There are always those unfortunate days on the football calendar which can never live up to the monstrous billing so inseparable from the modern day game; Manchester United‘s journey to Liverpool, for a match often billed as the biggest rivalry in English football, was perhaps always destined to be one of those unfortunate days.
United lined up at Anfield with a fairly unfamiliar starting side; Phil Jones taking his place in midfield, and Nani and Wayne Rooney relegated to the bench. Perhaps the biggest story of the day however was the return of Steven Gerrard to the Liverpool team that has missed him for so long now. Gerrard’s return to action will provide delight to fans of both England and his club side, with his drive and passion having been missed for far too long. Unsurprisingly enough, Gerrard took up his role in the script with familiar aplomb, putting the Reds in front on 68 minutes with a typically impressive free kick. As so often seen under Sir Alex Ferguson though the Red Devils refused to give up the fight and in a cameo appearance to rival those of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Javier Hernandez – the super sub heir apparent – came off the bench to secure the draw after a Danny Welbeck flick left him with just the goalkeeper to beat.
…continued in his fine vein of form…
On Sunday, Robin Van Persie continued in his fine vein of form to give Arsenal points with both goals in a 2-1 win over Sunderland. The show must go on at Newcastle United with a draw at home to Spurs maintaining their incredible unbeaten run: Shola Ameobi equalising with a late strike. Roy Hodgson’s West Brom secured their only home win of the season in a thrilling midlands derby game with Wolverhampton wanderers, running out 2-0 winners.
Saturday saw a total of seven games take place with a fairly significant goal tally of 23 goals. Chelsea hosted David Moyes’s struggling Everton side and sent the Goodison Park side home with tails between their legs following a 3-1 victory. In another high scoring drama, Man City dispatched Aston Villa in a humbling defeat, the icing on the cake an outrageous goal scored with an overhead kick from Mario Balotelli.
…hero for the Canaries with a fantastic brace…
Paul Lambert‘s Norwich side continued their deeply impressive start to the season with yet another stunning team performance securing a 3-1 win over fellow Premier League newcomers, Swansea City. Anthony Pilkington was hero for the Canaries with a fantastic brace bagging the three points. Loftus Road played host to one of the least glamorous ties of the round with Blackburn Rovers the visitors in West London. An unexpected, and unintended goal from Heider Helguson was balanced by a typically dominating, towering header from Christopher Samba, resulting in a 1-1 draw.
Stoke City continued their fine, unbeaten home run with Rory Delap and Jonathan Walters grabbing the goals to deny Martin Jol’s Fulham side the sort of performance that saw them win 6-0 two weeks ago. Bolton‘s turbulent start to the season took a promising turn with Chris Eagles, Nigel Reo-Coker and David Ngog getting on the scoresheet as Owen Coyle’s side dispatched fellow strugglers, Wigan, 3-1.
Images courtesy of the FA, Steven Gerrard and Paul Lambert