Premier League review: Manchester City go marching on
Alex Sharp looks back at another action-packed weekend of Premier League football as Manchester City continue to impress
Whilst we had to endure the insufferable Sepp Blatter washing over the “˜minor issue’ of racism, the Premier League returned with aplomb after the international break this weekend.
It was a weekend of record breaking as Newcastle lost their unbeaten league run at the hands of Manchester City in a 3-1 defeat. The Magpies had chances but City were pouring forward at will and could, and should, have added to their total with consummate ease.
Newcastle were never going to emulate the Arsenal Invincibles but the talk on the terraces and newspapers has suggested City could last the campaign with a big fat zero in the defeats column.
Booing at half-time at the Etihad had writers and pundits confused but it was only the City faithful reacting to announcement that “chips are unavailable on the concourse”. City fans really are getting demanding.
Saturday’s victory compounded City’s dominance at the top of the pile and once again broke records. Eleven wins and a draw is the best ever start to a Premier League season – Arsenal’s 2004 unbeaten side only managed nine victories in this period.
Having hit 42 goals already, Roberto Mancini’s side have totted up the highest goal tally at this stage since a free-scoring Tottenham netted 44 in 1963.
The accolades are flooding in to the blue half of Manchester but can they keep the egos happy to go unbeaten? Will the Champions League end up as a negative distraction on their title charge? Time will tell.
Over at Stamford Bridge another record fell on Sunday – Chelsea lost consecutive games at home for the first time in 10 seasons.
The build-up to the clash against Liverpool had been dominated by talk of the ex’s and whether Raul Meireles or Fernando Torres could come back to haunt their former employees – but it was Roman Abramovich’s first signing at Chelsea in 2003, Glen Johnson, who provided the killer blow in a 2-1 Reds victory.
King Kenny was bouncing on the touchline after masterminding a solid display but a sluggish Chelsea performance gave AndrÃ© Villas-Boas the Blues. He didn’t come out to face the media for an hour after the game, clearly giving his underperforming side a good old-fashioned dressing down.
Poor old Torres was left wasting away on the bench for much of the game and now surely must be eyeing a move away in January to reignite that spark. Since February, Chelsea have won 50 per cent of their league games with Torres starting (1.7 goals per game), and 75 per cent without him (2.3 goals per game). He appears to be lacking passion, confidence and could now be falling behind Daniel Sturridge in the pecking order, and rightly so.
Is Villas-Boas in the dog house with Abramovich? Probably – but the Russian billionaire must learn from his mistakes and place some faith in a manager and find some consistency at the club. Villas-Boas rightly said that Abramovich wouldn’t have paid millions in compensation to prise him away from Porto just to pay him to leave.
However, it’s clear the Russian owner is happy to swing the axe and open the chequebook at will. A suicidal high defensive line, questionable tactics and the refusal to drop underperforming players mean there are potentially worrying times ahead at The Bridge.
Finally, some regular readers of this blog may get frustrated about Robin van Persie winning another mention today – but yet again it was a record-breaking weekend.
His match-winning performance in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Norwich City meant the Dutchman has scored or assisted 38 of Arsenal’s 58 Premier League goals in 2011 (66 per cent). And Van Persie is the fifth player in Premier League history to score more than 30 goals in a calendar year (Alan Shearer twice, Thierry Henry, Les Ferdinand and Ruud Van Nistlerooy are the others).
Arsenal’s steady rise up the table is much due to Van Persie’s stunning form, but Aaron Ramsey is beginning to control games in the middle of the park.
And with Thomas Vermaelen back, attempting to mask over Per Mertesacker’s howlers, Arsenal could perform and manage to keep a wounded ArsÃ¨ne Wenger on for another season. The players owe it to him.