NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Ryan Taylor of Newcastle United challenges Jermain Defoe of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park on October 16, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

English Premier League, Week 8: Manchester City Go Top, Exciting 2-2 Draw At St. James' Park Caps Weekend

Manchester City thumped Aston Villa to go top of the table, taking advantage of Manchester United's draw at Liverpool, but the pick of the weekend's matches was the back and forth thriller between Tottenham and Newcastle in Sunday's late game.

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Newcastle United Vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2011 Premier League: Thrilling 2-2 Draw Ensures Magpies Remain Unbeaten

I think Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur heard everyone's halftime pleas to be more interesting in the second half, because they were incredibly obliging. With Tottenham 1-0 up thanks to Rafael van der Vaart's first half penalty, the hosts came out on the attack and quickly equalised when Demba Ba guided home a nifty cross by Jonas Gutierrez, and the rest of the match was played at breakneck speed.

It looked as though Spurs would be the ones who would go home happy after the second brilliant Scott Parker cross in two minutes found substitute Jermain Defoe at the top of the Newcastle box with the England striker able to turn and fire past Tim Krul, but the hosts weren't done, Shola Ameobi scoring a brilliant goal of his own as he ran onto a flicked pass from Yohan Cabaye and blistered a shot across Brad Friedel and into the back of the net. There were chances at both ends to grab the winner - Krul in particular was hard worked over the last minute minutes of the match, but the game would eventually end 2-2. Newcastle's unbeaten record is still intact.

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Newcastle United Vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2011 Premier League: Jermaine Defoe Regains Lead For Spurs

In the first half, this game was dullness incarnate. No longer - it's turning into a really good match of football. Newcastle had drawn level shortly after halftime, but level pegging lasted just twenty minutes before Spurs managed to regain their lead. Scott Parker isn't necessarily known for his attacking prowess, but he's been putting on something of a show in the last few minutes, playing in a pair of utterly delightful passes to his strikers.

The first, to Emmanuel Adebayor, was barely nicked away by Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul, but the second resulted in Tottenham's 68th minute goal. Adebayor dummied to allow substitute Jermain Defoe to receive possession at the top of the Newcastle box, and the England striker was able to wiggle his way into some space and get a vicious long-range shot away, scorching past Krul and into the bottom corner. That makes it 2-1 Tottenham, and Newcastle's unbeaten record is once again under real threat.

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Newcastle United Vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2011 Premier League: Hosts Level Via Demba Ba

Tottenham Hotspur had the lead at halftime. They do not have that lead any longer, thanks to Demba Ba. Jonas Gutierrez managed to run past faux-winger Luka Modric to free up space for an enticing cross that managed to evade the entirety of the Spurs defence and set up perfectly for summer signing Ba, who steered a volley into Brad Freidel - it would have been a fine save had the American goalkeeper not ended up in the back of his own net, still clutching the ball.

So it's 1-1 at St. James' Park, and Tottenham have replied by fashioning a couple of chances, most notable when Modric skipped away from the defence and teed up Rafael van der Vaart for a first time shot, which the Dutch midfielder wasted by firing straight at compatriot Tim Krul. However, they've also suffered another blow - right back Kyle Walker, who went in hard for a challenge near the Newcastle box and promptly went down in a head looks like he'll be forced off the pitch. Will Danny Rose be his replacement?

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Newcastle United Vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2011 Premier League: Penalty Gives Spirs 1-0 Halttime Lead

There had to be a breakthrough in Newcastle vs. Spurs at some point, I suppose, and it's fairly typical of the game that it came from a penalty. Emmanuel Adebayor broke into the Newcastle area but was running away from the goal when a silly challenge by Steven Taylor saw the Togo striker go to ground. Lee Probert thought things over and eventually pointed to the spot, and Rafael van der Vaart stepped up and sent Tim Krul the wrong way to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

It'd be hard to argue that they deserve it, though - both teams seem pretty disinterested in actually attacking and it's a little bit of a shock that a goal's been scored at all. Newcastle are going to have some work to do if they want to preserve their unbeaten record, because they've yet to seriously threaten Brad Freidel's goal. That task might be slightly easier with Spurs captain Ledley King off injured, although the hosts have been blunt enough that you can't seriously see them troubling Sebastian Bassong overmuch either.

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Newcastle United Vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2011 Premier League: Ledley King Injured, Forced Off

Not much has been happening in Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur - it's as though both teams think they're in the Serie A or something (it kind of looks like Juventus-Fiorentina, in their defence), but one of the things that has happened is not going to make Spurs fans particularly happy: Ledley King is injured. Again.

The captain was looking decidedly unhappy with life after stretching for a challenge and after a few minutes of trying to play through it he signalled to the bench that he needed to come off. Sebastian Bassong replaced him. The good news is that King was able to walk off the pitch under his own power, but the bad news, of course, is that it's Ledley King. The man is more fragile than Arsene Wenger's psyche, and no matter how minor this looks it could easily be very bad news. Anyway, it's 0-0 at St. James' Park.

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Arsenal Vs. Sunderland, 2011 Premier League: Robin Van Persie Saves The Day In 2-1 Gunners Win

Arsenal looked as though they were going to scuffle their way to yet another disappointing result with a mediocre display against Sunderland (who were also fairly mediocre, which is less disappointing on account of their being Sunderland), but one of the few stars left on the team saved their collective bacon. It was the Robin van Persie show at the Emirates, with the Dutch striker opening the scoring after 26 seconds, hitting the post, and then scoring an 82nd winner to secure three points.

It all started so promisingly, with Arsenal keeping the ball from kickoff to the opening goal, a neat little stutter by van Persie forcing Simon Mignolet to commit before the captain slotted home. The hosts continued to press home the attack, very nearly grabbing a second when van Persie hit the inside the post with an absolutely sublime chip that left Sunderland's goalkeeper stranded.

And then it went quite horribly wrong. Sebastian Larsson curled home a gorgeous free kick to make it 1-1. Wojciech Szczesny had to bail out a leaky defence to stop Sunderland from going ahead, saving brilliantly from a Lee Cattermole header. Arsenal were, once again, looking like they were about to subject their fans to abject failure. Although van Persie would get the winner, it was actually the introduction of Andrei Arshavin that started to turn things around, the Russian winger adding a touch of flair to the left side when he replaced the disappointing Gervinho.

Van Persie, of course, gave Arsenal their second lead eight minutes from time with a free kick (after Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta had gotten some silly misses out of everyone's system first). There was still time for Arsenal panic, with Sunderland seeing a Ji Dong-won goal ruled out - correctly - for offside immediately thereafter, and the five minutes of stoppage time Howard Webb called for didn't exactly ease the tension. But Arsene Wenger's men survived the danger, and earned a big three points to take them into the top half of the table.

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Newcastle United Vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2011 Premier League: Lineups

Two teams want to show their Premier League credentials at St. James' Park today, with undefeated Newcastle United taking on their first real challenge of the season in Harry Redknapp's Tottenham Hotspur, who're still dreaming of Champions League football. If Spurs are going to beat the Magpies, they're going to have to do it with both Aaron Lennon and Steven Pienaar missing - their right against Newcastle's left is going to be a really interesting battle.

Newcastle United Lineup (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Carlo Coloccini, Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best, Demba Ba.

Substitutes: Rob Elliot, Davide Santon, Ryan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux, Hatem ben Arfa, Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi.

Tottenham Hotspur lineup (4-4-1-1): Brad Friedel; Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Younes Kaboul, Ledley King, Kyle Walker; Gareth Bale, Scott Parker, Jake Livermore, Luka Modric; Rafael van der Vaart; Emmanuel Adebayor.

Substitutes: Carlo Cudicini, Sebastian Bassong, Danny Rose, Giovani dos Santos, Andros Townsend, Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko.

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West Bromwich Albion Vs Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2011 Premier League: Baggies Earn Nervy 2-0 Win

That's just what West Bromwich Albion needed - a confident(ish) three points against a reasonably strong local team in Mick McCarthy's Wolverhampton Wanderers to raise themselves up from the mire of the relegation zone to relative mid-table bliss. Things began well - Chris Brunt got the hosts off to a flying start with a first-time shot from Youssouf Mulumbu's cutback in the 8th minute to give the Baggies a 1-0 lead, and Wolves were forced to try to overcome an early deficit.

Much of the rest of the match was then rather tense, with the visitors knocking on the door on several occasions. Ben Foster was forced into a few key saves, but held firm for long enough for Peter Odemwingie to wrap things up in the 75th minute after being released by Paul Scharner's clever backheel. 2-0 means three vital points for Roy Hodgson's West Brom, but Wolves will rue their failure to take at least a point out of what looked like a winnable fixture.

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Arsenal Vs. Sunderland, 2011 Premier League: 1-1 At Halftime

Things just aren't going Arsenal's way this season, are they? The host side were absolutely sublime in the early stages against Sunderland, scoring via the brilliant Robin van Persie within 30 seconds, and could easily have gone ahead by two or three goals in a long spell of utter dominance following kickoff, going so far as to hit Simon Mignolet's post via a sublime chip from van Persie in the 12th minute. But they didn't score a second when they had the Black Cats on the ropes, and their visitors have made them pay.

Wojiech Szczesny had already had a bit of a shaky moment when Sebastian Larsson stood over a free kick when he found himself stranded 20 yards from his own goal after failing to make a claim, but the young goalkeeper could do nothing when Larsson sent in a beautiful curling effort over the wall and into the top corner to level the scores. In fact, Szczesny was then instrumental in preventing Sunderland from then going 2-1 up, somehow blocking a point-black header from Lee Cattermole when the midfielder looked certain to score.

So, yeah, at halftime... Arsenal are doing an Arsenal. It's 1-1 at the half.

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Chelsea Vs. Everton: Chelsea Finally Beat The Toffees At Stamford Bridge, 3-1

Everton might have pulled one back in the 81st minute, thanks to wonder-sub Apostolos Vellios, but Chelsea will happily take an unclean sheet in return for beating the Toffees at home for the first time in six seasons. Goals from Daniel Sturridge, John Terry and Ramires gave Chelsea the 3-1 win, closing the gap on Manchester United to just a point (although Manchester City remain three points ahead in first).

The visitors came out of the game looking sharp, looking as though having no true strikers would really be a problem, because they'd easily score against Chelsea. Well, they did, but not in the manner it first appeared. Everton had the best chance of the game when Leighton Baines sent a cross through to Marouane Fellaini, but John Obi Mikel saved a near-certain goal by knocking the ball out for a corner.

Everton's spirits were clearly dampened by the loss of what seemed to be a perfect opportunity, and they let Chelsea back into the match, their previously flawless defense weakening. Juan Mata exploited the flaws, turning in midfield to send a pass to Ashley Cole. Cole sent the ball across the face of goal, where Sturridge slid in to drive it home.

Perhaps sensing a clean sheet wasn't in their future, Chelsea doubled their lead before the halftime whistle. Frank Lampard's freekick floated into the middle of the box, where Fellaini should have been able to knock it away -- but the Belgian was on the wrong side of Terry, who headed the ball straight at Tim Howard. Howard went with the "knock down, not out" goalkeeper strategy, which only helped the ball into the net to give Chelsea the 2-0 lead.

Ramires scored Chelsea's final goal in the 61st minute, this one again created by the masterful Mata. Didier Drogba took the ball up from midfield before passing it off to Mata, the Spaniard sent in the cross, and Ramires just needed to tap it in. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he needed assistance off the pitch just minutes later, picking up a knee injury and being replaced by Florent Malouda.

Once again, however, Chelsea let their minds slip away. Just 18 seconds after setting foot on the pitch, taking the place of Louis Saha, Vellios had the ball in the back of the net. Just 19, that's the Greek's second goal in the Premier League this season. Seeing as it came from a pass by Royston Drenthe, subbed on for Seamus Coleman, you gotta wonder if perhaps David Moyes is getting his lineups a bit backward.

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Chelsea Vs. Everton: Apostolos Vellios Gets A Goal To Pull One Back For Everton

Apostolos Vellios, subbed on to replace Louis Saha in the 80th minute, has scored for Everton, his second goal proving that yes, perhaps the Toffees do indeed have a striker amongst their ranks. Sure, an 81st minute goal when your team is down three will likely not save the day, but it at least gives Everton fans some hope, and hope is what they most need right now.

On the pitch just 18 seconds, Vellios got on the end of a Royston Drenthe cross (who himself was a substitute, brought on for Seamus Coleman), sliding in to knock the ball past Petr Cech. Poor Cech, poor Chelsea -- they were so close to keeping that clean sheet that has alluded them for so long now. But unless Everton pull off something truly magical, all three points are Chelsea's, which will pull them within one point of Manchester United, currently in second place.

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Chelsea Vs. Everton, 2011 Premier League: Ramires Injury Forces Substitution

With Chelsea 3-0 up against Everton and cruising to an impressive home win, the last thing they'll have wanted is an injury to one of their best players. Unfortunately for the Blues, it looks as though they've got one - seconds after tapping in a Juan Mata cross from close range Brazilian midfielder Ramires went down in a heap with what looks like a knee problem.

John Terry went over and the England captain's vast medical knowledge allowed him to quickly diagnose the situation and declare that his stricken comrade needed to be substituted. Ramires, in considerable pain, does indeed need to depart and has to be helped off the pitch by Chelsea's medical team. He's replaced by Florent Malouda, but if that injury is serious - and it looks like it might be - the Blues' midfield depth suddenly looks far more suspect, as he's probably been their best central player so far this season.

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Chelsea Vs. Everton: Ramires Scores, Chelsea Up 3-0

Everton's misery continues to grow as Ramires puts Chelsea up 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. The defense, so coherent for the visitors at the start, has gone into a free fall. For the third goal, Didier Drogba took the ball up from midfield, outpacing the Everton players pursuing him. Spotting Juan Mata racing up the left, Drogba placed his pass perfectly. Mata latched on and sent the ball across the goal, with no Everton players able to reach it. Ramires rushed in to knock it in, for a 3-0 Chelsea scoreline.

Just after the goal, in the 65th minute, Ramires had to leave the match due to a knee injury. Florent Malouda, sporting a nice, clean haircut, takes the place of the Brazilian. That's Ramires's fifth goal in the Premier League this season, by the way, and it comes in his fiftieth appearance in the Chelsea shirt. Nice and alliterative, that is.

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Wigan Athletic Vs. Bolton Wanderers, 2011 Premier League: Trotters Earn 2nd Win Of Season

Bolton hadn't won since the opening day of the season against Queens Park Rangers, but they hadn't faced many winnable games either, having had to navigate Manchester City, United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea in their first seven games. Wigan Athletic away, therefore, presented Owen Coyle's men with a real opportunity to earn a crucial three points and haul themselves off the bottom of the table, and they managed just that with an emphatic win at the DW Stadium.

Nigel Reo-Coker got the Trotters off and running with a confused finish inside the first five minutes, just about nicking the ball inside the near post from a Chris Eagles cross. That lead didn't last the half, with Mohamed Diame curling in a 25-yard shot to level matters in the 40th minute, but Bolton weren't finished and David Ngog restored their advantage with his first goal for the club five minutes later.

The visitors had the better of things in the second half too, and could have wrapped things up when Gary Caldwell, at fault for the first goal, shoved Dedryck Boyata in the box for a penalty. The spot kick was hit far too close to Ali Al-Habsi, however, and the Omani goalkeeper was able to keep it out, leaving Bolton's nerves fraying until Eagles wrapped the match up with a last minute goal. It was a deserved 3-1 victory in the end, and gets Owen Coyle's team off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone.

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Chelsea Vs. Everton: John Terry Gives Chelsea Insurance Goal Just Before Halftime

Chelsea lead Everton 2-0 at halftime at Stamford Bridge, with goals from Daniel Sturridge and John Terry. Everton started the match brightly, looking as though they might want a goal, but soon took to sitting back and frustrating the home side. With so many Everton shirts inside the box, Chelsea were reduced to long balls pinged in from distance, but no one was able to get on the end and put it past Tim Howard.

In fact, it looked as though Everton were set to take the lead. Leighton Baines sent in a perfect ball to Marouane Fellaini, who was in a fantastic position to put the ball in the back of the net. Chelsea were saved, however, by the work of John Obi Mikel, charging through to send the ball out for a corner.

The visitors never really recovered from their spurred chance. Chelsea took advantage, dominating the match more and more, until they produced their desired result: a goal from Sturridge in the 31st minute. Juan Mata took a turn in the center of the pitch, floating the ball out to the left, where Ashley Cole was flying down the flank. Cole then sent the ball across goal, where Sturridge was able to slot in from close range.

Comfort, however, was needed, and veterans Frank Lampard and John Terry stepped in to provide the extra cushion. Lampard sent in one of his typical well-placed free kicks, which Everton should have been able to defend. Instead, Fellaini was on the wrong side of Terry, with the defender able to head it past to goal -- where Tim Howard immediately pushed the ball downwards rather than out.

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Chelsea Vs. Everton: Danny Sturridge Gives Chelsea 1-0 Lead

It took the first thirty minutes of the match for Chelsea to wake up, but on the 31st, they found a way through Everton's organized defense. Juan Mata, a creative spark in the middle of the pitch, was the instigator, sending a teasing ball over the heads of the Everton defense. Ashley Cole, charging up the left flank, was there to meet it. Cole sent the ball across goal, where Daniel Sturridge came flying in to knock it into the net from close range. The goal made Andres Villas-Boas smile, and when AVB is happy, the whole world is happy.

Well, the world not including Everton, of course. Despite looking as though they were simply prepared to shut down Chelsea, the visitors have had a few promising attacks, including a lovely ball from Leighton Baines to Marouane Fellaini. It was only the run of John Obi Mikel that stopped Everton from being the first to score.

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Stoke City Vs. Fulham, 2011 Premier League: Potters Leave It Late In 2-0 Win

You'd have been forgiven for seeing Stoke City and Fulham tied at 0-0 at halftime and assuming that that's the way the match would end. In fact, that state would continue well into the second half before the deadlock was broken with two Stoke goals in quick succession. It was a bit of a comedown for Fulham, who managed just one shot on Amsir Begovic's goal after scoring six time against Queens Park Rangers last time out.

Stoke weren't really much better, but they finally managed to get a shot past Mark Scwharzer in the 80th minute, when Jonathan Walters diverted a Matthew Etherington effort into the back of the net from close range. That always looked like it was going to be the winner, and Rory Delap made sure of the points seven minutes later when the long throw specialist got on the end of a free kick to nod home. That's an important three points for Stoke, whose position in the top half after a strong start to the season has been rather threatened of late. As for Fulham, it looks as though that huge win against QPR was a bit of a false dawn.

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Queens Park Rangers Vs. Blackburn Rovers, 2011 Premier League: 1-1 Draw At Loftus Road

Queens Park Rangers went up early against Blackburn Rovers and looked to be on the way to compounding Steven Kean's misery by inflicting yet another loss on his struggling side, but the goal seemed to spur the visitors into some sort of action and Blackburn played reasonably well for the rest of the match, equalising quickly and then holding out (with a touch of good fortune) against a QPR side desperate for all three points.

It was a good response to Heidar Hulgusson's opener, scored after a corner-induced goalmouth scramble, and Chris Samba brought the game level from another set piece, nodding past Patrick Kenny to make it 1-1. Despite plenty of chances from both sides - there were 25 shots in the match, neither could score again. That could have been very different late on, when the influential Adel Taarabt went down in the penalty area after being fouled by Michel Salgado. Mark Clattenburg was unimpressed, but it was a very strong call for a spot kick and QPR will doubtless feel a little aggrieved about it not being given. Anyway, despite the draw, Blackburn go bottom of the table on goal differential. But hey, a point!

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Norwich City Vs. Swansea City, 2011 Premier League: Canaries Win 3-1, Earn Big 3 Points

Norwich City took advantage of fellow newcomers Swansea's poor away form to earn a key three points at Carrow Road. The hosts struck early, scoring twice in the first ten minutes through Anthony Pilkington and Russell Martin, but the visitors replied quickly to make things interesting when Danny Graham powered a left-footed shot past John Ruddy two minutes after Martin's headed goal.

The rest of the game couldn't match the pace of the first few minutes, of course, but it was still a fun back and forth match with Swansea pressing hard for the equaliser until Pilkington notched his second of the match, beating Michel Vorm from close range following a corner to wrap things up. Swansea still pressed, but with a two goal deficit to overcome and barely twenty minutes to go, the visitors understandably were less enthusiastic about throwing bodies forward.

Anyway, a 3-1 win for Norwich puts them in the top ten on eleven points. Although both Swansea and Norwich are comfortably mid table right now, the newly-promoted teams desperately need to collect points at the beginning of the season - each and every one will matter come May.

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Manchester City Vs. Aston Villa, 2011 Premier League: Resounding Win Puts City Top Of The League

Manchester City were without Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and David Silva but were still too much for Aston Villa to handle at the Etihad Stadium, running out 4-1 winners to go top of the Premier League. They didn't look particularly impressive in the first half, struggling to break down a disciplined Villa defence, but finally were able to break the deadlock thanks to Mario Balotelli's deft overhead kick from a corner. The visitors actually had a great chance to go ahead before Balotelli's goal, when Gabriel Agbonlahor dispossessed Joleon Lescott and forced a great save from Joe Hart to keep things level.

With Villa putting up a strong fight, City needed to kill off the game quickly in the second half. They managed to, with Adam Johnson and Vincent Kompany each striking within minutes of the restart and putting the game out of reach. There was room for a small triumph for Villa when left back Stephen Warnock became the first opposition player to score on City's home turf this year with an emphatic finish, but the game was capped off by a magnificent curling finish from ex-Villa man James Milner, who fired into Shay Given's top corner from 25 yards to make it 4-1.

Apart from the first few minutes of the second half, Villa weren't particularly poor, but when a team goes missing for spells against City, they're going to be punished. Still, 4-1 was a great result for a Manchester City side missing their best attacking players, and they're now clear of their closest rivals at the top of the league.

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Liverpool Vs. Manchester United, 2011 Premier League: Full Time, Both Teams Likely Content With Draw

Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish appeared to be attempting to bore the public to death in the first hour or so of their Northwest Derby matchup, but thanks to a sequence of events leading to a Steven Gerrard goal, things finally got a bit spiced up in the end. Liverpool and Manchester United eventually played to a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, and it's a result that both teams will likely be content with.

Ferguson opted to leave all of Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Nani on his bench, selecting a defensive lineup. United hadn't won at Anfield since 2008 and Liverpool are in good form, so it's not unreasonable to think that Ferguson was playing for a draw from the start.

The Gerrard goal came on a direct free kick in the 68th minute, given away by Rio Ferdinand. Charlie Adam took a bit of a dive to win it, but the combination of Ryan Giggs' error in stepping away from the wall and the quality of Gerrard's strike make it tough to say that Adam and referee Andre Marriner had a significant unfair effect on the outcome of the game.

At this point, Ferguson brought on his big guns and his moves eventually paid off. On a corner kick, Danny Welbeck flicked on Giggs' ball towards Chicharito, who darted into the six yard box out of seemingly nowhere to get on the end of the ball and head in an equalizer. 

Liverpool pushed for a winner late, but couldn't find it. David De Gea made two brilliant saves in the final 10 minutes, while Jordan Henderson just barely missed a header in stoppage time that he probably should have been able to score. Liverpool were, perhaps, the slightly better team on the night, but a draw was a fair result considering how incredibly poor and dull the initial 65 minutes of the match were.

For more on the two teams involved, check out Liverpool blog Anfield Asylum and Manchester United blog The Busby Babe. Check out all of the weekend's action in the Premiership in our English Premier League Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Liverpool Vs. Manchester United Live, 2011 Premier League: Halftime, Unsurprisingly Tied 0-0

That wasn't the most enthralling 45 minutes of football, not that anyone should be surprised. Alex Ferguson decided to put out a Manchester United lineup without Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Nani, so it should come as no shock that they're drawn 0-0 with Liverpool at halftime of the season's first Northwest Derby. It's tough to predict what the second half will hold, but it seems like 0-0 was the goal all along from Ferguson's boys.

Steven Gerrard has looked decent in his return to the starting lineup, but hasn't really looked like the Gerrard of old quite yet. Luis Suarez has looked dangerous on a couple of occasions - he produced the game's best chance after a half hour - but he's struggling to get the ball as much as he'd like.

Going the other way, United are obviously lacking the quality of Rooney, Nani and Hernandez. Ashley Young has been well contained while Park hasn't offered much going forward and Danny Welbeck has been average at best. It's been a midfield battle, with both teams struggling to create chances.

Hopefully Ferguson decides to make a change and go for the win. Otherwise, the score is likely to stay this way.

For more on the two teams involved, check out Liverpool blog Anfield Asylum and Manchester United blog The Busby Babe. Check out all of the weekend's action in the Premiership in our English Premier League Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Liverpool Vs. Manchester United Live, 2011 Premier League: Lineups

If you live in Europe or anywhere east of there, good afternoon! If you live in North or South America, good holy crap it is way too early to you as well! Liverpool takes on Manchester United in the Northwest Derby starting at 12:45 pm local time, 7:45 am ET, and both teams have their lineups out. Steven Gerrard returns for Liverpool, replacing Andy Carroll as Kenny Dalglish switches up his formation a bit. Alex Ferguson has decided not to include Wayne Rooney or Nemanja Vidic in his starting XI because he is weird. He also appears to have moved Phil Jones into midfield.

Liverpool lineup (4-2-3-1): Reina; Enrique, Skrtel, Carragher, Kelly; Lucas, Adam; Downing, Gerrard, Kuyt; Suarez

Manchester United lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Smalling; Jones, Fletcher, Giggs; Park, Welbeck, Young

If you're in the UK or Ireland, you can catch this match on Sky. If you're in the USA, you will be treated to the stylings of Ian Darke on ESPN2. In Canada, the game is on TSN2.

For more on the two teams involved, check out Liverpool blog Anfield Asylum and Manchester United blog The Busby Babe. We'll have live coverage of the Northwest Derby and all of the weekend's action in the Premiership in our English Premier League Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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