EPL Weekend Round-Up: Manchester United, Arsenal and More

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Order in the court!

Hold the phone!

Wait a cotton pickin' second!

Haven't we heard this EPL script before? Manchester United wins. Fernando Torres re-writes the term epic fail. Arsenal plumb even lower depths. Spurs surprise when you least expect it. Liverpool frustrates. Manchester City stalls to a draw. Yakubu scores a brace! (Yeah, he did it once for Portsmouth about seven years ago ... I think.)

All-and-all, this felt so oddly familiar this weekend, didn't it? Even if FOX decided to broadcast the showcase Manchester United/Chelsea on national television -- albeit on delay. [Unsure how the rating will turn out, since it aired at different times on different affiliates across the country at different times depending on your local NFL scenario.]

So with the idea of refraining from beating a dead horse -- one of my personal specialties, it must be said -- let's take a quick breeze through the comings and goings, wheelings and dealing of the Premier League weekend.

Best there is, best there was, best there ever will be: Whomever operates the PA system, err, "tannoy" to use the Brit term at Old Trafford might as well simply use one song on repeat for breaks in the action -- "All I Do is Win." (That, or like everybody else in Europe, Black Eyed Peas.)

Sunday Manchester United wasn't even at its best and still beat Chelsea by a 3-1 scoreline. Five up, five down for the reigning champs. 21 goals scored, four allowed. Youknowhatitis. Wait, that's the wrong popular rap anthem. Oops. I'm fairly certain Nani -- scorer of another sick goal Sunday -- has listened to them on his Dre Beats headphones for hours on end during bus trips to stadiums.

If you live to hate "Man U" (TM lazy American writers) perhaps you can take heed in Chelsea's season from a year ago when the Blues annihilated all comers, but ultimately fell short due to a dodgy run of games around Christmas. Then again, United beat Chelsea with a starting defensive pairing of Jonny Evans and Phil Jones -- who all of a sudden thinks its Franz Beckenbauer circa 1972, while Wayne Rooney was laughing about slipping on his ass while taking a penalty.

Maybe these guys ought to consider pinstripes for their jerseys ...

Can't Spell Fail without Fernando: Oh Fernando.

You really couldn't make this miss up. No really, you couldn't.

It almost remains me of an old Dave Attell joke, "did you ever make fun of somebody so much that you almost want to call them up and thank them for all your good times?"

What more is there to be said? Crazy as it sounds, Torres aside from the misses did look almost slightly dangerous leading the Blues' line against United -- even scoring in the second half for his second Chelsea tally. He did everything but score that sitter in front of the open net. It's possible he's channeling Bill Murray's titular character from 1991's "What About Bob?" and taking "baby steps" toward regaining his form.

Either that or we can all just keep laughing at him until we collectively get a call from Mario Lopez to appear on the new hit show "H8er"

On a more serious note, if Torres can ever sort himself out -- who honestly can say at this point -- Chelsea appears close to recycling its team on the fly. The Iberian imports of Juan Mata, Ramires, Raul Meireles and maybe Torres do give the Blues a different feel as Frank Lampard heads off into the sunset and toward a buffet table near you.(*)

(*) That concludes your monthly Frank Lampard is fat joke. Nailed it!

Song Remains the Same: As much as I love taking shots at Arsenal on Twitter, writing about the club's weekly foibles is getting ... tiresome.

What else is there to say? Dropping a 2-1 halftime lead at Ewood Park and losing 4-3 to hapless Blackburn? There are no silver linings. Nothing to build off. That's simply a crap result from a team that's looking, well, pretty crappy in my expert opinion.

You'd almost have to think Ralf Ragnick at Werder Bremen was waiting outside a bank in Germany sometime Saturday making sure the check cleared for Per Mertesacker.

If I have one original thought on Arsenal, it's that it's going to be very difficult to build a defensive line about a German new to the league, a ineffective Frenchman (take your pick) and a young keeper. Offensively, maybe Wenger can try more of a 4-4-1-1 look to get Robin van Persie more in the mix away from goal and leave Maroune Chamakh closer to goal to do the dirty work.

Aside from that, we'll probably be doing this again next Monday after Arsenal plays Bolton.

And Speaking of Bolton: Worst loss to the weekend goes to Owen Coyle's boys. Losing at home to promoted Norwich ... es no beuno. Is Stuart Holden going to have to ride to the rescue of Bolton ... and the USMNT?

Overall, nice job by the promoted sides. Swansea brought its scoreless and winless drought, thumping West Brom -- which looks to be backsliding toward the drop zone -- actually 20th place, as it were. QPR behind Joey Barton took down Wolves 3-0 on the road.

After the results of the weekend, we're back to not really knowing anything aside from Manchester United is the best thing on the planet other than Barcelona. Wolves looked to have turned the corner and lose that aforementioned game at home. Stoke goes to Sunderland and gets smacked around 4-0, proving maybe the Black Cats aren't totally terrible either.

Everton actually got a goal -- three in fact -- one from Royston Drenthe to beat Wigan. For all the doom and gloom around the Toffees, they're in a tie for sixth with Aston Villa and (dramatic pause) ahead of Liverpool on goal difference. Put it this way, what can you make to Newcastle and Villa the only two clubs outside Manchester to remain without a loss?

Same Old City?: Wasn't this the script for Manchester City last year? Wasn't this a new era at City, where it kicked ass and took names (or three points in the process)? Coughing up a two-goal lead at winless Fulham isn't a good sign, but it's probably just a hiccup considering the tying goal scored by Danny Murphy was via deflection off Vincent Kompany.

The theory remains, though, you can buy players but you can't buy a winning ethos.

By the same token, most teams would trade most of their club history for the attacking trio of Aguero, David Silva and Edin Dzeko.

As expected, the wave of "City in Europe" or the two-front theory with the Champions League and Premier League will crop up shortly if this little rut continues. However, a 1-1 draw with Napoli in the Champions League debut doesn't look all that terrible considering the Italians whipped up AC Milan over the weekend.

Throw Out the Books When These Two Teams Play: What the what? Spurs smacked nine-man Liverpool around 4-0? Jermain Defoe is scoring goals? Luka "I'm Perpetually Unhappy at White Hart Lane" Modric is scoring screamers?

Makes perfect sense for Spurs. When you have them figured out, they surprise. When you expect anything from them, they flounder. It's not every weekend, though, Gareth Bale gets to run at Martin Skrtel playing out of position at right back.

Harry Redknapp didn't do much in August, but the late moves to add Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker have given the club much needed week-to-week stability, albeit from a small sample size.

If Arsenal continues to be Arsenal -- the 2007-2011 version -- and Liverpool's inconsistency remains, who knows Tottenham maybe can make another run at fourth. Redknapp clearly doesn't care about the Europa League, so maybe all the team focuses on is the league. Problem is, the team remains thin on proven starters. Michael Dawson is already on the shelf, so is William Gallas. Ledley is waiting to join him there at any moment. Guess that means its time to queue up Younes Kaboul's music. (Good thing Spurs didn't loan out Sebestian Bassong, eh?)

Liverpool? I'll stick with the short, reasonable expectation of Nate from "Oh You Beauty," who basically says when Charlie Adam is good, Liverpool will be too. When he's lazy, fat, passing to nobody in particular, they'll struggle. The gap-toothed Scot must have something against Spurs. Last year with Blackpool he snapped poor Bale's ankle like a twig. This week he went for a flying studs up challenge on Parker for his second yellow -- watch for a possible disciplinary suspension, too.

Rumor is, Steven Gerrard is back for Liverpool's midweek Carling Cup match against surprising Championship side Brighton Hove & Albion. Kenny Dalglish probably wouldn't play Gerrard on Tuesday and then push him over the weekend against Wolves, but if Adam is out it's a simple way to ease him back into the lineup.

Odds and Ends: Nice pass by Clint Dempsey to set up Bobby Zamora's goal for Fulham. ... Blog favorite Hugo Rodellega is out for a while for Wigan. Not good. ... Barton vs. Karl Henry, unless it's a prison shiv fight, yawn. ... Someone must have brainwashed Mike Ashley at Newcastle. Last summer it was Chiek Tiote. This year it's Yohan Cabaye. Two years adding central midfield players from continental European league champions. Not sure I can live in a world where Newcastle is leading the EPL in good decisions. ... Maybe I'm not giving enough credit to Blackburn for beating Arsenal, instead focusing on the Gunners misery. That's true enough. Still, getting goals from Yakubu is a mirage and you're not playing against Laurent Kosielny every weekend.

Fantasy Team O' the Week: Mark Chamber's Nott Real FC takes top spot for the week with 59 points. Martin Petrov, Michel Vorm, Mikel Arteta and captain Kun Aguero were top earners. Something is beyond screwy with the Fantasy EPL this year. Checked at Sunday night for scores. Turns out two teams had 71 points -- flan crest's Luka Hates Lukaku and Cheese as well as Nathan Wilson Tukwila FC. Good job to everyone who's been playing.

One More Thing: To quote the one-and-only Ron Swanson, "Awards are stupid." That said, it's still fairly amazing to see Kyle Chandler recognized for his work as Coach Taylor on "Friday Night Lights." No man on television rocked the polo shirt tucked into khaki shorts/baseball cap/sunglasses on Croakies look like Coach. In fact, I try to watch this clip every time before I write to get the utter best of our my brain and fingers.


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