Manchester United recorded a massive 1-0 victory over league leaders Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday. United manager, David Moyes, knew defeat was not an option going into the match. An Arsenal victory would have left Moyes’ side 11 points adrift in the title race, a gap which may of proved insurmountable for the defending champions. United started the match like a team desperate for three points, playing with more intensity and a higher tempo, which has not always been evident so far this season. They were rewarded for their efforts in the 27th minute, Robin Van Persie punished his former club by heading home a Wayne Rooney corner. Arsenal did improve in the second half as they pushed for an equalizer but did not display the fluid football that has been the hallmark of their fantastic Premier League start. United moved up to fifth in table, just five points behind the league leaders, and Moyes will be hoping this team are starting to build momentum following their third consecutive BPL victory.
On Saturday, Jose Mourinho kept his unbeaten home record intact as Chelsea tied 2-2 with West Bromich at Stamford Bridge. Eden Hazard converted a controversial late penalty to rescue a point for the Blues. The hosts went into the break with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a close range Samuel Eto’o strike. However, the Baggies fought back brilliantly in the second half and took the lead through Stephane Sessegnon before the late drama. Referee Andre Marriner awarded the penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time after a relatively harmless challenge from Steven Reid on Ramires. The West Brom players vented their anger at the final whistle after being denied their first victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 30 years.
Liverpool returned to winning ways with a ruthless 4-0 thumping of Fulham at Anfield. Luis Suarez was the main man again for the Reds netting his seventh and eighth goals of the BPL season. Brenden Rodgers’ team completely dominated the encounter, which was a perfect response following their 2-0 loss to Arsenal the weekend before. Liverpool moved up to second in the table, two points behind the league leaders Arsenal. The defeat supplied more questions regarding the future of Fulham manager Martin Jol. The Cottagers sit third from bottom and have only won twice this season.
Southampton continued their incredible start to the BPL season with a convincing 4-1 victory over Hull City. Adam Lallana celebrated his first ever England call up with an individual goal of the highest order. The Saints moved up to the lofty position of third in table and are my team of the season so far.
Elsewhere on Saturday, mangerless Crystal Palace earned their first point in eight matches as they recorded a surprise 0-0 draw with Everton. Despite the positive performance, the Eagles still sit bottom of the table and are five points adrift of safety. Norwich City eased the pressure on their manger, Chris Hughton, with a 3-1 victory over West Ham at Carrow Road. A trio of second-half goals helped moved the Canaries out of the relegation zone. Finally, Leandro Bacuna scored an excellent free-kick as Aston Villa dispatched Cardiff City 2-0 at Villa Park. Bacuna’s strike ended a goal drought of seven and a half hours for Aston Villa.
Manchester City suffered a major upset as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Phil Bardsley scored the only goal in the first half when he shrugged off James Milner and curled in a low shot. Cities dominated following the goal, but were unable to find a way back into the game. Sunderland seem rejuvenated under new manager Gus Poyet, and have now won two of their last three BPL matches. The defeat was City’s fourth of the season already, and manager Manuel Pellegrini expressed his concerns over their away form after the match.
Tottenham were also upset on Sunday, as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Newcastle. Magpie’s goalkeeper, Tim Krul, made a series of outstanding saves to help Newcastle to their second win in a row. The Dutchman made 14 saves in the game, the most by any keeper in the BPL this season. Newcastle, who shocked Chelsea last weekend with a 2-0 win, moved up to ninth in the table with the impressive victory.
Finally, Swansea City and Stoke City played out a entertaining 3-3 tie at the Liberty Stadium. Charlie Adam converted a late penalty to rescue a point for the visitors. The Potters will be disappointed , considering they went into the break with a 2-0 cushion. Stoke sit one place above the relegation zone and are now winless in their last 8 games.
Sources: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.ukBPL: Week Eleven Review by Craig Smith