Coverage: Royal Blue Mersey (Everton)
This was a pretty strange game from the outset. Wayne Rooney was dropped out of fear that Everton fans would hurt his feelings, meaning United started Dimitar Berbatov as the lone striker. Everton, on the other hand, had zero recognised strikers due to a series of injuries. That didn't prevent a goal-fest: The home side took an early lead before United equalised before half time. Two second half goals put the visitors well ahead, and that lead lasted until the 90th minute. Two Leighton Baines crosses later, and the game was all square, thanks in large part due to shoddy defending by United. Giving up two goals in injury time to draw is a feat that, as far as I can tell, has never before been achieved in the history of the league. Pioneering!
"I didn't feel as if we needed a turning point. What we maybe needed was our luck to change a little bit."
-Everton manager David Moyes.
So would you say that you needed your luck to turn at some point, David?
Coverage: The Short Fuse (Arsenal)
Bolton will say that they were in the match until Gary Cahill's unfortunate red card, but they were lucky to have only been down by one when the defender was dismissed for a rash challenge on Marouane Chamakh. Arsenal had created a host of chances in the first half, scoring just one, while the Trotters managed one attack in the first 45. Naturally, they scored, mostly thanks to some excellent work on the touchline by Lee Chong-yong after a Laurent Koscielny error. Chamakh put Arsenal back in the driver's seat with a headed goal from a corner, and after Cahill got his marching orders the Gunners were free to ping the ball around their half as they probed patiently for yet more openings. They got a couple more goals towards the end of the match, but they were mostly irrelevant, despite being very well taken.
"From the two games against Blackburn and Bolton, two years ago we would not have taken six points."
-Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager
I'm sorry to break this to you, Arsene, but beating Bolton and Blackburn are not indications of having made massive progress.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Fulham
Coverage: Cottagers Confidential (Fulham)
It was a thrilling comeback by Fulham, but there were few reasons to smile at Craven Cottage. Star striker Bobby Zamora, whose excellent form from the previous season had carried over to this team, suffered a broken leg after a scissoring challenge from Wolves captain Karl Henry. It was a pretty nasty injury that illustrated the dangers of coming into a tackle from the side - even though those challenges are totally legal, they can still cause career-threatening injuries. Zamora suffered ligament damage along with a break of the fibula, and he'll be out for several months at the very least. Fulham pressed forward and won the game at the last, two goals from Moussa Dembele overturning an early strike from Jelle van Damme, the most awesome pudding to ever live.
"... I don't see us as some overly physical team."
-Mick McCarthy, Wolves manager.
Karl Henry actually uses telekinetic powers rather than physical force to break legs. Fact.
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Manchester City
Coverage: Bitter and Blue (City)
Joe Hart was very nearly the goat as Patrick Viera was called into action to rescue the points for Manchester City. Granted, there was a lot of luck involved in the visitors conceding just once after half time - Paul Robinson was on top of his game - but Blackburn never looked threatening and should not have been allowed to score. The opener was comedic: Hart came well outside his box to return a long punt downfield, completely misread the ball, and left Nikola Kalinic with an easy finish into an open net from 25 yards. Although Viera dragged the scores level early in the second half, City will not be happy with getting just one point from matches against Sunderland and Blackburn, especially after ripping Liverpool to shreds three weeks ago.
We have measured up against a side that should be brushing us aside in terms of the immense difference between the clubs.
-Sam Allardyce, Blackburn manager.
That's awfully bold, considering City out-chanced Blackburn something like 20-0.
Blackpool 2-0 Newcastle United
Midfield dynamo Joey Barton's lack of form doomed Newcastle to a surprise home defeat against Blackpool. After impressive performances in the first three games, Barton completely failed to link up play between the midfield and the Toon's in-form strikers, leaving Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan almost out of the game. In the meantime, Blackpool played very well on the counter, making several incisive attacks before Charlie Adams converted a penalty at the end of the first half. The game continued in a similar vein during the second half, with Newcastle pressing forward for an equaliser while the visitors broke at speed whenever possible. Eventually, D.J. Campbell converted a chance borne out of a counterattack to put Blackpool at ease and Newcastle to shame.
"To say I'm delighted is an understatement. I need a better word than delighted."
-Blackpool manager Ian Holloway
We should all chip in to buy Mr. Holloway a thesaurus. That would be a nice gift.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
Tottenham put in another disappointing performance as they were held to a draw by a mediocre West Bromwich Albion side. Although Spurs were the better team for most of the opening exchanges, led by an excellent Rafael van der Vaart, they tired quickly and by the end of the match they were having to hold onto their draw by the skin of their teeth. Chris Brunt's 41st minute equaliser was the result of a complete meltdown in the defence, and was symptomatic of much of Tottenham's play in the later phases of the game. Only the heroics of Carlo Cudicini in goal kept Spurs from avoiding another embarrassing loss, but it was not an encouraging performance ahead of Tuesday's clash against Werder Bremen in the Champions League. There was also another name to add to Harry Redknapp's butcher's bill, with goalscorer Luka Modric going off the pitch with a severe leg injury.
"I told the players the season lasts 38 matches, not eight, and they won't be playing bloody Chelsea and Liverpool every week."
-Roberto di Matteo, West Brom manager.
I love Roberto di Matteo. Everyone should love Roberto di Matteo.
Sunderland 1-1 Wigan Athletic
Lee Cattermole contrived to collect two yellow cards in the first 22 minutes as the combative midfielder once again went too far in his quest to maul and maim all those who stand against him. After being handed the numerical advantage, Wigan swarmed all over Sunderland, creating a number of chances but failing to trouble Simon Mingolet in the Sunderland net overmuch. Indeed, they went down by a goal in the middle of the second half, courtesy of a neat finish by the Black Cats's record signing, Asamoah Gyan. It took a last-minute mess in the Sunderland goalmouth to produce the equaliser for Wigan, but nobody will be complaining about the lack of elegance in Antolin Alcarez's scrambled goal.
He's got to learn from it and we'll obviously be having conversations with him, but he's inconsolable at the moment.
-Steve Bruce, Sunderland manager.
We Ain't Got No History has secured transcripts of said conversation:
Steve Bruce (SB): Lee, we're pretty disappointed with the red card today.
Lee Cattermole (LC): Ugh? Oogh! Leelee!
SB: You have to drop it down a little after you've picked up your first yellow..
LC: Yellow! COLOUR! Like green. And salt!
SB: Uh. So if you would stop sliding in on people after you've been booked.
LC: Leelee no like books. Ugh! Why not Doggerbadger? No books.
SB: For the love of... [picks up phone]
SB (on phone): Alex... I know it's not a good time right now, but could I please borrow Wayne Rooney? I need a translator for Cattermole. Someone who speaks cretin. Thanks. You're the best. I love you too.
Liverpool 0-0 Birmingham City
Pepe Reina kept Liverpool from losing at St. Andrews but couldn't prevent the world from noticing just how dire the Reds were. Birmingham had the best of the chances, especially in the first half, but Reina pulled off some fabulous saves to keep the game scoreless. It was a pretty boring match, to be honest. Fernando Torres looked miserable, Steven Gerrard's passing was bad, and with those two off form Liverpool didn't have a chance of breaking down Birmingham's defence. Yawn.
Coverage: 7500 to Holte (Aston Villa)
Yikes. Aston Villa dominated for much of the first half and could have scored three or four goals without a problem. Instead, they got just one despite all of their hard work (it was quite a good effort from Stewart Downing, though), and let Stoke come back into the game at half time. The Britannia was lifted by the return of manager Tony Pulis at the interval - he had taken time off due to the death of his mother - and Villa seemed to crumble shortly thereafter, no longer interesting in the incisive play that had served them so well earlier on. The rearguard action couldn't last, but Villa only have themselves to blame as they conceded two goals right at the death due to defensive sloppiness and careless play in possession. For Stoke, Robert Huth was the hero as he secured the Potters's first victory of the season with the last kick of the match.
-Villa caretaker manager Kevin McDonald (paraphrased).