Early Doors

The worst game ever?

Early Doors

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With the much-coveted fourth place up for grabs, the meeting of Champions League hopefuls Manchester City and Liverpool on Sunday promised much.

How everyone unfortunate to have been at Eastlands or in front of the telly at home were let down in one of the worst games witnessed this season, perhaps of all time.

Of course that second, rather glib remark is an exaggeration, but considering the rewards of a fourth-place finish, you'd have thought both sides would have gone all out for victory at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Not so. With both managers deploying two defensive midfielders and just one up front, all either team could muster was a solitary shot on target each throughout the entire 90 minutes.

Clearly, Roberto Mancini and Rafa Benitez considered not losing far more important than winning - a continental, safety first ethos that does not befit two of the 'best' teams in the Premier League.

Justice was done when Tottenham were rewarded for their attacking performance against Wigan by leapfroging both City and Liverpool into the final Champions League place with just 11 (12 for City) games to go this season, a result that highlighted the flawed logic employed at Eastlands.

Other than serving to bore the pants off any watching the game, the tactics on display in Manchester revealed a distinct lack of ambition from two clubs whose aspirations, we are told, are far grander.

Certainly City's short-term goal is to break into the Big Four with a slightly longer-term plan to knock their city rivals United off their perch at the top of the tree.

So where was the self-belief that they could beat one of their immediate rivals and steal a march on fourth place? Not at Eastlands.

A club with such big hopes needs a certain degree of confidence if they are to turn those objectives into reality. Yet City, at the moment, are displaying the same levels of confidence as a member of Gordon Brown's staff.

And on Sunday's performance, Liverpool are not the fourth best team in England. For the moment, Spurs are, and deservedly so.

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Can Bobby Zamora win England the World Cup?

That's the buzz around Craven Cottage after the striker's late winner against Birmingham - his fourth goal in as many outings and his 15th of a prolific season so far. But an England call-up?

Listening to a radio phone-in after the game, ED was shocked to hear one Fulham fan claim that the former Brighton ace was "the best striker in the country at the moment".

It turned out he meant at that very moment, at 18:27 on Sunday 21 February, citing Wayne Rooney's muted display at Everton a day earlier as proof that Zamora had overtaken the man currently considered the best player in the world, let alone the country.

But even if Rooney had been deposed as king of English football by tea-time on Sunday, Zamora still probably wouldn't have taken his crown - Carlton Cole and Emile Heskey are far better players with far better pedigree and both were in form and on target in their respective games over the weekend.

Nevertheless, Zamora's recent feats have pricked the interest of Fabio Capello, who was at Craven Cottage to check on him ahead of England's friendly against Egypt next month. It's just a shame the England coach left early to beat the traffic, missing Zamora's last-minute match-winning free-kick - the one moment that made the player stand out from the crowd.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: "I got a text from him last week saying: 'I miss you so much.' I'd texted him to say happy birthday. He was 24. And he said he missed me, and 'thanks for all the kind things you're saying about me'. You ­appreciate things like that." Alex Ferguson proves he doesn't hold a grudge against every player who leaves Old Trafford, while revealing Cristiano Ronaldo's enormous ego is thankfully still intact.

FOREIGN VIEW: Actually, that's slightly unfair on the Portugal international, who showed an entirely different side to his character in the wake of the terrible floods that have affected Madeira by offering to help the stricken island, the place of his birth, "in any way" he can. For the time being, that meant wearing a tee-shirt with Madeira written on it during Real Madrid's 6-2 La Liga victory over Villarreal.

REFRESHING CHANGE OF THE WEEKEND: The standing ovation afforded to Emmanuel Eboue by the Emirates crowd after the Arsenal man's barnstorming display against Sunderland - the same Emirates crowd that reduced the Ivorian to tears by booing him off the pitch not so long ago.

COMING UP: All the usual Monday offerings are in the pipeline, including Team of the Week, Hot or Hot, Behind Enemy Lines and all the key stats from the weekend. Plus, Paul Parker will be filing and a bunch of jokers will be spouting off on a podcast later in the day. Tonight, we've got League Two action to follow as Rotherham entertain Shrewsbury Town and Getafe travel to Valencia in La Liga. Have a flutter on both games with Eurosport Bet.

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