A frantic weekend in the Premier League left us with plenty to mull over as the back pages made pretty reading for Wigan and Sunderland in particular.

Of course, there’s been two rounds of games since I last updated Cockney Latic about the goings on in the top flight; as if you didn’t know them already. Latics had two home games, which were used to our advantage as Martinez’s men bagged four points from a possible six.

The first game was an encounter from our neighbours from Merseyside, the game itself couldn’t have been timed worse. The meeting coincided with the return to form of not just Liverpool themselves, but their talisman Fernando Torres, who shocked Chelsea with two goals three days earlier.

This left the odds stacked up against Wigan, and our case wasn’t helped when Torres netted the opener after seven minutes. Yet Wigan fought back and the brilliant performance left Martinez smiling after sealing a 1-1 draw after a long hard battle and a Hugo Rodallega equaliser.

The high energy performance, not usually likened with the current Wigan crop, was carried into the game against West Brom. This was a game that I actually got to for once.

After purchasing my programme, steak pie and a poppy I took my seat for the first time since the Sunderland game would you guess, oh I’m a devoted fan.

I’m one of those fans that’ll watch the teams warm up as I get there early enough, there’s not much better to do in a relatively empty stadium when two Premier League teams are training below. Comparing the two, I have to say the contrast was slightly alarming. West Brom’s advanced pass and move drills loved superb to watch and flowed freely, whilst our master tacticians Graeme Jones and Graham Barrow were left with very simple passing exercises. However, the result speaks for itself in disproving my theory.

The match started with a faster paceVictor Moses WAFC vs WBAFC than what we’ve been accustomed to in the past few months, with N’Zogbia and Rodallega combining on the right, and Ronnie Stam’s attempted cross going out for a throw in on the other side. West Brom gradually got into the game as it went onwards, yet it was a first half stalemate with few opportunities.

The introduction of Victor Moses at half time was a big moment in the match; well besides the crossbar challenge that is, there once again was no winners, does anyone ever win that competition? Moses’ directness and raw pace was an immediate problem for the Albion defence, which led to the ES2 crew starting off the infamous Heartbeat chant, at least it got the crowd going.

It was no surprise who the source of Wigan’s breakthrough was as Moses gathered a ball from N’Zogbia following a break from midfield, and the winger slotted home beautifully to score the game’s only goal.

The two results combined will help Martinez defy his doubters, and keeps the Latics out of the relegation zone, for now.

Without doubt the biggest shock of the weekend was the game at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Leaders Chelsea welcomed Sunderland to the Bridge, expecting a routine victory to extend their lead at the top. Yet they were shocked by Bruce’s boys that had been beaten 5-1 by Newcastle just fourteen days previous.

Sunderland’s pace and momentum was obvious from the start, with the industrious pair of Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck more than making up for the loss of Darren Bent and scoring a goal each in the second half. Chelsea ran their luck in the first half and had Petr Cech to thank for keeping them level, they looked like gNedum Onouha CFC vs SAFCoing in to the break with a lucky 0-0 scoreline.

However, loanee Nedum Onouha had other ideas, the full back jinked past three Chelsea defenders; reminiscent of a primetime David Ginola or Ryan Giggs before slotting past Cech with his left foot. The Chelsea players and fans alike could only watch as the ball trickled into the corner of the net.

Sunderland decided to try to add to their lead, and they were successful, Asamoah Gyan’s none stop running was rewarded with a goal and Danny Welbeck ghosted in on Ashley Cole’s back pass to make the points save. Sunderland were in dreamland, their travelling fans were left with far more than they’d ever expected and Chelsea were left licking their wounds as the title race is thrown in the balance once more.

The chase was first altered when Man United endured their sixth away draw of the season at Villa Park, and it should have been worse.

The Gerard Houllier vs Alex Ferguson rivalry of previous eras was reignited as the two faced eachother on Saturday, with Houllier using all his tactical nous to surprise the Scot.

His youngsters’ enthusiasm and energy was there for all to see as the likes of Albrighton, Downing, Agbonlahor and Young tore United’s defence apart, leaving gaping holes at the back. Although they went unpunished until the second half.

Ashley Young scored the opener from the spot as the returning Gabby Agbonlahor was fouled by Wes Brown. Young then smashed the ball past Van der Sar to give the home side a 1-0 advantage. This lead was doubled as the excellent Stewart Downing found the run of Marc Albrighton who couldn’t miss, 2-0 and Villa were cruising. They even afforded to hit the post and crossbar, yet those missed chances went punished when United went up the other end in a late surge.

Federico Macheda, the substitute, smashed into the roof of the net to haunt Villa fans. He had previously scored the last minute winner on his arrival to the big scene two seasons beforehand to tilt the title race in United’s favour, against Aston Villa.

Five minutes before time, Nemanja Vidic atoned for his poor defensive performance as his diving header knock the ball past Friedel and inside the far post to level the scores. Typical United I suppose you’d say?

United remain unbeaten, yet they’ve suffered too many draws and don’t look like title winning material. They may benefit from losing a game to inspire them to kick on and win a few, what better game to do it than on Saturday?

We were treated to two other very entertaining games on Match of the Day on Saturday night, both full of goals. Firstly, Tottenham were hammering Blackburn 4-0 before a late revival from Rovers and Spurs’ defensive lapse made it 4-2. Roman Pavlyuchenko fired a penalty wide and Gareth Bale continued his brilliant form with two goals and an assist in a lively affair.

At Molineaux, Bolton recorded an away win after going 3-0 up due to an own goal from Richard Stearman, a wonder gaol from Johan Elmader (as unlikely as it sounds) and a tap in from Rick Holden, sorry Stuart Holden. Wolves did get two goals to pull it back from Kevin Foley and Steven Fletcher.


13th November 2010
Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United
Manchester City 0-0 Birmingham City
Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 Blackburn Rovers
Wigan Athletic 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-3 Bolton Wanderers
West Ham United 0-0 Blackpool
Newcastle United 0-0 Fulham
Stoke City 2-0 Liverpool
14th November 2010
Everton 1-2 Arsenal
Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland

The Duke’s…

Goal of the Weekend: Nedum Onouha, Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland

Blunder of the Weekend: How not to manage, lesson 1. When you need a goal to see off a relegation threatened team at home, do not take off your top scorer for a feeble defensive midfielder. Take not Roberto Mancini.

Save of the Weekend: Paul Robinson to deny Roman Pavlyuchenko, Tottenham 4-2 Blackburn

This week’s teaser: How many substitute appearance has Didier Drogba made for Chelsea?

One last thing, Match of the Day, it’s a regular football fan’s gripe. Yet I fail to understand why Manc City’s dire 0-0 stalemate with Birmingham was on before our game, our game at elast had a goal and a tad bit of action! Also the Manchester derby on Wednesday, why on earth was that on first? Okay, it was a derby but it was an awful one, it deserved to be on last and last only. Rant over.