Prem Ratings: Chelsea find turning point as Spurs lose their rhythm
FourFourTwo's James Maw makes with the ratings, as we round up another weekend of red hot, steamy, hardcore Premier League action. Mmmmm, sexy...
(W 2-1, Man City A)
After half-an-hour of Monday eveningÃ¢ÂÂs match you would have got long odds on Chelsea overcoming the league leaders, with City totally dominant and looking capable of picking off the hosts at will. Yet Chelsea gathered themselves, remained patient and were eventually able to swing the balance in their favour. Some may claim ClichyÃ¢ÂÂs dismissal was key, but the Blues were already well on top by that stage. A deserved and hugely encouraging win. A turning point?
MANCHESTER UNITED 8.0
(W 4-1, Wolves H)
United bounced back from their humiliating midweek exit from the Champions League in the fashion most would have expected, with Wayne Rooney scoring his first league goals since that red card in Montenegro. While wins against relegation fodder arenÃ¢ÂÂt what win you titles, the margin of victory was at least a sign that United may be slowly getting back to somewhere near their best after a string of 1-0s.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 8.0
(W 2-1, West Brom A)
With the sparse surroundings of the DW Stadium unlikely to ever become an impenetrable fortress, grabbing the occasional win on the road by frustrating their hosts and pinching goals on the fly could make all the difference to WiganÃ¢ÂÂs survival hopes. For the second away day running, the Latics came from behind to seal three points, heaping pressure on the opposition manager and leaving Roberto Martinez with an unfamiliar feeling of contentment.
NORWICH CITY 7.5
(W 4-2, Newcastle H)
The Canaries have played some good football this season, but Paul LambertÃ¢ÂÂs side adopted a more pragmatic approach to best take advantage of the visitorsÃ¢ÂÂ under-strength defence - all four of their goals were headers, three of them from set-pieces. Although the Magpies were without several key players, three points against a side in such good form arenÃ¢ÂÂt to be sniffed at, particularly when youÃ¢ÂÂve won one of the last six.
ASTON VILLA 7.5
(W 2-1, Bolton A)
ItÃ¢ÂÂs safe to say Villa fans havenÃ¢ÂÂt exactly taken to their new manager, but a modicum of pressure was eased off Alex McLeishÃ¢ÂÂs shoulders with this, their first away victory of the season. A switch to 4-4-2 appeared to pay dividends, with returning right winger Marc Albrighton Ã¢ÂÂ one of VillaÃ¢ÂÂs stars of last season but surprisingly sidelined this Ã¢ÂÂ opening the scoring, and Emile Heskey only on the pitch for nine minutesÃ¢ÂÂ¦
(W 1-0, Everton H)
With all the fanfare of unveiling statues, celebrating 125 years of history and watching Ian Wright lark about in a silly hat; you could be forgiven for forgetting there was a football match on at the Emirates on Saturday. Perhaps that explains the GunnersÃ¢ÂÂ rather sluggish display, with Arsene WengerÃ¢ÂÂs side struggling to fully click into gear against the resilient Toffees (insert joke about being hard to chew here). A win at Man City on Sunday could make things very interesting indeed.
STOKE CITY 7.0
(W 2-1, Tottenham H)
The Potters made it three wins in a row with what was perhaps their most impressive result of the season, completely banishing memories of the four successive defeats that had preceded the current run. Fortune was on their side, with Tony PulisÃ¢ÂÂ side appearing to have the rub of the green with the officials in the second half, but the first half performance was hugely impressive nonetheless.
(W 2-1, Blackburn H)
A first win on Martin OÃ¢ÂÂNeillÃ¢ÂÂs first afternoon in the Stadium of Light hot seat is clearly a positive, but shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt gloss over the deficiencies displayed by the UlstermanÃ¢ÂÂs new charges in their last-gasp victory over the Premier LeagueÃ¢ÂÂs most hapless side. Not least the fact that, despite having oodles of possession, they were unable to carve out many half-decent chances until David Vaughan struck from long range (23 shots, only five on target).
SWANSEA CITY 7.0
(W 2-0, Fulham H)
The Swans ended a four-match winless run with a much-deserved victory over the Cottagers. Goal-scorer Danny Graham described it as a Ã¢ÂÂmust winÃ¢ÂÂ match, and itÃ¢ÂÂs hard to disagree given the three points are the difference between the South Wales side sitting in their current position of 11th or potential low of 16th. An impressive sixth clean sheet of the season came thanks to Michel VormÃ¢ÂÂs penalty save.
(W 1-0, QPR H)
At the third time of asking, Liverpool were finally able to defeat a newly-promoted side at Anfield. Despite the narrow score-line, this was a hugely improved performance, with the previously criticised Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam both starting to make an impact in midfield. Concerns will remain over the RedsÃ¢ÂÂ profligacy, with 25 shots on goal bringing just seven saves from QPRÃ¢ÂÂs Radek Cerny, beating him only the once.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5.0
(L 2-1, Stoke A)
Had Emmanuel Adebayor not been incorrectly denied by an offside flag, this match may well have finished all square and been the archetypal Ã¢ÂÂgame of two halvesÃ¢ÂÂ. Spurs were dire in the first half, they couldnÃ¢ÂÂt live with StokeÃ¢ÂÂs power and failed to find enough rhythm of their own to trouble their opponents. A switch to 3-5-2 saw a huge improvement after the break, and Tottenham will count themselves more than a little unlucky to have lost. Still, they should look at their own first half performance before they point the finger of blame at Foy & Co.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS 4.5
(L 1-0, Liverpool A)
Neil Warnock seemed none too concerned by this defeat at Anfield, preferring to focus on the positives, namely his sideÃ¢ÂÂs resolute defensive work. The HoopsÃ¢ÂÂ Premier League survival wonÃ¢ÂÂt hinge on matches away to the big guns, after all. The fixtures with Sunderland, Swansea and Norwich over the festive period will be far more decisive.
(L 1-0, Arsenal A)
Not for the first time this season, Everton set out to be hard to beatÃ¢ÂÂ¦ but it just wasnÃ¢ÂÂt enough. Their performance was resolute yet fruitless, with Robin van Persie once again the difference for the Gunners. Forget the Dutchman, the Toffees would kill for a player like Gervinho in their side, heck, maybe even Marouane ChamakhÃ¢ÂÂ¦
BLACKBURN ROVERS 4.5
(L 2-1, Sunderland A)
As has been the case on a fairly regular basis in recent weeks, Steve Kean will have walked away from a match feeling his side could and should have come away with more. In a sense, circumstances worked against Rovers here, with the visitors forced into making three substitutions within the first 52 minutes, meaning they were unable to replace any of their many pooped players in the final throes of the encounter, during which time they lost two goals and three points.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 4.5
(L 4-1, Man Utd A)
There were conflicting suggestions that this was either the best or worst time to visit Old Trafford, with the champions still licking the wounds inflicted by Basel three days earlier. The final score perhaps suggests the latter, but unlike their recent defeat at Stamford Bridge, there was something to take from this performance, with United needing to dig deep to kill off the tie.
MANCHESTER CITY 4.0
(L 2-1, Chelsea A)
A curious performance saw City almost match the brilliance of White Hart Lane and Old Trafford in the first half-hour, before slumping to most probably their worst hour of football so far this term, at least domestically. While it was Gael Clichy who saw red, several of his team-mates could well have walked before him, with Yaya Toure in particular seeming to be lacking in discipline. Sunday's home clash with Arsenal now looks huge.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 4.0
(L 4-2, Norwich A)
Although there were mitigating circumstances in this defeat Ã¢ÂÂ Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote were all missing from the Magpies' line-up Ã¢ÂÂ Alan Pardew will still be furious with the nature of the goals conceded. Not only did three of NorwichÃ¢ÂÂs goals come from set-pieces, but all four were in fact free headers.
(L 2-0, Swansea A)
The Cottagers continued their baffling inconsistency with a largely feeble showing at Swansea, just five days after they beat Liverpool. Earlier this season a 6-0 win over QPR was followed by defeat at Stoke, a lacklustre draw at Sunderland by an impressive 1-1 draw at Arsenal, and home draw with Blackburn with another against Man City. Uncovering the cause of this unpredictability could be key to Martin Jol dragging his side away from the drop zone.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 3.0
(L 2-1, Wigan H)
As a rule of thumb, losing to at home to Wigan is generally considered bad. Very bad. Bad enough to get Steve Bruce the sack two weeks previously, in fact. The same fate is unlikely to befall Roy Hodgson, but with the chance to move as high as 11th spurned, upcoming trips to Blackburn and Newcastle will bring far greater pressure.
BOLTON WANDERERS 2.5
(L 2-1, Aston Villa H)
A home fixture against a side in almost as woeful form as themselves should have been the perfect chance for Bolton to dig deep and scrap for three points. Instead, the TrottersÃ¢ÂÂ first half showing was as limp as youÃ¢ÂÂd expect from a side without a midfielder who can tackle. Before Owen Coyle could say Ã¢ÂÂthose are the marginsÃ¢ÂÂ, Bolton were two down, and not even an improved second half performance could save a point. Boo indeed.