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Rediff.com  » Sports » Chelsea stutter at Newcastle, Man U top table

Chelsea stutter at Newcastle, Man U top table

Last updated on: November 29, 2010 12:05 IST

Chelsea stutter again

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Chelsea's Premier League title defence continued to splutter when they could only draw 1-1 at Newcastle United and missed their chance of returning to the top of the standings Sunday.

Everything is going Tottenham Hotspur's way, however, as Aaron Lennon scored in stoppage time to complete a 2-1 comeback win over Liverpool in an action-packed encounter at White Hart Lane.

The day's five goals took the weekend tally to 41 in 10 games -- equalling the Premier League record -- with all 20 teams scoring.

Manchester United, who hammered Blackburn Rovers 7-1 on Saturday helped by five goals from Dimitar Berbatov, top the table on 31 points with Chelsea and Arsenal, 4-2 winners at Aston Villa, both on 29.

Manchester City are fourth on 26 after being held to a 1-1 draw at Stoke City and Spurs fifth on 25.


Image: Chelsea's Salomon Kalou (left) celebrates after scoring against Newcastle United on Sunday
Photographs: Reuters
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'We have to do better up front'

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Having worked all morning to clear the pitch and surrounding areas of snow, Newcastle were rewarded with a gift after six minutes when Alex's ill-judged backpass rolled past Petr Cech and Andy Carroll nipped in to tuck the ball into an empty net.

Chelsea, who had lost their last two league matches, forced their way back into the game and levelled at the end of the first half when a lovely flick by Florent Malouda sent Salomon Kalou through to score with a deflected shot.

Chelsea had most of the ball in the second half but though Kalou somehow missed from two metres out, they struggled to create any other clear chances.

"We had a bad start but after that it was a good reaction and the performance was good but we have to do better up front," Chelsea manager Carlo Anceolotti told Sky Sports.

"It's not a good moment, we've lost the top of the table. We have to improve, it is not enough now what we are doing."


Image: Andy Carroll

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Lively Liverpool lose fizz against Spurs

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Liverpool looked lively from the start with Maxi Rodriguez twice going close from long range.

Their persistence paid off after 42 minutes when defender Martin Skrtel headed a Raul Meireles free kick into the back of teammate David Ngog and reacted sharply to bang in the loose ball.

Rodriguez and Fernando Torres, twice, both took too long to unleash shots either side of halftime when Liverpool should have made the game safe and Spurs took advantage of their escape.

Meireles headed a Gareth Bale shot off the line but Ngog then inexplicably jumped with his hands above his head when in a wall defending a Bale free kick to concede a penalty.

However, Defoe dragged his spot kick wide, Spurs's fourth miss in nine penalties this season.

Tottenham did level five minutes later, though, when Skrtel turned a low Luka Modric cross into his own goal following a driving run by the Croatia midfielder.

They took all three points when Lennon ran on to a Crouch flick two minutes into stoppage time and neatly tucked in the winner.


Image: Liverpool's Martin Skrtel (left) celebrates after netting against Tottenham Hotspurs on Sunday

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Five-star Berbatov puts Man Utd back on top

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Dimitar Berbatov scored five goals to send Manchester United roaring back to the top of the Premier League with a 7-1 rout of Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The Bulgarian, eclipsing teammate Wayne Rooney in the England striker's first league start since the beginning of October, put in a five-star performance after wrapping up his hat-trick two minutes after the break.

Under increasing flak for a scoring drought extending back to September, Berbatov was only the fourth player to score five in a single game in the Premier League.

Berbatov wasted no time getting on the scoresheet at Old Trafford, taking his first goal from close range in the second minute and his second in the 27th before notching a third in the 47th. He made it four in the 62nd and five eight minutes later.


Image: Dimitar Berbatov

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'We found our rhythm and tempo'

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"We've been waiting for that performance for weeks," said United manager Alex Ferguson. "We kept saying that our rhythm and tempo has not been good enough in the last few weeks but today it was. We found it."

The only other player to manage five for United in Ferguson's time as manager was Andy Cole and the Scot was quick to praise Berbatov and the team effort.

"There was some great football attached to those goals and getting off the mark early I think helped him (Berbatov) because he hadn't scored for 10 games," he told Sky Sports.

"And that does prey on strikers' minds because that's the way they are." South Korean forward Park Ji-sung had made it 2-0 in the 23rd while Nani scored United's fifth in the 48th with Blackburn, taken over this month by Indian poultry giant Venky's, getting a roasting.

Chris Samba scored a late consolation goal with a header seven minutes from time.


Image: Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung celebrates after scoring against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday

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'It was important to win today'

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Arsenal, still smarting from their 3-2 home defeat by North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur last weekend and a 2-0 Champions League loss at Braga in midweek, eased the pain of those results with victory at Villa Park.

Arsenal went in 2-0 ahead at halftime but then allowed Villa back into the game, youngster Ciaran Clark scoring twice to set up a nervy final 20 minutes with Arsenal leading 3-2.

Marouane Chamakh had scored their third while teenage midfielder Jack Wilshere made it 4-2 deep into stoppage time when he headed in his first league goal for Arsenal.

"It was important to win today," said Wenger.

"Repeated things happening negatively become a syndrome and that's what you don't want."

West Bromwich Albion returned to form by trouncing Everton 4-1 at Goodison Park while Bolton Wanderers recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Blackpool.


Image: Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh (centre) celebrates with Rosicky after scoring against Villa on Saturday

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