Anfield level as the Gunners are held and Blues win derby
Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1
Liverpool needed to win to jump some places from the bottom half of the table as Chelsea went into their third game looking to continue their 100% record. Both sides looked arguably evens at Anfield yesterday pre-match and if I was a betting man I would have wagered on a draw.
It was the 16th minute when Steven Gerrard knocked a sublime ball down the left flaank inside Tal Ben Haim for Fernando Torres to chase. The Spaniard ran, paused with the ball then quickly continued towards goal, touching the ball wide of Petr Cech. Chelsea gained an equaliser after the hour as Shaun Wright-Phillips knocked a pass across the box and Florent Malouda was judged to have been fouled by Steve Finnan, something which was met by aghast Liverpool faces. Replays showed Malouda had jumped onto Finnan without the Irishman even making contact. Frank Lampard scored from the spot.
The decision given by the ref added further to encapsulate some bizarre refereeing by Rob Styles, to the degree where Styles has been demoted, for the interim, to not officiate at the weekend. Styles had a good view of the incident but this does not, for me, negate the argument against having video footage to rely on for such moments. I am yet to be convinced but maybe such technology would be better introduced after Xmas where points are more crucial.
Keith Hackett, a former referee, is the general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Limited, who are responsible for the supervision of referees, and he said:
"I spoke to Rob [Styles] this morning and obviously he is extremely disappointed with the decision and admitted he got it wrong. I left a message with Rafael Benitez to apologise. Having looked at a video and seen a better angle and a better view, clearly [Rob Styles] now recognises that he got it wrong and he's deeply apologetic for that. I think, in fact, he too will be making contact with Liverpool in order to offer his apologies."
At one point, Torres went down from a Ben Haim challenge and John Terry came across to have words with Torres, Torres then pushed Terry away lightly. Styles then blew immediately and signalled a booking for Terry with the yellow card, wrote on his card and then handed the ball to Torres with Michael Essien standing by. Styles then showed the yellow card again in front of Essien, who was already booked. Essien had hands on his head thinking he was being dismissed for nothing until Styles indicated the booking was for Terry, and Styles' hand in the air with the yellow card was to merely indicate a direct free-kick to Liverpool, without realisng he had the card in hand.
I found Rob Styles farcical. But the decision won't change either at the time or afterwards, and while we may 'moan' where some fans are concerned, the time now is to move on and concentrate on our game with Sunderland next Saturday.
Blackburn Rovers 1 Arsenal 1
I didn't get to see this game as it was not live so I welcome any insight for any Blackburn Rovers or Arsenal fan, or anyone who went to the game or saw it elsewhere. I understand fromt he morning press that Jens Lehmann committed another clanger, Ryan Nelsen was dismissed with some 15mins to go, robin Van Persie and David Dunn both scored the goals.
Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0
Talking of bets, no one would have wagered on this scoreline. Three games in Utd have gained two draws, two points, and 16th in the table. No Wayne Rooney until perhaps Xmas, no Christiano Ronaldo for the next two games now, one goal scored, two conceded. This does not spell anything whatsoever, thirty-five games more remaining in the league. Plus in Ronaldo's absence there is Nani. In Rooney's, there is Carlos Tevez. It is almost like for like. Yet as Utd used more of the possession, they could not convert any of it into a goal.
City had weathered some storm in Utd's attack and when they actually began to use the players and space around to pass the ball and open up the Utd mifield, up stepped Geovanni to hit a strike at Edwin van der Sar, which spun off the heel of Nemanja Vidic into the net. Bragging rights to City, under Sven-Goran Eriksson, but I didn't expect the match to finish like this. I suspected Eriksson would add some 'flavour', if you will, to the team, on his appointment but it was more a combination of Richard Dunne and Micah Richards to the rescue, with young Kasper Schmeichel keeping out his father's former club.
Worst beginning of a season for Utd in fifteen years. But this one is an early one thus far. Alex Ferguson spoke of a worry regarding defending the title, which I think is quite premature.