Premier League wrap: Man City rout Spurs after thrilling Merseyside derby
Premier League wrap: Trevor Murray reflects on a busy few days of top-flight action following the international break
Goal-fest at Goodison as derby ends in draw
It was the sort of match many had consigned to the annals of history as Liverpool and Everton became embroiled in a feisty, event-filled derby clash at the weekend. For quite some time, there’s not been much at stake apart from regional pride, however it was clear from this weekend’s matchup that both sides are desperate to improve on themselves and go in search of titles – Liverpool serching for their first-ever Premier League title, whilst the Toffees are aiming for Europe and possibly an FA Cup surge. Suffice to say, all eyes were on this one. The tie started with a bang as the Reds took the initiative through Philippe Coutinho. What followed was a dramatic, edge-of-the-seat battle as the momentum swung rapidly back and forth between the two sides as goals from Luis Suarez and a late equaliser from Daniel Sturridge helped keep Liverpool from dropping some valuable points away from home. As for Everton, they had Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku to thank for their goals, with the latter grabbing himself a brace. Both teams had plenty of chances to edge the tie, but a draw was probably the fairest result in the end, although the Blues will certainly feel the most aggrieved at having thrown away the lead they held heading into the last eight minutes. Nonetheless, Roberto Martinez’s side are still only three points adrift of second-placed Liverpool which shows just how their redesign has helped transform them from industrious over-achievers into an exciting outift capable of mixing it with the best.
United slip up yet again
Wayne Rooney reached double figures in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw against Cardiff City, but that was perhaps the only positive the Red Devils could take from their disappointing draw against the newly-promoted Welsh club. David Moyes’ charges had chances to kill the game off when they were leading 2-1 but they failed to put them away, something that United boss will be desperate to get right – and fast. Having stung Arsenal before the international break, it seemed as though the reigning champions had finally found their mojo, but sadly for their fans they reverted immediately back to type by dropping yet more points meaning they slipped sightly down the table to sixth. And with many of their rivals recording victories over the weekend, United clearly have a huge fight on their hands to retain their title. Of course, with only 12 matches played, it is still too early to tell whether or not they are up to the task, but with three tough domestic fixtures to come in the next few weeks against Tottenham, Everton and Newcastle, United are likely to find themselves outside the top four at Christmas – something Sir Alex Ferguson won’t be able to do much about watching from the stands. One thing’s for sure, they’ll need some of that famous never-say-die attitude over the winter months.
City hit Spurs for six
Manchester City maintained their unbeaten home record when Tottenham Hotspur visited the Etihad Stadium, but not only did they win, they trounced Spurs 6-0 with the Premier League’s leading goal-scorer Sergio Aguero, as well as Jesus Navas, playing a pivotal role in the victory. The result was yet another shock result in a season that’s already thrown up more than its fair share of surprises. Winning by such a large margin is sure to instill the Citizens with great self-belief and Manuel Pellegrini will hope it plants a seed of confidence in them. To defeat a so-called title rival by such a large margin will give them a massive boost in the run-up to Christmas, and they could well look back on it as the result that propelled them out of their mini-slump. Nonetheless, it would be naive to suggest all their troubles are over with their convincing win. Their loss to Chelsea towards the end of October also urged them to a mammoth triumph, beating Norwich 7-0. But then they slumped to a poor performance against Sunderland a week later losing 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. Pellegrini will hope this isn’t a pattern they get stuck repeating for too long. Their upcoming match with Swansea should tell us more.
Arsenal extend lead at the summit
Helped in no small part by Artur Boruc’s poor decision-making in his own 18-yard box as well as Olivier Giroud’s clinical finishing, Arsenal managed to defeat high-flyers Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on a score-line of 2-0. The Polish custodian gifted the French international an early Christmas present when he was muscled off the ball after he dawdled in possession mid-way through the opening half. Obviously, Mauricio Pochettino won’t have been happy to see the Saints fall to defeat but it is ony their second loss of the league campaign, and they still sit joint on points with Manchester City – not a bad situation to be in for a club who finished 14th last season. As for the Gunners, they will have been happy to have safely navigated their way past a Southampton side who have already beaten Liverpool and held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw. In particular, considering they have quite a tricky December to come with fixtures against Everton, Man City and Chelsea, their recent win might well become quite important in maintaining top spot over the Christmas.