Johnson sparks City, United struggle and Chelsea swaggers on
Notes from the weekend in the Premier League:
When you couple that with deadly counterattacking, it's hard to see where Chelsea will drop many points this season. Wenger was unhappy about the buildup to Chelsea's first goal, yet another
It's worth highlighting Ramires, though. For the first time, his contribution to the midfield was plainly visible -- not just in the delightful pass that played Cole in at the byline, but in his defensive diligence, too. He was by no means faultless, but at least, having been rounded by
Arguments about why United played so poorly -- Was it wise to start with
Sunderland has beaten Manchester City and held Arsenal at home, so a 0-0 draw may not be quite the death knell some would like, even if it does put five points between United and Chelsea. But United managed only one (long-range) strike on goal, and has drawn all four fixtures away from home this term. That makes it about average on away form -- where last season it was the best.
He was committed to the point of being a little frenzied against FC Twente last week, but the verve with which he plays was crucial to Spurs' win over Aston Villa on Saturday. Aston Villa manager
Not since 1953 has Liverpool FC slipped into this kind of trouble, and it was relegated from the top flight that season. In fairness, only five points separate 18th spot from fourth -- the same gap as Chelsea enjoys over Manchester United, and Fergie hasn't yet written off his side's title hopes.
But that lingering sense that Liverpool is in real trouble won't shift.
Coaxing unexpected success out of a mid-table side is one thing; it's quite another to manage a squad with huge, oft-repeated expectations hanging over it, after its worst season in more than a decade. Lack of investment has been cited as Hodgson's handicap, and
But 10 of Sunday's players were also involved in the 4-0 win over Real Madrid two seasons ago, and 13 of them went to this summer's World Cup. The squad does not want for players capable of performing better than this -- performing, period -- at home.
In the midst of this debacle, Blackpool will inevitably miss out on the credit for another superbly engineered performance in which its central duo bossed the midfield and its attacking players frequently had Liverpool's back line worried.
Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be stopping him. Within three minutes of coming on, he'd danced around two defenders and lashed the ball into the net for City's winner just when it seemed conceivable that Newcastle would get a point and arguably deserve more. No wonder
Over in Stoke,
Bad tackling hasn't suddenly introduced itself to soccer, and clumsiness will never go away. But when a player whose game is dependent on muscle shows the lack of thought de Jong and Henry did this weekend, things can get ugly. Though City assistant manager
It would be nice to think that midfield enforcers might pause for thought now. If not because risking putting a fellow professional out of the game turns their stomach, then at least because of the risk to their own teams. Henry was never going to reach the ball before Gomez, and even if he'd gotten away with sliding in, he would have been in no position to defend the break. He left his teammates with 80 minutes to play a man down and they looked understandably hesitant in the tackle as they tried, without success, to hold off Wigan.
Green didn't put a thumb wrong this time, though -- the volley was sweetly struck and there was little the keeper could do. It was decent reward for Dempsey's efforts up front (where fellow American