After returning home from the hospital on Wednesday after being away for almost six weeks, I was finally able to watch some live Premier League matches on Fox Soccer Channel yesterday. The matches du jour for me were Liverpool against Reading and Arsenal versus Middlesbrough.
What I witnessed brought a smile to my face. Here was a Reading team that reminded me of how well the club did last season (and why so many of us neutrals had an appreciation for them, just as we did in the previous season for Wigan; how times change). The tenacity and attacking style of play that Reading displayed in the first half was deserving of the brilliant goal by Matejovsky. It wasn’t until the second half that Liverpool started to take control in this match.
While it was so refreshing to see a lower Premier League do so well against top four opposition, the same can be said about Middlesbrough who produced a valiant performance against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Middlesbrough performed exceptionally well in one key category and that was putting pressure on Arsenal as soon as they touched the ball. The secret to Middlesbrough’s success and how they prevented Arsenal from scoring more than one goal was clear. For the majority of the game, Boro played a formation that seemed more like a 8-1-1 with the lone Jeremy Aliadiere up front.
Time after time, Arsenal had difficulty breaking down the Boro defense. Faced with eight players and a goalkeeper flooding the penalty area, Boro’s net — most times — seemed impenetrable.
While I only got a chance to see the highlights of the Derby against Man United match, I was very impressed by the chances that Derby created in front of goal which stretched United goalkeeper Ben Foster to the limits.
While Reading and Derby lost, and Boro tied, all credit should go to these three teams for giving it a fight and coming close to winning in each match. In previous matches, Reading would have tried to play for a draw.
Sunderland may deserve the same praise too, but I haven’t had a chance to watch the highlights of that match.