Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Premier League: Rooney winner downs Liverpool, Arsenal go top with draw

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United
One of the biggest rivalries in the Premier League didn't quite have the stakes that we are used to, but it was still good fun on a Sunday morning. It took about a quarter hour for things to get dicey on the pitch. An aggressive challenge from Marouane Fellaini led to some pushing and shoving, but no cards. Liverpool was the relatively better side in the first half. At least from the sense that that ball spent most of its time in their attacking third. None of their patiently constructed attacks really threatened United's disciplined defending. The Red Devils' forays forward were few and far between. They were also quite lifeless in the grand scheme of things.

Halftime must have rejuvenated the sides because play was more free flowing and open in the second half. The play was faster, but there were still no goals to speak of. David de Gea can be blamed for that in part. He made a couple of huge saves in succession to keep the Reds off the scoreboard. The first was an absolute blast from Emre Can that was earmarked for the far corner had de Gea not dove to make the sprawling save. Of course it was a set piece breaking the scoreless tie. On the 77th minute corner for United, Simon Mignolet was able to parry the first attempt, but Wayne Rooney was around to blast home the rebound. Rooney has now scored in four straight matches in all competitions. Liverpool would get a couple more chances. The best came from Roberto Firmino, who was alone on the six yard box near the end of the 90 minutes.At first glance, he looked offside. Perhaps he even thought he was. However the flag rightfully stayed down as he half hearted try on goal went right to de Gea. That would be it for the Reds, who could not find any late drama as they did in midweek against Arsenal.

Manchester United is now only two points out of the top four as they sit in fifth place. The loss is a painful one for Liverpool. They are back in ninth place and eight points back of the Champions League.

Arsenal 0-0 Stoke City
Arsenal needed points to get back to the top of the table, and points have been hard to come by for them when they visit Stoke. In fact, it's been six years since Arsenal last won at the Britannia Stadium. The first half reflected that lack of success. Possibly remembering last year's first minute concession in this fixture, Arsenal were timid to send too many number forward, even though they controlled a majority of the ball at the start of the match. Their possession game was a little starved of key passing with the Mesut Ozil taking the day off to rest. Their best chance came when Olivier Giroud latched onto a through pass from Joel Campbell, but Jack Butland was up to the challenge and made the save. Stoke was able to get plenty of time on the ball as well, but also didn't look extremely potent.

Arsenal came out swinging in the second half. They almost scored in the opening minute on a corner that found Giroud's head, but also the diving hand of Butland. Petr Cech was forced into some huge moments of his own. Stoke concocted a strong counter attack in the 57th minute, Bojan Krkic was the one taking the final shot, but the Czech goalkeeper dove to meet it. He also ws able to scramble to the rebound that Krkic also floated in at him. Stone would have the better off the chances going forward. They forced Cech into quite a few saves and even had one opportunity cleared off the line in the final minute before stoppage time.

A draw, maybe not a scoreless one, felt right for this game. Neither team really stood out above the other, so it makes sense for the points to be shared. A draw is enough to put Arsenal back in front over Leicester City. Stoke remains in seventh.

No comments:

Post a Comment