In the first four rounds of Championship matches this season, there were more than twenty draws, but it took the until this Saturday for the points to be shared in a Premier League match, Birmingham and Stoke playing out a dour goalless game at St. Andrew’s.
If Birmingham have made a solid start to the season, Burnley, with whom they were promoted from the Championship last May, have made a veritable flier. They beat Everton, still yet to gain a point, at Turf Moor on Sunday, Wade Elliott scoring as they registered their second 1-0 home victory in a week, while Louis Saha wasted a penalty for the Toffees.
As Burnley were holding on for their win, Fulham and Chelsea were clashing in the first major derby of the season, Chelsea sinking their less illustrious neighbours with goals from Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka to maintain their 100% record from the opening three fixtures. Across London Tottenham were matching the feat, securing a good away win at West Ham, Carlton Cole’s strike a mere consolation for the Hammers as Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon did the damage for Spurs.
It remains to be seen whether Spurs will maintain their fine form and launch a genuine challenge at the top of the league, but one club sure to be in the end of season mix is Manchester United. They put their hilarious midweek defeat at Burnley behind them in some style, putting five past lacklustre Wigan at the DW Stadium, Wayne Rooney netting twice, Dimitar Berbatov actually breaking into a run on his way to scoring a goal, Nani converting a free-kick and Michael Owen hitting his first goal for the club with a fine left footed finish past Wigan ‘keeper Chris Kirkland.
Their richer rivals Manchester City also recorded a win, scraping past Wolves by a goal to nil at the City of Manchester Stadium thanks to an early Emmanuel Adebayor strike, while Phil Brown’s Hull side won at home for the first time since last December by the same scoreline, Algerian forward Kamel Ghilas’s fine finish sinking Bolton.
Sunderland, revitalised under Steve Bruce also earned a win, a brace from Trinidadian target man Kenwyne Jones securing the three points in a 2-1 victory over frustrated Blackburn, with Gael Givet netting powerfully for Sam Allardyce’s side. Arsenal have also made a bright start, and won for the second week running, routinely seeing off Portsmouth at the Emirates Stadium. Abou Diaby scored twice before Younes Kaboul pulled one back for Pompey. This goal was a false dawn for the crisis club, still without a point, as William Gallas and Aaron Ramsey completed a 4-1 stroll for the Gunners in the second half.
Finally, in the first Monday night match of the season, Liverpool lost further ground on their title rivals, slipping to a 3-1 home defeat against a well-drilled and hard-working Aston Villa. A Lucas Leiva own goal put Villa ahead, and Curtis Davies doubled the lead before half time. Fernando Torres pulled one back for Liverpool with twenty minutes left to play, but Ashley Young’s penalty moments later sealed a fine win for Martin O’Neill’s side.