Premier League Round-Up 22/11/10

Arsenal v Newcastle United, Premier League 7/11/2010 Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger clasps his hands to his face as the fourth official shows four minutes of injury time  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

When summing up this week’s Premier League programme there is only one place to start.

Not that long ago it looked as though Arsenal had banished the fragility which has plagued them in previous seasons, but their capitulation at home to Spurs suggested nothing has really changed.

Credit to Harry Redknapp for inspiring the second-half comeback which earned Spurs a first win at the home of their fiercest rivals in 17 years, but the game was really about Arsenal snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

They should have been home and dry by half-time but – in scenes reminiscent of their visit to Wigan’s DW Stadium last season – once the fightback begun there was no sign of the Gunners arresting their slide towards defeat.

One team without such fragility issues is Bolton, and Owen Coyle’s side continued their march up the table with a crushing 5-1 win over Newcastle.

Neither Johan Elmander nor Kevin Davies has been particularly prolific while ploughing a lone furrow at the Reebok, yet by bringing the duo together Coyle has formed one of the most dangerous strike partnerships in the league.

Both struck twice on Saturday, with Chung-Yong Lee – one of the most underrated players in the top-flight – getting the other goal for the Trotters. Andy Carroll’s eighth of the season gave the visitors a glimmer of hope but ultimately proved academic.

Just as impressive was Manchester City’s 4-1 win at Fulham. Roberto Mancini’s side have received their fair share of criticism for negative displays but attack was the order of the day, with even the much-maligned Yaya Toure breaking forward to get on the scoresheet.

Mark Hughes’ side, on the other hand, will be nervously looking over their shoulders after the early-season unbeaten run is now starting to look like, well, just loads of draws.

Fulham are now just one place above the relegation zone, thanks in no small part to Birmingham’s surprise win over Chelsea.

While Lee Bowyer scored the goal, taking advantage of a centre-back in Alex whose pain-killing injection seemingly had side-effects of drowsiness, the star of the show was Ben Foster.

After his unconvincing display for England on Wednesday, Foster proved he is still a viable contender for the national side by keeping out everything Chelsea threw at him and earning his sixth clean sheet of the campaign.

As Birmingham are on the up, their west midlands neighbours are all heading in the opposite direction after defeats this weekend.

Aston Villa, missing several key players, were nonetheless outclassed by a Blackburn side comfortable from the moment Morten Gamst Pedersen put them into a first-half lead on Sunday.

The spirit remained from last week’s draw against Manchester United, but Gerard Houllier’s side lacked a cutting edge in the absence of Marc Albrighton.

That result leaves Villa a point ahead of West Brom, who are in freefall with one point from four games.

West Bromwich Albion/Stoke City Premiership 20.11.10 Photo: Tim Parker Fotosports International John Walters Stoke City celebrates 2nd goal with team mates Photo via Newscom

Stoke were the beneficiaries of some generous defending this time around, Jon Walters adding to Matty Etherington’s penalty with a second-half brace in the Potters’ biggest away win since their return to the Premier League.

But the situation remains far from desperate for the Baggies, which is more than can be said for local rivals Wolves.

A fourth successive defeat leaves them on a paltry nine points, although any side would have been hard-pressed to respond to the opening goal from Blackpool’s Luke Varney.

Varney’s effort, a volley from way out which arced over a helpless Marcus Hahnemann, conjured up memories of Hugo Rodallega’s goal of the season contender last year.

On the subject of Rodallega, the Colombian striker did not enjoy quite as fruitful an afternoon at Old Trafford on Saturday.

A two-footed lunge saw him sent off, after team-mate Antolin Alcaraz had seen red just minutes earlier, and Manchester United’s margin of victory could have been far greater than 2-0.

Defeat for Wigan saw them slip into the bottom three, where they have Wolves and West Ham for company.

Saturday’s defeat at Anfield was comfortably the Hammers’ worst performance of the season, which is really saying something given their record of seven defeats and just one win in their opening 14 games.

Liverpool barely needed to break a sweat, racing into a three-goal lead before half-time, and one gets the feeling they could have not turned up for the second half and still scored a couple more without reply, had they so wished.

Monday night’s game was one of the most exciting since Richard Keys returned to out screens on a weeknight, Everton and Sunderland sharing the spoils in a pulsating 2-2 draw.

Danny Welbeck made up for the absence of Asamoah Gyan by scoring both goals for the Black Cats, sandwiched between efforts from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta.

But both sides missed golden chances to win the game in stoppage time: first Welbeck snatched at his shot when well-placed, then Everton substitute Jermaine Beckford prodded wastefully over after being put clean through on goal.

Team of the week (4-4-2): Foster (Birmingham); Eardley (Blackpool), Gallas (Tottenham), Johnson (Birmingham), Evra (Man Utd); Holden (Bolton), Meireles (Liverpool), Pedersen (Blackburn), Silva (Man City); Tevez (Man City), Elmander (Bolton)

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