Arsenal confounded their critics with an impressive win at Chelsea, for whom the season has entered something of a difficult period on and off the fan-owned pitch.
The enterprising new AVB era at Stamford Bridge comes at a cost; the Blues are awful at the back. Robin van Persie will grab the plaudits for a well-taken hat-trick, but Arsene Wenger’s team showed a resilient streak to stay in the match in its early stages ” something that augurs well for the rest of the season. Or at least until they fade from view in February.
Their North London rivals Spurs put in the kind of performance that makes you wonder what they could achieve if they played so beautifully each week. Against QPR they were at times breathtaking – and Gareth Bale’s second would not have looked out of place in the Camp Nou.
Leaders Manchester City survived a mini-wobble against Wolves to restore the five-point lead that had earlier been reduced by their neighbours’ hard-fought win at Everton. Both sides profited from Chelsea’s surrender at the Bridge.
Steve Kean knows right now that if he held the Euromillions jackpot ticket, he’d lose it on the way to Camelot’s offices; Blackburn were utterly dominant at Norwich, only to succumb to a cruelly-deflected goal and one of the harshest penalty awards you could ever see. At some point when you are playing well but are still out of luck, you know your card is marked.
Roberto Martinez must look back to the long days of summer when he was courted by Aston Villa but remained loyal to Wigan. A seventh successive defeat means he might bump into Kean at the managerial job centre soon. The team who beat them, Fulham, might also hope that their season picks up from now on in.
Villa seemed to have grabbed a late win at Sunderland courtesy of Richard Dunne, but Steve Bruce’s men rallied to grab a point. Neither side can claim to be enjoying their autumn, with both being patchy at best.
Roy Hodgson fell victim to a soft penalty award when West Brom entertained his former club. He then watched his side close out the first half with some fabulous defending, as one misplaced pass from the back saw Andy Carroll get away with an awful first touch to double the lead and effectively end the contest.
In Spain, Lionel Messi’s three-game drought ended in emphatic style against Real Mallorca. A fifteen-minute first-half treble effectively settled things and took his seasonal tally to 19. The football world has long since run out of superlatives to describe Messi. Three words should suffice: the greatest ever. Regardless of the opposition, he plays football like kids do in the playground.
It was also back to business as usual at the top of the table as Real Madrid and Barcelona returned to first and second, respectively. Levante’s seven-game unbeaten run came to an end as they went down 2-0 at Osasuna, ending the least-wealthy club in the Primera Division’s own ‘Occupy La Liga’ movement. For now, at least.