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Premier League title still up for grabs
We have to start this weekend’s column with a bit on the FA Cup semifinal on Sunday. It was a controversial game, and I think we all need to learn some lessons from it.
First off, I want to stress that Chelsea were by far the better team. I thought Didier Drogba’s performance was sublime. I also thought Frank Lampard was phenomenal. Let’s be honest now, whatever Roberto Di Matteo is doing is working. He’s tallied only one loss in twelve games, and that speaks volumes.
That being said, we have to keep beating the drum about goal-line technology for helping the referees out. That was never a goal by Juan Mata, and everyone knows it. Martin Atkinson did apologize to Harry Redknapp after the game, but it’s too late. I’m not saying that single call changed the face of the game. Yet, everyone realizes that these calls hurt the sport. We saw Chelsea get an unfair lift at Stamford Bridge against Wigan last Sunday, and the Latics might suffer relegation because of it. Manchester United were clearly denied a penalty this week as well.
The referees have a very difficult job, and I think if you asked them they would tell you they would welcome the help. Forget all the business about human error, and face the facts. There is too much money, too much pressure and too much attention to sweep this under the carpet any longer. There are going to be a lot of conversations about this very issue, and I just hope we do the right thing and get the referees an extra set of eyes that technology can bring.
Turning point for Dalglish, Carroll
I was delighted for my old manager Kenny Dalglish, on what had to be a very difficult morning on Saturday. The anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy made everything very emotional for Kenny and his players. To their credit, the Reds were able to overcome it. The turning point in the game was clearly the mistake made by Sylvain Distin, and you feel for him. As a former defender myself, I can tell you that when you make a mistake like that, a player like Luis Suarez can and will make you pay. Up until that point, I thought Everton had got everything right. After the goal went in, they were never able to bounce back.
I’m also very happy to see Andy Carroll get the winner. A lot has been said and written about this young man, and his only possible response to critics is to score goals. Well, he’s now got two big ones. The fact that he put his team into the FA Cup final, should have him brimming with confidence. It’s a great lift, and one he really needed.
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Make no doubt about it, the race is still on. City had a superb performance against a strong Norwich side that just couldn’t handle Carlos Tevez. He has linked up very well with Sergio Aguero, and these past two games have given everyone a little confidence. They’re still a long-shot, but the smiles are back at Etihad Stadium for the time being. City’s form will make the game on April 30 very interesting for the neutral spectator.
United earned a huge win Sunday, despite not playing well. They got a call going their way — which happens a lot at Old Trafford — and I thought Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick were again very solid at midfield. It was good to see Nani get back to his scoring ways, as United have missed that special element.
I want to be perfectly clear about Ashley Young’s penalty award. Yes, it was minimal, but there was contact nonetheless. Young did what player’s do, which is to show the referee that he deserved the call. That’s part of the game. But, I think Young has to be very careful. He’s getting a reputation for going down softly in games. You can only cry wolf so often in this sport.
This is a tough one for Wigan on Monday, because I do think Arsenal need to win this game. Arsene Wenger must have watched what Wigan did to beat Manchester United last week, and he will know his players have to be ready. I also think that Arsenal will be the better team. They have been sensational at home, while the quality of Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott will be hard for Wigan to handle. Wigan closed space down well against United, but I think they will struggle against the Gunners.
Morosini in our thoughts
This is obviously such a sad loss, and it’s been a tragic year for incidents like this in our sport. It’s terrible to lose a talented young man like this at the start of his career. What has really made it heartbreaking is to hear his family’s story, how he lost his mother and father, and how he’s been supporting his sister, who is disabled.
I’m really pleased that both Livorno and Udinese have stepped up and promised to take care of his family’s finances. Ultimately, this is the correct thing to do. My heart just goes out to his family and friends, and I know I speak for all of us at FOX Soccer when we say our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Champions League continues this week on FOX Soccer, so please join me and the gang Tuesday and Wednesday. Remember, you can always follow me on Twitter @warrenbarton2 and ask questions any time @FOXSoccer. Thanks for reading this week, and I’ll see you soon.
Former England international Warren Barton is the lead analyst for FOX Soccer Match Day, Goals on Sunday, and UEFA Champions League coverage.
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