The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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A Line Under Sunday, December 9

Image: Tuncay Sanli.Middlesbrough 2 – 1 Arsenal — It’s hard to say what Arsenal missed more in this match, Cesc Fabregas or the goalmouth. Based on the number of free kicks that went skewing off to Jupiter, I’m going to say it was both.

Blackburn 0 – 1 West Ham — “An animated Mark Hughes” watched the game from the touchline in frustration, according to the match report. Sadly, his team of talking animals and plucky but kind-hearted princesses failed to capture the quality of the real Mark Hughes’s flesh-and-blood team.

Bolton 4 – 1 Wigan — Incredibly, some of them weren’t even own goals.

Tottenham 2 – 1 Manchester City — Being allowed to play offside without being called for it against a side of only 10 men has a curious way of validating Juande Ramos’s tactical approach.

Chelsea 2 – 0 Sunderland — What happened to the Avram Grant who was going to keep us entertained? Where’s the tap-dancing Avram, the starry-eyed Avram, the Avram with top hat and cane? I’m looking down on the stage of the cabaret—once more alone in the balcony—and all I see is one sad mime in a Shevchenko shirt, sweeping up a dusty spotlight, weeping. Drogba’s knee injury is like the Broadway strike of Chelsea.

Everton 3 – 0 Fulham — And that makes 25 away games without a win for Fulham. That’s sort of a misleading statistic, though, since they don’t really win at home, either.

Manchester United 4 – 1 Derby — Easily the shock result of the weekend. Seeing Derby score against Manchester United was like seeing butter gather up its courage, straighten its glasses, and take a notch out of a hot knife. Bravely done, Steve Howard. Bravely done.

Newcastle 2 – 1 Birmingham — The only fly in the ointment, according to Sam Allardyce, was Newcastle’s “continuing tendency to gift goals to the opposition, particularly early ones.” So, yeah, that’s looking like some really tasty ointment.

Reading 3 – 1 Liverpool — Another Liverpool match, another refereeing controversy, another dramatic Gerrard equalizer, another set of bewildering Rafa Benitez tactics…this was like the Platonic template of a Liverpool game. Except, you know, that they lost it.

Aston Villa 1 – 3 Portsmouth — Harry Redknapp complained about the “filth” he endured from Villa supporters and their tiny filth-spewing children throughout the match. It’s a fair point, especially considering the culture of mild accountants and Saturday wine picnics which has long been associated with the stands at Fratton Park.

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A Line Under Sunday, December 9

by Brian Phillips · December 9, 2007

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