Premier League review and reaction

Mario Balotelli scores a brace in 6-1 win over Manchester United

TFB editor William Geldart takes another look at the reaction from the mainstream media and bloggers to this weekend’s Premier League action.

Manchester City’s 6-1 demolition of neighbours United has set tongues wagging after the Citizens’ blistering movement and finishing blew their main rivals away at Old Trafford yesterday.

Meanwhile, the tempestuous west London derby between QPR and Chelsea has produced a massive online reaction after allegations that Blues and England captain John Terry racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, a claim strongly denied.

United suffer worst home defeat since 1955 as City lay down their title marker

As Edin Dzeko scored his second goal of the day, just 23 minutes after coming on as a substitute, and Manchester City bagged six goals in the process, Old Trafford had already emptied significantly.

In putting Manchester United to the sword so emphatically, City were creating history in more ways than one. Their thirty-three goals scored in total over the club’s opening 9 Premier League matches equalled the all-time record over the same period, set by Everton way back in the 1894/1895 season.

TFB’s weekly Premier League review isn’t about cold, hard statistics, however. We prefer to trade in raw emotion and heartache.

The United blog 7 Cantonas certainly oozed plenty of the latter. Matthew Galea described the outcome as “undoubtedly one of the darkest days in the modern history of Manchester United.”

Mario Balotelli’s brace to match Dzeko’s contribution, besides goals from Sergio Aguero and David Silva inflicted the Red Devils’ worst-home defeat since 1955.

Darren Fletcher’s sublime consolation strike offered little comfort. Jonny Evans’ sending-off early in the second-half arguably vanquished any United hopes of getting back into the match against a rampant City team.

The BBC’s chief football writer, Phil McNulty, has taken the opportunity to describe how the result and City’s performance represents a seminal moment in Premier League history.

“Was this the most significant result in recent Premier League history? Was this the day the tide finally turned, not just in Manchester but in England?” he pondered.

McNulty added: “The significance of the result, and the manner of it, must not be questioned. The backdrop to the derby was framed in the context of Roberto Mancini’s approach and whether City had the self-belief to flex their growing muscles on their neighbours while coping with the pressure of leading the Premier League.”

City certainly didn’t freeze on one of the biggest occasions in their most recent history. Hyperbole aside, despite opening up a five-point lead at the top of the table, the Sky Blues are all too aware that the ultimate aim is to secure a maiden Premier League title.

Manager Roberto Mancini was keen to downplay talk of his side usurping their great rivals just yet: “United are still one yard above us and we can only change this if we win the title. After that it might be different but until then United are better than us” were the Italian’s sage words in his post-match press conference.

Tempestuous west London derby as Chelsea see red and Rangers take the points

A Sunday full of thrilling action continued at Loftus Road as Queens Park Rangers saw off nine-man Chelsea courtesy of a Heidar Helguson penalty.

Jose Boswinga and Dider Drogba saw red for the visitors, although Andre Villas-Boas’ side had chances to draw level despite their numerical disadvantage.

Much of the post-match discussion has focussed on the John Terry racism allegations, with videos appearing online that appear to indicate Terry launched a foul-mouthed attack on Hoops defender Anton Ferdinand.

Ultimately, the Blues’ indiscipline in the first top-flight encounter with their pumped up rivals for 15 years, cost them. David Luiz’s nudge on the back of Helguson that led to the penalty dispatched by the Icelander typified Chelsea’s lack of control and the young Brazilian’s erratic display poses massive questions regarding his defensive and positional awareness.

Take nothing away from Neil Warnock’s QPR, however. They took the game to their neighbours and should have pressed home their advantage but lacked the necessary composure in front of goal.

A packed Loftus Road raucously celebrated their side’s first win over Chelsea since 1995 and the Rangers boss beamed that “they’ll still be talking about in 30 or 40 years”.

North London advances on the top-four and Everton record smash and grab victory

North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur also managed to grab precious wins yesterday afternoon.

Gunners captain Robin van Persie came off the bench to help secure a 3-1 win over Stoke City at the Emirates. Gervinho had opened the scoring before Peter Crouch’s equaliser for the Europa League weary Potters.

The Ivorian linked up well with van Persie when he came on, helping set-up the Dutchman’s double salvo and the forward signed from Lille could prove to be an important player for Arsene Wenger’s side.

Tottenham’s 2-1 victory away at Blackburn Rovers keeps up the pressure on the top-four and piles more misery on beleaguered Rovers boss, Steve Kean.

Amidst a backdrop of more fan protests at his managing of the team, Kean saw his side downed by two Rafael van der Vaart strikes after Mauro Formica had cancelled out the Dutchman’s fifteenth-minute opener.

Blackburn hustled Spurs but two moments of quality from Van der Vaart proved to be the difference between the sides, with the home team lacking the desired quality to finish their chances.

Kean maintains an admirable optimism, as do the owners Venky’s who continue to back the Scot. However, after just six wins in 30 games in charge and sitting bottom of the Premier League, comments to local media outlets claiming that his side are not too far off a top-ten finish are making the manager look increasingly delusional.

Everton got the better of Fulham at Craven Cottage in yesterday’s other game. An exciting contest saw the Toffees triumph 3-1 although it could have been so different had Cottagers striker Bobby Zamora not blazed wide late on when the scores were level.

Royston Drenthe’s sublime long-range effort had given the away side the lead before Costa-Rican Bryan Ruiz showed the home faithful what he is capable of with an exquisite chip to restore parity.

Louis Saha and Jack Rodwell snatched victory for Everton in the final few minutes of the game and Toffees fans were rewarded with even more good news to savour last night.

The Liverpool Echo announced Saha is to return to Twitter after his micro-blogging exile following comments he made about David Moyes’ team selection. Or rather, his omission from the side. Alls well that ends well, eh?

Magpies continue to soar, Liverpool falter and a round-up of the other games…

Elsewhere this weekend, Chelsea’s slip-up has allowed the irrepressible Newcastle United to gain ground on them and the rest of the top three. A scrappy 1-0 win against a Wigan Athletic side who deserved more means the Magpies are now three points above Tottenham who sit in fifth-place.

Yohan Cayabe’s glorious effort from just outside the area broke Wigan hearts on Saturday nine minutes from time. The Frenchman has been nicknamed ‘Dreamboat’ according to local reports and his beautiful finish earned him the adulation of the St. James’ Park faithful on Saturday.

A new half-price season ticket initiative could also ensure that the 52,143 capacity ground is full to the rafters in future as Newcastle march on.

Liverpool were made to pay for their inability to finish off Norwich City at Anfield on Saturday evening. Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll were guilty of misses, Carroll’s a poor misdirected header from close-range towards the end of the match.

Barrel-chested Canaries striker Grant Holt came off the bench to rescue a point for the impressive visitors, who had their own chances to snatch a win. Craig Bellamy had given the Reds the lead shortly before half-time against one of his former clubs.

Prior to the 1-1 draw the ‘This is Anfield’ blog had posed the question: ‘Is a Liverpool win over Norwich a formality?’ Well, they got their answer.

And finally, woe is Mick McCarthy as he continues to fight his own battle with a small contingent of Wolverhampton Wanderers fans unhappy with his team selection and decision making. Wolves did recover well though on Saturday, to salvage a point in their 2-2 draw with Swansea City.

Kevin Doyle and Jamie O’Hara both scored in the final ten minutes after first-half goals from Danny Graham and Joe Allen has put the Swans in control.

Aston Villa were left to rue the controversial sending-off of Chris Herd as they crashed to a 2-1 home defeat against neighbours West Bromwich Albion.

The defender was adjudged to have stamped on Baggies left-back Jonas Olsson, although no evidence has been brought forward to support the linesman’s decision to award a penalty that Chris Brunt sliced wide, or to substantiate Phil Dowd’s decision to brandish a red card.

Darren Bent had given the Villans a first-half lead through their own spot-kick before Olsson rubbed salt into home side’s wounds with the equaliser and Paul Scharner notched the winning goal just before the hour mark.

Tip your hat to under-fire Sunderland boss Steve Bruce. The Black Cats recorded only their sixth win in their last 25 league games at Bolton Wanderers. Stephane Sessegnon and Nicklas Bendtner provided the firepower the Wearsiders have been sorely lacking recently to consign Owen Coyle’s Bolton to a fifth straight defeat at home. Heads will inevitably roll in the next few weeks as sacking season gets under way. Bruce may have just pushed his above the parapet, for the time being at least.

How did your team get on at the weekend? Think we’ve missed something important out or you’d just like to have a rant? Please leave a comment below!

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