Premier League review: Dembas at the double in Newcastle victory
Alex Sharp looks back at another action-packed instalment of Premier League football, as the race for the top four intensifies
It was a case of double trouble in the Premier League this weekend as the race for a top-four finish intensified.
Firstly, we had had the Double Dembas wreaking havoc in Newcastle’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
Demba Ba grabbed the lead, before debutant Papiss Demba Cisse, signed from Freiburg last month, capped off a fine start with a sensational winner.
Cisse is the first Newcastle player to score on his Premier League debut since the well forgotten Xisco back in 2008.
If the two Dembas can combine as effectively as that until mid-May, Newcastle will have a very realistic shout at stealing a top-four finish.
Down at The Emirates, an inspired Robin van Persie doubled up with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is flourishing into a late contender to board England’s Euro 2012 plane.
Five goals between them against a woeful, disinterested Blackburn produced some liquid football – and the 18-year-old’s direct play fully complimented the free scoring Dutchman.
Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t afraid to miss, always looks to goal and can distribute the ball superbly.
Theo Walcott has been fiercely criticised recently for a lack of these attributes but the winger supplied a hat-trick of assists on Saturday so earned a respite from the cynics.
However, Arsenal fans must be patient with their new impressive youngster. Oxlade-Chamerlain will need to develop and experience the rough patches before becoming the real deal.
Meanwhile, a spot-kick double heaped more misery on Chelsea in a bizarre but enthralling game at Stamford Bridge.
Was it self-inflicted? Partly, yes. The Blues imploded and played with fear after Wyane Rooney’s first penalty, which enabled United to grow in confidence and stature.
Andre Villas-Boas withdrew Daniel Sturridge for Oriol Romeu, who has impressed since arriving from Barcelona but failed to adapt to the ferocious pace of this key match.
The defensive tactics, attitude and substitutions invited United back into the game but unfortunately penalites had another huge say in a blockbuster game.
Howard Webb was fooled by some play-acting by Danny Wellbeck for the second spot-kick but was clearly right to award the first one, when Sturridge tripped Patrice Evra.
On the other hand, Chelsea could still have won if the desperate Fernando Torres had put away his golden chance in the second half.
The Spaniard now has more yellow cards for Chelsea (four) in the league than goals (three) since his January 2011 move. That says it all really.
When the usual eulogising about United’s comeback cools down it essentially was two points lost for Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side defended like a pub team at some points on Sunday.
It’s a further indication that if City can keep rattling out the results, United don’t have the rock solid defence to keep hold of their crown.