Wayne Rooney helps Manchester United shake off Liverpool in heated encounter, Arsenal leave it late against Sunderland
Man United 2 Liverpool 1
If the Premiership isn’t the most exciting league in the world, it certainly offers the most value for theatre. With Saturday’s early kick off pitching Manchester United against Liverpool, audiences around the world were given an entertaining start to their weekend; an historical matinee pulsing with the subtext of accusations, counter-accusations and prejudice.
Both sides might boast bigger names, but the day’s billing featured two names more prominently than others: Patrice Evra in one corner (the home team hero), and Luis Suarez in the other (the pantomime villain).
Not many football matches have been so concerned with everything else but football, and as the early match rituals began taking shape, much more would be made about everything except football. As the players began shaking hands, a tradition symbolising the importance of fair play, Luis Suarez impertinently snubbed Evra’s offer of a handshake, riling the Frenchman. This set the tone of the game.
The match itself was a tense one, visibly played in an atmosphere of tacit animosity rather than tactics. United dominated play, with Liverpool happy to sit back and hit their opposition on the break. Though the home team enjoyed most of the possession, Liverpool were hardly daunted by United’s inability to carve out a meaningful goal scoring chance. The game certainly was intriguing but nowhere near as barnstorming as expected. Until the second half.
The second 45 might as well have belonged to another game. Suddenly, chances were created. Unfortunately for Liverpool, it wasn’t the away team doing any of the creating. In the space of two minutes, Wayne Rooney managed to score two quick fire goals, volleying home sumptuously from a well delivered corner, and finishing tidily to rupture Liverpool’s resolve.
Following skirmishes in the tunnel at half-time, the home fans certainly seemed to be enjoying making a meal out of Liverpool’s poor second half performance. They no doubt envisioned the proverbial image of a tasty, tasty pie on Suarez’s face. Sadly for them, the little Uruguayan managed to nick a goal back, making it 2-1.
Sunderland 1 Arsenal 2
Arsenal haven’t had the best of times at Sunderland in recent years. There was the game in which Abou Diaby had his ankle shattered by a bad tackle. And then there was the game in which the ten man Gunners should have after defending manfully, and playing beautifully, only to draw after a controversial equaliser.
With all this in mind, it came as no surprise that all Gooners would have feared for the worst when the Black Cats took the lead against the run of play; Per Mertesacker suffering a bad injury in the motion of turning to pass the ball to his ‘keeper. Disastrously for the big German, the young and exciting James McClean was on hand to make the most of the defender’s mistake, picking up the ball and running at Wojciech Szczęsny before smacking the ball into the back of the net.
Both teams started the game with plenty of industry. Arsenal were taken aback by Sunderland’s pressing and direct play in the early stages, but gradually grew to exert their influence on the game. The match soon became one of high tempo and plenty of speed but little accuracy. The away team’s front three had off-days, with the young Chamberlain off-key and Walcott in and out of the action.
It might have ended as a draw, a score few would begrudge, but events late in the game changed the momentum of the match. Arsene Wenger simply had to make changes, and Aaron Ramsey was brought on. The Welsh skipper almost immediately lashed a thumping shot against the post and into the net. Now all Arsenal needed was a super-hero type figure to top the game off with a dramatic, last minute winner. If only they had someone.
In the ninety-first minute, some chap named Henry poked the ball into the back of the net. A super-hero, some might say.
Everton 2 Chelsea 0
Things certainly are blue for the boys of Stamford Bridge. After squandering a healthy, seemingly insurmountable two goal lead at home last weekend, Chelsea topped off a miserable sequence of games after being dispatched by The Toffees.
Everton took the lead early in the game, as Man of the Match, Steven Pienaar, smacked the ball into the roof of Petr Cech’s goal.
Everton have had a difficult season so far, finding it difficult to score. Chelsea have had a difficult season so far, finding it hard to defend. John Terry’s absence certainly didn’t help the away team, as Everton’s bustling, battling and direct approach is tasking enough to unsettle any back four.
The home side impressed, to the delight of their fans, but the dismay of the visiting faithful, who resorted to castigating their young manager. Recent headlines have suggested Roman Abramovich has been making a number of trips to the Chelsea training ground. Watching this, he must’ve wished he could come off the bench and lead from the front.
Chelsea were definitely let down by their inconsistencies at the back, struggling to cope with Everton’s centre forwards. With the game at 1-0, comeback was not out of reach. Hovever, Denis Stracqualursi sealed the victory in the 71st minute for Moyes’ boys.
Fulham 2 Stoke 1
Swansea 2 Norwich 3
Blackburn 3 QPR 2
Bolton 1 Wigan 2