If you were not a believer of the Etihad revolution, you might as well start being one. Man City’s destruction of a decent Villa outfit not only caught the eye for their methodical devastation on the pitch, but also for the men they did it without – the likes of Aguero, Dzeko, Nasri and Hargreaves. A perfect time for the new league leaders to launch their own youtube channel, indeed.
A dominant Liverpool were unfortunate to drop points against an uncharacteristic Manchester United; a match that threw up plenty of talking points and saw the much-awaited return of Steven Gerrard. Stamford Bridge did not see the best of Chelsea but still saw a win over Everton. Arsenal owe a lot to Robin Van Persie as he virtually single-handedly kept the Gunners’ boat afloat.
At Wigan, the full-time whistle was greeted with a roar as big as any around England this weekend, by Bolton supporters who saw their side end a string of six defeats with a deserved win at the DW stadium. And the Black Country Derby finished 2-0 in favour of West Brom.
While bottom of the table Blackburn managed a draw away to QPR, Norwich won the battle of the newbies when a Pilkington brace helped them get the better of Swansea. Stoke City left it late at Fortress Britannia to defeat Fulham. And finally, a thrilling affair at St. James’ Park ended in a 2-2 draw, with Newcastle twice coming from behind to rescue a point.
Biggest Disappointment – Liverpool 1-1 Man United
When Liverpool and Man United face each other, the whole of England stops to watch an epic battle. Although it was a memorable contest in the end, it wasn’t quite the feast the world was promised. A scrappy first half, a tactical battle between two Scottish managers, a game of human chess, some controversial decisions, plenty of handbags, missed opportunities, late goals and a complete transformation in the last twenty minutes characterized the battle at Anfield.
Gerrard – What a comeback!
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard scored on his return through a free-kick in front of an ecstatic Kop, only to be pegged back by United’s young predator Javier Hernandez. And David De Gea saved United time and again to earn Fergie’s men a crucial point at Anfield.
It is a travesty that the goal scored by Mohamed Diame (Wigan Athletic) did not earn Wigan any points and could not earn this award. His nonchalant, right-foot curler into the top corner of Jaaskelainen’s net left the Bolton keeper rooted to the spot. Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland) curled in a magnificent, unsavable free-kick that stunned the Emirates into silence.
But ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’! Skipper Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) curled in a magical free-kick of his own, late on at the Emirates, to give the Gunners an unconvincing but important victory. He takes this weekend’s best goal for keeping his nerve, when others around him are famous for losing it.
In the build up to Gerrard’s goal, Charlie Adam made the most of a slight clip by Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd). Liverpool’s Scottish midfielder went on a wonderful run and skipped past the United centre-back, only to do down after feeling a little tickle on his ankle that would not have even felled Martin Skrtel’s new born baby.
While United were aggrieved at the awarding of the free-kick, once the decision was made, nobody quite knows how Rio did not receive his second yellow card.
Most distasteful aftermath
Patrice Evra (Man Utd) has claimed that Luis Suarez (Liverpool) made racist comments towards the United skipper. It is being looked into by the FA and it will certainly not be the last we hear of it.
In the future, the City faithful may look back at the Villa game as the day Adam Johnson (Man City) guaranteed his long tenure at the club. Man City’s young winger – and one of their least expensive players – looked the part in City’s win with a wonderfully taken goal and heavy involvement in other goals.
David De Gea (Man Utd) shares this award as his world-class saves were the reason United took a point from Anfield. The young Spaniard is starting to justify his price tag.
You don’t agitate Mario Balotelli (Man City) and get away with it! And Aston Villa fans found that out after mocking the Man City striker when he lost his footing right in front of them. Few seconds later, he received the ball and almost curled in a beauty from 30 yards out, but Given denied him.
And when Balotelli finally scored with an instinctive overhead kick, he let the Villa fans know who had scored with a bit of swagger and a bit of arrogance.
This one is awarded for sheer persistence. Scott Sinclair (Swansea City) was reeling on the deck, when he somehow managed to stick a foot out to divert the ball for Danny Graham to score. This came after he had lost his footing at the end of a wonderful run from the left.
Wojciech Szczęsny (Arsenal) pulled off an unbelievable save to deny Lee Cattermole giving Sunderland a lead at the Emirates. Arsenal’s number one sped across the face of goal and stretched his arms to save Cattermole’s free header from two yards out!
David De Gea (Man Utd) is unlucky to miss out after making scintillating saves to deny Dirk Kuyt and Jordan Henderson.
Steve Gohouri (Wigan) looked half-asleep all day long. It was confirmed when his slack play let Kevin Davies rob him off the ball to setup David Ngog for Bolton’s second goal. This came just two minutes after Diame’s stunning goal had equalised for Wigan! Gohouri’s error sent Wigan on their way to a fifth straight defeat in the League.
Best ‘rolling back the years’ moment
John Arne Riise (Fulham) rolled back time with a thunderous strike at Stoke City that crashed into the woodwork. The ex-Liverpool fullback had made his name at the Anfield club for his special left-foot and although it would not have bettered his goal against United almost a decade back, he was inches away from snapping up the best goal of the week.
Best instinctive save
Ryan Giggs (Man Utd) was the culprit in Gerrard’s goal as he not only stepped away from Welbeck in the wall, but also bent himself in a way to avoid the ball hitting a particular area of the body – the excessive usage of which made headlines all over England. There is only so much one can sacrifice for a club’s cause!
Most perplexing decision
Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Nani were all left on the United bench by Sir Alex Ferguson as his team selection made for a major talking point before, during and even after the match. United were uncharacteristically defensive in their approach, but they came out of Anfield with their unbeaten run intact. So, a tactical success or a failure?
“We worked ever so hard but my frustration is losing a goal like that. It was diabolical. I know that Chris Samba is a big lad but he did not have to work hard.” said Neil Warnock (QPR Manager) after drawing against bottom of the table Blackburn. Christopher Samba did very well to climb above his marker, quite a few yards away from goal and produce one of the best headers of the season thus far. For diabolical defending, he should see Martin Skrtel, Stephen Warnock, Steve Gohouri or the whole of Wolves’ defence!
Though we must tell you there is a lot of mindless drivel being said all over England. We just like to keep a permanent eye on Warnock!
Worst refereeing decision
Chris Foy (West Brom v Wolves) deserves this award for not awarding a foul for Roger Johnson’s challenge on Shane Long; a last-man foul that would’ve seen the Wolves skipper sent off. Shane Long – after terrorising the Wolves defence all match – reached first to the ball and nicked it before Johnson slid in. It was so blatant that the Wolves players had stopped expecting a whistle, but referee Foy had other ideas!
Team of the weekend
David De Gea (Man United), Paul Scharner (West Brom), Vincent Kompany (Man City), Chris Samba (Blackburn), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Chris Eagles (Bolton), Adam Johnson (Man City), Mario Balotelli (Man City), Robin Van Persie (Arsenal), Shane Long (West Brom)
Premier League Results
Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United
Manchester City 4-1 Aston Villa
Wigan Athletic 1-3 Botlon Wanderers
Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Blackburn Rovers
Stoke City 2-0 Fulham
Norwich City 3-1 Swansea City
Chelsea 3-1 Everton
West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland
Newcastle United 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur