Thank god the Premier League is back. Nothing against international football, but there’s something very comforting with getting back into the ritual of watching Premier League football and being familiar with the surroundings, the pace of the game and the excitement it creates.
So the Liverpool against Manchester City game on early Saturday was the perfect re-introduction to the Premier League. I found the first half not as boring as ESPN’s Tommy Smyth claimed it was. Sure, there were few chances, but the flowing football was easy on the eye which was punctuated by two unfortunate injuries for Daniel Agger and Ryan Babel.
The second half of the match erupted. The last ten minutes of the match were pulsating with both teams throwing everything forward to try to get the winner, but alas the game ended 2-2 — which I thought was a fair result for both teams.
For me, the player who had the biggest impact on the match was Carlos Tevez who came off the bench and transformed City from a team who looked soulless in midfield to a team that was suddenly dangerous on the attack and had more possession. The thing I love about Tevez the most is that he turns nothing into something. He constantly fights for the ball and a perfect example of this was how he won the ball down the left wing and ran with the ball, passing it to Shaun Wright-Phillips who planted a beautiful pass to Stephen Ireland to score a valuable goal for City.
In the other games I watched, the football wasn’t as exciting as the match at Anfield.
Sunderland’s 1-0 victory against Arsenal was a game that wasn’t for the soccer purist. Both teams played well but Sunderland suffocated most of Arsenal’s attempts on goal and the Mackems had few chances of their own. That’s not to take anything away from Sunderland’s performance. The team battled hard and deserved to get something out of this game, and had a bit of good fortune in the ball falling to Darren Bent to win the match. While Tevez was my man of the match in the Liverpool versus City game, my man of the match at the Stadium of Light was Andy Reid who delivered a performance equal of Tevez by constantly fighting for the ball and pouring his enthusiasm into everything he did for Sunderland.
Just as Liverpool and Manchester City didn’t look like Premier League champion material today, neither did Arsenal. It wasn’t that they were bad. Instead the Gunners were shut down well by Sunderland similar to how Steve Bruce’s side did the same against Manchester United at Old Trafford recently. I’m sure a lot of the excuses for Arsenal’s defeat today will be aimed at the unavailability of Robin van Persie due to injury, but I feel that’s unfair. Arsenal had a few golden chances near the end of the game to equalize but it just wasn’t their day.
With Arsenal’s loss in the northeast, Chelsea moved eight points clear of the Gunners with an emphatic 4-0 home win against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Seriously, Chelsea have become incredibly boring to watch this season. Don’t get me wrong. They’re playing wonderful football, but the matches they play are so one-sided that I find myself losing interest because they constantly cruise to victory with simplicity (except of course in a few games this season such as against Manchester United and Wigan Athletic, where the opposition was tougher to break down).
Last but not least, the match between Manchester United and Everton was exceedingly enjoyable to watch. Everton were very much in the game and fighting for every ball until the 35th minute when Darren Fletcher rocketed the ball with his right foot into the top corner of the net. Despite Everton’s constant persistence, they created very few chances against a Manchester United side that seemed to be buzzing after their recent drop in form during the past few matches.
The second half of this match was very wide-open with both teams trying to get the decisive goal. But it was another piece of class in this game that saw Manchester United scoring a goal. This time it was a perfect pass from Ryan Giggs to Michael Carrick who knocked in a shot with precision into the far corner of the net to make it 2-0 to United. Antonio Valencia’s shot near the end of the match which was deflected in to make it 3-0 made it a very convincing win for Manchester United although you have to think that the scoreline wasn’t a fair representation of how well Everton played at times during this match.
I’ll try to spend some time later tonight watching the other Premier League games played today. But in the meantime, feel free to post your observations about the games today and what was interesting for you.
Photo credit: Soefrie.