by TRAVIS CLARK
It's been 10 years since Arsenal fell against Tottenham in the Premier League, and Saturday at the Emirates was no different. In what was a bit of revenge for last year's 4-4 enthralling draw at the Grove, Arsenal saw off Spurs 3-0, a scoreline that flattered the home side, while at the same time could of been much worse.
Harry Redknapp had his players ready to bunker in, and were organized enough to successfully frustrate the Gunners for the first 41 minutes of the match. Two sloppy moments quickly undid all that work right before the half. Robin van Persie beat Ledley King to a Bacary Sagna cross to slot home past Huerlho Gomes, then 11 second later Cesc Fabregas stole the ball off the kick off, beat a few defenders and Gomes to shock Tottenham and give Arsenal a 2-0 halftime lead.
Tottenham would be guilty of shooting themselves in the foot once more — handing Arsenal the North London derby on a silver platter, insisting that the home side take all three points. Eduardo went down under a hard foul from Benoit Assou-Ekotto, referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on — though half of the players around the ball decided to stop. Sagna eventually kept going, and squeezed in a cross between King and Gomes for van Persie to put the game out of reach.
The third goal was big because despite the two goal advantage, Arsenal had shown an inability to hold a lead like that. But Tottenham couldn't muster a comeback even with all the pre-match chatter about how this Spurs squad could get a result.
Fulham 3, Liverpool 1
If this week is any indicator, the previous victory against Manchester United was nothing more than a mirage for Rafa Benitez and Liverpool. At the back the Reds continued to concede soft goals, with Fulham hitting them for three. Fernando Torres leveled the game at 1-1 in the first half, but Rafa had to pull the Spanish striker off due to lack of fitness. Ryan Babel in his place just isn't the same. Two red cards added insult to injury, as Jamie Carragher and Philipp Degen both received their marching orders — that's Liverpool's fifth defeat in just 11 games this season.
West Ham 2, Sunderland 2
West Ham hobbled up to the Stadium of Light in dire straights, still mired in the drop zone after a 2-2 comeback against Arsenal last Sunday. Steve Bruce on the other hand, has enjoyed a top ten start with Sunderland. This time around the Hammers were the ones to waste a 2-0 lead, as Mexican Guille Franco opened the scoring before Carlton Cole added a second. Three points weren't on the table, however, as an inch-perfect Andy Reid free kick pulled one back for the Black Cats before Kieran Richardson equalized in the second half.
Everton 1, Aston Villa 1
Brad Friedel has started 200 consecutive Premier League matches, a record that stretches back 5 years. In what was a battle of the American keepers, honors came out even as both Friedel and Tim Howard conceded a single goal apiece. Everton's Diniyar Bilyaletdinov grabbed a goal in first half stoppage time. John Carew equalized for the visitors after Howard saved a Gabriel Agbanlahor shot into Carew's path. The game finished with ten men on each side after Bilyaletdinov was given a straight red, before Villa's Martin Cuellar earned his second yellow in the second half.
Burnley 2, Hull City 0
Just how long will Phil Brown hold on to his job in charge of Hull? After another tepid performance at Turf Moor on Saturday, it looks like only a matter of time before he gets the sack. A Graham Alexander double was enough to send the Tigers back home with their tail firmly between their legs in a rather unlucky loss. Geovanni had a goal called off on a free kick, and venting his frustrations earned the first of his two yellow cards. What's amazing is that a rescue act isn't out of the question, as just two points separate Hull from the 17th spot on the table. Meanwhile, Burnley are replicating a bit of the form of Hull from last season, sitting 10th with a respectable 15 points.
Chelsea 4, Bolton 0
Of all the clubs in the title race, none has looked more dominant on a more consistent basis than Chelsea. Sure, they've had their hiccups, but who hasn't at this point? The Blues took to the road and pounded a feisty Bolton side that was overmatched and ground down in the second half. Bolton did well to hold Chelsea scoreless for the opening 45, but when Jlloyd Samuel was sent off, the hosts had it all to do. Samuel hauled down Didier Droga, and the resulting Frank Lampard goal in stoppage time cued the floodgates for three more goals in the second stanza — though Chelsea certainly had to earn it.
Portsmouth 4, Wigan 0
There's no better way to describe Roberto Martinez's side than schizophrenic. Coming in to this match, they'd posted a decent 13 point haul, including a defeat of Chelsea at home. Go figure on this one then — Paul Hart's side smashed four past Chris Kirkland as Pompey showed signs of life at Fratton Park. Aruna Dindane scored a hat trick and Frederic Piquionne added the fourth, leaving Martinez with his head in hands. Still, Portsmouth has a massive hole to dig itself out of, perhaps taking their first steps in this one.
Manchester United 2, Blackburn 0
It's a tired cliche — "that's why they're the defending champs" — but it seems that has been used time and time again to describe a Manchester United win. This time it was a unspectacular win against Blackburn at Old Trafford. It wasn't until the 55th minute that Dimitar Berbatov opened the scoring with a brilliant turn and finish, though it was squeaky bum time as they couldn't find a second until the 87th minute. Gabriel Obertan, on debut, should have scored in his first-ever league match. Perhaps Bordeaux knew what they were doing letting the 20-year-old go to England. Ten straight road defeats aren't encouraging for Blackburn, just two points north of the drop zone.
Birmingham 0, Manchester City 0
Shay Given take a bow. The Irish keeper saved the skin of both Mark Hughes and his City side, keeping a rather lively Birmingham side at bay to save the three points for his club. Given topped it off with a penalty save on James McFadden, and if he carries a form like this into Ireland's playoff with France, the Irish dream of a spot in South Africa next summer might turn into reality.
Stoke 2, Wolverhampton 2
A solid opening to the 2009-10 campaign has many dropping Stoke from amongst the relegation contenders. Their top ten status certainly is great evidence to back that, and after sprinting out to a 2-0 lead against Wolves seemed destined for three more points. However, they were undone by a rather unlikely source: defender Jody Craddock scored a brace as Wolves clawed back to steal a point from the Potters.
What did you think of this weekend's Premier League action? Is Chelsea the team to beat? Can Arsenal sustain a title challenge? Can Manchester United win the title again? Is Rafa done?
Share your thoughts below.