On a Saturday that Cristiano Ronaldo was left on the Real Madrid bench, Emmanuel Adebayor managed to do everything right, catapulting him into cult status among the City fans as well as becoming public enemy no. 1 in the eyes of Arsenal and non-City fans alike. Nevertheless his performance was the difference between a powder-puff Arsenal and a strong Manchester City.
In keeping with his pragmatic image, Mark Hughes started with Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong, defensive midfielders who are skilled at breaking up play. The Arsenal midfield again could not cope whenever the opposition applies some hard-tackling midfield power play. All of us know that physically the Arsenal midfield cannot compete and Arsene must do something about it.
Adebayor's header in a strong 10 minute spell for Man City prove decisive and killed off any Arsenal comeback. That was his heroic part and kept his 100% record of scoring in every game alive. However, geniuses are normally flawed. Adebayor's moment of insanity had him almost causing a riot and pitch invasion just by celebrating at the visiting Arsenal section. Manchester City deserved the win, albeit in less than spectacular fashion. Manchester United will prove a tougher test but City have answered all doubters thus far, including myself.
Tottenham Hotspur also had some question to answer in their match against the reigning champions, Manchester United. They came up short as ten-man United reversed a one-goal lead to run out 3-1 victors. Wayne Rooney again is carrying this team on his back, producing another great performance. He is surely the man in which Ferguson and Capello pin their hopes on. Just like Gerrard symbolises everything Liverpool, United is all about Rooney. Dimitar Berbatov had an effective game as the link man between midfield and attack. I have said before that Berbatov's best position is as the hole player and Ferguson will get the best out of the classy Bulgarian if he starts playing there.
Liverpool looked to have played themselves into a purple patch with a commanding 4-0 win over Burnley. Yossi Benayoun's busy performance earned him a hattrick and a hatful of praises. After the hard-fought win against Bolton, Benitez started Gerrard in midfield and gave Benayoun a chance on the right flank. A chance that the Israeli captain seized and showed what a superb player he is in the attacking third of the field. For once, there was balance in the team and apart from Mascherano, the best XI was on the pitch for Liverpool.
Chelsea had a difficult time against Stoke, grinding out a win at the Britannia Stadium. Didi Drogba however scored possibly the best goal of the weekend with a left foot shot that left the Stoke goalkeeper rooted. Again it was the character and desire of Chelsea that got them the three points. A throwback to the Mourinho era, Chelsea are dangerous this season, without a doubt.
For all their beautiful and attractive passing game, West Ham are struggling at the moment without any potency upfront. Although not a soft touch like Arsenal, the lack of firepower means that the Hammers will not get the end result that their playmaking justify. Liverpool is the visiting team this Saturday. The Reds do have Champions League exertions this Wednesday and so prove to be "easier" opposition on Saturday. Still, Zola will need to get the team working hard on the practice group to ensure that the strikers find the back of the net. Starting Alessandro Diamanti will surely help as he looked excellent coming on as a substitute.
One observation of note, although no West Ham players scored this weekend, a number of ex-Hammers stars did, these were
1. Craig Bellamy
2. Jermain Defoe
3. Paul Konchesky
4. Yossi Benayoun
The four scored six goals between them on a weekend where 36 goals were scored. Just thought some of you may enjoy this.
Lastly, last weekend's big matches, in my opinion, proved that Spurs yet again will flatter to deceive while Manchester City are genuine title contenders this season. More will be revealed in the coming weeks.