Arsenal 5, Derby County 0
The Gunners solidified their position as ‘best in show’ at the top of the EPL. Emmanuel Adebayor has dramatically improved since last year and bagged a hat-trick to prove it. It was young’un Vassiriki Diaby who grabbed his first EPL goal though and opened the scoring clinic in the 10th minute. Derby – as you can imagine – just laid down and took it. Eddie Lewis played all 90 while Benny Feilhaber came on and worked the last 35 minutes.
Fulham 3, Manchester City 3
Clint Dempsey took a week off, playing all 90 minutes rather passively in this shootout. Both teams have had recent trouble finding scoring help and today, they found it. The Cottagers started the scoring first as Welshman Simon Davies struck early in the 13th minute. The middle 45 minutes featured 5 goals in a kind of back and forth motion. Martin Petrov had an effective game, scoring twice, while Hamuer Bouazza bagged his first for Fulham (the right-winger who Dempsey had originally replaced after a separated shoulder). Fulham hung in there with this and got the point.
Liverpool 0, Birmingham 0
Sometimes things don’t click, especially when you’re playing a frustratingly scrappy Birmingham side. 16 shots and nothing from it as the Blues’ defensive overload worked – only 4 of Liverpool’s shots were on net. Nothing too serious but Jermaine Pennant left late in the game with a hamstring probably.
Sunderland 2, Middlesbrough 2
The Black Cats have seemingly inherited Roy Keane’s intestinal fortitude as they scrapped it out and came back, thanks to Liam Miller goal, to equalize in the 89th minute. Young Grant Leadbitter had put Keane’s squad up quickly in the 2nd minute, but Julio Arca and Stewart Downing put M’Boro back ahead. How is Downing still on Middlesbrough? I’m surprised a Liverpool/Everton hasn’t come calling yet.
Reading 2, Wigan 1
The Royals showed a hint of their former (last year’s surprise squad) selves as they try and work they way slowly back up the standings. Speaking of comebacks, Bobby Convey also seemed to channel his former self as he was the most important part of the Royals’ last 30 minute push. It was James Harper – who rarely ever scores – that finished a Dave Kitson cross and gave the Royals an improbable win. Marcus Hahnemann had one hell of a game yet again.
Manchester United 2, Chelsea 0
The hole gets a bit deeper and to add to the unrest at Stamford Bridge, Avram Grant is now formally being discussed in terms of his qualifications and ability to run the star-studded squad. Either way, the Red Devils got their first EPL goal from Carlos Tevez and Louis Saha added a 90th minute PK conversion to win the derby. Nothing to complain about here – oh, except for the 32nd minute ejection of Jon Obi Mikel that forced the Blues to play with 10 for 2/3s of the game. Grant looks to have a long haul this season as within 20 minutes of the game’s start Chelsea fans were chanting ‘Mourinho’.
Newcastle 3, West Ham United 1
Mark Viduka scored a brace to prove that injuries wouldn’t again ruin the Magpies season. Michael Owen made his way off the pitch in the 51st minute after asking to be replaced. Dean Ashton scored for the Hammers and Jonathan Spector played the last 10 minutes for West Ham. It was Charles N’Zogbia – whose stock is rapidly rising – that put the game away in the 76th minute.
Portsmouth 1, Blackburn 0
When it rains it pours. The Rovers’ mid-week UEFA Cup loss to Larissa ended a 15-game unbeaten streak carrying over from last season. The trend – in one game – seemed firmly established as Blackburn didn’t look the team that had originally started this season. Kanu scored the lone goal for Pompey as their play barely improved, but it was enough to overcome a Blackburn side hoping to rebound.
Aston Villa 2, Everton 0
Yup, Tim Howard is THAT important. Gabriel Agbonlahor and John Carew did the damage for the Villans and Wilfred Bouma captained the back to a 2-0 shutout of the Toffees. Agbonlahor has established himself as a Toffee-killer, but just like the Blackburn Rovers, it was Everton’s midweek UEFA Cup loss that really hurt their momentum. Stefan Wessels manned the net again.
Bolton 1, Tottenham 1
Things aren’t getting much better for the Hotspur and somehow, Martin Jol still survives. Robbie Keane and Ivan Campo traded goals less than 5 minutes apart as the game had a small tint of disinterest in it. I know it’s early, but both these teams are underperforming and neither looked particularly effective.