The first of this season's Sky-branded Grand Slam Sundays gave us thrills and spills of the highest order - some top quality finishing, and some top quality grimacing. And that was only at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney enhanced his solid gold reputation with a decent finish, before doing his best John Terry impression at the other end. I can only hope that Terry bit his tongue afterwards, as he knows all too well the pain of such a slip. Rooney's main consolation can come in the fact that the result was not influenced one iota by his unfortunate few seconds.
Fernando Torres scored a goal that was undoubtedly more impressive than Wayne's, but the memory of that, and an all-round very good performance will be airbrushed aside to focus on what will surely be the miss of the season. Even more heartbreakingly for the £50m Spaniard, he had fashioned that open goal opportunity himself, with some deft footwork to leave the keeper for dead. Unlike Rooney's miss however, it proved ultimately costly, with the deficit remaining two, and a possible grandstand finish ruled out. As I remarked shortly afterwards though, in the beer-fuelled hilarity that ensued, the lack of a close finish was more than compensated for by the sheer "I can't believe what I just witnessed" that filled the remaining few minutes.
In all seriousness, Chelsea gave a good account of themselves. The only thing that seperated the two sides was a slightly more clinical United attack, and a Chelsea defence slightly lacking in pace. I am not including Berbatov in this 'clinical' attack, as he squandered a far-post opportunity that in any other match would have been the worst piece of finishing. The Bulgarian smacks of a man who knows that his time as a regular starter has come and gone, with Rooney and Hernandez ushering in a more energetic age.
Before this memorable Old Trafford encounter came a shockingly one-sided 4-0 win for Spurs against a disappointing Liverpool side. If the late afternoon kick-off showed us the best and worst attacking, the White Hart Lane bonanza showed the best and worst midfield displays on offer. Somewhat predictably Luka Modric was at the heart of most of Tottenham's good work - the crowning glory being a stunningly powerful yet beautiful strike in the first ten minutes. For him not to be awarded man of the match ahead of Adebayor was somewhat surprising - the Togolese striker had not yet scored his admittedly impressive second goal - but Modric and Parker showed evidence of a bourgening and effective partnership in the Spurs engine room.
The worst performance of the afternoon came from Jordan Henderson. It wasn't that he did anything particularly wrong - more that he just didn't do anything. Peripheral would not describe his display. I turned to my friend after about 35 minutes having heard Henderson's name, and the shared reaction was "I didn't know he was playing". After a quick online check on my phone, sure enough, the £20m man was in the starting 11. In name, but seemingly not in body. So much so, that I would argue Liverpool ended the match with eight and not nine men. Dalglish either needs Gerrard back fit as soon as possible, or Henderson to justify his price tag.