Didn’t some guy recently say Arsenal was out of the title race? What a fool.
Thanks to one of the craziest weekends in Premier League history, the Gunners, and their still shaky defense, are in with a shot.
What was the result of the weekend?
One of the contenders had to be Arsenal’s 2-1 comeback win at Anfield, a score that heaped more misery on Rafa Benitez and Liverpool’s fans worldwide. The key was the first half.
Liverpool paid the price for only leading 1-0, not getting any help from referee Howard Webb. The Reds bossed the midfield (Denilson was outclassed) and pressed Arsenal throughout, leading to misplaced passes and barely a touch up front for the little Russian magician, Andrey Arshavin. If Spanish hit man Fernando Torres put away his chance within 20 minutes, who knows how many more Arsenal concedes.
There was no hair dryer at halftime, although Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas insisted he’s never seen boss Arsene Wenger so mad during the interval. Yes the team was significantly better in the second half, but it’s not like they dominated. Besides benefiting from an own goal, it took a wonder strike from Arshavin to win it.
Wenger needs to listen to Arshavin and buy a prominent striker to replace the injured Robin van Persie in the transfer window. Getting a goalkeeper wouldn’t hurt, either. Spaniard-turned-England wannabe Manuel Almunia probably wouldn’t make the top 10 in Premier League keepers, with backup Lukasz Fabianski nowhere near ready, even though the Pole thinks he is. Almunia was at fault on Liverpool’s goal and his distribution was terrible.
Speaking of dodgy goalkeepers, Czech Petr Cech isn’t doing so well at Chelsea. He’s gradually declined the past three seasons and was largely to blame in Saturday’s 3-3 tie – at home – against still injury ravaged Everton. Hard to believe, but Chelsea failed to hold 2-1 and 3-2 leads.
Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson would have been licking his lips after the result, but then the Red Devils go and lose to Aston Villa 1-0 at Old Trafford. United hit the crossbar and had a shot cleared off the line but only forced stellar American keeper Brad Friedel into one good save.
Then there was Tottenham’s 1-0 loss at White Hart Lane to relegation favorites Wolves. Yes, the same Tottenham that put nine past Wigan in its previous home game.
Expect order to be restored this week. Chelsea, three points ahead of United and six in front of Arsenal, has a home banker against Portsmouth on Wednesday; United similarly has a home banker against Wolves. Not so fast for Arsenal.
On Wednesday the Gunners travel to plucky Burnley, which has already beaten United at Turf Moor and held Villa to a 1-1 tie. The pick of the midweek games sees Tottenham host Manchester City in a battle of clubs trying to crack the top four.
As for Rafa and his men, they get the Premier League’s most unpredictable side, Wigan, at Anfield on Wednesday. Considered by many to be title favorites pre-season, the Reds can only hope they crack the top four.