The weekend where AVB’s project was completed
Andre Villas Boas spent most of last week telling a baying media that the London derby with former employers, Chelsea, was just another game but if his reaction to going 2-1 was any indication this was an emotional encounter. The 34-year-old was equally animated after Tottenham pulled of a 3-2 win over Manchester United last month, but a series of defensive errors and some glorious football from Chelsea proved too much for Spurs on Saturday.
Quite how William Gallas gets in the Tottenham XI over Michael Dawson is a mystery, especially when the French defender seems like exactly the type of egotistical player who seemed to underme AVB’s stint at Chelsea. His poor header led to the opener and he completely switched off to allow Juan Mata to run in behind for the third.
On appointment Villas Boas was tasked with making Chelsea play more attacking and expansive football, and this transformation has actually taken shape over this summer. Roberto Di Matteo has been handed Oscar and Eden Hazard by his owner and with the enforced absence of Didier Drogba it is no surprise that Chelsea are playing the best football in the league. If AVB was given the same remit by Abramovich, you have to ask why he wasn’t backed in the transfer market like Di Matteo.
Despite being shackled by the central three in Napoli’s fluent 3-5-2 formation, Andrea Pirlo again helped break the deadlock for Juventus in their top of the table clash against the Naples outfit. He planted the corner onto substitute Martin Caceres head in the eightieth minute before Paul Pogba was given game-time and scored this belter. Pirlo has now gone 22 months without defeat in a Serie A match and the Old Lady are just three games away from surpassing the Arsenal ‘invincibles’ who went 49 games unbeaten. Milan hold the record in Italy with 58 games but if Pirlo can keep producing this form for Juventus he could be a dark horse for the Ballon D’or. He’s 50/1 if you don’t fancy Messi or Ronaldo.
Dortmund burnt out?
Dortmund slipped to another disappointing result, losing 2-1 to Schalke at home, a result which leaves them 12 points behind Bayern Munich who still boast a 100% record in the Bundesliga. Jurgen Klopp was missing Mario Gotze and Jakub Blaszczykowski but the return of Matt Hummels and captain Sebastian Kehl was expected to lift the current champions from their current slump. A Schalke win was surprisingly high at 4/1 and with question marks hanging over Joachim Low in the national post, now might be a good time to approach the hottest property in young German managers.
Southampton produced another woeful defensive display on Saturday, managing to ship four goals to a West Ham who were barely above functional for the duration of the 90. That Southampton are on their third keeper of the season, is telling and Artur Boruc could only flap at a floated, not whipped delivery, from Mark Noble that set the tone for Nigel Adkin’s men for the rest of the afternoon. Yossi Benayoun was afforded acres in the box for the second, Jose Fonte both punched and pulled Andy Carroll back for the third, despatched by Mark Noble, before a late solo goal finished off the Saints. Andy Carroll and west Ham were far from rampaging, and Nigel Adkins needs to radically improve his sides defending.
Read our regular reviews of the Premier League action: The weekend where