EPL: Dreadful Weekend For Title Challengers

Week Six of EPL 2010/11 season provided huge insight into the main contenders and pretenders for the Premier League title. Manchester City beat Chelsea in the first heavyweight bout of the season, while Arsenal amazingly slipped up against West Brom at the Emirates. Manchester United unable to take advantage of their rivals' slip-up.

Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0

The day kicked off with Manchester City's 1-0 win over Chelsea at the Eastlands Stadium. The Pensioners, who before today’s result had gotten off to the best EPL start of all time, were second best for long periods and struggled to create anything of real substance. That being said, the two teams were pretty even up until Carlos Tevez's superb strike from the edge of the box. Bad defending by Ashley Cole and John Terry, combined with a great run off the ball by David Silva, was enough to let Tevez run unchallenged from the halfway line before tucking his shot away off the foot of the far post.

Frank Lampard was badly missing from Chelsea's engine room and without the English midfielder, they just did not provide any goal threat from midfield whatsoever. Surprisingly, Didier Drogba also seemed to miss Lampard's influence as the Ivorian had a day he'll want to forget quickly. City's tactics and Chelsea's lack of urgency contributed to reducing the Blues' attempts on goal to just four all afternoon. However, if they are to become genuine challengers to the title, Manchester City will have to be more ambitious going forward. Ancellotti will have to pick up the pieces quickly as his team face Marseille in the Champions League midweek before they take on Arsenal next weekend.

Arsenal 2 West Brom 3

The biggest shock of the day came at Arsenal, where Roberto Di Matteo's West Bromwich Albion won for the first time in 27 years. In truth, the score line was flattering on the Gunners, as they never got to grips with Peter Odemwinjie all afternoon. Many commentators have gone on record saying that Arsenal will not win the league with Manuel Alumnia between the posts, and on today’s evidence it would seem that that is the case. His shocking decision making and some shoddy defending by Koscielny led directly to West Brom's first half penalty, which Almunia made amends for by saving well down to his right. It was to prove a false dawn, though, as the Baggies then raced into an unbelievable 3-0 lead.

Two late strikes from Samir Nasri made the score line look respectable but the manner of Arsenal's performance, Almunia's recklessness, and the sheer amount of mistakes the Gunners made will be of major concern to Wenger and anyone else who thinks they are credible title challengers.

Bolton 2 Manchester United 2

Having seen all of their major rivals for the title drop points the pressure was on the Red Devils to produce a win away to Owen Coyle's battling Bolton. Once again though the underdog came through as work rate and urgency overcame a team who thought they only had to turn up. It had happened to Chelsea and Arsenal the day before and one would have thought that those results would have snapped Alex Ferguson and United into action but the truth was another story. Bolton, for their part, led twice before being pegged back by Nani and Michael Owen respectively with the Portuguese being one of United's better performers on the day.

Wayne Rooney, once again, was a shadow of his former self and was replaced after an hour by Federico Macheda. The young Italian did more in his 29 minutes on the pitch and caused more problems for Bolton than Rooney had mustered all afternoon. Typically for United, Dimitar Berbatov had an off day too. He has been in brilliant form since the start of the season but today was a day when he needed his co-striker to rediscover his form. Funny how the early season is shaping up to be a mirror image of last year.

Uniited's weak spot this year has once again proved to be centre midfield with both Giggs and Fletcher being replaced as Alex Ferguson tried to re-shape his team to protect Jonny Evans in defence. This season has seen teams targeting the young United defender to physical contests and his battle with Kevin Davies was over before it even started.

All in all it was a dreadful weekend for the title challengers, who all dropped points, while Manchester City enhanced their top four credentials with a well deserved win over Chelsea.

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