HOW THE BOTTOM HALF LOOKS THIS MORNING…….. above the Mags and third top, a lofty position that lasted until Spurs rolled over for Keegan
1 Tottenham 31 8 3 4 43 26 2 6 8 17 25 9 39
2 Middlesbrough 31 5 4 6 15 19 3 6 7 13 25 -16 34
3 Sunderland 32 8 3 5 19 16 1 3 12 10 33 -20 33
4 Reading 32 8 2 7 19 22 1 3 11 18 36 -21 32
5 Newcastle 31 6 5 5 20 24 2 3 10 13 33 -24 32
6 Wigan 32 7 3 5 18 14 1 4 12 10 33 -19 31
7 Birmingham 32 5 6 5 23 19 2 3 11 15 30 -11 30
8 Bolton 32 5 5 7 20 18 1 3 11 10 30 -18 26
9 Fulham 32 4 5 7 19 26 0 7 9 10 27 -24 24
10 Derby 32 1 5 10 10 27 0 3 13 6 40 -51 11
So what has Arabia got to do with Sunderland’s heartstopping second win on the trot? It’s just one of the places you could get to see the game live, thanks to the reach of televised Premier League football. Read on for the view from Abu Dhabi of events at the SoL
So Craig Gordon and Andy Reid shaved a million or two off their transfer fees, an opposing team for once failed to bring their own referee (that was sheer incompetence, Mr Curbishley; the device has worked brilliantly for others this season) and we end up with three utterly magical points.
After our initial flurry, West Ham grew in confidence, dominated midfield and carved out good chances. To no great surprise, they scored.
But that was the spur for one of our most invigorating team performances in memory. It was a pulsating encounter, and we did more than enough in the latter stages of the first half and throughout the second to emerge, beyond serious question, deserving winners. Even if we did leave it to the 22nd minute of time added on.
This is being written thousands of miles from the Stadium of Light. I saw the game but have not yet read the reports, so await with interest to learn whether there were any complaints from West Ham about the length of stoppage time or Kenwyne Jones’s equaliser.
On the latter, the Showtime commentary team had no doubt – after showing replays – that Jones was onside. And injuries certainly took up a fair amount of the second 45 minutes. On top of that, each side arguably had a half-decent penalty call.
In other words, we were excellent value for the win, won it for ourselves and put on a display that was a credit to the Premier League. What is more, we should have sealed that victory several minutes earlier when, in his last kick of an otherwise fine game, Daryl Murphy missed the simplest of chances to blast Jones’s superb cross into the net.
Weak links? I struggle to identify them, at least in the last two thirds of the game. Gordon’s save from Carlton Cole at 1-1 was magificent. The back four was valiant in its resistance of the significant threat of the Hammers strike force. Chopra, Whitehead, Richardson and Reid eventually seized command of the middle of the pitch and drove our team forward. Jones and Murphy worried away at their defence and the subs played their part. As did the 45,690 crowd. For once, after the horrors of Bennett, Styles, Webb et al, we had an even-handed referee, Andre Marriner.
The joy on the faces of Daryl Murphy, inconsolable when subbed after his miss, as Reid’s cracker sped into the net, and Roy Keane at the end seconds later, was worth the cost of the seat (Salut! Sunderland may reside in Abu Dhabi but still buys its season ticket).
It is fair to say that Madame Salut was less than impressed with the exuberance of my reaction to the winner, though equally fair to add that the Emiratis to my left in the main bar of the Club didn’t seem to mind a bit. And thanks indeed to the Swansea and Norwich fans, seated behind me, for keeping up a flow of mostly heartening news from the other Premiership games that mattered to us yesterday.
For SAFC fans watching around the world (and leaving aside those in Australia who somehow managed to fall asleep and miss the climax), it was a day – or in our case, since we are four hours ahead, a night – to remember.