Chelsea Stung, Arsenal Rise and Cardiff Move Into 21st

by Joshua Fowler

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Arms smothered in pinch marks, eyes wider than ever before and jaw, well and truly, on the floor. This is how most Sunderland fans looked at 6pm on Sunday night as they saw their team pull off the biggest coup of the season, a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge. Not only had Chelsea not conceded at home since March, they had not lost by three goals since 2002 and strikes by Onuoha, Gyan and Welbeck were enough to leave Ray Wilkins sitting in his hilltop castle, rubbing his hands, muttering ‘excellent’. Ancelotti said his team deserved to lose, as Sunderland pulled off a genuinely impressive display to stun the Blues and further highlight the unlikely problem Chelsea are having with squad depth. With two losses from their last 3 league games, a Chelsea side lacking Terry, Lampard, Essien and Cole, whilst carrying a Malaria stricken Drogba, is looking mortal for once – and it’s showing.

Elsewhere at the top of the table, Manchester United fought back from a 2-0 deficit at Villa Park to leave the door wide open for Arsenal to slip into 2nd. The Gunners travelled to Goodison Park to face an Everton side still having nightmares from the 6-1 drubbing they received in the same fixture last season. Not quite the same scoreline, but the same result came about as Bacary Sagna scored his 2nd Arsenal goal and Fabregas made it 2-0 before Tim Cahill pulled one back in the 89th minute, ensuring that Extra Time be re-named ‘Squeaky Bum Time’ for the Londoners. Now two points behind Chelsea, the press are now considering Arsenal title contenders having written them off last weekend after their 1-0 home loss to Newcastle, who struggled to score against a draw happy Fulham this weekend at St. James’ Park.

Away from the top 3, another trio were under scrutiny this weekend, although for very different reasons. Roberto Mancini, Roy Hodgson and Avram Grant all needed results this weekend to take the pressure off their shoulders – unfortunately for them, it didn’t quite happen. Mancini’s Man City were uninspired against Birmingham at Eastlands, whilst Upton Park was treated to a no goal thriller against Blackpool that was touted as Avram’s last if the Hammers didn’t win. However, whilst Mancini and Grant scraped a point each, Hodgson saw his lackluster Liverpool side go down 2-0 to a Stoke that have rediscovered some form to escape the bottom half of the table. The scousers form seems to run hot and cold under Big Roy and his problems were worsened by the dismissal of Lucas at the Britannia Stadium, meaning his side will now rely further on the ‘talents’ of Poulsen and the smooth headed, Jonjo Shelvey.

Moving away from the pinnacle of British football, we drop down a league to the ever unpredictable, Championship. This weekend saw Cardiff move to the top spot, in no small part down to the goal scoring of Jay Bothroyd that has seen him become the first ever player to be called up for the England first team from the welsh club. Their victory over Scunthorpe meant that they leapt over QPR who, after a blistering start, have drawn seven of their last ten league matches, including a 0-0 draw this weekend with Nottingham Forest who sit in 10th place. Just two points behind Forest, Leicester City have put their foot down and are now climbing the table after stringing together a run of good results and ending Derby’s run of wins with a 2-0 victory at The Walkers Stadium. Finally, Crystal Palace seem to have shed the Edgar Davids on their back to defeat Coventry City 2-0 this weekend and put together back to back wins for the first time this season.

Delving deeper than the Championship, Charlton gained three points on League One leaders Brighton after demolishing Peterborough 5-1, whilst the The Seagulls succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Hartlepool. Further down the table, Dagenham and Redbridge overcame fellow strugglers Yeovil 3-1 to move just one point behind Paul Ince’s Notts County in 22nd place. Finishing up deeper than a Chilean mine, we move briefly to League 2 to see the that league leaders, Chesterfield, lost 2-1 to Burton Albion, meaning that Cardiff City were the only league leaders to not be defeated this weekend. At the other end of the table, Barnet remain bottom by two points after a surprising 1-1 draw with 7th place Torquay.

So this weekend has been a good one for the packs chasing the top spot in three of the four English leagues. Arsenal have become contenders in the space of a week, Chelsea have been stung and Liverpool are running cold. Meanwhile, Cardiff have their eyes firmly set on the space that West Ham look like they may leave as they boast their first ever England international.

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  • Mystical Mike

    wow, what a day yesterday. I couldn’t believe how bad Chelsea were, their squad is remarkably thin as well, the fact they brought 2 unknown teenagers on really shows there is a lack of depth in their squad, compare that to Arsenal’s bench of RVP, Eboue, Rosicky & Walcott.

    It just goes to show Chelsea have been very lucky with injuries over the past few seasons.

    Arsenals win was very impressive. They looked very solid for a change. Everton created chances but you’d expect that at Goodison park.

    The title just may be wide open after all. Man U can’t win, Chelsea are having a blip and Arsenal seem to win 2 lose 1. As for Manchester City, they are the most boring side in the league.

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