EPL Review GW25: Luis Suarez vs. Patrice Evra, Harry Redknapp's Dilemma
The buildup to Game Week 25's fixtures was largely overshadowed by the showdown between Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez amidst the Uruguayan's being ruled guilty of racially abusing the Frenchman.
What made the affair even more spicy was the fact that it was Manchester United vs Liverpool, the biggest, most intense rivalry in England, if not the world. And yet, the clash between Evra and Suarez did not disappoint, and the Uruguayan's decision to snub Evra's handshake at the start of the match really was a sign of things to come as another hard-fought derby ensued.
Suarez was the center of attention during the match, with the Stredford End continuously hurling anti-Scouse abuse at Liverpool's #7. Even Man United's defense, in the company of Evra, targeted Suarez, with Ferdinand sending in a crunching tackle on the Uruguayan to deny him a goal scoring chance, with Liverpool claiming a foul for the challenge.
Yet as the game went on, as Suarez and Evra clashed once again in the tunnel, United soon found themselves a goal ahead via Rooney's header. Liverpool's defense collasped, and minutes later, Jay Spearing gifted the ball to the in-form Antonio Valencia, who set Rooney up to score his second, putting United 2-0 up.
Liverpool regrouped though, and pushed United. But, despite Suarez's late consolation, Sir Alex Ferguson's side stood strong and held on to a crucial 2-1 win. But, as Evra's celebrations in front of Suarez at the end proved, the match is likely to be remembered for other reasons.
Away from the soap opera at the Theatre of Dreams, there was actually some football to talk about too.
At Goodison Park, Everton produced a solid display to beat Chelsea 2-0, with David Moyes' side sparked to life by a Steven Pienaar goal in his second home debut for the club.
The defeat piles even more pressure on Chelsea boss Villas-Boas, as the club's inconsistency in the league continues to prove that they are in a year of transition. Unless Chelsea hit top form anytime soon, the Portuguese's job will continue to come under greater scrutiny.
However, things were different for Chelsea's London rivals, Arsenal, as they grabbed a last gasp win over Martin O'Neill's Sunderland. Once again, Gunners hero Thierry Henry returned to save Arsene Wenger's side as he netted Andrei Arshavin's cross right at the death to gift the North Londoners a 2-1 win.
Gunners fans will really miss their iconic Frenchman as he returns to New York next week, but you can't help but feel that Wenger will want to bring Henry back again. Either way, as he duly states, the opportunity is available. Arsenal now climb above Chelsea into fourth.
The relegation battle continued to heat up as both Blackburn and Norwich triumphed 3-2 over bottom three rivals QPR and Swansea respectively. Yakubu, returning from injury, once again reigned supreme at Ewood Park, and the Nigerian striker's fitness looks set to play a crucial part as Steve Kean seeks to steer his side to safety.
Man City and Tottenham kept their title challenges intact, albeit in very different circumstances.
In Spurs' case, the North London club thrashed Newcastle 5-0, with Louis Saha netting two goals on his White Heart Lane debut. The thrilling performance also solidified Redknapp's England job application further, though when he is inevitably offered the job, he faces a tough dilemma with Spurs fans shouting endless pleas for Redknapp to stay.
Further north in Birmingham, Roberto Mancini's Man City mastered the art of successfully grinding out a result with a 1-0 win over a defiant Aston Villa. Alex McLeish's side, on the back of some miserable home form, adopted a conservative approach against the Citizens, which worked for a while, until Joleon Lescott broke the deadlock.
In truth it was a poor match, with a streaker being the day's most exciting event. While Mancini's boys retained the lead at the top, McLeish and his Villans spiraled ever closer to the relegation zone.
In other news: Wigan beat Bolton, Fulham beat Stoke and West Brom thrashed rivals Wolves, sending Irish manager, Mick McCarthy out the Molineux door.
Results in full:
Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool
Everton 2-0 Chelsea
Blackburn 3-2 QPR
Bolton 1-2 Wigan
Swansea 2-3 Norwich
Fulham 2-1 Stoke
Sunderland 1-2 Arsenal
Tottenham 5-0 Newcastle
Wolves 1-5 West Brom
Aston Villa 0-1 Man City
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