Manchester City, West Brom and Liverpool were the big gainers this game-week as a host of upsets saw several top teams suffer a dent to their title ambitions and hopes for Champions League qualification.
Arsenal overcame Tottenham in an increasingly competitive north-London derby. The Gunners walked away with all 3 points but the headlines were grabbed by Emmanuel Adebayor once again. The Togolese striker put Tottenham in front after 10 minutes with a well taken goal but got sent off a few minutes later for a lunging tackle on Arsenal play-maker Santi Cazorla. There was no way back for Villas Boas’ side as Arsenal ran riot and put 5 goals past a hapless Hugo Lloris.
It was the Luis Suarez show again at Anfield as Liverpool dominated a dangerous Wigan side. The Uruguayan was in sublime form once again and scored a brace to give a much-needed 3 points to the Reds. Wigan were competitive in the first half but a tactical switch by Rodgers after 35 minutes turned the match in Liverpool’s favor as they struck twice in the space of 10 minutes in the second half. Jose Enrique, who once again put in a man-of-the-match performance added a third 7 minutes later. Liverpool are now unbeaten in the Premier League for 7 games largely due to Suarez who now tops the scoring charts with 10 goals.
After overcoming a difficult patch, Manchester City now seem to have hit peak form as they put in a five-star performance against a pitiful Aston Villa side. The Argentinian duo of Aguero and Tevez grabbed a brace each after David Silva had put The Citizens in the lead. City’s wealth of attacking talent seems to have hit their stride now and they look ominous as they travel to Stamford Bridge against a struggling Chelsea side next week.
Chelsea suffered another defeat at the hands of a resurgent West Brom side at The Hawthorns. Steve Clark has transformed The Baggies from a mid-table team to one that are genuine contenders for Europe this year. West Brom enjoyed a lion’s share of the possession and looked the better side on the day. Forwards Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie scored one each to help claim all three points against The Blues. West Brom now sit just one point behind Chelsea who have now scored just 2 points from their last 4 games.
In one of the biggest upsets this season, minnows Norwich City beat Premier League leaders Manchester United thanks to a wonderful goal by Anthony Pilkington. Chris Hughton’s side, which has now kept 3 clean sheets in a row, defended brilliantly to shut out what is arguably the best forward line-up in the league. Manchester United were left frustrated as they could not find an equalizer despite having over 60% possession. Paul Ruddy made some wonderful saves in the dying minutes to ensure all three points at Carrow Road. Manchester United now find themselves in second place, a point behind local rivals Manchester City.
Everton have been one of the in-form teams in the early stages of the season but on this occasion they came up empty-handed against a fighting Reading side. Everton looked the more dangerous of the two teams in the first half and took the lead thanks to a goal from Steven Naismith. The second half was quite a different story as a brace from Le Fondre ensured that the home team walked away with all three points. Belgian forward Fellaini picked up his fifth yellow card of the season which means that Everton will be missing their talisman in next week’s encounter against an in form Norwich side.
Newcastle went down at home to Swansea while Sunderland secured victory against a 10-man. Southampton registered an away victory at QPR leaving Mark Hughes’ side at the bottom of the table. The pressure will be on for Mark Hughes with fans already calling for the managers head.
The Premier League offered plenty of drama this weekend and there were plenty of talking points. TheHardTackle takes a look at the ones which will keep the bars full till late at night.
Rodgers executes a tactical masterstroke at Anfield
Much has already been said about Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ football philosophy and his ability to change games by tweaking his tactics. Like his mentor Jose Mourinho, Rodgers has displayed much conviction in making changes early in the game to positive effect. Games against Chelsea and Everton in recent weeks have seen Rodgers make changes as early as half time to help Liverpool come from behind to earn a point away from home.
This weekend, Liverpool were being out-passed at Anfield by a well-organized Wigan side under Roberto Martinez. Wigan were enjoying 57% of the possession before Rodgers acted decisively to take off arguably the half’s best player Suso and send the much maligned Jordan Henderson. The move paid rich dividends as Henderson’s energy and pressing helped Liverpool to regain control of the midfield. Gerrard was given license to roam further forward while Enrique playing in an unfamiliar left-wing role posed plenty of problems for The Lactics. Liverpool went on to dominate the game and eventually ran out 3-0 victors.
Wing-wizard Walcott will not be allowed to leave in January says Wenger
Theo Walcott has been in scintillating form in recent weeks and has notched up a goal and 3 assists in his last two Premier League games. However, that has not stopped any speculations regarding his future at Arsenal. The forward has a little over 6 months left on his contract but has refused to sign a new one amidst disagreements over wages and his position in the squad. Walcott rejected a £75,000/week contract in August this year but Arsene Wenger insists that he will not be sold in January if negotiations continue to be at an impasse.
Theo Walcott is the club’s leading scorer this season with 9 goals and Arsenal fans will be hoping Walcott does not join the exodus of high-profile players from The Emirates in recent seasons. Walcott is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club in January if Arsenal are not able to thrash out a deal suited to both parties. The likes of Liverpool and Chelsea will be looking on with keen interest.
Time for Chelsea to cut losses with Torres
Torres’ £50 million transfer on deadline day was one of the most highly publicized moves in transfer history. However two years on, the move seems to have been an utter failure. Torres has looked a shadow of his former self and has struggled to find the back of the net in spite of having arguably the most creative midfield in the league behind him.
Chelsea fans have been patient with the Spanish international, but Torres, who has now gone seven games without scoring, looks increasingly likely to be heading for the exit. At 28, Torres should be at the peak of his powers but his scoring rate at Chelsea is less than half that of what it was at Liverpool. Chelsea have been struggling in recent weeks and fans will place much of the blame on Torres for not being able to provide the winning edge.
With an owner who is notorious for being ruthless in his dealings, Fernando Torres’ career at Chelsea may well and truly be over. But with such inflated wages and poor form, there will be few takers for El Nino.