Oh my gosh, what a mish-mosh of Premier League football we saw on television on Saturday. I’m still making my way through the matches I’ve recorded, but we’ve seen one of the scrappiest games in the league featuring Stoke City against Liverpool, followed by an unconvincing display by Manchester United in their tense match with Burnley, and a match that was so one-sided that it looked more like an exhibition friendly between Chelsea and Sunderland.
I’ve been dealing with one of my children being sick on Saturday morning so I wasn’t as attentive to the games as I usually am, but when I was watching the Stoke game this morning, it felt like I was watching Stoke City against Stoke City. Liverpool, desperate for a win, seemed to have an attitude of “If we can’t beat them, join them” in the way they played by matching Stoke City’s direct style of play that resulted in plenty of air-time for the ball and up ‘n unders into the box.
It was a game that was lacking in class at Britannia Stadium but full of drama and excitement. When Sotirios Kyrgiako scrambled in the opening goal of the game for Liverpool, it was one of the scrappiest goals you’ll ever see. The goal gave Liverpool a lift but with Stoke City continuing to push forward, I thought it was only a matter of time before a deserved equalizer came and it did in injury time when Robert Huth knocked the ball into the net from the far corner and sent the Stoke City supporters into hysterics.
At Stamford Bridge, the game between Chelsea and Sunderland was so one-sided that it looked more like an exhibition game to raise funds for charity than a competitive Premier League match. Sunderland’s defending was juvenile. Their team were extremely poor in marking Chelsea players and gave the Blues far too much time on the ball and allowed cross after cross to come swinging in from the wings.
The 7-2 scoreline to Chelsea was kind to Sunderland. Chelsea, playing like Premier League champions, could have easily scored a half dozen more goals but were denied by the woodwork, near misses and last-gasp clearances by the Sunderland defenders. Michael Ballack, especially, was pivotal in midfield and made the win look easy by threading through clinical passes to Nicolas Anelka, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda and others.
In the Manchester United game, the Red Devils made hard work of trying to beat Burnley. The lads from Turf Moor could have easily scored two or three goals but were unable to get the ball into the back of the net after their dangerous counter attacks. But Dimitar Berbatov finally got the decisive goal for Manchester United, Burnley crumbed and two additional late goals from United put the game out of Burnley’s reach.
A special note should be made about Mame Biram Diouf who opened his Premier League scoring for Manchester United with a beautifully taken header. Judging by the positional sense that Diouf has as well as his hunger and natural ability, don’t be surprised if you see Diouf being the preferred striker over Berbatov sometime soon.
What were your impressions from the early games on Saturday? Share your opinions by clicking the comments link below.