Premier Analysis: How Spurs handed Arsenal the game
RESULTS (click team name for web-wide club news feed) Sat 25 Feb Chelsea 3-0 Bolton Wanderers; Newcastle United 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers; Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Fulham; West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Sunderland; Wigan Athletic 0-0 Aston Villa; Manchester City 3-0 Blackburn Rovers Sun 26 Feb Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur; Norwich City 1-2 Manchester United; Stoke City 2-0 Swansea City
It was a weekend for emphatic victories in the Premier League, with four of the nine matches won by a margin of three or more goals.
Perhaps the most dominant performance came from Manchester City as they brushed aside Blackburn Rovers with ease. The home side were a constant threat to Paul Robinson's goal, mustering 28 shots to their opponents' five Ã¢ÂÂ and four of those Blackburn shots were blocked, making Rovers only the second side this season (after Swansea at Everton) to register just one unblocked shot.
Nearly every statistic at the Etihad was heavily skewed in the home side's favour: their 692 completed passes (and a 93% pass completion rate) accounted for 78% of the possession, helped in no small part by the return of Yaya Toure in midfield. He matched Nigel De Jong in only misplacing two passes, as the pair completed 198 of 202 attempted passes.
The largest margin of victory came at the Hawthorns, where Martin O'Neill's rejuvenated Sunderland suffered their first major setback at the hands of West Brom. The four-goal margin of victory didn't flatter the home side, who had 20 efforts on goal and got half on target. A sizeable proportion of the home side's chances came down the left wing, where Jerome Thomas and Liam Ridgewell caused Phil Bardsley no end of problems all game.
That result may have been surprising, but that was nothing compared to the demolition derby at the Emirates on Sunday as Arsenal crushed Tottenham 5-2. At half-time with the game poised at 2-2, Harry Redknapp made sweeping changes to his side which only succeeded in handing the game to Arsenal.
Removing Luis Saha to revert to a three-man midfield nullified Tottenham's counterattacking threat Ã¢ÂÂ but the switch to inverted wingers (substitute Rafael van der Vaart on the left and Gareth Bale on the right) rendered Bale less effective, as shown by examining his contribution in each half.
Even more critically, playing with inverted wingers left Benoit Assou-Ekotto exposed at left-back. It was no surprise that most of Arsenal's chances, including all three second-half goals, came from attacking Assou-Ekotto.
That wasn't the only London derby this weekend: Fulham's trip to QPR gave the chance to examine Bobby Zamora's performance against his former team. In the reverse fixture Zamora created six goalscoring chances and registered two assists, while also scoring a goal from one of his four shots; this time around, he couldn't manage a single shot at goal.
In truth the comparison is slightly unfair: in the first game, Zamora was on the right end of a 6-0 drubbing, but even in defeat this time he managed to create two chances in a team reduced to 10 men after Samba Diakite's early red card. The Malian could hardly feel the dismissal was unjustified after committing six fouls in his short time on the pitch.
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