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 evening’s 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 Clichy’s dismissal was key, but the Blues were already well on top by that stage. A deserved and hugely encouraging win. A turning point?

(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 aren’t 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.

(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 Wigan’s 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.

(W 4-2, Newcastle H)
The Canaries have played some good football this season, but Paul Lambert’s side adopted a more pragmatic approach to best take advantage of the visitors’ 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 aren’t to be sniffed at, particularly when you’ve won one of the last six.

(W 2-1, Bolton A)
It’s safe to say Villa fans haven’t exactly taken to their new manager, but a modicum of pressure was eased off Alex McLeish’s 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 – one of Villa’s stars of last season but surprisingly sidelined this – opening the scoring, and Emile Heskey only on the pitch for nine minutes…

(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 Gunners’ rather sluggish display, with Arsene Wenger’s 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.

(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 Pulis’ 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 O’Neill’s first afternoon in the Stadium of Light hot seat is clearly a positive, but shouldn’t gloss over the deficiencies displayed by the Ulsterman’s new charges in their last-gasp victory over the Premier League’s 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).

(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 ‘must win’ match, and it’s 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 Vorm’s 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 Reds’ profligacy, with 25 shots on goal bringing just seven saves from QPR’s Radek Cerny, beating him only the once.

(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 ‘game of two halves’. Spurs were dire in the first half, they couldn’t live with Stoke’s 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.

(L 1-0, Liverpool A)
Neil Warnock seemed none too concerned by this defeat at Anfield, preferring to focus on the positives, namely his side’s resolute defensive work. The Hoops’ Premier League survival won’t 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 beat… but it just wasn’t 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 Chamakh…

(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.

(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.

(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.

(L 4-2, Norwich A)
Although there were mitigating circumstances in this defeat – Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote were all missing from the Magpies' line-up – Alan Pardew will still be furious with the nature of the goals conceded. Not only did three of Norwich’s 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.

(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.

(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 Trotters’ first half showing was as limp as you’d expect from a side without a midfielder who can tackle. Before Owen Coyle could say ‘those are the margins’, Bolton were two down, and not even an improved second half performance could save a point. Boo indeed.