A Weekend Round-up by Aaron Aquilina – Bad Day at the Office for Chelsea and United

In the Manchester derby on Sunday, nobody could have predicted what happened at Old Trafford as Manchester City thrashed Manchester United. It was City who scored first against the run of play when Mario Balotelli’s precise low shot curled past David De Gea after 22 minutes as the rest of the half had no goals. But 15 minutes into the second half, Balotelli was on hand again after Jonny Evans was sent off before Sergio Aguero tapped in a well worked goal for number three. A Darren Fletcher strike reduced the deficit but a late David Silva goal sandwiched between a brace from substitute Edin Dzeko sent the away fans ballistic. The 6-1 defeat was United’s heaviest in the league and their worst loss at Old Trafford since 1955. Man.City are now five points clear of their rivals at the top of the table. Full time at Old Trafford – and don’t adjust your computer sets: Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City.

Queens Park Rangers ended Chelsea’s decent run of form with a shock result at Loftus Road. After a bright start from Andre Villas-Boas’ men, Chelsea’s David Luiz clumsily conceded a penalty in which Heidar Helguson converted after 10 minutes. And things got worse for the Blues as Jose Bosingwa was harshly sent off for a foul on former Chelsea player Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Didier Drogba also saw a straight red for a two-footed lunge. But with Chelsea down to nine men they still pressured QPR as David Luiz and Nicolas Anelka went close in the second half. But as the full time whistle went, manager AVB was left reeling at referee Chris Foy. Full time at Loftus Road: Queens Pak Rangers 1-0 Chelsea.

Blackburn Rovers inflicted yet more misery to boss Steve Kean and their fans as they lost at home to Tottenham Hotspur. Dutch star Rafael Van Der Vaart converted Kyle Walker’s low cross after 15 minutes, but for Mauro Formica of Rovers to equalise 13 minutes later. In the second half, both goalkeepers were called into action before Van Der Vaart’s magical curling shot evaded the diving Paul Robinson and handed Spurs all three points. Blackburn remain 20th in the table on five points whilst Tottenham overtake Liverpool into fifth. Full time at Ewood Park: Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur.

Substitute Robin Van Persie was again on target as Arsenal swept aside Stoke City. Aaron Ramsey’s clever chip in the 27th minute set-up Gervinho to turn and prod the ball home for his first goal at the Emirates. But some poor defending from the home side soon cost them as Jonathan Walters’ glancing header found the unmarked Peter Crouch to tap in. Cue Van Persie in the second half; the Dutchman twice turning in Gervinho’s pass to move the Gunners into seventh. Meanwhile, Stoke drop two places to ninth with Newcastle United at home next. Full time at Emirates Stadium: Arsenal 3-1 Stoke City.

Two late Everton goals proved enough as they upset Fulham on their own turf. It took just three minutes for the Toffees to take the lead as Royston Drenthe superbly finished down low to Mark Schwarzer’s right in the Fulham goal. But after substitute Bryan Ruiz’ classy chip for Fulham, striker Bobby Zamora missed a glaring opportunity after rounding the goalkeeper. And to add insult to injury, Louis Saha muscled his way through to squeeze his shot in before Jack Rodwell wrapped up the three points in the 93rd minute. Full time at Craven Cottage: Fulham 1-3 Everton.

On Saturday, Newcastle United made their best ever start to a season after narrowly beating Wigan Athletic. But it was the Latics who started brightly as Tim Krul expertly kept out Victor Moses whilst Hugo Rodallega shot wide from a tight angle. And after a sluggish match with not a great deal of chances, Yohan Cabaye curled in his first goal for the home side in the 81st minute to send Wigan home pointless for sixth successive league game. Full time at St James’ Park: Newcastle Untied 1-0 Wigan Athletic.

Norwich City earned an impressive point at Anfield as the Canaries held Liverpool. It seemed the woodwork was against Liverpool on Saturday’s game as Martin Skrtel’s header hit the bar inside two minutes before Luis Suarez’s shot hit the post. However, as both teams prepare for a goalless first half, Liverpool’s Craig Bellamy’s deflected strike wrong-footed goalkeeper John Ruddy and found the back of the net. But back came Paul Lambert’s side after the break and substitute Grant Holt met Anthony Pilkington’s cross with a powerful header to send the away fans rocking. Liverpool had two glorious chances at the death courtesy of Andy Carroll and Suarez, but they couldn’t find a way past the inspired Ruddy. The draw drops Liverpool to sixth whilst City move up a place to eighth.  Full time at Anfield: Liverpool 1-1 Norwich City.

In Lancashire, Sunderland earned their first win of the season after they beat Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium. After a dull first half, Kieran Richardson’s shot was well charged down by the Bolton defence whilst at the other end, Owen Coyle’s men were denied a penalty when David Ngog was brought down. And it wasn’t until the 82nd minute whent he deadlock was broken as Stephane Sessegnon’s finished well before setting up Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner in the injury time. That win boosts Sunderland’s position from 17th to 14th, but for Bolton who remain in the relegation zone. Full time at Reebok Stadium: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Sunderland.

In the Midlands derby, West Bromwich Albion carried on their unbeaten run with a shock scoreline against Aston Villa. After Villa striker Darren Bent flashed over, he soon made up for the miss when he converted a 23rd minute penalty; only for the home side to concede their own when Chris Herd was controversially sent off for stamping. But Chris Brunt was no Bent and fired well wide of Shay Given’s goal to the delight of the Villa fans. However, their cheering was to be cut short before the interval as defender Jonas Olsson rose the highest to nod in Brunt’s corner. And 12 minutes into the second half, Paul Scharner acrobatically shot past Given to seal the points for the Baggies and end a 13-game run without a win at the home of their rivals. Full time at Villa Park: Aston Villa 1-2 West Bromwich Albion.

In Saturday’s early kick-off, two late goals saved Wolverhampton Wanderers and manager Mick McCarthy against Swansea City. City’s record signing Danny Graham scored his third goal in as many goals when he capitalised on some woeful Wolves defending to slot home. The lead was then doubled 12 minutes later when Graham turned provider for Joe Allen to notch his first goal in the Premier League. With cries of “you don’t know what your doing” from the home supporters, McCarthy made a few instinctive substitutes which made an instant impact. First, substitute Sam Vokes’ shot was blocked, leaving a tap in for striker Kevin Doyle before Jamie O’Hara powered home his finish two minutes later in the 86th minute. The point keeps Wolves in 16th whilst their opponents move down two places in the table. Full time at Molineux: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Swansea City.

By Aaron Aquilina

Twitter @P_D_L_P

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