The Premiership returned with a bang after the international break, culminating in Liverpool's impressive victory at Chelsea.
Much has been made of Andre Villas-Boas„attempts to instil a new style of play, and it led to a goal after half an hour. For Liverpool. Petr Cech played a lovely little ball to a startled Jon Obi Mikel, who was pounced upon by Charlie Adam and after a couple of passes, Maxi Rodriguez was celebrating the opener.
Chelsea started the second-half well, and substitute Daniel Sturridge' – introduced ahead of fellow sub Fernando Torrres ” levelled matters when he arrived at the far post to convert Florent Malouda's clearance (cross/shot). The home side then began to exert pressure, and but for a wonder save from Pepe Reina would have taken the lead.
Instead, Liverpool capitalised on that rarest of things ” Glen Johnson controlling a ball at the first time of asking ” to steal the points. Johnson's composure in front of goal was in stark contrast to that of some of the other strikers on the pitch.
The result leaves Chelsea in no-man's land and on the slide, with Liverpool level on points and on the up. Work that one out.
On Saturday, the Manchester City juggernaut continued apace, inflicting a first defeat of the campaign on Newcastle. Whichever players they put out, they are invariably better than the opposition ” and it is startling that save for their surrender of a two-goal lead at Fulham earlier in the season they would have a 100% record as we enter December.
Their poorer neighbours maintained their pursuit courtesy of Javier Hernandez's strike at the Liberty Stadium. Swansea put up a fight but the difference in class in front of goal ultimately told; Scott Sinclair enduring a moment he'll want to forget pretty quickly.
Robin van Persie will not want 2011 to end ” the Arsenal captain took his calendar tally to 31 with the goals that secured a comeback win against Norwich at Carrow Road. Arsenal's impressive run still sees them sit only in 7th place ” which goes to show just how bad their start to the season was.
At the foot of the table, Wigan and Blackburn served up a belter, the highlights of which were the goal from Pedersen's corner to himself and Paul Robinson's bravery in winning the penalty which earned Blackburn the draw their play merited. Both sides are still rubbish, but it was fun to watch for the neutral.
Joey Barton gave away two penalties in QPR's impressive victory at Stoke. Luckily for his side, referee Mike Jones awarded neither which meant Neil Warnock's charges moved up to 9th. Without trotting out the cliches of Sky and the BBC, it’s shaping up to be another intriguing season at both ends and in the middle of the Premiership.