It's been a bad time for Chelsea lately in the Premier League, most recently drawing away to Swansea City, but let's see if we can find anything to smile about from the weekend's other matches in the Barclays Premier League. This time, we have a new feature for you guys. Our sister blogs are now contributing something just for you! You'll find expert opinions and interesting facts from their staff to help you appreciate the matches more fully. If you want to thank them for volunteering their efforts, give them a click-through. As always, though, please be a courteous and civil guest if decide visit them, and, above all, be nice!
Saturday, November 3rd:
Manchester United 2 - 1 Arsenal: Arsenal fans, look away now. This was a bad one for you, for a multitude of reasons. Your team did not play well this week, and they paid for it. In the third minute, Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen made a hash of a relatively-tame Rafael cross. The ball fell to former Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie. As you'd expect, given his recent form, the Dutchman finished coolly for the United opener. After the goal, United dominated, and were somewhat unlucky to end the half just 1-0 up, especially after Wayne Rooney managed to miss a penalty in injury time.
The second half, wasn't altogether different. United were clearly on top, and looking for their second. In the 67th minute, they got it. As you might expect from the kind of day they were having, it came during Arsenal's best spell of play. From a corner won by Van Persie, whose shot was saved by Vito Mannone, Patrice Evra got his head on the ball, and it went in. Not long after, the recently-returned Jack Wilshere earned himself a second yellow card. Interestingly, Sir Alex Ferguson had taken off Tom Cleverley, who was also on the verge of a second yellow, just moments before. From there, United cruised to their deserved win, though Santi Cazorla did manage a lovely consolation goal at the death.
The Short Fuse commented:
Arsenal simply couldn't find any semblance of a coherent attack against Manchester United on Saturday as Wayne Rooney marked Mikel Arteta into oblivion. It wasn't even that United were immovable, but Arsenal are just completely in the dumps right now.
Fulham 2 - 2 Everton: This was a fun one. Fulham opened the scoring early after Dimitar Berbatov won a free kick which was put away by Bryan Ruiz. Well, by his free kick rebounding off the crossbar and in off a helpless Tim Howard. Despite this, Everton were very much in control of the match. Still, Fulham managed to get to the half with a lead.
Not long into the second half, Marouane Fellaini finally made something of Everton's pressure, turning a Kevin Mirallas cross past Mark Schwarzer for Everton's equaliser. As they pushed and pushed, Everton looked more and more likely to find a winner. In the 72nd minute, they did. It was that man Fellaini again, who knocked-down Phil Jagielka's long ball, turned, and fired past the Australian keeper to put Everton into the lead. Fulham never really looked like finding an equaliser, but in injury time, they found one through Former Blue Steve Sidwell. Seamus Coleman lost possession, setting Fulham on the counter. They unleashed a cross which somehow evaded the entire Everton defence to find Sidwell who broke Everton hearts. Fulham were very, very lucky.
Cottagers Confidential shared the following:
Everton proved themselves to be far more than the "long ball" team to which Steven Gerrard attributed, and completely outshone us in each and every department. They made us look average and that is difficult when we're at home. What people won't have noticed, though, is the defensive shift Dimitar Berbatov put in. He was there helping out when we needed him and he's part of the reason we scraped a draw on Saturday.
While Royal Blue Mersey had this to say:
Everton's draw summed up the frustration of supporters as the Toffees thoroughly dominated Fulham for 80 plus minutes. Marouane Fellani's brace was negated by an unfortunate Tim Howard own goal and a late Sidwell equalizer. File this one under crazy things that happen in football and we move on.
Norwich City 1 - 0 Stoke City: Norwich have rebounded a bit of late from their unfortunate start to the season, and are now unbeaten in four. This one was a surprisingly-open one, despite there being just the single goal. Norwich had perhaps the better the start, though Stoke had the best of the early chances. As the first half went on, the Canaries were the better team, even if not massively-better. Norwich made their pressure pay as Robert Snodgrass found Bradley Johnson from a free kick to give his team the lead just before half-time.
In the second half, Stoke came into the game. They were probably the better team, as Norwich were in the first half. Despite that, both sides had chances to score. While none could really be classified as gilt-edged, neither side would have felt hard done by in conceding. Luckily for Norwich, neither did, and they held on for a 1-0 home win.
Sunderland 0 - 1 Aston Villa: Despite Darren Bent not travelling with the Villa squad, they were the much better side at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. Sunderland struggled to bring star man Steven Fletcher into the match as their midfield failed to exert themselves. The visiting side dominated the first half, with Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann having the best of the chances. Despite this, the sides went into the half level.
The second half was more of the same, really, though Sunderland looked the more likely to score, with Fletcher managing to test Villa keeper Brad Guzan minutes into the half, and Sebastian Larsson heading over moments later. Villa got the goal their first half display deserved soon after as Gabriel Agbonlahor poked home Benteke's knock-down. Lee Cattermole nearly equalised late on, but Guzan did well to save as the Birmingham side held on for the three points.
7500 to Holte said:
Darren Bent didn't travel to Sunderland to face his former club, supposedly due to a foot injury, but rumors persist it's because of a bust-up with teammate Chris Herd over Herd's girlfriend. Paul Lambert, who seems to prefer Christian Benteke anyway, got creative with his side, and it wound up being the best display we've seen in the league this season. More soap operas, then, please!
A match report can be found at 7500 to Holte.
Tottenham Hotspur 0 - 1 Wigan Athletic: Agent AVB got his mission back on track by leading his Spurs side to defeat at home to Wigan. Tottenham were short in midfield as it was, with both Scott Parker and Moussa Dembele out injured, but they still managed to start the match well. You'd expect them to be the better side, of course, and they didn't disappoint, with both Clint Dempsey and Jan Vertonghen finding chances early. That changed, however, when Brazilian midfielder Sandro was forced off at the halfway mark of the first half. Wigan nearly went ahead just before the half through Arouna Kone, but his shot was saved well.
Just after the break, Wigan snatched the lead as Ben Watson poked past Friedel. The home side did manage a number of chances, keeping Ali Al Habsi decidedly busy, but they never really looked like finding an equaliser. It won't have been a happy afternoon for Spurs fans, but I'm certain Wigan supporters absolutely won't care.
Over to Cartilage Free Captain:
Tottenham Hotspur's performance this week was disappointing, but also perfectly understandable. Even at home against Wigan, a result was going to be tough to come by when Sandro went down with an injury. What team wouldn't struggle without all of their best three midfielders? It's going to be a long couple of weeks for Spurs if Sandro and Moussa Dembele don't get fit right away.
More from Pie Eaters Footie:
A surprise in the making was this weekends game, I felt we would go for a draw but to take all three points was brilliant. While the style in which we controlled the second half was fantastic, more to come I hope.
West Ham United 0 - 0 Manchester City: For a nil-nil, this was a pretty neat game. City should have won this one easily, and they always looked like doing so. Kevin Nolan had the best chance early in the match, putting the ball in the back of the net. Though it was a perfectly good goal, it was ruled out for offside. Mohamed Diame and Chelsea loanee Yossi Benayoun both went close in the following minutes. There were several chances for City's trio of strikers, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, and Carlos Tevez, but none, obviously, found the net.
After the break, West Ham slowly faded out of the game a bit, threatening only on the counter, and City dominated play. Despite a number of great chances, City couldn't breach Jussi Jaaskelainen's goal. Among the chances, Gareth Barry's has to stand out as one of the worst misses, with the Englishman firing wide from three yards out. City fans will be disappointed by the failure of their glittering strikeforce.
Bitter and Blue say:
A familiar tale once again rears its head. City dominate the possession and territory and in truth, played some nice intricate football in the final third. Lacking natural width at times they were blocked off by a resolute West Ham defence but still managed a number of shots on target (they do lead the Premier League in this category) but their conversion rate lags behind last seasons and at the moment, at least, it is costing them.
A match can be found at Bitter and Blue.
Sunday, November 4th:
Queens Park Rangers 1 - 1 Reading: Neither side has a win this season, and that's a problem for these two, particularly QPR, who assembled their squad the summer at great expense. Both sides would have been looking to pick up three points against a relegation rival, and will have been especially disappointed with the result. Reading were probably the better side, at least in the early periods of the match. They capitalised on that through Kaspars Gorkss, who volleyed home for his first goal of the season against his former club.
In the second half, Reading sat back more and more, and QPR were clearly on top. Despite plenty of positive play, it took Rangers twenty minutes to find their equaliser through Djibril Cisse. After that, Reading came back into the game and it opened up. Adel Taraabt nearly found a winner late on, but the Reading keeper saved well to deny him. Neither side found a winner in the end, and it finished all square.
The Tilehurst End had this to say:
If league games finished at half-time, Reading would be on 14 points and battling for Europe. Reading once again put in a hard working gritty display at Loftus Road but blew a lead for the fifth time this season and extended our winless run to nine games. The fact that we're competing in almost every game is a good sign but we need the draws to turn into wins soon.
Match Report at The Tilehurst End.
Liverpool 1 - 1 Newcastle United: As sad as it is for me to admit it, this match was all about Luis Suarez. In the first half, Liverpool were clearly the better side. Newcastle had very little of the ball in the opening 45, but Liverpool failed do anything with their advantage. That became a major problem for the Reds as Yohan Cabaye put Newcastle ahead on the brink of half-time with a great strike from a tight angle.
In the second half, Liverpool pressed even harder, getting a number of chances through Suarez and Nuri Sahin. The equaliser eventually came though, in wonderful circumstances. Jose Enrique found Suarez with a long ball,which the Uruguayan shouldered the ball down under a lot of pressure, stepped around Tim Krul and scored magnificently. As Liverpool pressed for the winner, Fabricio Coloccini got himself sent off for a poor foul on Suarez with a few minutes to go. Unfortunately for Liverpool, they couldn't make anything of it, and the match finished in a draw.
Monday, November 5th:
West Bromwich Albion 2 - 0 Southampton: West Brom continued their great start to the season at home with a win over struggling Premier League new boys Southampton. They were also probably the better side in this match, which probably isn't a surprise. Despite this, both sides had a few half-decent chances in the opening minutes. As the Albion settled, the Saints found their chances more and more limited. Ten minutes before the half, Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie opened the scoring with a good strike which was deflected, leaving the keeper stranded.
The second half saw the South Coast side get a few chances, but none were taken, unfortunately for them. The first came moments into the half and Rickie Lambert thundered a shot off Ben Foster's crossbar. The Baggies wouldn't be denied, getting their second as Irish striker Shane Long found Odemwingie with a beautiful cross, and the Nigerian headed well past the keeper. Steve Clarke brought on Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku for Long shortly after.
Lukaku was again very good in his movement, but his first touch let him down on several occasions in which he would have been a significant threat. If his side hadn't been ahead, it might have been more concerning. They were ahead, though, and the match was ultimately a comfortable one which leaves them a surprising fifth in the table.
In my opinion as a fan of the Albion:
Chelsea fans and the media have been speculating about Lukaku's loan recall clause recently, but I think recalling him in January would be a mistake. While he's been good in his loan spell, he's had continuing issues with his finishing and first touch. He would benefit more from time at the Hawthorns than being sat on the bench at Stamford Bridge.
That's all for this week. I hope you had fun and enjoyed the contributions of the other members of our SBN family! [You should really thank them in comments] See you next week, guys!