Last EPL weekend was built around two derbies, Manchester and London. Coincidentally all the previous champions of Premier League except on one occasion have been from these two cities. So the incidents taking place in these derbies are followed with great interest all over the world.
Sunday’s Manchester derby between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford was mother of all Manchester derbies I have ever seen. It had goals, feisty challenges, tactical battles, everything. City settled really well after conceding an early Wayne Rooney goal. A former Red Devil, Carlos Tevez showed good composure throughout the game, especially after getting a hostile reception from United fans. Though City showed great character to comeback thrice in the game, one can not deny that at least two of those goals were gifted by United’s defensive blunders. But the real drama came in the injury time when the score was 3-3. Though the added time shown by the fourth official at the end of regular 90 minutes was four minutes, the game was extended by two more minutes and of all people it was Michael Owen who popped up with the winner in the 5th minute of injury time to celebrate his first goal at the Theatre of Dreams as a United player. Not surprisingly, it left City manager Mark Hughes and fans angry. I was completely baffled to see how on the earth those two minutes were added. Yes, Sir Alex made a substitution in the injury time, but that does not mean that you have to add so much of injury time. I am very sure that we would hear a lot of comments over this issue in the days to come.
The other derby i.e. London derby in stark contrast was a total one sided affair. Chelsea just dominated the proceedings from the word Go. One would have expected Tottenham Hotspur to offer more, but once Chelsea scored the opener, they bossed the entire game and kept on scoring at regular intervals. Once again they showed they are “The” team to beat this season, as I have mentioned in my previous posts.
If there was any other game which came closer to the excitement levels of Manchester derby, it was the game between West Ham United and Liverpool. Upton Park has now become a difficult place to go and get the right result and much credit goes to Gianfranco Zola and his West Ham team. They play the right brand of football which is pleasing to watch. They have some terrific youngsters in their ranks, who are always up for the big games. But on this occasion, they were undone by the double strike of “Anfield Messiah” Fernando Torres, which helped the Mersrysiders to win 3-2. It was very important for Liverpool to continue their winning streak, having already lost two games so early this season.
The game at Emirates Stadium was a “Walk in the park” for Arsenal. Gunners were all over Wigan Athletic. Though the 4-0 score line described the nature of the game, it could have been worse for the Lactics, if Robin van persie would have converted his easy chances. This result was very important for the Gunners, as it helped them revive their Premiership campaign after two painful trips to Manchester.
Elsewhere, Burnley have continued to impress with their 100% home record with 3-1 victory over Sunderland. Everton’s season seem to have come back on track with 3-0 demolition of lowly Blackburn Rovers. Aston Villa piled more agony on Paul Hart and his pointless Portsmouth side by beating them 2-0. Portsmouth, for me, are in real danger, if they are waiting for the transfer window to reopen in January to change their fate, may god bless them.