surprised one & all with his defensive approach when the team sheets were announced, by leaving regulars like Rooney, Nani, Chicharito & Anderson on the bench and giving Phil Jones his first start in midfield. Luiz Suarez, supported by the likes of Steven Gerrard & Charlie Adam continued to threaten the United defence without any result in a goalless first half. The second half brought out the best & worst of the Liverpool-Manchester derby, be it Suarez's unabashed theatrics, his alleged racial abuse towards Patrice Evra or some brilliant free-flowing attacking football on display. The hosts drew first blood in the 67th minute when Rio Ferdinand brought down Charlie Adam just outside the penalty box & captain Gerrard made no mistake in
sending his side ahead with the subsequent free kick. Manchester United sent on the attacking trio of Rooney, Nani & Chicharito, which paid immediate dividends when Chicharito headed in Nani's deflected corner to score the equaliser in the 80th minute. Liverpool tested Manchester United's young goalkeeper David De Gea in the final moments of the game, Henderson first with a well-measured volley & then when he failed to score with a free header. The final whistle meant that Manchester United have finally broken their losing streak at Anfield dating back to 2008.
How The Rivals Fared
Manchester City went on top of the league table, beating Aston Villa 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium. Mario Balotelli, who started as lone forward, scored with a magnificent strike in the 28th minute, followed by Adam Johnson & skipper Vincent Kompany in the second half. Stephen Warnock pulled one back for the Midlands club but former Villa midfielder James Milner inflicted further wounds with a 71st minute goal that sent the hosts two points clear of city rivals United, who are due to play them next weekend.
Chelsea strolled over to a comfortable 3-1 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge. Daniel Sturridge continued to impress one & all when he opened the scoring in the first half. John Terry & Ramires also registered their names on the scoresheet before substitute Vellios grabbed a consolation goal for the Merseysiders. The London club are still in third place, a point behind Manchester United.
Arsenal stumbled through a hard-fought 2-1 win at the Emirates over misfiring Sunderland. Talismanic skipper Robin van Persie scored both goals for the Gunners, one coming in the very first minute & the winner from a brilliantly-taken free kick. Ex-Arsenal player Sebastian Larsson's equally wonderful spot kick couldn't salvage anything for the hapless Black Cats, and Steve Bruce's side still float just above the relegation spots.
Newcastle held Tottenham to a exciting 2-2 draw at St. James Park & maintained their unbeaten streak in all competitions this season. Rafael van der Vaart put the visitors ahead in the first half but in-form striker Demba Ba equalised for the home side just after the interval. Defoe seemed to have sealed 3 points for the London club with a sleek left-footed finish but substitute Shola Ameobi struck for the Geordies four minutes from stoppage time to share the spoils. Newcastle United are still 4th in the league table, above the likes of
Liverpool, Spurs & Arsenal.
The current Top Four standings are as under:
Man City - 22 points
Man United - 20 points
Chelsea - 19 points
Newcastle - 16 points
The Weekly Verdict:
Team of the Week: Chelsea
Player of the Week: Robin van Persie
You can follow the author on Twitter @AbhinavCJ.
And do vote for the player you think is Wayne Rooney's best strike partner on the blog poll!
That's all Folks!