Chelsea, Spurs still unbeaten; Utd edge Arsenal

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Premier League review
Chelsea 3 – 0 Burnley

Carlo Ancelotti’s impressive start to English football continued as his side smashed three past Burnley – a win that saw Chelsea move up to top of the Premier League.

The outcome of the match could have been different had Martin Paterson not spurned a glorious chance to give Owen Coyle’s men an unlikely lead.

That miss sparked the home side into action as the fans were treated to an impressive display of Ancelotti’s new diamond system. Nicolas Anelka wasted a couple of opportunities before the Frenchman slid in to convert a Didier Drogba cross. The goal came on the stroke of half time.

Any hopes of a Burnley revival were soon dashed after the break when Michael Ballack headed past Brian Jensen courtesy of a Frank Lampard cross.

The 47th minute goal effectively killed the game. Chelsea bossed the rest of the proceedings before an Ashely Cole strike added a third before the end.

In truth it could have been four or five. Chelsea’s players will go their separate ways during the international break with the prospect of an away fixture against Stoke when they return.

Blackburn Rovers 0 – 0 West Ham United

The explosive scenes that occurred midweek when West Ham met Millwall in the Carling Cup were a stark contrast to the Hammers’ visit to Ewood Park.

There weren’t many openings for either side as defences ruled supreme.

A moment of brilliance from Carlton Cole proved to be the away side’s best opportunity. A sharp Cole turn saw the large striker out-pace and out-muscle Chris Samba. However he could only fire the ball over the bar.

Rover’s had a penalty shout denied. David Dunn was nudged off the ball by Scott Parker who seemed to catch Dunn’s standing leg, but Phil Dowd waved play on.

David Hoilett came on after 60 minutes. Twice Dunn played Hoilett in on goal but the striker failed to convert either opportunity.

The game rumbled on to a goalless draw. A welcome point for Gianfranco Zola while Sam Allardyce was left frustrated as his side failed to claim all three points.

Bolton Wanderers 2 – 3 Liverpool

In midweek, Rafa Benitez demanded a performance from his talismanic captain Steven Gerrard. The English midfielder replied in emphatic fashion as he shoved Liverpool over the finishing line with his fierce shot securing a 3-2 victory.

The signs were ominous from the start for the away side. They enjoyed plenty of possession but failed to break down the Bolton defence. Poor marking from the away side allowed Kevin Davies to put the home side in the lead from a Bolton corner.

It was Bolton’s first goal of the season but their advantage lasted less than 10 minutes. A Liverpool set piece was cleared but only to the feet of Glen Johnson who rifled a shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Benitez would have looked for a positive start to the second half after drawing level just before the interval, but it was Bolton who went ahead. Liverpool’s Sotirios Krygiakos failed to deal with a long punt into the box with Tamir Cohen lapping up the loose ball and firing past a desperate Pepe Reina.

The turning point of the game came when Sean Davis was unfairly sent off for a second bookable offence. Gerrard instantly issued a warning to the home side as he sent a shot crashing off the crossbar.

It wasn’t heeded. Minutes later a deft chipped ball by Gerrard, was chested down by Kuyt, to the onrushing Torres who levelled the score with a firm shot to the left of the keeper.

Wave after wave of attacks flooded the Bolton half. The pressure paid off for Liverpool. A corner was nodded down by Torres to Gerrard. The 28-year-old finally evaded the attentions of Fabrice Muamba and unleashed a rocket past the helpless Jaakelainen.

Benitez will take heart from the spirit shown by his side. Meanwhile Gary Megson was left disappointed by Alan Wiley’s decision to dismiss Sean Davis.

Stoke City 1 – 0 Sunderland

Dave Kitson inflicted the second defeat of the season upon Steve Bruce’s Sunderland as helped Stoke to a 1-0 win. It was the 29-year-old’s first league goal for City after a difficult year.

Chances were few and far between in a scrappy affair at the Britannia Stadium. The Black Cat’s potent strike force of Kenwenye Jones and Darren Bent looked dangerous but failed to manufacture any real openings.

Darren Bent had Sunderland’s best effort in the first half when the striker turned sharply unleashing a shot just past the Stoke upright.

Kitson capitalized on lapse defending from Sunderland when he fired the ball into the net after a Liam Lawrence corner had caused confusion in the box.

Phil Bardsley came closest for the away side in the second half. His drilled shot tested the Stoke keeper Thomas Sorenson who was forced into a good save.

The second half introductions of Sanli Tuncay and Robert Huth will also hearten the home supporters. Overall Tony Pulis will be pleased with his sides performance as they maintained their impressive home record this season.

Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 1 Birmingham City

An Aaron Lennon winner deep into injury time sealed the three points for Harry Redknapp’s outfit. It was a deserved win for a Spurs side that played the more entertaining football over 90 minutes.

Lennon and Luca Modric looked dangerous in the first half with the England international having two efforts well saved by Joe Hart.

The prolific Jermain Defoe was quiet. The one occasion he escaped the attentions of the Birmingham defence, Defoe pulled his shot wide.

However the away side came into the match. A Spurs defence in disarray allowed Lee Bowyer to nick a goal against the run of play to give the away side a 1-0 lead.

The injury of Modric saw the introduction of Peter Crouch. Redknapp employed a more direct approach which paid off when the giant striker’s looping header found the net.

Much to the despair of Alex McLeish, Lennon fooled two defenders affording him some space to squeeze a shot past the stretching Hart.

It ensured Tottenham maintained their 100% start to the Premier League.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 – 1 Hull City

Record Wolverhampton Wanderer’s signing Kevin Dolye made his bow in front of the home fans as he partnered fellow country man Andy Keogh up front.

However it was Hull City who took an early lead. Stephen Hunt has been in fine form since his arrival from Reading. His cross found an unmarked Giovanni who was left with a simple header to put the Tigers one up.

Andy Keogh flashed a header past the post. The Irish international produced a couple of more efforts before the first half came to a close with Hull City looking dangerous on the break.

Mick McCarthy reaped immediate rewards from his half time team talk when his side equalised within 44 seconds.

Michael Mancienne drifted a free kick into the Hull box. Defender Craddock flicked the ball on to Richard Stearman who drove his shot past Tim Myhill.

The home side increased the pressure on the away side as they sought a winner. A Kevin Doyle effort was blocked on the line by a heroic Michael Turner.

For all the endeavours of McCarthy’s side they were unable to snatch a victory. The game ended 1-1 with Phil Brown the happier manager with a point.

Manchester United 2 – 1 Arsenal

Arsenal started the game strongly. Effortlessly stringing passes together, the away side ensured Manchester United remained on the back foot for the opening spell.

Gael Clichy marked Valencia tightly while on the same wing Arshavin remained quiet. It soon lapsed into the tight, tense affair which is often synonymous with a clash between these two sides.

The Arsenal trio of Song, Denilson and Diaby dominated the United midfield. Poor distribution of the ball was the only flaw in an otherwise accomplished first half performance by an in-form Gunners side.

Robin van Persie had a shot blocked by Evra before the away side had a penalty claim dismissed. Arsene Wenger’s little dynamic Russian was hauled down in the box by an aggressive challenge from Darren Fletcher.

Mike Dean was uninterested, waving play on. Moments later the ball fell to Arshavin and he delivered his own retribution as he lashed the ball past Ben Foster.

One would have expected the home side to start the livelier as the second 45 minutes commenced. But it was Arsenal who created another opportunity.

Arshavin darted to the by line and fizzed a low cross into the box which reached Robin Van Persie. The Dutch striker side footed the ball at the stretching Foster who cleared the ball with his feet.

The away side were left to rue their captain’s miss.

On 57 minutes, a well crafted through ball by veteran Ryan Giggs found Rooney. The number 10 touched the ball past the oncoming Manuel Almunia who proceeded to clatter the striker to the ground.

Rooney made no mistake from the spot, firmly driving the ball past the Arsenal keeper.

Less than ten minutes later matters improved further for the home side. A needless free kick was conceded by Clichy. It allowed Giggs to fire in a free kick which Diaby headed past his own keeper.

The game ended 2-1 but not before some farcicle scenes which saw Arsene Wenger harshly sent to the stands.

Sir Alex Ferguson will be quick to acknowledge his side were somewhat fortuitous in their 2-1 victory. Undoubtedly there is a lot more to come from this Manchester United side.

Portsmouth 0 – 1 Manchester City

A slow start saw Manchester City control the tempo of the game. The critics were quick to suggest that Hughes would find it difficult to maintain a balance in the City team.

So far the doubters have been proved wrong. Gareth Barry and Stephen Ireland looked impressive in midfield.

Barry regularly broke up any fleeting Pompey attacks, in turn allowing Ireland to orchestrate the Manchester City offence from his central midfield role.

Up front Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez looked sharp. The duo provided the depleted Pompey defence with a constant headache all afternoon.

The deadlock was broken on the 26 minute mark. Barry whipped in a dangerous corner which flew on to the dreadlocked head of Adebayor. The Togo international headed firmly past Begovic to maintain his fine goal scoring form.

It was a deserved lead after a steady performance by the away side.

Portsmouth lacked cutting edge. Kranjcar occasionally looked to thread the perfect ball through the City defence but the chances were few and far between.

Former Aston Villa captain Barry was immense in midfield, snuffing out most Portsmouth attacks leaving an exasperated Al Fahim to watch on.

David Nugent was introduced towards the end of the game. He made an instant impact forcing Shay Given into a save as Portsmouth looked increasingly dangerous.

Two late penalty claims for Manchester City were rejected by Howard Webb. The perfect start continues for Mark Hughes’ men while Portsmouth slumped to four consecutive defeats.

Everton 2 – 1 Wigan Athletic

After the Jolean Lescott affair came to an end, Leighton Baines snatched a winner for Everton in the final moments of the game to improve spirits at the Goodison Park.

A tight match saw Everton enjoy a few shots on goal which were well saved by Mike Pollit. Wigan harried the home side around the pitch, employing a pressing tactic and giving the Toffees little time to settle on the ball.

Despite Everton’s early sighting on goal it was Wigan who took the lead on the 57 minute mark. Charles N’Zogbia’s cross was met by Paul Scharner who headed past the stranded Tim Howard.

The away side could have added another goal but managed to find the post from twelve yards out after a measured pass from Mario Melchiot.

Minutes later Louis Saha met a Leighton Baines corner and duly headed past Pollit in goal to level the scores on the day.

Baines was given the opportunity to score against his former club when Jo was felled by Emmerson Boyce in the penalty area. Baines made no mistake from the spot.

Aston Villa 2 – 0 Fulham

It has been a mixed week for Martin O’Neill. A superb smash-and-grab 3-1 victory at Anfield was followed by defeat to Rapid Vienna on aggregate in the Europa League.

Yet there was no hangover from Villa’s European exit. Any suggestion that the recent blip would become permanent was dismissed as the home side seized the lead after three minutes.

A wicked Ashley Young corner caused disarray in the box with Fulham fullback John Pantsil heading past his own keeper. It was the kick start that Villa needed.

Martin O’Neill’s men went on to dominate affairs. A long trip to Russia appeared to have taken its toll on a tired Fulham side.

Debutant 19-year-old Ciaran Clark looked assured in defence as Kamara and Nevland failed to find a way through the resolute Villa back four.

Gabriel Agbonlahor added a second with a brilliant strike which beat Mark Schwarzer. It proved enough to ensure Villa’s first home victory in the league this season.

Roy Hodgson was left pondering the difficulty of ensuring the fitness of his already stretched squad as they battle on two fronts. The International break will provide a welcome opportunity for the English manager to assess the best strategy to deploy, ensuring success domestically and in Europe.

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