MANCHESTER: Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie all got on the scoresheet as Manchester United rubbed salt into Liverpool’s wounds with a crushing 3-0 home victory yesterday in the Premier League.
Rooney and Mata both found the net before half-time, the latter apparently from an offside position, before Van Persie added a third to avenge United’s loss to Liverpool by the same scoreline at Old Trafford last season in March.
Victory, United’s sixth in a row, allowed Louis van Gaal’s side to move back to within eight points of leaders Chelsea and five of defending champions Manchester City, fuelling hopes of a slow-burning title push.
United’s fans finished the game by chanting ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning!’ at Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers, whose side limped out of the Champions League in mid-week and now trail United by 10 points.
But Liverpool might have emerged from the game with more credit had it not been for a stunning display by United goalkeeper David de Gea, who denied Raheem Sterling and substitute Mario Balotelli three times each.
Rodgers had reacted to the poor form of his own goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet, by dropping him in favour of Brad Jones, and the Australian’s presence on the pitch at kick-off was not the only novelty.
Both teams lined up with three-man defences, with midfielder Michael Carrick marshalling United’s back line and Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson playing in a narrower role than usual. However, it was the home side who went away with three points and a scoreline that flattered their display on the pitch.
Arsenal 4-1 winners at Newcastle
Olivier Giroud and birthday boy Santi Cazorla scored a brace each as Arsenal beat Newcastle United 4-1 on Saturday to ease the pressure on long-serving manager Arsene Wenger.
Wenger was verbally abused by a small group of fans following Arsenal’s 3-2 loss at Stoke City last weekend, but he was serenaded by the home support after his side put Newcastle to the sword at the Emirates Stadium. However, the Frenchman said he understood the fans’ frustration. “Our job is to win games and when we don’t do it, I can understand why they’re not happy.”
Newcastle were second-best from the first whistle and could have no complaints about the scoreline, which left them in seventh place in the table, three points behind sixth-place Arsenal.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2014.