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
strangely unperturbed, praising a game of "magnificent" soccer. "It was fantasy football, playground stuff," he said. "You attack, we'll attack." Arsenal manager
rightly praised a "great performance" by his team.
Liverpool's Roy Keane
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."
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
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
. 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)