Sports

EPL Weekend Recap: Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and More

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Nothing earth-shattering developed from this weekend's round of games. Really the only-eye opening event was Fulham erupting for a six-goal shellacking of QPR.

Manchester United and Manchester City each bounced back with wins. Chelsea crushed hapless -- stress -- hapless Bolton. Liverpool won away at Everton in another red-card controversy Merseyside Derby. Spurs beat Arsenal -- again -- in the North London derby scenario.

And if seven games count for anything -- maybe -- then we have to count Newcastle winning again and Aston Villa not losing again as counting for something.

We've got the two-week break for internationals the table probably looks a lot like it should.

Yes, even Arsenal in 15th place.

North London Normalcy -- Another game at White Hart Lane, another player lost to a long-term injury (Bakary Sagna) another loss by Arsenal. Only surprise here was that Emmanuel Adebayor didn't score the winner, run across the field and launch some projectile diarrhea at the traveling Gunners fans.

Instead, it was Kyle Walker (playing the part of Danny Rose for the afternoon) ripping a shot that Wojciech Szezesny let go right through his arms. In fairness, if you watch the replay, the shot did have a wicked amount of bend on it, but still ...

For Arsenal, the club remains stuck in a horror movie franchise mode. The actors and killers might change, but the plot remains the same. Szezesny has proven to be a solid keeper who should only get better. His mistake can be forgiven. Instead Arsenal fans will turn their scorn to Per Mertesacker, who's looking like a deadline day whiff by Arsene Wenger -- though Gary Cahill wouldn't be that much better, though he'd be English thus giving him a virtual free pass from the domestic EPL media.

Eventually, maybe by the Boxing Day fixtures the men calling the Premier League games will realize that Arsenal, despite the badge on the shirts, is nothing more than an ordinary, average team in the Premier League. The sooner this is realized, the better for all parties involved.

And speaking of the announcers, (not sure who was on the call for FSC, Peter Drury?) think that Scott Parker might want to get a restraining order. Drury was absolutely slobbering over him in almost Brett Favre-ian levels since Parker played for about 20 minutes with an injury. We always love getting on our American media for overrating white, (buzzword) "scrappy" players -- like Dustin Pedroia winning the AL MVP award a couple years ago. Safe to say the English media reveres a player like Parker, who seems a throwback to the olden days of football in England. Put it this way, Parker would never play with an exposed tattoo and he probably ate some sort of boiled lamb dish after the game.

Parker, though, was a great addition for Spurs since -- again -- he gives the midfield stability, allowing Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to do their things. So long as Rafael van der Vaart, who's probably the world's best player if a) soccer only involved playing offense and b) games only lasted 58 minutes, stays happy Spurs are going to push for fourth again.

Tottenham is miles ahead of Arsenal.

Maybe even more.

But we already knew this, didn't we?

Red all over -- Martin Atkinson must live in a protective bubble in the week. All anyone wanted to talk about ahead of the Merseyside Derby was the prevalence of red cards in recent years. So what happens? Jack Rodwell makes a tackle on Luis Suarez and gets a red with a half hour of the first whistle. Was it a foul? Yes? A red card? Probably not.

The only amazing thing about how all it went down was that nobody else got sent off.

Granted, officiating a contested, heated match like Everton/Liverpool can't be fun. Yet far too often these refs can't see the forest but for the trees.

Hate when a ref's decision overshadows the game itself, which was ... eh, okay overall. Basically, if this game was a face, it would be Charlie Adam's fresh-faced, 25-year-old mug.

The winning goal by Liverpool was quite nice, a fast attack up the left started by Craig Bellamy with Luis Enrique curling one in for Andy Carroll to head past Tim Howard. If there's something to watch for Liverpool it's, if, with guys like Bellamy, (temporarily) Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, can the Reds overwhelm tired teams in the final 30 minutes, like they did to Everton on Saturday? It's almost like Kenny Dalglish can let Adam do the dirty work

A Moment on Manchester United -- United really, realllllly should have been in trouble against a disciplined, resolute Norwich City. If Anthony Pilkington could finish -- United might not be sitting in first place. Thankfully he couldn't saving me some really strained Karl Pilkington jokes. So in that regard, we all win.

United finally broke the deadline on a scrappy Anderson goal set up by Wayne Rooney. Danny Welbeck finished it off. As they like to say, on to the next one.

Even if he has bad hair frosted tips like 2005 Alex Rodriguez, Phil Jones is going to be a mainstay at the back for United for the next decade. Right now he's much more of a force going forward than as a defender, but looks like Sir Alex found another gem.

Owned -- Why, if you're Bolton, even show up vs. Chelsea? The players clearly felt that way. Owen Coyle should have pulled a Coach Taylor at the half and asked the league for a forfeit.

As it is, Bolton got smushed 5-1 with a Frank Lampard -- he's back (tm) -- scoring a hat trick.

Bolton were so uncompetitive, there's nothing much to say. Gary Cahill's transfer fee is slowly leveling off to a level where it should have been. If he weren't a fringe England international we wouldn't even hear about him. And Zat Knight is just awful either way.

If you woke up for this at 8:30 a.m. -- or earlier -- I feel bad for you. Hope you're not a zombie Monday morning or the rest of the week.

Typical trap? -- Just a hunch, but the next week with club soccer on break, we'll get a couple stories about the new-look Newcastle United and the work Alan Pardew has done since taking over midway through last season. Most of these stories will talk how the club jettisoned Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll and Joey Barton for a bunch of random French players.

The danger, here, is that we still don't know if Newcastle is for real.

There's a lot to like. The Mapgies have only given up four goals. Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor is working well. The Yohan Cabaya/Cheick Tiote midfield combo is already drawing plaudits. Demba Ba is being hailed as a bargain of the summer type player ... if he stays healthy.

All-and-all Newcastle seem primed for success.

Here's where we hedge our collective bets. The Newcastle schedule so far? Arsenal, Sunderland, Fulham, QPR, Aston Villa, Blackburn and Wolves, whom they beat 2-1 on Saturday.

Top half of the table is the most realistic expectation at the moment. Let's see where Newcastle is on Dec. 2 after a string of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Around the League: The Sunderland/West Brom 2-2 draw featured both teams scoring their goals within about three minutes of each other. It was also a headache-inducing optical scenario with both sides where their home strips with vertical stripes. ... Manchester City lost Kun Aguero in the first half, but still creamed Blackburn by eventually wearing Rovers down, getting a really spicy goal from Adam Johnson to open the floodgates. ... Still can't get over the fact Fulham scored six goals in a Premier League contest, including one from Clint Dempsey. Did Martin Jol order horse placenta for the entire team? ... Stoke City lost at Swansea City. To that, the Potters remain a fraud in the sense of being a legitimately good team that can push for the top six. ... Gabriel Agbonlahor scored again for Aston Villa, which still hasn't lost. Villa won't be too exciting, but they'll be tough to beat as well. Is that enough for the fans? ... Is it just me but are the sexually charged ads from "World Soccer Shop" just a little creepy?

Hero of the Week: David N'Gog has been an easy target of jokes since Rafa Benetiz brought him to England. Sunday he did something almost all fans wish they could have done -- kick John Terry square in the balls.

Fantasy Team O' the Week: Longtime friend of the Drew Konig's Will This Do put up 82 points, behind big weeks from Scott Sinclair, Jose Enrique, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney and Shay Given. Well done.

One Other Thing: If you don't hear from me in any form of Internet communication once the International break is completed, just assume I had a heart attack due to the Detroit Tigers in the MLB playoffs. To be safe, I put most of my good personal items in a storage locker, so if I do expire, they'll be up for bid in an auction.

Either that scenario, or I'm the first of probably many people locked up for "Whitney"-promo induced felonies.