The biggest match of the weekend, as often seems to happen in the Premier League, proved the least entertaining. Liverpool and Chelsea served up a slow-paced, uninspiring encounter at Stamford Bridge which saw the Blues clinch a hardly deserved 2-0 victory. In all truth neither team reached third gear and a draw would probably have been the fairest result. In the end it was two moments of magic from Didier Drogba that separated the sides, setting up Anelka and Malouda for two second half goals. Neither side played with the precision of a side worthy of claiming the title. Chelsea were hopelessly wasteful in possession while Liverpool proved that if Torres isn’t firing, there is no Plan B.
With United having been humbled at home to Sunderland and City rested until tomorrow night, the only performance of real class came from the Emirates. Arsenal hit Blackburn for 6 in a brutal display lead by their captain Fabregas. The little Spaniard gave an exhibition in movement, distribution and decision-making. By the time he was substituted on 75 minutes he had 4 assists and a goal to his name. It mustn’t go unnoticed however, that in an utterly one-sided affair the gunners still leaked two cheap goals.
Sir Alex Ferguson found himself venting his fury at fourth official Mike Dean at Old Trafford yesterday. The Scot was clearly frustrated by his sides underwhelming display which needed anotherinjury-time goal to salvage a solitary point against Bruce’s brave Sunderland. To his credit Bruce deployed a gutsy game plan with Jones and Bent starting up front. His strikers repayed his faith with a goal each. Both were the product of incisive Sunderland passing but also basic United errors. O’Shea afforded Bent far too much space at the edge of the area and the predator supreme duly punished United. Foster made another howler as he flapped ineffectively at Ried’s cross allowing Jones to nod into an empty net. Bruce proved that away teams can go to Old Trafford and take the game to United instead of offering too much respect to the Red Devils as far too many sides do. The United defence is proving how pivotal confidence is to performances. Last season the same personnel were unbreakable but without Van Der Sar between the posts the back four seem to have unravelled. Meanwhile Fergie still struggles to find any sort of midfield balance, matches like yesterdays go a long to proving just how much the reds miss their former hero Ronaldo.
Spurs had to dig deep to pull-off a draw at the Reebok Stadium and Gary Megson’s team had every right to feel disappointed having dominated for large periods. Redknapp’s men will be happy to be sitting in third 8 games in but when City, Arsenal and Villa catch up on games in hand one feels the Londoners will drop out of the top 4. Bolton are well worth their spot 13th in the table and look like they will again be relying on home form to see them through.
Burnley maintained their 100% home record in a comfortable 2-1 win over Birmingham. Turf Moor is becoming an intimidating fortress for any visiting side. Burnely also have some tidy players such as Blake, Elliot, Fletcher and Nugent who can mix it with any premiership opposition. Birmingham by contrast have only 1 win to their name after 8 games and look sure to be battling at the wrong end of the table come April.
Paul Hart couldn’t mask his delight at Pompy’s first points of the season in their triumph over Wolves. Hassan Yebda popped up with the crucial goal on 18 minutes. The visitors endured a Wolves onslaught in the second half but held out to earn some points…and some money!
Chelsea, Fabregas, Pompy and Hull were the weekends main winners. United and Liverpool each took a big step backwards while Everton, West Ham and Spurs will all feel they left points behind them after gameweek 8.