Liverpool FC and Manchester United won convincingly at home, while Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur won tricky away fixtures. Roberto Martinez’s Everton, on the other hand, set a season-record so far in another exciting weekend of Premier League football.
Liverpool go to the top of the table for the weekend
Winning 5-0 against Tottenham Hotspur, at White Hart Lane, would have meant nothing if Liverpool had not done the job that was required of them in Saturday’s early kickoff at Anfield. The Reds are in the midst of a hectic period of games in which their Top 4 and title credentials will be tested. they passed the test with flying colours at White Hart Lane, and were hoping to get 3 points against Cardiff City too.
Despite the crisis in the boardroom, Cardiff came out swinging and kept Luis Suarez quiet for a while. However, a well-timed volley from Suarez opened the floodgates for Liverpool. Luis Suarez then unselfishly set up Raheem Sterling for one of the simplest goals the winger could score in this career, before coming up with a super goal to help Liverpool to a 3-0 lead at the break. Suarez has now set a record for the most number of Premier League goals scored by a single player in one month – 10 in 5 matches. Staggering!
The keen eye would have spotted a fairly serious looking Steven Gerrard in the stands watching on as Jordan Henderson pressed high and sprayed the ball around like Gerrard was meant to do. He helped set up all three goals on the day; and it is his form, as well as the improvement from the likes of Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling and Jon Flanagan that has supported Liverpool’s run of 4 straight league wins. the second half looked like an exercise in energy conservation, following the substitution of Jon Flanagan. Martin Skrtel, however, got away with two incidents that would’ve been stonewalled on other days.
If Arsenal fail to defeat Chelsea on Monday (December 23), Liverpool will sit on top of the Premier League table on Christmas Day!
Malky Mackay stands tall amidst the storm
Cardiff City’s preparations for their tough test at Anfield were dominated by the ridiculous row between owner Vincent Tan and Malky Mackay. An innocuous statement of hope regarding a strengthening the squad led to a chain of reactions of events that culminated in making Mackay’s position untenable at the start of the game.
Watched on by the pantomime villain of the piece (Vincent Tan, clad in a black gloves, along with the jersey over the shirt-and-tie combo), Cardiff City appeared to crumble under sustained pressure from Liverpool, and their own owner. Given the ultimatum that was handed out to him, it looked like just a matter of time before Malky Mackay would be fired. In a surprising turn of events, (here, non-events) the unqualified Head of Recruitment Alisher Apsalyamov left his position as Iain Moody’s successor, leaving Vincent Tan with no choice but to keep Malky Mackay in his job. One may suggest that all Tan needs now if an excuse to fire Mackay – on Saturday, he couldn’t find one.
Business as usual for Manchester United
The last time Manchester United lost three home games in the Premier League (formerly, the First Division), Sir Alex Ferguson was just about beginning to cut his teeth as Aberdeen manager. Supporters were undoubtedly happy to see West Ham United come to town, as the Red Devils have a great record against the Hammers at home. Led by Wayne Rooney, Manchester United would successfully avoid letting history repeat itself.
Ironically, the ones who were being criticized by supporters and critics alike were the ones that propped up Manchester United on Saturday. In the absence of Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck scored his first goal at home in 14 months, while Ashley Young made it two in two. Winger Adnan Januzaj added to his growing list of admirers with a well taken goal, yet picked up a needless yellow card for simulation though.
Man City and Spurs win away from home as Sherwood seeks balance
In a baffling contrast that is a symbol of the chaos currently engulfing the Premier League, Manchester City have been near perfect at home this season, yet shocking away. Their come-from-behind win over Bayern Munich was evidence enough that they are capable of winning outside their comfort zone. Failure to defeat Fulham at Craven Cottage would undo all the good work done in the previous weekend at home to Arsenal.
Rene Meulensteen’s Fulham were without captain Dimitar Berbatov, as they were quick off the blocks at the Cottage. However, they were pegged back by a combination of a set pieces from Yaya Toure and David Silva. And poor defending. Left back Gael Clichy grew more nervous at right back in the absence of Pablo Zabaleta, Fulham clawed their way back into the game, thanks in part to a certain Vincent Kompany. Late goals from Jesus Navas and James Milner sealed the three points.
Caretaker manager Tim Sherwood was known for his late runs into the box during his days as the captain of Kenny Dalglish’s title-winning Blackburn Rovers; and looks to instill a similar attacking mentality in his players. Contrary to former manager Andre Villas-Boas, Sherwood has two centre forwards as Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebaor combined well together. Helped by the fact that Southampton were missing several key players themselves, Spurs recorded an important win that keeps them close enough to the Champions League spots.
- Luis Suarez now holds the record for the most number of goals scored by a single player in a single month in the history of the Barclays Premier League.
- Ashley Young scored his first Barclays Premier League goal since May 2012.
- Roberto Soldado has more assists than any other player for Tottenham Hotspur this season.
- Vincent Kompany is the second player to score at both ends in a Barclays Premier League match this season (after Phil Bardsley vs Chelsea).
- Everton are now unbeaten in 10 matches in the Premier League, the longest unbeaten streak among all teams this season.
Goal of the Week
Luis Suarez’s second goal against Cardiff City assisted by a backheel from Jordan Henderson is our Goal of the Week.