Premier League Round-Up 04/10/10

If fans were surprised by the top of the Premier League table in recent weeks, that is nothing compared to the sight of Liverpool in the bottom three after seven games of the season.

Roy Hodgson’s side lost their unbeaten home record to newly-promoted Blackpool thanks to goals from Charlie Adam and Luke Varney, and will also be without frontman Fernando Torres for some time after the Spaniard was forced off through injury.

Charlie Adam

The visitors were deserving of the victory, and are more than holding their own in the top flight after being tipped for relegation at the start of the campaign. A consolation from Sotirios Kyrgiakos was not enough to dampen their spirits and now it is Hodgson – rather than opposite number Ian Holloway – who is left with plenty of thinking to do.

To add insult to injury, local rivals Everton climbed out of the drop-zone with their first win of the season at the hands of Birmingham City.

Tim Cahill sealed the victory after a Roger Johnson own goal had given the Toffees the lead, and the result brings an end to Birmingham’s 18-game unbeaten home run in the league.

The other two spaces in the bottom three are filled by Wolves – who lost 2-0 at Wigan – and West Ham, who were held at home by Fulham.

Wolves were given an upward task as soon as captain Karl Henry saw red for an indefensible foul on Jordi Gomez which was so bad it even left Mick McCarthy unable to defend his player.

Karl Henry

Gomez recovered to open the scoring with a 65th-minute free-kick, before Hugo Rodallega deflected a Christophe Berra clearance beyond Marcus Hahnemann with five minutes to go.

West Ham had to come from behind to extend their unbeaten run, after Clint Dempsey was left unmarked 10 yards out to open the scoring before half-time.

Frederic Piquionne scored his third goal in as many games to level the scores, but the game lost all sense of rhythm thanks to a questionable performance from whistle-happy referee Andre Marriner.

At the top of the table, Chelsea extended their lead to four points after seeing off a wasteful Arsenal side at Stamford Bridge.

Didier Drogba and Alex got the goals with fine finishes, but the visitors will live to regret their profligacy in front of goal, with Laurent Koscielny the main culprit.

Second place is now occupied by Manchester City after Adam Johnson’s winner earned them a third successive league win.

Adam Johnson

But the game will be remembered for the broken leg suffered by Newcastle’s Hatem ben Arfa, just the latest in a worryingly-long line of Premier League players to suffer serious injuries in the season’s early weeks.

Carlos Tevez’s penalty and Jonas Gutierrez’s equaliser are mere footnotes in a match which reignited debates about dangerous tackling in the top flight.

City’s rise to 2nd is at the expense of Manchester rivals United, who have now drawn all four of their away games in the league.

Their game at Sunderland was one of few chances, and those which did come fell to the hosts. Steed Malbranque fired the best opening straight at Edwin van der Sar, while Bolo Zenden struck the outside of his fellow countryman’s post.

Another Dutchman hitting the headlines was Rafael van der Vaart, who scored both goals as Tottenham came from behind to beat Aston Villa.

Marc Albrighton had opened the scoring for Gerard Houllier’s men before van der Vaart capitalised on two Peter Crouch knockdowns to beat Brad Friedel either side of the break.

Hot on Tottenham’s heels are surprise package West Brom, who followed up last week’s win at Arsenal with a rather more subdued draw at home to Bolton.

They also had to come from behind after Johan Elmander lashed home a first-half strike, but after James Morrison’s equaliser the Baggies could have easily snatched all three points.

The final match of the weekend saw Stoke City climb into the top half of the table for the first time this season thanks to a hard-fought triumph over Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn.

Jon Walters scored the only goal of the game against the club where he started his career, tucking home from a Matty Etherington through-ball to add to his Carling Cup strike against Shrewsbury in August.

Team of the week (4-3-2-1):

Gilks (Blackpool); Baird (Fulham), Bramble (Sunderland), Jagielka (Everton), Crainey (Blackpool); Mulumbu (West Brom), Reo-Coker (Aston Villa), Essien (Chelsea); van der Vaart (Tottenham), Etherington (Stoke); Elmander (Bolton)

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