Man United makes Liverpool look average, but Chelsea the big worry
Little pleases Manchester United manager Sir
"It could have been a cricket score," he said after United's 3-2 victory Sunday. "It was a game we absolutely dominated. For Liverpool, this is a catastrophe."
Ferguson is no stranger to hyperbole, and he rarely misses a chance to pull faces at Liverpool, but his comments bear some scrutiny. The final score and the tension of the final 10 minutes will ensure that this is remembered as a decent derby. But for the first hour of the match, its billing as a "meeting of giants" was at odds with the spectacle; the visitors could have been any of a group of mid-table sides struggling to come to terms with United at home.
Barring a few individuals, there is a gulf between this Liverpool side and the Anfield teams that built this old rivalry. On Sunday, it was all knickers -- big, gray
Ferguson insisted that Liverpool's only threat had come from decisions made by the officials, and it's hard to argue that it offered more. Two set pieces, two shots on target, two goals. But Liverpool manager
For all the majesty of
It's no coincidence that Liverpool's goals came as Scholes was starting to tire --
The season's biggest worry for United -- and Arsenal, which missed out on a chance to move into first place temporarily after conceding a last-minute equalizer to Sunderland on Saturday -- is the potency of Chelsea. It is hard to find even minor fault with
Ancelotti reluctantly criticized his team for a lack of focus in the second half of Sunday's 4-0 win over Blackpool, but he has three of the league's five top scorers. The Blues are rampant.
They've yet to face a true test, of course, which will perhaps come from Manchester City (away) and Arsenal (home) in the next couple of weeks. But Chelsea is robust, fast, skillful and goes straight for the jugular every time it's in opposition territory. As the cliché goes, it's a marathon, not a sprint, but Chelsea has set off at such a pace that it can almost afford a stumble further down the track.
Newcastle will be next up against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, in Wednesday's League Cup fixture. A composed 1-0 win over an Everton side that managed to be Merseyside's worst representative over the weekend won't shrink the odds on an away triumph, but manager
Everton's midfield was supposed to be its strength, even without
Hughton switched to a five-man midfield, though, pulling
Though it left striker
Ben Arfa and Tiote, who got stuck in protecting his defenders from the start and wasn't shy about surging forward with the ball, look like excellent acquisitions. They should be certain starters when fit. But Hughton took care to point out that "they were both able to [play well] because it was a real good team performance," and
First and foremost, however, you have to salute the contribution of Barton to the tempo and measure of Newcastle's play. He looked completely unharassed as he set his side on its way and moved in to fill the spaces left behind. Everton was poor, but it's not often teams go to Goodison and get away with playing like the home side for as long as Newcastle was able to.