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Chelsea and Liverpool open up gap
by Ian Plenderleith, November 10th, 2008 7AM
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[ENGLAND] Liverpool and Chelsea opened up a six-point gap at the top with comfortable wins, while Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-1 in the tie of the round. Tottenham moved back off the bottom with a 2-1 win at Manchester City on a weekend of shocking weather when two-goal strikers strode the headlines. It's extremely tight in the lower half, with just three points separating Fulham in tenth and West Bromwich Albion in last place.

Arsenal and Manchester United went at each other full tilt from the start in a frenetic game in the North London rain, but although the chances were roughly equal, it was Arsenal who won out thanks to a well-struck double from French striker Samir Nasri. United's endeavors gave it only a late consolation goal from Rafael da Silva, but manager Alex Ferguson was strangely unperturbed, praising a game of "magnificent" soccer. "It was fantasy football, playground stuff," he said. "You attack, we'll attack." Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger rightly praised a "great performance" by his team.

Liverpool's Roy Keane also bagged a brace in the 3-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion, although the home team let Albion back into the game after halftime, before Alvara Arbeloa finished things off late with a lovely left-footed curler. Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said he had harbored "no doubts" that Keane, with his first league goals of the season, would "start to score regularly for us. Robbie has told me he has got a monkey off his back, not an expression I had heard before, but I understand it." Albion manager Tony Mowbray said that "for long spells we held our own. We had a sloppy 10 minutes and we were punished for that."

Another striker on target twice was Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka in his team's 2-0 win at Blackburn, maintaining the west London team's 100 percent away record, as well its position at the top of the table. "The game was a good spectacle considering the conditions," said Chelsea assistant coach Ray Wilkins. "It was a very difficult day and very good performance." Blackburn manager Paul Ince claimed his team played better than the scoreline suggests: "It's disappointing that our performances haven't got us the points we deserved but there is no need to panic, we just need an element of luck to push us forward."

One team who's luck has turned is Tottenham Hotspur, still unbeaten since Harry Redknapp took over after a 2-1 win at Manchester City. City took the lead through Robinho before its defender Gelson Fernandes was sent off, then Darren Bent took advantage of Tottenham's one-man superiority to put his side ahead with both goals. City's Richard Dunne and Tottenham's Benoit Assou-Akotto joined Fernandes prematurely in the locker room. "It was a funny old day with the three sendings off," said Redknapp. "I thought we started the game well and suddenly found ourselves 1-0 down, but we got back in and started playing." City manager Mark Hughes questioned the dismissal of Fernandes, but said, "I thought the players showed fantastic character and we really forced the issue and Spurs were hanging on at the end."

Aston Villa lost its second in succession, also losing by the odd goal in three at home to Middlesbrough when basic defensive errors allowed Turkish forward Tuncay to score both goals past Villa's American keeper Brad Friedel. "We didn't play well today, we should have done better and we shouldn't have lost the game," said Villa manager Martin O'Neill. His counterpart Gareth Southgate was somewhat more cheerful. "It was a good game of football," he said. "I'm really pleased with the way we passed the ball today and we created lots of chances for an away side."

Sunderland dominated Portsmouth in the first half at home, but also ended up on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline when Jermain Defoe scored a penalty kick winner at the death. "Very disappointing," said Sunderland manager Roy Keane. "We had enough chances in the first half to be two or three up." Portsmouth won its first game under new manager Tony Adams, who happily admitted, "That was probably our worst performance in the four games we've played since I took over and yet we've won -- I haven't got a clue how this game works!"

In other action, Tim Howard's Everton won 3-1 at West Ham United, saving all its goals until the last seven minutes, including two from Louis Saha. Fulham edged Newcastle United in the fifth 2-1 scoreline of the round, Danny Murphy getting the winner from the penalty spot, and U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey playing the final 25 minutes. Hull's poor run continued with a 0-1 home defeat to Bolton Wanderers, and Stoke and Wigan played to a goalless draw.

Goals scored:25 in 10 games (2.5 per game)

 



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