Epic Sunday lived up to the billing
Everyone got their money’s worth from the Premier League this weekend – it really was as epic as billed. Chelsea, United and City all came out winners but I think there is plenty of drama left to be had this coming weekend when we have the fortune to do it all over again!
Let’s start with Manchester United, who I think have showed us how determined they are to seize the title back this season. They were better for the majority of the game against Liverpool and got great play out of Michael Carrick and Shinji Kagawa. Robin van Persie continues to be enormous for United and with him in the mix, even if Wayne Rooney has to sit out, they have a genuine world class player on the field. Now, maybe you can say Nemanja Vidic was offside on the winning goal but I think that was a very hard call for any linesman or referee to make. Honestly, I think it was the brave call to make as well.
Liverpool shouldn’t be too disheartened by this result at Old Trafford because they came away with a number of pluses. They learned they have to start Daniel Sturridge alongside Luis Suarez as when they came out with that pair in the second half, Liverpool became a very brave and positive team. To do that against the Premier League’s best should give them confidence going forward in what Brendan Rodgers is trying to do at that club.
Manchester City also got the result they needed in what I thought was a very professional performance against Arsenal. I’d criticized them last week for not starting well, but today City came out of the blocks and didn’t look like they missed Yaya Toure much at all. Credit to Gareth Barry, James Milner, and above all, David Silva – that was a very cool and flowing show they put on.
Arsenal of course went down early with the red card to Laurent Koscielny, but it was the right call. If you put a referee in that situation, he’s going to have to send you off -- it’s as simple as that. I’m not as convinced by Vincent Kompany’s red card, however: I think City are right to appeal that because while it wasn’t a wonderful tackle, it wasn’t a lunge. Mike Dean was perhaps swayed by the home crowd a bit on that call, but he’s also only seen that tackle once. We got to see it from a number of angles and I hope the review committee does as well, because I think it would be harsh on Kompany to miss games for it.
While City keep getting the job done, Arsenal are slipping way behind. They are fine against lesser sides, but I don’t see Arsenal keeping up with the top clubs. I think they have to go out and make some moves this window or the distance between themselves and a European place could just get too wide.
Arsenal face a tough test next in Chelsea, a team that impressed me again this weekend. Yes, they got two goals from Stoke’s John Walters, but their desire and professionalism is really showing. Look at Frank Lampard and how he’s handling a difficult situation at the club. That’s class and I think that carries over to the rest of the team. Ashley Cole and Petr Cech are maybe in the same boat as Frank, but not one of them seem to be distracted by the noise – they are just going out and winning games. To me, that’s the mark of great players, and I’m glad to see the club now playing with a bit of freedom.
I do want to add a final word about my old club, Newcastle. There’s huge concern there and I said last week that they are in a relegation battle. It’s also clear they’ve got some players in the shop window. Fabricio Coloccini’s situation is down to personal matters, but Demba Ba is out and Hatem Ben Arfa looks on the block. Sunderland are only four points ahead so it is a battle – but I’m not worried yet. I think we can get it done and stay safe.
This Wednesday we have a super game for you as Manchester United play West Ham in their FA Cup replay – that airs at 3 PM ET. The first game was a classic so I do hope you join us for that. Then, of course next Sunday, we have another epic set of matches as Chelsea host Arsenal at 8 AM ET and Tottenham play Manchester United at 10:30 AM ET.
As always, you can ask questions to me anytime on Twitter at @warrenbarton2. I love hearing from you guys, especially on these big matchdays! And don’t forget to follow @FOXSoccer for our chats – use that #HeyWarren hashtag! I’ll see you right here next week, and as always, thanks for watching and for reading.