5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

Neri SteinFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2011

5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

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    It was another exciting weekend in the Premier League with plenty of big games. 

    Liverpool vs. Manchester United, the biggest game of the year according to Sir Alex Ferguson, didn't quite live up to the billing in terms of football, but it offered plenty of talking points off the pitch. 

    After eight weekends of Premier League action, it is Manchester City that is sitting pretty atop the table just above Manchester United, with Chelsea quietly staying in the picture.

    Let's look back at the weekend that was in the Premier League. 

Mind the Gap

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    It doesn't get any bigger than Liverpool vs. Manchester United, and in recent years, that matchup has most certainly lived up to expectations.

    Not so much this weekend at Anfield. The first half was slow, as both teams were playing more to avoid mistakes and not taking many risks.  The big talking point was Sir Alex Ferguson keeping Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez on the bench and leaving Nemanja Vidic out completely. 

    Another big story was the presence of NBA star LeBron James, as he is also a minority owner of Liverpool. 

    The game livened up in the second half when a Steven Gerrard free kick went straight through the Manchester United wall and into the back of the net. Had Ryan Giggs not sheepishly moved out of the way, it would've bounced right off him. 

    The goal opened up the game as did the introduction of Rooney and Chicharito right after. Liverpool kept control however until the 80th minute, when the Reds defense stood back and let Chicharito ghost in for a free header to knot the score. 

    Jordan Henderson could have won it for Liverpool right at the death, but sent his header wide.

    David de Gea was a huge positive for United as he pulled off three great saves and really looked comfortable in a hostile environment. 

    For Liverpool, Steven Gerrard's return was a sign of great things, but at the end, poor finishing cost them a victory against a less-than-full-strength United. 

Stop Babying Wayne Rooney!

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    Sir Alex Ferguson said he chose to start Wayne Rooney on the bench against Liverpool because the striker was still upset over learning he had been banned for England's first three matches in Euro 2012.

    Rooney is a grown man—whether he acts like it or not—so let's start treating him as such.

    Last season, while Rooney was in the midst of a personal scandal and his contract negotiations were falling apart, Fergie left him out at Everton for fear of the fans' taunts. 

    He's 25 years old and has been around a long time. He needs to learn to deal with it somehow, and not letting him play and babying him certainly don't help. 

Mario Balotelli's Attitude Is Gettin' Real Old

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    Mario Balotelli is a darn good footballer. Everyone knows it, and clearly, no one knows it better than the Italian himself. 

    But this whole bit is getting really old, really fast. 

    Balotelli scored a great bicycle kick from a stationary position for Manchester City's first goal against Aston Villa and subsequently celebrated like a jerk.

    With the Carlos Tevez saga ongoing, Balotelli could really get his career in English football going, but he doesn't need to replace Tevez as the most hated player in the game.

    Quit with the antics, and just play the game. 

There's the Real Everton

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    David Moyes might have a pretty dumbfounded look on his face for much of the rest of the season. Unless he gets use to the fact that Everton is just completely bare right now. 

    They put in another miserable defensive performance against Chelsea Saturday, and with no real depth, it could be a very long season for the Toffees.

    But we've seen this every year with Everton. They start horrible and quietly climb up the table, and before you know it, they finish the season in sixth.

    That's not looking likely this year, unless the club receives a major windfall of cash by the January transfer window, so just hold tight Everton fans.

    A collapse could be the answer to your prayers. It worked for Liverpool. 

Can Newcastle Get Back in It?

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    Alan Pardew has his Newcastle side at fourth in the table and the only team without a loss on the season, besides Manchester United and Manchester City.

    They were able to come back and rescue a draw against Tottenham Sunday and despite losing Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll in the last year, are looking strong. 

    Assuming they'll stay in the top four all season may be a stretch, but a European place certainly isn't. 

    They got off to a fast start last season, and if they can avoid the winter slump this time around—and if Mike Ashley can stop firing perfectly good, winning managers—they could have something to say in the top six come May.