The biggest talking points of the Liverpool and Manchester United match came before the game and after. United’s starting line up did not include Wayne Rooney, Nani or Javier Hernandez and included Phil Jones as the holding midfield player.
United may have left with a point but the starting formation and line-up failed to impress. It was only after the cavalry arrived that United showed any cohesiveness going forward.
Liverpool showed the most initiative and pressured United in most areas of the park. The goal when it came was courtesy of a botched defensive wall at a free kick.
Ryan Giggs was certainly culpable but given Steven Gerrard’s ability to curl a free kick the wall appeared a man short and it still a mystery as to what Patrice Evra was up to.
If it had been later in the evening he might have got done for loitering.
The Liverpool defence was also at fault when it came to the United equalizer. From a Nani corner Welbeck pushed off Carragher and his flick found Hernandez who had lost Skrtel at the back post.
Both teams have emphasized play from wide positions this season but on this day it was extremely ineffective or almost non-existent. Liverpool played balls into the United penalty area to feed Andy Carroll. Unfortunately Carroll was not playing.
In the case of Manchester United they failed to get the ball wide often enough and there were few opportunities played into Liverpool penalty box.
The big post-game story was whether or not Luis Suarez racially abused Fabrice Evra.
United’s early season rivals – and more likely to be there right to the end – Manchester City also fielded a less than first choice eleven but they still made easy work of an Aston Villa side that had previously been unbeaten.
De Jong and Barry in midfield gave City the boring look of last season but nonetheless they still scored four times and never looked to be in any trouble against a Villa side that failed in their first game against top class opponents this season.
However, as impressive as City’s win was it is difficult to agree with the hyperbole of colour commentator Dean Sturridge. If Mario Balotelli’s rather straight forward overhead kick was world-class then the term has been very much devalued.
James Milner’s second goal was certainly an excellent goal – a sweeping cross-field pass followed by a well-struck finish – but a work of genius. Really?
Chelsea also made short work of an Everton side that allowed the home side far too much time to build from the back.
Chelsea scored three times from 7 attempts on goal and had another 3 on target. The late goal from substitute Vellios broke the Chelsea shut-out and left anyone who had picked Petr Cech for a fantasy football clean sheet cursing.
The propensity to allow the opposition a consolation goal (a shut out in the first match of the season against Stoke stands as their lone marker) is about the only real cause for concern to the Chelsea faithful at the moment.
If anyone thought that this season was going to be anything else but a slog for Arsenal they were reminded how hard it will be when the Gunners scrambled to a 2-1 win over Sunderland.
The first half had Arsenal looking as if they were going to blow the Black Cats away. Van Persie scored with only seconds gone and he could have had a hat trick after 20 minutes. In particular there was one beautiful piece of skill that saw a chip from the Dutchman rebound off the inside post.
A wonderfully struck Larsson free kick tied the match in the first half and provided Sunderland with a much-needed confidence boost.
As the crowd grew more frustrated in the second half it looked as if a point was going to be it. That is until Van Persie became Arsenal’s fourth free kick taker of the day (Santos, Walcott and Arteta all missed the target from what should have been dangerous positions) and he matched Larsson’s earlier effort.
The crowd’s reaction was one of relief as much as joy. One small encouragement for Arsenal was how they managed the game out in the last 12 to 13 minutes.
After Arsenal took the lead Arteta ( 9 for 9 in passing) and Arshavin (6 for 6) showed a willingness to lead and take responsibility – something that has sometimes been lacking on the side.
Spurs went to Newcastle with a less than impressive record at St James’ Park over the last few seasons – a win in 2004 their last in the Premier League. The first half was cautious but the second was a wonderfully entertaining spectacle.
Newcastle controlled most of the first half but Spurs still went in at half time with a 1-0 lead. Newcastle’s solid work being undone by a combination of Cabaye being caught in possession (he had a generally poor game) and a challenge by Steven Taylor on Adebayor that was a fraction late.
The referee rightly awarded a penalty and Van der Vaart did what was required from 12 yards.
The Newcastle equalizer came shortly after the break and was well constructed and executed. Demba Ba dropped deep and after the ball went left Ba timed his run into the penalty area and when the cross came he forced the ball into the net.
The commentators were quick to point the finger of blame at Assou-Ekotto but it was Livermore who failed to track the strikers run from midfield.
Spurs again took the lead with a stunning strike from Defoe after Taylor (Ryan this time) got caught wrong side of the striker and unable to block the shot.
Newcastle redoubled efforts with Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi both entering the game in place of Ba and Best. Pardew positioned Ameobi on Kyle Walker and it was to pay off.
It did not stop Newcastle going for a winner and Coloccini could have sealed all three points for Newcastle.
A great second half of action.
With five 0-0 draws on Sunday it was left to Roma and Lazio to inject some life into Sunday’s Serie A schedule.
Roma was 1-0 up through a fine finish from Pablo Osvaldo but by the time the first half reached the 20 minute mark Lazio had taken control of the game. Nonetheless the score remained 1-0 to Roma at half time but within seconds of the restart things had changed.
A surging run into the Roma penalty area by Brocchi was stopped by Kjaer. The Dane was sent off and Hernanes scored from the penalty.
Roma was unable to match the more physically imposing Lazio and with ten men it only got harder. Roma was pinned back for the entire second half but they looked to have survived a second half onslaught that included Klose hitting the bar and Cisse thundering a volley off the post.
But Hernanes continued to drive Lazio forward and his pass was then clipped into the penalty box by Matuzalem and Miroslav Klose scored the winner with 15 seconds remaining.
It was no more than Lazio deserved.
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