By TRAVIS CLARK
Is this the beginning of a beautiful partnership that will bring Chelsea the title? The work of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka should have defenses on the look out, as the two have been instrumental in Chelsea's three wins in three start to the 2009/10 season.
Nowhere was this more clear than at Craven Cottage on Sunday. After going down by a goal in their first two matches of the season, Chelsea were lucky to remain level after Clint Dempsey skied an early opportunity. Just when it looked like Fulham were in the mix for a result, Anelka played Drogba in beautifully for the game's first, and the Ivorian returned the favor later on, leaving Fulham in their dust for the 2-0 result.
It's early in the season, but a team like Chelsea can't be ignored as contenders to win the league this year, and indications after three games are justified. They have depth in midfield and are strong at the back, leaving the two up front as the missing link. If Anelka and Drogba boss games on a consistent basis like this, expect to see them near the top come May.
A quick look at the rest of the weekend's action from England after the jump.
Burnley 1, Everton 0
Danger for David Moyes. Or is Burnley better than everyone thought? After a shocking win over Manchester United at Turf Moor, it was the same prescription for victory: grab the lead and cling onto it for dear life. This time it was Wade Elliot, beating Tim Howard in the 34th minute. Add to that another missed penalty ensured the three points for the Clarets — though justice was served as the Everton attacker went down in the box untouched. Frenchman Louis Saha stepped up for the penalty and preceded to miss everything. Lots of work to do if you're Moyes, but reports indicate that he'll receive an infusion of cash to spend from the sale of Joleon Lescott.
Tottenham 2, West Ham 1
Another London team off to a hot start. Though it's worth noting no one has gone from goat-to-hero and back again so quickly than Carlton Cole did. The English striker couldn't get on the end of a tap in that should have opened the scoring. His response? A ridiculous turn-and-volley that Carlo Cudicini didn't even react to. Cole quickly turn villain, sending a back pass to Jermaine Defoe to equalize for Spurs, leaving Aaron Lennon to grab the game winner. It's a bright start for Harry Redknapp's side, who have looked strong in three games and sit at the top of the table.
Arsenal 4, Portsmouth 1
Another rampant performance for Arsene Wenger's side, as they jumped all over a poor Portsmouth club. Two goals from Abou Diaby, and a goal apiece from Aaron Ramsey and William Gallas made this no contest — or was it? Gallas appeared to pull down attacker John Utaka who was almost in on Manuel Almunia's goal. That non-call (on the replay it looked like Utaka fell down) could have leveled the game had Utaka scored. Point being, Arsenal still has defensive questions that must be answered and could also face some time without Cesc healthy. In other news, after inadvertently scoring with his face this week, Gallas is going to next score with his calf.
Manchester United 5, Wigan 0
Were some United fans nervous after a slow start? Perhaps. Alex Ferguson's side did their best to assuage those fears, thumping Wigan in the second half, putting five in past a stranded Chris Kirkland. It was a resounding performance that made one thing clear — Wayne Rooney has to be the focus for the Red Devils. He can't layoff the ball to Ronaldo anymore, but instead has to take it on himself until Berbatov improves his consistency and Michael Owen hits his stride. While I'm not sold on United as of yet, there is little reason to be concerned about their slow start this early in the season.
Birmingham City 0, Stoke City 0
A battle of two clubs that could be in the relegation battle come the season's end, it took a spectacular performance from Stoke's Thomas Sorenson to ensure a draw. Both sides have four points from their first three games, hardly the worst beginning to a season that could end with one heading back to the Championship.
Manchester City 1, Wolverhampton 0
City's millions has yet to provide astute finishing — Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez, and Stephan Ireland were particularly wasteful as the nouveau-riche club escaped the Eastlands with a win over newly-promoted Wolves. Two from two is not a bad way to start it, though with the chances they had, City can count themselves a bit lucky to have come away with all three points. The impending transfer of Lescott will surely firm their defense, but it still could be too early for this side to crack the top four.
Hull City 1, Bolton 0
A remarkable poor start for Hull looked to get worse on Saturday, failing to best Bolton for a half of football. It wasn't until Jozy Altidore set up the lone goal of the match with his first touch that Phil Brown could calm his nerves. The American striker did well to loft a through ball over the head of the last defender that Kamel Ghilas thumped home for the winner. Jozy should have enjoyed a perfect start, going close on at least two occasions. It isn't out of the question for both these clubs to be in the relegation mix near season's end.
Sunderland 2, Blackburn 1
The lackluster start to 2009 continued for relegation candidates Blackburn, falling at the Stadium Light to a Sunderland side showing a good attacking bite thus far. A brace from Trinidad & Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones earned the Black Cats the full three points despite the Rovers bossing proceedings in the first half. Only Portsmouth and Everton have enjoyed worse starts than Blackburn, who are amongst the favorites to go down. But what of Sunderland? The club from the northeast added Darren Bent for £10 million, but it was Jones who stole the show. Contribution from both are vital for this club to finish in range of the top half of the table.
What did you make of this weekend's EPL action? Think Chelsea and Tottenham are as good as they've looked thus far? Share your thoughts below.