A great day of English football ended, with three derbies, all ending in draws, two title contenders battling in London, another draw, and one Kenny Dalglish making his Anfield return as Liverpool manager once again.
Birmingham 1 – 1 Aston Villa
The first derby in our review between the lowest ranked teams – The Birmingham derby saw Birmingham fail to win again (almost six years since their last league win over Villa) and Aston Villa probably feeling a little disappointed about getting only one point from an encounter they were slightly the better team in. Alex McLeish’s men took the lead in the 49th minute through Roger Johnson, his second league goal of the season. Welshman James Collins made it even in the 73rd minute, leaving both teams just above the relegation zone – Birmingham at 16th with 23 points after 21 games and Villa a place below with 22 points out of 22 games.
Sunderland 1 – 1 Newcastle United
The Black Cats needed four minutes of extra time to deny the Magpies a double over them in the North East derby this season, with Asamoah Gyan needing a lucky bounce to get the 1-1 draw. Kevin Nolan opened the scoring for Newcastle who beat Sunderland 5-1 in the previous match, scraping his 10th goal of the season. The game ended with a few incident no one would like to see in soccer games, as a fan confronted Steve Harper on the pitch and seats thrown between the fans after the whistle was blown. Back to the sport related issue – Sunderland are sixth with 34 points, very much in European and even Champions League contention while Newcastle, three spots below with 29 points, also watch from afar regarding a European future.
Liverpool 2 – 2 Everton
The biggest derby of the day, at least by prestige and amount of titles shared between the clubs was also the best game. Kenny Dalglish made his Anfield return as Liverpool manager and was able to pick up his first point since replacing Roy Hodgson. Despite avoiding their fourth straight loss and denying Everton from their first win at Anfield since 1999, Dalglish will be far from pleased from another mostly flat display from his men. Everton were the better side and were more deserving of a win. Raul Meireles opened the scoring for Liverpool with his first goal for the club in the first half. Everton stormed out in the second half, scoring two goals in the space of six minutes – Sylvain Distin (first goal of the season, man of the match) and Jermaine Beckford (3rd goal, enjoying a rare start). Dirk Kuyt made it 2-2 from the penalty spot, his fourth goal of the season, his first in over a month and fifth in a Merseyside Derby. Table status – Both teams remain closer to relegation problems than a continental qualification with 26 points, ranked 12th (Everton) and 13th (Liverpool).
Tottenham 0 – 0 Manchester United
No goals from this one, which was a pretty good result for Manchester United, playing the final 16 minutes with 10 men and keeping Tottenham from joining the title race with a win that would have been a declaration on their eligibility joining the ‘big boyz’ club. Spurs were the more dangerous side but never created enough to beat Van der Sar. Vidic being the man of the match tells it all, after another fantastic defensive performance from the league leaders. Speaking of leaders, United, with 21 games (2 less than City, one less than Arsenal) are back on top with 43 points – same as Manchester City and two more than Arsenal. Tottenham are at fifth with 37 after 22 matches.