Madcap Mario tramples over Spurs and Scott Parker

Jan 23, 2012
Jonathan Harwood

Premier League talking points from Balotelli's stamp to another tale of woe for Torres

MANCHESTER won the battle against the capital this weekend as City and United beat Spurs and Arsenal. This time things were a little closer than they had been earlier in the season. The aggregate score on Sunday was 5-3 for the Mancunians, in the reverse fixtures back in August it ended up 13-3 against the Londoners.

Elsewhere there were plenty of other talking points, as Fernando Torres failed to score yet again and QPR won the relegation six-pointer against Wigan. But in the end the man who stole the headlines was, as always, Mario Balotelli.

Here's what the fans will be talking about this morning:

Ban for bad boy Balotelli?
Why always him? Maverick Mario Balotelli was the centre of attention once again after Manchester City's last-gasp win over Spurs. First he appeared to stamp on Scott Parker's head, but escaped unpunished, and then scored an injury-time penalty to win the game for City.

Afterwards Harry Redknapp was furious and said: "He's back-heeled him straight in the head. I don't like talking about people kicking players in the head, but when you see that, it's wrong. It’s blatantly obvious."

The FA are now set to look at the incident and Balotelli could end up facing a four-game ban if they decide to take action against the reckless striker. Whatever happens it will come too late for Spurs after the Italian won and then converted the penalty that won City the game. When asked if he felt any pressure as he prepared to take the spot kick, Balotelli was blunt. He replied: "I was calm, like every time I take a penalty."

Why never Torres?
If Balotelli wonders why it's always him, Fernando Torres must surely be wondering why it is never him any more. The £50m man's goal-drought was extended to a scarecely-believeable 15 hours and 19 minutes before he was hauled off with quarter of an hour to go against Norwich.

The misfiring Spaniard last scored in the Premier League in September and had a golden opportunity to break his duck at Carrow Road, but he managed to squirt Jose Bosingwa's cross wide. When Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas withdrew him after 76 minutes the player looked broken, and if Chelsea believe he has a future at the club then why was he taken off with the game goalless? Would the manager have done the same if it had been Didier Drogba? Probably not.

King Kenny's crown slips
The honeymoon is well and truly over for Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish after he watched his side capitulate against relegation-threatened Bolton Wanderers. And afterwards the Anfield legend embarked on an uncharacteristic rant at his players accusing them of being "disrespectful" to the club. The problem for Liverpool appears to be that they have invested in youth, buying the likes of Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll, on the basis of 'potential'. Unfortunately the young players do not appear to be fulfilling that potential, and the Reds' best player on Saturday was 32-year-old Craig Bellamy. Dalglish personally signed many of the misfiring youngsters and it is down to him to sort out the mess, or else his legacy will be tarnished.

Dempsey destroys Newcastle
Strange goings on by the Thames where Newcastle's defence went walkabout in the second half against Fulham as the home side scored four times in 16 minutes to go from 1-0 down to 4-1 up. Clint Dempsey then became the first American to score a Premier League hat-trick as he notched the Cottager's fifth at the death. Newcastle were the better team in the first half and the absence of Demba Ba at the African Cup of Nations appeared to be the least of their concerns, but things went badly awry in the second period as Fulham ran riot.

Dempsey, who scored a hat-trick against Charlton in the FA Cup, now has six goals in three games. No wonder he is being courted by the likes of Arsenal.

Hughes inspires the Hoops
QPR and Bolton's wins at the weekend could prove vital in this season's relegation battle. For QPR victory in Mark Hughes first home league match was crucial and it leaves their vanquished opponents, Wigan, rooted to the foot of the table four points from safety. It also lifted Rangers out of the bottom three and up to 16th in the table.

Hughes was hired to keep the Hoops in the division and he may be the man to do it, but it increasingly looks like a five-way fight at the bottom of the table. Wolves were sucked into the drop zone after their derby defeat against Aston Villa, for whom Robbie Keane was twice on target.

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