Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Morning Keeper - EPL Week 8

Courtesy of the Associated Press
The line-up of matches promised to be special if the players were rested up from the international break and ready to play this week; indeed that was the case. Starting off with the Northwest Derby between Liverpool and Manchester United, the matches throughout Saturday and Sunday were a shot of adrenaline into an otherwise boring start to the season.

ESPN2 struck gold once again by having Ian Darke and Steve MacManaman on the class for what promised to be a classic with the Reds vs Reds from at Anfield. It seemed at first the pre-game talk was more about Liverpool's minority owner Lebron James being in attendance than the importance of the match, but even LBJ would be impressed with the fixture. Sir Alex Ferguson decided to start the league's leading scorer, Wayne Rooney, on the bench for the match concerned over his mental state following his 3 game suspensions from Euro2012 matches upcoming. Fergie knew the history of playing at Anfield, his team had lost their last 3 matches, so perhaps a little "wait and see" attitude was adopted to determine if Liverpool would be a threat to United's undefeated season record. Although the first half had a handful of exchanges and shots on goal, it was primarily a time to feel-out each other and see where an opening was going to appear. Steven Gerrard, triumphantly returning to the starting line-up, set up for a free kick about 25 yards out and was able to thread a gap in the wall to beat David De Gea to the far post. Immediately Ferguson substituted Nani and Rooney and the hunt was on for the equalizer. Although United controlled possession from that point forward, Liverpool was not without opportunities with Dirk Kuyt being denied from giving his team a 2-0 lead. With 15 minutes left in the match, Javier Hernandez came on for Phil Jones and it was full speed ahead for the United's equalizer. Danny Welbeck was able to get some separation on the left wing and cross a perfect setup Hernandez to it home and tie up the match. A few desperate saves from De Gea in the closing minutes and the derby finished with all the excitement that was promised. King James take on the match via Twitter, "One of the single best experiences of my life! The excitement that these fans have is like no other. Extremely loud start/finish." Perhaps we could get LBJ and Peter Crouch to play a game of HORSE?

Having watched United manage only 1 point at Liverpool, City knew that with a win in their match at home against Villa that they would move into the out-right lead in the table. Aston Villa have only managed 2 wins at City since the Premier League was began, but they were undefeated on the season and City wasn't really starting their "A-Team". Sergio Augero injured, Carlos Tevez suspended, and the likes of Nasri, Silva, and Dzeko were all left on the bench to get some rest leading into their Champions League match Wednesday; the offense fell in the lap of Mr. Mario Balotelli. I cringed at the thought of just Super Mario leading the pact, but only 28 minutes into the match he put my jitters to rest with a beautiful back-flip goal off a deflection from the 6 yard line. The rest of the match was more of a clinic for City with goals from Johnson, Kompany, and (ugh) Milner. Micah Richards limped off with an apparent leg injury around the 63rd minute mark and Villa was able to pounce on the man advantage to score. But the early goals were too much for Villa to hang with, City taking the match 4-1 and the lead in the EPL.

Perhaps the match of the weekend has Tottenham traveling north to Newcastle for a match featuring two of the top teams in the table. Some would argue that Newcastle's undefeated start to the season was the result of a pretty soft schedule of opponents, but they knew Tottenham would push them hard and the Magpies were ready to push back. The ebb and flow of the first half was incredible, a handful of shots of goal for both teams as the ball made its way from end-to-end with pace. The breakthrough came just before the half as Rafael Van der Vart put the Spurs on the board after a "soft" penalty kick all on Steven Taylors nudge of Emmanuel Adebayor in the box. Just after the half it was Demba Ba for the Magpies eased one pass Brad Friedel to the match even. With the shift of momentum while playing at home Newcastle was determined to force the issue to get the go-ahead goal. Unfortunately, numbers forward left the back line exposed for Newcastle and Jermaine Defoe scored for the Spurs after coming into the match 4 minutes earlier. The Magpies applied more pressure on Friedel and the Tottenham defense now looking for the equalizer which can just before the final whistle as Shola Ameobi fired a rocket into the back of the net as the match finished in a 2-2 draw.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Stoke, Norwich and West Brom were all able to pick up home wins on the weekend as well, leaving Bolton as the only road team to pick-up a victory. We have a change at the top of our table as City move ahead of United, but the much anticipated Manchester Derby is this Sunday, plan your weekend accordingly. Here is a look at the top and bottom feeders in the table.

1. Man City – 22 pts, +21 GD (7-1-0)
2. Man United – 20 pts, +19 GD (6-2-0)
3. Chelsea – 19 pts, +11 GD (6-1-1)
4. Newcastle – 16 pts, +5 GD (4-4-0)
17. Sunderland – 6 pts, 0 GD (1-3-4)
18. Bolton – 6 pts, -10 GD (2-0-6)
19. Wigan – 5 pts, -8 GD (1-2-5)
20. Blackburn – 5 pts, -9 GD (1-2-5)

1 comment :

  1. Man City's so good, they're number 1 and 2 in the league! ;)


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