Arsenal was beaten by a much better Aston Villa team 2–0 in the English Premier League on Saturday. Arsenal’s famous victory over Manchester United last week has now been quickly forgotten as the Gunners took two steps back after that one step forward.
Aston Villa took the game to Arsenal and it paid off with a great victory.
The speed of Villa midfielder Ashley Young and striker Gabriel Agbonlahor caused Arsenal many difficulties.
Villa kept up their momentum after having Young’s penalty kick saved by Manuel Almunia after Arsenal winger Theo Walcott brought the midfielder down in the box.
In the 70th minute, Young’s perfect cross forced Arsenal defender Gael Clichy to head into his own net. If he had not, Agbonlahor would have done so.
Ten minutes later, Villa made it two when Agbonlahor was put through from a Martin Laursen long ball. The Villa striker out-muscled Arsenal captain William Gallas and then drove it low and hard past keeper Almunia.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said to the BBC, “I felt overall Villa were the better side. It is frustrating because we played at a kind of pace today that is not our pace. Villa played very well, but we were not sharp or incisive enough.”
Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill said to the BBC, “We were magnificent and the players were very strong mentally today. I thought we were brilliant because it was a case of the players staying strong, being positive and having a real belief that we could win.”
Arsenal has now failed to win six of their 13 Premier League games. To put this in perspective, over the past seven years, the Premier League champion failed to win anywhere from nine to 13 games in a 38 game season—not good news for Arsenal.
West Brom 0, Chelsea 3
Another convincing display saw the Blues take the points with red-hot striker Nicolas Anelka netting twice in this top of the table vs. bottom of the table match-up.
Soon after the half hour mark, Jose Bosingwa took the pace off his attacking run, turned, took two steps toward goal, and bent a shot away from the keeper on the near post to put the Blues in front.
Less than five minutes later a Florent Malouda header put Anelka through to chip Scott Carson for a two-goal advantage.
Just before the break, Salomon Kalou put the Anelka through and the striker scored with the side of the foot at the near post.
The win sees Chelsea go top of the table with the same number of points as Liverpool but with a much better goal difference (28 to 13).
Manchester United 5, Stoke 0
A dazzling display by the reigning European champions saw them put the Premiership new comers in their place. Stoke, who have been able to upset teams with their physical game, were unable to muscle United off the ball.
Only three minutes were gone when Cristiano Ronaldo notched up his 100th United goal with a 25-yard rocket of a free kick.
Stoke tried their now well-known tactic of long throws into the box, but United Keeper Edwin van der Sar was well placed to pluck these throws out of the air.
After the break, with a two-goal lead, a very fortunate piece of mis-control from Dimitar Berbatov off a Carlos Tevez pass led to a third United goal.
The fourth was special for a Premiership newcomer; 17-year-old Danny Welbeck scored a great goal almost out of nowhere to mark his debut for the first team with a powerful strike.
Ronaldo then finished the game the way he started it, by scoring a free kick past an poorly set up wall with two minutes to go.
For United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, it was his 50th year in soccer to the day from his first appearance in the Scottish league as a 16-year-old.
Bolton 0, Liverpool 2
Liverpool travelled the short distance to the home ground of Bolton Wanderers, the Reebok Stadium. Bolton’s played open and attacking soccer, creating scoring chances, but it was not going to be their day.
Dirk Kuyt got on the score sheet when he connected with a powerful header off a Fabio Aurelio cross.
For Bolton manager Gary Megson, the point of contention occurred when Gary Cahill headed a goal that was disallowed for a foul on Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.
From the replay it was clear that the intension of Bolton midfielder Kevin Nolan was to block the keeper coming to catch the cross, but that in itself should not have been grounds for a foul. The replay actually showed Reina pushing Nolan.
With persistent effort from the Liverpool, attack Fernando Torres broke free down the right and floated a ball into the box for Steven Gerrard to glance a header into the back of the net to seal a 2–0 away win for the Reds.