In the much hyped super-sunday fixtures last weekend in the Premiership, Manchester United won at Anfield for the first time in five years; while Manchester City were held to a draw by Arsenal. Wenger’s men dominated the first half and were unlucky to be behind to a Joleon Lescott header at the break, but they gained a point thanks to a Laurent Koscielny equaliser inside the final ten minutes. The stalemate moved both clubs onto 9 points from their opening five games of the season, with both unbeaten to this point, but Manchester City do not seem to have found their form yet and Mancini appears unsure of his best team. United’s win at Liverpool was aided by the home side being reduced to ten men inside 37 minutes, when Jonjo Shelvey was dismissed for a foul on Jonny Evans. Despite being short on numbers, Brendan Rodgers’ side took the lead just after the interval through a Steven Gerrard volley, but a curled shot by Rafael and a penalty by Robin Van Persie secured the points for Manchester United. Prior to the start of the match, there were observances made for the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy: the Old Trafford legend and Munich air crash survivor, Sir Bobby Charlton, presented a bouquet of 96 red roses – one for each victim of the disaster – to Ian Rush, Liverpool’s all time record goalscorer; plus Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released the same number of red balloons into the sky. Before the game, without fuss, Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra put their differences aside and shook hands – a welcome relief after the Ferdinand/Terry/Cole shenanigans of the previous weekend.
While Liverpool are still searching for a first league win of the campaign, their local rivals, Everton, produced another impressive display, this time away at Swansea. David Moyes’ team dominated the game, enjoying 60% of the possession and taking 30 shots on goal, scoring three of those for an emphatic 3-0 victory. Elsewhere last weekend: Southampton picked up their first points of the season, winning 4-1 against Aston Villa at St. Mary’s, having been 1-0 down at the break; Spurs also came from behind to beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at White Hart Lane; Chelsea remain top after a late winner from Ashley Cole gave them a 1-0 win over Stoke; and Reading sunk to the bottom of the table, after a single goal defeat away at fourth-placed West Brom. Martin Jol’s Fulham beat Wigan 2-1 at the DW Stadium; Demba Ba scored for the third time in two games to give Newcastle a 1-0 victory over Norwich; and West Ham and Sunderland drew 1-1 in East London.
There was also League Cup (now named the “Capital One Cup for its new sponsors) this week, with the biggest shock coming at Elland Road, where Leeds, who play in the Championship, knocked out Everton, 2-1. Other ties of note saw Manchester United beat Newcastle 2-1; City lost 4-2 to Aston Villa at the Etihad; Chelsea and Arsenal put six past Wolves and Coventry respectively; Spurs won 3-0 away at Carlisle; and League One’s, Swindon followed up their previous round’s scalp of Stoke by beating Burnley, who play in a division above Paolo Di Canio’s Robins.
The standout fixtures in the Premiership this weekend see Arsenal host Chelsea, while Tottenham play Manchester United at Old
Trafford, a fixture they have not won since December 1989. Whenever that statistic is mentioned, us Spurs fans will always have to point out that it should come with an asterisk – as in January of 2005, a last-minute goal, that would have been the winner, from Pedro Mendes was not awarded by the referee, Mark Clattenburg (yes, we remember his name without needing to look it up), despite clearly being over the line. So far this season, neither United not Tottenham have played at their best and both have looked soft in the middle of the park. Recent additions for Spurs, Dempsey and Sigurdsson, were wasteful in possession during the win over QPR last Sunday and Villas-Boas may be tempted to shift personnel for this game, possibly including Tom Huddlestone in the line-up after his strong performance against Carlisle. Chelsea will be traveling to the Emirates with John Terry available, as he is appealing the four game suspension he was given by the FA, after they found him guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Arsenal will be buoyed by the point they gained at Manchester City last Sunday and their unbeaten start has been build on defence – they have conceded just two goals in the league so far.
Liverpool, who have played Arsenal and both Manchester clubs in three of their first five games, now embark on a run of fixtures that their fans will expect them to do well in, starting with an away trip to Norwich on Saturday. Should Brendan Rodgers not gain his first Premiership win this weekend, the backing he has been receiving from supporters may begin to wane. The other fixtures see Everton try to maintain their good form in their home game with Southampton; Manchester City travel to Fulham; Reading entertain Newcastle; Wigan are away at Sunderland; Stoke play Swansea at the Britannia Stadium; there is a Midlands derby between Aston Villa and West Brom on Sunday; and an all-London encounter on Monday, when QPR face West Ham.
Last week, 4-6; Season, 20-29
Arsenal vs Chelsea – Home win
Everton vs Southampton – Home win
Fulham vs Manchester City – Away win
Norwich vs Liverpool – Draw
Reading vs Newcastle – Away win
Stoke vs Swansea – Home win
Sunderland vs Wigan – Home win
Manchester United vs Tottenham – Draw
Aston Villa vs West Brom – Away win
QPR vs West Ham – Draw