By TRAVIS CLARK
Many had trumped this weekend as a maelstrom of mediocre matchups throughout England's top flight. And surely with fixtures like Wigan-Chelsea, Manchester United-Stoke, Sunderland-Wolves, there wasn't much to boast about going in.
But the aftermath of it all produced goals galore as the nine games on the weekend produced an astounding 34 goals, or 3.78 goals per game. Only four matches have been drawn all season as well.
Highlighting the weekend was Chelsea's loss against a determined and organized Wigan side. The often-maligned defender Titus Bramble opened the scoring at the DW. While the defender makes more mistakes to grab headlines, the opener inspired confidence against a Chelsea side that had looked scary good.
Didier Drogba ensured the 1-0 didn't last too long, as he tapped home between Chris Kirkland's legs to level the score. Just when it seemed like Chelsea would hang around long enough to grab that last minute win they've specialized in, Petr Cech was sent off early in the second half for a trip on Hugo Rodallega before a stoppage time goal by Paul Scharner secured Wigan's first-ever win against a top four club.
The atmosphere at the DW was perhaps the best it's ever been and Wigan can certainly build on this. Chelsea's loss is perhaps a signal that the title race will be wide open.
Liverpool 6, Hull City 1
Fernando Torres scored a hat trick against a struggling Hull side who look very much favorites for relegation as the weeks tick on. Torres was a man among boys — literally, as Phil Brown handed an 18-year-old a start in defense — as he tore up the Tigers' porous defense. The season for Liverpool hinges on the health of the Spaniard, perhaps even more so than talisman Steven Gerrard.
Blackburn 2, Aston Villa 1
Visiting Aston Villa jumped out to a quick start, going ahead in the second minute behind an early Gabriel Agbanlahor goal. From there, a Villa dominance could have been expected, particularly for a team playing well of late. But defender-turned-striker Christopher Samba cooley beat Brad Friedel to even the score. Victory seemed within grasp for Villa once again — Vince Grella was sent off for a second yellow in the 68th minute. A winner for Blackburn came forth, however, when Richard Dunne was whistled for a handball in the box. David Dunn stepped up and smashed home the 88th minute winner for the Rovers.
Everton 1, Portsmouth 0
Seven defeats on the trot for Pompey, in a game that they should have at least nabbed a point out of. A Louis Saha goal in the first half was all that was needed as the dreadful start to the season continued for the hosts. It's easy to believe that come season's end, few will be out at Fratton Park as this team gets sucked down to the Championship. Credit to the losers in that they were better for longer stretches than the victorious Toffees, but Tim Howard denied them time and time again. They need to start a rescue act, and soon.
Tottenham 5, Burnley 0
Looks like the charm of Burnley has already worn down. Heading to White Hart Lane against a Spurs team that had dropped two straight, the Turf Moor magic stayed at home as four goals from Robbie Keane were plenty enough — Jermaine Jenas added the fifth just for good measure. For Spurs, it's certainly the way you'd want to bounce back if they want to stick around at the top of the table. Burnley has nothing to worry about, at least yet, seeing as they sit mid-table for the moment. Lots left to play.
Sunderland 5, Wolverhampton 2
It was a weird and wacky match at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland jumped out to a commanding 2-0 lead after Darren Bent drew two penalties. Just when the game seemed safe, two bizarre goals later, Wolves found themselves on level terms. First Craig Gordon punched a shot right into his defender and back into his own net. Next, Kieran Richardson sent a sloppy backpass that Gordon had to palm away to prevent a second own goal. The result indirect kick — from the top of the six-yard box, nonetheless — deflected into the path of Wolves striker Kevin Doyle and into the back of the net. Just when Wolverhampton thought they were back in it, a trio of late goals from Sunderland left them dead and buried.
Arsenal 1, Fulham 0
Don Vito Mannone is the new nickname cropping up on message board across the world. The 21-year-old had the game of his life against the Cottagers Saturday, denying Andy Johnson, Bobby Zamora and Clint Dempsey to keep a clean sheet. It was a drab performance from the 'entertainers' but a Cesc Fabregas pass found Robin van Persie in the second half for the game's lone goal. Games like this one — winning ugly — are what Arsenal has to do if they really think they can win a title. Pity Fulham, who deserved at least a point from this one.
Manchester United 2, Stoke 0
Ryan Giggs, take a bow. The ageless Welshman was at it again on Saturday, lifting a struggling Red Devils side to a road win at the Britannica — and get this — back into the top spot. It's too soon to trump their emergence from Ronaldo's shadow, but Giggs set up two goals to gain three points on the road. Not sure if it's a bad thing or a good thing that they still need to rely on a old head like Giggs for wins.
Bolton 2, Birmingham 1
Just when Birmingham had thought they'd stolen a point, Bolton nipped all three at the death. Birmingham found themselves a goal after nine minutes after Tamir Cohen scored for the visitor's. The lead lasted for almost the duration of the match, before Birmingham pulledlevel through Kevin Phillips. Points are a premium for both sides looking to avoid the drop, and Chung-Yong Lee's winner came just a minute later after a Matthew Taylor free kick hit the post, and the rebound bounced straight to Lee who hit it into the empty net.
What did you think of this weekend's EPL action? Shocked to see Chelsea lose? Is Man United on track? Will Portsmouth ever win? Share your thoughts below.