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Premier League round-up: Saturday

United crumble, Magpies stumble, Spurs and City fumble

By | 11th September 2010

It was indeed another special afternoon of Premier League action and rest assured, a lot of drama was involved throughout. From Goodison Park all the way down to the Emirates Stadium, there was plenty of action that ended up impacting the league table in more ways than one.

The day started at Merseyside with Manchester United’s visit to Everton. The build-up to the match involved the question over Wayne Roooney’s participation since the United striker’s return to his former club was never going to be pretty, particularly with the turmoil in his private life at the moment.

Sir Alex Ferguson went without the England international and despite watching his side go behind to an early Steven Pienaar goal, the United boss sat back to enjoy the events that were forthcoming. Darren Fletcher, Nemanja Vidic, and Dimitar Berbatov were on target as goals each side of the interval handed the visitors a commanding 3-1 lead.

The hosts, however, rallied late in the game to score twice within stoppage time. While it was not too unexpected to see Toffees getting their goals through stalwarts Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, it was certainly a surprise the way things ended for the Red Devils.

The last time the Old Trafford outfit was involved in a big game that ended with two goals in stoppage time, it was the famous Champions League final of 1999 where United overcame a 1-0 deficit to defeat Bayern Munich 2-1. That season ended in a treble but this afternoon was ironically the complete opposite.

For United’s cross-town rivals Manchester City, their second home game of the season did not end pleasantly either. Following a 3-0 thumping of Liverpool in their home opener almost three weeks ago, the Citizens conceded a first-half goal to Blackburn’s Nikola Kalinic and only managed an equalizer through Patrick Vieira in a 1-1 draw that was far from exciting.

Luckily for Roberto Mancini, one of City’s key rivals – Tottenham Hotspur – were also disappointing in their 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthornes. Luka Modric handed the Spurs a slender lead near the half-hour mark but it took Chris Brunt a little over 10 minutes to respond.

The afternoon’s other 1-1 draw came at the DW Stadium, where the visiting Sunderland took the lead midway through the second half thanks to new signing Asamoah Gyan. The Latics, however, made a late comeback through their own new signing, Antolin Alcaraz.

While the string of draws must have left all the clubs involved with a bittersweet feeling, there is no doubt that West London will be celebrating tonight. Both Fulham and Chelsea picked up impressive wins against Wolves and West Ham, respectively.

The Cottagers have all the reason to be excited about new signing Moussa Dembele, who netted twice to help them come from behind against the visiting Wolverhampton, who had led after a Jelly van Damme strike. The Blues, on the other hand, can take pride in picking up a dominant 3-1 win at Upton Park without the services of injured talismanic midfielder Frank Lampard.

Chelsea’s continued perfection could have extended their lead at the summit of the Premier League table if Arsenal were to drop points at home to Bolton. After a hard-fought first half, it looked as if Bolton could muster at least a draw but a controversial decision from referee Stuart Attwell took the wind out of the Trotters’ sails.

Owen Coyle’s men conceded a scrappy goal to Arsenal’s Laurent Koscienly midway through the first half but Chung-Yong Lee was on hand to punish a defensive error from the French defender and set up a cleverly headed equalizer for the in-form Johan Elmander.

The Gunners were left to pick up the pieces in the second half, particularly as Bolton players began to display the physical side of their game openly. Midfielder Fabrice Muamba was having a go at Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas the entire afternoon and even refused to shake hands with the Spaniard when he was asked to calm down.

To their credit, Fabregas and his teammates responded very well under pressure when Marouane Chamakh perfectly timed his run to head home from a cross near the hour mark. A few minutes later, the Moroccan international was involved in a major incident yet again.

Andrey Arshavin was aiming to extend the hosts’ advantage with a wonderful run but he was stopped in his tracks when Attwell blew his whistle and sent off Bolton’s Gary Cahill for a late challenge on Chamakh. The referee made an error in judgment on two accounts; for starters, advantage should have been played and second, it was at best a yellow card offense.

Following that moment, there was little that the men from Reebok Stadium could do besides sustaining attack after attack from their hosts. Despite the heroics of goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, not every attack could be realistically sustained and eventually, goals from Alex Song and Carlos Vela put the game away in emphatic fashion.

So, was Arsenal’s 4-1 win perhaps the most impressive one among all of Saturday’s matches? Well, Blackpool will have a thing or two to say about that after winning 2-0 at Tyneside. They fell victims to none other than Arsenal in a 6-0 thrashing three weeks ago but on this day, they were not to be stopped.

Ian Holloway’s men were faced with a tricky trip to St. James’ Park against a Newcastle side that was last seen at home destroying Aston Villa with a 6-0 win of their own. When it came to doing anything remotely similar against The Tangerines, the Magpies looked sloppy and were punished late in both periods by Charlie Adam, who scored from the spot before setting up DJ Campbell’s late second.

Tomorrow, Birmingham City hosts Liverpool to round up matchday four of the new Premier League season.

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