Penalty pain, sneaky Sidwell & the Alternative PL's artist in residence Rob Carey on penalty pain for Chelsea and Tottenham and improvisation at Aston Villa...

England fans all over the country rejoiced on Friday after witnessing the World Cup draw in South Africa.

Surprisingly, all the back pages of the morning newspapers claimed that England are definitly, 100 percent, no doubt about it, going to win the whole thing.

But incidents over the weekend may have dampened our dreams a little and brought back memories of England’s previous shortcomings.

A well respected, organised, and experienced Italian manager can tighted up the back four, sort out the midfield dilemma, and ignore Michael Owen, but sadly he can’t do a damn thing about our inability to put away a penalty.

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard had the chance to put his team level at Eastlands on Saturday but his tame effort was easily saved by City keeper, Shay Given.

While Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe drove his stoppage-time penalty straight into Everton’s Tim Howard, squandering the chance to earn his side three points at Goodison.

England should cruise out of the group stages, but travelling fans should check their hotel cancelation rules.

But it wasn’t all bad for English players.

Aston Villa’s James Milner scored the goal of the week past the unfortunate Matt Duke in the Hull City goal.

Duke bolted out of his penalty-area to beat the oncoming Villa forwards, sliding the ball out for a throw.

But quick-thinking Villa substitute Steve Sidwell, warming up nearby, grabbed the ball and hastily returned it to a fellow Villa player to throw to Milner, who cleverly lobbed the Hull keeper - comically busting a gut to get back to his goal.

Credit though must go to Sidwell, for his biggest contribution since joining the Villians last summer.

More than just a game

50 years ago this week Bill Shankly took over as manager of Liverpool FC, transforming the second division outfit into league champions and conquerors of Europe.

While current Reds manager Rafa Benitez seemed content to lead his team to a tedious 0-0 draw with Blackburn, their fans’ songs were being drowned out by the sound of Shankly turning in his grave.

Alternative Premier League

Readers following the blog from the start of the season will remember the Alternative League, modeled on the “Unofficial World Championship.”

Last year’s official league winners Manchester United started out as the team to beat, until the mighty Burnley knocked them off their perch.

As the season has gone on, the lead has changed hands on numerous occasions: Chelsea, Wigan, and Fulham have all sat at the top.

Birmingham City are the current Alternative League leaders after continuing their impressive unbeaten run with a 3-2 win over Wigan at the “I have no shame and named an arena after myself, Dave Whelan, DW Stadium.”

Shame about the kit though.


And finally, best wishes go out to everyone’s favourite player not in their team, Jimmy Bullard.

Hurry back soon. More to read...

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