Finally. We finally got a Premier League weekend where we had two matches with teams playing their hearts out and giving it 100%. Too often this season the majority of matches have been one-sided and negative. But fair play to Manchester City and Liverpool, and Everton and Newcastle for two thoroughly exciting matches.
In both games, the away teams never gave up and fought hard to go for the win or to rescue a point.
Newcastle looked like a team reborn. Full credit to Joe Kinnear for turning this team around and getting them to play with the confidence that we know they’re capable of. In the second half especially, Newcastle’s passing game was impressive and was their penchant for one-touch passes. Alas, it wasn’t enough for a win, but Newcastle fans and players will be ecstatic over the level of performance they showed at Goodison Park in the 2-2 result.
The player who stood out for me in that game most was Damien Duff. The man has been a ghost of a player for more than a year, so when he finally showed us how much of a battler and skilful player he is, he finally reminded me of his playing days at Chelsea.
In the Manchester City against Liverpool match, this one had everything. A red card, a horrible injury, an incredible comeback and wonderful goals. Even the sold-out crowd was getting into it with City fans visibly getting out of their seats and, later, Liverpool fans doing a jig after pulling out an equalizer.
For the first time in a very long time, Liverpool impressed me with the type of Premier League performance that we usually only see from them in the Champions League. Sure, the home win against Man United was impressive but United had the hand in that game with two awful mistakes. At the City Of Manchester Stadium, the goals scored by Liverpool were completely under their control.
I was also impressed by Rafa Benitez’s tactics, especially the substitution in the latter stages of the second half where he brought on Keane and Dossena. Keane played a pivotal role in the third goal for Liverpool when the ball rocketed off him into the path of Dirk Kuyt who scored the winner to make it 3-2 to the Reds. That was luck for Keane, sure. But he played his heart out for every ball and definitely made an immediate impression as did Dossena down the left wing.
Manchester City, on the other hand, has a lot of work to do. This is the second game this season where they have led against top four opposition only to suffer a defeat. Against Chelsea, they led after Robinho knocked in the free kick. Against Liverpool, they continued to play their attacking open style of play even after being 2-0 up, which enabled Liverpool to get into the game where they won the battle in midfield.
If we can continue to see performances like these from Liverpool and Newcastle, we can expect to see both teams surprising the opposition this season. The challenge for both teams is that they’re usually unable to maintain that level of consistency. We saw it earlier this season when Newcastle almost beat Man United at Old Trafford in the opening game of the season, but then they suffered the low of their defeat against Arsenal. Liverpool has been similar. Despite their wonderful wins against Man United and Man City, they failed to score against the likes of Stoke and Aston Villa.
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