FREE KICK - Last weekend featured The Outlaws vs Hells Angels, otherwise known as Newcastle United vs Sunderland. Not to be outdone, Liverpool and Everton renewed acquaintances in their Merseyside derby. Hide the women and children, another fierce rivalry kicks off our review of the week that was in the Barclays Premier league.
EVERTON vs LIVERPOOL - The reds came out hot, scoring twice in the opening twenty minutes. Leighton Baines' was an original OG, re-directing a Liverpool shot into his own net. Luis Suarez converted in a more conventional manner with a flick-on header. The Uruguayan "celebrated" his tally with pure theatrics; flopping in front of Everton boss David Moyes. The late Phil Rizzuto would describe Suarez as a player who can "cut the pie." Deuces were wild in this game as the home side knotted the score through Leon Osman's piledriver from the top of the box and Steven Naismith's header. Suarez had an apparent game-winner waved off due to a terrible offsides call. Unfortunately this would not the be last game in which officiating played a role in the outcome. Everton-2 Liverpool-2.
CHELSEA vs MANCHESTER UNITED - Readers, buckle up for a bumpy ride. This match was a mirror image to the one mentioned above. The visitors would strike twice early on, the first coming via a David Luiz OG, the second courtesy of Mr. Reliable, Robin Van Persie. Chelsea would come off the deck to score two of their own via their midfield firm of Mata and Ramires. Mata curled a free-kick into the left corner pocket, while Ramires put his signature on a glorious group effort in which Chelsea kept possession for 45 seconds before delivering the goods. Referee Mark Clattenburg then decided that a card game was in order. He dismissed Fernando Torres with a curious diving decision at the 60 minute mark, and then failed to spot Chicarito's offsides position on the game winning score. The blues were done wrong big-time on this day. Manchester United-3 Chelsea-2.
ARSENAL vs QUEENS PARK RANGERS - The gunners welcomed back some of their strongest ammunition in the form of fullback Bacaray Sagna and midfielder Jack Wilshire but like a puppy nipping at your pant leg, they couldn't shake the BPL's cellar-dwellars. After QPR's Stephane M'bia was rightfully sent off in the 79th, Mikel Arteta converted a rebound from the doorstep. Unfortunately the three-person officiating crew failed to spot Arteta's offsides position. Where does a brother need to go to find some decent officiating ? On the bright side for QPR Netminder Julio Caeser was better than fantastic. Arsenal-1 QPR-1.
MANCHESTER CITY vs SWANSEA - City had a disappointing Champions League result midweek against Ajax, compared to the Swans compelling 2-1 win against Wigan seven days earlier. On this day City resembled one of Mike Tyson's KO victims and Swansea acted like they were on a date with Kristen Stewart. Carlos Tevez came to the rescue in the 61st when his thunderbolt from 25 yards out had Swans goalie Michael Vorm begging for mercy. Man City is a giant puzzle right now. All that talent but every game is a struggle. Their plight reminds me of former Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart's famous line about obscenity; "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." Man City-1 Swansea-nil.
READING vs FULHAM - This game was comparable to a James Bond film. A slow build spiced by a Mikele Leigertwood lethal boot in the 26th, turned dramatic and spine-tingling with four goals in the final 13 minutes. Hal Robson Kanu took credit for the equalizer when he played "look what I found" with a loose ball on the doorstep. The most thrilling contest of the weekend. Reading-3 Fulham-3.
STOKE vs SUNDERLAND - The scoreline matches the description of the match; bland and colorless. Stoke-0 Sunderland-0.
SOUTHAMPTON vs TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR - Gareth Bale returned from paternity duty and nodded home the game's first goal from a good 15 yards away. Clint Dempsey doubled Tottenham's pleasure in the 39th when he poked home a rebound. It was the second goal in Spurs' colors for the Texan. Southampton pulled one back in the second stanza but Tottenham's D anchored by ancient William Gallas weathered the storm. Tottenham Hotspur-2 Southampton-1.
ASTON VILLA vs NORWICH CITY - AV boss Paul Lambert had this fixture circled on his calendar after he was harshly dumped by Norwich at the end of the 2011-'12 campaign. Meanwhile Norwich was looking to add on to a foundation established one week earlier with a victory over Arsenal. Christian Benteke opened the scoring for AV when his boot met up with a pinpoint cross into the PK area. The game turned on its' ear after Joseph Bennett was rightfully shown red in the 52nd. What do you know, these officials can get some calls right. Playing 10-on-11, AV displayed courage under fire for nearly 30 minutes. Michael Turner was credited with the equalizer. Aston Villa-1 Norwich-1.
WIGAN vs WEST HAM UNITED - Wigan tallied the first two goals and then placed a moat around netminder Ali Al Habsi. James Tomkins would finally get WHU on the board deep into injury time but by then all three points had belonged to the home side. Wigan-2 West Ham-1.
NEWCASTLE UNITED vs WEST BROMWICH ALBION - WBA was one of three sides to claim victory last season at St James Park. Newcastle drew first blood when Demba Ba used his head to nod home an accurate aerial pass. Romelu Lukaku had two choice scoring opportunities fall by the wayside but he cashed in his is third chance chance in the 55th minute. Papiss Cisse has been off-form in the first two months of the campaign and started this game on the pine, but he proved to be the hero when he scored via a deflected shot. Cisse and Ba were more dangerous than Bonnie and Clyde last season. If the dynamic duo can somehow recapture their chemistry then they'll definitely be on the BPL's most wanted list. Newcastle-2 WBA-1.