IN A DAY when headlines were dominated by football for all the wrong reasons, there were two Premier League games pencilled in on the fixture list.
Swansea City 0-0 Aston Villa
As news of the unexpected death of Gary Speed filtered through to the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, officials held prolonged discussions over whether or not the game should even go ahead.
With the agreement of both teams, the green light was given but there were plenty of emotional faces on and off the field as kick-off was preceded by a minute’s silence, which broke into a minute’s applause and chants of Speed’s name around the ground.
Unsurprisingly, the first half was a poor one with neither side able to get on top. Scott Sinclair, for the home side, and Gabriel Agbonlahor had the better of the chances.
Villa played with more focus after the break – Agbonlahor forcing Michel Vorm to parry away a swerving shot before substitute Leroy Lita escaped the attentions of James Collins to fire just wide for the home side. All in all, a draw was a fair result on a day that will not be remembered for events on the field.
What this means: Villa are up to tenth courtesy of their point, ahead of QPR and Stoke on goal difference. Swansea, for their part, are now 14th.
Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City
Another test of Manchester City’s title credentials, and it looked really good for Roberto Mancini’s men for all of two minutes at Anfield.
Vincent Kompany broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark when he got a flicked header on target from a superbly-delivered corner from David Silva.
The visitors were ahead for all of 90 seconds though, as the City defence failed to clear an immediate counter attack from Liverpool and it was Joleon Lescott that was unlucky enough to deflect a shot from Charlie Adam beyond the reach of Joe Hart.
Dirk Kuyt had a lively first half and fed Adam again to force a decent save from Hart in the 37th minute, before Sergio Aguero had a half chance blocked by Pepe Reina just before half time whistle blew.
There mightn’t have been any more goals in the second half, but there was plenty of action. Two substitutes were involved in the key talking points.
First, City striker Mario Balotelli was booked twice (for pulling down Glen Johnson and then for a clash with Martin Skrtel) in the 20 minutes after his introduction and was sent from the pitch; then Andy Carroll saw his header produced a stunning finger-tip save from Hart in added time.
What in means: City are five points ahead of United at the top of the Premier League. Liverpool are up to sixth, ahead of Arsenal on goal difference.
Kilmarnock 1-0 Rangers
An 80th-minute header from Killy’s Manuel Pascali has injected fresh life into the race for Scottish Premier League title honours.
The Gers, seeking to add to their tally of 14 unbeaten games on the road, were condemned to their first league defeat of the season and are now just four points ahead of rivals Celtic – with the same amount of games played.