Last weekend’s round of matches started at Goodison Park. Everton scored twice in stoppage time to snatch a dramatic 3-3 draw at home to Manchester United, who left Wayne Rooney out of their squad after a week of allegations about his private life. Rooney did not even travel to Goodison Park as manager Sir Alex Ferguson, on the occasion of his 700th Premier League match, claimed he wanted to protect the 24-year-old from abuse from the fans with whom he used to be a favourite. The disruption appeared to affect his team-mates early on as they fell behind to a Steven Pienaar goal, but Darren Fletcher, Nemanja Vidic and Dimitar Berbatov put United well ahead before the Toffees’ stunning late comeback through Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta.
Chelsea took advantage of United’s remarkable slip-up with a routine victory over West Ham, leading from the second minute in a comfortable 3-1 triumph. The result means Carlo Ancelotti’s men are still to drop a point this season. Michael Essien handed the Blues an excellent start with a second-minute header from Didier Drogba’s corner, and then Drogba was involved again in Chelsea’s second. Striking a 35-yard free-kick, the Ivorian saw his effort inexplicably spilled by Rob Green, before Matthew Upson’s attempted clearance ricocheted into the net off Salomon Kalou. Jon Obi Mikel cracked the bar as Chelsea continued to dominate, and Essien added his second late on before Scott Parker produced a spectacular consolation, although things could have been tighter had Frederic Piquionne not been guilty of one of the worst misses in Premier League history.
Arsenal remain unbeaten in the new Premier League season, after they beat ten-man Bolton 4-1 in North London. The Gunners were aided by a harsh sending off of Gary Cahill in the second half, but Arsene Wenger’s side played some stunning football to make the most of their numerical advantage. New signing Laurent Koscielny converted Arsenal’s first-half pressure into a goal, stabbing home at the second attempt. However, the Gunners’ defence still appears to boast the same holes as least season, and Johan Elmander took advantage on the stroke of half time, levelling from close range after Lee Chung-Yong’s centre. The Gunners did not have to wait long to restore their lead, thanks to the brilliance of Cesc Fabregas. Dancing his way towards the byline, the Spaniard cut the ball across for Marouane Chamakh to apply the finishing touch, and Bolton’s task then became even tougher when referee Stuart Attwell controversially handed Cahill a straight red card for a challenge on Chamakh. Alex Song’s delightful chip made the points safe with 12 minutes left, before Carlos Vela applied the icing to the cake when putting the finishing touch to a wonderful 24-pass move.
Manchester City dropped yet more points under Roberto Mancini as Blackburn left Eastlands with a 1-1 draw. Mancini’s men had already taken just four points from a possible nine this season, and now it is five from 12 after a bad error by Joe Hart. City had much the better of the first half at Eastlands but, not for the first time this week, Hart produced a dodgy moment to hand Blackburn the half-time advantage. Hart and Kolo Toure dithered and hesitated as the ball lurked towards the City penalty area, and Nikola Kalinic capitalised to stun the home crowd. City needed somebody to grab the game by the scruff of its collar, and Patrick Vieira rolled back the years to do just that, sparking memories of his Arsenal days as he started and ended a move that ended with the Frenchman beating Paul Robinson.
Tottenham’s injury woes continued at the Hawthorns as Luka Modric departed on crutches following a 1-1 draw with West Brom. The result leaves Spurs level with City on five points after four matches. Tottenham’s football was superb in the opening exchanges at the Hawthorns, with Modric ramming home their advantage on 27 minutes. However, the Croatian then left on crutches and Chris Brunt grabbed a point for the Baggies.
In the battle of the new boys, Newcastle suffered a huge setback at St James’ Park, losing 2-0 to Blackpool. Alan Smith was the guilty party for the home side in the first half, fouling Luke Varney inside the box, and Charlie Adam sent Steve Harper the wrong way from the penalty spot. DJ Campbell then grabbed a clincher at the death, although Blackpool’s hero was goalkeeper Matthew Gilks after a string of fine saves.
Fulham grabbed a late winner to beat Wolves 2-1 at Craven Cottage. Mark Hughes had plenty to feel disgruntled about following the opening 45 minutes in West London, after Simon Davies was denied what appeared to be a blatant penalty. Wolves rubbed salt in the wound by immediately scoring at the other end, with Jelle Van Damme finding the net after great work by Kevin Doyle. More bad news followed for Fulham as Bobby Zamora required oxygen and a stretcher following a coming together with Karl Henry, a challenge that appeared to do serious damage to Zamora’s ankle. Without their star striker, Fulham needed to rely on new signing Moussa Dembele, who responded four minutes after the break to even the scores before adding the winner in injury time.
Nothing could separate Wigan and Sunderland at the DW Stadium, but the Black Cats can be satisfied with a 1-1 draw after playing 68 minutes with ten men. Lee Cattermole will no doubt feel the full wrath of boss Steve Bruce after he earned his second red card of the season on 22 minutes. Cattermole saw red on the opening day against Birmingham, and he clearly did not learn his lesson as another dismissal for two bookable offences ended his afternoon. In the space of four minutes Cattermole fouled Mohamed Diame and then Hugo Rodallega, giving the referee no choice but to reach for his cards. Bruce’s response was to throw on club record signing Asamoah Gyan as a lone striker, and he delivered the goods on debut, sweeping home an opening goal with 20 minutes remaining. However, Antolin Alcaraz equalised to ensure both teams shared the spoils.
Liverpool continued their disappointing start to this campaign with a scoreless draw away to Birmingham City. The Merseyside team who lie in the bottom half of the table barely had chances in this game. The Brum boys were all over the place and the Reds have Pepe Reina to thank for leaving with a draw. The Spaniard was in inspired form keeping out Craig Gardner and Jerome at point blank range.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: GK – Pepe Reina(Liverpool), DEFENCE – John Terry(Chelsea), Chris Samba (Blackburn), Roger Johnson (Birmingham City) MIDFIELD – Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Michael Essien (Chelsea), Steven Pienaar(Everton), Adam Johnson (Man City), Alex Song (Arsenal) FORWARDS – Moussa Dembele (Fulham) Dimitar Berbatov (Man Utd) COACH – Ian Holloway (Blackpool)