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Hull keeps on winning, Tottenham is rock bottom (VIDEO)
by Ian Plenderleith, October 20th, 2008 7AM



[ENGLAND] On Saturday evening, the (same) old order had been re-established in the English Premier League top four after Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea all won. But while Hull City may not be in a Champions League qualification position come next May, it's still not prepared to cede its lofty early position. On Sunday, the EPL's new arrivals beat West Ham, 1-0, at home and moved back into third place, three points behind the unbeaten top two, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Liverpool had Dirk Kuyt's two goals and another late comeback to thank for retaining second place in a 3-2 home win over Wigan, despite a spectacular goal from Athletic's Egyptian striker Amr Zaki, one of two he scored that took him to seven for the season. Wigan lead until the 80th minute until Albert Riera and, five minutes later, Kuyt's second (a sort of botched version of Zaki's acrobatic goal) put Liverpool ahead. "It was just a question of time," said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez with the certainty of hindsight, "but we have strong players who believed we would keep creating and score."

Chelsea is a side supposedly afflicted by an injury crisis, but there was little evidence of a shortfall in talent as they put Middlesbrough away for five without reply on its own grass. One or two lucky deflections helped Chelsea on its way, but Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate admitted that his defense had suffered for its inexperience, and that his side had failed to "ask any questions" (except, perhaps, "Why did we bother showing up today?"). His Chelsea counterpart, Luiz Felipe Scolari, was keen to remind us of the injury list after the game, but few will have much sympathy given the clear depth of his Abramovich-bought roster.

Manchester United's 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion is barely noteworthy, except to say that Wayne Rooney's goal and two assists were a continuation of his stellar form for England, and to note that a possible handball in the penalty area by United defender Nemanja Vidic just seconds before United went up the other and made the score 2-0 was ignored by both the referee and the TV producers, who declined to replay the incident. Thus are the odds stacked against underdog teams at Old Trafford. Arsenal, meanwhile, made little fuss of beating Everton, 3-1, with a trio of second half goals, despite going behind early.

Swimming against all these predictable scores, Hull beat West Ham on a second-half header from Michael Turner in a game where it deserved to take the points for its continuing positive approach to playing in the top flight. "We have enough quality to cause teams problems," said Hull boss Phil Brown. "1-0 is a fabulous scoreline." His West Ham counterpart Gianfranco Zola lamented that "this is the second game in a row we have lost and I don't think we deserved to lose either of them."

In Sunday's other game, bottom-placed Tottenham Hotspur's slide into winless despair continued as it not only lost to second-bottom Stoke City 2-1, but had two players dismissed. Gareth Bale saw red for conceding a penalty that Danny Higginbotham converted, and Michael Dawson was sent off for a dangerous challenge in injury time. In between, Darren Bent had equalized for Spurs, but Rory Delap netted the winner to give Stoke its second victory of the season. "We need to work very hard to change this situation and only hard work can change it," said Tottenham manager Juande Ramos, denying that he had any intention of resigning.

Not much to say about the other three games -- Aston Villa against Portsmouth, Bolton against Blackburn and Fulham at home to Sunderland all ended goalless. Instead of getting a point each they should all be docked points for failing to score.
Newcastle hosts Manchester City Monday.

HIGHLIGHT (VIDEO): Zaki's gymnastic volley that put Wigan 2-1 up at Liverpool.

Chelsea 8 6 2 0 19 3 20
Liverpool 8 6 2 0 13 6 20
Hull 8 5 2 1 11 11 17
Arsenal 8 5 1 2 16 6 16
Man Utd 7 4 2 1 12 4 14
Aston Villa 8 4 2 2 12 10 14
Portsmouth 8 4 1 3 9 13 13
West Ham 8 4 0 4 14 14 12
Blackburn 8 3 2 3 8 14 11
West Bromwich 8 3 1 4 7 11 10
Man City 7 3 0 4 18 12 9
Sunderland 8 2 3 3 7 9 9
Middlesbrough 8 3 0 5 7 14 9
Wigan 8 2 2 4 11 9 8
Bolton 8 2 2 4 8 10 8
Everton 8 2 2 4 12 18 8
Fulham 7 2 1 4 5 7 7
Stoke 8 2 1 5 10 15 7
Newcastle 7 1 2 4 7 13 5
Tottenham 8 0 2 6 5 12 2


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