You know it was a good weekend if it doesn’t end until Wednesday, and only then because you finally remember there isn’t a Swiss Cottage in that part of north London after all. But that’s enough of my week. There was some football played and some damned fine football at that.
Lets start at Old Trafford with what might prove a crucial clash for champions league qualification come May.
Arsenal played some pretty football and took the game to a United side who seemed surprised anyone would do that on their home turf. When the Arshavin goal came the North Londoners were well worth the lead they took into to half time. Then in the second half it all changed. United fought back well, Rooney earned an unusually controversy-free penalty that he then converted, before Diaby inexplicably handed the game to United with a ludicrous header past his own keeper.
All that remained then was for the world to ignore Eboue’s blatant dive as an example of exactly why all diving should be treated as only Eduardo’s so far has been. Well, that and an offside goal in the dying seconds that led to Wenger being banished to the stands. Some, and by some I mean I, might say hitting the bottle beats kicking one in frustration. But Wenger's glib response with outstretched arms surrounded by Red Devil fans behind the dugout was almost classy in its sober execution.
And then there is the other team tipped for but unlikely to win the title. Liverpool recovered late after seemingly handing the points to Bolton Wanderers.
Bolton went both 1-0 and 2-1 up while Sean Davis was on the pitch. He had been charged with shackling Steven Gerrard and did so excellently. Then he was sent off for the sort of nonsense that would have troubled no one in my day, and so Gerrard ran the show against ten men. His new found freedom was perfectly summed up by the complete lack of anyone marking him when he scored the late and ill-deserved winner.
Next up the title favourites beat poor Burnley 3-0. The game was something of a walkover by the end as class took its toll on the result. This was not the fortunate late win of their first home game against Hull. Instead it was the first time Chelsea had truly impressed on the pitch this year. But a win is a win is a win is a win as Chelsea’s perfect start to the season tells us.
Two minutes after the first half should have ended, Anelka opened the scoring. Second half goals from Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole then allayed the fears that some Chelsea fans had about who will score when Drogba misses games.
That win would have put Lampard et al clear at the top if it were not for a still impressive Spurs. They match Chelsea’s four for four, and including their one cup outing they have eleven goal scorers already this season, seven in league games.
Tottenham should have scored hatfuls before Crouch finally broke Birmingham’s resolve. The Blues had set out to keep the game 0-0 for 90 minutes and fought well. But they did better when they threw on a striker and hit back to 1-1 thanks to a clown-like howler from Cudicini in the home goal. Of course as you would expect from a top team, and Spurs might soon count as one, the home side struck back for a late winner through Aaron Lennon.
One other team has had a perfect start, all be it having played only three games rather than four. Manchester City were a cut above Pompey, though only the one goal separated them thanks to a battling performance from the south coast club.
City, and particularly Adebayor, have had an impressively steady start to the season. They have won three games against weak sides without conceding a goal, something the other two sides with full points have failed to do. Unlike those two teams they have not yet torn anyone apart. But beating the lesser teams consistently is the first rung of the ladder to the top.
In other games, Aston Villa strolled to a 2-0 win against a Fulham side lacking in attacking intent after the setback of an early goal conceded. Everton narrowly beat Wigan at home thanks to an injury time penalty, and Stoke beat Sunderland to briefly claim fourth place in the league.
Wolves and Hull played shared the points from their energetic and hectic 1-1, and West Ham played out a solid goalless draw with a Blackburn team that looks as though it will struggle to stay up this season.