Premier League review: Man United begin to pull away
Alex Sharp looks back at the fifth instalment of top flight action as Fernando Torres's misery continues
A sumptuous pass through, he’s onside, a step-over to dance past David De Gea and Fernando Torres has the easiest of chances to wipe clear his dismal start at Chelsea to grab the headlines and force a result at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, the Spaniard sliced wide and possibly threw away any hope of recapturing his former glory whilst in a Chelsea shirt.
Was it as bad as Chris Iwelumo’s? Is Torres the new Nwankwo Kanu? Was it as agonising as Ryan Giggs’ FA Cup miss against Arsenal?
No excuses, he should have scored. And it was a real shame as Torres actually resembled a professional footballer throughout the game, determined to gain possession, and making intricate, jinking runs as desperately tried to find his form.
His goal right after the break was a flashback to the past but another glaring miss over the bar compounded the Spain striker to more misery. Of course, he wasn’t the only one to blame – Chelsea had an astonishing 19 efforts on target at Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s resilience, work ethic and ability to grind out results is impressive and increasingly frustrating for rival fans. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men continued their 100 per cent start to the season with Wayne Rooney displaying yet more effortless magic. It was a great game, but it surely caused concern for the chasing pack.
Elsewhere, Arsenal fans were forced to swallow the bitter pill of defeat on the road again – but the loss at Blackburn signalled an all time low. The misfiring Gunners still threaten going forward, and still waste numerous chances – but the defence is far too fragile. Wenger’s side lie 17th in the table with an embarrassing four points.
To highlight how poor they’ve been, only two sides””Southampton in 1998-99 and Derby in 2007-08″”have conceded more goals after five Premier League games than Arsenal have so far this campaign.
Mikel Arteta seems a smart acquisition, Yossi Benayoun can put in a shift but Per Mertesacker looks well off the pace. The experienced German has said he wants to follow in Arsenal legend Tony Adam’s footsteps – and at the moment he’s close to resembling the retired centre-back’s current pace.
Arsenal need a major reshuffle at the back and you have to feel for Wojciech Szczesny, who once again performed valiantly against a dogged Rovers, who themselves had some superb saves from Paul Robinson to thank for the three points.
Back in London, Tottenham kick-started their season with a sublime victory over a frustrated Liverpool. Luka ModriÄ‡ smashed home a wondrous 25-yard strike to open the scoring, Emmanuel Adebayor consistently threatened with searing runs and Scott Parker commanded the centre with consummate ease. Liverpool, meanwhile, lacked creativity and failed to find their feet at all at White Hart Lane.
Manchester City lost their 100 per cent record but too much can be made of that miny collapse from a two-goal lead. They got a little bit complacent against a persevering Fulham. But Craven Cottage is a place many title contenders have fallen before.
Meanwhile, Sunderland smashed four past an under-par Stoke City. Swansea scored theirs and Wales’ first ever Premier League goals in a crucial victory over West Brom, while Norwich notched up their first win, showing some much needed grit at Bolton.
However, the biggest talking point from this weekend away from Manchester was the third instalment of Karl Henry v Joey Barton.
The Wolves captain is now famous for taking chunks out of Barton and as usual they both deal with it in a mature fashion. It’s difficult to admit, but it’s hard not to side with Barton. There comes a point where commitment and hard tackling goes a step too far – and it is clear Henry has crossed that line. Take Ashley Cole’s challenge on Javier HernÃ¡ndez – it could have broken his leg. Tackling needs to become part of the game again, the divers are ruling, but as Aaron Ramsey and co. know all too well, Henry must have his aggression curtailed.