Two dismissals came at Portsmouth, in a match against Tottenham, managed by Harry Redknapp, widely disliked by Pompey fans after he left them for the second time a year ago, that was always going to be hotly contested. Ledley King headed the visitors in front, and Jermain Defoe, who followed Redknapp from the South Coast to North London doubled their lead. Kevin Prince Boateng pulled one back for the hosts, before Defoe saw red after a petulant stamp on Aaron Mokoena, while Portsmouth’s Tommy Smith was also given his marching orders in the final moments as Spurs held on for the win.
Chelsea missed the chance to consolidate their place at the top of the table, and indeed lost it, after slipping to defeat at Aston Villa. They started brightly
enough, Didier Drogba opening the scoring with his sixth of the season from range, but defenders Richard Dunne and James Collins turned the game for Villa, who move up to sixth. Manchester United also unfortunately won, also by a 2-1 scoreline, defeating Bolton at Old Trafford. They took the lead through a Zat Knight own goal in the fifth minute and doubled in through Luis Antonio Valencia before Matt Taylor gave Bolton hope ten minutes from time, though his goal failed to spark a significant fightback.
Arsenal failed to score at least four at home, having done so at their previous four attempts, but did taste victory at the Emirates once more against Birmingham. Watched by new owner Carson Yeung, and his patently bored-looking wife, the Blues found themselves two down early on, with Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby striking for the hosts. Lee Bowyer did pull one back for them, but a late Andrei Arshavin goal put the game to bed.
Another club benefitting from eastern millions, Manchester City complete the top six, but could only draw 1-1 at Wigan on Sunday. Charles N’Zogbia’s first of the season put the hosts ahead, before Martin Petrov equalised, while City’s Pablo Zabaleta was harshly sent off for to bookable offences. Wolves’s Stefan Maierhofer suffered a similar fate, and was dismissed after picking up a second yellow card for the heinous crime of standing near Everton ‘keeper Tim Howard in the closing minutes of a match that finished 1-1 after goals from Wolves’s Kevin Doyle and Everton’s Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
Newly promoted Burnley remain in the top half, but conceded their sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth away goals of the season so far as they narrowly lost a pulsating Lancashire derby at Blackburn in Sunday’s other game. Robbie Blake’s stunner opened the scoring, but goals from David Dunn, Franco Di Santo and Pascal Chimbonda gave Rovers a 3-1 half time lead. A late Chris Eagles strike set up a frantic finish, but the hosts were able to hold on to claim a 3-2 victory and local bragging rights for the next few months.
There was controversy aplenty at the Stadium of Light, where Sunderland beat stricken Liverpool thanks to a goal that never should have stood. Darren Bent’s early shot deflected heavily off a beach ball in the Liverpool boss, wrong-footing ‘keeper Pepe Reina, and, in accordance with the game’s rules on outside agents, the match should have been stopped and restarted with a drop ball. Instead, the goal was allowed to stand and Sunderland claimed a surprise win.
The headlines proclaimed “Phil’s in the Brown stuff”, after the under-pressure Hull boss saw his side lose again in the weekend’s final match at Fulham. Goals from Bobby Zamora and Diomansy Kamara saw Hull slip to defeat. Is his job slipping from Brown’s well-manicured hands?