The month of October is upon us and the league table is starting to take shape already. While the two Manchester clubs picked up wins, it was surely a study in contrast. While Mancini’s City rattled four past beleaguered Rovers at Ewood, Red Devils made a meal of a rather straight forward game, at least on paper. Lambert’s Norwich gave a good account of themselves and might feel a bit aggrieved, coming back empty-handed from the home of the champions.
Newcastle have by far been the most improved team of the season, and yet another victory, this time at the Molineux, lifted them to third in the table albeit for a day. Villas Boas’s Chelsea have picked up the pace remarkably and have to be considered on par with the two Manchester clubs as they completed dismantled Owen Coyle’s Bolton Wanderers at Reebok. Bolton are rock bottom and look to be completely devoid of inspiration or fight.
In the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park, Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool prevailed over the gritty Toffees as goals from the front two of Carroll and Suarez bagged them all three points and more importantly the bragging rights in the city. However, the game will be remembered by the rather bizarre sending off of Jack Rodwell by Martin Atkinson. It was one of the worst, if not the worst refereeing decisions in recent times.
Steve Bruce might have thought he would be getting the sack first thing in the morning as his side went 2-0 down inside the first six minutes at the Stadium of Light. However, the Black Cats fought back remarkably and earned themselves a well deserved point in the end. At Villa Park, under fire Alex Mcleish saw his side run out comfortable 2-0 winners against Roberto Martinez’s Latics, who will continue to battle relegation come May. Gabby Agbonlahor is the form player in the league at the moment, as he scored the opener and set up the second for his strike partner and fellow Englishmen Darren Bent.
The North London Derby didn’t disappoint once again with plethora of chances and three goals as Spurs edged out their fierce rivals Arsenal. Van der Vaart gave Tottenham the lead but Ramsey equalized after a spell of constant pressure from the Gunners. However, Walker scored a screamer to win the day and tilt the balance of power in north London.
In other games this weekend, Fulham picked up their first win of the season as they annihilated Neil Warnock’s QPR at the Cottage. The Swans also managed to pick up a vital win against a very tough opponent in the form of Stoke City.
Here is a look at the talking points of the weekend:
Martin Atkinson, Enough Said
The Englishmen is no stranger to controversy and has always had a habit of hogging limelight for the wrong reason. At Goodison, when he was made in charge of a highly charged Merseyside Derby, fans across the British Isles feared the worst, and Atkinson didn’t disappoint. Jack Rodwell went in to challenge with Luis Suarez single footed and won the ball fair and square. However, the referee saw more to the challenge then there ever was – the youngster was shown a straight red for a fair tackle in which he won the ball and didn’t even take out his opponent. The Uruguayan made a meal of the innocuous tackle and rolled on in agony. Atkinson fell prey to Suarez’s theatrics and Everton paid the price.
Newcastle United’s Renaissance
No one in their right mind would have thought that after seven rounds of games, the Barcodes would be unbeaten and even more in a Champions League position. However, Pardew’s men have so far defied logic and made the league sit up and take notice. After selling the nucleus of their team in the form of Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Enrique, the Toon have done an outstanding job to eke out 15 points from the opening seven league fixtures. However, tougher test lie ahead for Alan Pardew and Newcastle, so the Geordie faithful should very well be ready for a reality check.
Agbonlahor, Sturridge, Welbeck: Options For Capello To Consider?
Agbonlahor has blossomed under the leadership of Alex Mcleish and looks a completely different player from the very disenchanted former self. Gabby has already scored more goals then he did for the entire of the last campaign. Villa fans might not be too fond of their Scottish manager, but Agbonlahor certainly disagrees.
Sturridge has been given his break by Villas-Boas and he has for sure grabbed it with both his hands. He was the man of the match against the club where he made his mark last season, and Owen Coyle would kill for a player of his pedigree in his side.
Welbeck is yet another player who has benefitted from a loan spell and regular first team football. Now back at his beloved United, he is doing his best to cement his place in the starting line up; he has competition in the form of Javier Hernandez and last year’s league top scorer Dimitar Berbatov. However with 3 goals in the week, Danny is surely staking his claim.
Player Of The Weekend: Frank Lampard Answers His Critics
A lot has been written and said about Lampard’s apparent bad form, with his place in the side being questioned. But one must understand that the Chelsea veteran is 33 years of age and obviously can’t be a regular for each and every game The Blue’s play this season. However, he remains an invaluable asset for Villas-Boas with his loads of experience and undoubted class, as he displayed yet again with his third premier league hat trick.
Goal Of The Weekend: Adam Johnson (Manchester City)
There weren’t many truly top notch goals scored this weekend, probably Chelsea’s second goal against Bolton was up there in terms of a perfect team goal. However, Adam Johnson produced the moment of the weekend as he curled a perfect shot from outside the box in the top right corner of the Blackburn goal. Rovers had held on for 50 minutes, but Johnson’s moment of brilliance opened the flood gates, and City eventually won 4-0.
Assist Of The Weekend: Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
The Englishman used his well-known pace to supreme effect in creating the 2nd goal for Villa against Wigan. Gabby robbed the ball off McArthur in the middle of the park and made a fantastic 50-yard sprint with the ball to race ahead of Boyce and then floated a perfect ball over the Wigan defence to find Darren Bent, for whom it was easier to miss than score from that sort of chance.
Miss Of The Weekend: Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City)
As a visiting side coming to Old Trafford, you have to make the best of use of your limited opportunities. Paul Lambert’s side failed to do so miserably and ended up on the wrong end of a 2-0 loss. Antonio Valencia is no right back, he sure does the job but he has his limitations. When his error presented Pilkington an opportunity to give his team the lead, he fluffed his lines. Moments later United took the lead and ironically Anderson rose over the unfortunate Pilkington to head home the opener.
Blooper Of The Weekend: Officials At Molinuex
The officials had a nightmare at Molinuex as they made two absolute howlers that denied Mick McCarthy’s Wolves, and Newcastle went home with the points. First the referee failed to give Wolves a penalty and instead gave them a free kick outside the box when the contact was surely made in the penalty area. Later on, with Wolves chasing the game, the linesman over-ruled a legitimate goal from the home side. According to the linesman, the ball had gone out of play before Wolves scored; however, television replays showed otherwise; time for the annual debate on goal-line technology perhaps?
At the Reebok Stadium, Bolton looked to have scored their second goal of the game when Petrov squared the ball to Davies who calmly side footed it towards goal. While Ivanovic made a valiant effort to prevent the ball from going in, the ball had in fact crossed the line, but yet again the linesman thought otherwise.
Manager Sack Watch:
Owen Coyle surely must be fretting now after his side yet again got battered and humiliated. Bolton’s performances have been abysmal and it might need a new man to wake them from their slumber. Steve Bruce’s Sunderland yet again failed to win; however, the comeback enabled Bruce to gather some semblance of respectability, yet West Brom at home was a very winnable game for the Black Cats and could come back to haunt them in the final reckoning.
Steve Kean is a dead man walking and despite assurances from the owners, his job is under serious threat. To make matters worse, the fans are sniffing blood and want him gone as soon as possible.
Team Of The Weekend:
Al Habsi (Wigan), Kyle Walker (Spurs), Phil Jones (Man United), David Luiz (Chelsea), Jose Enrique (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Lucas Leiva (Liverpool), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Adam Johnson (Man City), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Andrew Johnson (Fulham)
Premier League Results
Everton 0-2 Liverpool
Manchester United 2-0 Norwich City
Blackburn Rovers 0-4 Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Newcastle United
Aston Villa 2-0 Wigan Athletic
Sunderland 2-2 West Bromwich Albion
Bolton Wanderers 1-5 Chelsea
Fulham 6-0 Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City 2-0 Stoke City
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal