in the 2nd half adding two more goals before the merciful final whistle came. Both Manchester clubs will undoubtedly be turning their focus to the Derby a week from Monday, though the Red Devils do have an FA Cup replay against Chelsea in between. Up in the Northeast, Newcastle and Sunderland will need to regroup and find enough points in the remaining 7 matches to stay in the top flight next season.
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