Manchester United failed to take full advantage of losses by league-leaders Chelsea and third-place Arsenal on the weekend as they could only manage a 2-2 draw away at Bolton. Chelsea, who leads United by three points and Arsenal and Manchester City by four, lost their first game of the season by dropping a 1-0 decision to City on the road.
Arsenal was humbled at home as newly-promoted West Brom embarrassed them 3-2. Second-place United managed to gain one point on Chelsea to narrow the gap, but could have crept to within one point of the frontrunners with a win in Bolton.
The win over Chelsea was huge for fourth-place Manchester City as it kept them in the title race early in the season. A loss would have seen them 10 points behind after only six games played. They have now beaten Chelsea three straight times in league play. The winner came in the 59th minute as striker Carlos Tevez scored with a low, hard drive to the bottom corner after a fantastic solo run. It was the first time Chelsea has been shut out in the English Premier League (EPL) since last December.
Chelsea failed to make much of an impact on the game and struggled offensively, with last season’s EPL top scorer Didier Drogba being substituted in the second half. They sorely missed midfield maestro Frank Lampard and after running up five straight league wins against some of the league’s weaker teams, failed in their first true test of the season. They also lost on Sept. 22 as they were knocked out of the Carling Cup at home 2-1 by Newcastle.
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West Brom shocked Arsenal at home and had a 3-0 lead after 73 minutes. It could have been more, but Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia saved Chris Brunt’s penalty kick in the 37th minute. Almunia had brought down winger Peter Odemwingie in the box for the penalty. Samir Nasri made the score respectable with two late goals, in the 75th and 90th minutes.
It’s unlikely Arsenal will be able to seriously challenge for the title until they get a world-class keeper to go with the rest of their squad. Almunia simply isn’t good enough and he’s the weak link on an otherwise pretty strong squad. However, Arsenal’s stuck now as the next transfer window doesn’t open until January. Their best move would be to go after Irish international Shay Given, who’s looking for a move out of Manchester City.
Manchester United fell behind Bolton twice at the Reebok Stadium, as Zat Knight put the home side ahead in the 6th minute only to see Nani level the score in the 23rd. Martin Petrov put Bolton back into the lead in the 67th minute before Michael Owen headed in the equalizer just seven minutes later. United has drawn all three of their away games and won their three home matches. They’re the only unbeaten side in the EPL so far this season.
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