29 October 2006

The weekend in the Prem 10.29

Sheffield United 0-2 Chelsea: Sheffield United had the ideal chance to surprise Chelsea. After Didier Drogba brought down Claude Davis in the box, up stepped Danny Webber to take the penalty that would put Sheffield up 1-0 at home against the two-time defending champs. But the opportunity got the better of him, and Hilario easily saved the spot kick. Chelsea never looked back, with goals from Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack on either side of halftime. They remain joint leaders with Manchester United.

Arsenal 1-1 Everton: Everton stole an early lead through Tim Cahill’s scrambled goal from a corner (as they are wont to do), and defended furiously with 9 or 10 men behind the ball for the rest of the game. It looked as if they would be the first team to win away at the Emirates Stadium until Robin van Persie’s pretty free kick. Arsenal has been much improved recently (and it shows in the league table), but for most of the game it looked as if they had returned to some old habits, with the Gunners unable to convert their dominance into goals.

Portsmouth 3-1 Reading: Reading never really recovered from a 10th minute own goal, and despite missing a host of chances, Portsmouth easily took all three points. Reading’s strongest quality so far in the Premiership had been how well Steve Coppell had his team drilled; for the first two months they were tough to break down, both home and away. But in the last three games, Reading has let in four goals to Arsenal and three to both Liverpool and Portsmouth. Not a good sign.

Bolton 0-4 Manchester United: Uh-oh. Manchester United was already playing well, having earned 22 points in nine games. And then Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, two who had actually underperformed so far, went and had their best games of the season. Rooney especially reminded us all what he’s capable of, as he was simply unstoppable, scoring a hat trick. Sam Allardyce couldn’t flatter Shrek enough in his post-match remarks, and that says something. It’s not as if Bolton’s in bad form either; they sit in 3rd place and no one had scored at the Reebok Stadium this season until yesterday.

Fulham 0-1 Wigan: Fulham had a chance to improve on a surprising top-10 place, but instead Wigan ended up collecting their first away win of the season. Neither team created a host of chances, with Wigan getting the better opportunities, and it looked as if Denny Landzaat’s missed penalty would ensure the game ending at 0-0. However, Henri Camara (who had a goal not given despite Wigan claims the ball crossed the line) earned Wigan a deserved win with a goal in the 84th minute.

Watford 0-0 Tottenham: It seems every week there’s at least one game where the main talking point is whether or not video replays should be implemented. The conversation starter in this match was Ashley Young’s effort for Watford, which was clearly wrongly ruled out for offside. Both sides had chances, with Watford looking the better outfit. They are still winless so far in the Premier League, but with six draws out of ten games, it will only take a little luck for them to get off the mark.

Newcastle 0-0 Charlton: Charlton delivered a much-improved defensive performance, and it led to their first away point of the season. Newcastle missed their fair share of chances though, Guiseppe Rossi hit the bar, and Damien Duff was twice kept out by Liverpool-loanee Scott Carson, who played his best game in an Addicks shirt. While Charlton looked more cohesive than they were in previous outings, which has to encourage Iain Dowie, it’s hard to tell whether their defense earned them a draw or Newcastle wasted an opportunity for all three points.

West Ham 2-1 Blackburn: This was the first game all season that this year’s West Ham played like last year’s version, and it’s no coincidence that the squad looked a lot like last season’s. George McCartney, making his debut in place of the suspended Paul Konchesky, was the only player who did not feature last year. Mascherano and Tevez were conspicuously omitted, with Carlitos not even on the bench. Teddy Sheringham, making his first start of the season, opened the scoring with a trademark header after nice work from Bobby Zamora and Yossi Benayoun. Benayoun has been far below his standard, but it was a picture-perfect cross into Sheringham, and his all-around game was much improved today. Hayden Mullins scored the second with 10 minutes to go before David Bentley scored a late consolation for Blackburn.

Manchester City hosts Middlesbrough tomorrow at 3pm eastern.

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