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Stalemate at Anfield and a refereeing howler at Old Trafford

Manchester City escaped from Anfield with a point. The sky blues had taken the lead in the first half, thanks to Vincent Kompany’s shoulder. Appreciated fortune. Moments later Liverpool responded in kind, thanks to an enormous deflection off of Joleon Lescott from Charlie Adam’s wayward shot. The change in direction ensured Joe Hart was beaten and without a chance.

The two fortunate goals were not the end of the action. By the games end Joe Hart had pulled off a number of stunning saves, enhancing his reputation as one of the best shot stoppers in the game. Considering most football watchers are of the opinion that goalkeepers do not reach their peak until their thirties it is safe to say that if Joe Hart continues on his current career trajectory he will end up one of the games greatest goalkeepers. He has a habit of making truly extraordinary saves appear altogether normal. In the final moments he pulled off two such saves against Luis Suarez and Andy Carrol as Liverpool went in search of a winner.

Liverpool did deserve a winner and the fact it didn’t arrive is not a case of poor finishing but, rather, it is a consequence of Joe Hart’s exemplary performance. From Luis Suarez he saved at full pelt when it appeared he was unsighted. It would have been reasonable for the goalkeeper to not even react, never mind for him to save with such aplomb. Minutes later he saved from an Andy Caroll header, defying both gravity and expectation. The whole crowd suspected the header was going to rest in the corner of the net. Gravity suggested the goalkeeper would not be able to reach across and hang in the air long enough to keep the ball out of the net. Joe Hart defied both gravity and expectation and ensured Manchester City escaped from Anfield with a point.

As a result Manchester City have maintained their five point lead at the top of the English Premiership. In second place are Manchester United, who didn’t take the opportunity to catch up with their city rivals when they failed to defeat Newcastle United at Old Trafford. The final score in the encounter was 1-1, with the home side having taken the lead and appeared comfortable. Newcastle managed to get back into the match thanks to an awful refereeing decision. Newcastle were awarded a penalty kick in controversial circumstances. Watching it live it was quite clear that Rio Ferdinand had won the ball from Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle, made apparent by the substantial change in direction of the ball after the defender had made contact with it, but the officials were of a different opinion and opined that Rio Ferdinand had fouled the Newcastle attacker. Replays only confirmed what everybody watching live had taken as obvious. It was never a penalty. After the match Sir Alex Ferguson called the decision a travesty and lamented the fact that the decision had altered the result. Newcastle were thankful for their luck and as a result left Old Trafford with a point, solidifying their position at the top end of the table.