Premier League Weekend Review: Local Rivals Embarrass United & Chelsea
The headline from this past weekend’s Premier League action will rightfully be dominated by what transpired in the Manchester derby, but City’s destruction of 10-man United wasn’t the only notable result of another exciting weekend in the English top flight.
City consolidated their place atop the table with their win at Old Trafford, and along with putting some distance between themselves and United, they did the same against Chelsea by virtue of the Blues’ surprise 1-0 defeat at QPR. Things like red cards or an extremely inspired underdog can sometimes render Premier League statistics irrelevant, and that was the case at Loftus Road. Chelsea lead the league in possession percentage, averaging 60% per game, and they came close to that average against QPR, but when you’re down a goal already and then go down to nine men, it might not matter if you have 75% possession.
Newcastle Remain Unbeaten with Wigan Win
Newcastle have been perhaps the biggest surprise of the first few months of the Premier League season. While Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool all have at least one defeat to their names, Alan Pardew’s Magpies are surprisingly unbeaten after nine matches and sit fourth, level on points with Chelsea.
It hasn’t been particularly pretty, but they somehow keep grinding out results. After a late equalizer against Tottenham preserved their unbeaten record the previous weekend, they needed late heroics to see off Wigan 1-0 on Saturday, with Yohan Cabaye opening his Newcastle account with an 81st-minute winner.
Resiliency has been a big reason for Newcastle’s early success, and so has posting the Premier League’s best defensive mark thus far, with only six goals allowed.
With trips to Stoke City and Manchester United and visits from Manchester City and Chelsea to come in their next five matches, it’s unlikely that the unbeaten run will last much longer, but the fast start has set the foundation for Newcastle to have a much better season than anyone expected, especially given that they lost three key players in Joey Barton, Jose Enrique, and Kevin Nolan in the summer.
Norwich Earn Draw at Liverpool
Another early surprise has been Norwich City, who started slow but are in very good form as October winds down.
The Canaries have gone 3-1-1 in their last five matches, finally putting some positive results to go with the effort they’ve been putting in from the start. That effort has seen them give some of the Premier League’s best a torrid time for 90 minutes, but Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Anfield was the first time they’ve received a tangible reward for their hard work.
A 3-1 defeat at Chelsea in August was a 1-1 match until things fell apart in the final 10 minutes, while a 2-0 defeat at Manchester United was 0-0 for almost 70 minutes and could very well have been the shock of the Premier League season had Norwich made the most of opportunities they had before United finally broke the deadlock.
So it shouldn’t really be considered too much of a surprise that they picked up a result at Liverpool, with Grant Holt’s fine header on the hour mark canceling out a goal by former Canary Craig Bellamy right on the stroke of halftime. Lady Luck was certainly on the visitors’ side, as Liverpool hit the woodwork three times, but the hosts were also extremely wasteful despite their dominance, with only nine of their 29 shots being on target.
But Norwich deserve plenty of credit for defending well in key moments, and keeper John Ruddy was on his game all evening, including at the death when he produced a fantastic save to deny Luis Suarez.
Paul Lambert’s side is now eighth in the Premier League table, and they will fancy their chances to finish out a fine month on a winning note, with bottom boys Blackburn coming to Carrow Road on Saturday.
Nine-Man Chelsea Fall at QPR
It took more than two months for QPR to register their first home league win, but they certainly picked a fine time to do it, defeating Chelsea 1-0 in a card-filled West London derby.
Chelsea were seemingly unhinged from the start, as David Luiz gave away a penalty that Heidar Helguson dispatched to give QPR a 10th-minute lead. That proved to be the only goal of the match, as it proved to be more cardfest than goalfest.
While QPR received only two yellows, Chelsea received an astounding seven, all in the second half, and worse yet, they saw Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba both shown straight reds in the first half. Bosingwa’s sending-off for a foul on former Chelsea man Shaun Wright-Phillips was questionable, but there was no doubt when it came to Drogba being sent off for a two-footed challenge on Adel Taraabt.
Chelsea certainly had their chances to equalize, but ultimately, QPR held firm to record their first win over Chelsea since March 1995. With the victory, they’re now 10th in the table, level on points with Norwich and Stoke, both of whom they will visit in November.
City Embarrass Ten-Man United At Old Trafford
Well, the headline says it all, doesn’t it?
City went into their visit to Old Trafford looking to make a statement of intent, and they did just that and then some. When the destruction was complete, they left with a stunning 6-1 victory and a five-point lead atop the table, and United’s record run of home league wins had met a crushing end.
United were the better team for the first 20-odd minutes, but City took the lead in the 22nd-minute through Mario Balotelli, who celebrated by revealing a t-shirt that simply said, ‘Why always me?’. Of course, we’ve seen the script before and know that counting United out when they’re behind is a mistake, so they were still very much in the game at the start of the second half.
However, that all changed when Jonny Evans was shown a straight red in the 47th minute for a foul on Balotelli, and it was all downhill from there for United. Balotelli added a second and Sergio Aguero a third before Darren Fletcher pulled one back in the 81st minute.
United continued to push for goals, but with only 10 men and going against a team out for blood, that made for disastrous results, as Edin Dzeko, David Silva, and Dzeko again found the net in the final few minutes to leave the majority of those at Old Trafford completely stunned.
For City, it was the kind of performance they needed to put in to prove that they’re serious about winning the title this season. However, to say that the result is a sign that the balance of power in Manchester and in English football has changed would be going a little far. The result was certainly humiliating for United, but it could end up bringing the best out of them if they have the right response.
And Sir Alex Ferguson, who called it his worst-ever defeat as a player or manager, expects the right response, saying:
“We will react, no question about that. It’s a perfect result for us to react to because there is a lot of embarrassment in the dressing room and that will make an impact.”
Whether or not the result proves to be significant to the outcome of the title race, it certainly won’t be forgotten anytime soon, whether you’re a City fan, a United fan, or a neutral.
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