Premier League review: Manchester dominates again
Alex Sharp looks back at the fourth instalment of top flight action as United and City flex their muscles
After England limped to a thoroughly uninspiring win over Wales at Wembley, thank goodness Premier League football returned this weekend.
Manchester continued to grab the headlines with two sumptuous performances but it was a crucial weekend for Arsenal and Tottenham, who needed to bounce back from poor starts.
Elsewhere, Nicklas Bendtner was out prove to clubs across the globe that he is still the world’s best striker…
Yes, the Dane managed to consistently lose possession on his debut for Sunderland against Chelsea and also nodded wide a free routine header from six yards. On this performance, it is truly staggering that ArsÃ¨ne Wenger persevered with him for so long.
John Terry steered Chelsea to victory and the Blues have Daniel Sturridge to thank after the youngster slotted in a cheeky back heel to secure the three points. But AndrÃ© Villas-Boas must be close ripping those wavy locks out over the Fernando Torres conundrum. Surely patience is running out over the £50m man, who clearly isn’t putting in a shift himself and seems content to sulk on the bench adjusting his hair band.
Above Chelsea, Manchester United have Wayne Rooney in sublime form, demanding the ball and linking every piece of liquid football Sir Alex Ferguson’s youthful side have pieced together.
Eight goals to his name already this season and with no questions over his commitment, the striker seems to be brimming with confidence. The trip to the Reebok has proven difficult for the top sides in recent years but United are playing with no fear and with Javier HernÃ¡ndez returning with a double, Sir Alex has options coming out of his ears.
Across Manchester, Sergio Aguero disposed of Wigan with his own hat-trick, with David Silva, Adam Johnson, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri all supplying the mini Maradonna.
Every time City attack they do so with width – and that’s largely down to the impressive work of full backs Gael Clichy and Micah Richards. Clichy, under a new lease of life in Manchester, seems reinvigorated and is managing to fly down the flanks for 90 minutes, which caught out Wigan’s pedestrian marking. Richards has now blossomed into a heroic defender, shrugging off injuries and having suffered with Johnson at right back, England now have genuine competition for that position.
A cheeky bit of hope for fans outside interests in Manchester is that no side has ever won the Premier League having scored more than 11 goals in their opening four games.
Back down south, and Joey Barton is still making me chuckle with his embarrassing tweets, ridiculous haircut and now delusional programme notes. He made his debut for QPR on Monday, captaining the Londoners against his former club Newcastle in a goalless draw.
Barton wrote in the match programme: “I feel that I have got something to offer England. I’m the eternal optimist – and not without reason. I watched England in Bulgaria the other night and I didn’t see any reason why I can’t get back into that side.”
Dear oh dear. Barton is undoubtedly talented but he is nowhere near the likes of Scott Parker, Jack Wilshere, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, or Tom Cleverley in the middle of the park.
Having said that, Barton did add a bit of va va voom to QPR. Shaun Wright-Phillips commanded the right wing and Adel Taarabt displayed his usual flair. Unfortunately Jay Bothroyd decided he can’t finish from six yards and Neil Warnock’s men had to settle for a point against a side who are experiencing their best start since 1995.
Elsewhere, Arsenal edged to victory against Swansea and had the impressive Wojciech Szczesny between the sticks to thank for keeping the Gunners ahead.
The woodwork played its part for both sides, new boy Mikel Arteta impressed in the middle but ultimately the result was all that mattered. Wenger will be relieved, but in the back of his mind he knows his side are far from their best.
Stoke City are riding high in the Champions League places, defeating a Liverpool side busy too caught up about decisions against them. A positive for Kenny Dalglish came when Craig Bellamy surfaced from the bench to add a bit of quality to Liverpool’s simple attack.
And finally, journeymen Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker ruled the roost and linked up well in their Spurs debuts in a 2-0 win over Wolves. The talented Togolese has now scored on his debuts for Arsenal, Manchester City and Spurs.