Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suare

Shipped from abroad: Reflections on an English Premier League Saturday

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These days, everything that happens with Liverpool spurs perspective. Coming into Saturday’s match, that perspective was a wide one, seeing the Reds in their worst form for 50 years. After Luis Suarez’s late equalizer got them a point from visiting Aston Villa, the perspective shifts, through it doesn’t narrow. Nothing from today’s match helps focus on the now.

Instead, it’s a wide, sorrowful view that sees a home point from the league’s 15th place side as a cause for relief. And describing Villa as a 15th place side is the most flattering way you can describe Alex McLeish’s team, at this point. They’re not good, and as such, don’t expect LFC supporters to take much solace from this result. At least it’s not a loss will be the refrain.

That won’t console for long. We’re now one week away from Liverpool’s Merseyside Derby at Wembley in the FA Cup semifinals, a must-win match in the hearts of supporters who, after Saturday, can ask “If we need a late goal to draw Villa at home, are we going to be able to get past Everton?”

Liverpool has one more match to find something: Tuesday at Blackburn. Unfortunately, these are just the types of matches where the Reds have stumbled – matches where they have to impose instead of react. Based on what we saw today, dropping points at Ewood almost has to be expected.

Elsewhere in the Premier League

All results: Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham; Chelsea 2-1 Wigan; Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa; Norwich City 2-2 Everton; Bolton 0-3 Fulham; West Brom 3-0 Blackburn; Stoke City 2-1 Wolverhampton.

Stuff that stuck out:

  • Chelsea moves back into fifth and are now only three points behind Spurs. If Arsenal fall to Manchester City tomorrow, the Blues will be two back of a Champions League spot. Unfortunately, Newcastle’s staying right with them (and are in two fewer competitions). They could beat out Arsenal or Tottenham and still end up in Europa.
  • Two goals from Nikica Jelavic have me convinced I was wrong. Bought from Rangers at the end of the winter transfer window, I thought he was a reach – especially for the €6.6 million that’s hard to come by at Goodison. He had a good goal return in Scotland, but I put no stock in it. To the eye, he seemed little better than other options. He’s now up to five goals in 10 matches with the Toffees, and while that may be nothing but a decent start, it’s enough to convince me I’d judged too harshly.
  • Clint Dempsey’s double (in Fulham’s 3-0 win at Bolton) could have led this post, but his goalscoring exploits have become so common that we no longer have to break out the confetti to celebrate his exploits. The guy is fifth in the league in goals, behind only van Persie, Rooney, Aguero and Ba. It’s an amazing status commensurate with a year so successful that “Clint Dempsey scores!” is no longer the story. Instead, it’s “Clint Dempsey scored again.” A more subdued message? Sure, but at this point, it’s also more meaningful.
  • Here’s that full goalscorers list:
Player Club Goals
van Persie, Robin Arsenal 26
Rooney, Wayne Manchester United 21
Aguero, Sergio Manchester City 17
Ba, Demba Newcastle 16
Dempsey, Clint Fulham 15
Ayegbeni, Yakubu Blackburn 14
Adebayor, Emmanuel Tottenham 13
Balotelli, Mario Manchester City 13
Dzeko, Edin Manchester City 13
Holt, Grant Norwich City 13

Up next: Manchester United’s at QPR tomorrow ahead of Manchester City’s visit to Arsenal.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)