You can put forth the argument that Chelsea may have faced the two weakest teams in the Premier League, racking up two clean sheets, a +12 goal difference, and the only perfect record in the English Premier League. Their 6-0 win in Saturday’s late match came against Wigan team that sits at the bottom of the table. The Latics "quality" seems temporarily clear. Chelsea's other 6-0 win was at home over West Bromwich Albion, and through Brom beat Sunderland this weekend, it was at the Hawthorns, 1-0, the goal came late, and was against an unimpressive opponent.
Perhaps the only club that’s looked irrefutably worse the West Brom is West Ham, so saying Chelsea’s racked-up their record against the league’s two worst teams is an exaggeration. "Two of" the worst teams is the language you’re looking for, and that phraseology belies the fact that a 12-0 aggregate is still pretty darn good.
Still, it's helpful to remember Chelsea put up multiple victories like this last year in winning a near-coin flip title from Manchester United. That this year's massive victories have been bunched into the first two matches doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll keep coming or Chelsea is any better. With upcoming matches against Stoke and at West Ham, it will be some time before we have decent context on Chelsea's performance.
There is a small note of worry for the holders, though. Perhaps not a note of worry as much as an unanswered question. Last year’s major fault, the concrete in the boots of their central defense, has not been meaningfully tested through 180 minutes, though the one spell of possession Wigan or Brom have managed, Chelsea looked worrisome. Over the first quarter of Saturday’s match, Wigan looked good for a goal while Chelsea looked like a team that’s still relying on John Terry; a team that let Ricardo Carvalho go. Those seem like bad things.
On Saturday, Terry did not acquit himself well. For those hoping the captain had learned from last year’s problems - had taken the trials he went through in his private life and for the national team and gained a new perspective - look at this weekend's Charles N’Zogbia incident. Terry had taken exception to some physical play from the Wigan winger, and in the second half when Chelsea had the match in-hand, Terry took the opportunity to exact revenge on the Frenchman. Never mind that Terry was on a yellow card (and should have been sent off), and never mind that the name "Charles N’Zogbia" should never appear at the top of John Terry’s "Things To Do" list. Terry decided to adorn the eye-patch and goatee and play to type.
The true "what are you doing" moment came after Terry had gone out of his way to take out N’Zgobia. Apparently, going through the Wigan players legs once wasn’t enough. N’Zogbia got up, moved-on, only to see Terry him down again. The winger had not shown himself to be sufficiently injured on the first hit. Only after N’Zogbia was on his back, clutching his shin, was Terry placated.
Terry’s decision to take out N’Zogbia was a selfish, un-captain-like act. Terry's inability to effectively execute his intent the first time gave him (in his mind) reason to persist, accumulating a second cause for embarrassment. That’s twice as many reasons as Chelsea fans have to be ashamed, as on a day in which the team should proudly noted the 20-0 aggregate scored from their preceding three matches, the Blues were still represented by John Terry.
It's very difficult to imagine Frank Lampard making the same decisions.
Touchdowns Without Conversions
I asked the SB Nation stat gurus to look up the last time there were three or more scorelines of 6-0 or worse on the same Premier League weekend. SB Nation responded by saying I was the stat guru, which is just sad. I have trouble counting past 20.
Suffice to say three 6-0 results don’t happen often. Chelsea got theirs in Saturday’s late match after Arsenal’d put up a touchdown on Blackpool, with Newcastle exacting revenge on Aston Villa in Sunday’s early match.
Revenge may be too strong a word. Though Villa was the team that sent Newcastle down two years ago, the Magpies have had more to do than brood over Villa. They've had to reorganize their squad. In place of the team that went down is a restructured group that bares little resemblance to the Toon of 2009. I doubt the likes of Andy Carroll, Jonas Gutierrez, and Jose Enrique was doing the cold sweat wake-up: "Villa!"
That’s not to say Newcastle didn’t play like it, though. Enrique reminded people of his quality, shutting down a right side of attack that featured Marc Albrighton (coming off a strong opener), the drifting Ashley Young and the switching Stewart Downing. Jonas Gutierrez was his active, awkard and (for opponents) cumbersome self, while Andy Carroll gave us the first reason to believe Newcastle could challenge at the edges of Europe.
Goal scoring was expected to be the problem for the Toon. They have solid personnel across the back, particularly once Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor are fit. In attack, their leading goalscorers - Carroll and Kevin Nolan - have only been good for one goal in five throughout their Premier League careers. On Sunday, Carroll’s hat-trick showed he is much improved from the young player who accumulated that record. Granted, Aston Villa defender Cieran Clark deserves a lot of scrutiny, but if Carroll is able to take advantage of similarly skilled players throughout the season, Newcastle has at least one double-digit goal scorer.
At the Emirates, Arsenal posted the weekend’s other 6-0, scoring five of their goals against a 10-man Blackpool. The story of the match was Theo Walcott, who posted a hat-trick, though Marouane Chamakh deserves a mention, having scored his first Premier League goal.
If The Season Ended Today ...
... we would all be very sad, but it would also put Bolton into Champions League, Birmingham City in Europa League, with Wolverhampton possibly joining them. I say possibly because in this scenario, we don’t know how the Carling and FA Cup spots would be decided, which is fine by me. I’m more concerned with the shelf-life of this premise than considering all the implications of the scenario.
While it means little to see those three clubs in the top six, it’s still a bit surprising. After all, who was talking about the hot starts Bolton, Brum, and Wolves were set to have? tBut after all three got results this weekend, each club has four points through two matches.
Bolton got a 3-1 result at Upton Park thanks to a Johan Elmander brace, Birmingham City knotched their second come-from-behind victory with a 2-1 win over Blackburn at St. Andrew’s, while Wolves got a late Sylvain Ebanks-Blake goal to take a point at Goodison, a 1-1 with Everton.
Late Goals, Counted And Denied
Late in Tottenham’s visit to the Brittania, Robert Huth decided to shove Spurs `keeper Huerelho Gomes to the ground during a corner kick. Jon Walters eventually headed a ball toward goal. Many thought it crossed the line, though no camera angle gave us a sufficiently definitive view of when Peter Crouch’s chest blocked the shot. The general reaction post-match focused on whether the goal should have been allowed. I choose to give thanks that it didn’t definitively cross the line; else, we would have to bemoan the fact that Spurs were robbed of two points. As is, Huth’s foul on Gomes was inconsequential, with Tottenham winning 2-1. They are in seventh with four points while Stoke has lost both of their matches.
Fulham got a second half, stoppage time equalizer against Manchester United, salvaging a 2-2 draw. Observers can note with impunity that Manchester United seemed the better team. It would be hard to contend otherwise, but one note is obligatory: the better team doesn’t always win, nor are they meant to. In this game, you sometimes have to be definitively better than your opposition; else, the soccer deities will deem the difference meaningless.
When Manchester United starts a striking tandem of Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov, it will be difficult for them to be definitive. The team remains reliant on Wayne Rooney, and until they can break their dependence on one player, results like this are inevitable.