CITY BLINKS FIRST, UNITED GRABS EDGE IN TABLE

As Fernando Torres stole the headlines in the Chelsea v Man United fixture, was it City taking the role as biggest chokers of the weekend? Up 2-nil just after the break, the Blue Moon faithful looked to celebrate yet another victory away from home. Sergio Aguero couldn’t be stopped. City were certain to seal their best start to a Premier League campaign in the team’s history, but Fulham had other plans. Goals from Bobby Zamora and Danny Murphy shocked City fans, who saw their club turn in an unproductive final 44 minutes. Back in Manchester, United was busy pinning Chelsea back by 3 goals, and well on their way to sealing a 5-win start to their 2011 campaign; more importantly, they now held a tangible edge over their rivals.

Chelsea v Man Utd

Despite a Blues team that played well overall, and a dangerous Torres reminiscent of old, United were able to find the net early and keep the Chelsea attack at bay. Sir Alex’s Ferguson’s men were able to make the most of their opportunities, as usual, but the United boss kept things in perspective after the game. “‘There were so many mistakes from both teams. We have won a game we could have thrown away.” Fortunate, the Red side of Manchester has been, but right now it just seems like every ball is bouncing in their favor… much to the chagrin of Torres. The struggling Spaniard seemed to shake off much of his recent troubles after finding the net early in the second half. A missed penalty from Wayne Rooney kept Chelsea in the game, and Nicholas Anelka’s entrance into the match seemed to help open up the offense. A brilliant Ramires through ball into the United box, was perfectly placed for a streaking Torres. A clever move that beat De Gea left the striker with an open goal, six-yards from his first brace in nearly 9 months. But then came the moment when no onlooker could believe their eyes. The ball was booted wide, and Torres crumpled to the ground in crushing disbelief.

I won’t speculate much on Fernando’s condition today, but I can only imagine it’s not good. Mental solidarity has been proven to be a must-have attribute of the world’s best athletes; Torres seems to lack any confidence right now. You can tell his touch deceives him and often it seems that his frustration turns to despair when things don’t go his way. I’ll leave his price-tag out of the equation; his proven goal-scoring ability must still be present, but is likely buried under a heap of disbelief, public pressure, and self-questioning. Andres Villas-Boaz certainly has pressure on him as well. In order to catch the team they just failed to beat, he’ll have to get his entire team to perform at their best, and start locking down 3-point performances on a weekly basis.

Other thoughts from the weekend:

Sunderland looked like a completely different team than the one that showed up for their first 4 games, deserved all 3 points in a demolition of a good Stoke defense.

If you told me that Arsenal would be a point from the drop-zone after 5 weeks I’d have said something like “not surprised”… I have to admit, I’m still a little surprised.

Swansea finally found the back of the net this week. Good thing their defensive strengths held onto a couple of scoreless draws. Those points could turn out to be really valuable in May.

Man United and Man City are both undefeated. Not surprised…. Aston Villa and Newcastle are also both undefeated. Quite surprised!

Liverpool goes from a Top 4 shoo-in, to a big question mark in just two weeks. Away form could become a major concern for Dalglish this year.

Spurs‘ first two weeks were disastrous. Thier second two weeks were much more indicative of the team we thought they’d be this year… good thing they only have to play teams from Manchester two more times this season.

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