Thriller at Villa Park
Venue – Villa Park
Result – Aston Villa 2-2 Man Utd
‘As it happened’ – Aston Villa must have thought that they would finally win at their home against Sir Alex’s men after fifteen years of trying, but United yet again got out of jail. Villa gave a number of their youngsters a start in absence of first team regulars. The youngsters – Albrighton, Bannan and Hogg didn’t disappoint their manager Gerrard Houlier and produced an uncharacteristically matured performance. After a goal less first half, Villa took the lead when Ashley Young was brought down by Wes Brown and the Villa winger buried home the ensuing penalty. United hadn’t even recovered fully from the shock when Villa doubled their lead after a mouthwatering counter attacking move was deservedly finished off by the brilliant Albrighton.
However, Man United never give up and when the substitute Fredrico Macheda halved Villa’s lead with a stunning strike from the edge of the box, Villa fans feared the inevitable. Their worst fears were realized soon when United captain Nemanja Vidic headed home the equalizer with just under five minutes of regulation time left on the clock. United pilled on the pressure but Brad Friedel held firm and a cracking contest ended with both teams sharing the spoils. United maintained their unbeaten record while Villa fans got a glimpse of the abundant young talent at their disposal.
Liverpool brought back to earth
Venue – Britannia Stadium
Result – Stoke City 2-0 Liverpool
‘As it happened’ – Liverpool fans had been sensing a mini revival after a terrific display against the champions and a hard fought draw away at Wigan. However all aspirations of a top four finish were dealt a major blow as the men from Merseyside produced a rather insipid display against Stoke. Ricardo Fuller opened the scoring just after half-time after a scrappy goal-mouth tussle. Liverpool tried to hit back straight away but Stoke’s defence was as solid as a rock. Torres wasn’t having his best game in a Liverpool shirt but to be fair to him the service was abysmal. Jones should have made it two when Martin Skrtel mistimed his jump but his left-footed effort beat both Reina and the far post. However he finally got his due reward late in the match when he slotted past a hapless Reina to ensure all three points for the potters. Liverpool’s night went from bad to worse when Lucas Leiva was dismissed for a second bookable offence. Roy Hodgson sure looks a man under pressure and devoid of inspiration. The figure of Dalglish hangs on his head like the sword of Damocles; Hogdson and Liverpool left the Brittannia with chants of ‘Dalglish’ by the Liverpool supporters buzzing in the Englishman’s ears.
Gunners close the gap
Venue – Goodison Park
Result – Everton 1-2 Arsenal
‘As it happened’– Arsenal had bounced straight back after a disappointing defeat at home against the Magpies with a victory against Wolves and they continued their revival with a battling display at Goodison Park. Everton’s home form has been disappointing so far this season with just two wins so far. After a scrappy first half an hour, Barcary Sagna opened the scoring with a ferocious strike from a tight angle. Right at the beginning of the second half captain Fabregas made the score line safe as he coolly finished off a flowing Arsenal move. Chamakh and Nasri should have made the score line embarrassing for the Toffees but both were guilty of missing glaring opportunities. Just as it looked that the Gunners would strole home with an easy win Tim Cahill brought Everton right back in the contest as he fired past Fabianski. However it was too little too late as Gunners managed to cling on to all three points and continued their pretty impressive away form.
Fortress Stamford Bridge breached
Venue – Stamford Bridge
Result –Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland
‘As it happened’– The last game of the weekend brought the biggest upset of the day as Champions Chelsea crumbled at home in the absence of key members. Terry, Alex, Essien and Lampard were all missing from the Chelsea line up but surely no one expected them to slip up at home against a much less fancied Sunderland side. On the stroke of half time Onuoha dribbled his way through the home defence to score. Such maturity and close control from the Sunderland defender was almost beyond belief. The Sunderland midfield of Henderson and Cattermole was bossing the game at Stamford Bridge in front of shocked home supporters. Their misery was compounded as the Black Cats doubled their advantage after a stunning move which capped off a brilliant team goal. Gyan scoring once again as Chelsea players looked shattered. Carlo Ancelotti gave his youngsters McEachran and Kakuta a chance to pull things back but Sunderland held firm. Chelsea’s bad night got even worse as Ashley Cole’s poor back pass was intercepted by the man of the match Danny Welbeck and the Manchester United youngster scored to round off a memorable performance.
Wolves 2-3 Bolton West Ham 0-0 Blackpool Newcastle 0-0 Fulham Wigan 1-0 West Brom Manchester City 0-0 Birmingham Tottenham 4-2 Blackburn
Best Goal – Nedum Onuoha (Sunderland)
Chelsea hadn’t conceded as yet in the league at the Bridge but Onuoha’s brilliant run beating defenders left right and centre finally breached the hitherto impermeable Chelsea defence. The run and the goal was worthy of winning the game on its own though Sunderland scored twice more to complete Chelsea’s misery.
Best Individual Performance – Danny Welbeck (Sunderland)
From Old Trafford, with love!
The Manchester United and England youngster produced a career defining performance and in the process might have helped his parent club. Welbeck ran the channels brilliantly, tracked back to help his defense and linked up the play beautifully. After being brilliantly denied by Peter Cech in the match, the striker finally got his maiden Sunderland goal late on that sealed a memorable evening at the Bridge.
Tottenham’s Gareth Bale and Villa’s Albrighton deserve honourable mentions.
Weird Substitution of the Weekend – Chris Smalling (Man Utd)
After coming back from a two goal deficit to parity, Sir Alex sent Smalling on to play as a striker to use his height and physical presence. However the move took somewhat back fired as it took away the momentum and the cutting edge from United’s approach play. Smalling certainly didn’t look at home in an uncustomary position.
The neighbours Man City came close with a wierd change of their own. With 5 minutes of regulation time left at Eastlands and the game tied at 0-0, the manager Roberto Mancini decided to take off their talisman Carlos Tevez and replaced him with Gareth Barry much to the anger of the home crowd.