Week 10 of the English Premier League saw changes up and down the table. Compared to the thrills, spills and controversies of the previous weekend, this weekend was a relatively calm affair. However, there were quite a few big matches once again.
In the most eye-catching fixture, Manchester United beat Arsenal 2-1 to extend their winning streak in the league to four matches. Their immediate title rivals, Chelsea and Manchester City both drew their games against Swansea City and West Ham United respectively. Consequently, this week saw the Red Devils go to the top of the Premier League standings for the first time this season.
Wigan caused the upset of the round by defeating Tottenham by a single goal at White Hart Lane. Norwich City, too, continued their upward motion in the table by beating Stoke by the same 1-0 scoreline.
Meanwhile, Martin O'Neill's Sunderland suffered a 1-0 loss to his former club, Aston Villa. Elsewhere, high-flying Everton were pegged back by a late Fulham goal, as the two clubs drew 2-2 at Craven Cottage.
Here is a look at some of the winners and losers in this round of fixtures in the English Premier League.
Premier League Results:
Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal, Fulham 2-2 Everton, Norwich City 1-0 Stoke City, Sunderland 0-1 Aston Villa, Swansea City 1-1 Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Wigan Athletic, West Ham United 0-0 Manchester City, Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Reading, Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle United
Last week was possibly the lowest point in the season so far for the performance and perception of referees.
First, a linesman incorrectly flagged offside a goal which would have been Liverpool's injury time winner in the derby against Everton.
But that was nothing compared to later in the day, when all hell broke loose at Stamford Bridge.
First, referee Mark Clattenburg gave Fernando Torres a second yellow card for simulation, after he had been caught by Jonny Evans. This reduced Chelsea to nine men against Manchester United. Later, replays showed that Javier Hernandez's winner was actually scored from an offside position — something the linesman failed to spot.
If the controversy itself wasn't enough, Chelsea later accused Clattenburg of using offensive language against their players.
With so much scrutiny on referees in the last week, the men in black generally had a good time this weekend.
Possibly the only critical decision they got wrong was incorrectly judging Kevin Nolan to be offside in West Ham's game against Manchester City. Everything else was largely correct and controversy-free.
In a weird twist of fate, Manchester United were the only club in the top 12 of the Premier League table to register a win this weekend. (West Bromwich Albion, in ninth position are to play on Monday night.)
United squandered a bunch of chances while running out 2-1 winners against a listless and erratic Arsenal team. The Red Devils' performance left Sir Alex Ferguson fuming, as he said in his post-match conference (quotes via manutd.com):
It was a strange game and the chances we missed...well, we should have put the game to bed a long, long time ago. If you see the scoreline you'd think it was a close game, but it wasn't.
There was a lack of urgency in our game throughout...I was just really disappointed in our ability to hammer home the advantage...I spoke about goal difference to the players at the start of the season. We lost [the title] on goal difference last season and I don't want to see that again. We had an opportunity to add to the goal tally today.
However, United's win was sufficient to elevate them to the top of the table for the first time this season.
Both Chelsea and Manchester City drew their respective games, leaving the Red Devils a point ahead of Chelsea and two points ahead of City.
These have been strange old times for Norwich City. The Canaries were the experts' tip for the drop this season, despite finishing in a respectable mid-table position in their first season after promotion from the Championship.
First, they lost their manager Paul Lambert to Aston Villa. Then, they began the season badly under new manager Chris Hughton.
However, the Canaries seem to have turned their form around of late (they earned only three points from their first seven games). In the previous two games, Norwich beat Arsenal and then drew against Aston Villa.
This weekend, they beat Stoke City 1-0 to move up to 14th place in the Premier League table. If Norwich do avoid the drop this season, they will look back at this sequence of results as the turning point of their season.
In the last few months, Wigan's progress in the Premier League has vindicated manager Roberto Martinez's approach to the game.
Wigan were undoubtedly the form team towards the end of the season as they moved from a place of hopelessness to secure their survival in the Premier League. Additionally, with 11 points secured from their first 10 games of this season, Wigan are looking to avoid all the heartache related to the uncertainty of their Premier League status.
Round 10 saw Wigan visit White Hart Lane, the site of their 9-1 drubbing at the hands of Tottenham almost three years ago.
In a game that showed just how much Wigan have progressed under Martinez, the Latics earned a deserved 1-0 win over the Spurs. Their play was good and confident, and they were good value for their win.
Possibly the most consequential game of the weekend took place when Reading visited Queens Park Rangers on Sunday for a potential six-pointer tie.
Both teams started the weekend in the relegation zone, looking for their first win of the season. However, the game did not go according to script for either team as they played out a 1-1 draw.
The result did neither team any favors, especially with the results elsewhere in the Premier League.The three clubs in the relegation zone (QPR, Reading and Southampton) are now four points adrift of safety, in what can only be described as nervous times for these clubs.
Arsenal's loss to Manchester United was the least of Wenger's worries, as he must now try to revitalize a team that has gone backward in the last couple of weeks. Some things Wenger must deal with are Andre Santos's status as an Arsenal player, the slump in form of Lukas Podolski, the mistakes being made by the defence and the relative quietness of Santi Cazorla in the last few games.
With problems mounting at the club and discontent brewing among its supporters, Wenger must now show the same mastery of management with which he has guided Arsenal so successfully in the last 16 years. Otherwise, Saturday will just become one of many such days Arsenal fans will have to suffer through this season.
Martin O'Neill's Sunderland found themselves in even deeper trouble this weekend after their loss to Aston Villa left them just two places above the relegation zone.
Before this match, Sunderland were on a run of only one win in their last 16 games. They had also lost their last fixture — a League Cup tie against local rivals Middlesborough.
It was hardly the form in which O'Neill would have wanted to welcome his old team now managed by his protege, Paul Lambert. And the defeat heaped further pressure on the ex-Celtic and Aston Villa manager.
O'Neill must now show his much-vaunted man management skills to lift the Black Cats out of this slump. Otherwise he could find himself out of a job soon, considering his predecessors such as Roy Keane and Steve Bruce were shown the door for comparable team performances.
However, Suarez had nothing to do with the latest accident to befall Liverpool.
At half-time in the game against Newcastle United, one of the sprinklers on the pitch at Anfield went off. However, instead of watering the pitch, the faulty sprinkler ended up soaking a couple of hundred fans in the Main Stand.
At least the day ended on a bright note for the Reds as they came front behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Newcastle.