On what was dubbed as Grand Slam Sunday by the TV Channels, the top four teams in the EPL (BPL?) were in action. The top four teams – Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool – were separated by just 11 points and for each of the teams, victory was absolutely crucial. For Man Utd, to extend their lead atop the table; for Arsenal to cut short Man Utd’s lead; for Chelsea to overtake Arsenal into the second place in the standings & for Liverpool to keep their title hopes alive and kicking. The two matches in question were Man Utd Vs. Liverpool at Old Trafford and Chelsea Vs. Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.
I generally catch the EPL news on the web or catch the highlights show and seldom watch a match fully but such matches are not to be missed! So I ordered home delivery of dinner and tuned into ESPN for the back-to-back telecasts of the matches. First up was Man U Vs. Liverpool match and though it was lively in parts, it was all one-sided as Man U were the only attacking team. They went ahead through an unlikely goal from Wes Brown in the 34th minute. The match sparked up with the sending off of Mascherano for dissent and 10-man Liverpool could only haplessly watch as Christiano Ronaldo and Nani thumped in two goals within two minutes late in the second half to give Man U a 3-0 win and a six-point lead over Arsenal in the table.
Chelsea Vs. Arsenal match was later in the day and knowing Man U’s result, both teams knew that they had to win in order to reduce the gap. This one was much more lively and pacy as both teams played their tried n’ tested brand of football and created enough chances in the first half but neither could score and it remained goalless in the first half. Arsenal went ahead (again, through an unlikely scorer) via a header from defender Sagna in the 59th minute and suddenly Chelsea were on the backfoot. They upped the ante and their relentless attack paid off as Didier Drogba equalized in the 73rd minute from a Frank Lampard pass. Chelsea looked the more eager of the two teams and rung in the changes which immediately paid dividends and substitute Nicholas Anelka headed over a cross onto Drogba, whose shot sidled into the back of the net. This 2-1 victory meant Chelsea now move into 2nd place and 5 points adrift of leaders Man U.