A day of draws in the Barclays Premier League took place on Sunday 16th January 2011, as each of the four fixtures ended with the points shared, on a thoroughly entertaining afternoon of derby games and high-stakes league football action.
Three derbies and a top-of-the-table clash meant that fans of Premier League football were treated to the excitement of back-to-back must-watch matches.
Birmingham 1-1 Aston Villa
Birmingham thought they had got the better of their fierce local rivals when they went 1-0 up courtesy of a 49th minute Johnson finish, before James Collins scored the equalising goal in an absorbing encounter. Both sides were evenly matched, and climbed an inch or two closer to safety following this point, though both are still perilously close to danger: Birmingham are 16th, a point ahead of 17th placed Villa, who are only out of the league’s ejection positions courtesy of their goals for record (they are level on points and goal difference with Wigan who sit below them in the relegation 18th position).
Liverpool 2-2 Everton
High drama on Merseyside at anfield saw Liverpool take the lead in their derby match with Everton through a 29th minute Meireles finish. The Toffees then threatened to derail their rivals with a quick-fire turnaround early in the second period: Distin (46 mins) put them level before Beckford (52) gave Everton a slender lead, against the run of play.
Dirk Kuyt spared home blushes, and prevented a painful double league loss against their foes, with a 68th minute penalty.
Everton and Liverpool are now 12th and 13th respectively, level on 26 Barclays Premier League points: it could yet be all each side has to play for this season, to finish higher of the two in the table.
Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle
In the Wear-Tyne derby, Sunderland left it until super-late to grab an equaliser. Several home fans had hit the exits by the time Gyan put thoughts of a double defeat to bed with a looping, slightly flukey finish on 90+4 minutes.
Nolan had put the visiting Magpies ahead on 52 minutes, and Alan Pardrew’s men looked, with more possession and shots, to be heading towards a deserved three point derby win before Gyan turned things around in slightly bizarre fashion: he was hit by the rebounded save from Steve Harper in the Newcastle net more than anything, and the ball looped into the goal.
Sunderland’s late fortune means they go four points clear of Bolton, and remain in sixth place in the league. Newcastle are ninth, but will curse missing out on three points that could easily have placed them seventh. It will certainly rankle that they came so close in the Stadium of Light.
Tottenham 0-0 Man Utd
Billed as the match of the day, Spurs v Man Utd was about as entertaining as a 0-0 draw can be, with attacking football on display – for the most part, by the home team in white – right from the off.
Tottenham were unlucky not to be leading at half time, after good chances for Peter Crouch and Van der Vaart narrowly missed following good crosses from either site, in an absorbing first 45. United produced a couple of good chances of their own, and Gomes had to be smart in the Tottenham goal to prevent Rooney more than once.
When Raphael, who had done a reasonably good job of keeping Gareth Bale quiet for much of this match, was sent off for collecting his second yellow card with 15 minutes remaining in the match, Spurs pressed for a winner, but came no closer than a curling Van der Vaart effort which narrowly missed the top left corner following a mistake from Hernandez in the box.
The game finished 0-0, but this was as close as United have come to losing this season, and the grit displayed by their ten men – Vidic and Ferdinand both played tremendously, under great pressure – could well be ominous for those chasing them down for the title. Spurs may look back on this as a what-might-have-been moment come the season’s end, but they were certainly the better of the teams over 90 minutes this evening, which will give them hope that they can overturn the single point between them and the UEFA Champions League fourth position now occupied by Chelsea.
Spurs have Newcastle, Blackburn and Bolton up next – they need a win in each if they are to keep alive their hopes of a title this season. United go top once more, level on points with Manchester City, but with two games in hand: Birmingham, Blackpool and Villa will offer an opportunity to consolidate that position in their next three matches.
Three derby games and four enjoyable matches show why the 2010/11 Barclays Premier League is already fast becoming one of the most entertaining league run-ins in recent history: there’s very little to split the teams at the top or the bottom of the table this term; everything is to play for.
Barclays Premier League Results – Sunday 16th January 2011
- Birmingham 1-1 Aston Villa
- Liverpool 2-2 Everton
- Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle
- Tottenham 0-0 Man Utd