Premier Ratings: Chelsea looking fluid as Balotelli finally cracks a smile
FourFourTwo.com's James Maw attributes fairly arbitrary ratings to each of the Premier League's 20 clubs on the basis of their performances this weekend - just to keep himself busy...
CHELSEA 8.5(W 4-1, Swansea H)As tactically impressive a display from Andre Villas-Boas and his side as has been seen so far this season. The West Londoners responded well to going a man down when Fernando Torres was dismissed, and looked a fluid attacking unit, even with only 10 men on the pitch.
MANCHESTER CITY 8.5(W 2-0, Everton H)Had Saturday's match finished a draw, it wouldn't have been the first time in recent memory the Toffees have frustrated a title challenger. The fact that Mancini's men were able to eventually break their resistance is a very good sign Ã¢ÂÂ as was the smile that adorned Mario BalotelliÃ¢ÂÂs scampish mug.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 8(W 3-1, Blackburn H)While few expected Newcastle to start the season so strongly, most would have tipped them for a home win against Blackburn. But thatÃ¢ÂÂs exactly why this was such a good result Ã¢ÂÂ PardewÃ¢ÂÂs side didn't wilt under the pressure of expectation from the stands, and thatÃ¢ÂÂs half the battle at St JamesÃ¢ÂÂ Park these days.
NORWICH CITY 7.5(W 2-1, Sunderland H)A much-needed first home win of the season saw the Canaries rise to ninth in the Premier League, and the Norfolk outfit looked more than comfortable for the bulk of Monday nightÃ¢ÂÂs match. Yet their profligacy in front of goal and sloppiness at the back led to a nervous final five minutes, when things could and perhaps should have been more straightforward.
ARSENAL 7.5(W 3-0, Bolton H)At this stage of their Ã¢ÂÂcrisisÃ¢ÂÂ any win would do for the Gunners, but with SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs came perhaps their best league performance of the campaign to date. Van Persie appears to be relishing his new Ã¢ÂÂCaptain MarvelÃ¢ÂÂ role, notching his 99th and 100th goals for the London side as they eased some of the tension engulfing the club with a comfortable win.
STOKE CITY 7(D 1-1, Man Utd H)The most telling sign of StokeÃ¢ÂÂs rise is that this result didnÃ¢ÂÂt come as a surprise. The Potters kept David de Gea busy all evening and were more than worth their point. Five points from home matches with Chelsea, Liverpool and United represents a highly impressive and typically solid home start to the new campaign.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 7(W 2-1, Wigan A)Another win, another impressive showing from Parker and Adebayor. Had Spurs been able to maintain their first-half momentum, this would have been a stroll; the fact that things didn't pan out that way suggests they may need to learn to make their dominance count for more in future.
LIVERPOOL 7(W 2-1, Wolves H)Perhaps not the most spectacular of victories, but given their back-to-back defeats on the road in their last two matches, it was certainly a timely one. Dalglish will have been most encouraged by the performance of Andy Carroll, who led the line as any No.9 worth ÃÂ£35m of salt should Ã¢ÂÂ holding up the ball and bringing team-mates into play. If he can continue that, goals should follow in time.
MANCHESTER UNITED 6.5(D 1-1, Stoke A)In many ways SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs fixture looked UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs most challenging so far this season, and when Hernandez joined Rooney on the sidelines after 11 minutes, the task got even tougher. Despite those absences, Ferguson will still have expected more from his side in the final third, with the experienced Giggs and in-form Nani spurning clear chances to turn one point into three.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS 5.5(D 1-1, Aston Villa H)After an impressive display against Newcastle and a superb win at Wolves, this was something of a step backwards for WarnockÃ¢ÂÂs new look Hoops. Perhaps most concerning was the fact that, having had 17 cracks at goal, it took a deflection off Villa defender Richard DunneÃ¢ÂÂs burly frame to salvage a point for the hosts.
ASTON VILLA 5.5(D 1-1, QPR A)Another away point and another game unbeaten, but this was hardly a performance that inspired a belief that run will be extended much further than the current six matches. Villa were poor for large swathes of the match and were fortunate to be awarded a soft penalty, though that luck had clearly expired by the time Dunne bundled into his own net to level the scores.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 5.5(D 0-0, Fulham H)The Baggies were perhaps fortunate to avoid going in at the halfway mark of SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs match on level terms, having been well bettered by the visitors, before a spot of tactical tweaking from Roy Hodgson saw the hosts revert to their traditional 4-4-2 formation from their strange, exotic and foreign-sounding 4-3-3.
FULHAM 5.5(D 0-0, WBA A)Like the Baggies, Fulham won't take much from their bore-draw at the Hawthorns. But unlike the Midlanders, the West London side are still looking for their first league victory, a pattern that will grow all the more concerning as the season wears on. Still, this wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a bad performance, but the Cottagers will need to be more clinical Ã¢ÂÂ and perhaps cynical Ã¢ÂÂ if theyÃ¢ÂÂre to avoid a season of struggle.
EVERTON 5(L 0-2, Man City A)While Moyes will be happy his side were able to frustrate City for so much of SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs early kick-off, there will be few neutrals who enjoyed a performance that would perhaps best be described as overly robust. The most notable flashpoint came when Tim Cahill flew in on Vincent Kompany, a challenge which ultimately forced the Australian to withdraw from proceedings.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 5(L 1-2, Tottenham H)While they improved after the break, MartinezÃ¢ÂÂs side put in a first-half shift so lacklustre that their usually patient and realistic fan base sent them scuttling off for their half-time oranges with the sound of booing ringing in their ears. And yet had it not been for FigueroaÃ¢ÂÂs under-hit pass three minutes in, they may well have got a point.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 5(L 1-2, Liverpool A)A generally impressive performance was undone by two momentary lapses in focus that saw Liverpool move into a 2-0 halftime lead. Mick McCarthy was delighted with his sideÃ¢ÂÂs second half showing, celebrating the fact his side were Ã¢ÂÂback in the grooveÃ¢ÂÂ having played poorly in back-to-back home defeats. HeÃ¢ÂÂll want points to show for it next time out, though.
SWANSEA CITY 5(L 1-4, Chelsea A)A relatively heavy defeat, yes, but one from which there is plenty to be drawn for the Swans. Merely breaching the BluesÃ¢ÂÂ defence would have been some cause for satisfaction, particularly after their slow start to the season in front of goal, while 428 completed passes away to a top-four side is highly impressive for a newly-promoted side.
BLACKBURN ROVERS 4(L 1-3, Newcastle A)There was something of the After The Lord MayorÃ¢ÂÂs Show about this match and performance from Rovers, who reverted to type after their superb win over Arsenal last time out with a relatively meek showing at St JamesÃ¢ÂÂ. Steve KeanÃ¢ÂÂs side mustered just three shots on goal over the 90 minutes Ã¢ÂÂ only one on target.
SUNDERLAND 4(L 1-2, Norwich A)A real lackadaisical and almost disinterested performance saw Sunderland left with too much to do by the time they woke up with five minutes left to play. Bendtner led the line well in patches, but had little in the way of support, and the Black Cats midfield did little to pressurise their opponents and prevent them playing, even if the visitors did enjoy more of the possession.
BOLTON WANDERERS 3(L 0-3, Arsenal A)While they have been forced to endure a fairly torrid run of fixtures since their opening day waltz through ShepherdÃ¢ÂÂs Bush, Bolton should certainly be concerned that they havenÃ¢ÂÂt picked up a point since. To an extent, they didnÃ¢ÂÂt help themselves here, with David Wheater sent off on his first league start for the club.