While the Premier League's 11:00 a.m. Eastern start times produced more low-scoring matches than anticipated, in most of the matches, the quality was still there. Unfortunately, we have to start with the "dour."
That's a word I took exception to as it was applied to the mid-week Manchester Derby, but that sentiment is unavoidable when describing Manchester City's 0-0 draw with Birmingham City. The Citizens seem to have little clue how to deal with a team that's not going to attack them. Unfortunately for them and everybody who decided to watch, Brum refused to play into their hands, staying their predictably (and frustratingly) conservative selves.
City and Brum should pitch in to refund everybody who attended. And I want some of my cable bill covered.
That was one of three nil-nils at the mid-day start time, though West Ham and Blackpool tried their hardest to avoid it. The teams combined for 48 shots at Upton Park. Testament to their talents, only five were on frame. West Ham stays bottom, being drawn 0-0 at home.
Newcastle and Fulham also ended 0-0, though it was nowhere near as dour* as city-city (which I'm refusing to spell properly). While there was a paucity of chances, at least these two sides contested the result. For Fulham, that wasn't enough to avoid their eighth draw in 13 matches. For Newcastle, the draw coupled with Bolton and Tottenham's wins leaves them seventh.
* I feel like every time "dour" has been used this week, a talking chair and a disembodied genie scream.
That Tottenham win featured more Gareth Bale magic, the Welsh winger recording a brace in Spurs' 4-2 win over Blackburn. Roman Pavlyuchenko placated Spurs fans by converted one of his 102 chances (though not the one he took from the spot). Peter Crouch had Spurs other goal, with Ryan Nelson and Gael Givet recording late consolations.
In another high-scoring affair, Wolves got late goals from Kevin Foley and Steven Fletcher but ultimately fell short, their early own goal the difference in a 2-3 loss to Bolton. The Trotters got goals from second half goals from Johan Elmander and Stuart Holden, at one point building a 0-3 lead.
And let's send some love to Roberto Martínez, ESPN's best pundit at this year's World Cup, who got three points with Wigan. The Latics were finally rewarded for weeks of good football, staking a Victor Moses goal to a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
The win will see Wigan out of the drop come Sunday night. Congrats, Roberto.