1. Everton 2-0 Liverpool – The giant safety hazard of a rollercoaster currently being ridden by Liverpool FC and it’s fans took another dip on Sunday as they succumbed to their neighbors and fiercest geographical rivals in the 214th Merseyside Derby. With new owner and canonized savior John W Henry watching form the stands like a cute but creepy rubber raptor, the weds continued their woeful wun under Woy as goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta brought everyone who’d just returned form London back down with a bump. Whilst Mr Henry’s first brush with the passion of English football could hardly have been more boisterous, he might have hoped for at least a passably competent showing from his new acquisition. Even Woy himself – increasingly resembling Gargamel, or some other such bag-eyed hunched cartoon villain complete with Orc like assistant – must have hoped for at least a modicum of bounce-back-ability. But alas this was the same Liverpool we’ve seen for most of this season, poor Fernando Torres impersonator et all. To Everton’s credit they dealt with their rivals smartly to earn their first home win of the season. Chief among their performers was 22-year-old full back Séamus Coleman, adding more credence to the theory that the best manager to work in young talent these days isn’t Fergie or Wenger, but David Moyes. They’ll need a moniker if and when the Rodwell generation reach their potential. David’s diddies perhaps? Or Moysies Muggles? Both are rubbish I know.
2. Blackpool 2-3 Manchester City – In one of those games that had that sneaky feeling of importance about it, Manchester City aggressively straddled then masterfully rode their luck before whipping it vigorously and heaving it over the finish line. After besting their guests for the majority, Blackpool should’ve taken the lead through DJ Campbell only for the striker to understandably be put off by being so unmarked and so close he dragged his shot wide. Minutes later they did have the lead, but were thwarted by the linesman, who’d decided to rule the non scoring, non ball touching, non interfering furthest player from him offside, wrongly, as Gary Taylor Fletcher coolly side footed the ball into the net. Ian “I’m really serious now, except when I’m not” Holloway had more reason to say something brilliant in rant form ten minutes later when Carlos Tevez skillfully flicked the ball in from an offside position, this time not spotted. Blackpool’s likeable team of people who look like they should be working on building sites rallied and got their deserved equalizer through the veteran small ears of Marlon Harewood, only for lady luck to fart in their face again instantly. Proving the old adage that you’re never more vulnerable as when someone’s just fouled you, the Tangerine’s defence stood naively still as Tevez illegally nicked the ball off Evatt before riffling in a shot off the statuesque (not in a good way) arm raised figure of Cathcart. From then on City kept their hosts at a distance thanks mainly to their game changing substitute David Silva who grabbed a splendiferous jinxing third to squirt the icing on the cake. The wonderful Charlie Adam would’ve been my man of the match had the game ended on 79 minutes, but such is the way of life, football and things that the abiding memory of this games will be of Tevez and his compadres earning the kind of the win their famous neighbors built championships on. Squad depth won the day, and only Holloway would think it was a hollow way to win (I’m here all week, try the fish!)
3. Manchester United 2-2 West Brom – As the cheeky upstarts across the road were winning tricky aways, the old dogs weren’t learning any new tricks at home. After out-Arsenaling Arsenal at the Emirates, West Brom kept their end up by holding England’s most famous team to a deserved draw in what must be the most impressive two game sequence in their recent history. And considering they last won the league in 1920, ‘recent’ is a fairly liberal term. A draw looked an unlikely scenario at half time though as United dominated in that kind of “we’ll miss four, smile patronizingly when we do, and then score five” sort of a way they do – or more accurately, they used to do – against the smaller sides, but seemed as shocked into numbness as everyone else inside Old Trafford after some pinball defending and England worthy goalkeeping allowed the Baggies to draw level. And from then on, they never looked particularly like scoring again, despite bringing on England’s fit injured hairy hairless want away fallen idol Wayne Rooney. In fact as they pushed forward it was the visitors who looked the more threatening on the break as Roberto Di Matteo’s determination to actually have a go at the big boys has progressed from being a bit of a laugh to a genuinely effective tactic.
4. Fulham 1-2 Tottenham – Fresh from taking the flack for saying what all of us were thinking about Blackburn, Wolves and Stoke, Danny Murphy returned to his day job as a relatively good footballer for the visit of low tackling Tottenham. Balancing out their pretty smart new home kit with a horrendous stripy away number designed by someone with arm spasms and a florescent pencil, Spurs continued their transition into a Champions League club by winning yet another tricky away tie they would’ve almost certainly lost two years ago, and did. The house that Roy built seems to be on pretty sturdy ground as his new mansion crumbles around him and Fulham took the lead deservedly before man of the moment Rafael van der Vaart chipped in – literally – to help pull the visitors level within a minute. The Dutchman has taken to English football like a duck to pancakes and is already looking hugely important to Tottenham’s progress as a Premier League football club. This game could’ve been anyone’s but was eventually decided by a thumping Tom Huddlestone strike that was almost disallowed, but then wasn’t after Tommy asked really nicely if it could be given. Or something like that.
5. Arsenal 2-1 Birmingham – Jack Wilshire continued his heady march to prominence unabated as he once again excelled in his task of filling in for Cesc Fabregas and consistently MIA form of Arshavin. Helped valiantly by the luck and sportsmanship of Marouane Chamakh the Gunners avoided a second high profile home loss on the bounce in Arsene’s 800th game. After the Blues had taken the lead the Moroccan – no doubt motivated by nightmares of West Brom’s incisive and creative attacking play – nipped the ball in front of Scot Dann before throwing himself to the ground like an emotionally overcome Chilean miner to earn the home side a shot at parity. Dann undoubtedly lunged, making it more opportunistic than cheating, but the aesthetic was as embarrassing regardless. And his natural aesthetics were to the fore once more as Wilshere again pulled the strings allowing him to bumble his way around the keeper with all the grace of George Michael in a Skoda to give Arsenal the lead, the win, and the same points as United. Wilshere unfortunately blotted his copybook late on with the kind of challenge to piss off Danny Murphy, but it did create one of the most startling events of the week; A bad challenge by one of his own players that Arsene Wenger saw, and didn’t defend. Cherish it children, it’ll be 800 more games until the next one.
Other Things I Noticed: Newcastle seem to be having some kind of 80s tribute hair growing competition amongst themselves. Stoke don’t seem to like it when the ball is on the ground. At all. West Ham look more like Burnley than West Ham under Baron Greenback, which thankfully isn’t much of a stretch for the imagination kit wise, and Managers are evidently still being told to call it the ‘Barclays’ Premier League on pain of death, much to my annoyance. Stop it! It’s like you’re raping my family, all at once, and getting away with it.