Monday, November 23, 2009

EPL Review: Spurs Humiliate Wigan, Gunners Title Hopes Fade, and Chelsea Roll On

The last time we had Premiership action, it finished with a David Ngog dive. Then we were bestowed with "the hand of Gaul" as France beat Ireland in the playoffs for the World Cup. So it was with great trepidation that we went back into the full scale battle that is the EPL
Chelsea once again showed that they are the team to beat this year, Arsenal's title credentials were left in tatters, and Liverpool continued to stumble.

Chelsea 4-0 Wolves

The Pensioners were without a number of first team players as they entertained Wolves at Stamford Bridge. If there was ever a game that was a simple paint by the numbers exercise, then this was it. Chelsea was so superior to Mick McCarthy's side that you almost thought they were playing a different sport.

Florent Malouda got the first goal of the game after his 40 yard run to outside the Wolves box, his strike would still be travelling today if it was not for the net, it was that powerful. Michael Essien then scored a brace as Ancellotti took the shackles off the Ghanaian in Lampard's absence. Essien is a truly phenomenal midfielder, one of the few exponents operating today that can do absolutely everything, brilliantly. Chelsea have not even seen what he is capable of bar the odd time he is allowed to play.

Joe Cole also scored his first goal this season after coming back from an awful injury. Exactly what Fabio Capello needed him to do. While the most famous teenager never to have played came on for Nicolas Anelka and looked decent, Gael Kakuta.

Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City
Liverpool's run without a win now stretched to ten games...Rafa is coming under further pressure, but at least Manchester City did not win. If that particular scenario had occured then the ground the Spaniard walks upon would have become even shakier.

Two players carried off in the first ten minutes did not help matters, but Liverpool still went on to dominate a strangely subdued City who lacked any kind of ambition. Liverpool need to win against Debrechen in the Champions League this week, but with their destiny out of their own hands it remains to be seen if Fernando Torres will play, or if he will return against Everton next week, which could be a make or break game for the Reds.

Sunderland 1-0 Arsenal

The Black Cats have been the surprise side this season. Drawing away to United and beating Liverpool, Steve Bruce's team were always going to be a difficult proposition for an Arsenal team missing the influential Robin van Persie. Without the Dutchman in the team it was difficult to see where the goals were going to come from.

Arsenal was pretty mute for the entire game while Sunderland were well deserving of all three points. Andy Reid received a standing ovation when he was substituted half way through the second half and one must wonder what kind of influence he might have had in Paris on Wednesday.

As it was, Darren Bent scored the solitary goal and if Arsenal fans face the truth, it pretty much ends their title challenge this year. And it will be completely over if they do not take all three points against Chelsea next week.

Tottenham Hotspur 9-1 Wigan
The surprise result of the weekend. Especially when you consider that this Wigan team have beaten both Chelsea and Aston Villa in recent weeks.

Spurs were always favourites to win this game and taking their 1-0 lead into the second half the game was poised on a knife edge. Eight second half goals battered Wigan into submission and Jermaine Defoe bagged five of those. It was a truly phenomenal performance by a team obviously enjoying life at the moment.

The result moves Spurs five points clear of Liverpool in the battle for fourth.


Hull came from two down against West Ham to lead 3-2 before succumbing to a Da Costa equalizer. The 3-3 result wasn't really what either under pressure manager wanted, but it was a damn sight better than losing.

David Dunn scored and inspired Blackburn's 2-0 win over Bolton at the Reebok. It was accomplished without Big Sam who had undergone a minor heart operation in the build up to the game. Get well soon.

Aston Villa had John Carew to thank as he scored four minutes from time to salvage a 1-1 draw away to Burnley . The Clarets have had a number of good results recently and Owen Coyle deserves much credit. Don't be surprised to see him mentioned as one half of the new Scotland set up.

Birmingham beat Fulham 1-0 . Quite possibly the worst ever game in Premiership history.
Stoke continued their good start to the season with a 1-0 win over lowly Portsmouth . Due mainly to Thomas Sorenson, who has been the best 'keeper in the EPL over the last 12 months, especially when you consider who he has to play with.

And finally...Manchester United hammered Everton 3-0 at Old Trafford . The result was never in question, but the implications of how far Everton are off the top four could could back to haunt them. Young Jack Rodwell is being chased by every manager who is half decent, and Manchester United are no exception. He could be moving to Old Trafford in January. The Red Devils application form was devastating to say the least.

10 Statements after Gameday 13.
1) The Arsenal-Chelsea match next week is a cup final for the Gunners.

2) As I've said before, Spurs can expose anyone. Outside the top four.

3) The Aston Villa-Spurs match next week is massive for both clubs ambitions this year.

4) The race for fourth includes: Villa, Man City, Spurs, and Liverpool. The Reds are the clear favourites but both Spurs and City will spend heavily in January if they are in good positions.

5) Who will be go first? Rafa or Hughes?

6) Gael Kakuta was the most famous footballer never to have played. He looks good.

7) England has serious problems outside their first XI.

8) Any team that buys Matthew Upson for £15 million needs their head examined.

9) Ruud van Nistelrooy, available in January. But where will he go? Back to United? Liverpool? Spurs, if they sell Keane? Arsenal?

10) Who will win the World Cup? Some might say that France's name is on the cup after Wednesday...

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