And WWOD's International Football Roundup
Entering the weekend, the top of the table in the Premiership was as crowded as the Northern Iowa bandwagon.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal were all within 3 points of one another and each knew that a perfect record is the last best chance to raise the league trophy at season's end. With so much on the line, and Champions League ties looming for two of the three clubs, it was time to watch out for nerves. Who would rise to the moment?
Frank Lampard, apparently. The Blues attacking midfielder netted four goals as his side blitzed Aston Villa, 7-1. He was first on the scorecard with an athletic finish to a cross just 15 minutes in and put home his final tally in the 90th minute of play.
Elsewhere in England, United steamrolled Bolton, 4-0, thanks in large part to Dimitar Berbatov, who scored a brace while filling in for the increasingly imperious Wayne Rooney. With Man U. and Chelsea breezing, Arsenal could not hold up their end up of the bargain. They were equalized in the 90th minute at Birmingham and were forced to head home with a 1-1 draw. With Barcelona coming to the Emirates at midweek, one must begin to fear if this is too much pressure in too short a span for the young Gunners.
Spain: La Liga
On the continent, Real Madrid held off intra-city rival Atletico while Barcelona outclassed the methodical Mallorca side that still holds the fourth spot in La Liga. The Catalans and the team from the capital remain locked in a death embrace atop the league standings. They've got a must-see tie in a fortnight (two weeks) at the Bernabéu that could prove the difference.
Italy: Serie A
Embroiled in a tight race for the title, AC Milan squandered a chance to improve upon its third-place standing. With second-place Roma having knocked off first-place Inter, the Rossoneri seemed in fine shape with a fixture against lowly Lazio. But all that Milan could muster was an early penalty and they were held to a 1-1 draw at home. With about three weeks to play, all three clubs are within three points of one another.
Where Milan failed, Schalke succeeded. With perennial power Bayern Munich stuttering against middling Stuttgart, Schalke (whose only run of dominance occurred prior to WWII) defeated Bayern Leverkusen and went atop the standings with just a handful of games to play. As fate would have it, Schalke and Munchen meet next weekend.