They barely entered into discussions about potential Premier League champions at the start of the season, but after another extremely impressive win away to a top rival, Chelsea are looking like the team to beat.
ollowing on from their excellent win at Arsenal in their last away match, this weekend the Blues inflicted the first home defeat of the season on the other North London team, Tottenham, and demonstrated once again their goal-scoring prowess in a 4-2 win.
It was the first time Andre Villas Boas had come up against the club he was managing at this point last season and his former assistant Roberto Di Matteo, and how he must’ve envied over the flair players the latter now has at his disposal.
While it was AVB who bought the magnificent Juan Mata to Chelsea, he wasn’t afforded the cash that last season’s Champions League win has allowed Di Matteo to splash this summer and complete the overhaul of the squad that had been anticipated 12 months earlier. Had AVB had Eden Hazard and the prodigiously talented 21-year-old Brazilian Oscar to supplement Mata he might still be in the Stamford Bridge hotseat now. It is that delicately built but outrageously talented trio that is making Chelsea so hot to handle at the moment. The threesome appear to have formed an instant understanding and instinctively seem to be able to find each other, even while switching positions all over the pitch.
For all the goals Chelsea have scored this season (19 in 8 matches), it shouldn’t be forgotten that they’ve also conceded the least, along with Arsenal; just six. Their defenders are also getting among the goals; it was Gary Cahill, playing alongside David Luiz in place of the suspended John Terry, who crashed in the opening goal with a sweetly struck volley from a corner in the 17th minute. Chelsea dominated possession in the first half but weren’t to add to their lead and Tottenham, who it has to be admitted were severely weakened by the absence of both Gareth Bale- his girlfriend going into labour- and Moussa Dembele, became more assertive as the half grew on. Tottenham totally turned the game on its head by scoring twice in the opening ten minutes of the second half. Chelsea old boy William Gallas headed in from two yards barely two minutes in and then Jermaine Defoe underlined the devastating form he’s been in by turning in a scuffed Aaron Lennon shot.
It then became all about Mata, a precision finish from just inside the area brought the equaliser in the 66th minute and then three minutes later he converted a sublime Hazard pass to put the West Londoners back in command. An enthralling and frenetic London derby was brought to its conclusion just minutes after substitute Daniel Sturridge tapped in following more good work from Mata.
The win saw Chelsea temporarily open up a seven-point lead over the Manchester duo, but after significant scare both came back to win and reduce the deficit back to four points. A Wayne Rooney own goal gave Stoke a shock lead at Old Trafford, but the England striker atoned with two at the right end, to add to further goals by Robin Van Persie and Danny Welbeck. Michael Kightly also notched for Stoke but United ran out 4-2 winners, making them the league’s highest goalscorers so far with 21. Next Sunday sees Sir Alex Ferguson’s men travel to Chelsea in what should be an outstanding exhibition of attacking football.
Champions City meanwhile, were down to ten men and heading for defeat at high-flying West Brom up until the 80th minute and the intervention of substitute Edin Dzeko. Shane Long had put the home side in front in the 67th minute, but Dzeko struck a minute after coming off the bench and then right at the death to give City – who had been a man down since James Milner’s 23rd minute dismissal – a hard-fought victory.
Making up the top four are Everton who drew 1-1 at QPR in the weekend’s final fixture on Sunday. A deflected Junior Hoilett effort put the Hoops in the lead but an own goal from their keeper Julio Cesar evened the score. QPR remain without a win and consequently are propping up the table.
Reading are one place ahead of Mark Hughes’s men, following a narrow defeat to a 17-year-old Raheem Sterling goal at Liverpool.
Making up the bottom three are Southampton, whose goals conceded tally rose to a worrying 24 following a crushing 4-1 defeat at fellow Promoted side West Ham. Mark Noble notched twice for the Hammers, who rise to seventh. Elsewhere Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa fell to a late defeat at Fulham, via a Chris Baird strike and Spanish duo Pablo Hernandez and Michu scored to fire Swansea to a 2-1 win over Wigan.
In arguably the biggest shock of the weekend Norwich beat Arsenal. It was Chris Hughton’s first Premier League win as Canaries boss and came courtesy of a Grant Holt goal.
Sunday lunchtime witnessed the first Northeast derby of the season and a typical frenzied affair produced a 1-1 scoreline. Newcastle had taken charge courtesy of Yohann Cabaye’s early strike, but then were reduced to ten men due to a high and late challenge from combative midfielder Cheikh Tiote. Sunderland exerted most of the pressure thereafter and earned a point when a deep free kick was headed into his own net by Demba Ba.
Tags: Premier League