Premier League's best midweek games: From Anfield goalfests to 'Crystanbul'

As the Premier League prepares for a full round of midweek fixtures, we look back at some of the best games played on a school night. Quite a few of them involve Liverpool...

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Fixture congestion be damned, for there is something truly and undeniably special about a midweek round of Premier League games.

There's always a crackle in the atmosphere as fans file into the stadium beneath the ethereal glare of the floodlights. The smell of cool, damp grass permeates the cold night air. Noses and cheeks start to flush. Magical.

Then there's the beguiling promise of getting stranded 200 miles from home after missing the last train or coach. And you have work in the morning. Truly magical.

It's the perfect cocktail, and one that has seen the Premier League serve up a plethora of timeless tussles over the years. Here are five of the best.

Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle United (Wednesday April 3, 1996)

Regularly cited as among, if not the very best match in Premier League history, the classic encounter was named "Match of the Decade" as part of the league's 10th anniversary celebrations in 2003.

Time has not withered the enduring appeal of a topsy turvy bout that ultimately played a major part in the 1995-96 title race.

Despite being 12 points clear in January, Kevin Keegan's flamboyantly flawed Newcastle team gradually came undone as Manchester United came storming from behind to reclaim the title.

"I would love it, etc, etc".

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur (Wednesday Oct. 29, 2008)

It took an Aaron Lennon equaliser in injury time but, sure enough, Harry Redknapp's plucky side managed to pull off an incredible comeback at the Emirates on a chilly midweek evening in North London.

David Bentley set the scene with an audacious 45-yard volley to open the scoring after just 13 minutes, and things generally got more and more nerve-jangling from that point onwards.

Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal (Tuesday April 21, 2009)

A pulsating encounter that saw Andrey Arshavin deliver his masterpiece in an Arsenal shirt.

The Russian scored four goals from as many shots on target in a riveting Anfield affair that saw the Gunners put a sizeable dent their opponents' title aspirations.

The Reds went top after the final whistle but only on goal difference, and sure enough Manchester United soon won their games in hand to overtake Rafa Benitez's side and win the league by four clear points.

Leeds United 1-0 Liverpool (Monday Aug. 22, 1995)

One of the two near-identical goals that came to characterise Tony Yeboah's brief but explosive Premier League career was all that separated Leeds and Liverpool when they met at Elland Road on a school night 25 years ago.

Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool (Monday May 5, 2014)

"Crystanbul" remains a true latter-day classic, in which Liverpool harpooned their own title dreams with an astonishing last-ditch capitulation at Selhurst Park.

In the 80th minute, the Reds were 3-0 up and three points clear at the summit heading into their final game. Just 10 minutes later, they were being forced to settle for a devastating point -- all but handing the league to Manchester City.

The chase was up for Brendan Rodgers' side and they knew it. The long wait for glory ticked over into a 25th year and Luis Suarez ended the evening in tears. Perfect sporting tragedy.

Boxing Day (Thursday Dec. 26, 1963)

Honourable mention must surely go to one of the most goal-laden days in English football history, when the First Division witnessed 66 goals being scored in just 10 matches -- and on a Thursday as well.

Fulham beat Ipswich 10-1 at Craven Cottage on the 26th but then somehow managed to lose 4-2 to the exact same side when they faced each other again just two days later.

Sigh. It was a simpler time. A better time.

Adidas' new Predator gives Pogba spiky new footwear

Paul Pogba may be in the middle of a long-term injury layoff, but Manchester United fans have been given a reminder of what he can do as the France midfielder helped launched Adidas' new version of its iconic Predator boot.

The game has changed considerably since the first Predator was introduced in 1994, but there is one thing the Predator 20 Mutator has in common with the original, and that's the prominence of appendages for the purpose of ball control. Adidas refers to this latest technology as Demonskin.

Demonskin is a textured layer of spikes (406, to be exact), the result of an algorithmic model to create a new interface between boot and ball and promote spin in ball striking. Those spikes cover key contact points of the boot, from the instep, to where you'd normally find laces, to the outside of the boot.

The new Predator also uses a two-plate stud configuration that not only saves weight vs. a traditional single sole plate, but also allows for what the industry calls a 360-degree design. This creates a boot that's formed not just around the top half of your foot, but under the sole as well.

The Predator 20 Mutator goes on sale on Jan. 28, and will be worn by Pogba, Becky Sauerbrunn, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Tessa Wullaert.

Striker locks himself out of car, smashes window with rock to avoid fine for being late

Ipswich Town striker James Norwood (he of glorious goal celebration GIF fame) is got his Tuesday morning off to an inauspicious start when he had to smash his own car window in order to make it to training on time.

After a decidedly chilly night, Norwood went outside and turned his car on to help defrost the windows before setting out. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old then managed to lock his keys in his car -- locking him out of both the car and his house. Fearing a large fine, he was forced to break his way in to unlock it again.

"It's a big fine for being late [to training] so it was cheaper to smash a window," Norwood told BBC Sport.

"The first rock hit the window and bounced off. I'd been locked out for half an hour in minus 87 [degrees] and when I tried to throw harder I couldn't feel my hands and released late and got my door, severely denting it.

"Third one went straight through and hit my other door."

There's bad mornings and then there's accidentally writing off your own car with poorly-aimed rocks.

Thankfully, Norwood was eventually able to smash his way into his car and retrieve his keys though whether he still made it to training on time is unknown.