[ENGLAND] Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur staged the game of the season with a thrilling 4-4 draw, while Chelsea brought Hull City back down to earth with an easy 3-0 victory. Liverpool edged Portsmouth 1-0 to remain unbeaten at the top of the table, while a Cristiano Ronaldo brace saw Manchester United past West Ham.
David Bentley opened the scoring for Tottenham with an audacious 40-yard volley that dipped over Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, but that was just for starters. Mikael Silvestre equalized with a header before halftime, with Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes hopelessly caught out on a corner kick. Arsenal was cruising at 3-1 up on further goals from William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor, and even when Spurs' substitute Darren Bent pulled a goal back, Arsenal merely made it 4-2 a minute later through Robin van Persie. After a comparatively quiet 20 minutes, Tottenham then scored twice in the final two minutes, once through captain Jermaine Jenas, with the dramatic equalizer coming from another substitute, Aaron Lennon, scoring after Luka Modric hit the post.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp praised the "fantastic attitude" among his players and said it was "a fantastic result for us." Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wasn't so enthusiastic, declaring himself "angry and disappointed," but said his team deserved to win and that it had produced an "outstanding" performance, despite what he viewed as two lost points.
Teams that win the title tend to pick up one or two slices of luck on the way. As Liverpool struggled to break down Portsmouth at Anfield, the Reds won a bizarre penalty when Portsmouth's Papa Bouba Diop elected to challenge Dirk Kuyt for an aerial ball in the penalty area by punching it away. Steven Gerrard gratefully converted to give Liverpool the 1-0 win and keep it unbeaten and three points clear of Chelsea. "In the first half we were dominant and were controlling the game, but you have to score," Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez sagely observed. Thanks to what his Portsmouth counterpart, newly appointed Tony Adams, called a "moment of madness," Liverpool eventually did just that.
Chelsea itself traveled to hitherto rampant Hull City and stamped its authority on the game early, Frank Lampard curling in a lovely left-footer in the third minute, even if it may have been intended as a cross. Daniel Cousin struck the post for Hull with a shot from outside the area as the home side came back into the game, but Chelsea's French duo Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda rounded off the 3-0 win in the second half. "We said at halftime that we had an extra day's rest after the weekend but we conceded a poor goal straight away," said Hull manager Phil Brown. "But we have 20 points from 10 games and we have to make sure that we continue to build on that."
Manchester United effortlessly beat West Ham, 2-0 on two first-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, the second an easy finish from close range after a remarkable piece of skill at the endline from Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian retrieved an almost lost ball, then spun and turned inside a defender all in one move before crossing to the newly crowned FIFPro World Player of the Year to score. "I am not worried because I know the value of my players," said West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola, asked if he was concerned by his team's fourth successive defeat.
American goalkeeper Tim Howard made a sharp save from Bolton's Mustapha Riga to keep his Everton side in the game, allowing teammate Marouane Fellaini to win all three road points for Everton with his second goal in five days in the game's final minute. Another American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, was also a narrow winner as his current side Aston Villa beat his former side Blackburn Rover 3-2. Villa is fourth.
Andy Johnson scored his first goals for Fulham, grabbing both in the 2-0 home win over Wigan Athletic that raised the west London side to fourteenth position. American Clint Dempsey was subbed in with 17 minutes to go. Middlesbrough beat Manchester City 2-0, with Afonso Alves scoring for the second time in five days, while Stoke City topped Sunderland 1-0 on a headed goal from Jamaican striker Ricardo Fuller. On Tuesday, Newcastle United beat West Brom 2-1.