English Premier League Review – Week 8
The game that everyone was looking forward to didn’t little more than show a glimpse of what it could have been. There can be no bigger insult for the great rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool than to compare the contest to an MLS match. Sadly, that’s what the first half resembled at Anfield, where a packed and enthusiastic crowd was groaning far more than cheering in a sloppy first 45 minutes. It took a free kick from Liverpool icon Stephen Gerrard and a terrible mistake by old man Giggs in the ManU wall to give Liverpool the lead and bring the match to life. Gerrard made his first start since March and his goal lifted the entire match. The passes were crisper, the shots more menacing, and United grew more menacing, bringing Nani and Wayne Rooney off the bench. They found a way back ten minutes from time on a header by Chicarito off a corner kick from Nani. David De Gea saved the point for ManU with a brilliant stop off Jordan Henderson. In the end, 1-1 was a fair result.
Man City rose to the top of the table with a ridiculously easy 4-1 win over previously unbeaten Aston Villa. Mario Balotelli opened the scoring for City with a spectacular bicycle kick off a corner after getting into an early war of words with the crowd. Two minutes into the second half Adam Johnson doubled the score for City, and Vincent Kompany made it three five minutes later on header off Johnson’s corner kick. Stephen Warnock got one back for Villa, but James Milner ended any doubt about the result with a beautiful blast from 20 yards out.
Chelsea kept their hold on third place with a clinical 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge against Everton. David Moyes has done a remarkable job at Everton, making do with a budget about a quarter of what Andre Villas-Boas has at his disposal with Chelsea but it wasn’t enough on this day. Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring on a header after a nice run from Ashley Cole, and the captain John Terry scored at the end of the first half in his 250th league appearance to make it 2-0. That goal was a backbreaker for Everton. Ramires made it 3-0 on a fine cross from Juan Mata, while the 19 year old substitute Apostolos Vellios scored on his first touch to spoil the shutout.
Stoke got goals from Jonathan Walters and Rory Delap in the last ten minutes to keep Fulham winless on the road. Heider Helgusson tallied his 100th goal in the English football to give QPR the lead, but Blackburn evened the score through Christopher Samba eight minutes later. Although Rovers did earn a point, it wasn’t enough to keep them from falling to the bottom of the table. Chris Eagles was the best player on the pitch in Bolton’s visit to Wigan, and he helped give the guests an early lead after a great run set up Nigel Reo-Coker. Mohamed Diome evened the score for Wigan, but David N’Gog scored his first goal for Bolton just before halftime to give Bolton the lead. Eagles made it 3-1 in stoppage to for Bolton, as they broke a six game losing streak. Norwich continued their solid play with a 3-1 triumph over Swansea. Anthony Pilkington opened the scoring after only 50 second, and Russell Martin doubled the score ten minutes later. Danny Graham cut the lead in half for the Swans, but Bilkington scored his second shortly after the hour mark to secure the victory.
If it were not for Robert Van Persie, Arsenal would surely find itself in the relegation zone. He has been their best player by far this season, and his two goals Sunday rescued the Gunners at the Emirates against Sunderland. The game of the week took place at Newcastle even though the most notable occurrence in a quiet first thirty minutes was the injury to Tottenham captain Ledley King, who was making his 300th start for Spurs. A penalty to Adebayor in the 41st minute led to a Rafael Van der Vaart conversion for a 1-0 Spurs lead and as we know, a goal is all we need to open up the match. The second half was much more compelling as the goal-scoring machine Demba Ba evened the score for Newcastle early in the second half. A clinical strike from Jermaine Defoe gave the Spurs the lead once again, but Shola Ameobi brought 50,000 Toon fans to their feet with a great strike to make it 2-2. Newcastle applied great pressure at the end, but couldn’t come up with the victory. West Brom moved out of the relegation area all the way up to 12th with a convincing 2-0 win at the Hawthorns over slumping Wolves, who lost their fifth straight. Chris Brunt scored after only eight minutes for Albion, and Peter Odemwinghe, who was not selected to start, came off the bench and scored with 15 minutes left to provide West Brom with some breathing room.
Another great week of futbol in the books for the Premier League. While the Liverpool/ManU matchup left a lot to desire, there were plenty of striking goals this week as well as a big win by Man City to set the stage for the Manchester derby next weekend. There are a couple big games next week, but before we look forward, lets look back at the top performers in week 8:
*Juan Mata – the architect of the Chelsea midfield looks like the piece that has been missing in recent years
**Mario Balotelli – beautiful over the head goal in a game where his team jumped to the tops of the table
***Robin van Persie – scored two beautiful goals in a game where he dominated and really could have had 6 or 7