(Tuesday, October 31, 2006) -- Blackburn Rovers and their American goalkeeper Brad Friedel had a rough week, bowing out of the Carling Cup before dropping an English Premier League match they were expected to win.
On Wednesday, Rovers were eliminated in the Carling Cup third round 2-0 by Chelsea in a driving rain. Friedel played well, making seven saves, starting when he steered away a blast from Salomon Kalou.
Later, Friedel denied Michael Essien's close-range effort with his shins after Arjen Robben had swung in a corner kick. However, Friedel could do little with a strong shot by Joe Cole in the 53rd minute. After Friedel blocked a drive from Shaun-Wright Phillips in the 81st minute, he was out of position moments later when Kalou beat a defender to put away a rebound for a 2-0 advantage.
Losing to powerful two-time defending Premier League champion Chelsea is no disgrace. Falling to struggling West Ham United is another story. Sunday, Friedel was again victimized in Rovers 2-1 road loss at West Ham, which entered the meeting riding an eight-match losing streak.
Forty-year-old Teddy Sheringham was put into the starting lineup and, in the 20th minute, he ran unmarked into the middle of the box where he met Yossi Benayoun's cross and sent a sharp header past Friedel to put the Hammers up 1-0.
Much the same happened in the 81st minute when Marlon Harewood earned a corner kick and sent a ball into the box where it was flicked on by Anton Ferdinand to unmarked Hayden Mullins, who poked a point-blank shot past Friedel for a 2-0 lead.
American Jonathan Spector went the distance for West Ham at right back. He did well pushing the ball forward, but was singled out and pressured by Rovers, causing him to give up some chances. None were converted.
David Bentley scored Blackburn's only goal in the 90th minute.
Blackburn (3-4-3, 12 points) is in a three-way tie for 12th place. West Ham (2-6-2, 8) is in a two-way tie for 16th place, two points above the relegation zone.
Reading also had a tough week, starting with a 4-3 loss to host Liverpool in the Carling Cup third round. Reading manager Steve Coppell decided to rest a number of his regulars, including United States goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and midfielder Bobby Convey
Coppell might have regretted starting Graham Stack in his place, when Liverpool scored three goals in rapid succession -- Robbie Fowler in the 44th minute, John Arne Riise in the 45th and Gabriel Paletta in the 50th. When Reading rallies with two late goals, Coppell might have wished he had started Hahnemann.
After the match, it was announced that Stack was loaned to Leeds United in the second-tier League Championship.
On Saturday, Reading traveled to fourth-place Portsmouth (6-3-1, 19) and was handed its third straight Premier League loss 3-1. There was little that Hahnemann could do against a team that raised its record to 4-1 at home.
Like Liverpool, Portsmouth jumped to a 3-0 lead with each goal coming off a set piece, made possible by awful Reading defending.
In the 10th minute, Reading defender Brynjar Gunnarsson was holding the near post on a corner kick. The ball came directly to him and as he tried to head it over the end-line, he placed it in his own net, just inside the post and just beyond Hahnemann's reach.
In the 52nd minute. Sol Campbell popped a volleyed cross directly in front of the net and onto the head of unmarked Nwankwo Kanu, who easily beat Hahnemann.
In the 66th minute, another poor Reading clearance of a corner kick fell to Miguel Pedro Mendes, who blasted it past Hahnemann to make it 3-0.
Kevin Doyle scored to allow the Royals to pull to within 3-1 and Hahnemann made three outstanding saves in the final ten minutes to keep that the final score.
Convey, who was held out of the Cup clash with Liverpool because of a leg strain, was not expected to start at Portsmouth, but was put in the opening 11 after a good week of training.
Convey played well, creating several near misses with his crosses and a corner kick. Not entirely fit, Convey was replaced in the 73rd minute.
Reading's slide has dropped it to a tie for ninth place at 4-5-1 with 13 points, facing another tough trip to play Liverpool at Anfield Saturday.
With midfielder Claudio Reyna going the first 80 minutes and his U.S. teammate DaMarcus Beasley, getting his first start and going 71, Manchester City recorded a much needed win last night 1-0 over visiting Middlesbrough in a nationally televised game before 36,720 at City of Manchester Stadium, the lowest attendance for a home league game since City left Maine Road in 2003.
England coach Steve McClaren was in attendance and could not have been too pleased by what he saw. Few of the nine Englishmen on the field did very much with the only goal on the night coming from Ireland defender Richard Dunne, who headed a rebound past Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer in the 23rd minute.
Both Reyna and Beasley played well. Beasley, just coming off an ankle injury in a reserve match, added pace on the left side and troubling Middlesbrough, especially in the opening 45 minutes.
With a 3-0-2 record at home, City is 3-4-3 with 12 points in a three-way tie for 11th place. Chairman John Wardle remains quite unhappy with his team's record and is demanding better results.
Newly promoted Watford, without a victory in 10 Premier League matches, had its best week of the season, starting with their first win in regulation, defeating visiting Hull 2-1 in the third round of the Carling Cup at Vicarage Road Stadium.
Against the League Championship's bottom club, Watford got goals from Ashley Young in the second minute and Tamas Priskin in the 54th. With American Jay DeMerit going the distance on the right side, the Watford defense turned in a good effort.
DeMerit played 90 minutes again on Saturday, getting a yellow card in the 48th minute, as part of another strong performance by the Hornets' backs in a 0-0 draw Tottenham Hotspur in a league match at Vicarage Road.
Watford has played better over the last couple weeks, is 0-4-6 with six points, mired in 18th place, the top position in the relegation zone.
American Tim Howard was outstanding for goal, making 12 saves for visiting Everton, but he could not quite get to a beautiful free kick from Robin Van Persie in a 1-1 draw with red-hot Arsenal before 60,047 at Emirates Stadium.
Tim Cahill put Everton ahead in the 11th minute and it held on until Persie found net with one of the Gunners' 29 shots. Howard made a flying save to deny Thierry Henry in the 21st minute and produced an even better one to protect the lead in the first minute of the second-half. Henry thought he had a goal when he climbed high to head Tomas Rosicky's cross toward a corner of the net, but Howard extended to push it wide with his fingertips.
Arsenal was awarded a questionable free kick on a foul by Lee Carsley on in the 70th minute and Van Persie sent in a curving shot over the wall. Howard got a hand on it, but the equalizer was too hard for him to keep out of the net.
Everton is in sixth place at 4-1-5 with 17 points, one point behind Arsenal, which had won its last five EPL outings.
Howard did not play last Tuesday when Everton moved into the fourth round of the Carling Cup with an easy 4-0 decision over Luton of the League Championship.