Chelsea Pull Ahead
First place Chelsea hosted 3rd place Arsenal, with the latter plagued – yet again – with a host of injuries. This was the first “clash of the titans” in the English Premier League this season. While most such fixtures are slow to start, both teams came out swinging. Arsenal had two scoring opportunities in the first minute, and Chelsea answered with a few of their own as the action went end-to-end in the early stages. It was dead-even for most of the first half, with 50-50 possession. But in the 39th minute, Ramires sent a low cross to Drogba who – whether or not even he knows how – managed to slip it past Fabianski, smacking the near post on its way in. Arsenal came on strong in the second half, though a piss-poor Squillaci back pass broke Anelka one-on-one with Fabianski, but the former French international put it wide. Anelka sent an amazing through ball to Ashley Cole, whose resulting goal was called back when he was ruled offsides. Rosicky was then brought on for Diaby. Arsenal continued to threaten but it was Alex’s amazing free kick in the 85th minute that sealed the deal, 2-0 in favor of Chelsea.
Inter & Juve Shoot It Out But Fail To Score
At the top of the table and coming off a glorious midweek win in the Champions League, Inter stuck to the same squad that helped them crush Werder Bremen – though Cesar is back in goal. Juventus entered the match in 9th place, with two wins, two losses, and a draw. Two “stars” of Italy’s lackluster 2010 World Cup team, Iaquinta and Quagliarella, got the start up top for Juve, each with two goals this season, as Amauri remained injured and veteran Del Piero had yet to deliver. Inter seemed to have the upper hand, though Juve was quick with the counter. Milito came in for the injured Biabiany in the 31st minute, with Eto’o moving out to the left flank. Inter came close to scoring just before the half, reminiscent of the fine form they finished in last season. In fact, it is similar to total football, in that you find defenders like Maicon, Chievo, Lucio, and even Cordoba making runs – quality runs – into the area with forwards like Coutinho and Eto’o making their way back to defend their own box. Juve finally brought on Del Piero in the 65th, helping keep the fires burning – and the keepers busy – at both ends. Inter had the majority of possession, and nearly everyone had a great game (except Maicon, who is still not up to form), but they were Arsenalesque in their inability to get the ball across the goal line. With so many chances and end-to-end action, this had to be one of the most exciting 0-0 draws we’ve seen.