Arsenal's recovery continues in style; Man United bounce back
Five things we learned from Saturday's action in the Barclays Premier League:
On Saturday, Terry probably felt better at halftime after he scored from a corner to put Chelsea ahead at home to Arsenal. It had been a remarkable first half. Both defenses looked awful. Both attacks were horribly wasteful. Per Mertesacker was awful at the heart of the Arsenal defense. Terry and his partner, Branislav Ivanovic, often looked like statues. The left backs were particularly bad. Theo Walcott exposed Ashley Cole's declining pace. The only consolation for Cole was that Andre Santos, Arsenal's chunky Brazilian emergency fullback, looked as if Arsène Wenger had plucked him from a local park.
At halftime, Arsenal appeared doomed. Yet somehow the Gunners solved their problems. "We got tight in midfield,'' Wenger told Sky television. Mertesacker and Santos were not exposed again. Santos was even able to trundle forward to thump Arsenal's second goal. Chelsea's play became increasingly inaccurate and Fernando Torres increasingly invisible. Its only goal of the half was a long-range strike by Juan Mata.
Meanwhile, Chelsea could not solve its defensive problems. "In the second half we kept going forward, and that made the difference," said Wenger. His team had some help. Terry fell trying to reach a pass from Florent Malouda. Robin van Persie accepted the gift and gamboled off to score Arsenal's fourth goal, while Terry picked himself up slowly. Van Persie later scored again to complete his hat trick and Arsenal's 5-3 victory. Chelsea had never conceded five goals in the Premier League. Terry and his mighty Chelsea have truly fallen.
Crisis over? Not at all. United's problem all season has been that it allows opponents too many chances. Vidic was heroic, but the pattern was still repeated. Everton had 18 shots, 11 of them were on target. That's too many.
Ferguson saw the glass half full. "The fact that there have been so many chances against us recently," he told the BBC. "We had to reduce that and if we are going to win the league and today we didn't have any problems."
It's true a lot were from long range, perhaps a sign that Everton couldn't penetrate or maybe a reflection of the widespread belief, based on statistics from Spain, that David De Gea is vulnerable from long range. Most of the shots were straight at the young Spaniard, but he made a spectacular save to keep out Jack Rodwell. Leighton Baines hit the bar from a free kick with De Gea beaten. United also escaped unscathed from a series of nerve-shredding melees in front of goal. The weakness that City so ruthlessly exposed is still there. Unless Ferguson can find an answer, United will be punished again.
Suarez was again lively, smart and hard working. He again looked constantly dangerous without turning menace into goals. Suarez scored a delightful goal against Stoke in the League Cup in midweek, but the statistics show his conversion rate of chances into goals in the Premier League is only 15 per cent. On Saturday he won the penalty from which Charlie Adam gave Liverpool the lead. It was Liverpool's first penalty conversion in three attempts this season -- one of the misses was by Suarez. Suarez did finish neatly in the second half, but he probably already knew that the offside flag was up.
Carroll's issues are different: his temperament, his lack of athleticism and his poor work rate. For much of the first half he did indeed look like a lazy, leaden big man chiefly interested in allowing himself to be sucked into a battle of shoves and elbows with Jonas Olsson and arguing with the referee. Yet on the stroke of halftime, Carroll showed what he can do. Set free by a pass from Suarez, Carroll charged toward the area before poking a shot just inside the post for a goal. Carroll also produced Liverpool's most menacing second-half moment, meeting a knock down from Suarez with a vicious shot that tested Ben Foster.
Between them, Carroll and Suarez had conjured the goals Liverpool needed to turn domination into victory -- something the Reds haven't always done this season.