This week will forever be remembered as the one that left Manchester United’s title ambitions in tatters and ended two decades of Old Trafford torment for the blue-half of Merseyside.
Everton travelled to United for the first time under new management for both teams, in 11 years for the Toffees and 26 for United, and left with a historic and somewhat unbelievable win. Arsenal dispatched Hull City with minimal fuss to continue their unwavering march to the league title.
Chelsea and City both won away from home, albeit suffering late scares while the bogey-man returned in the shape of one Luis Suarez for Norwich’s trip to Anfield. Tottenham had to come from behind to beat a spirited Fulham and effectively begin their road to redemption after the 6-0 mauling at the Etihad.
1. Manchester United
On a night when the exes met for the first time, David Moyes would have hoped for one of those meetings where the ex finds you with a glowing, gorgeous and dreamy new catch. Unfortunately, the new catch did not get the memo and apparently showed up in a soccer mum shirt and in blue, faded 1990 jeans. Embarrassing.
Everton came, saw, dispelled and conquered. Roberto Martinez witnessed a fearless performance as his side went toe to toe with the champions in their own back-yard. Despite United missing two of their best players, it would be hard to think that they would have made too much of a difference had they been fit and on the pitch, such was the brilliance of Everton on the night.
It was a not-so-happy re-union for one Marouane Fellaini who ditched the blue for the red and now it seems he ditched a proud and lofty league position as well. United were poor on the night and deserved to be beaten. They did hit the bar twice but, in all truth, none of those efforts resulted from vintage attacking play. One was a freakish deflection from a scuffed
Rooney shot while the other a rebounded effort after Evra’s header from Rooney’s corner was brilliantly saved by another one in the line of the exes, ex-United keeper Tim Howard. Everton had chances of their own and really should have been ahead by the time Oviedo poked past De Gea in the 86th minute but Deloufeu shot tamely at his fellow Spaniard after being in a fantastic position.
United now find themselves 12 points off the pace and are now in realistic danger of having to slug it out just for a Champions League place. Yes, it’s that bad. Moyes needs to get the Fergie groove back sooner rather than later.
Manchester United grade; D.
The Gunners recorded a routine 2-0 win over a Hull City side that arrived at the Emirates with their tails up, fresh off a resounding 3-1 victory over Liverpool. Arsene Wenger had pledged to rotate his squad with an eye on Everton’s trip to the Emirates on Sunday. Nicklas Bendtner, Carl Jenkinson, Monreal and Tomas Rosicky were part of five changes made by the
It did not seem to affect them though, as the much-maligned Bendtner scored within two minutes. The Dane almost scored a brace but his header was cleared off the line by Brady. Ozil sealed the game however, after wonderful interplay of passes with the irresistible Ramsey, culminating in a reverse pass for the Welshman that found Ozil in space before the German slotted home. Comfortable win for the Gunners, another clean sheet and the march goes on.
Arsenal grade ; A.
The Blues travelled to a tricky Sunderland and had to come back from behind for the second week in a row after conceding early to a Jozy Altidore strike. Mourinho had rallied his team to knuckle down and gather some momentum and after the turnaround against Southampton, a set-back against Sunderland was the last thing he needed.However, cometh the hour cometh the man. Enter Eden Hazard.
The Belgian, who has been blowing hot and cold this season, stepped up and took the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring a brace and supplying an assist for Frank Lampard as Chelsea battled to a narrow 4-3 win at the Stadium of Light. Conceding three goals is not championship defending but at this point in time, and considering how ‘crazy’ this season has been, three points are all that matter at this stage of the campaign. Important victory for
Chelsea on the road and the Blues remain within touching distance of their cross-town
Chelsea grade; B.
4. Manchester City
The Citizens have been untouchable at home but has been inconsistent on their travels and manager Manuel Pellegrini called for his side to put their away form in order. They travelled to the Hawthorns in fantastic form having made it seven wins out of seven at the Etihad but with four defeats in six away from Manchester.
Sergio Aguero struck early, his 17th in as many appearances to give City an early lead and settle some nerves. Yaya Toure struck his eight of the season after he finished smartly from Kolarov’s cut-back. The only dampening thing on an otherwise dominant first-half was that they did not add to that tally before the break. The Ivorian sealed victory in the 73rd minute
and despite The Baggies’ late rally, Pellegrini’s men held on for all three points to stay third on the log.
Manchester City’s grade; A.
All I will say about this match is that history was made. One Luis Suarez treated the Anfield faithful to the ‘Luis Suarez Show’ as he scored a hat-trick for the third time, in the process cementing his name in history as the first ever player to do that for the Reds and in the Premier League. It was stupendous, majestic, extra-terrestrial even. Suarez has always been known for the spectacular but even this was something straight from the top drawer. It almost seemed like he had planned it all, like he was thinking to himself right before the match, about how everyone was about to be dumbfounded, about how he was going to remind Norwich, for the third time, just who is their boss.
Once you see it, you have to stop, slap yourself to see if it’s real, and then watch it again. Suarez, you are the king, period. Liverpool did not do anything out of the ordinary but with an extra-ordinary player like the Uruguayan on your ranks, why should they? Oh, and he did add a fourth, just incase you forget. Sturridge who?
Liverpool grade; A.
Honorable mention; Luis Suarez.
AVB was looking for his team to build up on the commendable draw with United on Sunday by returning to winning ways against a struggling Fulham side that had just appointed former United coach Rene Meulensteen after parting ways with Martin Jol. The hosts turned in an organised display but were ultimately undone by late goals to suffer a sixth straight defeat and leave them deep in the relegation zone.
Ashkan Dejagah’s first Fulham goal looked to be enough for a winning debut for the new coach but a speculative long-range strike from Romanian Vlad Chiriches drew Spurs level before substitute Lewis Holtby wrapped up the points with a superb strike from just outside the area and guarantee AVB a much needed and pressure-relieving win. It was not by any means vintage but it was absolutely vital for Spurs.
Spurs grade; B.
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