The entire “top four” picked up three points this weekend as Manchester Utd got a late winner in a seven goal derby thriller, Chelsea hammered Spurs 3-0 at the Bridge, Arsenal got back on track with a demolition of Wigan and a Torres brace helped Liverpool beat West Ham.
In what was sure to be one of the most hotly anticipated matches of the whole campaign, the Blue side of Manchester travelled to Old Trafford in a true derby classic with seven goals and a stoppage time winner. Manchester United took the lead two minutes into the game when the Man City defense shut down letting Evra through from the endline. He found Rooney who weaved his way around the challenges to toe it past the phenomenal Shay Given making it 1-0. And it took a lapse in concentration for City to equalize, Ben Foster dwelled on the ball for Carlos Tevez, who received a waft of boos from the home crowd with each touch of the ball, to knick it off Foster, slip it into Gareth Barry who stayed cool and slotted it past Foster and the helpless Vidic. Darren Fletcher put the home side back in front as he headed in at the back post from a Ryan Giggs lofted cross, old boy Giggs showing he isn’t faltering yet with a terrific display.
But City levelled the game immediately with a top quality strike from Craig Bellamy. The Welsh forward received the ball on the left, turned on to his right boot and struck it beautifully into the top corner to level things for the second time. It looked like United would go ahead again however, albeit for an amazing Shay Given performance between the sticks. The Irishman pulled off a number of top saves, including two to keep two Berbatov headers at bay. But Darren Fletcher showed the striker how to do it again as he headed in the 3rd, again from a Ryan Giggs cross. But City forged on, and after a ridiculous attempt of a chip from Rio Ferdinand he handed City possesion and Stephen Ireland set Bellamy through, who took the ball all the way to the end line before tapping in from the acutest of angles.
But with over five stoppage time minutes played of four, substitute Michael Owen slid in to break the hearts of the City faithful, the summer freebie slotted past Given to the sheer delight of the United fans. United somewhat deserved the win, based on the final forty-five, but it was heart breaking to see City lose at the death, despite equalizing three times at a ground like Old Trafford.
Chelsea continued their 100% unbeaten run to the season with the 3-0 battering of London rivals Tottenham. The ever impressive Didier Drogba found space on the right and whipped in a teasing cross that Ashley Cole met with a diving header to put the Blues 1-0 up. Tottenham suffered another blow at the start of the second half when Ledley King had to come off after appearing to twist his knee as he tried to turn and chase Drogba. The visitors were then left bemused by referee Howard Webb’s failure to award them a spot-kick when Carvalho’s diving challenge sent Keane, who was bearing down on goal, tumbling. Keane was incredulous, chasing Webb and asking why he had not booked him for diving if no contact had been made. Then immediately after, Drogba’s snap-shot was well saved by Carlo Cudicini but Lampard reached the rebound and turned the ball back across goal for Ballack to turn it in. Five minutes later it was 3-0 when Drogba chased a long ball and Vedran Corluka’s attempt to tackle him only succeeded in diverting the ball past Cudicini, giving the Ivorian an easy tap-in.
Only a late calf injury to Drogba took the shine off Chelsea’s day and, given the role he played in his side’s victory, Ancelotti will hope it does not prove to be serious. Spurs will also be concerned over Cameroon defender Sebastien Bassong, who was stretchered off after falling awkwardly and was later taken to hospital with a fracture cheekbone.
Liverpool travelled to Upton Park to clash with West Ham in the Saturday evening kick-off. Fernando Torres opened the scoring in the 20th minute after the Hammers gave away possesion in the middle of the park, Emiliano Insua set Torres through who weaved his way past James Tomkins and blasted in at the near post past Robert Green. The lead lasted no more than nine minutes when West Ham were awarded a penalty after Zavon Hines was pushed over by Jamie Carragher. Alessandro Diamanti (our fantasy player pick) converted the penalty, but appeared to touch the ball twice. Dirk Kuyt toed in five minutes before the break after Steven Gerrard headed a corner goalbound, with Kuyt helping it on it’s way. But again, Liverpool conceded quickly, this time Carlton Cole nodding in from a Jamie Noble corner right on half time to end a very entertaining first half. After a flood of pressure in the second half, the breakthrough came for the visitors when Ryan Babel found a yard to swing in a cross, which Torres headed in to score his second of the game, and the winning goal.
Arsenal produced an incisive attacking display as Wigan faced the daunting task of travelling to Ashburton Grove. The goals continued to flow for who is turning out to be one of the transfers of the summer, Thomas Vermaelen. The big Belgian defender ose above a trio of Wigan defenders to plant a powerful header past Chris Kirkland from a van Persie corner. The £10million defender then doubled the lead after the break, with a beautifully curled strike from the corner of the box with his left foot, lobbing into the top corner giving Kirkland no chance. Eduardo made it 3-0 when he struck past a cluster of bodies in the box, however the ball seemed to take a critical deflection off Emmanuel Eboue to take it past the ‘keeper. Nicklas Bendtner swung in a ball from the right hand side which Cesc Fabregas flicked in cleverly at the near post, settling the three points for Arsenal.
Burnley looked to continue their unbeaten home run against Sunderland in the early Saturday kick-off, however a barrage of attacking pressure from the visitors from the opening showed signs that it was going to be a long afternoon at Turf Moor. But Burnley took the lead completely against the run of play, Anton Ferdinand cynically took down Wade Elliot in the box and Graham Alexander converted the resulting penalty. Darren Bent was gifted two glorious opportunities to equalize, the first after Andre Bikey failed to knock the ball back to Jensen however on-form Bent couldn’t settle himself to get it on target. A sloppy defense let Bent through for a second time, and the £12million striker didn’t miss, slotting it cooly past Brian Jensen and levelling the score line. An inspired substitute in David Nugent turned the game on its head, the on-loan striker was a different man to the one who couldn’t buy a goal at Portsmouth. A terrific header, burying it past Craig Gordon from a Chris Eagles cross put Burnley back in the lead, and he sealed all three points a few minutes from time after turning onto his left foot just inside the box and striking it beautifully into the top corner.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Everton hit Blackburn for three at Goodison, Louis Saha scored a brace quickly followed by Joseph Yobo to take the Blues out of the bottom three and into 13th place.
A tenacious performance delivered Wolves their first home win of the season as they held off a Fulham side given hope by Danny Murphy’s penalty. Kevin Doyle had put the home side in front after 18 minutes, before David Edwards struck one into the top corner.
Aston Villa beat struggling Portsmouth 2-0 at Villa Park, James Milner put the home side in front from the spot after Nadir Belhadj toppled Stylian Petrov in the box, before Gabby Agbonlahor put one in the roof of the net while slipping, taking Villa into 6th place.
Matty Talyor’s late penalty conversion rescued a point for Bolton against Stoke on Saturday. Dave Kitson had put the Potters in front with a slotted finish past Jussi Jaaskelainen into the far corner, but Danny Colins took down Sam Ricketts unfairly in the box resulting in Taylor’s late equalizer.
A Garry O’ Connor headed goal sealed all three points for Birmingham away to Hull City. The substitute converted a Keith Fahey corner from close range, beating Boaz Myhill who had done well to keep out the Birmingham attack on a number of occasions throughout the game.
(Images courtesy of Zimbio)