Wow, what a boring weekend of football. The big-4 managed precisely zero goals between them, but take nothing away from Newcastle, Aston Villa and Fulham who all battled hard for their goalless draws. Liverpool welcomed back Fernando Torres, who looked bright in spells, but overall a draw was probably a fair return for Fulham’s graft. Chelsea found an inspired Shay Given too good for them at Stamford Bridge, while Aston Villa perhaps could’ve had a late penalty after Vidic man-handled a flying Agbonlahor to the ground, only for referee Chris Foy to see no infringement. Manchester City meanwhile produced perhaps the performance of the weekend at home to Arsenal, creating chances for fun as the Gunners’ season continues to crumble around its captain-less ship.
Bolton and West Ham got great little away wins at Middlesbrough and Sunderland respectively, while Harry Redknapp’s Spurs are back on track after a decent performance against Blackburn, who look pretty clueless at the moment despite some quality individuals. These three results are systematic at how exciting the season has been so far, with inconsistency so epidemic that anyone outside of the top 3 believes they truly can beat anyone else.
Finally, in what Paul Merson reasonably described as literally the worst match he’d ever seen, newly-promoted Stoke took the points over a struggling West Brom team who must think about re-evaluating their passing ethic to be successful. Kudos to Stoke for scoring with a non-Rory Delap throw-in scenario though.
Perhaps the most exciting game this weekend came at Fratton Park where Hull's never-say-die spirit was again in evidence as Phil Brown's men twice came from a goal down to force a decent draw at an always difficult away ground. Glen Johnson’s screamer was the highlight, and Pompey seemed to be cruising, until the 39-year-old STT hero Dean Windass popped up late on to force a Pamarot own goal to earn the Tigers a great point.
Player(s) of the Week – Shaun Wright-Phillips, Robinho and Steven Ireland
This triumvirate have been truly phenomenal this season so far, and no more so than this past weekend where a flat Arsenal team were brushed aside by the pace and directness of a free-flowing City side. Ireland is playing the best football of his career by a long way, SWP is back to his best, and Robinho is, well, he’s a bit tasty isn’t he.
Most weeks Robinho's quite breathtaking chip would have taken the plaudits, but when a right-back smacks a left-foot volley from 30 yards into the top corner, you have to give him props. See it for yourself about halfway into the match highlights above. Better than Bentley’s cracker against Arsenal a few weeks ago? Just maybe…
Shit Goal of the Week – Kevin Davies
We’ve already seen some excellently shambolic goals this season, but this Davies opener at the Riverside this weekend is surely up there. Steinsson met Matty Taylor’s freekick with a powerful header, only for it to clip the back of Davies’ head and deflect into the net. Played for and got, as they say.
You know, ‘miss of the week’ might be giving the Swiss wing-back a little bit too much credit actually, because in reality this is simply one of the worst misses of all time. Craig Bellamy rounds the keeper, rolls it into Behrami four yards out, and somehow he manages to lift the ball onto the crossbar. Truly exceptional incompetence.
Given has to be one of the most underrated servants in the history of the Premier League, and once again proved his worth as Newcastle slammed the door shut on Chelsea for the first time this season. The pick of his performance was early on in the first half, when Florent Malouda picked out Frank Lampard with a delightful chip into the penalty area. Super Frank powered a header low down to Given’s right, but somehow the Irishman premeditated the direction and clawed it away.
Whinge of the Week – Arsene Wenger
Sometimes you have to genuinely wonder whether Arsene Wenger is watching the same game. After seeing his side crumble 3 – 0 away at Eastlands, in a match they probably should’ve lost by twice that margin, Wenger only suggested that the result “flattered Manchester City.” To his credit Mark Hughes simply replied “I think Arsene’s maybe being a bit ungracious,” with a smile.
Dick of the Week – Nikolas Bendtner
As we predicted last week, Mr Bendtner did indeed wear pink boots this weekend at Eastlands. Surprisingly he was as useless as ever, and is still searching for that illusive second goal of the season. That’s right, he has as many league goals as Titus Bramble.