Wow. Where to begin?
It was a weekend with loads of on-the-field drama, and things off the field were just as intense in what was the craziest weekend so far in the Premier League season….and it’s not over yet, with Manchester United and Arsenal set to battle for the top spot in the Premiership on Monday.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is widely regarded as a clown in the British media, and also to the Newcastle supporters. In American terms, he could best be likened to a mix between Mark Cuban and Daniel Snyder. An owner with delusions of grandeur, who runs his club like it’s a video game.
After a loss last weekend to West Bromwich Albion, Ashley hastily fired Newcastle’s well-respected manager Chris Hughton and the decision caused an uprising…and that’s not and understatement. The entire week was filled with vitriol for Ashley, coming from fans and media alike. With that serving as the backdrop, Newcastle were home to face Liverpool on Saturday.
The players and supporters came together as one, creating an inspiring scene as the Magpies thoroughly dominated Liverpool on their way to a 3-1 win. And while the supporters exploded with every goal, they also let their feelings be known, in no uncertain terms, about how they feel about their owner, as well as new skipper Alan Pardew, singing "Get Out of Our Club" and "We Hate Ashley" (along with other chants that aren’t exactly family friendly). An incredible scene, and the drama continued after the game when Newcastle’s Joey Barton dedicated the win to ex-boss Chris Hughton.
And then there’s Manchester City, who continue to roll on the field, but cracks are starting to develop on the foundation. City drubbed West Ham 3-1 on Saturday, with YaYa Toure starring in the show, but Carlos Tevez stole the headlines after the game. For months now Tevez has voiced his concerns about a loss of passion for the game, and being homesick. He travels back to his home country any time he gets more than a day or two off from training, and he dropped a bombshell Saturday, telling the media that he has more than once formally requested a transfer away from Man City, and it hasn’t been granted. He wants out in January…desperately. His exit, if it happens, could change the entire dynamic of the top half of the table.
Going into Sunday, Tottenham vs. Chelsea was on the marquee, and it lived up to the hype, as the two sides played out a thrilling 1-1 draw. Didier Drogba equalized in the second half, then had the chance to be the hero with a penalty kick in stoppage time. Tottenham keeper Heurelho Gomes stuffed the attempt and the two sides ended up level.
But at the end of the day, Sunday’s headlines (at least on this side of the Atlantic) were stolen by an American when U.S Men’s National team member Stuart Holden blasted home a dramatic winner for Bolton against Blackburn. Blackburn had just drawn even in the 87th minute before Bolton put together a short string of passes off of the ensuing kick-off to score less than a minute after it looked like they had just had three points ripped out of their grasp.
Elsewhere, Wolverhampton jumped three points clear of bottom-dwelling West Ham with a 1-0 win over Birmingham City. Aston Villa downed West Brom 2-1, earning three big points of breathing room from the relegation zone. Blackpool jumped past Stoke in the table with a 1-0 win over the Potters. Fulham drew 0-0 with Sunderland, as did Everton and Wigan.
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Fire Up the Rumor Mill
The January transfer window opens up in three weeks, and the rumors are flying already. Harry Redknapp blasted the notion that Tottenham are in for ex-Arsenal striker, and current Man City bench dweller Emmanuel Adebayor. Staying with Tottenham, it seems a sure bet that midfielder David Bentley and Irish striker Robbie Keane will be out before the window closes. Man City also appear to set to sell Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz. Feel free to play this game at home too. Just mention a player’s name in the same sentence as Manchester City, Real Madrid or Barcelona and VOILA — you’ve made a transfer rumor!
All Eyes on Chelsea
December could very well sink Chelsea’s hopes at another title run, or thrust them back into the spotlight. Starting with Sunday’s draw at Tottenham, the Blues enter a three week stretch where they take on four of the top six teams in the Premiership (Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Bolton).
After 17 games, this is what your table looks like, keeping in mind Manchester United play Arsenal tomorrow night, and United and Blackpool were snowed out last weekend:
|11||West Bromwich Albion||17||6||4||7||24||29||4||2||2||11||10||2||2||5||13||19||-5||22|
|20||West Ham United||17||2||6||9||15||30||2||3||4||11||15||0||3||5||4||15||-15||12|